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Does the Green Lake loop need better lane-usage directions?

What do you think? (56 Comments) July 21, 2010 at 3:40PM

We received the following note from My Green Lake reader Phil Austin:

Lane usage directions mockupI had an idea while walking the lake this morning and I was wondering what your readers might think about it.

As it happens nearly every time I walk the lake, I noticed someone running in the outer wheels lane when a biker rode by and made a stern comment to her about being in the correct lane.

As you know, there are signs along the path…some are on posts (which no one seems to notice) and some are embedded in the ground. In both cases they’re few and far between. With so much to look at down there, I can imagine that the first-time or occasional visitor could easily miss those signs for at least a good portion of the way around.

My idea was to paint (via stencil or some other means) directions onto the already-painted centerline…perhaps in a less visually obtrusive concrete-esque color. They could be placed close together or even 20 feet apart and get the same effect I would think.

I whipped together these simple mockups to see what folks thought. I really spent no time on the design and I think it could be done in an aesthetically pleasing way…maybe even smaller than what’s shown. If the idea took off and grew some legs I’d love the chance to put together some designs and “leave my mark” on the lake I love so much.

Lane usage directions mockup

Thanks for the note, Phil, and the interesting idea.  Before Phil presents his idea to Seattle Parks and Recreation, please weigh in:

Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.

If your opinion is more nuanced than a simple “yes” or “no,” please leave a comment.

56 Responses to “Does the Green Lake loop need better lane-usage directions?”

  1. Ben Lukoff says:

    I doubt people will notice this any more than they notice the signs, unfortunately. Or, they won't care.
    If they were to implement this, though, I'd replace “wheels” and “heels” with something more specific. Believe it or not, I think this language might confuse some people.

  2. Phil Austin says:

    Thanks for posting Amy! I'm curious what folks would think about the idea in general. From there we could adjust the look and language. I'd love to hear comments!

  3. mark says:

    i'm a skater, and yeah it's a pain when i have to go around walkers in the “wheels” lane, but let's not add more paint and signage and rules. some people will be courteous and some won't. this is a fact of life. – mark

  4. chickadee says:

    I'd pay good money to see everyone teetering around the lake in high heels, though.

  5. Freef says:

    This brings up something that gnaws at me every time I walk the loop: if you read the posted signs closely, they say designate a side for feet “only” and then a side for wheels. The addition of the word “only” to the feet side alone leads me to obviously decipher the rules as feet are OK on both paths, but that one is strictly reserved for feet only, and that wheelers need to still yield to pedestrians on the wheel side. So is there someone with authority (as in, I don't want every citizens' opinion; I prefer an authoritative answer from someone who knows) that can answer whether feet are allowed on both sides and wheels only allowed on one? And if there are distinct lanes for each, then something along the lines of what Phil has proposed seems straightforward and helpful, though, as he admits, needs some aesthetic work to avoid the crime-scene tape look.

  6. J_Seattle says:

    I agree with Ben in that I don't think it'll matter much. Walkers need to be more cognizant of the fact that wheels are alloted their section of path, and the wheel riders need to be cognizant of the fact that there is frequently a walker to wheel ratio of about 100:1. I've grown a little tired of snotty comments and disgusted looks from the wheel crowd when someone is in their lane. I have another idea, how about implementing a “slow down” campaign. *It's not a race track* (*pointing finger at bike messenger guy that goes about 25 mph and throws the aforementioned disgusted looks).

  7. Greenlaker says:

    Unfortunately, I doubt people would pay much attention. Since the center line is yellow, many (incorrectly) assume that means “be in the right lane”.

    I say we start by painting the line a different color!

  8. mygreenlake says:

    Hi Freef,

    Thanks for the comment – you ask a good question.

    While the rules of the path are only guidelines, walkers and joggers are asked to use the inside lane and cyclists and skaters are asked to use the outside lane. However, if any pedestrians do end up in the outside lane, cyclists and skaters are asked to yield to them.

    More info can be found here:


  9. Honestly, that would probably be a more effective change in the short term than any new labeling or signage. By having it not be a yellow line, it wouldn't automatically put people into driving mindsets, where they just try to be in the right-hand land for whichever direction they're walking.

  10. Ned Friend says:

    A third option: erase the line all together and ask people with wheels to instead use the bike lane on the road around the lake.

    The ratio of heels:wheels is probably 100:1, so it seems like a poor use of public property to devote half the lane to 1% of the population (obviously wheelchairs notwithstanding, and it's not like there is a public good in encouraging wheel use here). Maybe some stats on heel/wheel collisions would make a change more politically feasible.

  11. Ned Friend says:

    A third option: erase the line all together and ask people with wheels to instead use the bike lane on the road around the lake.

    The ratio of heels:wheels is probably 100:1, so it seems like a poor use of public property to devote half the lane to 1% of the population (obviously wheelchairs notwithstanding, and it's not like there is a public good in encouraging wheel use here). Maybe some stats on heel/wheel collisions would make a change more politically feasible.

  12. People like to walk in three abreast and sometimes are out in the bike lane. If I had one complaint, it would be this. It annoys me that I have to either go out in the bike lane or out on the gravel or grass as none of them seem to budge to let me by. I never go out in the bike lane or cross it to get home without looking all directions. It's like I-5 out there and those who live here know how it is but people from out of town are not familiar and might need a little reminder that the wheels mean just that and not feet and the same with the feet lane. The bikers are pretty fast and so are the skate boarders and I would hate to get hit .

  13. trickycoolj says:

    I stopped rollerblading at the lake not because I cared that I had to swerve around walkers in the wheels lane, but it's the walkers pushing an SUV stroller (or several abreast) with a dog or two on a retractable leash (that can be hard to see) stretched out across the entire path in a way that I can not go around without skating into the gravel/grass. That's treacherous on skates when you get rocks wedged between your wheels and have them stop rotating completely when a walker who is keeping their brood compact could easily go in the gravel/grass with their SUV stroller that has mountain bike tires to let a skater pass.

  14. Cat says:

    I think it's a great idea. Greenlake is one of the few places my 9 year old daughter can ride her bike. We often go out together (I'm running in the walking section) – and she's riding her bike in the wheels lane. It's like an obstacle course for my daughter who has to bike around all the walkers who seem to be completely oblivious. There are so few places where my daughter can ride her bike – I really wish people would be a little more considerate and stay out of the wheels lane unless they are riding a bike or on roller skates.

  15. Diana says:

    Though I agree that to some extent the painted directions will not make a difference to those who believe they have the right of way in every situation, I believe there are plenty more people who just don't know any better for lack of conspicuous signage. The signs on the posts aren't obvious enough when you're engrossed in conversation, running the track while dodging others, etc, and there just aren't enough of them to make the impact for which they were intended.
    I used to enjoy the Green Lake path as a walker, runner, inline skater and dog walker but it's become less and less enjoyable over the last several years to do any of that. Especially as a skater and runner.
    As a walker and runner, I understand how easy it is to stray onto the outside lane, but I always make way for those on wheels in it. As a skater, I understand when that happens. There's no reason skaters should be relegated to a road meant for massive vehicles.
    Look before you leap is always a good rule to follow. Move aside for those who are faster than you in order to keep traffic flowing. If you’re going to stop and congregate, please move off the track. Basically, the rules of the automobile road should be followed on the Green Lake track. I have to agree that the line color should be something other than yellow as this undoubtedly confuses people into thinking the outside lane is for a different direction. Oh, and another very important safety rule is that the outside lane is for counterclockwise travel only.
    We can all enjoy Green Lake in our own ways if everyone would just follow those few simple, common-sense rules. I’m very excited to see progress on this!

  16. J L says:

    As a frequent lake walker, I agree that some augmentation to the existing signage is necessary and would be helpful to encourage correct use, especially on the paved lanes which tend to get noticed more in the line of sight. Using a combination of words, simple “internationally understood” pictorials and directional arrows stenciled at frequent intervals (in white or yellow) would help remind users of what's expected. There used to be such signage on the lanes but it has long disappeared and there was not nearly enough of it, IMHO. Thanks, Phil for getting the ball rolling on this!

  17. Chris says:

    I think a white line would make it a bit less confusing, and since wheels are only allowed in one direction, and because of the aforementioned 100:1 ratio, I think the space devoted to bicycles could be reduced so that pedestrians are less tempted to stray into the “wheels” zone. I also think more stenciling (wheels/pedestrian, with directional arrows) on the path would help more people realize how the traffic flow is intended to be.

  18. Peggy says:

    You might want to consider printing them in several foreign languages, as well.

  19. Norm says:

    For starters there actually isn't a bike lane “on the road around the lake”. Traveling clockwise around the lake the bike lane only runs from the wading pool to the pitch and put. Second while that is my preferred route when traveling past the lake on my bike, it's just not a good place for kids to ride.

  20. dk says:

    I think narrowing the wheels lane to benefit the walkers would make it more dangerous for everyone. People on skates and skateboards just don't have the option of easily going into the grass or gravel.

  21. Cqueennic82 says:

    I agree! The first few times walking the lake, I had no idea which side to be on! I was yelled at every time by a rude cyclist or jogger. Signs are too far apart to be of help to new walkers.

  22. Resident28yrs says:

    This idea would help somewhat. Making the walker lane wider would also help. Using symbols of feet and wheels would be more universal.

  23. Kimberly says:

    If more signs are added, please add the preferred direction for wheels in addition to which side of the path wheels and pedestrians are delegated to. Also, which side should kids on bikes ride on if they cannot make it all the way around the lake? For example, they ride from the Community Center parking lot to the wading pool and back.

  24. Chivohawkins says:

    As a father, cyclist, dog walker, and skater, I'm frequently bummed at Green Lake. However, I've come to peace with my part in the mix and wish others would as well. I resign never to try to cycle or skate the path on a weekend between 9a-6p, or a nice weekday when pedestrians are out in force, even if it's my “right,” I surrender that for the greater good (100/1 ratio) – I wish others would as well, or at least chill the @#$% out and concede that they are fighting a losing battle on wheels during these times. I also commit to always keeping my dog under control, within a few feet of me at most, and ensuring that no one need concern themselves with his leash because I am. (I also pick up after him… but that's another post/rant) My children will only use wheels on the path when they are too little to do so in the street, and while they are, I'll do my best to keep them on the wheel lane and out of your way, if we slip up, again, please chill the !@#$ out, they're children. Nothing but courtesy is going to solve this problem, and it is one. Be considerate, be nice, be realistic. Thanks.

  25. Erik says:

    Chivohawkins – that is a great post. I run the lake, I bike the lake… and clearly biking should be shut down on the obviously busy days. Hell, it's hard to run on a sunny Saturday in July… forget about having a smooth ride.
    Nonetheless, I'd like to see people actually attempt to read the already-available signs. Clearly pedestrians will need to cross into the wheels lane at times – I get much more frustrated watching young families having their unsteady kids on bikes going the wrong way. That is flat out dangerous, regardless of how cautious/courteous the rest of the wheeled crowd is.

  26. Rachel says:

    Ok, silly question, where do joggers/runners with strollers fit in? There have been many times a fast runner with a stroller has almost mowed me down in the walking lane. It's even worse when it's a double stroller…..

  27. Caroline says:

    I like this idea. I often overhear more foreign languages spoken on my walks than english. Perhaps this could become an art project for the park. Our park has so little art, and I miss it.

  28. Bike Path says:

    A simpler solution might be to just paint a bike symbol in the bike lane (with the icon rightside up in the proper direction of wheel traffic) and the walkers' side with arrows going in both directions on the appropriate side of the side.

    Since it's just paint and relatively inexpensive, it could be repeated at a rather consistent interval…say every 100 feet. There must be standardized guidelines for the distance apart for a bike path, right?

    Seems like an easy, effective solution to me!