Connecting to complexity: Montlake bicycle and pedestrian routes

Image: Montlaker via Google Earth

Various groups of neighborhood activists are looking to the 520 replacement project as an opportunity to build a new network of bicycle and pedestrian routes through the Montlake bottleneck – an important intersection of regional trails. With the casual cyclist and commuters in mind, their focus is to create cycling-safe greenways on residential streets, provide new trails through parks and continue the 520 Bridge bike lane to the Roanoke Lid and Capitol Hill.

The leading projects are:

  1. The Portage Bay bike lane. This lane would be alongside the new freeway, creating a continuous path with a gentle slope, connecting the Roanoke and Montlake Lids and more broadly, connecting Capitol Hill to the Eastside. Agencies involved: WSDOT.
  2. The Prep to Playfield route. This route would connect the Roanoke Lid and nearby Seattle Preparatory School using the land next to and underneath 520. Prep owns much of this land already and has an interest in creating a safe route to Montlake Playfield for their athletic teams. The route would cross busy Boyer and connect with a proposed trail along the Portage Bay shoreline. Agencies involved: WSDOT, SDOT, Seattle Parks, Seattle Prep.
  3. The 19th Ave Greenway. This route connects the cycle-friendly and popular Interlaken Park with direct access to Montlake Playfield and the Bill Dawson Trail (under 520 to NOAA) to the Montlake Bridge. At present, 19th Ave is not a through-street, dead-ending behind St. Demetrios Church, and forcing cyclist to make awkward detours. Agencies involved: SDOT.
  4. Montlake Schoolway. This greenway would make street and pedestrian crossing improvements between the Montlake Lid and 24th & Boyer/Interlaken. Designing the lid with a passage to the west side of Montlake Blvd would create a safe-route-to-school for the Shelby-Hamlin neighborhood. The route would also improve pedestrian safety around the Boyer Children’s Clinic and the Elementary School. Agencies involved: WSDOT, SDOT, Seattle Public Schools.
  5. Lake Washington Bike Route. This route is already marked and heavily used by cyclists using residential streets to avoid traffic on the 24th Ave and Arboretum Drive speedways. Simple greenway improvements would calm car traffic and give the route sign priority at intersections. Agencies involved: SDOT, WSDOT.
  6. Arboretum Multi-Use Trail. The route is in the planning stages as part of the Arboretum’s master plan and North Entry project. It would provide a new cycling and pedestrian route from Madison to the Montlake Lid. Agencies involved: Seattle Parks, UW, WSDOT, SDOT.
Seattle DOT is conducting a survey for the next update to its Bicycle Master Plan. Given the complexity of working across so many public agencies, it is critical for the city master plan to recognize and prioritize these routes through the Montlake bottleneck. These will be some of the best alternatives to car travel that will surely continue to besiege the neighborhood in the new era of S.R. 520. Take the survey here.