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  • Raven sculpture stolen from start of Interurban Trail in Shoreline

    Photo of an oversized raven sculpture near a trail.
    Photo from the City of Shoreline.

    The large raven sculpture cawing at the start of the Interurban Trail after crossing from Seattle into Shoreline has been stolen. It is the second public sculpture to go missing in recent weeks after the beloved piece Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes was stolen from her place near the northwest end of the University Bridge.

    The thief or thieves have not yet been found, and police have not said whether they believe the incidents are connected or what the motive might be. The thieves may intend to sell them as scrap, especially since the Sadako sculpture cut above the ankles making it unlikely that it was stolen by someone who wanted to keep or sell it as a work of art.

    The Emissary Raven by Tony Angell has been perched at the Interurban trailhead since 2005. I hope it is recovered, and Shoreline says they will “accept the return of the sculpture with no questions asked,” according to a press release:

    (more…)
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  • Study: Seattle Vision Zero projects do not harm local businesses

    Charts showing total sales over time for each studied project.
    Chart from the article in Injury Prevention (PDF).

    Seattle’s Vision Zero road safety redesign projects have not had a negative impact on local businesses, according to a study by University of Washington researchers published in the peer-reviewed journal Injury Prevention (PDF) earlier this year.

    “Results suggest that road safety improvement projects such as those in Vision Zero plans are not associated with adverse economic impacts on adjacent businesses,” authors Daniel R Osterhage, Jessica Acolin, Paul A Fishman and Andrew L Dannenberg concluded. “The absence of negative economic impacts associated with pedestrian and bicycle road safety projects should reassure local business owners and may encourage them to work with transportation agencies to implement Vision Zero road safety projects designed to eliminate traffic-related injuries.”

    The group studied multiple years of taxable sales data before and after seven different Seattle Vision Zero projects, then compared those results to 18 comparable sites that did not have Vision Zero projects. “Our study is one of the largest to date examining the economic impact of road safety projects on adjacent businesses based on sales data,” according to the journal article. They found that annual sales increased slightly faster on the Vision Zero streets than on the comparison streets, though the difference was not statistically significant.

    Meanwhile, these Vision Zero projects have and will continue to prevent serious injuries and deaths. They would be worthwhile even if they did have a negative impact on businesses because people’s lives are more important. Now that we have the clearest evidence yet that these project do not hurt businesses, more business owners will hopefully join safe streets advocates in demanding more Vision Zero safety redesigns.

    Map of Seattle showing the locations of the study and comparison streets.
    Map of the study and comparison streets from the Injury Prevention article. The Aurora project did not include physical changes, only a police enforcement effort. However, the results did not meaningfully change when excluding Aurora, the authors noted.
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  • SDOT begins work on permanent remake of 3rd/Yesler

    Top-down diagram showing the intersection design, including protected bike lanes and many curb extensions to shorten crosswalks.
    Final design from SDOT.

    After years of piloting solutions and testing how they impact transit service, SDOT is beginning work on a rebuild of the complicated intersection at 3rd Ave and Yesler Way in Pioneer Square that they hope will prevent the potentially deadly collisions that were unfortunately common there previously.

    “The intersection of 3rd and Yesler has experienced a high number of collisions for people walking and biking,” wrote SDOT on the project webpage. “In particular, drivers are prone to hitting pedestrians in the west and north crosswalks of 3rd and Yesler. ​To mitigate these collisions, we are making safety improvements that we have tested over the past two years.”

    The intersection also serves as a connection between the 2nd and 4th Avenue bike lanes, and is the primary southbound option for people using the 4th Ave lane since that unfortunately lane does not continue southbound on 4th. That could change someday since the Seattle Transportation Plan calls for a continuous bike lane on 4th all the way to Seattle Boulevard S, which then connects to the upcoming Georgetown to Downtown bike route.

    The 3rd and Yesler redesign includes new bicycle signals and hardened bike lane protection heading downhill from the intersection toward the waterfront. Later this year, SDOT is planning on a short bike lane to fill in the gap between the 2nd Ave bike lane and the new waterfront bikeway. All these small projects are coming together to create some big connections, allowing people to bike up and down the waterfront and connect into the downtown bike network without ever leaving a protected bike lane.

    More details on the 3rd and Yesler project:

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  • Endorsement: The Seattle Transportation Levy will be a massive investment in safe, efficient streets

    Chart breaking down the spending categories for the 2015 levy and 2024 levy proposal.
    I combined categories to get them to match up as well as I could. You can check my math in this spreadsheet.

    Now that Mayor Harrell and the City Council have officially sent the $1.55 billion 2024 Transportation Levy (PDF) to Seattle voters in November, we can put all the debates about expanding the levy behind us and take stock of how it ended up. With $160.5 million for Vision Zero, $193 million for sidewalks and ADA work, $151 million for transit corridors and access, $133.5 million for bicycle safety, and $66.5 million for a new people streets and public spaces budget line, the 2024 levy proposal is by far the best Seattle transportation funding measure in recent memory. It will* do more for walking, biking and transit in our city than the 2015 Move Seattle Levy, which was itself the city’s best transportation funding measure in recent memory.

    OK, yes, there is an asterisk in that last statement. The effectiveness of this levy relies on the city’s yet untested dedication to the recently-approved Seattle Transportation Plan. If Seattle really does follow this plan—prioritizing safety investments, transit access, and bike route connectivity during paving projects as noted—then the 2024 Seattle Transportation Levy will represent a significant acceleration in the city’s commitment to Vision Zero. The Seattle Transportation Plan does not include any new or expanded roads. So while the levy includes an astounding and unprecedented $403 million for paving and street maintenance work, that funding is not slated to tear down houses or buy out people’s front yards in order to widen roads as Seattle did for much of the 20th century. Instead, streets that get repaved should also be updated to meet the Seattle Transportation Plan’s ambitious vision that prioritizes safety.

    The 2024 levy includes big increases in safety funding, and it includes a good amount of somewhat loosely defined transit funding. What it lack are a lot of major signature projects like the streetcar or the many bus rapid transit corridors that the Move Seattle Levy promised. Because of how the Move Seattle defined its spending, it is difficult to directly compare transit funding levels. But transit clearly did not get the big increases other elements received, and it possibly even got cut a little when adjusted for inflation depending on how you calculate it. Unfortunately, many of those levy-funded “RapidRide+” projects have not gone well. The 2015 levy dramatically underestimated the costs while also overestimating the amount of federal grant funding Seattle would be able to leverage. In Seattle’s defense, they did not foresee Donald Trump winning office a year later, a disaster for the nation in so many ways that the decline in federal matching grants for SDOT projects barely seems notable. But as the price tags rose on those projects, Trump’s USDOT was not about to lift a finger to help Seattle, so the city had to cut back hard on what was promised.

    The lack of specific project earmarks is not necessarily a bad thing, though. SDOT is a very good transportation department staffed with some of the smartest people you will ever meet who genuinely care about our city and the people living and working here. The Move Seattle Levy set them up for failure, and the Seattle Transportation Levy seems designed to sidestep this problem by not over-promising. Instead, it defines the types of work to fund and then leaves it up to SDOT staff following the Seattle Transportation Plan to prioritize and guide that work. Perhaps the proposal underpromises, and there will be people who are uncomfortable approving so much money with so few specifics. Advocacy will be as important as ever for the next eight years, so it is a good thing we have great walking, biking and transit advocacy organizations and volunteers in our city.

    (more…)
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  • I biked 30 miles to play late night hockey in Everett, then biked another 30 home

    Photo of a kid wearing hockey gear with a blue background.
    The author as a young Affton American.

    As a kid growing up in the suburbs of St. Louis, I was obsessed with hockey. One of my earliest hockey memories was watching Brett Hull score 50 goals in 50 games when I was five years old. I spent so much time on inline skates in my driveway or nearby church parking lots that a wheel on my Roller Blades fell off and I broke my finger in the fall. I also played ice hockey from kindergarten through high school. And when I was inside, I played NHL ’95 on my SEGA. But then I went to college in small city that didn’t have a rink, and then I moved around a bit before landing in Seattle with no car, very little money and very little storage space. For 13 years, hockey was just this thing I did when I was younger.

    But then I became a dad and bought an electric cargo bike to haul the kid around. During those long days at home with an infant, I found myself needing to find excuses to get me out of the house and get my body moving. I needed something that had nothing to do with my work or being a dad or worrying about all those other adult responsibilities. I was watching a Blues game with the kid sleeping on my shoulder when I realized that with the cargo bike I could probably bike with my gear to hockey rinks. My parents shipped my old high school hockey gear to Seattle, and I signed up to play in a local beer league (though I don’t think they want us to call it that). It’s a no-hitting adult league now called that Kraken Hockey League, though I joined before the city had a team and before the rink at Northgate was built. I went to an evaluation skate, got “drafted” onto a team and have playing with them ever since. Aside from breaking another finger, it’s been great. It’s a scheduled, post-kid-bedtime physical activity where I get to lose myself for an hour and a half and then have a relaxing late night bike ride home.

    Most of our games are at rinks in Mountlake Terrace, Lynnwood and Northgate with the odd Kent and Everett games mixed in. I bike to nearly every game at the first three rinks, and I have biked to Kent Valley Ice Center twice. But Everett has always been the rink where I either borrow a car or carpool with a teammate. When people see me outside a rink with my gear and sticks on the bike, they always ask me, “Do you bike to every game?” And I used to answer, “Well, I’ve biked to every rink except Everett.” But not anymore.

    Selfie of the author in front of the Everett Community Ice Rink next to a bicycle with hockey sticks attached to it.
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  • In last-minute effort, Strauss successfully adds $20M for Burke-Gilman Trail via Leary/Market to the transportation levy proposal + The current design needs to get better

    I was all set to write up a story about the uncertain future of the Ballard Missing Link of the Burke-Gilman Trail when, in a last-minute Hail Mary minutes before official adoption, Councilmember Dan Strauss reintroduced his previously-failed amendment to fund his trail connection plan via Leary Way and Market Street and found the votes to get it passed. Councilmembers Cathy Moore and Rob Saka switched their stances from a week ago to join Joy Hollingsworth, Tammy Morales, Tanya Woo and Strauss in voting yes. The funds were shifted out of the significantly-increased paving budget line.

    The Burke-Gilman amendment (PDF) was the only change made Tuesday to the $1.55 billion transportation levy proposal (PDF), and it brought the total spending line for bicycle safety to $133.5 million. It may also have signaled a city policy change to shift focus from the fully-designed Shilshole trail route, which remains held up in court, to the Leary/Market route. The Leary/Market design has received lukewarm support from bicycle advocates, though Cascade Bicycle Club did put out an advocacy action alert in June supporting the Strauss amendment among others.

    Josh Brower, attorney for the appellant group that has successfully trapped the trail in an endless series of court battles, sent out a press release celebrating the news.

    “After 20 years of successfully protecting working-class Ballard, we are on the way to  a real solution to the Missing Link, together with a strong group of common-sense supporters who are truly dedicated to real transit equity and safety,” said Brower in the press release.

    While bike orgs have not been overly supportive of the Leary/Market idea, they also have not been fighting it. Cascade Bicycle Club’s stance has so far been that they support bike safety on Leary and Market, but not at the expense of the preferred and designed Shilshole trail route. Seattle Bike Blog praised parts of the very early design, especially the traffic calming elements on Leary Way, but the recently-released 30% designs show that many major issues have not been addressed.

    The biggest concern is that the trail route constantly mixes with busy commercial sidewalks in downtown Ballard rather than keeping people biking and walking separated. This design would make the pedestrian experience worse and would lead to constant conflicts between people biking and walking. Protected bike lane design best practices exist for a reason, but the current design largely ignores them. Yes, they keep calling it a “multi-use trail,” but to actual users on the ground that distinction is purely academic. In busy commercial areas, you gotta keep the modes separated, including at intersections, and the biking route needs to be continuous.

    Top-down diagram showing the trail on Leary ending beofre reaching Market and then not starting against until after it crosses 22nd Ave NW.
    The 30% design shows the trail disappearing entirely before it reaches Market Street, routing people on bikes to share the busy sidewalk with people shopping, hanging out and waiting for the walk signal so they can cross the street. Everyone will hate this if they build it.
    (more…)
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7:15 pm Point83 @ Westlake Park
Point83 @ Westlake Park
Jul 25 @ 7:15 pm
Point83 @ Westlake Park
Meet up in the center of the park at 7ish. Leave at 730. Every Thursday from now until forever rain or shine. Bikes, beers, illegal firepits, nachos, bottlerockets, timetraveling, lollygagging, mechanicals, good times.ShareMastodonTwitterFacebookRedditEmail
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all-day Bicycle Weekends on Lake Washing…
Bicycle Weekends on Lake Washing…
Jul 27 – Jul 28 all-day
Bicycle Weekends on Lake Washington Blvd
Details from Seattle Parks: On scheduled weekends from May to September, a portion of Lake Washington Boulevard will be closed to motorized vehicles from 10 a.m. Saturday to 6 p.m. Sunday. “Seattle Parks and Recreation[…]
Jul
28
Sun
all-day Bicycle Weekends on Lake Washing…
Bicycle Weekends on Lake Washing…
Jul 28 – Jul 29 all-day
Bicycle Weekends on Lake Washington Blvd
Details from Seattle Parks: On scheduled weekends from May to September, a portion of Lake Washington Boulevard will be closed to motorized vehicles from 10 a.m. Saturday to 6 p.m. Sunday. “Seattle Parks and Recreation[…]
Aug
1
Thu
7:15 pm Point83 @ Westlake Park
Point83 @ Westlake Park
Aug 1 @ 7:15 pm
Point83 @ Westlake Park
Meet up in the center of the park at 7ish. Leave at 730. Every Thursday from now until forever rain or shine. Bikes, beers, illegal firepits, nachos, bottlerockets, timetraveling, lollygagging, mechanicals, good times.ShareMastodonTwitterFacebookRedditEmail
Aug
8
Thu
7:15 pm Point83 @ Westlake Park
Point83 @ Westlake Park
Aug 8 @ 7:15 pm
Point83 @ Westlake Park
Meet up in the center of the park at 7ish. Leave at 730. Every Thursday from now until forever rain or shine. Bikes, beers, illegal firepits, nachos, bottlerockets, timetraveling, lollygagging, mechanicals, good times.ShareMastodonTwitterFacebookRedditEmail
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