Top 2019 Priorities for the “Seattle Squeeze”

Released Tuesday, December 11, 2018

The Alaskan Way viaduct is scheduled to close on January 11, beginning the Seattle Squeeze. This multi-year traffic crunch should be a catalyst to move rapidly towards the carbon-neutral, multimodal transportation system Seattle needs. With climate catastrophe looming and population growth continuing, we have no other responsible choice. While there are many actions the city can and should take in 2019 to keep people and goods moving through downtown, here are three core priorities that we believe cannot be avoided. We are asking elected city officials to step up and lead.

1. Keep buses moving fast

Choke points throughout the city leave buses and their riders stuck in gridlock. A robust network of bus priority corridors connecting Seattle’s neighborhoods can make public transit fast, reliable, and efficient. We’ve identified twenty stretches of road where speed and reliability improvements, including bus lanes, signal priority and queue jumps, can significantly improve people’s commutes (see map below). In addition, many current part-time bus lanes would benefit from expanded hours, and many more locations would benefit from short bus lanes or queue jumps. To keep people moving, the city must fast-track bus corridor improvements in 2019.

2. Enable a rapid shift to commuting by bike

When routes are comfortable, efficient, and predictable, more people and more types of people choose to get around by bike. During the Seattle Squeeze, MASS calls on Mayor Durkan to 1) Implement the Basic Bike Network (see map below) to connect neighborhoods from the North, East, and South to downtown, and advance the 4th Ave protected bike lane so that it can be a tool during this period; 2) Adopt and enforce measures that ensure bike routes are retained in construction zones to take effect during the Seattle Squeeze.

3. Make walking easy and safe

Waiting forever to cross the street, venturing into traffic because the sidewalk is blocked or there isn’t one to begin with — being a pedestrian in Seattle is often frustrating and frightening, but it doesn’t have to be this way. We’re asking city leaders to adopt and enforce stronger rules about sidewalk closures during construction, and create a signal policy that prioritizes people walking. As long as pedestrians are second-class citizens, we can’t expect people to leave their cars behind. 

The Seattle Squeeze is an opportunity to achieve a dramatic mode-shift in our city. As the recent series of alarming climate reports reminds us, we have no time to delay.

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Basic Bike Network Map:

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