Tuesday at City Hall: NYC transit expert talks integrating biking and bike share

Lt1wQHX4_400x400As Seattle gets more and more dense, efficient transit and comfortable walking and biking only become more important by the day.

So perhaps it makes sense to learn from a U.S. city far more dense than Seattle. Which is why we’re excited about this talk Tuesday at City Hall by Jon Orcutt, who was Director of Policy at NYC DOT from 2007–2014 when the city tried some very ambitious changes to their streets and transportation system.

Talk details from Cascade Bicycle Club:

From Big City to Bike City: Innovations in Urban Bike Transportation
When: Tuesday, June 28; from 4:30 pm to 6:00 pm
Where: Bertha Knight Landes Room, Seattle City Hall
Speaker: Jon Orcutt, Director of Advocacy and Communications, TransitCenter
Introduction and City Council Sponsor: Councilmember Rob Johnson
Sponsor partners: Cascade Bicycle Club, Commute Seattle, Futurewise, Seattle Bike Blog, Seattle Neighborhood Greenways, Seattle Transit Blog, Transportation Choices, and The Urbanist
Event RSVP (optional): http://action.cascade.org/p/salsa/event/common/public/?event_KEY=81847 Continue reading

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Sullivan: 2nd Ave just a start for bike safety (VIDEO)

Editor’s Note: This report comes from Sidney Sullivan, a student in the UW’s News Lab journalism program.

2nd Ave. Photo by Sidney Sullivan

2nd Ave. Photo by Sidney Sullivan

Seattle is acclaimed for being a very bike friendly city, as a recent Zillow study ranked Seattle as the nation’s best largest-city to bike in [Editor’s Note: I’ve been very skeptical of this study, as I told the Seattle Times last month]. But some people who bike still take issue with some of the bike infrastructure.

Since March, the Seattle Bike Master Plan of Seattle Department of Transportation began executing its 2016-2020 Implementation Plan to increase bike safety and ridership throughout the city.

Based on SDOT data, between the years of 2015 to 2016, traffic peak times and bike safety downtown have improved. In particular, upgrades to the Second Avenue protected bike lane decreased bicycle collisions by 82 percent.

While it is a start in the right direction, some locals said they do not want city planning to stop there. The protected bike lanes on Second Avenue should only be viewed as a short-term fix, said Kris Skotheim, a decade-long cyclist and manager of the ASUW Bike Shop. Continue reading

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Volunteer for the FREE BIKE Party! + Still time to host a ride

lion bike letter v2_Artboard Letter

Download the poster in letter or tabloid size. Feel free to print and post them around your work or neighborhood!

The July 3 FREE BIKE Party is shaping up to be a blast, and we could use your help to make sure this bike-loving block party in Ballard goes off without a hitch.

Sign up to volunteer!

The FREE BIKE Party is home to the fifth annual Pedaler’s Fair. So check out some local bike-inspired businesses, listen to music, eat and the food truck rodeo, drink Ballard beer and maybe play some bike trivia (details soon!).

The party is just one part of FREE BIKE, a new ten-day, crowd-sourced bicycle festival in the Seattle area. That means that FREE BIKE will be what you make it.

Got an idea for a fun bike ride or event? Turn that vision into reality between July 1 and 10. Submit event details to the FREE BIKE calendar, and we will help you spread the word.

Speaking of the FREE BIKE calendar, there are already some awesome stuff planned. Here are some highlights so far: Continue reading

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Downtown streetcar plans would make 1st Ave, Stewart more dangerous for biking

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The proposed streetcar line imposed on a map of proposed downtown bike lanes.

The proposed streetcar line imposed on a map of proposed downtown bike lanes, except with Stewart deleted.

Despite ample evidence that streetcar tracks injure and maybe even kill people biking, plans for a downtown streetcar line on 1st Ave and Stewart Street do not include any adjacent bike lanes or any other measure to make the tracks safer.

To put it bluntly, the $135 million Center City Connector Streetcar as currently planned would make downtown more dangerous for people on bikes than it is today. If constructed, people will be seriously injured or killed.

By providing no mitigation for the new biking dangers along its entire route, the plans also seem to disregard Seattle’s complete streets ordinance requiring major projects to consider the needs of all road users. In fact, the project would even remove an existing (if substandard) bike route on Stewart.

To make matters worse, no mitigation for bike dangers was even studied in the otherwise exhaustive draft environmental assessment released recently. It’s not as though bike lanes were studied and deemed impossible for this alignment. They weren’t even studied. An investigation into options for making tracks safer for bike tires — including skinnier flange gaps and options for filling gaps — would also be good to add to the study (UPDATE: This brand new study (PDF) out of the UK is a treasure trove on the topic).

Instead, planners determined that the streetcar “would not affect bicycle access along First Avenue” because there are bike lanes on 2nd. This is maddening logic, especially for a street with as many businesses and destinations as 1st Ave. You have to bike on 1st to get to destinations on 1st. That should be obvious. So saying this streetcar would not affect bicycle access along 1st Ave is simply not true. It doesn’t matter if 98 percent of a trip does not injure someone. It needs to be 100 percent.

SDOT consistently says that safety is the agency’s top priority, and the city’s Vision Zero policy calls for zero traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2030. Building a streetcar line that we know will cause injuries or death is in direct conflict with these policies. Continue reading

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Missing Link megastudy confirms: Build the trail already!

BGTDraftEISJune2016-altsmap

829 pages have been added to the already-towering mountain of documents studying the 1.2-mile Ballard Missing Link of the Burke-Gilman Trail.

An estimated 22 people have gone to the hospital due to crashes on this dangerous stretch just since work on this study began one year ago. More will go to the hospital before it is finished, and even more will go to the hospital before this safety hazard is finally fixed.

The draft environmental impact statement (“DEIS”) is an exhaustive study of the project’s alternatives. It’s the same study you would need to build a freeway, which is total overkill for a short extension of a biking and walking trail. But project opponents have been able to successfully sue and delay the project long enough that completing the costly and time-consuming study was the city’s only option.

So what did it find? In short: Just build the damn trail already!

“Completing this section of the BGT has been discussed and analyzed since the late 1980s,” the study notes. It is beyond embarrassing that this has taken so long.

You have yet another chance to comment on the Missing Link. The EIS team will host two open houses in July: 6 – 9 p.m. July 14 and 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. July 16, both at Leif Erikson Hall. You can also email comments to BGT_MissingLink_Info@seattle.gov.

Hopefully, this will be among the last times you will need to weight in on this project, but nothing can be taken for granted with this trail. From the DEIS, it seems that whatever public debate may have once existed has long solidified in favor of a trail following the rail line just like the rest of the Burke-Gilman.

“Two themes were dominant in the comment letters: trail location and safety,” according to the document. “Shilshole Ave NW was the location most often indicated as preferred for the trail. When reasons were given for this preference, the most common reason was that it is the most direct route between the two ends of the existing BGT.”

That’s it. This isn’t hard, and it should not have required this exhaustive study. Make it direct, continuous and safe. That’s all the people want. But most importantly, stop talking and just build it already! Continue reading

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Memorial walk for Desiree McCloud highlights her life, puts streetcar lines under scrutiny

IMG_5263What does a city say to a grieving family when they ask, What value is there in a streetcar if the tracks injure or even kill people?

Seattle officials did not have any adequate answers to this question during a meeting with the friends, family and neighbors of Desiree McCloud Monday. Desiree died in May following crashing while biking on Yesler Way at 13th Ave. The First Hill Streetcar tracks were likely the cause, friends said.

And it may be that there simply is no acceptable answer to give.

During a short memorial at the site of her ghost bike before the meeting, a friend described Desiree as “brash and brilliant, passionate and true.” The friend also said Desiree’s style was to “demand a better world, and act to make it happen.”

And that’s the challenge laid out for people working to make streets safer so nobody else crashes in this location and on these or any of the city’s streetcar tracks.

“If one of her friends had been hurt or killed, she’d be the one banging on City Hall,” her dad told the group gathered after the memorial.

One course of action suggested: Bulldoze the tracks tomorrow.

Others pushed for low-cost improvements to Yesler the city could install very quickly such as paint-and-post protected bike lanes at least to 14th Ave where the tracks turn south. And the urgency of this cannot be ignored. This isn’t a demand to improve the street “someday,” it’s a demand for action now.

You can sign a petition pushing for quick action on Yesler and a revamping of how the city mitigates track danger citywide. Continue reading

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Memorial walk for Desiree McCloud tonight on Yesler Way

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Friends and family of Desiree McCloud painted her bike white and decorated it with notes, flowers and Magic cards. Unlike most ghost bikes, this one is the bike she was riding when she crashed.

Friends and family of Desiree McCloud painted her bike white and decorated it with notes, flowers and Magic cards. Unlike most ghost bikes, this one is the bike she was riding when she crashed.

Family, friends and neighbors working for safer streets will hold a memorial walk for Desiree McCloud today (Monday) on E Yesler Way.

The walk starts 6 p.m. at Bailey Gatzert Elementary. The group will cross the street to the ghost bike memorial set up at 13th and Yesler where McCloud crashed last month while biking with friends. She passed away a week and a half later from a head injury.

Her passing prompted an outpouring of remembrances from friends. She clearly touched a lot of lives.

After a memorial at her ghost bike, the group will walk up the hill to Yesler Community Center for a meeting to discuss solutions so it does not happen again.

It is not yet clear if the First Hill Streetcar tracks on Yesler played a role in her crash, but concerns about track safety have been heightened since she passed away. About a week after McCloud crashed, a woman on a Vespa crashed and was seriously injured on the tracks at 12th and Jackson.

One year ago, Daniel Ahrendt crashed on the streetcar tracks at 14th and Jackson, just three blocks from Desiree’s ghost bike. Like Desiree, Daniel had moved to the left to pass someone (in his case a stopped bus). His wheel hit the tracks and he fell, then the bus ran over him and seriously injured him. Continue reading

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