UW reverts Pend Oreille intersection, takes out stop signs for cars crossing the Burke

Image from the UW TIGER application.

Current conditions. Image from the UW TIGER application.

Well, that didn’t last long. We reported earlier this week on the University of Washington’s efforts to improve safety where the Burke-Gilman Trail crosses Pend Oreille Road by adding stop signs for cars about to cross the trail’s crosswalk.

After some traffic backups on 25th Ave NE during peak travel times, the UW is pulling the plug on the idea and taking out the stop signs, reverting the intersection to its previous dangerous and confusing state (as pictured above), the UW announced Friday.

“These are not the results we were expecting, and certainly not the results we were hoping for,” said Director of Transportation at UW Josh Kavanagh.

The number of people biking and walking on trail is high enough even in rainy November that too few cars were able to get through the crossing, leaving a line of people waiting to make left turns from 25th to Pend Oreille. This was seen as unacceptable, so they are going back to the drawing board to find a different solution.

The problem (if you want to call it that) is that people on the trail want to treat the crossing like any other mid-block crosswalk, where cross traffic is required to yield. But Kavanagh and UW transportation would like it operate more like a typical four-way stop intersection with all directions taking turns.

However, people are not accustomed to treating crosswalks this way, and most people continued to enter the intersection as though they have the right of way (which, since there’s a crosswalk, they do). This gave people driving on Pend Oreille waiting at the new stop signs too few chances to get through, causing the backups.

Unfortunately, UW is relying on a minimal design in a slow-to-adopt national road design manual that leaves a lot to be desired in terms of prioritizing the safety and movement of people on foot and bike: Continue reading

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SDOT considering a carbon fiber walk/bike bridge at Northgate

A carbon fiber bridge over I-5. Image from SDOT.

A carbon fiber bridge over I-5. Image from SDOT.

As bicycle makers keep pushing the envelope on how many bike parts can be made out of carbon fiber to shave a couple grams off mega-high-budget bicycles, Seattle is looking to use similar technology for its bridges. Specifically, the city is looking into a carbon fiber design for the Northgate walk/bike bridge over I-5, which poses some engineering challenges for bridges made of standard building materials.

The bridge remains underfunded after a failing to win a Federal TIGER grant. SDOT and Sound Transit have each pledged $5 million to the project, but early design cost estimates suggest that $15 million more is needed to make it happen.

Without a walk/bike bridge, the number of homes and destinations within an easy walk or bike ride to the planned Northgate Link Station will be dramatically reduced. This includes North Seattle College.

Because I-5 is slightly elevated at this point and Interstate rules require ample clearance, the bridge will need some fairly dramatic approaches to provide an accessible and easily-bikeable ramp. The crossing of  I-5 is also fairly long because the highway is so wide in North Seattle.

But these are engineering challenges that the city needs to overcome if Northgate is ever going to be a walkable and bikeable neighborhood. So whether or not a carbon fiber bridge proves to be the best option, it’s great to see the city exploring creative options to reconnect the community and provide access to transit.

Now the city and Sound Transit just need to come up with a funding plan to make sure it actually happens, including a backup plan if they can’t win a TIGER grant next year either.

From SDOT: Continue reading

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City Light project closes Burke-Gilman under U Bridge


An ongoing Seattle City Light project has moved to its next phase, closing a section of the Burke-Gilman Trail passing underneath the University Bridge and stretching from Adams Ln on UW campus to the crazy intersection of NE 40th/NE 40th/NE 40th/NE 40th/7th Ave NE/Burke-Gilman Trail (oh, Seattle, your street grid can be so silly).

Yes, this is the stretch of trail that was recently repaved and redesigned to showcase some ideas UW hopes to extend to the rest of the trail through campus. Please, City Light, be gentle. The smooth pavement is such a breath of fresh air compared to the rest of the trail.

The detour is not hugely out of the way thanks to the existing two-way bike lane on NE 40th Street (that’s the southeast of the four Northeast 40ths, for those following along at home). But it does mean that you should be prepared for a lot of merging as people try to transition through the odd series of paths and ramps connecting the trail to the intersection.

Seriously, who designed this? It’s amazing it works as well as it does.


Anyway, here are more details on the project and what you can expect from the detour, from UW: Continue reading

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After break-ins, Boeing employees donate big to Bike Works

IMG_2812After hearing about a string of break-ins at Bike Works a couple months ago, Boeing Employees reached out and offered some big bucks to help the Columbia City organization. The Employees Community Fund of Boeing Puget Sound, which is made up of donations from employees, donated $10,000 to help Bike Works better secure used bike donations and other assets and to help replace lost bikes, according to a press release from Bike Works.

This donation comes on top of a $55,000 grant earlier this year so the organization could purchase a BikeMobile, which “enables Bike Works to take bike education and bike repair services out into more neighborhoods.”

Here’s the full press release: Continue reading

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Dexter closed Wednesday night, will reopen in morning with different detour

What the detours will look like starting Thursday morning, according to WSDOT.

What the detours will look like starting Thursday morning, according to WSDOT.

It’s probably best to just avoid the city center’s busiest bike street tonight. Both the Mercer and Alaskan Way Viaduct Projects will be closing parts of Dexter Ave in South Lake Union starting 7 p.m. Wednesday evening and ending 6 a.m. Thursday morning.

The state’s closure will be so worksites near Harrison and Republican can switch sides of the street. The state is moving utilities and getting the area ready to build the north portal of the Highway 99 tunnel that we don’t need and may or may not ever be finished.

So tomorrow, expect the detours and temporary bike lanes to be different. This is a complete overnight closure, so if you are in the area, be prepared to detour to 8th and give yourself a little extra time.

Details from WSDOT: Continue reading

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The Bicycle Story: Colin Stevens is Seattle’s ‘Bicycling Mad Scientist’

Wait, is that Sally Bagshaw and Tom Rasmussen pedaling a crazy Stevens-designed pedal-powered parade float? Yes. Yes it is.

Wait, is that Sally Bagshaw and Tom Rasmussen pedaling a crazy Stevens-designed pedal-powered parade float? Yes. Yes it is.

Colin Stevens is one part of Cycle Fab, a Georgetown-based machine shop that does all kinds of custom metalworking and bicycle stuff. But he made a name for himself as Haulin’ Colin, designing and building high-capacity bike trailers and workhorse cycle truck kits and bike racks.

We’ve written about Stevens and his Cycle Fab partner in crime Garth L’Esperance before. But in a recent interview with Josh Cohen at The Bicycle Story, Stevens — dubbed “The Bicycling Mad Scientist of Seattle” — talks a bit more about how he has watched Seattle’s cargo bike culture evolve in the past decade:

It’s interesting, when my friends and I started out doing that in 2003 or 2004, it was really rare to see any kind of cargo bikes or big bike trailers around. We were the ones doing it. We thought this is a new thing that’s going to become cool and popular in a place like Seattle where people are kind of conscious about the environment and want alternative transportation means. A big city is an ideal place to do it because most of your resources are close by. We thought it was going to be people like us who wanted to transport stuff like lumber or bicycles. What has actually happened is it’s family biking that has made cargo bikes popular. I think the vast majority of cargo bikes now are sold to parents who want to haul their kids around. That has become the driving force, which is pretty cool. I didn’t expect that, but it is great that that’s what’s made it popular.

Read more…

Want to see Cycle Fab’s cargo-hauling bikes in action? You’re pretty much guaranteed to see a bunch of them at Cascade Bicycle Club’s bike move November 30.

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Listen: KUOW on Rainier Ave’s speeding problem + Meeting tonight

Screenshot from KUOW. Click to listen.

Screenshot from KUOW. Click to listen.

Rainier Ave has a serious speeding problem.

But, of course, that speeding problem is actually a symptom caused by the street’s dangerous, highway-style design problem. Four lanes of traffic splitting through bustling neighborhood centers and business districts is inherently dangerous. In fact, it’s the most dangerous city-owned street in Seattle.

You can help change that by getting involved with the city’s Rainier Ave Road Safety Corridor Project, which is holding its second community meeting tonight (Tuesday) from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the Ethiopian Community Center (8323 Rainier Ave S).

How dangerous is it? In just the last three years, there have been at least 1,243 collisions between Columbia City and Seward Park, causing 630 injuries and killing two people. KUOW reports that 11 people have died on Rainier in the past decade.

But you’ve already heard about this from Seattle Bike Blog. But check out this excellent story by KUOW featuring the wonderful Phyllis Porter, who works for Bike Works and helps run Rainier Valley Greenways. It’s only a couple minutes long, but it gets straight to the point:

“The things that are happening in Rainier Valley, Columbia City, Hillman City,” [Porter] said, naming the neighborhoods off Rainier Avenue, “these things are unacceptable. And something needs to be done now.”

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