Salomon: Safety changes need to be part of Roosevelt repaving project

EDITOR’S NOTE: Andres Salomon is an active member of NE Seattle Greenways who bikes his kid around town and cares deeply about road safety. We have been talking a lot about how protected bike lanes and walking safety could be part of the city’s plans to repave Roosevelt Way in 2015. Here are some of his thoughts on how to make a safer street and some information on how you can get involved and help make a better and safer street.

Project area, from the city

Project area, from the city

The City of Seattle is currently preparing plans to repave and restripe Roosevelt Way NE in 2015.  The plan includes some minor improvements for transit riders, but is lacking in general safety improvements and bicycle facilities.  This is especially important for a bicycle route that is a major backbone of the bicycle network in the city’s Bicycle Master Plan.

We can and should be asking much more from our multi-million dollar maintenance projects. Concerned neighbors are organizing community efforts to help identify needed walking and biking improvements along Roosevelt Way.  A walking audit is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Tuesday (today!), and a bike brainstorming session is scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday.

The repaving project includes the University Bridge (Eastlake Ave NE), Roosevelt Way NE between the University Bridge and NE 65th St, and small portions of 11th Ave NE and NE 42nd St.  The currently 30 percent complete plan features widened sidewalks at bus stops and legally-required ADA-compliant curb ramps at every intersection.  Where the sidewalks are to be widened, parking on one side of the street will be removed.  A turn lane at the intersection of NE 45th St will also be removed, narrowing the distance that pedestrians must cross.  While these are welcome improvements to the street, the restriping does little to address the numerous safety concerns with Roosevelt Way NE. Continue reading

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Small Burke-Gilman work zone in Lake Forest Park this week

Work location, via google maps

Work location, via google maps

To get the McAleer Creek bridge ready for fall rains, King County Park will need to work on the Burke-Gilman Trail in Lake Forest Park this week. So be ready to dismount and walk through the short work area.

Details from King County Parks:

Beginning today, Sept. 2, bicyclists will be asked to dismount through a short construction zone of approximately 200 feet along the Burke-Gilman Trail where it is crossed by Northeast 170th Street at the north end of Lake Washington. Crews are performing annual maintenance work on the McAleer Creek bypass facility to prepare it for fall rains. The work is expected to be completed by the end of the day on Friday, Sept. 5.

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Mother killed on 2nd Ave was attorney who helped bring down Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

Photo by Lars Halstrom

Photo by Lars Halstrom

Just one wrong turn — one missed glance into bike lane on 2nd Ave — and a man driving a box truck struck and killed Sher Kung Friday. By witness accounts, the man driving the truck jumped into action and tried to help her, but became distraught when he realized it was too late. He made a left turn right in front of her while she biked in the skinny painted bike lane, and it killed the young mother.

The outpouring of grief has been remarkable. It comes from those who watched it happen, those who knew her and those who bike downtown every day and know that it could have easily been them instead of Kung. A flower memorial sprung up within hours of the deadly collision, and a couple ghost bikes followed shortly.

The corner where she died is also the site of the Garden of Remembrance, a memorial to Washington residents who have given their lives in military service. And though Sher Kung did not die on a battlefield, her young legacy will live on through the lives of American service members who can now be true to themselves while wearing their uniforms.

Kung worked as a legal fellow for the ACLU and helped win a case that was instrumental in the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. An AP photographer took this shot of Kung standing next to Margaret Witt after a federal judge ruled that Witt must be reinstated to the rank she had earned before she was discharged for being gay. Continue reading

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Truck strikes and kills woman biking on 2nd Ave

Screen Shot 2014-08-29 at 2.43.15 PMA woman biking died today after colliding with a large box truck at 2nd Ave and University Street in downtown Seattle.

Exact details of how the collision happened are not yet clear, though police say the driver of the truck was making a left turn when the collision happened. The bike lane is on the lefthand side of the street on 2nd, which is a one-way street southbound.

We send our deepest condolences to her friends and family.

The tragedy comes barely more than a week before completion of a road safety project on 2nd Ave designed to solve the well-known problems with the skinny, paint-only bike lane. One of the biggest problems with the current design is the tendency for left-turning motor vehicles not to yield to people biking in the lane next to them.

The city has been prepping the street to open new protected bike lanes on 2nd Ave as soon as September 8. The new bike lanes will put either a row of plastic reflective posts or a row of parked cars between moving car traffic and people biking.

The lanes will also come with new traffic signals that give left-turning cars and people biking different signal cycles to prevent conflicts like the one that happened this morning. When bikes have a green, turning cars would have a red arrow and vice versa.

We will have more updates on this tragedy soon. Below are details from SPD: Continue reading

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Where should Seattle create a pedestrian plaza next?

Screenshot from StreetFilms (watch below)

Screenshot from StreetFilms (watch below)

Mayor Ed Murray and new SDOT Director Scott Kubly have their eyes out for bold pedestrian plaza opportunities in the city’s right-of-way, Publicola reports. With New York’s extremely successful Times Square plaza project as their inspiration, Murray and Kubly would love to create a powerful Seattle public space:

We definitely LIKE the story we heard from a city hall insider that Mayor Ed Murray, evidently set on being Seattle’s version of former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, reportedly tasked his new SDOT director Scott Kubly with copying New York City’s pedestrian innovation in Times Square.

What did New York do in Times Square? Essentially, they had an area where so many people want to walk and hang out that they actually could not all fit on the sidewalks. Children were a rare sight, and people in wheelchairs and walkers had a particularly awful time trying to get around. Yet there was a ton of space reserved for cars, which spent most their time barely moving in the city’s iconic gridlock. So half a decade ago, the city did something unimaginable: They closed a part of Broadway to cars and reimagined it as an expanded public space. The result has been a success by essentially every measure, including traffic flow.

Here’s a great StreetFilms video about it: Continue reading

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Poll: Nearly every resident wants safe routes to Washington schools

If you think it’s a bad idea to make walking and biking routes around schools in Washington State safer, congratulations! You are a rare find.

A statewide phone poll commissioned by the Childhood Obesity Prevention Coalition found that a nearly unanimous 88 percent of state residents believes we should be planning our communities so that kids can safely walk or bike to school and stay safe from traffic.

And perhaps more importantly, state residents are willing to put their money behind their hopes for safer streets: 76 percent agree that “investing in safety of our transportation network, including sidewalks,bike lanes, to prevent collisions & injuries is a smart use of public transportation funds.” And when asked about whether Safe Routes to School funding is an important part of state transportation funding, 84 percent of residents said yes. When pollsters stressed that the state’s budget is limited, and some priorities need to be cut, 79 percent still said Safe Routes to School is important.

Washington Bikes sees the poll as a clear sign that residents want their lawmakers to include significant funding for the state’s very successful Safe Routes to School program in the next legislative session: Continue reading

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More details on upcoming Fremont Bridge work, sidewalk closures begin Sept 2

The Fremont Bridge is one of the busiest bike routes in the city with about 5,000 bike trips recorded on summer weekdays. But using the bridge can be uncomfortable for people walking and biking because the bridge’s sidewalks are too narrow to handle the volume of people trying to get across.

And starting September 2, the problem is going to get so much worse.

We reported weeks ago that the city is repainting the historic draw bridge, a complicated process needed to prevent corrosion and keep it in good working order for a long time to come. In order to do the work, a traffic lane and sidewalk will need to be closed weekdays from 7 a.m to 3 p.m.

One sidewalk will remain open at all times, but be ready to be patient and go slowly because it’s gonna be packed well beyond capacity, especially if they close it promptly at 7. Even pushing it back to 8:30 or 9 would help avoid the morning rush. Bike counter data shows that the 8 o’clock hour is the busiest weekday hour.

The city also says there will be full overnight (midnight – 7 a.m.) closures September 6, 7, 13 and 14. Workers will offer two five-minute openings just for people walking and biking (at 1:20 a.m. and 2:20 a.m.), but this could create some serious problems for people who don’t know of another way to bike across the ship canal. Continue reading

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