Mayor McGinn announced details of his 2013-14 transportation budget today, which includes funds for a “Center City Mobility Plan,” which includes planning for a downtown bicycle network (read: protected cycle tracks).
The $325,000 plan “will review how all modes of transportation interconnect downtown.” We have written several times that safe bike facilities downtown have the biggest potential to increase cycling in Seattle. Add to that the benefits to walking safety and comfort (a huge issue downtown), the increase in attractive livability to the downtown neighborhood, the economic benefits to downtown retail and the benefits to downtown congestion relief and you see that it’s embarrassing it took us this long to start talking seriously about them. From the Mayor’s Office:
As part of this work, we will begin planning a downtown bicycle network, using best practices, to build on the Denny triangle cycle track. This study will help lead us to a safer and easier biking experience for residents and visitors alike in Downtown and beyond.
The mayor is also pledging $300,000 to push the Burke-Gilman Missing Link further along it’s ridiculously slow crawl to completion. The mayor is not giving up on this project, which has seen the support from three mayoral administrations (yes, that’s how long this thing has been held up).
We wrote this morning about some of the city’s other cycle track plans in the works on Linden Ave, 7th Ave and, of course, Broadway. Last week, we asked whether the city is serious when they say road safety is their number one transportation priority. We bemoaned the lack of bold proposals, citing the downtown biking and walking environment as a prime example. The mayor’s budget includes some of these needed bold plans, and I am eager to dive further into the details and to see how it is received by the City Council.
Investing in Safe Routes to School, neighborhood greenways
The mayor’s budget significantly increases its Safe Routes to School and neighborhood greenways focuses. As the nation and state look to chop this no-brainer community health element of their transportation budgets, the mayor wants to increase its pitiful budget, fund some significant projects and hire another SRTS staff person. The mayor’s budget also includes a new neighborhood greenway development and outreach position.
Greenways make for safer streets for people biking and walking, regardless of your age or ability. In 2012, Seattle will have completed greenways in Wallingford, Delridge, and Beacon Hill. Of this $1.2 million, $836,000 is one-time funding for three significant projects at McGilvra Elementary, Beacon Hill Elementary, and West Woodland Elementary as well as increased staff support for these Safe Routes to School projects. These funds allow the City to step up its efforts significantly, helping schools on greenways corridors in a substantive and meaningful way. $420,000 over the next two years in additional general funding for greenway development will boost other efforts along greenways. We have also proposed funding a full-time staff position to assist with greenway development and community outreach.
His budget will also include $200,000 for a road safety education campaign.
But that’s not all. The mayor also wants $500,000 to be spent researching options for a transit, biking and walking bridge across the Ship Canal somewhere between Fremont and Ballard as part of his desire for more high capacity transit planning.
The budget also includes over $10 million for paving and repairs and $486,000 for the Freight Mobility Plan.
While I would prefer a simple action proposal to yet another plan (do we really need a downtown bike plan on top of this year’s expensive and time-consuming Bike Master Plan update?), it’s very encouraging to see official movement on downtown cycle tracks. How cool would it be if the City Council proposed shifting that downtown bike plan money into a construction plan for an actual downtown cycle track in 2013?