People upset about Westlake bikeway file appeal to delay entire Bike Master Plan, hire Missing Link lawyer

The parking lot is simply not safe for the high number of people who bike along Westlake today.

The parking lot is simply not safe for the high number of people who bike along Westlake today.

With the help of a regional transportation grant, the city is in the early stages of planning a bikeway of some kind along the wide Westlake Ave N corridor. So far, the city has held one open house to gather ideas and feedback from all community members to help guide the design process. 81 percent of those who attended noted that reducing bicycle collisions should be a project priority.

There is no design yet, no details on how much — if any — parking would be displaced or how the bikeway would look and feel. But a handful of people are so mad about the idea that the city is even thinking about creating a safer Westlake Ave N for people biking that they have hired a legal team to delay the entire city-wide Bike Master Plan.

The Bike Master Plan has been in development since 2012, has gone through thousands of hours of community feedback, drew overwhelming support at a public hearing in December and is one City Council vote away from approval.

Well, it was one Council vote away, anyway. A crew of Westlake businesses and individuals hired Josh Brower — the attorney who has been successfully delaying the Ballard Missing Link of the Burke-Gilman Trail for many years — and have filed an appeal to the city’s determination that the Bike Master Plan does not pose a significant environmental impact. Unless the appeal is dropped, the Council will not likely vote on the plan before the scheduled March 5 hearing.

Why are they appealing, you ask? Because passing a bird’s-eye master plan that includes a desire for a protected bikeway of some kind, somewhere within the 150-foot corridor “will create unsafe conflicts between pedestrians, cyclists, and commercial/industrial/maritime/business traffic and activities; will create traffic and safety hazards in and around the City and Westlake Avenue North area and neighborhood; will cause loss of parking that is significant and adverse to City residents, business owners/operators and the Appellants,” according to the appeal filed with the Seattle Hearing Examiner. “The Appellants are … harmed by the significant adverse impacts from the Plan and the failure of the DNS to comply with the State Environmental Policy Act and its implementing regulations.”

Yes, the city just thinking about putting a protected bikeway on Westlake “harms” the appellants.

Yes, there is enough space on Westlake for both parking AND a safe place to bike

Yes, there is enough space on Westlake for both parking AND a safe place to bike

The Bike Plan consists of 473.5 miles of new and upgraded bike facilities. The plan is a high-level document meant to guide city investments to increase road safety and to make bicycling more inviting to more residents regardless of age, ability, race, neighborhood or income. Westlake represents about 0.3 percent of the plan.

But that’s not the most outrageous part of this appeal. The Westlake project received funding independently of the Bike Master Plan. In essence, all the Master Plan says is: “Hey, there should probably be a separated bikeway of some kind here.” It’s a document that helps the city decide which projects to look into further. But Westlake has already been chosen. If the appellants have a beef with the project, then their beef is with the project team, not the Bike Master Plan.

So basically, this handful of people are so mad about this one project — the goals of which have overwhelming community support — that they are willing to hold the entire city-wide Master Plan hostage. They are willing to hold hostage all those thousands of hours invested by residents in neighborhoods in all corners of the city either because they are confused about the role the Master Plan plays in that project or because they want to flex their legal muscle to show how serious they are.

So who are these angry, well-funded appellants? From the appeal:

The Westlake Stakeholders Group includes members from the Westlake community. The Westlake community comprises 300 floating homes and live-aboards; 10 marinas, which include approximately 1,200 moorage slips; 20 boat dealerships; 50 yacht repair/lift-out facilities; a kayak and paddle-board company; the largest floatplane port in the contiguous United States; a lake/bay tour cruise company; the only fuel dock on Lake Union; an indoor swimming pool 65,000 annual visitors; a dragon boat club; and a rowing club.”

The fact that they are calling themselves “The Westlake Stakeholders Group” (website) is insulting enough, considering their intended goal is clearly not in the best of interest of the people who have been, or will be, injured while biking in the dangerous parking lot or four-lane road. Is Karlyn Beer not a “stakeholder” too? What about the people who live and work on Westlake and are excited about the idea of a safe and comfortable space to bike?

Do you bike, walk, live, work or play along Westlake Ave North? Then you are a stakeholder and may want to attend the January 21 “Westlake Stakeholders Campaign Kickoff.”

We were hopeful that people concerned about Westlake would engage in the planning process. Their concerns should obviously be part of the plan for a safer, more accessible Westlake corridor, neighborhood and business district. We all want Westlake businesses to do well, and we all want everyone to get around safely. We absolutely can work together to make that happen.

But these legal tactics, which now threaten to stall the entire bike plan for an unknown period of time, are despicable and show no intention of acting in good faith to create a safer Westlake. It’s frustrating to everyone who attended the open house, listened to concerns voiced there and tried to find common ground and compromises. I heard countless conversations after that open house like, “Hey, would back-in angled parking work? It takes up less space but still holds many cars.” “Maybe changing more unlimited free parking to 2-hour parking would cut down on people using the lot as a free park-and-ride, thus opening the parking to customers.” “Let’s make sure loading zones are preserved for businesses that need them.” “Let’s create better accessible parking for people with mobility issues.” And so on. These are the voices that should be leading the Westlake design process.

We urge the Westlake Stakeholders Group to come back to the table. To do that, they have to drop this appeal. Instead, they should spend their efforts working with the Westlake project team and the 81 percent of people who attended the project open house and said they want to improve safety for people on bikes. We can work together to create plans for a Westlake that works better for everyone, but not if one handful of the stakeholders decides to flex their legal muscle at every turn.

Below are the appeal documents.

UPDATE: Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, Chair of the Transportation Committee, said via email that he “was in the process of developing a schedule for review and action on the BMP” when the appeal was filed. He was able to find a thin silver lining in the delay, though. From an email:

What that means for the public is that there may be at least a month to provide comments to the City Council.  I would recommend that all who want to comment on the BMP get them in to the City Council within the next 30 days because we will want to have time to review the recommendations.  Once we receive the go-ahead to proceed with deliberations and adoption of the BMP update we will do so in a timely manner.

Comments can be sent to bmpupdate@seattle.gov or directly to members of the City Council.

Sdot Sepa Dnsappeal 12.23.2013 by tfooq

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76 Responses to People upset about Westlake bikeway file appeal to delay entire Bike Master Plan, hire Missing Link lawyer

  1. When I lived in Seattle for 2 years, one of those years was spent bicycle commuting from Ballard to downtown. The worst two sections of that ride were actually Westlake and then into the downtown core. There were almost zero reasonable safe protected paths to take between the beginning of the Westlake Parking lot spread all the way to the inner core of Pine & Pike around 3rd. Nothing, I was either in traffic (which I won’t go into how annoying that way) or in mixed parking/pedestrian/confused driver area of the westlake parking spot.

    Much of the time the lots were NOT completely full, and considering that those businesses could benefit FROM having a bike way this seems idiotic. Hardline old guy “let’s never change for better or worse” nimbyism.

    Needless to say however, I left Seattle years ago now because of this type of bullshit. As I outlined here: http://transitsleuth.com/2012/02/05/im-moving-new-home-base-portland-secondary-san-francisco-seattle-and-vancouver-bc/

    One of the big reasons I left, and many leave Seattle is because of the hostile to bikes attitude of far too many still. It’s hard to want to stay put when Portland is just down the way. Especially if you’re a bike snob. However, Seattle I’ll give is dramatically improving, and I love the city. But when Seattle needed bikeways, and a better attitude and architecture on Westlake, the city didn’t have one and thus lost me as a citizen. I know personally of dozens of others who won’t move to Seattle because of this attitude. Maybe one day it’ll change, until then, it’s a battle Seattle will have to have with the “old gaurd” of “anti-bikers” and “pro-car-dependency” people. In some way, we’re all having that battle in the United States these days.

    In summary, I’m STOKED to see them push forward on a bikeway in this area, I’m saddened to see this type of nimyism being counterproductive and stalling progress.

    • Law Abider says:

      Yikes, what I take from all of that is that you give up too easily at the slightest bit of resistance. Granted, Portland’s good at spending money on bike infrastructure and light rail, but their usage rates are terrible. And a lot of your points on your blog are either one sided, ignorant or pride-related (Voodoo donuts is nothing more than the Dick’s of Portland, good but not great).

      I love Portland, it’s a great little town, but to move to Portland because you’ve given up on Seattle is just naive. But if you enjoy it, that’s all that matters.

    • Dick Schwartz says:

      There are dedicated bike lanes on Dexter Ave which begin and end at essentially the same locations as the Westlake route would and runs parallel to and is only one or two blocks west of Westlake. If cycle activists were “reasonable” people they would be thankful that the city spent considerable taxpayer funds to develop the Dexter bike lanes and not insist on duplicate infrastructure a couple of blocks away simply because they don’t like the gentle hill involved in the Dexter route. Westlake community is not asking to ban bikes from Westlake they are just saying the reasonable and safe soulution is to designate Dexter as the high speed commuter route and Westlake as a slow speed alternative. It is the cycle activists who want to have it all their way, not the Westlake community.

      • Tom Fucoloro says:

        We built Highway 99 just a couple blocks from Dexter an Westlake. So why should we have car lanes on those streets? People who drive should be thankful that the state spent considerable taxpayer funds to develop Highway 99 and not insist on duplicate infrastructure a couple of blocks away…

        Tons of people bike on Westlake, even with the improved bike lanes on Dexter. That must mean it is a desirable place to bike. So we should make it safe for them, and remove the frustration and confusion that biking in today’s parking lot poses.

      • Law Abider says:

        First, Dexter is not a “gentle hill”. Second, even if it was, Dexter doesn’t take me where I need to go in SLU, so why should I be forced to take Dexter?

        And it’d be too ironic to designate Dexter the “high speed commuter route” and Westlake the “slow speed alternative”, when Dexter is signed 30 MPH and Westlake is signed 35 MPH (with speeds typically going over 40).

        All bikes are asking for is a small slice of the 150′ Westlake ROW (less than 10%). All that will be lost are a few “free” parking spots that are mostly used up by commuters to downtown. There will still be plenty of RPZ/meter spots available for houseboat owners and Westlake businesses.

  2. Bob Anderton says:

    Bicyclists versus Yachties?!

    My impression from attending that hearing was that the people who opposed the Westlake Cycle Track were concerned that it would reduce parking such that access to their yachts moored on Lake Union would be more difficult.

    This doesn’t have to be a 1% versus the 99% kind of thing… the 1% should consider fancy folding bikes and they’d have more fun off their yachts.

    • dave says:

      I know it is not a reasonable sample set by any stretch, but the cyclists I know are generally as wealthy or wealthier than the sailors on my dock. There are plenty of working class folks out there that happen to like to be on the water. There are also plenty of bikes on the road worth more than my boat – and this is a boat with a cabin and berths and all that, so lets not get too deep into the stereotypes, please!

      I do have a fancy folding bike for the boat. It is an awesome combination!

      Disclosure: My boat is in Ballard, not on Lake Union (thank the gods) but either way I’d support the Westlake bikeway.

  3. Forrest says:

    I have had it with these motherfuckin’ delays on this motherfuckin’ plan!

  4. Julian says:

    Maybe their lawyer will do what he did in Ballard and propose a European-style cycletrack as a solution to this mess? Oh.

  5. Peri Hartman says:

    Tom, I completely support “our” position of having a safe bikeway through Westlake and I think you report accurately the diverse opinions, ideas, and situations of the area. The one place I disagree is your statement “… a handful of people are so mad about the idea …”.

    While I don’t know how many people were actively or passively involved in hiring a legal team, I do know that a large number, probably the majority, of people at the public meeting were had other priorities besides providing a safer passage for cyclists.

    That’s not saying that they didn’t include cycling safety as “a” priority. But I remember viewing a poster board where people could put dots up for their concerns. I can’t remember it specifically right now, but there were high numbers of dots for business parking, getting blocked while trying to cross the bikeway, safety for peds (from cyclists), houseboat parking, and more.

    My point isn’t whether the bikeway should be built (I definitely think it should) but that these peoples concerns are real. They may or may not be overblown (for example, some parking could be freed-up by putting 2 or 4 hour limit). But I think they fear their concerns will be ignored and, thus, they are taking the legal approach to ensure they are heard.

    We, as the cycling community, can do a lot to encourage the city to hear their concerns and defuse their anger.

    • Tom Fucoloro says:

      I agree, and I was hoping they would stay at the table and make sure their concerns were met. I certainly don’t want to indiscriminately take away parking with no concern for the viability of businesses. That’s crazy.

      I think it is safe to say that only a handful of people are responsible for suing, holding the Bike Master Plan hostage, to get their way. Most reasonable people would stay engaged and make sure access to businesses and homes is preserved sufficiently.

    • Dick Schwartz says:

      Perhaps you folks are unaware of the fact that the Westlake community received NO notice from the city that they had started this project (you do understand don’t you that this isn’t a proposal, it’s an active project). The way the community became aware of it was when surveyors were observed in the area and asked what they were doing. Would you have faith that the city was interested in your concerns if that happened to you? The problem here is that the Cascade Bike Cycle Club has dominated the development of the Bike Plan yet they represent a fraction of one percent of the city’s population. You tell me if the city’s residents would vote for this plan if they knew its projected build out cost is a half billion dollars and that many of the projects it proposes are going to create more traffic congestion just as the ones and Nickerson, Dexter and 65th have done. I would feel confident stating that 90% of Seattle’s citizens know nothing about this plan. Is it good governance to push something through under the radar under those circumstances? Apparently the CBC does.

      • Tom Fucoloro says:

        Your issue with this project is with the project team, not the Bike Master Plan. I am aware it is an active project, selected for funding by the Puget Sound Regional Council. That’s exactly why suing to delay the entire Bike Master Plan is ridiculous.

        As for outreach, the bike plan team held many open houses in many parts of the city over a year and half. Thousands of comments were gathered. Community groups met on their own to submit their own thoughts and ideas. It’s been the work of a great many people volunteering their time and energy to create an ambitious-but-achievable plan.

        No government outreach effort can ever reach everyone, but the Bike Plan team sure reached a lot of them. There were major media stories, meetings were advertised and the mayor and city council made a big deal about them. If you weren’t paying attention or were uninterested in attending, that’s nobody else’s fault.

        As for Nickerson, Dexter and 65th (I actually am not sure what 65th project you are talking about), those projects created no congestion. I guess you can keep saying they did, but traffic studies show they didn’t.

      • Utruria St. bicyclist, sailor and car commuter says:

        I am actually replying to Tom Fucoloro’s post below.

        I have had the privilege of living off of Westlake Ave. N and Nickerson. The traffic revisions has for the most part made vehicle traffic worse and in some cases less safe for bicyclists. I was comfortable riding my bike on Nickerson before the road diet, and now I avoid the road (with both my bike and car).

        Please understand that I too represent the bike community and I have seen the community trust and support of bike facilities drop because of a perceived radical agenda from the CBC and Mike McGinn years. I think it should be reasonable to work out a safe low speed bike path through Westlake but that will take a recognition that it should not impact traffic flows and will need support from the other users on Westlake.

      • Long Time Nickerson St Walker says:

        I wanted to comment on the statement made by Utruria St bicyclist, sailor and car commuter that the changes to Nickerson St. have made traffic worse. I do not see a noticeable difference in traffic speeds. I travel this Nickerson St several times a day. What the changes have improved greatly is pedestrian safety. I can now cross Nickerson at 6th Ave W and not feel like I will be run over. Cars move more slowly down Nickerson (which was the entire point of the road change). I have lived by Nickerson since the early 90s, and it is a great improvement.

      • Joel S. says:

        Ah but you are a pedestrian, and your views and concerns are not as important here as those privileged with driving and parking on those same streets. That’s the issue here. /s

      • Jeik says:

        I live in Fremont and I got a postcard. Westlake got a postcard. You just weren’t paying attention. This was the 2nd most requested facility in the 2007 bike master plan. It’s not a surprise, and a lot of people want it.

  6. David says:

    Countless studies have been done on streets that have removed parking in favor of bicycle infrastructure and they all show that more bikes=more money for businesses. If these Westlake folks are truly concerned about the welfare of their businesses, they should be advocating for better bike facilities.

    This isn’t an issue of economics. This is an issue of people wanting to hold onto “what is theirs” rather than sharing what they have for the greater good.

  7. Eli says:

    The irony is that, once they lose and the Westlake project gets built, it will still be their real estate prices that go through the roof.

    (a la Burke Gilman 1970s)

  8. Jayne says:

    The irony is that the majority of the cars parked there are using it as a park and ride into downtown, not to “shop” at yacht businesses.

    • DrewJ says:

      Makes you wonder what could be achieved by better management of parking. Time restrictions, RPZ’s, even employee RPZ’s (as used in the Rainier Valley). Getting rid of the abused parking (i.e., free P&R to downtown, SLU) would likely do a lot more, a lot easier than a lawsuit.

  9. Joel S. says:

    Critical mass style protests? I’ve never ridden in one before, but I’d ride up and down the westlake corridor enough times with enough people to get a point across. Let them argue against the Westlake project, but to delay the entire bike plan is egregious.

  10. merlin says:

    Is someone arranging for a bike corral the the Westlake Stakeholders campaign kickoff meeting? There isn’t any bike parking at the China Harbor Restaurant where they’re meeting.

  11. Josh says:

    Concerns about business access to a working waterfront are valid… it’s not an industry that can just relocate to a lower-rent area south of downtown. Whatever goes in there should be extremely sensitive to personal and commercial vehicle access, large boat trailers, etc.

    But it’s also an industry that could benefit immensely from improved business access for bicycles and pedestrians.

    Why should the largest floatplane port in the lower 48 have such lousy bicycle access when they’re convenient bicycling distance from downtown Seattle tourist activities and wealthy Seattle neighborhoods? They should be demanding safe bicycle access with room for bicycle storage and future bikeshare facilities, so Canadian and Alaskan customers can arrive without being stranded on Westlake, and Seattle customers can bike to their flight without worrying about a car left in open parking for days or weeks.

    Have they missed the wealthy demographics of the bicycle enthusiast community? Float plane + folding bike = instant access to any of the San Juans, Victoria, etc.

    1,200 slips of moorage, and how many of those boats already have folding bikes on board for visits to friendlier locales? (Enough that Dahon has models specifically designed for use on boats!)

    50 haul-outs that have a constant stream of customers who just arrived by boat and need a way home, or who just arrived to pick up their boats and are stuck dealing with a car left parked on Westlake?

    20 dealerships and none of them want affluent passers-by going slow enough to see the inventory, with vehicles that allow spur-of-the-moment stops without hunting for a parking space?

    Kayakers, paddle-boarders, a rowing club, and a pool, and they don’t think maybe they have a market in the fitness/active outdoor demographic?

    If I owned any of those businesses, I’d want a seat at the table to make sure people on bicycles had easy access and good sight lines to my business. I’d want the design to include opportunities for my business to sponsor street furniture (bike lockers with advertising? park benches? nautical-theme art bike racks?). And I’d want to make sure the design complies with engineering safety standards that have been developed over the past few decades that would provide motorists safer access than they have today.

    Unless they’re convinced they’d be shut out of the design discussion, their opposition seems bad for their own businesses.

    (Now, I can see why they might fear being shut out of the design discussion… it’s been said of one of the City’s consultants that he’ll officially consider any sort of infrastructure, but he’d tell Hannibal that a two-way cycletrack was the best way to get elephants over the Alps. But again, their best avenue there would be project-level appeals if the design turns into another Linden cluster… loaded with manufactured conflict zones.)

  12. Andrew E Gall says:

    This is absolutely an inappropriate way for members of a community to have a conversation about this bikeway and how it will be structured. I want to let the businesses know what I think about their involvement in these shenanigans. If you do too, please join the Seattle Bike Holders Google Group or just email us at seattle-bike-holders@googlegroups.com.

  13. AiliL says:

    Just wrote to the council a letter about how APPALLED I am about this. This is completely over the top. If it’s so dangerous we should file an injunction to stop building any more roadways until we can prove that those roadways are not a danger/nuisance/waste of money for our neighborhoods.

  14. Mike H says:

    I’ve looked around the Westlake Stakeholders Group website and what strikes me most is that there is very little information on who the group is actually composed of. Yes, it lists a number of types of businesses such as the indoor pool, restaurants, yacht clubs, etc. but no one really puts there name out there. Further, when you look into the meeting notes, there are individuals but not a lot of business information.

    There are 2 letters which state some concerns but that is the purpose of design. Find the concerns, address them, and move on.

    I think this may be a minority of people typical to most public works projects. Sadly, they’ve employed the legal system, so we may be talking about this for a while. Ugh.

    • Hans Gerwitz says:

      Indeed, the quoted text

      The Westlake Stakeholders Group includes members from the Westlake community. The Westlake community comprises…

      does not answer who they are. It merely implies that they represent the entire community, but are we to believe that each of those “300 floating homes and live-aboards” are a part of this effort?

      • RTK says:

        I read something that associated Northwest Outdoor Center with this effort. I hope not, I can’t tell you how many times myself and others have ridden bicycles to NWOC to rent a kayak.

  15. BallardBiker says:

    I guess I still don’t understand what is wrong with Dexter? I like the hill; it’s exercise after all! I too have written the Council to express that I am happy to see a step back from this plan for Westlake. There are so many other parts of the city that don’t have ANY safe cycling facilities. Why spend resources for an area that has an alternative one block up, or can be navigated more safely than other parts of the city already via the parking lot. The only people not safe in the parking lot are the spandex douche bags that go too fast to react to cars or too fast to let cars react to them.

    • Joseph Singer says:

      Westlake is an easier ride. Who said that the Westlake Stakeholders are the only ones who have a say in what happens to streets?

    • Peri Hartman says:

      It’s because 150-200/hour cyclists pass through the area during peak hours. Apparently they have decided that Dexter won’t work for them. With numbers that high, it isn’t safe or practical for any of the concerned parties.

    • Jayne says:

      Why should cars clog up all the streets when they could just go over to I-5, which is specifically meant for them?

    • Lisa says:

      Not everyone bikes for exercise- my main goal is actually to avoid exercise/getting sweaty on my way to work. I’m basically walking, but slightly faster. But I do see your point about alternative corridors, when, say, I can’t for the life of me find an easy way out of Columbia city to downtown.

      • Shirley says:

        Yes, getting from Columbia City to downtown is a challenge especially if you don’t want to sweat. This just means we will see nothing by this blockage. What bothers me most about this blockage is that it means no change for our much needed Rainier Valley. We have nothing in the way of bike infrastructure. We do have a few speed humps but nothing substantial and we do have people who bike and remain kinda hidden because we have to find alternative routes that don’t involved biking on Rainier Ave because that is flat. Seriously, just because a group of people don’t like ONE project, they have to block everyone! Babies.

    • Matt says:

      I had the same initial reaction but completely changed my tune. Substitute bike lane for sidewalk in the question. “Why build a sidewalk on Westlake when there is already a sidewalk on Dexter?” I don’t get why we continue to view bike lanes as some time of luxury recreational expense in this country. There primary purpose is safety just like a sidewalk. I would not let me children walk on an arterial road without a sidewalk the same way I would not let them bike on one without a protected bike lane. Especially with SLU becoming the powerhouse that it is, more direct routes are needed and Dexter is not sufficient enough.

    • Rachel says:

      Dexter has a bike lane but that doesn’t mean it’s safe. As a slower commuter, I find the fast cyclists with their lycra and their sprint mentality incredibly daunting and intimidating. Furthermore, you have parked cars on one side of you and construction and speeding cars on the other. At least in the parking lot of westlake, going slow means seeing the cars pulling out of stalls and moving around pedestrians and others. Most riders I see in the parking lot at Westlake are amblers, they are wearing normal clothes, they are not riding their bikes at breakneck speeds.

    • RTK says:

      I would probably keep riding Dexter as well, but this is a very high density corridor for bicycle commuting and it absolutely needs to be developed.

      I remember riding for months on end over ground-up grooved concrete on Dexter while the road was being worked on. Why did I ride on it in the middle of a construction zone? Because Westlake was not a reasonable alternate.

      A reasonable alternate should exist for the highest density route into the city.

  16. Joseph Singer says:

    Is there a way to comment without having to constantly have your post “authorized?” It’s a PITA to have to reply to each reply that I send.

  17. Matthew Snyder says:

    My sense is this is just the beginning of a lengthy legal process. Once the hearing examiner rejects the appeal, the obstructionists will have the opportunity to appeal to superior court, which means we could easily be talking about a lengthy court battle. I have no idea how much money and time the obstructionists are willing to spend to delay this plan, but I don’t feel too optimistic about them giving up after they lose in round 1.

    Thankfully, just because we don’t have an updated BMP doesn’t mean we can’t keep building bicycle infrastructure.

    • Peri Hartman says:

      That’s why it’s important to reach out to these people and defuse them. Find a solution that most of them will accept and the remaining few will then loose their backing and power.

    • Kevin in Ballard says:

      Don’t be so sure that we can ‘keep building bicycle infrastructure.’

      If the entire plan is appealed, then the City may be required to do a full EIS on the entirety of the plan – building something before the EIS is done could be considered a violation of the process – this is the way it has gone down with the Missing Link, even though the appeals became more narrowly focused as time went on. I believe it would depend on whether the plan is considered a ‘whole’.

      And you can probably assume that there are suitcases full of $$$ to pay the legal fees – I’d wager that there are business owners without a dog in this fight who will join in just for the fun of poking a stick in bicyclists’ and SDOTs’ eyes.

      Can we ask Ed Murray to intervene and convince his supporters to stand down?

      • Matthew Snyder says:

        I feel like I’m missing something important related to the DNS. How can you prepare an environmental impact statement (or a DNS, for that matter) when there is no concrete plan to analyze? The BMP provides general guidance, as Tom explains above, about the desire for a protected bike facility in this corridor, but nothing specific that would enable a full EIS to be conducted in any meaningful way.

        Let’s say the Westlake obstructionists win and the city is required to prepare an EIS for the BMP. Then what? What does an EIS look like for a set of unfunded bike infrastructure projects that are basically consensus goals plotted on a map? It seems like they’d have to make concrete the plans first, and then do an EIS. For better or for worse, that’s not how the BMP process worked.

      • Matthew Snyder says:

        Sounds like I’m not the only one confused about this point. The Crosscut article from today asks the same questions about the EIS/DNS. If the hearing examiner requires a full EIS for the whole BMP, it seems like that basically means the end of the BMP update, unless I’m missing something. How do you prepare an EIS for some approximate lines on a map?

    • Don Brubeck says:

      It would be a shame to waste all the effort and energy that so many have put into this BMP Update and instead have random ad hoc construction, just because of one line on a map. This should be resolved now, by Council.

    • Josh says:

      Many grant-funding sources are available only to projects that are included in coordinated, comprehensive planning documents such as the BMP. Seattle can continue building infrastructure that it can afford on its own, and can continue design work on other projects, but a delay in the BMP Update could delay the availability of funding for projects that are not in the current BMP. That’s not true for all sources of construction funding, so some projects may be able to go ahead anyway, but overall, the system is designed to discourage piecemeal projects and encourage coordinated planning and construction.

      It can be a very cumbersome system, but that’s a reaction to the wasteful, boondoggle projects of earlier generations.

  18. Brian h says:

    How is this NOT in the Seattle times today? Does the absurdity of the action not even qualify as a rational ‘war on cars’ move to publicize?

  19. Matt says:

    I’m moving to Portland or Vancouver if the BMP is delayed for years because of this litigation. Life is too short and my gf and I have had way too many close calls biking to work everyday. As a commentator said earlier, there’s only so much of the NIMBY BS that I can stand with Vancouver and Portland right down the road.

  20. Clark in Vancouver says:

    One thing I’m learning is that opposition to good things is normal and can be expected. Some of those opposed will be the usual grumpy unintelligent crazies, but many will just be honest decent people who are fearful of something new and/or have been listening to misinformation.
    The crazies are not worth spending too much time on but they can waste time at public meetings and cause bad will. It’s good to avoid getting caught in their messed up world view.
    The others though need to be included in the process. They can have their minds changed and they can be shown how it could be and they deserve their needs to be met as much as anyone else. They should be invited to participate in the design and education needs to be part of that or they’ll come up with some non-workable ideas.
    Sometimes business owners will oppose something merely to get their name in the paper knowing that the press likes conflict. Then after when the project is done and is benefitting them, they can just not mention that they were ever against it.
    Another thing is to stop using words that convey a type of person such as “cyclist”, “pedestrian” etc. This implies that there is a type of person and they have predictable attributes and doesn’t represent the reality of the many ways any individual might get around. Instead use words like “cycling”, “pleasant environment”, “seaside trail”, “good design”, etc.

  21. Juliette says:

    It looks like the Westlake Stakeholder’s group has pulled down their Evite http://www.evite.com/event/0350MUXZQYQAGYTZMEPDOSROS7HZSQ/canceled.

    Don’t know if that means the event is actually cancelled.

    I am guessing they don’t really want all stakeholders represented. Only those against a bike path.

  22. Mark says:

    I commute every day from downtown to the U-disctict on Dexter. I think i’m going to reroute through Westlake for a while and would encourage others to do the same. If a decent percentage of the Dexter commuters helped clog the Westlake parking lot for a while, they just might start to understand what they will be up against in the years to come as the number of cyclists increase.

  23. JBob says:

    The bike haters are really starting to panic now! They see the dramatic increases in bike ridership and realize that we are rapidly approaching critical mass, and in another year or two it will be self-evident to even unimaginative play-it-safe politicians like Ed Murray that cycling and bicycle infrastructure are critical parts of the transportation picture in a 21st-century city.

  24. Concerned Citizen says:

    I seriously hope this group realizes that they are potentially holding up thousands of projects that will make it safer for kids to get to school, employees to get to work, the elderly to get to parks, parents get to the grocery store, etc. These are everyday Seattleites who just happen to use a different form of transportation. Endangering ordinary folks as a negotiating tactic reveals this group’s extremist nature. It’s shameful.

    There is plenty of room on in this corridor for a safe place for people to walk, bike, ride transit, drive, and yes park their private cars on publicly subsidized parking spaces. There are many corridors in the city where hard choices will have to be made – this isn’t one of them. With good design everyone can be accommodated. However, this kind of extremist action does not engender great sympathy with the “stakeholder” group, and calls into question whether their concerns deserve to be accommodated in a serious fashion.

  25. no traffic lights says:

    The post above from Mark is a really good idea. Can we agree to reroute through Westlake instead of Dexter for a while? Tom, can you help promote this concept?

  26. David May says:

    At the public meeting in December I asked some of the city planners about a Westlake road diet, similar to the project on Nickerson St, reducing the street to two traffic lanes and a left turn lane. Each planner I asked replied that Westlake was a trucking freight corridor and could not be reduced from the current four lane configuration. I did a little research and found the Seattle Freight Mobility Program website with a link to the Seattle Major Trucks Streets map. This map is dated from 2005, but it shows Westlake Ave as well as Nickerson St. both as trucking routes. Since the Nickerson road diet I have not heard of any major traffic jams as predicted by the bicycle infrastructure opponents, nor have I seen any evidence of economic collapse due to reduced trucking capacity on Nickerson St. Reducing the lanes on Westlake would do three things: the space required for a cycle track facility through the corridor would be available; it would maintain or have very minimum impact to the current amount of parking adjacent to the businesses along Westlake; and the notoriously excessive auto traffic speeds would be reduced to near or within the posted limit.
    The optimal placement for a cycle track would be on the west side of Westlake where there are much fewer driveways than there are on the east side for the parking area. An even better configuration would be to have two separate cycle tracks through the corridor, a southbound track adjacent to the southbound auto lane and a northbound cycle track on the east side of Westlake adjacent to the northbound auto lane. Having a one way barrier separated facility would provide a safer cycling environment. A one way cycle track would be easier for cars using the center turn lane to see oncoming bicycle and auto traffic instead of having to look behind for approaching bicycles. It would also eliminate the awkward transition for bicyclists at the end of a two way cycle track to return into the normal flow of traffic.

    • Queen Anne cyclist says:

      A road diet for Westlake would be absolutely terrible. It’s the only arterial available for people coming from north Queen Anne, Fremont and its northern neighborhoods, and Westlake. It definitely needs to stay at four lanes as it gets congested during rush hour and one lane would be a 100% standstill whenever someone needs to make a left turn and there’s oncoming traffic (read: almost always).

      The road diet on Dexter made sense, but one for Westlake does not. Believe it or not, busy arterials are necessary.

      • JBob says:

        About time for congestion charging I’d say. I don’t know enough to take a position specifically on Westlake, but I do know that congestion charging is the way to rationalize demand with scarce right-of-way space in a dense urban environment, and should be supported by anyone who believes in free markets. Enough with the false dichotomy between decent, human scale urban design and smooth flowing traffic – we can have both.

      • bill says:

        Queen Anne cyclist: one lane would be a 100% standstill whenever someone needs to make a left turn

        Don’t you realize this is exactly the problem with four-lane arterials? Whenever someone stops to make a left turn, there is chaos behind as drivers jockey to get into the right lane. On a road-dieted arterial the center lane is a left turn lane. Left turning cars can wait in the turn lane without disrupting traffic. Road diets have made Fauntleroy, Stone Way, Delridge, and Nickerson much safer and less stressful in my experience. Westlake is overdue, as is 35th Ave SW.

      • Josh says:

        If you really want to make effective use of public right of way, there’s enough public ROW in the parking areas to make much of Westlake 4 lanes plus center turn lane, with wider sidewalks.

  27. bill says:

    I like the idea of rerouting from Dexter. Looking at Google Maps, one could take Highland from Dexter to Westlake. There is a signal to help with crossing Westlake.

    As for what else is wrong with Dexter: the bus islands. I’ve been right-hooked by a car dashing into a parking spot (actually a striped no-parking zone) just as I came out from behind an island. Now I take the lane. And no way do I shoot the slots behind the islands going downhill.

    Are major employers in Fremont and SLU, like Google, Amazon, and the Gates Foundation, aware of this “Stakeholders” group? Maybe you could get a statement from them, Tom. Seems to me those companies’ hiring demographic is bike-friendly and will be turned off if the entire BMP gets bogged down like the Missing Link has been. Ruining a Westlake connection to Fremont will devalue Amazon’s investment in the 7th Ave cycletrack. Support of the BMP and the Westlake project by the city’s most important new employers could do a lot to shut down these obstructionists.

  28. Jake says:

    Update: I’m sure you’ll get to this, but…

    The stakeholders group meeting is now closed to everybody except folks who live, own a business, or dock a yacht in the area. This despite the fact that on their website the group defines stakeholders as those who “live, work, own property, employ individuals and travel this 1.7 mile stretch on a daily basis by foot, bicycle and a range of vehicles.”

    Every one of us is a stakeholder.

    I think we should organize a campaign to stand outside the meeting with large signs saying “I am a stakeholder”. No yelling, no booing, no forcing our way in: just a quiet, respectful presence.

    • Jake says:

      I just sent this letter to Councilmembers Rasmussen and Bagshaw:

      Sally, Tom,
      I’m writing to let you know that I’m concerned about our bike plan. After years of community effort and a truly outstanding job by SDOT, a small group of business owners known as the “Westlake Stakeholders” have filed to halt the entire city-wide plan, because it non-specifically mentions Westlake for potential improvements.

      On their website (http://westlakestakeholders.com/), they purport to represent individuals who “live, work, own property, employ individuals and travel this 1.7 mile stretch on a daily basis by foot, bicycle and a range of vehicles.” Yet they recently changed their meeting to exclude those stakeholders who don’t own a business, home, or yacht along the corridor (http://westlakestakeholders.com/meeting-registration/).

      They have hired the same lawyer who has spent the last decade delaying the Ballard missing link, and have filed an appeal with the intent to delay the entirety of the city-wide bicycle plan. I bike this route on a daily basis: by their own definition, I am a stakeholder. This section of Westlake is one of the widest right-of-ways in the city, and there’s no reason not to have safe infrastructure for all users.

      Please let me know what I and my fellow advocates can do to help the city get past this blatant and misguided obstructionism!

      Thank you,

    • JB says:

      Not forcing, but how about also sneaking a mole or two into the meeting? It shouldn’t be too hard to make up a plausible-sounding address or business affiliation on Westlake … or if they’re really going to be paranoid and insular enough to background check every attendee, then force them to go all the way with it.

  29. Pingback: Westlake lawyers seek more bike plan delays + Only boat & biz owners invited to ‘community meeting’ | Seattle Bike Blog

  30. Mark J says:

    It seems like the city is saying an EIS is not needed for the full BMP (because it’s not a funded project) nor is one needed for any of the component pieces (because they’re considered “minor new construction”). Heads you loose, tails I win. Perhaps if the city changed it’s stance on this, they would only be fighting the one section they are concerned about and not the whole plan. It seems strange, given the city lost on this point during the fight over the Missing Link, that an EIS wasn’t included at some point, if for no other reason than to avoid this litigation.

  31. Pingback: Westlake Policy Ride | The Urbanist

  32. Pingback: Cascade joins city in legal defense of Bike Master Plan, Westlake ‘policy ride’ planned Sunday | Cycling News non-stop

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