MLK Protected Bike Lane

Updated: July 16, 2021

Creating a new bike connection and a safer street

What's happening now?

We Are Here 90% Design Timeline Graphic

Thank you to all who participated in our outreach events this spring! You can view the outreach summary report, recorded presentation, presentation script, and Q&A document in the Materials section below. We are in the final design phase and expect to begin construction in 2023.

We will continue reaching out to community members as we continue design work through 2021. We plan to build the protected bike lane by the Judkins Park light rail station opening in 2023. This will be an important connection to both light rail stations as well as the I-90 Trail, Franklin High School, and the Metro Transit Center.

Project Overview

SDOT is building a protected bike lane on each side of Martin Luther King Jr Way S between the Judkins Park and Mt Baker Link light rail stations (S Judkins St to Rainier Ave S). The purpose of this project is to improve safety for people walking, biking, and driving, and create better connections to transit and to destinations between Mt. Baker Station and the future Judkins Park Station that is set to open in 2023. 

Project Needs

MLK Way has been identified as a high-priority corridor for meeting the following transportation and community needs:

  • Provide a better north/south bike connection in southeast Seattle
  • Contribute to the City’s Vision Zero goal to end traffic deaths and serious injuries
  • Provide neighborhood connections to the future Link light rail station

Conversations with community members and other stakeholders, as well as technical analyses, have informed our current project plans.

Project elements along MLK Way include:

  • Protected bike lanes on both sides of MLK
  • Rechannelization to create safer and streamlined conditions for all road users
  • Changes to parking to support bike lane installation while providing access to local businesses
  • New roadway paint to improve safety conditions for bikes
  • Safer conditions for pedestrians, including widened sidewalks and crosswalks

Benefits

  • Connect people to transit and schools: This will be an important connection to both light rail stations as well as the I-90 Trail, Franklin High School, and the Metro Transit Center. The I-90 Trail is a regional connection that will improve access to downtown and the region's growing trail network from Southeast Seattle.  

  • Improve safety for people who walk, bike, and drive on MLK: This section of MLK Way has high rates of speeding, head-on collisions, and off-the-road collisions compared to other parts of the city. Redesigning the street will help to reduce speeding and make the street safer, more predictable, and more comfortable for everyone.  

Protected bike lanes uniquely provide a separate, protected space for people biking that is differentiated from motor vehicle travel lanes, parking lanes, and sidewalks. The purpose of this new infrastructure is to improve neighborhood connectivity, increase mobility and transportation options, and enhance both pedestrian and bike safety in southeast Seattle.

Image of a person wearing a red hat, blue sweatshirt and jeans, and a drawstring backpack biking on a protected walkway. There are paint stripes and small, white flexible delineators acting as a buffer between the bike and traffic lanes.

A protected bike lane in Seattle (SDOT photo)

We're focusing on the section of Martin Luther King Jr Way S between the Judkins Park and Mt Baker light rail stations (S Judkins St to Rainier Ave S). We had been studying the feasibility of a protected bike lane on MLK between Rainier Ave S and S Henderson St., but we put a pause on that portion of the project in response to the significant decline of revenues for the City and our funding partners related to the COVID-19 crisis. Read more on the SDOT blog.

As part of the latest Bike Master Plan Implementation Plan, Martin Luther King Jr Way S was identified as an important southeast Seattle bike connection. SDOT uses the following criteria when prioritizing projects: safety, connectivity, equity, ridership, and livability, as well as policy directives, community interest, and geographic balance.

Project Map

MLK Protected Bike Lane Project Map

Current Project Design

I-90 Trail (raised protected bike lanes and bus islands)

MLK Protected Bike Lane Project I-90 Connection Graphic

At the northern end of the project, we’ve designed raised protected bike lanes and bus islands to accommodate people biking, walking, taking the bus, or driving. The shared bus stop will reduce interactions between bikes, cars and buses on the corridor, providing improved safety and predictability for all users, and will help keep transit moving to improve travel time for people riding buses.

The design elements include:

  • bike lane transition from street grade to sidewalk grade with slow down line markings
  • bike lane located between travel lane and sidewalk
  • sidewalk level pedestrian crosswalks cross the raised protected bike lane
  • markings for people biking, walking, or using transit
  • passengers board and alight (exit) into the bike lane
  • bikes must yield to passengers boarding/alighting

In addition to the design features listed above, the project will also add right turn bicycle ramps to access the I-90 Trail. Unique bus stop announcements will be added to buses serving the shared stops. These announcements will alert exiting passengers to “watch for bikes when exiting the bus” as buses approach the shared stops.

Proposed design at MLK Way and S Massachusetts St

MLK PBL Project S Massachusetts Graphic

Currently, this street has one travel lane in each direction, a center turn lane, and parking on both sides. There are sidewalks present, but no bike lanes. Our proposed design introduces protected bike lanes to both sides of the street. Other design elements include:

  • Protected bike lanes on both sides of the street
  • Green pavement markings to highlight where cyclists will be present
  • Turn boxes to help cyclists safely make left turns
  • Bike signal at S Massachusetts St for southbound bike lane 
  • Shared raised protected bike lanes and bus stops where buses remain in travel lane
  • Removed parking on the east side of the street
    • Preserved parking on the west side is closer to community centers and businesses

Proposed design at MLK Way and S Bayview St

MLK PBL Project S Bayview St 60% Design Graphic

This corridor has four travel lanes and a center turn lane. There are no bike facilities, and the sidewalk is missing on the east side of the street between S Bayview St and S McClellan St. Our proposal for this corridor will remove two travel lanes and includes:

  • Protected bike lanes on the both sides of the street
  • A protected multiuse path on the east side of the street, south of S Bayview St with a detectable strip between cyclists and pedestrians.
    • This path will be separated from vehicle traffic by a concrete barrier
  • Drainage and pavement repairs and upgrades
  • Upgraded curb ramps
  • Green pavement markings to highlight where cyclists will be present

Proposed design at MLK Way and S McClellan St

MLK PBL Project S McClellan St 60% Design Graphic

Currently, the street has four travel lanes that become a left turn lane at S McClellan St. This corridor is heavily used by Metro buses accessing the current location of the Mt Baker Station. Our proposed design for this corridor will remove two travel lanes and includes:

  • Protected bike lanes on both sides of the street
  • A protected multiuse path on the east side of the street north of S McClellan St, with a detectable strip between cyclists and pedestrians.
    • This path will be separated from vehicle traffic by a concrete barrier
  • Openings in the proposed bike lane to maintain access to businesses and the transit center
  • Green pavement markings to highlight where cyclists will be present
  • Other pedestrian improvements that were a part of the Accessible Mount Baker Project

Accessible Mt Baker Proposed Walking/Biking Improvements

Rainier and MLK Intersection 60 percent design

Proposed improvements by the Mount Baker Station

The near-term improvements Accessible Mount Baker Project have been merged with the MLK Protected Bike Lane Project. To see full details on the Accessible Mount Baker Project, please visit the project webpage.

Near-term improvements in this area include:

  • New and widened curb bulbs and crosswalks to create shorter crossings
  • Widened and repaired sidewalks for additional sidewalk space
  • Right turn restrictions from Rainier to MLK
  • Protected bike lanes that connect to the Mt Baker Light Rail Station

Project Schedule

May 2020: Selected preferred alternative

Autumn 2020: Developed 30% design

Early 2021: Finalize 30% design 

Spring 2021: Finalize 60% design 

2023: Construction 

Community Outreach

We want this design to work for not just people who bike, but also everyone who lives and works in the area. SDOT is partnering with the Department of Neighborhoods to engage neighbors. Please feel free to get in touch with us to ask questions or set up a meeting: MLKWay@Seattle.gov or (206) 900-8750

We also connected with the community about design plans in August 2020 and November 2020 in two online drop-in sessions. View a recording of the August 2020 presentation and the November 2020 presentation here.

Summer 2019 MLK was identified as an important Southeast Seattle bike connection as part of the latest Bike Master Plan Implementation Plan   
Early 2020 Phone interviews with project neighbors and interested stakeholders
Spring 2020 Mailer, online survey and other outreach to engage neighbors in the early design 
Summer 2020 Mailer, online early design drop-in session with Live Q&A, online survey and additional outreach to neighbors and community members
Fall 2020 Mailer, online early design (30%) drop-in session with Live Q&A, online survey and additional outreach to neighbors and community members
Spring 2021 Mailer, door hangers, posters, A-frames, 60% design drop-in session with Live Q&A, online survey, pop-up event, stakeholder interviews, and additional outreach to neighbors and community members
Ongoing Email and web updates

Materials

July 2021 Outreach Summary

April 2021 Drop-in Session Recorded presentation

April 2021 Drop-in Session Presentation Script

April 2021 Drop-in Session Q&A

May 2021 Updated Fact Sheet

April 2021 Drop-in Session Q&A

Early Design Project Map

Accessible Mount Baker Proposed Biking/Walking Improvements

January 2021 Updated Fact Sheet

November 2020 Outreach Summary

November 2020 Drop-in Session Q&A

August 2020 Outreach Summary

August 2020 Drop-In Session Q&A

Spring 2020 Outreach Summary

March 2020 Fact Sheet  

Channelization Graphics

Related Projects

We're coordinating closely with other projects in the area including:

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