FamilyRide: My least favorite intersection

by Madeleine Carlson
Posted on February 8, 2013

Source: Seattle Bike Blog

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The Bicycle Master Plan public comment period is over so now we just sit back and wait for the magic to happen. But while we’re waiting, who’s to say we can’t complain about our least-favorite intersections?

The bulk of my commute is along the Burke-Gilman Trail, but when I leave the trail at Stone Way (and I hope someone will compain about this intersection!) to ride in the N 34th Street bike lane into Fremont, things get less awesome. I’m particularly bothered by the westbound approach to the N 34th St/Fremont Ave N intersection because it’s possibly the most bike-oriented intersection in Seattle:

  • Green bike lane and one of Seattle’s few green bike boxes for westbound bikes
  • Bike traffic signal (Seattle’s only one) for eastbound bikes
  • Eastbound bikes enjoy a bike-only lane (not that I don’t often see cars sneaking into it for a quick right turn) on either side of the intersection
  • It’s half a block north of the bike counter

I know it’s sacrilegious to suggest removing parking spots for bike infrastructure, but the westbound parking spots (two-hour parking 7am-6pm weekdays) near the corner of N 34th Street often render the bike lane useless during commute hours. There’s a well-meaning yield-for-bikes sign and dotted white lines on either side of the green bike lane, but if even one car parks in any of the five spots to the west of this, right-turning and straight-going motorists wait in the bike lane.

I feel very badly about this, since it turns out there’s no war on cars, but I scared a minivan driver here last week. She repeatedly wove in and out of the bike lane, getting stopped up behind parked cars, never checking for bikes. Eventually I got impatient waiting for her to cut me off a fourth time and pulled alongside her while she was momentarily stopped in the bike lane, trying to make her way back to the left lane. Her window was up, but I imagine she could lip read my yelled “Stop!” (yes, both kids were on board my cargo bike–lovely example I set) because she stopped and I made my way to the bike box. The light was red and she had a clear path to her right turn, but she skulked in the right turn lane behind my line of sight. Apparently she wasn’t in so much of a hurry to brave the wrath of the [smiling mom with singing children] bicyclist again. I’m sorry, minivan driver!

So tell me, which intersection or street makes you want to yell “Stop!”?

Madi is Seattle Bike Blog’s Staff Family Cycling Expert. She lives in Wallingford and bikes all over town with her two kids’ in tow. You can read more of her adventures and thoughts on family life on two wheels at FamilyRide.us.