While a two-way bikeway on the south side of Rainier would not require cyclists to cross driveways, this is not the safest option for cyclists on Rainier Avenue. A two-way bikeway would create complex conflict points at heavily trafficked intersections where drivers would need to look for vehicles, pedestrians, and two directions of bike traffic before making a turn. Drivers would need to look for cyclists traveling against the flow of vehicle traffic: this is an unexpected place for cyclists to be and could lead to collisions from drivers not spotting cyclists in time, especially when cyclists must cross Rainier to turn onto a side street.
With the one-way bikeway design, drivers would still need to look for cyclists in the bike lane when entering and exiting their driveways, however, the potential conflict points at driveways are less complex. This is because they have much lower vehicle volumes, vehicles are moving at much slower speeds, and they are only moving in two directions – in or out of the driveway – as opposed to intersections where hundreds of vehicles are moving in multiple directions and at varying speeds. Additionally, the fact that vehicles’ movements can be staged into two movements when exiting the driveways gives them more time to look for potential conflicts. Drivers first scan for pedestrians on the sidewalk and for cyclists in one direction before moving to the buffered area before they enter the travel lane, which would have improved sight lines under the proposed design. Here they can scan for moving vehicle traffic and make their turns safely.
We strongly believe that installing a protected bikeway in each direction, one on each side, is the safest solution because it allows cyclists to more safely travel through and across Rainier Avenue compared to a two-way bikeway. This aligns with NACTO and FHWA guidelines, which recommend one-way bikeways instead of two-way bikeways when streets are wide enough to accommodate them, where there are destinations on both sides of the street, and where there are limited connections to other bike facilities.