After a more than two-year hiatus, wheels will soon be allowed back onto the inner loop around Green Lake.

Seattle’s Board of Parks and Recreation voted Thursday in favor of ending the pandemic-era ban on bikes, roller blades and other wheeled forms of transportation and recreation around the popular lake, advising the parks department to draw up a plan for returning the path’s use to its original form.

Seattle moves forward with new Green Lake bike trail

The final decision rests with Christopher Williams, acting superintendent of the parks department, but he said staff would aim to have an implementation plan ready by the board’s next meeting Oct. 13.

The choice to make the inner loop pedestrian-only — with the exception of wheelchairs and strollers — came in early 2020 in response to COVID-19. The decision was made in the same vein as one-way aisles in grocery stores and stickers instructing people to stand 6 feet apart, with parks commissioners wanting to create more space for people to walk amid fear of infections.

Experts have since concluded outdoor recreation should be encouraged as it poses significantly less risk of transmission than indoor gatherings. Still, the parks board wanted to conduct outreach before reverting to pre-pandemic policies after hearing some pedestrians preferred the path without wheels.

Surveys and outreach by parks staff found a mixed bag. One online survey found support for continuing to restrict its use, while other outreach showed support for wheels. In the most recent meeting, public comment was unanimously supportive of the path’s original uses.


The sentiment among commissioners was clearer.

“I was skeptical of this ban in October and I’m still skeptical now because it sets a really bad precedent,” Commissioner Marlon Herrera said. “As our city grows, will we have a wheel ban at Alki, at Seward Park and at the Burke-Gilman by Gasworks? From a safety standpoint I’d like to see the data before we make a decision that large.”

The Seattle Department of Transportation recently began construction on an outer loop trail on the lake’s west side, along Aurora Avenue, that will be more conducive to fast-moving bikes. Commissioners said they hope its completion in December will organically reroute some wheeled traffic away from the inner loop, with the help of better signage.

The path is not yet open to wheels but likely will be by November. The specific rules for the path’s use, including speed limits, will be ironed out in the coming weeks as part of the implementation plan.