It took only two weeks for Seattle’s Department of Transportation to cut the only significant center city bike lane from their already-scaled-back 2016 plans.
The 9th Ave N bike lane would have connected the new Westlake Ave bikeway (due to open in late July) though South Lake Union and into downtown. For a decade since the city installed injury-causing streetcar tracks on Westlake Ave — the most direct and flat route from the lake to downtown — 9th Ave N has been promised as a major bike route alternative. So bike lanes there in 2016 was the only silver lining when the city made baffling and devastating cuts to the downtown bike plans earlier this year.
But now SDOT says the 9th Ave N bike lanes can’t be installed south of Mercer any earlier than 2018 due to construction (even though construction on a major bike route should be an argument in favor of building safe bike lanes). SDOT staff also said a needed bike connection from 9th Ave N to 2nd Ave via Bell Street can’t be installed until after the SR 99 tunnel highway opens (and who knows when that will be).
So in just one year, the city went from plans to build a grid of bike lanes downtown that connect to neighborhoods north, south and east to plans to build essentially no complete connections until at least 2018.
This change even calls into question Pronto Cycle Share expansion funding. The City Council mandated that bike lanes on 9th Ave N from Westlake to Denny be “on schedule to be completed” before they release funds to expand the bike share system (PDF). This amendment bit off only the lowest hanging fruit in the city’s scaled back bike plan, but now it appears SDOT won’t even meet that goal. Continue reading
Taking advantage of a new traffic signal planned as part of an effort to speed up buses on 15th Ave NW, SDOT is planning a short neighborhood greenway to help connect homes and destinations long divided by the freeway-like 15th.
The mega-street is a fossil of the mid-century freeway craze and currently has no safe crossings between the bridge underpass at Leary Way and NW Market Street, so this new signal could be a big deal for neighbors and for walking and biking travel.
The greenway route would also connect the brand new 17th Ave NW neighborhood greenway to the Burke-Gilman Trail through an out-of-the-way route via Gilman Playground. For people heading north , this could be a good way to avoid the notorious Missing Link. But for people heading to the historic downtown, the Missing Link will still be the most direct (and therefore most popular) route.
At this early stage, SDOT staff is looking at a variety of route options, though they only noted NW 53rd Street for the new signal (several open house attendees said it would be even better if it were a block or two further south).
Of the options presented, 11th Ave NW is the most direct option to the Burke-Gilman Trail and also the least steep: Continue reading
Bike trips counted over the Spokane Street swing bridge
On the first Monday commute since the Alaskan Way Viaduct closed, bike trips across the Spokane Street swing bridge to West Seattle went through the roof.
Compared to average weekdays in recent months, Monday’s bike count was up an unprecedented 80 percent, adding more than 1,000 trips compared to average weekdays in April.
And as West Seattle Blog noted, Monday’s 2,525 count crushed the previous record by 37 percent:
This morning, the train tracks on the Burke-Gilman Trail Missing Link claimed yet another victim. Reader Ted came across a woman who took a very bad spill in the same spot so many people have crashed before her. After helping her and waiting for medics to arrive and take over, he took this photo and sent us the following note:
Sorry for the downer but I gotta vent.
Real shitty start to bike to work month this morning. This woman’s face was so bloody she could hardly talk. She couldn’t tell me her name.
I started riding again after the paramedics got there and just started bawling out of nowhere. It is really a crime to make a “bike trail” in such a dangerous spot.
He’s right. It is a crime that plans to fix this dangerous missing link in such a popular bike trail has lingered now for two decades. This isn’t a game. People are getting hurt. Continue reading
There’s now a humble counter ticking away everyone who bikes up or down 2nd Ave through the heart of downtown Seattle.
Commute Seattle’s Jessica Szelag unveiled the display this morning, which is a gift to the city on a beautiful first weekday morning commute of Bike Month.
Even with construction at 2nd and Pike blocking access to the 2nd Ave bike lane (the construction company’s own Bike Month gift to commuters), 212 people had biked past the counter before 8 a.m. Monday when the cover came off.
With the Viaduct closed, Bike Month is starting with even more reason to bike: Unpredictable traffic and buses. And since the Viaduct won’t reopen until the tunnel boring machine passes completely under the elevated highway and WSDOT deems it “safe,” well, it may be best to go ahead and get used to getting around without it.
The start of Bike Month is a sobering time, though, because it is also the anniversary of Lance David’s death. David, a husband and father of twins, collided with a truck at E Marginal Way and S Hanford Street May 1, 2013.
Friends visited the ghost bike memorial May 1 to freshen up its flowers and pay their respects. There are still serious road safety issues on E Marginal Way that the many West Seattle and South King County commuters have to navigate each day.
Image from a Pronto press release
For the cost of three bus rides, you can ride Pronto Cycle Share for a month.
For the first time, Pronto is offering a monthly payment option rather than paying a lump-sum for a whole year. Especially for people on a tight budget, the $7.95 monthly payments are much more accessible.
You can now get unlimited biking for an entire month for less than the cost of Netflix.
And if you buy your membership during Pronto Week May 2 – 8, the cost drops even more: Only $6.25 per month or $63 for a year. (Note that you have to commit to a year in order to get the monthly rate, and this deal is only for new members.)
SDOT Director Scott Kubly once joked that a bike share member who uses the system often might make their money back through reduced wear on their shoes. And if you live, work and play mostly within the limited Pronto service area, that might actually be true.
If you are a Pronto super-user (or want to become one), you can join this Pronto-only Bike Everywhere Challenge team and start logging your trips. Continue reading
After weeks of tough construction closures, the 2nd Ave bike lane — downtown’s sole sliver of low-stress bike lane — has mostly reopened. And with new raised driveways, planter boxes and traffic signals, the pilot project created in 2014 is officially here to stay.
There is still more signal work to complete, but most the physical upgrades are in place and ready just in time for the viaduct closure and Bike Month.