Here’s how to make the Ballard Bridge safer now without spending a fortune

The Ballard Bridge is awful for biking and walking. That’s been well documented. And the solutions studied to retrofit the bridge to make it better for biking and walking carried one hell of a price tag, perhaps somewhere in the $20–$40 million range. That price means that even if the city finds the cash, those changes aren’t happening any time soon. And this bridge needs to be bikeable and walkable now.

We asked in our original post: Is there an easier way? Well, the Cascade Bicycle Club-organized Connect Ballard team has answered, producing an excellent video and document (PDF) outlining some easier and cheaper fixes, as well as a brilliant funding mechanism for major bridge investment. Some of these fixes could happen tomorrow, while others would need some more serious planning.

I’ll go into the ideas below, or you can just listen to Haley Woods from Peddler Brewing explain it:

Continue reading

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Times: Innovative 5th Ave bikeway and public space in the works

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Here’s an idea that’s incredibly obvious and way overdue: Shift parking on 5th Ave underneath the monorail columns, then use the skinny lane to the west to create a fully protected bikeway and expand the neighborhood space.

Right now, the set-up of 5th Ave between McGraw Square and Seattle Center makes no sense whatsoever. From the west, there’s a lane of parking, one southbound lane, then a wide no man’s land where the monorail supports are, then two more southbound lanes, then another parking lane. You are not allowed to change lanes between the monorail columns because it’s insanely dangerous, but what if you need to turn? It’s bizarre and confusing. (UPDATE: Commenters have pointed out that it may not actually be illegal to change lanes under the monorail, despite the double white lines)

If you’re biking, it’s downright dangerous. Some people choose to bike in the single west lane, which leads impatient people driving behind them to make a dangerous lane change under the monorail to pass. Others choose the far east lane, which feels more like biking on the side of a highway than a city street. Many more people could not imagine themselves biking on 5th Ave at all.

And if you’re crossing the street on foot, you have quite a distance to cover to get from curb-to-curb. Plus you have to be careful that the monorail columns don’t hide you from someone driving.  Basically, the street doesn’t work for anyone (except maybe the monorail).

But it doesn’t need to be this way. Mike Lindblom at the Seattle Times reports on an idea floating around SDOT that would simplify the road, create a safe bikeway and expand public space. Because while this street is uncomfortable today, it could be one of the coolest streets in Belltown and one of the most unique streets in Seattle. I mean, it’s got a freaking monorail. Continue reading

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King County will clear overgrowth from Burke-Gilman/Sammamish River Trails, be prepared for delays

Image from King County

Image from King County

A 12-foot trail is only a 12-foot trail so long as the whole thing is clear.

One great part of our major regional trail network is how close you get to the woods and greenery as you bike between major urban centers. But often, that greenery gets a little too close. And when branches, vines and blackberry starts extending into the trail’s path, the effective width of the trail shrinks.

The good news is that King County is going to start cutting it all back starting Tuesday. The bad new is that you may encounter delays on the trail for the next two or three weeks as crews work.

Details from King County: Continue reading

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Harrell at Rainier Ave safety protest: We’re gonna take our street back

Phyllis Porter of Rainier Valley Greenways leads safe street chants as community members walk in the crosswalks holding signs calling for a safer Rainier.

Phyllis Porter of Rainier Valley Greenways (left) leads community members in a march across the crosswalks holding signs calling for a safer Rainier.

IMG_1735Business leaders, community leaders, residents, safe streets advocates, Councilmember Bruce Harrell and Zeytuna Edo’s family gathered in Columbia City Wednesday to protest dangerous conditions on Rainier Ave and pressure the city to take action to make the street safer.

“What I have in back of me is basically a freeway,” Councilmember Bruce Harrell told the crowd gathered at Edmunds and Rainier. Hundreds of people have been injured within just a couple blocks of this intersection in the past ten years. “This is the beginning of what we’re gonna do with Rainier Avenue. We’re gonna take our street back.”

Harrell — who is running for City Council District 2 covering Rainier Valley — was fired up about a safer Rainier Ave and in strong support for city plans to redesign the street this summer. Those plans would calm traffic speeds and reduce collisions by adding a center turn lane. The current four-lane, highway-style design will go to one through-lane in each direction. Plans could also include adding bike lanes, though that may require more funding than currently budgeted. SDOT will present their proposed design soon, so stay tuned.

“It will be a beautiful and safer street, and we’re all gonna be better for it,” said Harrell, noting that slowing speeds will help make the community stronger. “You only get to know your neighbors if you can slow things down.”

He called for everyone to remember the lives lost on Rainier Ave and other streets in the neighborhood, as well as those who were terribly injured. Zeytuna Edo and family joined the protest, and Harrell handed the mic to Zeytuna’s brother Nurow who called on everyone to help make streets safer. Continue reading

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National Ride of Silence is today, Seattle’s ride starts at Gas Works Park

From the 2012 Ride of Silence

From the 2012 Ride of Silence

Today is the National Ride of Silence. People who have lost loved ones in bike crashes and collisions (and anyone who wants to show solidarity) are invited to ride slowly and quietly together.

It’s about making a statement about the safety of people on bikes, but it’s also about respecting the memory of those who have died and comforting each other.

The Seattle ride meets at Gas Works Park at 6:30 p.m. and leaves at 7.

If you are planning to attend tonight’s Rainier Avenue action, you may be able to meet up with the Ride of Silence when it regroups at 7:30 p.m. at City Hall.

The ride loops back to end at Gas Works.

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Bellevue Police: It’s perfectly legal to crash a car into a home and crush a crib holding a sleeping baby

This is a public safety announcement from the Bellevue Police Department: Reinforce your baby’s room, because there is no law against someone crashing their car into your home and smashing into your baby’s crib.

Someone learning to drive “mistook” the gas pedal for the brake and smashed through the wall of the Hampton Greens Apartments near the Bellevue/Redmond border Tuesday morning.

The person driving continued into a baby’s room and crushed the crib where the nine-month-old boy was sleeping.

His parents rushed into the room and dug him out of the rubble that used to be his bedroom. By some miracle, the baby was not hurt.

But after only a couple hours of investigation, Bellevue Police decided that nothing illegal had transpired. Continue reading

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Bike theft hero spots stranger’s ride, returns it during victim’s costumed birthday bike ride

Alex Cruse (left) and Zanna Furness mark the bike reunion with a hug. Image from Nicole Southwell.

Alex Cruse (left) and Zanna Furness (wearing a disco ball helmet) mark the bike reunion with a hug. Image from Nicole Southwell.

Seattle has a new hero, and her name is Alex Cruse.

Alex was in a car in Wallingford with her fiance and soon-to-be father-in-law when she spotted an orange and white All-City Macho Man bike near an apparent homeless encampment just off Northlake Way.

Amazingly, she remembered seeing the bike listed on Bike Index, an online registry service where people can list stolen bikes (Seattle Bike Blog partners with Bike Index via our Stolen Bikes page).

You see, Alex used to work downtown and often saw shady bike exchanges on the street. So being a real life super hero, she naturally started browsing Bike Index regularly just in case she spotted someone’s ride in the wrong hands. And Sunday, it finally happened.

But that’s not all. After convincing her fiancé Nicole and Nicole’s father they should turn around and park across the street from the bike, she pulled the listing back up on her phone and confirmed that the bike she saw was a match.

“I was all fired up because I finally saw one of these bikes and I can help out,” she said.

Then Alex walked right over to the bike, which was sitting near a group of men, and bravely lied to them: “This is my roommate’s bike. It was stolen a couple days ago. I’m not gonna give you guys any trouble, but we’re out of here with the bike.”

She said one of the guys got up and left, while the rest of them tried to play it off like, “oh, it just showed up, we swear.”

She didn’t stick around to chat more. With the bike in her possession and nobody seeming interested in stopping her, she loaded it into the car and they drove away. En route home, they passed a big bike parade of about 30 people all dressed up in costumes. Oh, Seattle, don’t ever change. Continue reading

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