City to make 23rd Ave a ‘complete street’


Image: Google Street View

Central District News yesterday covered city plans to remake 23rd Ave into a “complete street” — a roadway with facilities for all users: cars, transit, bikes and pedestrians alike. While the $14 million project extends from Rainier Ave to John St, some ideas being discussed could affect Montlake and signal change to come once 520 is replaced.

Details are scant, but most likely this would involve putting 23rd on a road diet, where its four lanes would be converted to three — two in each direction with a center left turn lane and improved sidewalks and bicycle lanes. Road diets have reduced traffic accident rates all across the country and despite loud protests a few years ago against diets for Nickerson below Queen Anne and 125th in Lake City (“Mayor McSchwinn!), real world data so far has shown the concept to work no differently in Seattle.

Other ideas for 23rd include adding trolley wires through the corridor to electrify the 48 bus route. This would likely split the forty-late in two: Mount Baker Transit Center to UW on wires and UW to Loyal Heights as it is now. Electrified 48s would reduce street noise through Montlake.

So how might 23rd actually work? CD News speculates:

Imagine being able to cross 23rd on foot at every intersection without sprinting for your life or going four blocks out of the way to the nearest stoplight. Imagine more welcoming bus stops and more comfortable sidewalks. Imagine quiet electric buses instead of diesel-belching ones. Imagine if very few people drove over the speed limit, and fewer people got injured or killed simply trying to get wherever they’re going. And yes, imagine being able to safely bike to 23rd Ave destinations.

Could this happen along 24th Ave as well? Perhaps, but given that it feeds 520, SDOT will likely see how the highway replacement design shakes out before proceeding with changes to 24th. Still, many of the same ideas could come our way.

5 thoughts on “City to make 23rd Ave a ‘complete street’

  1. I don’t think this will work very well between Aloha and the Montlake Bridge, whenever there’s been a problem at the bridge or with 520 traffic has backed up all the way up the hill and that’s with two lanes of traffic each way. Also, there is an existing bike route between Madison and Montlake Bridge along the west side of the Arb (sorry, don’t recall the name of the street) If I was on a bike I’d much rather ride that than take my life in my hands roaring downhill on 24th. And…when the 520 project is underway, won’t there be many, many trucks hauling away dirt and debris from the construction site? I’m not against any modifications of the street, but lets keep the real world in mind as we plan.

    • Good points, Alan. I’d like to add that while using 28th/26th/25th (along the west side of the Arboretum) is a good northbound route for cyclists, it’s a poor choice soundbound if your destination is west of 23rd because you end up at the bottom of some very steep hills. 24th/23rd southbound are the least steep way to get up that hill.

      I agree though about cars backing up on 24th northbound. I’d hesitate to make changes any further north than Aloha for that reason, until the impacts of 520 changes are better understood. Happily though, adding room for cyclists on 24th southbound wouldn’t have that problem.

  2. I’d love to see this project extended north to Aloha or so. I routinely cross 23rd on foot around Mercer/Roy, and drivers’ behavior there is awful. It’s treated like a speedway and people on foot are ignored, usually just so drivers can reach the next red light a couple seconds sooner.

  3. What could we do to make the southbound direction more friendly? Would a better connection through Interlaken and up along the Hebrew academy help? Would a runnel installed on the Interlaken park staircase access from Boyer at 23rd be a sufficient improvement together with a safe ped crossing at the Boyer clinic be good enough to redirect southbound bike traffic towards19th Ave?

  4. It would help a little. I’ve carried a bike up those very stairs in order to use that route. You still run into the problem of having the elevation gains crammed into a block or two.

    I think 24th/23rd were chosen as the arterial for good reason – it’s the best way up the hill. (If you’re curious, play around with for a few minutes and see if you can build a route that gets anywhere close to the smooth elevation gain you get from 24th/Lynn to 23rd/Aloha.)

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