A bike tour of the now-open Beacon Hill Neighborhood Greenway

Posted on December 26, 2013 by Ryann Child

Source: Seattle Bike Blog

Beacon Hill’s first neighborhood greenway is complete with a 2.8 mile low-traffic route from the I-90 trail and 18th Street S to S Lucile Street, south of Jefferson Park. (Photos by Ryann Child)

Beacon Hill’s first neighborhood greenway is complete with a 2.8 mile low-traffic route from the I-90 trail and 18th Street S to S Lucile Street, south of Jefferson Park. (Photos by Ryann Child)

Two years in the making, the Seattle Department of Transportation completed the Beacon Hill Neighborhood Greenway this month and officially opened the route for business and bicycling.

Proposed by the neighborhood group Beacon BIKES (“Better Infrastructure Keeping Everyone Safer”), the new greenway allows people of all ages and abilities to travel through Beacon Hill by bike or on foot to popular destinations, including the Beacon Hill Branch library, the Link Light Rail station and Jefferson Park. On Saturday, under the warm but grey Seattle sky, I had the chance to take the 2.8-mile route for a spin.

Sharrows lead the way through the neighborhood, and we followed signs at intersection to the Link Light Rail station and on to the park without

Sharrows lead the way through the neighborhood, and we followed signs at intersection to the Link Light Rail station and on to the park without

The greenway uses low-traffic neighborhood streets (primarily S 18th Street), speed humps and 20 mph speed limits to create a comfortable route through the heart of Beacon Hill from the I-90 Trial to Georgetown. At intersections, stop signs and crossbikes improve safety and priority for people on bikes traveling through.

A crossbike, like this one at the intersection of S 18th Street and S McClellan is a crosswalk-type marking with sharrows indicating bike travel

A crossbike, like this one at the intersection of S 18th Street and S McClellan is a crosswalk-type marking with sharrows indicating bike travel

Busier intersections; such as S Hanford Street and Beacon Ave S, and where S Lafayette crosses S Spokane Street to connect to Jefferson Park, now have pedestrian crossing islands.

People on bikes can choose to either cross in the street at Beacon Ave S or use the pedestrian signal

People on bikes can choose to either cross in the street at Beacon Ave S or use the pedestrian signal

Crossing in Jefferson Park from S Lafayette Street

Crossing in Jefferson Park from S Lafayette Street

From an SDOT mailer to project neighbors

From an SDOT mailer to project neighbors

The verdict? We successfully traveled to Jefferson Park on what seemed like a private bike boulevard. After taking S 15th Street and Beacon Ave S by bike from Capitol Hill to Ultimate Frisbee games in Jefferson Park all summer, I found this route infinitely more pleasant and surprisingly flat.

Not a Beacon Hill native, the wayfinding signs indicating key neighborhood destinations were my favorite new addition (especially how to get back to the Link station to cheat our way back into downtown on the warm and dry light rail).

The Beacon Hill Greenway continues from the southwest corner of Jefferson Park on S 13th and 14th streets to S Lucile Street. In 2014, SDOT plans to complete a paved path for walking and biking on S 16th Street. I also hope there are plans to add wayfinding through the park to connect to the rest of the greenway.

Beyond this point, bicyclists are directed southwest of Jefferson Part to S 13th and 14th Streets. The greenway route officially ends at S Lucile Street

Beyond this point, bicyclists are directed southwest of Jefferson Part to S 13th and 14th Streets. The greenway route officially ends at S Lucile Street

As for the rest of Beacon Hill, the Seattle Bicycle Master Plan includes a protected bike lane on 12th Ave S from the Jose Rizal bridge into the neighborhood, and a connecting greenway facility from S 13th Street to S Hill street to the current route. Beacon Ave S is also slated from some improvements in the plan with a protected lane through Jefferson Park and a proposed off-street facility from for the remainder of the arterial.


TakeAways

It never ceases to amaze me how very mundane these sorts of projects actually turn out to be. Highway construction is often far more dramatic between iterations. Has anyone else noticed this?

Not that each new bit of bicycle infrastructure has to be earth-shattering, it’s that when you read about the “coming this or that project” you build up in your mind how wonderfully transformative it will be. But the reality is often met with a mental “whatever“.

It’s a bit like hearing about your best friends Significant Other for months on end, only to meet them in person and wonder why the big build-up. The person is not homely or anything like that, just not capable of standing up to the “star billing“. Oh, well.

I guess the next time you get an email telling you that unless you contribute $100 this or that project will fail, you might want to think about keeping your powder dry until you see the thing with your own eyes.