2 for the price of 1: Paving projects must also complete our streets

roosevelt-changeSeattle’s newest protected bike lane connects a future light rail station on NE 65th Street to the University Bridge and beyond. But it wasn’t created specifically as a bike improvement project. Instead, Seattle’s Department of Transportation was preparing to repave the street, and they used that work as an opportunity to build out bike and bus reliability improvements at much lower cost.

Of course this makes sense. If the city is investing in a street that is also slated for other improvements, it is cheaper to do all that work at the same time. Aside from saving money, it also means fewer construction projects that interrupt traffic and business access.

But despite a nearly decade-old complete streets ordinance on the books, Seattle still does not always use its paving investments as an opportunity to improve safety and access for all road users. In fact, it took a strong effort by neighbors and safe streets supporters to get the bike lane into the Roosevelt plan. Then it took another strong push to make sure the bike lane extended all the way to the planned light rail station. The Mayor’s Office and SDOT ultimately made the right call.

But people should not need to organize campaigns to get the city to pair their paving investments with planned safety and transit improvements. It should simply be the way the department operates by default. Roosevelt should set the standard.

You have two chances next week to tell SDOT that pairing paving investments with safe streets improvements is not only cost effective, it is the right thing to do.

More details from Cascade Bicycle Club:

People heading south along Roosevelt Way NE will soon have the option to bike safely from 65th to across the University Bridge. But this nearly two-mile buffered and protected bicycle lane — which officially opens on Saturday, Nov. 5 — wouldn’t be a reality without the persistent and creative efforts of safe streets advocates from early in the project planning.

Back in 2014, the city had plans for a straightforward repave-and-restripe project, paired with minor safety improvements along Roosevelt Way NE. Community members and advocates saw an opportunity to do more, calling attention to the crash data and suggesting creative ways that all modes could share this key connection.

In addition to addressing safety concerns for people who bike, this project helped open a discussion about saving time and money by pairing routine paving projects with Bicycle Master Plan routes.

Neighbors, students and all who pass through Ravenna and the U-District are invited to celebrate the official opening of this multi-modal achievement at the official opening next month.

As a result of the collaborative Roosevelt corridor, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) has what Community Engagement Liaison Dawn Schellenberg calls a “new approach for paving projects.” SDOT plans to overlay modal plans with planned paving streets, to see where opportunities exist to accelerate multiple projects at once.

Attend one of the upcoming open houses and give your input:

NE Seattle Paving & Banner Way Open House

Monday, Oct. 17, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Roosevelt High School
1410 NE 66th St., Seattle
Repaving includes: Segments of 35th Avenue, NE, 15th Avenue NE, Cowen Place NE, and University Way NE
*Note: Double dip at this event to support bike updates included in the Banner Way NE Corridor Project!

SE Seattle Paving Open House

Wednesday, Oct. 19, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Southside Commons
3518 S Edmunds St., Seattle
Repaving includes: Segments of South Columbian Way, South Alaska Street, Swift Avenue South, South Myrtle Street, South Myrtle Place, South Othello Street, and Wilson Avenue South

Roosevelt Way NE sets a precedent that a little creativity can save money and promote safe travel for all people. Let’s continue to elevate routine paving projects to beautiful bicycle connections.

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10 Responses to 2 for the price of 1: Paving projects must also complete our streets

  1. Matt says:

    It gives me a headache that it’s still necessary that we need to show up to remind our city government to do this.

  2. Dave F says:

    I love protected bike lanes, but SDOT’s inability to build more of them, faster, is really pathetic. I don’t want to get my hopes up, but do these repaving projects mean there is really an opportunity to get PBLs on “35th Avenue, NE, 15th Avenue NE, Cowen Place NE, and University Way NE” and “South Columbian Way, South Alaska Street, Swift Avenue South, South Myrtle Street, South Myrtle Place, South Othello Street, and Wilson Avenue South”?

    That sounds too good to be true!

  3. Pedro says:

    Wow, the northern gets another bike lane.

    They just repaved 6th Ave right where the SODO bike Trail halts w/out warning or connection. The primary NS bike route for people in SODO, Georgetown, South Park.

    Of course, no bike lane.

    Perhaps if some upper middle class stay-at-home-mom’s had been there for mid-day meeting, something might have been done.

    SDOT is not a trusted partner for those who bike on the south end. None of you reading this give a damn, you don’t bike down here.

    Just ignore us, keep striving to make N Seattle a lovely little Portland. Wave to us in Bike Beirut as you drive past to the airport.

    • Molly says:

      I understand your frustration. The details of your comment strike me as ironic since I am trying to figure out how to make it to the evening meeting tonight while managing 3 young children and an aging mother in law. I despair at how many public meetings are in the insane evening rush period of the day (get children, locate elderly, make dinner, feed everyone, homework, bath, bed, clean up, prep for morning, collapse) rather than mid-day when I have child care lined up (so I can get to my office job, but still).

      There is no perfect time to hold meetings, and I sincerely share the view that getting the roads right should not take more damn meetings, but if during the day does not work and you are on the south end (as am I) please try to come tonight.

      I agree that we all benefit from the civic activities of some upper middle class stay-at-home-moms. I hope you can find ways to augment their efforts.

    • Andres Salomon says:

      I tried to get SDOT to not create a door-zone bike lane with its Renton Ave S repaving project. I brought it to the attention of numerous people (including SBAB), and no one seemed interested in pushing harder for something better (and in some cases, I got push back for trying to advocate for a better design). So instead, I pushed to improve the design for Meridian Ave N.

      Don’t crap all over us for SDOT not doing this stuff by default. We’re trying to change the way they do things FOR THE ENTIRE CITY.

    • Andrew Squirrel says:

      I nominate Pedro for comment of the year on SBB.
      I am getting sick and tired of in-person “community meetings” being the only route to advocacy.
      Why can’t this crap be accomplished online in a less regressive way?
      Maybe we should be fighting to move all “community meetings” online before we even bother fighting for bike lanes so that cyclists actually have an opportunity to voice their concerns and aren’t required to magically fly all across the city at absurd times to show up in-person. We have mail in ballots for a very specific reason, why can’t we expand on that idea to make discussion open to all?

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