Sound Transit has completed its initial study of the potential ridership benefits from investing in pedestrian and bicycle access around the Northgate Link Light Rail Station. The great news is that the investments proposed by the Sound Transit Board and Seattle City Council deliver large numbers of riders to the station and look like they would be cost effective choices as part of the access strategy for Northgate.

This study was commissioned last summer in response to the initial access proposal, which focused on vehicle parking. The Sound Transit Board has adopted new policies that emphasize fully integrated access plans, and the City of Seattle and Sound Transit partnered to develop a plan for the Northgate light rail station that would support people traveling to the station by bus, bike, walking and car.

Along with the access study, the Sound Transit Board and the Seattle City Council both unanimously approved a $20 million investment in bike/ped access, $5 million dollars from each entity to fund a portion of a bike/ped bridge across I-5 and $5 million from each entity to fund bike/ped projects around the station area. Both ST and the City are fully committed to funding these projects; the City is now working on identifying the remaining funds needed to perform environmental work, complete design, and construct the bridge (these funds need to be secured by July 2015). The access study will help determine whether the proposed projects would increase ridership and the bike/walk shed around the station by providing benefits to bikers and walkers.

The great news is that the study shows that these investments offer a very good return. The bike/ped bridge across I-5 increases the number of walkers accessing the station by 13% and the number of bicyclers by 4%, while the cycle track on 1st Ave will increase bicycle access by 6%. All of the potential projects demonstrate benefits to bikers and walkers.

The expected mode share of riders that will access Northgate Station in 2030 and weekday boardings by mode are summarized in Table 1 below. Table 1 also summarizes the increase in station ridership due to other potential projects such as streetscape improvements. The number of new walkers and bikers who would travel to the station as a result of these combined projects is expected to increase by 845 boardings each weekday, a 6% increase in total new weekday station boardings.

Table 1

Northgate Station Access Mode Share and Station Ridership Benefits (2030)




Feeder Bus




Expected Mode Share







Weekday Boardings







Boarding Increase due to Ped/Bike Bridge    



Boarding Increase due to Other Improvements    



TOTAL Weekday Boardings Percent Change    








In addition to creating new station ridership, these potential ped and bike improvement projects would also improve access to the station for other expected station users who were already planning to come by bicycling or walking. Table 2 summarizes the expected number of station riders who would use and benefit from individual proposed bike improvement projects. Table 3 summarizes the number of expected station riders who would benefit from potential pedestrian improvement projects.

Table 2

Local Bike Improvements

2030 Northgate Station
Bikers Benefited

1st Ave NE Cycle Track – NE 92nd St to Northgate Way


Buffered bicycle lanes on 5th Ave NE between NE 80th and NE 115th St


Bicycle lanes on NE 92nd between Wallingford Ave and 5th Ave NE


I-5 Bicycle and Pedestrian Bridge


Protected or buffered bicycle facilities on NE 103rd St between 1st Ave
NE and 5th Ave NE


Protected or buffered bicycle facilities on NE 100th St between 1st Ave
NE and 5th Ave NE



Table 3

Local Pedestrian Improvements

2030 Northgate Station
Walkers Benefited

I-5 Bicycle and Pedestrian Bridge


Sidewalk upgrades on 5th Ave between NE 100th and NE 103rd NE


Pedestrian Enhancements – NE Northgate way between Corliss Ave N and 1st Ave NE (CTIP Project, C-12)


Construct sidewalks on NE 103rd St. between 5th and 8th Ave


Curb, gutters and sidewalks both sides of NE 92nd between 1st Ave NE and 5th Ave


Construct sidewalks on NE 95th St between 1st and 3rd Ave


Construct sidewalks on NE 98th St between 5th and 8th Ave


Construct sidewalks on NE 95th St between 4th and 5th Ave


Extend walkway along 8th Ave NE to 92nd St.


Intersection and crossing improvements on 5th Ave and NE 94th St.


While this is encouraging data, final decisions on what improvements to construct will not be made until after public input on the proposed projects. The first opportunity to respond to the proposals will be at Sound Transit’s Northgate Station 60% design open house on May 23rd, 6-8pm (presentation begins at 6:30pm) at Olympic View School auditorium, 504 NE 95th St.

After receiving public input, Sound Transit, the City of Seattle, King County will make recommendations on a final project list. Policy makers must do everything we can to make transit a safe and convenient form of transportation. That is both an environmental and social justice imperative. Completion of this study is a great start to making this very important station as accessible as possible for all riders.



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Comment from Tim
Time May 22, 2013 at 1:10 pm

Table 3: “Sidewalk upgrades on 5th Ave between NE 10th and NE 103rd NE”
I think there’s a digit missing in there (NE 10th)

Comment from Richard Conlin
Time May 22, 2013 at 2:04 pm

Fixed. Thanks!

Comment from Cam Solomon
Time May 23, 2013 at 7:15 am

I won’t be able to make this meeting, but just wanted to express my support for all these improvements.

In addition, we need to think hard about complete, safe routes from all major populations centers that people will be traveling from by foot and bike, not just the disjointed segments listed.

How is a family with small children traveling from Maple Leaf going to get to the station?

What route would a hearty cyclist take from Lake City (particularly if a station isn’t considered at 130th)?

How are we going to get the workers living in apartments near Aurora or Bitterlake safely to the station?

Those are the important questions, and what we should be focusing on. Routes, not segments.

Comment from Becka
Time June 7, 2013 at 10:38 pm

Exciting news! These improvements are useful for everyone in the neighborhood, too, not just people catching Link. With any luck they will be in place well before the station opens