Take a minute right now to support the E Lake Sammamish Trail permit

samm-segmentsIt has taken an enormous amount of advocacy pressure over many, many years to get to this point: The final section of the East Lake Sammamish Trail is finally applying for the permits needed to become reality.

But this is no time to relax. Though work is already underway on the penultimate section of the trail (“South Sammamish A”), permits are not yet in hand and ground is not yet broken on the final segment, dubbed “South Sammamish B.” King County has the funding, a nearly-complete design and a legal win giving the project a green light.

Half the trail is already complete, including connections to Redmond and Issaquah. This last missing piece connects these investments to each other. Crews are ready to get to work as soon as the design and permit are final.

Add your support to help push the project over what is hopefully the final hill. Cascade Bicycle Club has a handy online form to help you add your support. Submit your comments by 5 p.m. Friday.

Once complete, people getting around the region by bike or visiting lakeside parks will reap the benefits for generations to come.

More details from Vicky Clarke at Cascade: Continue reading

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Dad killed while biking to 2nd job, leaves 5 kids orphaned in Philippines

Photo from Ronacin's GoFundMe page.

Photo from Ronacin’s GoFundMe page.

Ronacin Tjhung was working more than 60 hours a week at two jobs to send money back to support his five children in the Philippines. Those children, between 9 and 16, lost their mother in the terrible typhoon Haiyan (also known as “Yolanda”) in 2013. Now, they have lost their father an ocean away in Seattle.

Ronacin was biking from his first job at McDonald’s to his second job at UW when he collided with someone driving a Toyota Rav4 SUV on S Graham Street just west of MLK. The collision remains under investigation. For more, see our previous story.

Family reports on his GoFundMe page that Ronacin died Saturday evening after more than a week in Intensive Care:

Today has been by far the most hardest day for us. Ronacin passed away this evening at 7:50 pm along side him was our whole family and some close friends. No more suffering. We will really miss your smiling face. Your time with us here in Seattle wasn’t very long. I know you are in a much better place. Rest in peace kuya. We love you so much. We will make sure all your children are taken care of. We will try our best to be able to bring you home to the Philippines so your children can see you one last time.

Our deepest condolences go to his friends and family.

KOMO’s Lindsay Cohen spoke with Ronacin’s family in Seattle. My heart breaks for them. Ronacin deserved better. People should not die simply for trying to get around our city and provide for their families. Watch the report on the KOMO website. Continue reading

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Bike to these inauguration events and protests

From the Womxn's March on Seattle event page.

From the Womxn’s March on Seattle event page.

Well, it’s official. Donald Trump is President. Now what are you going to do about it?

I’m not here to tell you the best way to get engaged and take action, but there’s a good chance your bicycle is the best way to get you there.

If you haven’t already, be sure to check out the Stranger’s Resistance Calendar, which is packed with different events and protests over this weekend. Bike to something. Meet people. Strengthen your community.

The biggest event happens tomorrow (Saturday) in solidarity with the Women’s March in Washington DC. As the X implies, the Womxn’s March on Seattle is intentionally intersectional.

“It is our goal to provide the resources necessary for people to connect with one another, become accomplices, and work towards equity and social justice in this country,” the official poster reads.

The march meets 10 a.m. at Judkins Park and will march to Seattle Center.

With 50,000 people estimated to attend, I don’t need to tell you that driving to the start is a bad idea. But Judkins Park is directly connected to the I-90 Trail and popular bike routes to most of the city. You know what to do. Continue reading

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Trail Alerts 1/19-20: Ship Canal Trail detoured near SPU, Burke-Gilman detoured at NE 125th for landslide work

There are two small trail detours to be ready for today and tomorrow. Neither should be a huge hassle, but it’s always wise to give yourself a little extra time when there is trail work just in case.

1/19-20: Ship Canal Trail near Seattle Pacific University

Project map from King County DNRP (full notice PDF).

Project map from King County DNRP (full notice PDF).

The Fremont Siphon project team has been pretty great about providing quality trail detours for their work in Fremont. Now the project team is restoring a section of the Ship Canal Trail near their worksite on the south side of the Ship Canal. The trail will be detoured, but once again the project team appears to have a quality detour plan.

So there shouldn’t be much of a delay, but be ready to stop for construction equipment.

1/19: Seattle Parks clearing Burke-Gilman landslide near NE 125th

Regular Burke-Gilman users are surely used to the winter season landslide closures. It’s here again. Continue reading

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WA distracted driving law is written for flip phones, bipartisan bill would give it a vital update

Read the full text of HB-1371 in this PDF.

Read the full text of HB-1371 in this PDF.

Distracted driving is a rising cause of deaths and injuries in Washington State and across the world. But despite being one of the first states to ban texting while driving, Washington has failed to keep up with changing mobile use. The result is that it is currently legal to look at Facebook or binge episodes of Fixer Upper while operating a vehicle capable of causing enormous damage.

The problem is that the texting law was written and passed just before smart phones hit the market. So the WA law does not directly address all the other uses mobile devices are capable of. Only texting or holding a phone to your ear to talk are currently illegal.

Basically, Washington law still says, “No using your flip phone while driving.”

An attempt to update the law in 2015 was killed by House Democrats after the bill passed the Republican-held Senate 35-14. Senator Ann Rivers (R-La Connor) is again leading the effort in the Senate with Representative Jessyn Farrell (D-Seattle) leading the House effort (HB-1371).

There are going to be many partisan fights this session, with education funding likely to draw most the attention. But distracted driving law updates don’t need to be one of them. Watching TV while driving is obviously not acceptable. And reading Facebook posts has the same (or worse) affects on driving ability as reading texts. I think almost everyone can agree on this, whether Republican or Democrat.

I look forward to the state legislature coming together on this bill.

From the Seattle Times: Continue reading

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Dad from Philippines critically injured in collision at MLK/Graham + How you can help – UPDATED

Photo from Ronacin's GoFundMe page.

Photo from Ronacin’s GoFundMe page.

UPDATE 1/22: Family reports on his GoFundMe page that Ronacin died Saturday evening after more than a week in Intensive Care:

Today has been by far the most hardest day for us. Ronacin passed away this evening at 7:50 pm along side him was our whole family and some close friends. No more suffering. We will really miss your smiling face. Your time with us here in Seattle wasn’t very long. I know you are in a much better place. Rest in peace kuya. We love you so much. We will make sure all your children are taken care of. We will try our best to be able to bring you home to the Philippines so your children can see you one last time.

Our deepest condolences go to his friends and family.

The crowdfunding page is still up and running, but now funds will go to help with funeral costs.

Original Story: Continue reading

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Mayor Murray cancels bike share expansion, will shut down Pronto March 31

IMG_6535Mayor Ed Murray has scrapped his bike share expansion plan, ending the city’s efforts to create a new public e-assist bike system to replace the doomed Pronto system set to shut down March 31.

This officially ends a frustrating era for bike sharing in Seattle, making the city one of very few in the world where a modern public bike system has failed.

Some of the $5 million currently allocated for bike share expansion will go to decommissioning the current Pronto system and in case the city needs to pay back any grant money. In the meantime, the city will try to sell the equipment, which still functions very well, to recoup costs.

About $3 million of the funds will go to Safe Routes to School and other 2017 biking and walking projects in the downtown area, including bike lanes on 4th Ave, planning for bike lanes on Pike and/or Pine, and accessible curb cuts in Pioneer Square.

Mayor Murray scrapped the bike share expansion plan before it ever went in front the City Council for approval. In an election year, perhaps the Mayor didn’t want this hanging over his campaign. But now he has a failure on his hands, which may not be much better.

“While I remain optimistic about the future of bike share in Seattle,” Murray said in a press release (see in full below), “today we are focusing on a set of existing projects that will help build a safe, world-class bicycle and pedestrian network.”

Rather than rehash how we got here (read up in this previous post), I’ll just reiterate that it didn’t need to fail like this. The idea of a system of public bikes that anyone can use to expand access to express transit service and fill gaps in the existing transportation system is still sound. Increasing people’s access to a working bicycle (one of the major barriers to cycling) is still a very worthy goal. Continue reading

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How the Affordable Care Act helped me to start this independent news site

With Republicans in D.C. going through the steps to repeal the Affordable Care Act, I need to take a second away from bike news to talk about how the ACA is a major factor in the fact that Seattle Bike Blog exists. And given the continually dismal state of local journalism funding, it also seems relevant to share my indie news story.

My story is far from the most dramatic (I’m healthy, have a very supportive partner, and my middle-class white male privilege has freed me from many challenges others face), but I think it’s a decent illustration of how making health care affordable encourages people to make the leaps of faith needed to start any new business. And since you all read this blog, I figured you should know how the ACA helped during tough times.

(Also, before my haters say, “Another good reason to repeal it!” remember that this story could easily go for the future creator of Seattle Car Blog or ByYourOwnBoostraps.com)

When I scored a great internship at the Kansas City Star fresh out of college, I felt like I was on the path to being a career journalist that so many previous professionals had followed. Unfortunately, I had graduated in June 2008. Continue reading

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Trail Alert: Year-long County wastewater project could create some Elliott Bay Trail delays

Project area, from the King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks (project update PDF)

The Denny Way Regulator Station Upgrade project area, from the King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks (project update PDF)

King County is beginning work this week on a delayed waterwater regulator project in Myrtle Edwards Park that could disrupt the Elliott Bay Trail.

The project worksite entrance is at the south entrance to the trail near the Sculpture Garden, an area that can get congested with people biking and walking.

The County says flaggers will control traffic during “temporary periods of trail narrowing.”

A 2014 detour at this spot caused a small headache as crews installing a sculpture tried to get people biking to walk their bikes on the shared biking and walking path adjacent to the closed bike trail. But the delays were nowhere near as frustrating as the annual Hempfest closure in the park.

The Elliott Bay Trail is not only a wonderful waterside bike route, it’s also a major transportation corridor for people biking to get around the city and region. When crews treat it as a transportation corridor, things go well. When crews treat it as solely a recreational area or park, people trying to get home from work tend to get cranky.

More details from the King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks (PDF): Continue reading

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Cascade still putting together Director search, announces 2017 ride schedule

Emerald City Bike Ride 2016 on the I-5 Express Lanes.

Emerald City Bike Ride 2016 on the I-5 Express Lanes. My fantastically wonderful spouse Kelli (who, full disclosure, works for Cascade) is pictured.

Cascade Bicycle Club starts 2017 without an Executive Director, but it still has a bold events lineup that includes the return of the Emerald City Bike Ride.

Though the date and route details are still TBD, last year’s Emerald City Bike Ride on the 520 Bridge and the express lanes of I-5 was awesome. So it’s great news that the ride is returning, since biking on freeways would be a great annual tradition in Seattle (well, at least until my dream of the I-5 Express Trail comes true).

Cascade will also spend much of 2017 searching for a new Executive Director to replace Elizabeth Kiker, who resigned in November effective December 31. The club has no interim Director. Instead, “The Cascade senior leadership team is currently serving in place of an interim Executive Director,” Communications Director Brent Tongco said. Senior staff and the Board are in the process of drafting a job description to guide their search.

Coincidentally, Portland’s Street Trust (formerly the Bicycle Transportation Alliance) fired its Executive Director Rob Sadowsky, Bike Portland reported yesterday. So the biggest bike advocacy organizations in both major cities are currently without permanent Executive Directors at the moment and will likely be searching to fill the spot at the same time.

As of today, registration is open for a few of Cascade’s 2017 rides. The rest will open over the next couple months.

More details from Cascade: Continue reading

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Don’t stop the Broadway streetcar and bikeway now

From a June 2015 SDOT/Alta presentation to the Seattle Bicycle Advisory Board

From a June 2015 SDOT/Alta presentation to the Seattle Bicycle Advisory Board

Today, the First Hill Streetcar and Broadway Bikeway end unceremoniously at Denny Way just before reaching the North Broadway business district. People biking are forced to choose between merging into mixed traffic on the busy commercial street, trying to navigate using side streets with poor business access and poor crossings at busy streets like John/Olive, or riding on packed sidewalks.

Not only are all these options bad for bike access to North Broadway businesses, they also undercut the usefulness of the existing stretch of the bikeway extending south to Pike/Pine, Seattle U, First Hill medical centers and Yesler Terrace.

The Broadway Bikeway will be be an incomplete bike route until the city extends it beyond Roy, as the city has planned. The project has $14 million in grant funding, and the current plan calls for the remaining $10 million to come from a local improvement district.

But the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce pushed back on the Broadway extension plans in December, according to Capitol Hill Seattle.

“If we want to see Broadway thrive … the streetcar is actually the best way to undermine that,” the Chamber’s Executive Director Sierra Hansen told CHS. Hansen singled out the bikeway for conflicting with delivery vehicles: Continue reading

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Bike News Roundup: The first cargo bike ride at the top of the Space Needle?

It’s time for the Bike News Roundup! Here’s a collection of some stuff floating around the web recently. You may find some good stuff here that fell through the cracks during the holidays.

First up, The Pedal-Powered Talk Show visited Seattle, and hosts Boaz Frankel and Phillip Ross claim to be the first people to ever ride a cargo bike at the top of the Space Needle (in three parts):

Continue reading

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Memorial for Nellie Yelli Saturday + Treza Hafzalla charged with Vehicular Homicide, Hit & Run

Nellie Yelli. Photo from the memorial event page.

Nellie Yelli. Photo from the memorial event page.

Friends, family and neighbors will gather tomorrow (Saturday) morning to remember Nellie Yelli, 62, who was killed Sunday while walking in a Green Lake crosswalk.

The memorial, organized by Seattle Neighborhood Greenways, begins 11 a.m. at 82nd and Wallingford Ave N, the intersection where she was killed. More details are available on the event page.

Our condolences to her friends and family.

Treza Hafzalla, 27, was charged Thursday with Vehicular Homicide and Felony Hit and Run. Hafzalla allegedly failed to yield to Yelli, who was halfway through the crosswalk when Hafzalla struck her with her GMC Jimmy. Yelli died at the scene. Police found Yelli’s grocery cart stuck in the grill of Hafzalla’s SUV, according to the charging document.

Hafzalla allegedly called her boyfriend after parking her SUV a mile from the scene. But instead of taking her home, he drove her back to the scene where she was arrested. Hafzalla is suspected of DUI, though blood tests were still pending as of the time charges were filed.

More details on Saturday’s memorial: Continue reading

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2016 was the year of bike plan delays, will 2017 be any better?

One of the relatively few 2016 bike plan projects completed on schedule, the underwhelming Columbia St neighborhood greenway is not likely to have much of an impact on bike mobility in Seattle. Pictured: The route's odd crosswalk swerve at 14th Ave.

One of the relatively few 2016 bike plan projects completed on schedule, the underwhelming Columbia St neighborhood greenway is not likely to have much of an impact on bike mobility in Seattle. Pictured: The route’s odd crosswalk swerve at 14th Ave.

The biggest story for biking in Seattle in 2016 can be summed up in one terrible word: Delayed.

After riding an incredible safe streets funding high for a few months following the November 2015 passage of the Move Seattle transportation levy, popular hopes for real action on safe streets projects slammed into the rocks. In spring 2016, SDOT released a revised short-term bike plan that dramatically slashed planned projects.

Not only did the revised plan include fewer miles of protected bike lanes and neighborhood greenways, but the projects it did include failed to complete the most-needed connections in the city. Downtown and the south end were particularly hard hit.

To advocates who had worked so hard to pass Mayor Ed Murray’s transportation levy based on promises of bold action on safe streets, the revised plan was a slap in the face. Dozens of people, organized by Seattle Neighborhood Greenways and Cascade Bicycle Club, protested the cuts by holding a rally at City Hall.

Rallying around the phrase “We can’t wait,” protesters made the case that the city has the plans and funding needed to take bold action to improve safety on our streets and stop fatal or injurious collisions before they happen. The time for waiting is over, they said.

The city chose to wait. The miles of planned protected bike lanes and neighborhood greenways for 2016 were cut by 35 percent, then the city failed to deliver half of the projects that remained in the slashed plan before the year ended.

To illustrate the point, here’s how the 2016 plan looked in spring of 2015 (note that in this version of the plan, Westlake, Roosevelt and Dearborn were completed a year earlier. The Pinehurst Way NE bike lane was completed in 2015, a year early): Continue reading

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$3.6M paving project must make 25th Ave NE safer, improve access to U Village

Injury collisions on 25th Ave NE (2013-2015). Explore the map by Andres Salomon based on SDOT data.

Injury collisions on 25th Ave NE (2013-2015). 56 people were hospitalized due to collisions on this stretch in those three years. Explore the map by Andres Salomon based on SDOT data.

25th Ave NE is a wide, unfriendly street separating the U Village shopping center from bus stops and its neighbors in the Ravenna/U District area.

Nearby residents have among the lowest car ownership rates in the whole city, yet 25th Ave NE has an outdated, cars-first design that makes it difficult and even dangerous for people to access the many destinations along and across the street.

With a $3.6 million budget, Seattle is working to finalize design work for a major repaving project later this year on 25th Ave NE from NE 65th Street to Montlake Blvd. But the plans do not currently include safety changes to the street, a remarkable omission that flies in the face of the city’s Vision Zero goals.

Andres Salomon made a strong case for safety improvements on 25th Ave NE in a December post for The Urbanist (emphasis mine):

According to the City’s website, the repaving project of 25th Ave NE will cost $3.6 million dollars and span 1.1 miles of road. The only safety improvement being made is the addition of a pedestrian crossing at NE 49th St (in front of a University Village entrance). This stretch of roadway is four to five lanes wide, and sees numerous speed-related collisions and injuries each year.

In just the past three years alone, there were 140 reported collisions on the part of 25th Ave NE that’s being repaved. Those crashes sent 56 people to the hospital. Seven of those people who were injured were walking, and another seven were biking. The remaining 42 injured people were in cars. The most serious of those injuries involved crashes with only a single vehicle; in other words, people were driving way too fast and crashed. Click here to view a map with collision data.

Looking at the traffic volumes for the section of 25th Ave NE being repaved, it’s clear that safety improvements could easily be made through a standard road diet. Road diets generally work with traffic volumes of less than 25,000 vehicles per day, and 25th Ave NE has less than 12,000 vehicles per day north of NE 49th St. For comparison, NE 75th St has around 22,000 vehicles per day and was successfully transitioned to three lanes with collisions and speeding drastically reduced, while average speed actually increased. As a result, the roadway became more efficient for drivers, while also becoming safer for everyone.

Continue reading

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Woman walking in Green Lake crosswalk killed in hit and run, suspect returned and was arrested – UPDATED

screen-shot-2017-01-02-at-9-42-50-amA woman driving near Bishop Blanchet High School in Green Lake struck and killed a woman walking Sunday evening. Medics pronounced the victim dead at the scene.

UPDATE: Rest in peace, Nellie Yelli.

Our condolences to her friends and family.

The woman allegedly responsible was driving north on Wallingford Ave N shortly before 7 p.m. when she struck a woman walking across N 82nd Street. She drove from the scene immediately after the fatal collision, but returned to turn herself in “a short time later,” according to Seattle Police.

She was booked into King County Jail on investigation of Vehicular Homicide.

UPDATE: Treza Hafzalla has been charged with Vehicular Homicide and Felony Hit and Run. Police found Yelli’s grocery cart stuck in the grill of Hafzalla’s GMC Jimmy, according to the charging document. Hafzalla called her boyfriend after parking her SUV a mile from the scene, but instead of taking her home, he drove her back to the scene where she was arrested. Hafzalla is suspected of DUI, though blood tests were still pending as of the time charges were filed.

The Medical Examiner and SPD’s traffic collision team were both on the scene. Investigations are ongoing, according to police. KIRO 7’s Joanna Small was on the scene and reported via Twitter that the victim’s body was in the crosswalk.

This hit and run death appears to be the first traffic death of 2017 in Seattle. The city has averaged about 18 traffic deaths per year since 2011, though traffic deaths rose sharply in 2016 nationwide. Seattle’s streets are among the safest for a major U.S. city, but that is not good enough. Seattle’s Vision Zero program sets a goal of zero deaths and serious injuries by 2030 with a focus on people walking and biking, who are disproportionately impacted.

More details on the fatal collision from SPD: Continue reading

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Convention Center expansion should help build major bike network crossroads

Concept image of Pine Street from the Convention Center Addition website. Decent start, but we can do better.

Concept image of Pine Street from the Convention Center Addition website. Decent start, but we can do better.

Much of the talk about public benefits from the planned Washington State Convention Center expansion has been focused on the very exciting idea of building a lid over more of I-5 connecting downtown to Capitol Hill and First Hill.

The Lid I-5 campaign hopes to get the full cost of a technical feasibility study paid for as part of the Convention Center project. That study is the first step to forming a plan that is ready to seek the kind of major grant funding the lid will need.

A lid study is a fantastic investment in a longer-term improvement for the Convention Center area, but the area is also in dire need to improvements today. That’s why complete and safe biking and walking connections should also be included in the public benefits, since these connections can and should be built as soon as possible.

“If we raise our voices, we could see key bike connections — including protected bike lanes along the Pike/Pine corridor and 8th Ave. — come online,” Cascade Bicycle Club wrote in a recent action alert.

The Pike-Pine corridor is one of the most-needed bike routes in the whole city. As the flattest and most direct way between downtown, the Convention Center and Capitol Hill, Pike and Pine are already very popular streets for biking. But people biking are forced to mix with general traffic or ride on the crowded sidewalks, neither of which are good options. Pine headed west (downhill) is not great, but Pike headed east (uphill) is genuinely terrifying. Continue reading

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Juries side with two people severely injured while biking in Seattle

Juries in two separate cases that concluded in recent weeks awarded large sums to people injured while biking in Seattle.

Thyce Colyn, 51, was awarded $38 million after a jury found Standard Parking fully liable for a 2012 collision near the downtown Grand Hyatt Hotel that left him severely injured.

The jury found that valets systematically made dangerous mid-block crossings of 8th Ave in order to save time parking and retrieving cars for hotel guests, and the company did nothing to discourage this behavior. That shortcut was responsible for the collision, so the company is liable.

More details from the Seattle Times: Continue reading

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Construction begins on penultimate segment of the E Lake Sammamish Trail

1200_913w_trailmap_elst-samm-a-closedKing County has started construction to pave 1.3 miles of the East Lake Sammamish Trail, bringing the key walking and biking link between Redmond and Issaquah that much closer to completion.

The trail, funded by a combination of Federal, state and regional sources, has been a long time coming. So many people have worked to advocate for this trail over many years, and King County successfully stood up to several legal challenges from trail opponents.

The southernmost and northernmost sections of the trail are already completed, and they are very high quality. The trail serves a transportation purpose, but it also provides people access to public spaces along the lake.

The existing gravel trail will be closed during construction, and people biking will be detoured to E Lake Sammamish Pkwy, which has decent paved shoulders. The work will take a year to complete for this segment, but the total period of construction will likely be longer once work on the final segment gets under way.

The final 3.6-mile section of trail is still in the design phase, and “construction [is] expected to begin when permitting and design are complete,” according to a King County press release: Continue reading

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As tacks return, Westlake bikeway named nation’s ‘best new bike lane’ for 2016

SDOT Director Scott Kubly and outgoing Cascade Executive Director Elizabeth Kiker officially open the Westlake Bikeway.

SDOT Director Scott Kubly and outgoing Cascade Executive Director Elizabeth Kiker officially open the Westlake Bikeway.

The Green Lane Project has named the Westlake Bikeway “the country’s best new bike lane of 2016.”

An arm of the national bike advocacy organization People for Bikes, the Green Lane Project helps and encourages cities to build bold bike infrastructure, focusing on high quality protected bike lanes. So even with its compromises (or perhaps in part due to them), Westlake managed to beat even an ambitious bike lane on Randolph Street in Chicago.

The Chicago project, which came in second, connects two major downtown bike routes, and those major bike intersections both have protected intersections designed to reduce conflicts and increase biking safety and comfort. Seattle has not yet tried this concept, perhaps because we have so few intersecting high-quality bike lanes. Connectivity is one of the biggest factors holding back Seattle’s bike network.

Here’s why the Green Lane Project gave Westlake the top spot: Continue reading

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