35th Avenue bike lane project divides Seattle neighborhood

SEATTLE -- A two mile stretch of 35th Avenue Northeast in North Seattle is next in line for the city’s expansion of bike lanes.

Putting in the lanes for cyclists would mean taking away a majority of the street parking.

Cars line the 35th avenue parking to get access to businesses and restaurants. People who live in the Wedewood neighborhood who are against the plan say if the parking is taken away then those cars will just park in front of their homes on nearby streets.

12,500 cars travel on 35th Avenue Northeast every day, according to the City of Seattle. The thoroughfare connects Ravenna, Bryant and Wedgwood neighborhoods.

The once quiet pocket of Seattle is home to churches, synagogues, shops, a library, post office and restaurants.

"It used to be a quiet little village you can hardly hear me talk over the roar of these cars,” said Bob Caldwell, who has lived in the Wedgwood neighborhood for more than 30 years and was a former traffic planner for WSDOT.

"There is not enough room here to put in a bike lane,” said Caldwell.

He says drivers rarely follow the speed limit and travel 40 even 50 miles per hour.

His neighbors say adding more cyclists only makes the street more dangerous.

"There’s just more moving parts for drivers to navigate,” said Ana Weisman who lives in the neighborhood.

She says her commute is already tough maneuvering the fast cars, the cyclists who are already on the road and the buses.

"I cross the street every morning to catch the bus and cars don’t slow down. I put my hand up, I look at them, they yell at me. It’s very scary,” said Weisman.

The city says that scary street is exactly why they want to turn 35th Avenue into a safer, more pedestrian and cyclist friendly street.

"I’ve been a pedestrian over on Roosevelt where they have bike lanes, it’s very confusing,” said Weisman.

Others like Chris Priest say there’s nothing confusing about it.

"We can’t build out of our growth so we need to start focusing on ways to move people around the city that’s not just everyone in their car,” said Chris Priest who is in favor of the bike lanes.

He says the improvement won’t hurt businesses by taking away parking, it’ll help attract more people to the area.

"If I felt more comfortable walking the kids to Top Pot, we’d go there more often than jump in the car and go there,” said Priest.

The City of Seattle is planning to start the project this spring. They say they’re not removing parking, they’re consolidating.

The city completed a study looking at parking usage in the area, they found about 40% of spots were used during peak hours.