erik lundegaard

My Bike Ride: the 2nd and Broad Intersection

I live in the First Hill neighborhood in Seattle, work in lower Queen Anne, bike almost every day. Not a bad ride: 15 minutes. Bit hilly on the way back but hills are unavoidable in Seattle.

Case in point. At the beginning of the ride home, one-way streets and busy streets basically force me to go up that hill on Thomas near the Space Needle, only, a block later, to go down that hill on 2nd Avenue, just before Mercer. So: go up only to go down. That's Seattle.

When you bike up to 2nd and Thomas, you always get a glorious view of the Space Needle.

The true drag is the traffic light at the bottom of 2nd. It's long, and rarely green when I need it to be green, so increasingly I find myself stopping halfway down the hill and hanging by the curb for the green so I can get some benefit of the hill. So I can go: fooosh!

Or so I can go fooosh for a block. Then I run into the mess at 2nd and Broad.

Second Avenue, a one-way street heading south, is the only downtown street with a bike lane, which is cool, but this leads to its own problems. Whenever a car turns left on 2nd it's essentially turning into the bike lane, and 2nd and Broad is a popular left-turn intersection. Worse, the stoplights are timed so that, with or without the foosh, that light seems to turn green when I'm about 10-20 feet from the intersection. Which means I have no idea if the cars in the left lane see me as they're about to turn left. So invariably I have to brake and lose my foosh.

This would be less of a problem if people in Seattle actually used their turn signals. But many refuse to, almost stubbornly, as if this passivity is part of what makes them Seattleites—just as the passivity of pedestrians not crossing against the red when no cars are in sight makes them Seattleites. Too often I've had to stop completely at 2nd and Broad because a car, gloriously oblivious and turnsignalless, began its turn into my lane. As a final insult, it often turns on its turn signal then. When its intentions are obvious. When it does nobody any good.

On the plus side I'm still here.

Even the Google Maps photo at 2nd and Broad shows a turnsignalless car turning left. (And at evening-hour rush hour, this intersection is always busier, and, invariably, rainier.)


Posted at 07:40 AM on Sat. Mar 12, 2011 in category Biking, Seattle, Personal Pieces  
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