MLK Protected Bike Lane

Updated: February 17, 2021

Creating a new bike connection and a safer street

Design Phase 30 Percent Timeline Graphic

What's happening now?

We’re planning to build near-term safety improvements at and near the Rainier Ave S and MLK Jr Way S intersection this year. These improvements were originally part of the Accessible Mt Baker project but are now being delivered by our MLK Protected Bike Lane team to streamline project improvement timelines, reduce construction impacts, and reduce costs.

Thank you for your feedback on the MLK Protected Bike Lane Project

We received nearly 300 responses from community members through our August and November surveys. Community members clearly expressed that safety was a top concern when traveling along MLK Jr Way S, especially at intersections. Protection between bicyclists and vehicles and dedicated signals for vehicle turns were top design priorities. Your feedback informed our decision to design single-lane protected bike lanes on each side of MLK Jr Way S. View our full August 2020 outreach summary and November 2020 outreach summary here.

We will continue reaching out to the community and advancing design work in 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

An overhead map of the project area from S Judkins St to Rainier Ave S

Current Project Design

Cross Section and Overhead Diagram of S Massachusetts and MLK Way

Proposed design at MLK Way and S Massachusetts St

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:

  • Removed parking on the east side of the street
    • Preserved parking on the west side is closer to community centers and businesses
  • Green pavement markings to highlight where cyclists will be present
  • Turn boxes to help cyclists safely make left turns
  • Shared bus stops where buses merge into the bike lane
  • Protected bike lanes on both sides of the street

Cross Section and Overhead Diagram of S Bayview and MLK Way

Proposed design at MLK Way and S Bayview St

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:

  • A protected bike lane on the south side of the street, separated by a concrete barrier
  • A protected multiuse path on the east side of the street, with separation between cyclists and pedestrians. This path will be separated from vehicle traffice by a concrete barrier
  • New crosswalks at the MLK Way and S Bayview St intersection
  • Pavement repairs and upgrades
  • Upgraded curb ramps
  • Green pavement markings to highlight where cyclists will be present
  • Turn boxes to help cyclists safely make left turns

Cross Section and Overhead Diagram for S McClellan and MLK Way

Proposed design at MLK Way and S McClellan St

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
  • 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 part of the Accessible Mount Baker Project

Accessible Mt Baker Proposed Walking/Biking Improvements

Proposed improvements at Rainier and MLK including curb bulb extensions, sidewalk repairs, a new crosswalk, and other improvements

Proposed improvements by the Mount Baker Station

The Accessible Mount Baker Project is being merged with the MLK Protected Bike Lane Project. To see full details on the Accessible Mount Baker Project, please visit the project webpage.

Proposed near-term improvements in this area include:

  • New and widened crosswalks
  • Widened and repaired sidewalks
  • Right turn restrictions
  • Additional sidewalk spaces
  • Ohter pedestrian crossing improvements
  • Protected bike lanes that connect to the Mt Baker Light Rail Station

Accessible Mt Baker Improvements to the MLK and Rainier intersection

Near-term pedestrian improvements by the Mt Baker Light Rail Station

Project Schedule

May 2020: Selected preferred alternative

Autumn 2020: Developed 30% design

Early 2021: Finalize 30% 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
Ongoing Email and web updates

Materials

January 2021 Updated Fact Sheet

Thumbnail of first page of Q&A August 2020 Drop-In Session Q&A

Thumbnail of spring outreach summary Spring Outreach Summary

 Thumbnail of MLK PBL Factsheet page 1  March 2020 Fact Sheet  


Channelization thumbnailChannelization Graphics

Related Projects

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

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