State Senate Transportation Chair wants to toll people biking across 520 Bridge. Yes, really.

Sen. King. Screenshot from King 5 (click to watch)

Sen. King. Screenshot from King 5 (click to watch)

Usually when people throw out ideas this bad, we just ignore them. But this one comes from the Washington State Senate’s Transportation Committee Chair, so I guess we need to respond.

No, tolling people biking on the new 520 Bridge is not in any way a good idea.

It’s true, Senator Curtis King (R-Yakima) told King 5 that he wants to toll people biking across the still-underfunded 520 Bridge to “help us pay for it.” Sigh…

In a rational world, there are two good reasons to toll a bridge or road:

  1. To help pay for repairs or replacement.
  2. To reduce traffic congestion.

Tolling people on bikes would accomplish neither.

But, since this idea clearly comes from some other realm with no relation to reason, let’s break down some of King’s concerns. Continue reading

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Cascade Bicycle Club may drop endorsements and direct election advocacy

Kiker speaks at the opening of Cascade's new office

Kiker speaks at the opening of Cascade’s new office

Cascade Bicycle Club is currently considering major changes to their organizational structure that could end their ability to endorse political candidates or directly assist in their campaigns. This would be a significant change in the club’s advocacy goal to “educate and elect leaders, no matter their political stripe, who will prioritize passing laws and funding for improving bicycling in the Central Puget Sound Region,” as stated on their elections webpage.

“This doesn’t reflect a shift away from advocacy work, which is why we want to look at this carefully,” said Catherine Hennings, who just took on the role of Cascade Board President this month. “Our commitment to advocacy is as strong as ever.”

But the change, which we first reported back in November 2013, would definitely impact the kinds of election work the club does. Currently, most of the club operates as a 501(c)(4), though Cascade’s Education Foundation is a separate 501(c)(3) with its own Board. Cascade’s (c)(4) also operates Bike PAC, a political action committee that “complements the election work of the Cascade Bicycle Club to help elect pro-bike candidates.”

But the Board could decide to switch to an entirely 501(c)(3) model, an idea they will discuss and potentially vote on during their March 18 meeting.

As a 501(c)(4), Cascade can openly endorse candidates and even help their campaigns. They can lobby members and the general public to vote for them or even organize hands-on campaign work, like phone banking or knocking on doors. They can help candidates craft strategy and share other resources to help them succeed.

Cascade is somewhat unique among bike organizations in the nation for having a successful 501(c)(4) that is funded in large part by extremely popular events (like the annual Seattle to Portland) and strong enough to actually influence elections. As we reported previously, Cascade is so much larger than any other local bike/walk advocacy in the nation that it puts Seattle in a league of its own: Continue reading

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Madison rapid bus project is chance to improve bike routes in central Seattle

One example of how a center-aligned BRT could look on Madison. Image from an SDOT presentation

One example of how a center-aligned BRT could look on Madison. Image from an SDOT presentation

The city is currently in the outreach and design phase for a significant rapid bus project along Madison Street from the waterfront to 23rd Ave (and possibly MLK). The rapidly-developing corridor is a rare direct route diagonal to the street grid, making it a prime candidate for faster, more consistent and more reliable transit service, and it was identified in the city’s Transit Master Plan as such.

Planners are currently conducting an online survey, which you should complete by February 5.

The basic elements of a Bus Rapid Transit project along the corridor is the creation of transit-only lanes, running buses more often and having fewer-but-better stops, allowing for much faster movement even during crunch commute times. Planners are considering options that either put the bus lanes and stops in the center lanes (as pictured above) or in the curb lanes. You can learn more from this recent presentation (large PDF).

But as this is the Seattle Bike Blog, let’s look at the biking elements in the area. To meet with the city’s Complete Streets Ordinance, planners are looking for how to make sure walking and biking elements are included in the project. Especially for biking, Madison Street’s sometimes ridiculously steep grades provide some pretty significant bike route challenges. Especially downtown, Madison is so steep even a streetcar could not make the trip (thus the BRT rather than rail). If you’re on a bike, you are likely going to seek out less-steep streets nearby to get up to First Hill and beyond.

How steep is it? Here’s a graphic: Continue reading

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After confusion over Burke-Gilman detour, City Light releases video

IMG_0691Almost immediately after the Seattle City Light Burke-Gilman Trail detour was put in place, readers started reporting confusion and concerns. Mostly, people were concerned about a multi-direction stop at 6th Ave NE where sightlines are limited.

City Light has since added some extra wayfinding signage to help people figure out the routing, but the 6th Ave NE intersection remains a bit stressful. This is especially problematic for the sometimes younger and/or less experienced users the trail attracts.

Work on the trail is scheduled to continue through mid-February, so trail users will need to get used to the detour. City Light released the following video explaining how the detour is supposed to work: Continue reading

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Seattle Police will auction bike Seahawks’ Bennett made famous

Bennett rides a bike again, this time during the team's sendoff celebration as they head to the Super Bowl

Bennett rides a bike again, this time during the team’s sendoff celebration as they head to the Super Bowl. Image from the Seahawks

Michael Bennett’s bike ride after the NFC Championship game quickly became an iconic image of the moment. And now the Seattle Police bike he used for his joyride around the field will be auctioned for charity.

The Puget Sound Business Journal has the details:

The Seattle PD bike is stuck in a bit of a bureaucratic mess for now, as a government agency isn’t allowed to just give away equipment. But all that should be cleared up in time for it to be auctioned at a charity event on Feb. 7, according to police spokesman Det. Drew Fowler.

Half of the proceeds will go to the Seattle Police Foundation, an independent nonprofit that supports the department, and half will go to a charity Bennett works closely with to fight childhood obesity, OCEAN.

The bike will be auctioned at the Evening of Hope February 7.

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Longtime City Council Transportation Chair Tom Rasmussen will not seek reelection

This remains my favorite photo of Tom Rasmussen, pedaling a crazy Stevens-designed pedal-powered parade float with Sally Bagshaw

This remains my favorite photo of Tom Rasmussen (top right), pedaling a crazy pedal-powered parade float with Sally Bagshaw

For years, Tom Rasmussen has been the most influential member of the City Council when it comes to transportation issues. Through several Council committee shakeups, he has remained the Chair of the Transportation Committee, and nearly all big city transportation decisions have long been routed through his office.

For example, he played a big role in developing the most recent Bicycle Master Plan update, often taking a hands-on role as a sometimes West Seattle bike commuter. He has been a proponent of giving the city’s Bicycle Advisory Board more influence over city projects, as seen over the summer when he showed his teeth after SDOT delayed in getting the Board and the Council a promised Bike Master Plan Implementation Plan.

He joins Nick Licata as a longtime Councilmember who will not seek reelection under the new district election system. Many had considered Rasmussen a lock for West Seattle’s District 1, so that race now seems wide open (see West Seattle Blog for more). Continue reading

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The interim Roosevelt bike lane upgrade is now open

IMG_0698The interim protected bike lane is now open on Roosevelt Way between NE 45th Street and the north end of the University Bridge.

This project is something of a demonstration for what a more complete Roosevelt bike lane upgrade could look like after the street is repaved and redesigned starting fall 2015. The city plans to complete a protected bike lane on the vital NE Seattle bike route stretching from NE 65th Street to the south end of the University Bridge.

Not so long ago, there was no bike lane on the street, requiring some scary lane sharing on the long, fast downhill commute route. In 2010, the city painted a skinny bike lane on the street, but it was not enough to make the street safe. See our coverage from one of Seattle Bike Blog’s first ever stories, and note commenter John C pointing out some of the safety issues. Turns out, John C was right. The bike lane design created new safety issues, such as placing people too close to parked cars and at risk of getting hit by people opening their car doors.

Since the bike lane was installed, Roosevelt has remained one of the most dangerous streets for people biking in the city, clocking 21 collisions in just four years (October 2010 – October 2014).

The new bike lane design will separate people biking from car traffic and create a much more comfortable and inviting space to bike. It will also remove conflicts with transit by moving bus stops off the sidewalk and into the space between the general travel lanes and the bike lane, much like the Dexter Ave transit islands. You can learn more about the changes from our previous story. Continue reading

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