Why Elizabeth Warren decrying ‘traffic violence’ is what America needs

On World Day of Remembrance Sunday, Senator Elizabeth Warren tweeted:

She didn’t say, “traffic accidents,” she said “traffic violence.” It’s a statement that shouldn’t be notable. More than 35,000 people are killed in traffic collisions nationwide every year, and many times that are seriously injured. And it doesn’t need to be this way. Of course we need to “end traffic violence,” and of course candidates for President should talk about it.

But that’s the thing: They almost never do. All this death and carnage on our roads is never a topic in TV debates. It is practically never mentioned in presidential stump speeches. And policy platforms practically never include a plan for making our roadways safer (beyond things like fixing bridges and highways). So reading Warren’s tweet Sunday was very exciting. Do we finally have a national leader who wants to actually do something about the preventable traffic deaths happening every 15 minutes somewhere in our country? We spend a lot of time here talking about how Seattle can make our streets safer, but that does little for the rest of the country. This problem desperately needs national leadership.

OK, so Warren’s statement plays well with Seattle Bike Blog, but what about middle America? Well, the origins for my interest in traffic safety began in a suburban red district in a Midwest swing state. And it’s a story that may as well have happened anywhere in this country, red or blue. Continue reading

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I guess I need to take back some of the nice things I said about the Neighborhood Street Fund… UPDATED

UPDATE: Be sure to read to the bottom of this post for an update from SDOT. This specific Neighborhood Street Fund project is dead, but the department has not abandoned this intersection, a spokesperson said.

2016 top-down concept of the winning 15th and Columbian redesign, including shorter crosswalks and a pedestrian plaza.

What could have been at 15th and Columbian Way S. Concept from the 2016 Neighborhood Street Fund selection announcement.

Yesterday’s post was supposed to be about a neighbor-led SDOT program focused on investing significantly into ideas generated from the community rather than from within SDOT. But then just when it went live, The Urbanist reported some very depressing news about a 2016 Neighborhood Street Fund safety project on Beacon Hill. SDOT has officially cancelled the long-delayed intersection redesign and public plaza at 15th and Columbian Way S for purely political reasons.

So an intersection near a middle school will remain dangerous because people who didn’t want it to change got organized, and city leaders buckled.

“After extensive design and coordination with the community, we were unable to reach a consensus on a design that could be supported by the community as a neighborhood proposed NSF project,” SDOT Spokesperson Ethan Bergerson told the Urbanist.

Consensus? If we suddenly need neighborhood consensus to make changes to our city, then we will never change anything ever again. This is an absurd and dangerous requirement, and it cannot become the new standard for NSF projects. The process is already grueling for the volunteers who propose ideas, and the result is an idea that is generated from community members and design by SDOT’s professional engineers. There will always be people who don’t want change. Always and forever. True leadership means doing the right thing, anyway. Trading away safety for middle schoolers because some adults wanted it to be a little bit easier to drive and park cars is very poor leadership.

This project was not cancelled because of further study. There was no professional report that found it would be unsafe or cause problems for neighbors or businesses. It was rejected because some neighbors just didn’t like it.

This intersection is dangerous today, and it will be dangerous tomorrow and every day until we do something to make it safer. As the Urbanist’s Ryan Packer reported: Continue reading

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15 neighbor-led projects SDOT will build in the next couple years

Map overview of the 51st and Renton project, which includes bike lane and crosswalk improvements.

One of 15 projects moving forward through the Neighborhood Street Fund.

When voters approved the 2015 Move Seattle Levy, they created a specific fund dedicated to building projects that came from neighbors. The process to get a project completed can be long and somewhat grueling for those to volunteer their time to propose and support them, but it’s pretty cool that the city will invest significantly into ideas that come from outside the department itself.

SDOT recently released its list of 15 projects that the department plans to build through its Neighborhood Street Fund, including improvements spread out among every Council district. Individual projects can cost between $100,000 and $1 million. This is a totally different program from the city’s Your Voice Your Choice Parks & Street program, which is for smaller neighborhood-generated project ideas.

All of the projects are focused on safety, especially for people walking and biking. Many are intersection and crosswalk improvements, a few are new or improved sidewalks and a couple would redesign intersections to improve bike lane connections.

Below is the 2019–21 project list with links to sign up for email updates: Continue reading

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King County Parks receives permit for final stretch of E Lake Sammamish Trail

Map of the trail with the final section highlighted. The East Lake Sammamish Trail is likely the second-most litigated stretch of trail around following the Ballard Missing Link. But the final stretch of the trail got one big step closer to construction as the City of Sammamish issued King County a permit to finally finish the key link between Redmond and Issaquah.

Sections of the rail trail have been completed for years, but the final piece has been held up by legal actions from some trailside neighbors in one of the wealthiest parts of the region.

The work is largely funded through the King County Parks levy voters approved in August. The final section is right in the middle, flanked on both the north and the south by completed trails into Redmond and Issaquah.

With the permit in hand, King County Parks plans to begin work in 2020 and construct the trail in 2021. That’s, of course, assuming opponents don’t find another legal maneuver to delay it or somehow convince the US Supreme Court to take up their case (yes, they are actually trying that)…

UPDATE: I missed the news that the US Supreme Court declined to take up their case. So in theory, there is nowhere else to file an appeal. I think it is worth noting here how seriously messed up and shameful it was for opponents to put rail-trails across the entire nation at risk just to stop a parks investment near their homes. That required a shameful level of selfishness, and I’m very glad they lost. Imagine if they invested those resources into something good for the world instead.

Cascade Bicycle Club has declared victory:

We’re in it for the long haul to see a safe East Lake Sammamish Trail built to regional trail standards. And we’ve been there—together—every step of the way so far.

For Cascade Bicycle Club, the East Lake Sammamish Trail is a project that has spanned two decades of work and hundreds of volunteer and staff hours. Once it’s complete, the trail will carry an estimated 5-7,000 people per day by foot and by bike.

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6 out of 7 Council wins ain’t bad, but Scott’s narrow loss was a heartbreaker we could have won

Screenshot of the Seattle City Council District 4 election results. Alex Pedersen 16,776. 52.12% Shaun Scott 15,304. 47.54%

D4 results as of the November 12 count. See updated results here.

Continue reading

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Seattle’s 10th Annual Cranksgiving is November 23

Seattle Cranksgiving 2019 poster. Details in the post.

Poster design by Jordan Sampson and Renate Loomis.

That’s right, this will be the tenth (!!!!) Cranksgiving Seattle Bike Blog has organized. I have had to do the math a bunch of times because I find it hard to believe, but it’s true.

So this will be the tenth year people from all over the region will get together the Saturday before Thanksgiving to bike around town buying groceries to donate to Rainier Valley Food Bank. I don’t have the exact totals from all the years, but people have donated something like five or six tons on food since the first Seattle Cranksgiving in 2010.

Thank you to everybody who has participated or sponsored the event in the past decade, especially longtime sponsor and afterparty host Swift Industries. And big thank you to Rainier Valley Food Bank for all you do for the community all year round.

Seattle Cranksgiving 2019 is November 23, and it’s starting an hour earlier than in previous years. So meet on Occidental Ave near the Centurylink Field north lot at 9:30 a.m. to get ready for a 10 a.m. start. The hunt ends by 1 back at the start. Invite your friends via Facebook.

A food drive scavenger hunt by bike, you will get a list of needed food items and places to shop. You can go solo or as a small team (four adults max per team). The more you buy and the more places you buy from, the more points you get. There are also photo challenges and more.

Continue reading

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Bike News Roundup: Vancouver BC is removing their freeway viaducts, no tunnels included

It’s time for the Bike News Roundup! Do you need something to read while nervously waiting for the King County ballot drops this afternoon (4 p.m.) and evening (8 p.m.)? Well, Seattle Bike Blog has got you covered.

First up! Here’s why Vancouver is getting rid of some of the only small pieces of freeway it ever constructed. And no, they aren’t digging a highway tunnel to replace them.

Continue reading

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2019 Election: Transit in big trouble, lots of City Council votes left to count

Map of Seattle comparing the area of the city served by 10-minute frequency buses before and after the Seattle Transportation Benefit Distict investements.

The dark blue areas have very frequent bus service thanks to the Seattle Transportation Benefit District, funded largely by $60 car tabs.

I was at the Shaun Scott party last night, and the response to last night’s initial ballot drop summed up how I feel: Extremely uneasy.

I-976 looks almost certain to pass, which is devastating. The final result will likely be much closer than the initial 56–44 count, but I’m not sure there’s precedent for late ballots closing such a gap in a statewide vote.

There will very likely be a court battle challenging the legality of the initiative, and Tim Eyman has lost before. That’s a glimmer of hope, sure, but we will need to plan assuming the initative holds.

Many people focus on the big impact to Sound Transit expansion, but I am more immediately concerned about the impact on existing King County Metro bus service funded through Seattle’s Transportation Benefit District (“STBD”).

Seattle is a leader nationwide on transit growth in recent years, and that’s in no small part due to increases in frequent bus routes across the city. It’s not as tangible and sexy as a new light rail station, but by dramatically expanding the number of homes within a short walk of at least one very frequent bus (10 minutes or less) the city and county have made the bus a much more reliable and convenient way to get around.

A 10-minute or better bus is the point where you stop looking up schedules and just walk to the bus stop trusting it will arrive soon. It’s simple: People are much less worried about whether transit will work for them when they can trust it to arrive when they need it. Frequent buses also reduce the so-called “transfer penalty,” which is the time you have to wait between buses on a multi-bus journey. When switching buses is less of a worry, the whole network open up to you. So bus frequency is a really big deal.

As a result of both bus and light rail investment, transit use in Seattle has been growing steadily, bucking nationwide trends. That’s what’s so frustrating about the idea of cutting transit right now: It’s working!

The STBD also funds the ORCA opportunity program that provides transit passes to students, as well as providing funding for the Trailhead Direct hiking buses.

But the impact of losing these funds does not simply cut these STBD programs. City leaders are currently debating the 2020-21 budget, and they could choose to save STBD programs by making cuts elsewhere. I mean, we aren’t going to take away student ORCA passes, right? But cuts could be very bad for other budgeted and proposed transit, walking and biking projects if the Council chooses to target them. I know it won’t go very far, but could they start with the Adaptive Signals budget please? Maybe delay the safety-lacking Wallingford paving projects (50th and 40th Streets) if that’s still possible…

Graph showing steady Seattle public transit mode share growth over the past decade.

Data from the Census Bureau’s American Communities Survey.

Continue reading

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Trail Alert 11/7-9: Burke-Gilman Trail crosswalk and entrance work in Kenmore

Map of the trail work area, stretching from 61st Ave NE to 80th Ave NE.King County Parks crews will repaint crosswalks and removing bollards at a set of Kenmore-area trail entrances starting Thursday and lasting as long as Saturday.

The trail will not be completely closed, but expect delays getting through worksites.

Details from King County Parks:

People out on the Burke-Gilman Trail should expect some delays along the Kenmore section due to scheduled repairs. Trail access striping replacement at three sites and bollard removal at one site will be completed over the course of 3 days beginning this Thursday, November 7, 2019.

Flaggers will be on-site during work hours from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. to help users navigate any obstacles. Cyclists may be asked to dismount their bikes and walk through work zones for safety.

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Trail Alert 11/7-9: Eastrail closed near Sound Transit construction

Map of the trail closure and detour route.The Eastrail will be closed later this week near the under-construction Sound Transit light rail station in north Bellevue. The detour has folks leaving the trail near the South Kirkland Park and Ride and taking Northrup Way and 120th Ave NE to Spring Blvd.

Only a short stretch of trail next to the site is closed, but the long detour is needed to get folks around it because freeway hell really limits the bike route options (also why a complete Eastrail will be so great some day).

Details from Sound Transit:

Starting on Thursday, November 7, Sound Transit’s Contractor Hensel Phelps, will be closing a small portion of the Eastrail in Bellevue, for three days, near the construction site of the Operations and Maintenance Facility on 120th Avenue NE. The closure is needed to connect the mainline track of East Link to the rail yard of the Operations and Maintence Facility in Bellevue.


Three-day trail closure and detour


Thursday, November 7 – Friday, November 8
Saturday, November 9 (if necessary)


Eastrail near the Operations and Maintence Facility East construction site on 120th Avenue NE in Bellevue. (see map on reverse)

More Information

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For some reason, we are still adjusting our clocks so that evening commutes are in the dark

Light Up Your Commute poster. November 7th 7 to 9 a.m. Westake Bike Path near South Lake Union.Washington, Oregon and California have all passed laws saying that they are ready to switch to permanent Daylight Saving Time, but we still need to meaninglessly and abruptly plunge the evening commute into darkness next week because Congress has not yet approved the West Coast time zone change.

That means sunset today is 4:47 p.m. today, so you need to make sure your bike lights are in good working order if you aren’t used to biking in the dark.

Commute Seattle is hosting its annual Light Up Your Commute event 7–9 a.m. Thursday on the Westlake Bikeway near Lake Union Park. You can get swag there or just grab a breakfast burrito and some coffee.

If you are new to biking, lights are not optional. Not only is a front headlight and rear reflector legally required, but lights are vital for your safety. We have ranted about this many times before but it is ridiculous that lights are not a standard feature on bikes sold in the U.S.

tldr; Buy a headlight bright enough to see bumps in the road, don’t put it on flashing mode and don’t point it in people’s eyes. Continue reading

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November’s Ride In the Rain Challenge starts today

Washington Bikes’ annual Ride In the Rain Challenge starts today. So sign up online today, and invite your friends and co-workers to join you.

November is typically the rainiest month of the year in Seattle, which makes in my opinion makes it an even better month for a biking challenge than May’s Bike To Work Month. Because if you can make it through November biking every (or nearly every) day, then you have just proven to yourself that you can bike year-round.

And hey, it’s beautiful out, so you can get a running start to the month this year, which is nice.

Some people find online challenges to be good motivation to start or keep up a biking habit. Basically, you just log your bike trips on the Ride In the Rain website, and it tracks it all and enters you to win prizes. If your team wants to be competitive, there is a leaderboard. And if you do it with a group, you can all encourage each other to keep it up.

In the end, though, the real value from a November challenge (whether you log it online or not) is that you break out of old ruts and form a new habit. If you do something for four weeks straight no matter the weather, it sort of becomes your new normal. Rather than hiding from the weather, you force yourself to find solutions.

If you are looking for help getting ready for rainy months, check out this classic Seattle Bike Blog post and this column by Aviva Stephens.

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What should Seattle’s scooter rollout look like? + Public forum Wednesday

Photo of a Spin scooter in front of Denver's Union Station.

One of so many scooters around Denver’s downtown Union Station.

Seattle got out in front of most other U.S. cities when it encouraged private bike share companies to launch their services in summer 2017. The city’s experiment in dockless bike share has been wildly influential on how other cities have embraced so-called “micromobility” services like bike and scooter share. Seattle’s initial permit framework sort of became the template for crafting a framework elsewhere.

And bike share boomed in use in Seattle, even if the profitability of the endeavor is still rather uncertain. Bike share has helped propel biking to record levels across the city, and perhaps has even inspired people to go out and get their own bikes. As we reported previously, bike counts on the Fremont Bridge have continued climbing sharply even as the number of bike share trips plateaued likely due to a reduction in bike fleet size and increase in price.

But while other cities experimented with electric scooter share services, Mayor Jenny Durkan has resisted following suit. So the city is in an odd position as a leader on private bike share, but a hold-out on scooter share. That may all change soon, though, as the city is currently conducting public outreach ahead of a scooter share pilot program set to launch in spring next year.

The city is hosting a public forum on scooter share 6–8 p.m. today (Wednesday) in the Bertha Knight Landes Room in City Hall. You can also provide feedback via this extremely short online survey.

Below are some of the city’s goals with this program, from an SDOT Blog post: Continue reading

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There is room for a better Delridge bike lane

The city’s RapidRide H project on Delridge Way SW is shaping up to be one of the most disappointing so-called “multi-modal” improvement projects in the city. With a huge need for people to bike along this rare, relatively flat and continuous street spanning the neighborhood from the West Seattle Bridge to White Center, the project’s bike elements call for a mix of strange half solutions and downright non-solutions. It would even remove an existing northbound bike lane that serves Chief Sealth High and Denny International Middle Schools.

But it doesn’t need to be this way. By taking advantage of unused road space, the project could be better. And by prioritizing safety over car parking, it could be great.

First, let’s look at the 30% design (large PDF) and talk about the problems that need solving.

The city’s incomplete plan

Under the current plans, the city would build a fairly long bike lane that only goes south. A bike lane that only goes one way isn’t really a thing. It’s half a thing. Trying to go north? Good luck!

Planners are trying to create two very separate bike routes, one for people headed in each direction. This is very unconventional, and not in a good way. The plans also call for attempting to route people biking onto various side streets, often with very steep inclines between those side streets and Delridge if they connect at all. Here’s an overview (note that minor streets are omitted, so there are blocks between these lines that are not shown):

Map of the project's bike elements. Southbound cyclists are routed one block west between Andover and Juneau. Northbound cyclists are routed a block or so east of the route for the entire length. Key for the map.It looks kind of alright on paper if you’ve never been on these streets. But West Seattle is not flat like a map. Continue reading

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Voting guide for the rest of your ballot

Campaign poster: No on Tim Eyman's 976: More Congestion. Not Fair. Too Costly.Register to vote online. The online registration deadline in King County is Monday (October 28). So make sure all your friends and family get registered while it is still as easy as signing up online. After that, you can register in-person at King County’s Renton and downtown Seattle Election offices up to and including election day.

If your registration is current, you should have already received your ballot in the mail. If not, go to King County’s My Voter Information site and check that status of your registration and request a replacement.

The single most important vote on this ballot is NO on I-976. Tim Eyman’s deceptively simple initiative is sure to get a lot of votes because it basically asks people if they would like to pay less to register their cars. It does not detail the massive cuts to vital and popular infrastructure maintenance and transit service in communities across the state that this initiative would force, work that voters and elected leaders have already planned and funded. That’s the frustrating thing about these anti-tax initiatives: People are willing to fund improvements when asked about those improvements. But when solely asked whether they want to pay a tax, of course a lot of people will say no. This initiative only asks about the tax mechanism, not the vital work the tax is funding.

This is a long-winded way of saying, this one’s going to be close. We need every single vote we can get. So if you encounter someone who for whatever reason doesn’t care about the rest of the local elections on this ballot, tell them they at the very least need to vote NO on I-976.

For Seattle voters, check out our City Council endorsements:

District: 1: Lisa Herbold | 2: Tammy Morales | 3: Kshama Sawant | 4: Shaun Scott | 5: Debora Juarez | 6: Dan Strauss | 7: Andrew Lewis

Seattle Bike Blog does not have endorsements for other races around the region, but below are endorsements from other organizations working for better biking, walking and transit. U=The Urbanist, TRU=The Transit Riders Union, WB=Washington Bikes, SUB=Seattle Subway (PDF), TW=Transportation For Washington. Continue reading

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District 7 Endorsement: Andrew Lewis

District: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7
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Yet again, we have a race where neither candidate is great on biking and safe streets issues. But Andrew Lewis is the better of the two, as you can see for yourself in this KCTS clip from a recent Seattle City Club debate:

Seattle City Council Districts map.I gotta be honest, I considered changing my planned Andrew Lewis endorsement to “no endorsement” after reading his comments to Erica C. Barnett in a recent interview, which expand on his stance in the debate video. In the interview, he suggests that the problem with the Missing Link is that there wasn’t enough process. No really. Then he says that he thinks bike lanes in general should go through more process and that it’s “fine” if they are meandering and indirect.

“I’m thinking of specific conversations that have been in the news in other districts, like the Missing Link of the Burke-Gilman Trail and 35th Ave. NE up in Wedgwood. I think that part of the concern in those discussions was that there is broad-based support for connections, but the route that was picked by the city was controversial. I would want to step back and have a little bit more of a process with all the stakeholders and then, at the end, have a recommendation. And it might sometimes lead to a route where I, as a biker, might not find it to be the most convenient route. But if it’s safe, I’ll use it and I’ll be thrilled, and if I have to dogleg over a block, go up, and then rejoin whatever the route is, I’m fine with that.”

First of all, we’ve been arguing about the Missing Link for over two decades. If that’s not enough process for you, then I just don’t know what to tell you.

Second, bike lanes were picked for 35th Ave NE after a significant amount of public outreach both for the paving project and the Bicycle Master Plan. The bike lanes were the solution that met our city’s goals. The route may have been “controversial” to some, but I think we’ve seen that abandoning the city’s goals by cutting those lanes was even more controversial.

The bike lanes were chosen both because it was the only direct and continuous bike route option and because the city needed to make the street safer for all users. Protected bike lanes would have accomplished both of those goals. The 39th Ave NE neighborhood greenway, which bike lane opponents kept pointing to as an alternative, does not connect to the north and is eight very steep blocks out of the way (four there, four back). That is not an alternative, and it’s not “fine.”

There was no amount of process that would have gotten the opponent group on board with the bike lanes. The result of not putting bike lanes on 35th is that people have continued biking there because it is the only direct and continuous option, but now there are no safety enhancements to help them do so. And speeding and dangerous passing is rampant because the road did not receive the safety benefits of having protected bike lanes, which reduce serious collisions for all road users. This is what happens when leaders don’t stand up for our plans and goals.

But to zoom out from this one project, Seattle needs to make a lot of changes to its streets if we are going to connect our city’s bike network and achieve Vision Zero. That requires our leaders to be committed to our safe streets, transit and climate change plans even when the work is difficult. Especially when the work is difficult.

But his opponent Jim Pugel is worse. For example, he spent his entire answer about bike lanes in that City Club debate complaining about how the arena construction project moved the 1st Ave N bike lane to the other side of the street so that they could stage their construction site on top of the old bike lane. The problem? People want to park cars there. So in Pugel’s mind, people biking should be put at increased risk of injury or death during arena construction so that people driving can park more conveniently. Congratulations, Jim Pugel, you’re worse than Andrew Lewis.

I hope Lewis can learn and change his position on essentially sabotaging the bike plan. He bikes, and he talks about needing to build the bike network. I hope he gets ready to bring the level of political leadership that’s going to take.

Washington Bikes, the Urbanist, Seattle Subway (PDF) and the Transit Riders Union all endorsed Lewis.

Vote Lewis.

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District 6 Endorsement: Dan Strauss

District: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7
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Seattle City Council Districts map.District 6 should have been an easy call if not for the damn Ballard Missing Link. Dan Strauss says all the right things about biking policy except for the Missing Link. But that’s a big one.

He has his own idea for how the trail could go partially along the rail line as planned and partially on Leary, and he seems determined to push for that despite overwhelming support for the city’s planned, designed and funded route currently tied up in the courts. Almost nobody in Seattle wants to reopen the Missing Link process and argue about it all over again. Over the past two decades, generations of Seattleites have argued about everything there is to argue about, and then some. We just need to build the compromise design we have and move on to other needs.

I know a lot of you can’t imagine voting for someone who, after decades of arguing over every inch of this trail, won’t support the city’s plans to complete it. I don’t blame you.

Unfortunately, his opponent Heidi Wills doesn’t have a good position on the Missing Link, either. She continues to talk about building an extraordinarily expensive and impractical elevated trail. Sure, at first it sounds fun and all to be up high, but the idea immediately falls apart under any scrutiny. It would cost tens of millions of dollars that A: We don’t have budgeted and B: If we were to find would be better spent on other vital bike network gaps with real life barriers to overcome (like waterways, busy rail lines or freeways). Spending that much money to get over a barrier that is purely political makes no sense. Really, an elevated trail is a distraction that would never happen. It’s an excuse to continue failing to complete this gap and make the area safe for biking and walking.

Wills says she supports dedicated bike lanes generally and talks a big game about walking safety.

But beyond all that, Wills already lost this job once following a corruption scandal. I am surprised she has made it this far, since I don’t see how people are so quick to trust her after that. She had her chance on Council, and I don’t see any particularly convincing evidence that she has gone above and beyond to earn another one.

If you somehow manage to ignore the Missing Link, Strauss is great on transportation. He also has had a scary personal experience that informs his strong support for protected bike lanes, as he writes on his campaign website (PDF):

“I know as well as anyone the importance of a connected network of protected bike lanes – I was once hit by a driver and nearly killed while cycling. Cycling in traffic – and even in bike lanes without protective barriers – is intimidating to all but the most experienced cyclists and is unsafe for everyone, including drivers. Creating separate, protected lanes increases ridership – the Second Ave bike lane saw over 4 times as many riders after it was upgraded to a protected lane – and makes biking for work and recreation a viable option for many more Seattleites.”

I take Strauss at his word on this. Unfortunately, that means I also have to take him on his word about the Missing Link. Given the options, I think Strauss is still the best choice. And at least in theory, the Missing Link shouldn’t need to go to the Council again. And even if Strauss really wants to stop it, he would need to convince a majority of the Council to side with him. Of course that’s not impossible, but it’s a pretty tall order.

Washington Bikes did not endorse either candidate in this race. Seattle Subway (PDF), the Urbanist and the Transit Riders Union endorsed Strauss.

So elect Strauss.

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District 5 Endorsement: Debora Juarez

District: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7
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Seattle City Council Districts map.Look, the fun City Council endorsements are over. Districts 5, 6 and 7 are each fairly disappointing by comparison to 2, 3, and 4. But Seattle Bike Blog is still going to endorse anyway.

Debora Juarez has not been a bold champion for biking. Even though 35th Ave NE is partially within her district, she did nothing to support a good, safe solution out of that big-budget repaving project. And the resulting project is awful. We needed leaders to stand up for the city’s Bike Master Plan and climate change goals. Juarez did not.

I hope Juarez learned something from the 35th debacle. Our city’s safe streets plans, including the Bicycle Master Plan, are bold and need her support. And when Seattle enacts them, they work. We would want to see some clear dedication to taking action on safe streets if we are going to support her next election.

In the end, her final votes have mostly been good, even if she tried at times to water down safe streets efforts. For example, she expressed that she would have supported Councilmember Herbold’s amendment to water down the bike safety ordinance had Herbold not pulled it from consideration. But she still voted yes on the final ordinance.

But all this is only nitpicking because her opponent would be truly terrible. Ann Davison Sattler wants to round up people experiencing homelessness and store them in warehouses. No, really. It’s disgusting and inhumane, and she and her ideas deserve to be defeated by an embarrassing margin this election.

Washington Bikes did not endorse anyone in District 5 this year. Seattle Subway (PDF), the Urbanist and the Transit Riders Union endorsed Juarez.

So reelect Juarez.

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District 4 Endorsement: Shaun Scott

District: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7
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Seattle City Council Districts map.This one is a no-brainer. District 4, my district, should elect Shaun Scott to the City Council.

There are elections where you vote for someone you believe in, and there are elections where you vote against someone you think would be harmful. Both are true in this race.

Shaun Scott does not shy away from big ideas. He is not afraid of making bold changes. His ideas for Seattle’s Green New Deal are appropriately and necessarily big. He’s not going to spit B.S. at you and pretend that adding some electric car chargers is going to solve climate change. He’s going to talk about how to build a ton of affordable housing near improved transit service. He’s going to talk about completing the Bicycle Master Plan even when it gets politically difficult. And he’s going to talk about not just how our city’s carbon emissions are bad for the climate, but how the pollution from burning those fossil fuels disproportionately impacts the health of working people and communities of color.

But it’s not just his ideas that are exciting. Scott has also inspired a movement. He maxed out on the city’s democracy voucher system in record time, almost making a joke of the program’s limits. He encouraged his campaign staff to unionize, which is extremely rare even in union-friendly Seattle. And his staff and a ton of volunteers have been putting in huge amount of time tabling, knocking on doors and in many ways innovating what a political ground game looks like in Seattle’s still-new Council district system.

His campaign is rewriting Seattle’s election rules and creating a new path to power. It would be a good thing for the city if they are successful because their model of organizing is truly grassroots and based on optimistic energy that, frankly, most other Council campaigns are lacking. Scott makes me feel like our city really can do what it takes to become the affordable, equitable and sustainable city I believe it can be.

His opponent, Alex Pedersen, fought against light rail. That’s right, he opposed the 2016 levy to fund a major expansion of Sound Transit light rail. Worse, he still stands by his opposition to the levy. And now he wants to represent this district while two of its three light rail stations begin service? No way. We need big changes to accompany these new stations with strong priority for walking, bike and bus access and more nearby affordable housing. And Pedersen has shown that he’s not the person to do that job. Continue reading

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District 3 Endorsement: Kshama Sawant

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Seattle City Council Districts map.With a victory in District 3, Kshama Sawant would become the senior member of the City Council. And in her time in office, she has redrawn the path to power in our city. She has broken conventions and fought the influence of big business money and won. But she’s currently fighting her most difficult campaign since her unlikely, narrow win over Richard Conlin in 2013.

Sawant has been a steadfast ally for biking, safe streets and transit in Seattle. And as a longtime member of the City Council Transportation Committee, she has consistently voted to move our city’s most ambitious efforts to make our transportation system work better for everyone. And she often speaks up to make sure equity is being centered in decision-making.

No, biking is not one of the primary centerpiece issues for her office, but that’s OK. It doesn’t need to be everyone’s top issue (that would be weird, actually). But she is always there when needed. And as I’ve written in several previous endorsements of Sawant, I’m not fighting for safe and connected bike lanes that only the rich can use.

Her opponent Egan Orion isn’t anti-bike or anything. But he is receiving an enormous sum of cash from big businesses, especially Amazon, in an effort to kick her off the Council. We need a Councilmember we know will stand up for the people if we are going to make the bold changes to our transportation system that we need, and Sawant will do that. Just watch her in this April Transportation Committee meeting fighting back against Mayor Jenny Durkan’s decision to cut the planned, designed and funded bike lanes on 35th Ave NE:

Download transcript (.txt)

Sawant has also been endorsed by Washington Bikes, Seattle Subway (PDF), the Urbanist and the Transit Riders Union.

Yeah, Seattle Bike Blog enthusiastically endorses Sawant for reelection.

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