Bike News Roundup: Police lay down the law on kids playing basketball in the street

It’s time for the Bike News Roundup! Here’s a taste of some of the stuff floating around the web that caught our eye.

First up, this Gainesville Police officer responded to a complaint of teens playing basketball in the street too loudly. Justice was served.

Better yet he kept his word and returned for a rematch, but he brought along a ringer: Shaq. Continue reading

Posted in news | Tagged | 3 Comments

Pronto needs city buyout before end of March, how did we get here?

Pronto and the 2nd Ave bike lane launched around the same time. Neither has since expanded as planned.

Pronto and the 2nd Ave bike lane launched around the same time. Neither has since expanded as planned.

The hard deadline to save Pronto is March 30.

With more than 30,000 people taking 144,000 trips in the first year of operations, supporters and City Councilmembers are scratching their heads trying to figure out how Pronto got into such a dire situation with hardly any warning to the public.

Ridership in the first year was lower than projected, though many people involved are now questioning how realistic those projections were. A little over half of operating costs are paid by user fees, less than was planned. That’s a problem, sure, but likely not insurmountable through adjustments in station locations, expanded marketing, winning grants, growing sponsorships and/or city investment.

So here’s where the story gets very frustrating. How did a solvable problem turn into a do-or-die budget showdown in City Council chambers? The answer depends on who you ask.

SDOT staff, led by Chief of Active Transportation Nicole Freedman, blamed the budget gap on the amount of funding Puget Sound Bike Share (“PSBS,” the non-profit that owns Pronto) borrowed to launch the system, payments that now sap the budget.

“[Pronto’s operations] would break even today if it were city run and there were no debt payments,” said Freedman told us last week.

But former PSBS Executive Director Holly Houser disagrees with this characterization of the loan.

“They’re making it sound like we took out this huge loan, ” said Houser, who says it was actually a fairly standard loan against the sponsorship. So basically, if Alaska Airlines puts up $2.5 million over five years, you take out a loan to get the money up front, then use the subsequent sponsorship payments to pay off the loan.

The biggest cause of the showdown, Houser said, came from city delays and miscommunications in taking over the system that have left Pronto in a leadership (and revenue search) limbo.

“Our hands were essentially tied.” Continue reading

Posted in news | Tagged , , , , , , , | 70 Comments

KOMO: Man injured in terrifying hit and run wants person responsible to apologize

The suspect vehicle is a white Subaru Outback wagon, maybe with a plate starting "AWL." Anyone with info should call the Kirkland PD tip line: (425) 587-3515

The suspect vehicle is a white Subaru wagon (Legacy or Outback), maybe with a plate starting “AWL.” Anyone with info should call the Kirkland PD tip line: (425) 587-3515

A person driving a white Subaru wagon (Legacy or Outback) took a wide, fast turn into a Kirkland parking lot and stuck John Sullivan who was riding his bike the morning of January 22. But that was just the beginning.

After dragging the man, the person driving stopped and backed up over Sullivan, then went forward and ran over him a third time —this time over his head — while fleeing the scene. The person driving made no attempt to render aid or call for help.

Sullivan was seriously injured with crushed bones and a lot of pain, but incredibly he escaped without more critical injuries like serious head trauma. He is in a lot of pain and has a long recovery ahead of him. Though the person responsible can’t undo his injuries, Sullivan and his wife told KOMO News they want the person who fled to come forward, apologize and take responsibility.

From KOMO: Continue reading

Posted in news | Tagged , , , | 17 Comments

Hearing Examiner: Cheasty mountain biking and hiking trails need more study

Cheasty-Map-3-15-15Another Seattle bike trail plan has run into delays from the environmental review process, this time a mountain biking and hiking trail.

After years of community outreach, heated debates and evolving designs, the Cheasty Trails and Bike Park cleared vital hurdles last year by getting approval from both the Parks Board and the City Council.

But as anyone who follows bike trail projects in Seattle knows all too well, you can line up funding, political support and community engagement and still face delays from the environmental review process where the legal muscle of opponents can be extremely effective.

Hopefully, the Cheasty project is not headed to the same legal hell as the still-delayed Burke-Gilman Missing Link, a fate the under-construction Westlake Bikeway narrowly avoided. This project is not there yet, though, since even proponents say they want more specific environmental studies and the project is still in the design process.

The city’s independent Hearing Examiner has determined that the existing environmental studies for the Cheasty Park are insufficient in part because they were done in cold weather and did not study closely enough the impacts on wildlife habitat and wetland water movement. Basically, Seattle Parks wanted environmental data to inform public outreach, a process that ended up developing compromises as it should. But that data is not good enough to satisfy the environmental rules, according to the Examiner (Publicola posted the PDF of the decision).

So now Seattle Parks needs to do more environmental study and go back through the Hearing Examiner again, which could delay groundbreaking. Continue reading

Posted in news | Tagged , , , , , , | 19 Comments

With Pronto in the red, city outlines takeover and expansion plan

From a City Council presentation

Images from a City Council presentation (PDF).

Story updated with comments from SDOT Chief of Active Transportation Nicole Freedman.

The city is just about ready to take over, rework and expand Pronto Cycle Share. Think of it as Pronto 2.0.

According to the new plan, 2016 will be about stabilizing the system’s financials under city control and creating the details for expanding far north and south of the current service area.

Bike share in Rainier Valley, Beacon Hill, Fremont, Wallingford, the CD, North Capitol Hill and Ravenna? Yes, please! The expansion plan map is not final, but it’s a great start.

Unfortunately, the expansion is not scheduled until 2017, as there are many details to work through including the possibility of e-assist bikes.

But first, let’s rewind to see how we got here.

Pronto launched in October 2014 under the ownership of Puget Sound Bike Share, a non-profit organization made up of regional public and and private partners.

Despite several challenges we’ll highlight in this post, people using Pronto completed 144,000 trips traveling an estimated 335,695 miles or the equivalent of 13.5 times around the equator in just one year.

That’s a whole lot of biking, showing that Pronto was filling many gaps in the city’s transportation system. This is the central thesis for a bike share program: Transit is good at getting people to a general area, but it isn’t so good at closing the first and last miles of those trips. And if you live in the service area, it’s even more useful.

The first year has taught the city a lot about the system, it’s limitations, it’s costs and how to make it better. Continue reading

Posted in news | Tagged , , , | 125 Comments

Sunday: Bike Works Warehouse Sale + Our calendar is now easier to use (& still free!)

Screenshot from our Bike Events Calendar. It's free to submit events, and now easier than ever.

Screenshot from our Bike Events Calendar. It’s free to submit events, and now easier than ever.

The annual Bike Works Warehouse sale is Sunday (as advertised on this site). This sale is your chance to score great and unique deals while supporting Bike Works’ amazing community and youth programming.

Have you been thinking about taking up a bike tinkering habit? It’s a great way to spend rainy evenings. Or maybe you’re looking to fix or upgrade your bike, but you’re on a budget. Or maybe you’d like to try building up a bike from scratch. The warehouse sale is a great chance to get what you’re looking for (and lots of stuff you didn’t know you were looking for!).

So swing down to Columbia City between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Sunday to see what they’ve got. Details from the calendar listing: Continue reading

Posted in news | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

OK Computer, a machine gun made of car parts, and other thoughts on art and cities

Pino Pascali's Machine Gun.

Pino Pascali’s Machine Gun.

Cities are incubators of art, and art influences cities. In the best cases, they are one and the same.

This isn’t exactly news, but it’s an interesting lens for experiencing art. How does an urban space influence a creation? And just the same, how does an urban space torn apart influence a creation?

Publicola’s Josh Feit has been exploring these and other ideas in his City Canon series. Basically, he reaches out to urban design thinkers and asks them to submit little essays about pieces of art they think say something about the way cities work (or don’t).

I submitted three pieces, which ran last Friday. I was in a bit of a negative mood at the time I wrote them, and so I was apparently drawn to works that bring out the negative impacts of car-centric engineering on cities. But it was a fun exercise. Continue reading

Posted in news | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment