Fremont Studios displayed plans and designs for the Westlake protected bicycle lane to a packed room Wednesday evening. Concerned and invested stakeholders of Westlake Avenue N consisted of residents who live along the thoroughfare in condos, on boats or in floating homes as well as business owners and their customers. However, stakeholders also included all those who navigate the arterial or maneuver through parking lots whether on foot or bicycle. Attendees included parents with children or soon-to-be parents who enjoy the pleasure of walking from Fremont to South Lake Union Park for special events or to simply relax on the lawn by the shore of Lake Union.
The purpose of the evening was the opportunity for the public to engage with Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) representatives about the proposed bicycle facility. With a large screen at the front or the hall, SDOT personnel explained the different plans and designs for the corridor between Fremont and South Lake Union Park. Some of those in attendance were disappointed that these were the designs that had been previously presented at the Westlake Design Advisory Committee (DAC) meeting in April, thinking these would be alternative designs. However, both SDOT and the DAC felt more engagement needed to be done with the larger community. Fremont Studios accommodated a large turnout, possibly more than 400 people yesterday evening. Feedback was gathered through the use of post-it notes placed on the many placards around the hall as well as written comments. There was also opportunity for questions and answers with a panel of representatives for clarification of the designs.
SDOT has posted the Westlake plans on its website. Also available is information about the Design Advisory Committee including agendas and minutes. The proposal consists essentially of a Plan A and a Plan B. Neither plan is designed to reduce traffic lanes of the thoroughfare due to its importance for freight. Rather, the plans address ways to increase efficiency and safety for all users entering and exiting the parting lots as well as traveling through them whether motorists, pedestrians or bicyclists. In brief,
- Concept A runs the protected bike lane along the outside of the parking lots (westside) next to Westlake Ave N.
- Concept B runs the protected bike lane along the inside of the parking lots (eastside) next to the sidewalk.
Variations of the designs address parking configuration, the existence of one-way traffic patterns, and visibility improvements in landscaping. SDOT encourages the public to stay involved. A link is provided on the SDOT website for public comment as well.
Bicycling in Seattle is increasing. Nationally cities are acknowledging the importance of bicycle accommodation as well as other alternative forms of transportation. Safe bicycling and walking facilities as well as convenient transit make cities more livable and thus inviting. Seattle is on a world stage. To be a thriving and vibrant city, Seattle must continue to look to and plan for the future. Events such as the one held Wednesday evening show that the City’s transportation designers and engineers are have made a commitment to such a healthy and promising future.