Where should Seattle create a pedestrian plaza next?

Screenshot from StreetFilms (watch below)

Screenshot from StreetFilms (watch below)

Mayor Ed Murray and new SDOT Director Scott Kubly have their eyes out for bold pedestrian plaza opportunities in the city’s right-of-way, Publicola reports. With New York’s extremely successful Times Square plaza project as their inspiration, Murray and Kubly would love to create a powerful Seattle public space:

We definitely LIKE the story we heard from a city hall insider that Mayor Ed Murray, evidently set on being Seattle’s version of former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, reportedly tasked his new SDOT director Scott Kubly with copying New York City’s pedestrian innovation in Times Square.

What did New York do in Times Square? Essentially, they had an area where so many people want to walk and hang out that they actually could not all fit on the sidewalks. Children were a rare sight, and people in wheelchairs and walkers had a particularly awful time trying to get around. Yet there was a ton of space reserved for cars, which spent most their time barely moving in the city’s iconic gridlock. So half a decade ago, the city did something unimaginable: They closed a part of Broadway to cars and reimagined it as an expanded public space. The result has been a success by essentially every measure, including traffic flow.

Here’s a great StreetFilms video about it: Continue reading

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Poll: Nearly every resident wants safe routes to Washington schools

If you think it’s a bad idea to make walking and biking routes around schools in Washington State safer, congratulations! You are a rare find.

A statewide phone poll commissioned by the Childhood Obesity Prevention Coalition found that a nearly unanimous 88 percent of state residents believes we should be planning our communities so that kids can safely walk or bike to school and stay safe from traffic.

And perhaps more importantly, state residents are willing to put their money behind their hopes for safer streets: 76 percent agree that “investing in safety of our transportation network, including sidewalks,bike lanes, to prevent collisions & injuries is a smart use of public transportation funds.” And when asked about whether Safe Routes to School funding is an important part of state transportation funding, 84 percent of residents said yes. When pollsters stressed that the state’s budget is limited, and some priorities need to be cut, 79 percent still said Safe Routes to School is important.

Washington Bikes sees the poll as a clear sign that residents want their lawmakers to include significant funding for the state’s very successful Safe Routes to School program in the next legislative session: Continue reading

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More details on upcoming Fremont Bridge work, sidewalk closures begin Sept 2

The Fremont Bridge is one of the busiest bike routes in the city with about 5,000 bike trips recorded on summer weekdays. But using the bridge can be uncomfortable for people walking and biking because the bridge’s sidewalks are too narrow to handle the volume of people trying to get across.

And starting September 2, the problem is going to get so much worse.

We reported weeks ago that the city is repainting the historic draw bridge, a complicated process needed to prevent corrosion and keep it in good working order for a long time to come. In order to do the work, a traffic lane and sidewalk will need to be closed weekdays from 7 a.m to 3 p.m.

One sidewalk will remain open at all times, but be ready to be patient and go slowly because it’s gonna be packed well beyond capacity, especially if they close it promptly at 7. Even pushing it back to 8:30 or 9 would help avoid the morning rush. Bike counter data shows that the 8 o’clock hour is the busiest weekday hour.

The city also says there will be full overnight (midnight – 7 a.m.) closures September 6, 7, 13 and 14. Workers will offer two five-minute openings just for people walking and biking (at 1:20 a.m. and 2:20 a.m.), but this could create some serious problems for people who don’t know of another way to bike across the ship canal. Continue reading

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SDOT Director calls BS on the “war on cars,” has ideas for more resilient transportation system

Kubly introduces himself, from Seattle Channel

Kubly introduces himself, from Seattle Channel

Incoming SDOT Director Scott Kubly continues to make a strong introduction to Seattle, and he recently dove deeper into his views on Seattle’s transportation challenges with Ansel Herz at the Stranger. Kubly explains why a growing city needs more transportation choices and pretty much puts to shame the entire idea that making streets work better for transit, walking and biking is somehow a “war on cars.”

Below is my favorite bit of should-have-been-obvious perspective Kubly brings to the Seattle transportation conversation. This is the framing we should use to make all our regional and city-wide transportation decisions, but it is far too rarely used. Kubly via Slog:

You’ve got a city that’s growing tremendously fast. You see it in all parts of the city. That’s a really good thing, but what it does is it puts stress on the transportation system. And this transportation system is pretty fragile. You can have one incident that sends the entire system into gridlock if it’s in the wrong place in the network.

This is exactly why investing in better transportation choices is so important. If someone crashes on I-5 or 99 anywhere within a handful of miles or so of the city center, our regional and cross-city transportation network collapses. And, of course, the mangled body of somebody’s husband, daughter, or grandmother is often the cause of the city-stopping delays. We pay a huge social, emotional and financial cost to keep this fragile car-dependent system moving. Continue reading

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Two people driving strike kids on bikes in Georgetown

Bike Master Plan (Blue = Protected bike lane, Green = Neighborhood greenway, Orange = Painted bike lane)

Bike Master Plan (Blue = Protected bike lane, Green = Neighborhood greenway, Orange = Painted bike lane, Red = Trail)

Two different people driving struck two boys who were biking near Georgetown Playfield Monday afternoon, according to police.

An eight-year-old was struck while crossing Airport Way at Corson Ave and the Lucile Street overpass around 3:30 p.m. His 12-year-old friend saw the collision and rode over to help, but a different person driving through the intersection hit him.

The eight-year-old was not seriously injured, but the 12-year-old was transported to the hospital with a possible broken leg.

The intersection is a key connection between Beacon Hill and Georgetown, and the Lucile Street overpass has a walking and biking path leading to a recently-completed neighborhood greenway on 12th Ave S.

But once in Georgetown, the walking and biking environment becomes much less developed. Sidewalks are often in bad shape or missing and there are few quality bike lanes. Access around the playfield is particularly bad.

The Bike Master Plan calls for protected bike lanes on Airport Way and bike lanes on Corson, an unnecessarily scary street that feels more like a highway on-ramp than a neighborhood street.

Best wishes to these kids. I hope they heal up fast and get back on their bikes. I also hope the experience wasn’t too scary for them. Kids shouldn’t need to be afraid of their own streets.

More details from SDOT: Continue reading

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Pronto membership sales start today – UPDATED

Pronto announced two "founding member" deals

Pronto announced two “founding member” deals

It’s really happening. Today, you can buy a membership for a Seattle public bike share system.

Pronto memberships go went on sale at noon (see below for an update). As we reported last week, the first 600 people to register will get a special blue member key to show off their “founding member” status. After the first 600 are sold, you will still be able to buy regular memberships.

But the folks at Pronto have sweetened the pot a bit, and there will be two options for founding members: One costs the same as a regular membership ($85), but comes with a t-shirt and a free 24-hour pass to share with a friend. The other costs $125 and gets you all that plus a Pronto tote and five 24-hour passes to share with friends.

There is no “penalty” for buying your annual membership early since the clock will not start until there are bikes on the street, scheduled for mid-to-late September (UPDATE: The Pronto site now says October 13).

System members will get a key fob that they can scan at any of the 50 Pronto stations near the city center and in the U District to check out one of 500 hill-climbing, 7-speed bikes. They get unlimited 30-minute rides for the whole year. Since a 24-hour pass will cost $8, the $85 membership is a killer deal.

If you have a bike out for longer than 30 minutes at a time, you will start accruing fees. But if you need more time to get where you’re going, you can always swing by a nearby station and check in to restart the clock. Pronto just wants to know you’re still using it and discourage people from locking it up outside a coffee shop or taking long rides into the sunset.

Memberships will be available for purchase at ProntoCycleShare.com.

Obviously, we will be trying to buy a membership when they go on sale and will update this post when that happens.

UPDATE: After 30 minutes of tech issues and swamped servers, checkout was a breeze: Continue reading

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White Center businesses continue push for much-needed bike corral

Screen Shot 2014-08-22 at 2.03.03 PMA group of White Center businesses are still working to solve their street’s bike parking crunch by converting two car parking spaces in front of Proletariat Pizza and Caffe Delia into a bike corral for 20 bikes.

But being (just barely) outside the Seattle city limits means they can’t simply request one through Seattle’s bike parking program, so they are forging new territory in King County. the White Center Community Development Association applied for and won a King County grant to make the corral happen, and supporters have been working to educate others in the community about the benefits of having enough secure and convenient bike parking.

There will be another community meeting to discuss the project at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Sheriff’s storefront on 16th Ave SW just south of Roxbury.

There is resistance against the idea, which is one reason it has been delayed so far. Here’s a recent note from Proletariat Pizza via facebook: Continue reading

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