Seattle’s plummeting bike collision rate may have stalled

As more people bike in a city, the total number of bicycle-involved collisions often remains flat. Sometimes it rises a little, and sometimes it falls. But the “safety in numbers” bike safety phenomenon is surprisingly consistent: The more people bike, the further the collision rate falls.

Seattle appeared to be the poster child for this. Between 2005 and 2012, problematic* (see below) Census surveys show that the total number of Seattle residents bike commuting increased 116 percent. During the same time period, the total number of bike collisions only increased 31 percent, meaning the bike collision rate per commuter was in free fall.

But collision data from 2013 and preliminary data from 2014 shows that this bike collision rate free fall has stalled. King 5 reported on the problem earlier this week. We obtained the same data set from SDOT, who stressed that the numbers won’t be finalized until this summer as more data comes in from the state.

2014 saw a fairly significant increase in the total number of collisions involving people on bikes, continuing an upward trend from 2013: Continue reading

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Will Cascade ditch election advocacy? Members and the Board will decide this month

Cascade Bicycle Club members will gather twice in the next week to discuss a proposal from the Board of Directors to end direct candidate election advocacy.

As we have reported previously, the club is considering moving to a non-profit charity model, which prohibits them from directly funding or assisting political candidates (Full disclosure: My fiancé Kelli works for Cascade’s Advocacy Department).

Some members even started a Save Cascade petition to lobby the Board against making this change and to organize other concerned members. As of press time, the petition had 155 signatures. Former Cascade Executive Director Chuck Ayers (who had some high-profile clashes with the Board at the end of his time) was among the first signers.

There are two member meetings in the next week to discuss the changes, the first of which is today:

The Board will vote on the issue at their March 18 meeting (despite reports in the Stranger that the vote will be delayed until late 2015, Cascade Executive Director Elizabeth Kiker said there will be a vote on March 18).

The Save Cascade petition calls for the following: Continue reading

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After taking stolen bike report, SPD officer spots it with man outside precinct

Seattle Police Officer Mark Vwich has a very good memory.

A week after he took a report from someone who had their bike stolen from a downtown garage, Vwich spotted the wheels in the hands of a guy hanging around the West Precinct.

He approached the man and inspected the bike, discovering the serial number did, indeed, match the one stolen, according to SPD:

Officer Mark Vwich was pulling his patrol car in front of the West Precinct last Thursday when something caught his eye.

About a week earlier, on February 18th, Officer Vwich had been called to a downtown parking garage after a reported burglary and theft of a high-end bike.

When he pulled in front of the station Thursday, he saw the same burgled bike, now in the clutches of a man wearing cycling gloves.

Officer Vwich walked up to the man—who was standing with a group of people outside a convenience store—and asked him where he’d gotten the bike. The man replied he’d bought the $2,000 Ridley bicycle for $50 from a “friend’s friend.”

The serial number on the bike matched up with the one Officer Vwich had taken a report on a week earlier, confirming it was indeed the same stolen cycle, so he arrested the man.

When police searched the suspect, they found two suspected meth pipes, a stolen bank card, and a receipt showing someone had used the stolen card to buy $300 worth of new shoes and “lounge pants.”

Officers booked the man into the King County Jail for possession of stolen property.

Continue reading

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Move Seattle: One plan to rule them all

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Mayor Ed Murray announced Move Seattle Monday in Ballard.

Mayor Ed Murray’s Move Seattle plan is a “holistic transportation approach” that “includes a 10-year project list and maintenance and operations priorities.”

If you were engaged in shaping the recent update to the Bicycle Master Plan — which took two years and included lots of multimodal analysis — I know what you’re thinking: Another transportation plan in Seattle? How many of these do we need?

“This is a plan about how we integrate all those plans into a single plan,” said Mayor Ed Murray during a press conference Monday. In other works, Move Seattle doesn’t trash or replace the Bike Master Plan (whew).

Rather, it’s more like a list based on the city’s modal plans (walking, transit, bike and — soon — freight) that represent the mayor’s priorities and set the stage for the city’s next transportation ballot measure to replace the expiring Bridging the Gap levy. Details about the new measure will be released in the next week or so, and voters will take it up in November.

The Move Seattle plan also creates a framework for measuring success on its safety and mobility goals. It also creates a prioritization framework for selecting which projects rise to the top of the list.

So what’s in it? All kinds of stuff. Unspecified improvements to the Ballard Bridge, fixing the Ballard Missing Link, complete streets on Rainier, Lake City Way, Aurora, Delridge, E Marginal Way, Eastlake, Fremont/Phinney, Pike/Pine and more (see below). Continue reading

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Following strong Seattle sales, Public Bikes will open store on Capitol Hill

Photo: Audrey Rotermund/Public Bikes

Photo: Audrey Rotermund/Public Bikes

Public Bikes will open its first ever retail location outside the Bay Area in Seattle this spring. With stylish, often solid-colored city bikes priced in the low-to-mid range, Public Bikes will be moving into the bike shop vacuum Velo left when it moved to 6th and Blanchard in 2013.

“In the five years of data on our shipped sales outside of the Bay Area, Seattle has always been one of the top performing cities,” said Dan Nguyan-Tan, head of sales and marketing at Public Bikes. Nguyan-Tan also said longtime Seattle Bike Blog advertiser Ride Bicycles at 64th and Roosevelt is one of their strongest dealers, showing demand here.

“Those combinations made Seattle a great opportunity.”

They plan to open in the space at Pine and Summit formerly home to Black Coffee Co-op, Capitol Hill Seattle reports. Public follows in the footsteps of another bike-inspired San Francisco company, Timbuk2, which opened its first store outside the Bay Area at 7th and Pine in 2013.

As advertised on Seattle Bike Blog, Public is now hiring store managers, bike mechanics and sales associates. Continue reading

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Rainier is the city’s most dangerous neighborhood street. But it could be the best.

RainierFebMar2015-injuries

People are getting killed and seriously injured along the entire length of Rainier Ave. Image from the SDOT presentation. Data for past ten years.

Rainier Avenue will be safer by the end of the year.

Every option the city presented (PDF) at a public meeting Thursday evening in Columbia City included a significant redesign of the notoriously dangerous street. And the city is not going to wait long to take action.

Some signals and signage changes will roll out this spring, followed by some more significant safety upgrades starting in the summer and going into 2016.

Before we get into the solutions, let’s follow the city’s lead and outline the problem.

Jim Curtin and Dongho Chang of SDOT did a very good job explaining, step by step, why the street is so dangerous and how — though genuine community input and thoughtful design changes — the city will move quickly to dramatically increase safety on the busy commercial and neighborhood street.

The big crowd at the meeting seemed very receptive to the ideas the city presented and strongly in favor of safety changes. Cheers rang out when Curtin announced plans to lower the speed limit to 25 mph through the Columbia City and Hillman City business districts. People also cheered when Curtin said they will lengthen the crosswalk signal times. As we reported previously, a study found that traffic signals in Rainier Valley give people less time to cross the street than Ballard.

When Curtin showed the slide below, the crowd gasped. Rainier is way more dangerous than it should be, and it has been this way for a long time.

RainierFebMar2015-crashespermile Continue reading

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Seattle’s 2015 bike map gets a makeover + How it could be even better

2015BikeMap-udistSeattle significantly redesigned its city bike map for the 2015 edition. In addition to updating the map to include new bike facilities, the map icons and color scheme are easier to read.

And, of course, it notes the current locations of Pronto Cycle Share stations. Because Seattle has bike share, everyone! How cool is that?

You can download the PDF version of the print bike map from SDOT’s website. You can also have a totally free copy of the map mailed to your house by completing this online form (thanks WA Bikes!).

Other than some basic legibility changes, the overall theory behind the map’s routes are the same as previous years. This creates a good-looking map that can be useful for people trying to find a doable bike route, but it can also be a bit misleading about how comfortable people can expect their bike route to be.

As with previous iterations of this map, my biggest complaint is how the map displays busy streets with sharrows painted on them. In the new map, these streets are marked as skinny green lines. Here’s the legend: Continue reading

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