West Nickerson Street will be the next in Seattle to undergo a "road diet," where the number of lanes is reduced to promote slower driving, easier bicycling and more walking.

Share story

West Nickerson Street will be the next in Seattle to undergo a “road diet,” where the number of lanes is reduced to promote slower driving, easier bicycling and more walking.

Mayor Mike McGinn announced the project Tuesday, in the rollout of his Walk Bike Ride initiative to wean travelers away from fossil fuels by creating a network of connected transit routes, bike paths and walkways.

More important is what the mayor didn’t do — propose a tax increase to collect up to $30 million a year, a goal he was asked to support last week by a coalition of green transportation groups. But McGinn didn’t rule it out, either.

He said talk of dollar figures is premature, before the city sorts through a round of recession-related budget cuts, then sets about midyear to plan for 2011-12. “Wait ’til we see our budget, until we say we are not going to do it,” he said when asked about $30 million.

Meanwhile, the mayor has ordered the re-striping of Nickerson this summer, from the Ballard Bridge to the Fremont Bridge, said SDOT director Peter Hahn.

At an estimated $200,000 cost, the four-lane road will be re-striped to have one car lane and one bike lane each direction, plus a two-way left turn lane in the center. There would be sidewalk and median revisions as well. Vehicle lanes would keep their present layouts at the bridge intersections.

More than 15 percent of traffic exceeds 40 mph going west and 44 mph east, and SDOT seeks to improve safety by bringing speeds closer to the 30 mph posted limit, a city fact sheet says.

Nickerson is one of only two east-west “major truck streets” to Ballard. A road diet there means more congestion for freight, said Warren Aakervik, owner of Ballard Oil. The city just built a bike trail on the south side of the Lake Washington Ship Canal and it ought to be enough, he said.

Several Walk Bike Ride projects on McGinn’s list — parklike green space and lighting on Bell Street, for instance — were conceived under predecessor Greg Nickels and funded through existing Bridging the Gap property or business taxes approved in 2006.

Mike Lindblom: 206-515-5631 or mlindblom@seattletimes.com