Bikeways

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One form of transportation usually overlooked in a transportation system is bicycles.

Bicycles can hardly be called mass transit, and they definitely are not rapid transit. But a lot of people ride bicycles, and obviously, if enough people ride bicycles instead of driving, there would be a significant lessening of motor vehicle traffic. Improved routes for bicyclists would encourage more use of bicycles and less use of cars.

I would like to see more effort and money put into building bikeways, dedicated narrow roadways specifically for bicyles, although in many cases they could be used also by hikers, joggers, walkers, wheel chairs, roller skates, skateboards, and other human-powered means of getting around.

Seattle currently has many bike routes, but in most cases these are on streets and are specially marked narrow lanes designated for bicycles only. This is better than nothing, but still is not very satisfactory. The bike lane is typically between a regular motor vehicle lane and either the curb or a parking lane. There is not enough separation between cars and bikes and there is risk of a bicyclist being struck by a careless driver. If the bike lane is adjacent to a parking lane, there is risk of somebody suddenly opening a car door just as a bicyclist is passing the car, resulting in the bicyclist plowing into the car door.

To me a bikeway would be a separate paved path, separated from streets, at least two meters (a little over six feet) wide so that there is plenty of room for bicycles to travel safely in opposite directions. As much as possible, bikeways should be grade separated from streets with overpasses or underpasses. When a bikeway crosses a street at grade, then there should be traffic signals or signage to make it clear who has the right-of-way.

The closest thing to a bikeway I know of in Seattle is the Burke-Gilman Trail, which is several kilometers long, from the Ballard district of Seattle to Redmond. The trail is for walkers, runners, joggers, bicycles, roller skates, and other human-powered equipment. Many portions of it meet my definition of a bikeway. Most of the trail was built on an abandoned railroad line, so there are fairly long stretches with no street crossings and in other places there are bridges over many streets. However some parts cross streets at grade level.

The city of Shoreline, adjacent to Seattle on the north, has built sections of the Interurban Trail, which will eventually go from Seattle to Everett, a distance of about 30 miles (50 km.). The Interurban Trail is actually a multipurpose trail, not only for bicyles, but also for hikers or just about any human-powered vehicle. However the paved surface makes the trail an excellent bikeway. Portions completed in Shoreline are from N. 145th St. to N. 155th St., just west of Aurora Ave. N., and just east of Aurora Ave. N. from about N. 160th St. to about N. 185th St. Current major construction on Aurora Ave. N. seems to include bridges across N. 155th St. and Aurora Ave. N. to connect the two completed sections of the trail.

Another short segment of the Interurban Trail has been built in Seattle about a mile south of N. 145th St.


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©2006 Robert M. Fleming Jr.

This page was last updated on 8 September 2015.

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