The Seattle Bike Blog reports that instead of placing cycle tracks between the parked cars and the sidewalk, the new plans place large buffered bike lanes between the general travel lanes and parked cars.The parking-buffered lanes drew safety concerns from some cyclists. Being separated visually from cars that may be turning into driveways, parking lots and streets while you are going 25 miles per hour downhill does seem rather dangerous. The new proposal includes incredible bike lanes that are six feet wide with a two or three foot painted buffer between car traffic and bikes. That amount of space should be enough to make bikers of all levels of experience feel safe while still allowing experienced riders to safely pick up speed on the downhills.
The biggest advantage I saw to the parking-buffered lanes, however, was that it helped transit move more efficiently. Currently, riders moving slowly uphill often slow down buses trying to pull over the pick people up. With the parking-buffered proposal, bus stops would be on islands between the general traffic lane and the bike lane, removing the constant bike/bus conflict there.
Transit efficiency and bike safety are on the same team. The biggest impediment to each mode of transportation is the single occupancy vehicle. The more people who choose to either bike or ride, the more cars are off the streets. I hate climbing up Dexter knowing there is a bus full of people waiting for me so it can pick up people at the next stop. Sometimes, that bus will pass me, then I'll pass it and get its way over and over.
The good news is that it looks like they may have been able to save that:
The proposal will also reduce conflicts between bikes and buses by installing the bike lane between the curb and the transit island at most locations where there is a bus stop.
SDOT will be showing the new plans at an open house August 19 from 5:30 to 7:20 p.m. at the Swedish Cultural Center.