Delridge-Highland Park Greenway follow up

We love the Delridge-Highland Park Greenway!  We pushed to include it in the Bicycle Master Plan update, and to give it high priority for funding, so it is great to see it happening.  Lots of good things about it will make it a safer, more pleasant route for people walking and on bikes doing everything from going to elementary school to commuting to work in SODO and downtown.  We do have concerns about safety, connectivity and effectiveness of two sections currently under construction. Brenda Mix, Mike Hendrix and David Geoffreon, members of West Seattle Bike Connections who live and commute year round along the route gave public comments at the January 6 meeting of the Seattle Bicycle Advisory Board. CJ Holt from SDOT  gave a presentation on design and status, and SBAB member and WSBC member Don Brubeck presented our observations and concerns.

DSC02037SBAB followed up with a letter (here) to SDOT Director Scott Kubly with recommendations for improvements on this route, and to address construction safety on this and all such projects.  Thank you, SBAB!

Kelli Refer from Cascade Bicycle Club’s advocacy program came out and rode the route with several of us on January 18. Thank you, Kelli, for Cascade’s support.

We had a follow up meeting with SDOT staff and SBAB Chair Kristi Rennebohm Franz, to discuss the concerns and improvements that are still possible at this late stage of construction, and appreciate the time and effort taken by Dawn Schellenberg and CJ Holt to address the issues.  Takeaways:

Arterial stretch of 21st SW from angled 22nd SW to SW Dawson:  The traffic lanes will be narrowed. The sidewalk on west will be widened from 4 feet to at least 6 feet, but retaining steep slopes would make a wider path costly and grading at steep driveways would be difficult.  The east side shoulder will be paved. This 900 foot length on an arterial is sub-standard for an “all ages and abilities” route. It does not meet the Bike Master Plan intent for an off-street path along this portion of the route.  A mixed-use two way sidewalk path should be at least 10 feet wide to allow safe passing, especially when there is no planting strip between the sidewalk and traffic lanes. Mitigation to slow vehicle traffic will include speed humps, 20 mph speed limit signs and a painted fog line.  We suggested addition of flashing warning beacons triggered by bike riders with warning sign “bikes on roadway”, as are used at narrow tunnels and mountain roads. We requested monitoring of actual speeds over the next year and futher improvements if these measures do not result in 20mph vehicle speeds.

Route jog from 17th SW to 15th SW between SW Webster and SW Kenyon:  SDOT says traffic counts did not pass the threshold that warrants a signal or flashing beacon at crossings of 16th. We don’t believe the crossings are safe for children with just a marked crosswalk. We would not let our children use this route to get to Stanislo school or Highland Park school. We favor a one-block protected bike lane on 16th SW from Kenyon to Holden, closing off the sweeping free-right lane at Dumar, and a bike crossing at the traffic signal at Holden. SDOT will add speed humps on 16th at these intersections. That should make a difference!  We asked SDOT to monitor actual use by people on foot and on bikes on 15th and on 16th in roadway and on sidewalk, to see if the “jog” is actually used, and to look again at the crossing safety at Webster and Kenyon. Monitoring is planned.

This was the first time this greenway was reviewed by SBAB, which seems telling for a project of such significance to the under-served West Seattle neighborhoods of Pigeon Point, Puget Ridge, Highland Park and White Center.  The issues raised now are the issues we and others brought up in the 2013 public workshops.  We are hopeful from SDOT’s response now that the next Greenway for West Seattle — along 34th Ave SW from Roxbury to High Point and (improbably) on 30th Ave’s  “Snake Hill” to SW Brandon — will receive more timely and careful review, with revisions to design in response to community input and advance test rides and walks.