Biking on Beacon: Back to work by bike!

After a long holiday vacation, which, due to the blizzard in the Northeast, stretched into an even longer holiday vacation, I finally made it back to the Hill to find that indeed I am required to return to work in the new year. :(

An upside to this situation is that I get to hop on my bike and get back into my commuting routine.  I have to admit that when I was first considering bike commuting from Beacon Hill to Downtown and back I was hesitant.  Though it is only a three mile ride to Belltown from my house, there are a number of daunting hills and even scarier rivers of traffic.  But after testing out numerous routes, I found one that is not too hilly and avoids a good bit of the traffic. 

If you look on a map the most logical route to get from North Beacon Hill to Downtown is along 15th Avenue South via the Jose Rizal bridge.  The problem with this is that even after last years restriping on 15th (addition of a bike lane going southbound from Jose Rizal to Beacon, and sharrows northbound), the road is still a little scary to bike along.  An alternate route is to take 18th Avenue South to the Mountains to Sound Trail to Jose Rizal; this avoids the traffic and, as 18th is a gradual climb, provides one of the easiest ways to get up the north side of Beacon Hill.  Once over Jose Rizal, King Street (non-arterial) and 3rd Avenue (bus and bike only during commuter hours) provide the best routes for avoiding heavy traffic.  Another great way to avoid heavy traffic is to go into work early and come home early, this makes biking much safer!

I have mapped this route with accompanying video here.

According to SDOT counts, bike commuting in Seattle has doubled over the past 15 years. And with the implementation of the bicycle master plan in full gear, this ridership rate will only increase in the coming years.  Hop on your bike and try this route someday to see if bike commuting is for you.

Beacon Hill to downtown (COMMUTER ROUTE) at EveryTrail

5 thoughts on “Biking on Beacon: Back to work by bike!”

  1. Interesting route, Dylan. I haven’t been riding much the last couple of months, and I have to admit adding in another 101 feet of elevation gain before dropping down to the ID and then climbing back up through downtown doesn’t appeal to me much. The extra time in the morning isn’t something I can usually afford, but also there’s a certain laziness factor on my part.

    As a route back I might try it though. Most of the time coming home I cheat with my all-you-can-eat transit pass and ride my bike to the SODO station where I hop on light rail. It beats slogging up the hill after a tiring day while cars accelerate by me away from the light at the south end of the Rizal bridge.

    I appreciate you also saying that the markings on 15th don’t completely remove the scariness factor. After they went in, it seemed like there was a certain amount of denial about that. We’re really bottle necked on the hill and finding space for bikes and cars to travel safely is tough.

  2. Good tip about taking a side street to the Mountains to Sound Trail. Might take a little longer, but probably much more pleasant. I generally head to work about 9:30 and the traffic on 15th has died down a bit, and drivers are markedly less aggressive than at the 8am peak. Peak commuting time is scary, because the drivers are so amped up. The police regularly have speed traps set up on 15th during peak commute times, which I think helps safety for everyone.

    Unfortunately the painting of the bike lane on Golf Drive S has nearly worn off, so I’m always a little on edge that a car might come up on me from behind or unknowingly merge over into my lane as I’m climbing the hill. All in all, I find the cars on Beacon Hill are a tad nicer to bikes than they are in other parts of the city.

    BTW – Props to Lowes for having a great bike rack out front. Riding to Home Depot on 1st is fine, but HD has no bike rack! Lame!

  3. Hi Brook,

    Heading into town this route does add a little uphill biking, but it is a trade off for the safety factor. I tend to ride 16th to Holgate to 15th heading into town and then take MTS to 18th coming home.

    The idea of taking light rail home is a great one too!

  4. RM,

    The Golf Drive 14th intersection is one we are looking at in the bike circulation plan for the Hill. We will likely recommend extending the island so that the crossing distance across 14th is decreased.

    Ride Safe!

  5. Last year I promised myself I would never ride my bike on 15th again. Heading downtown I take 14th where there is a bike lane and very little traffic (most cars drive on 15th).

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