Check out Seattle’s 12 winning neighborhood-led transportation ideas

Here’s an item that got swallowed up in the wake of election news: Seattle announced $6.5 million in neighborhood-led transportation projects across the city. The 12 projects were the winners of SDOT’s Neighborhood Street Fund (“NSF”), and are the result of tireless work by neighborhood advocates.

Seriously, it takes a lot of volunteer patience and persistence to get an idea through to approval and construction. So congratulations to everyone who championed these ideas.

Each project is scheduled for design in 2017 and installation in 2018.

The NSF was first funded by the Bridging the Gap levy, and now is funded by Move Seattle. It’s not to be confused with the Neighborhood Parks and Street Fund, which is an entirely different program with neighborhood-generated projects that typically have smaller budgets.

Here’s a look at the 2016 NSF winners (click the titles for project PDFs with more details and images): Continue reading

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Seattle’s new budget speeds up bike plan, boosts major Rainier Ave remakes + more

Photo from Seattle Neighborhood Greenways

Photo from Seattle Neighborhood Greenways

Mayor Ed Murray signed the 2017-18 Seattle budget last week, which includes some major short-term and long-term investments in safe streets.

We already reported on the most immediately-dramatic budget change, when the City Council pulled funding for Pronto Cycle Share beyond March 31. The Council did preserve Mayor Murray’s bike share expansion funds pending further Council approval. But beyond bike share, there are some major wins both from the Mayor’s original budget and from the City Council’s additions.

While Rainier Ave will get $1 million to help extend its recent safety project from Hillman City to Rainier Beach, Seattle Neighborhood Greenways’ attempt to dramatically increase the city’s Vision Zero funding didn’t catch on. For me, this is the biggest missed opportunity of this budget. Perhaps with a more clear plan for how the city can use the additional funds to scale up its successful Road Safety Corridor program, this effort will have a better chance next year. Because fixing a corridor or two a year just isn’t fast enough.

But still, there are a lot of great investments in this budget. Seattle Neighborhood Greenways highlighted these wins: Continue reading

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Parks District detours Burke-Gilman users onto very busy street – UPDATED

Detour route map from Seattle Parks.

Detour route map from Seattle Parks District.

UPDATE 11/30: The trail is now open, according to Project Manager Sandi Albertsen. Thanks to friendly weather, crews were able to complete the majority of work two days ahead of schedule. There is still some shoulder work to finish, but they should not impact trail use significantly. Be patient if crews are working, of course.

When the Seattle Parks District announced work to repave some very bumpy sections of the state’s busiest biking and walking trail, I said the news “will surely come as a huge relief to the many people who battle abrupt tree root heaves on the Burke-Gilman Trail.” The investment seemed to finally catch up with the reality that the Burke-Gilman Trail is a vital transportation connection in addition to being a linear park.

So like the many readers who contacted us in recent days, I was dismayed to see that the detour for a tricky section of trail just west of U Village sent trail users onto busy five-lane 25th Ave NE for about a half mile. This street has no bike lanes, and crews did not create a temporary bikeway on the street to help trail users make the trip safely and comfortably.

The Burke-Gilman Trail is a very important non-motorized transportation connection. At peak hours, sections of the trail near UW move about as many people as a lane of a traffic-clogged freeway (though volumes are lower in the fall and winter). The trail attracts people of all ages, abilities and confidence levels, many of whom do not feel safe or comfortable biking in busy traffic (really, very few people do).

This detour not only puts these users in danger, but it also tells them that the city does not take their needs or safety seriously. If the current detour selection and approval process allows this huge oversight to happen, then Seattle needs to fix the process. Continue reading

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Council sets Pronto shutdown deadline, keeps bike share expansion funds for now

img_6077The Pronto Cycle Share shutdown timer has officially started.

The Seattle City Council modified Mayor Ed Murray’s 2017-18 budget to remove most of the street use funds currently supporting day-to-day Pronto Cycle Share operations. Pronto as we know it will shut down by March 31.

This action closes an incredibly frustrating chapter for bike share in Seattle.

It also puts more pressure on SDOT and bid-winner Bewegen to get a strong bike share expansion plan together in time for a 2017 launch if they hope to avoid too much downtime for existing system users.

A couple thousand trips are made on Pronto every week on average, so those users will need to find a new way to get around. Members who have paid for service beyond March 31 will be offered the choice of getting the remainder back or putting their credit into the new system.

And on top of the urgency, of course, the expansion plan also needs to be very strong if it is going to win over skeptics on the City Council. Though the Council preserved Mayor Ed Murray’s $5 million to expand bike share through a new e-assist system, the funds cannot be used without further Council approval. SDOT and Bewegen will need to wow the Council and the public when they present the new plan in January. Continue reading

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Happy Cranksgiving! Riders bike 1,132 pounds of food to Rainier Valley Food Bank

img_6395More than 90 people gathered on Seattle’s statistically-most-likely-to-rain day of the year to ride bikes all around town buying food to donate to their neighbors.

Within hours of leaving Cal Anderson, riders in Seattle’s Seventh Cranksgiving had purchased and biked 1,132 pounds of food to Rainier Valley Food Bank (“RVFB”).

Huge thanks to everyone who came out Saturday (and extra big thanks to Eliseo Calixtro, who helped us organize this year’s event). With so much troubling national political news, it was great to see people bust their asses for their community. And from what I can tell from photos posted to #CranksgivingSEA, it seemed like folks had fun doing it (see some of them below).

Likely due to heavy rain in the morning before the ride (and me getting a later-than-usual start on promotions), turnout was a bit below 2015’s record turnout of 160 people on an unseasonably bright and sunny day. There’s no pre-registration or entry fee for Cranksgiving (your grocery bill is your fee), so turnout can balloon depending on weather. 90 people on a day threatening heavy rain is actually quite impressive, and year-round rainy weather biking is part of what Cranksgiving is all about.

As the organizer, I gave riders a list of items RVFB requested and a list of some of Seattle’s unique grocery stores and markets. People rode alone or in small teams to get as many items from as many different places as possible within the time allowed. You get one point for each item and place marked off the list (plus some photo challenges).

Riders donated their food at the food bank before heading up the street to the Royal Room for an after party and prizes from Peddler Brewing, Flying Lion Brewery, Free Range Cycles, Electric Lady, Detours Bags, Mountaineers Books and my amazing spouse Kelli. Continue reading

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‘I hope that others who have gone through tragedy or will in the future will never feel alone’

img_6383Loved ones of just a couple of the 240 people killed in Seattle traffic in the past decade spoke to a gathering of friends, first responders, city officials, safe streets advocates and neighbors Thursday at City Hall.

Neighbors then took their area’s share of the 212 silhouette figures event planners made (“There were actually 240 people killed on Seattle streets, but some of the places are just too dangerous to out up a silhouette,” said Seattle Neighborhood Greenways Director Cathy Tuttle). Some have already been installed at the sites of people’s deaths in traffic. Others will be put up by neighborhood groups Sunday. You can see the list of those neighborhood efforts on our previous post.

So every time you see a silhouette, that was a person’s life. The scale of this public health emergency is immense even in Seattle, which has among the safest streets among major U.S. cities. We can and must do better.

I want to thank the loved ones who spoke and wrote letters for the event Thursday. Give yourself time to read their words, posted in full below.

First, this letter from Dan Schulte, whose family was devastated when a drunk man behind driving a pickup struck his parents, wife and infant son on NE 75th Street in 2013. His parents Judy and Dennis were killed, and his wife Karina and infant son Elias were critically injured. Dan’s ability to seek light in the face of darkness is truly inspiring: Continue reading

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NYC safe streets organization: We Stand with Black Lives Matter

192783_212276612116853_4237559_oEver since the election of Donald Trump, we’ve been asking what this means for safe streets organizations. The need for groups to recognize the obvious intersections of safe, healthy streets and social justice is nothing new, but threats and rhetoric by President-elect Trump and some of his closest advisors dramatically ups the urgency.

We already reported on a statement by Seattle Neighborhood Greenways Director Cathy Tuttle. In this vein, a recent statement by New York City’s Transportation Alternatives — one of the nation’s largest organizations working for safe streets — seems like an important entry in the conversation.

TA and many other biking and safe streets organizations were already headed in this direction thanks to leadership by people across the nation working for transportation justice. Their statement followed a national meeting in Atlanta called the Untokening Conference, but Trump’s election seems to have been a catalyst.

From TA: Continue reading

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