Making our region better for bicycling means ensuring that transit and bikes work well together. We’ve already made the case for paying attention to Northgate and we saw great bicycle representation at the recent open house. But now we have a rare opportunity to talk specifically about how people can safely and conveniently access the station by bike.
On Thursday, December 8, the Seattle Department of Planning and Development (DPD) is hosting a community design open house for the Northgate light rail station area. This meeting follows a DPD public meeting in late July, the results of an online survey, and comes on the heels of the Sound Transit 30 percent design open house for the Northgate station itself earlier this month.
Date/time: Thursday, Dec. 8/6:00 – 8:30 p.m.
Location: Alijoya Senior Apartments at Thornton Place (450 NE 100th St)
With the station at 30 percent design and the station area plans still in early conceptual phases, it is essential that we submit our comments now on how the planned station and the surrounding station area serves bicycle riders. This is our chance to help get this project right.
Below we’ve identified our specific concerns with the current station area plans and key opportunities for improving bicycle access to and from the station. We encourage you to use these as “talking points” at the December 8 meeting to ensure that the final plans for Northgate improve bicycle connectivity, accessibility, and livability for everybody.
We need to prioritize and invest in Bicycle Master Plan (BMP) projects that serve the station. The BMP calls for sharrows on NE 100th St and NE 103rd St, a full bike lane on 1st Ave NE, and a bicycle/pedestrian bridge over I-5 at NE 103rd St that connects with the bike lanes on College Way NE (just west of I-5). These facilities are critical in realizing more than the 15,200 estimated boardings per day at Northgate by 2030 by providing safe, attractive and efficient opportunities for people to access the station by modes other than a single occupant vehicle. The Federal Highway Administration (FHA) recommends a three-mile radius for investing in projects that link bicycle travel with transit hubs like Northgate.
We need a viable and funded bicycle/pedestrian bridge over I-5. A bike/ped bridge over I-5 at 103rd St substantially increases the “catchment area” of the Northgate station, meaning that more people can access the station within a given walking or biking radius. It also would greatly increase the safety of getting to the station from the west side of I-5 by providing a car-free alternative to Northgate Way, which currently has over 30,000 vehicles per day.
To get this bridge funded and built, we need the City to push for a deal with Sound Transit, King County Metro, North Seattle Community College, and other public/private entities. Currently, there is no dedicated funding to advance design or construction. Not moving forward with this project will mean a lost opportunity for the station and community.
We need more convenient and ample bike parking. Approaching the station from the east requires bicycle riders to dismount and walk about half a block to access the station bicycle parking. This design is inconvenient for those riding bikes to the station and will create a potential conflict between bicycle riders and pedestrians in “mixing area” adjacent to the station.
We need better and safer connections to the station. Accessing the future station via the bicycle infrastructure that exists now would be inconvenient and potentially dangerous. 1st Ave NE (the road running alongside the future station) is a high speed route and current traffic volumes are high enough that new infrastructure like buffered bike lanes would greatly improve safety for those accessing the station from the north or south by bike. NE 92nd St, Northgate Way, and N 117th St (further north) are currently the only means of crossing or going under I-5. Both NE 92nd St and Northgate Way are in need of actual bicycle infrastructure to dramatically increase safety and access.
We need Northgate to become a transit, pedestrian, and bicycle-oriented community. Increasing housing and workplace density in the Northgate station area along I-5 will place people closer to services, entertainment, and transit, creating a vibrancy and livability that encourages bicycle travel.
Your feedback on the ideas presented at the December 8 meeting will help shape the design of the Northgate station area and ensure that bicycle riders of all ages and abilities can safely and conveniently access the station by bike and take light rail to their destination.