Seattle begins bike share takeover, budgets for system expansion

A plan to expand Pronto aims to reach "vulnerable" populations. Map from Seattle's pending TIGER grant application.

A plan to expand Pronto aims to reach “vulnerable” populations. Map from Seattle’s pending TIGER grant application.

With a big plan for expanding Pronto Cycle Share, including a one-time budget expense to make it happen, the city has begun taking a more central role in the bike share system.

“Bike share really expands the reach of the transit system, particularly when you add e-bikes in there,” said SDOT Director Scott Kubly. And as other cities have learned, the bigger the system gets, the “network effect” makes the system both more useful and more financially stable.

That’s why Mayor Ed Murray included $5 million in his proposed 2016 city budget to help expand Pronto. If the city receives the funding to build the full plan outlined in a pending federal grant proposal, bike share could be within an easy walk of 62 percent of Seattle residents.

But with that much city skin in the game, leaders understandably want to have a more direct role in the system operations and ownership.

“We are working with Puget Sound Bike Share on having the city take over operations of pronto bike share,” said Kubly.

At the moment, the PSBS Board is still in charge. But as we reported in August, PSBS Executive Director Holly Houser has stepped down, leaving the organization unstaffed. SDOT’s Chief of Active Transportation and Partnerships Nicole Freedman is going to work with PSBS to help keep things moving in Houser’s absence, Kubly said. Continue reading

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CHS: Two bicycle cafés opening soon in central Seattle

Sounds like the Capitol Hill bike shop vacuum is finally getting filled. And in true Hill fashion, it’s coming with coffee and beer.

Our friends at Capitol Hill Seattle report that two very different bike shop cafés are opening soon on Capitol Hill and the Central District. One has bike polo champs at the helm (Dustin Riggs is a member of the Guardians, Seattle’s premiere polo team. Watch them compete in the first ever Professional Hardcourt Bike Polo Championship here). The other is all about that bike performance.

But both represent interesting new bicycle-based business models that could also help fill the bike shop vacuum left on the Hill since Velo moved to 6th and Blanchard.

Below is the report from Justin Carder at CHS, republished with permission (I’m getting married Saturday, so posts will be a bit slow for the next week):

Team Peloton: Dustin Riggs, Mckenzie Hart, Paul Dano, and Aaron Grant

Team Peloton: Dustin Riggs, Mckenzie Hart, Paul Dano, and Aaron Grant. Photo republished with permission.

A tightly packed group of businesses combining passion for the bicycle with food, drink, and repair and maintenance services is pedaling its way around Capitol Hill. As the yellow jersey in the race of big city trends, you’re probably not going to be surprised to learn that the streets of Capitol Hill and the Central District will soon be home to not one, or two, but three bicycle cafes.

“Many cyclists kind of pick up the sport and it leads to a rabbit hole,” Dustin Riggs tells CHS. “There is a lot of culture around it.”

Riggs and his partners hope to clip into that two-wheeled enthusiasm as they prepare to open Peloton at 12th and Jefferson by early October.

“The coffee and the beer and the bikes. It’s just a lifestyle kind of thing,” he said. Continue reading

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Two people crash their cars in Bellevue, kill toddler in stroller on sidewalk

A person driving a Dodge Durango SUV t-boned someone driving a Nissan Sentra this morning in Bellevue. The collision sent the Sentra onto the sidewalk where it struck three people, including a mother pushing her 28-month baby girl in a stroller.

The toddler was killed.

Our deepest condolences go to the mother — who also suffered minor injuries — and the child’s whole family and community of loved ones. Continue reading

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Typo in law halts secret plan to give away half of the John Wayne Pioneer Trail

IMG_2103Washington State came one typo away from throwing away hope of ever completing the cross-state John Wayne Pioneer Trail and park (also known in Western Washington as Iron Horse State Park). If improved and connected, it would be the longest rail-trail in the nation.

Without any public outreach or hearing, two 9th District Representatives quietly inserted a last-minute provision in the state’s Capital Budget that they hoped would give away 130 miles of trail right-of-way to adjacent landowners. And because it was not its own bill, the idea never had to pass committee scrutiny or public input.

But rather than close the trail from the Columbia River to Malden, the provision closes the trail “from the Columbia River to the Columbia River.” This wonderful typo means the provision is nullified, and lawmakers will need to try again next session.

But this time people know about it, and communities across the state are outraged to learn how close the state came to throwing away this amazing and rare public resource. So far, the biggest trail support has come from within the 9th District, especially Tekoa where the trail ends in the east.

“Our state reps snuck this in the last minute in the darkness without any hearing or any attention for us to be able to know about it,” said Ted Blaszak, President of the Tekoa Trestle and Trail Association and member of the Tekoa City Council. “They abandoned their public service to actually represent their constituents and to inform them of the laws they are writing.

“Instead they did it behind our back and in secret. They betrayed us, and they betrayed the town of Tekoa,” he said. Continue reading

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The massive casualty toll in the Ride the Ducks collision is hard to comprehend

From January through the end of August, five people had been killed in Seattle traffic.

In a single collision today, four people were killed, eight were critically injured, eight more were seriously injured, and one is in “satisfactory” condition, according to the Seattle Times.

Numbers like these are hard to wrap your head around. Each one is a person with communities of people who love them. Many were international students at North Seattle College.

Our deepest condolences go out to their families and friends.

Bloodworks NW put out a call for people to donate O-Negative or O-Positive blood as the serious medical need following this tragedy has put a strain on their supplies. Continue reading

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The Parks District will fund trail repairs, improve neighborhood walk/bike access

Map of the 2016 Parks District investments. Notice the red star on the north end of the Burke-Gilman Trail.

Map of the 2016 Parks District investments. Notice the red star on the north end of the Burke-Gilman Trail.

Seattle’s crumbing trails are finally set to get some love from the Parks District, according to an announcement from Mayor Ed Murray. Trails are just one small part of the city’s parks system that has fallen into disrepair due to years of deferred maintenance, Murray said while outlining $47 million in parks investments all across the city.

“Years of deferred maintenance and lack of major investment has taken its toll on Seattle Parks and Recreation facilities,” said Murray in a statement. “In 2016, we will launch a major round of improvements to community centers, open spaces and facilities across the system.”

The city is currently conducting a survey of trail conditions in part to guide $500,000 in maintenance investments budgeted for 2016.

And these fixes can’t come soon enough, especially for the city’s oldest trails. Some sections have not been paved since the late 70s or 80s, and the width of many older sections has gotten skinnier and skinnier as the edges fall away. For example, anyone who has biked on the Burke-Gilman Trail essentially anywhere north of the UW knows how jarring some of the bumps can be. And especially since so much of the trail does not have lighting, these bumps are especially dangerous during dark hours. Continue reading

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Check out Rainier Valley north-south greenway details tonight

Plans for the city’s most ambitious neighborhood greenway are getting close to completion, and they’re really something.

You can check them out and give the city feedback at an open house from 6–7 p.m. tonight at the Hillman City Collaboratory (map).

The plans are definitely not perfect, but this is also one of the biggest neighborhood greenway challenges in the whole city. Difficult geography and an incomplete street grid makes it very hard to create one direct and easy residential street bike route across the length of the Rainier Valley.

That’s why, even though this project is very exciting, it is in no way an alternative to safe and inviting bike lanes on Rainier Ave. Rainier follows a direct geographic valley through SE Seattle, making it by far the best and really only option for an easy, high quality bike route. That’s why residents like the folks at Rainier Valley Greenways are working so hard to push for protected bike lanes on Rainier, even going as far as installing several blocks of temporary bike lanes on the street last week for Park(ing) Day.

Rainier Ave bike lane demonstration organizer and bad ass mom Shirley Savel. Read her account of making this lane happen on her blog.

Rainier Ave bike lane demonstration organizer and bad ass mom Shirley Savel. Read her account of making this lane happen on her blog.

Continue reading

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