In 2021, we assessed current conditions for walking, rolling, bicycling, and taking transit to and from South Tacoma Station. The assessment identified gaps and potential improvements to make it easier to access the station and get around the neighborhood. We did not do this alone! We started with more than 35 ideas drawn from city, county and transit agency plans, as well as Sounder riders and other community members during our spring outreach.
We evaluated each possible idea using criteria based on our goals. We took our work back to the community in fall of 2021 to get your feedback. Based on our analysis and community feedback, we identified some improvements to carry forward—those are what you see today. Read the report from our first phase of the project for more information.
Now, we’re refining the possible improvements and starting early design work. This will help us evaluate potential environmental impacts and financial limitations.
Cascade Bicycle Club this week released its first full-strength events schedule since 2019. The 2023 season will see the return of two major rides that have been sadly missing in recent years: The Emerald City Ride and the Ride Seattle to Vancouver and Party (“RSVP”).
The Emerald City Ride launched in 2016 as an annual opportunity to bike on area freeways, a tradition that dates back to the 1970s but was mostly forgotten in the late 1980s. The date and route for the ride is not yet announced, but it’s on the list. Cascade notes that they “hope to announce an Emerald City Ride date in early 2023.”
RSVP was also impossible during the past three summers due to travel restrictions between Canada and the US. Insiders know that RSVP is actually more fun than STP, but they don’t share this information widely because spaces are more limited. But I’ve just let the cat out of the bag (or as our Canadian friends might say, “cat oat of the bag”). Cascade still lists RSVP as tentative, but they are clearly trying hard to make it happen.
It’s been a long time coming for the full Cascade events lineup to return. Events are a huge source of income for Cascade and Washington Bikes, so the past years of cancellations have been tough. A lot of great staff were let go in 2020, and they organization has been rebuilding under Executive Director Lee Lambert, who took the helm September 2021. The Cascade of 2023 will be very different than the Cascade of 2019. From what I can tell, there is a lot of good energy there these days.
I thought I had seen all Seattle’s bike-themed public art, but I had never been inside the Evan’s Pool in Green Lake Park before this week. While my kid took a swim lesson, I found myself looking at this large hanging mural and thinking, “I’m glad this lizard is not breaking the rules anymore.”
One month ago, people using wheels, including bikes, were allowed once again on the inner path around Green Lake for the first time since early 2020. In response to the pandemic, Seattle Parks instituted a series of somewhat extreme measures that later turned out to be a bit too cautious. Not knowing much at all about how the virus spread, the response made some sense at the time. They banned bikes from the Green Lake path in an effort to reduce crowding, broke up picnics and even closed playgrounds by stringing caution tape between the swings and play structures. But while the picnic and playground bans were lifted before too long, the wheels ban stood for more than two and a half years.
In fact, for nearly two years this lizard was breaking two laws: The wheels ban and the King County helmet law. Now, you’re looking at a free lizard. Well, except that they are biking the wrong way around the lake (only counter-clockwise biking is allowed). But hey, they’re a lizard. Maybe they can’t read.
The crosswalk at Harvard and Olive Way is gone, but it left an impression on more than just the roadway itself. The social media storm following SDOT’s decision to remove it (and their clumsy response explaining themselves) elevated the action to achieve national attention.
Bloomberg has a story arguing that this guerrilla crosswalk and others like it “demonstrate how needlessly difficult it is to build safer streets in US cities.” From Bloomberg:
“This is infuriating,” Seattle councilmember Andrew Lewis tweeted. “We have the time and money, apparently, to expediently REMOVE a crosswalk, but it takes years to get around to actually painting one. No wonder neighbors took it upon themselves to act.”
Lewis made a reasonable point: When motivated, transportation agencies can quickly alter streetscapes. But they often seem to show more urgency removing citizen-built crosswalks than they do installing official ones.
Indeed, that is part of the power of guerrilla crosswalks: Even if they are not long for this world, they demonstrate how needlessly difficult it is to build safer streets in US cities.
“It would be good to acknowledge the effort that was done by the residents,” Chang told Zipper. “If there is a way to keep the crosswalk, it would be ideal to try to do that.” Zipper accuses Seattle Bike Blog of garnering Chang with “enduring appreciation” and, well, guilty as charged.
We took an in-depth look at the options in a previous story, so definitely check that out for more background on the project. But the short version is that they should probably stick with two one-way bike lanes unless they have a convincing reason why the two-way option would be better. So that would be Alternative 1 for the 15th Ave S segment.
In the open-ended boxes, I stressed the need for a full redesign of the 15th and Beacon intersection that prioritizes biking and walking safety and usability. The whole project hinges on that intersection. If it remains stressful, the whole route will be diminished.
This project is going to be a big deal for south end biking. Though people are understandably frustrated that the construction timeline has been pushed back to 2024, it’s very exciting to see the details come together.
When I think of Cycle Dogs, I think of sitting in the backyard of Peddler Brewing eating a creative and delicious vegan dog. What started as a hot dog cart in a bike trailer (we wrote about the initial Cycle Dogs cart back in 2014) grew into a food truck and, in 2021, a brick and mortar restaurant near the Mighty-O at 17th and Market in Ballard.
But the move inside has been difficult for owners Keaton and Becky Tucker as a series of unexpected repairs put them into debt. This has led them to reach out to supporters for some emergency funds to help them get back on stable financial ground. So go get a dog. And if you want to lend some extra support on top of dinner, you can contribute to the GoFundMe. From Cycle Dogs:
Cycle Dogs had a rough start with our new brick-and-mortar location. In February 2021, we began renovation on the new space. Immediately, we were met with unexpected setbacks, resulting in huge losses. These setbacks continued to plague us through the summer of 2022. Over and over, we took it on the chin and tried to figure out a path forward. A way that didn’t require the help of a crowdfunding campaign.
Cycle Dogs has lost an estimated $144,000 due to unforeseen repairs and closures. Once our contingency fund was used up and the owner’s assets were liquidated, we were forced to take two short-term, high-interest loans. Had our troubles ended there, we would have been able to overcome the setbacks ourselves. Unfortunately, our bad luck continued. When our AC broke, it was the last straw.
We love our customers! They’ve shown us more support than we could ever dream of. We want to stress that we do not have a revenue problem. Our growth rate is right on track. Unfortunately, we got too far behind with repair costs and need additional help. To help us kick our predatory loans and keep our doors open, we’re looking to raise 35K in emergency funding.
We so badly want to get back to giving back to the community. Lately, we haven’t been able to do that. Please consider donating so we can get back on track.
The League of American Bicyclists interviewed two wonderful friends of the blog for a story about how safe streets advocates won slower speed limits in Seattle. Brie Gyncild, who you may remember from this Pike Street bike lanes video, and Merlin Rainwater, the creator of Senior Ladies on Wheels, spoke about the community work it took to get the city to lower most arterial speed limits to 25 mph and most residential speed limits to 20 mph. They also noted that just changing the limit isn’t enough. The design of the road must change.
Ask Merlin Rainwater and Brie Gyncild how and when the fight for slower streets started and you’ll learn about the people lost and injured — and the memorial rides and walks the advocates led for each of them.
“I think that initiative was critical because it made the issue of speed one of life and death,” Merlin said. “Traffic violence is an invisible scourge. It’s truly taken for granted that people are going to die in traffic and there’s nothing we can do about it.”
The memorial walks and rides, they said, made the issue of traffic safety about more than just the safety of people inside cars. Using the stories of individuals galvanized support for taking big steps like lowering the speed limit throughout the city. For Brie, lower speed limits were another step towards turning the streets into “places people exist in rather than places people pass through.” When she learned that every city council member was on the record in support of lowering speed limits in Cascade Bicycle Club’s candidate survey, she saw an opportunity to lead a movement for change.
In 2016, a coalition of groups mobilized by Seattle Neighborhood Greenways secured their first major win: the city council and mayor unanimously approved a measure designating all non-arterial streets with speed limits of 20 miles per hour, while arterials — unless otherwise posted — were set to 25 miles per hour. Lowering residential speed limits to 20 mph was a big win, but there was and is still much work ahead.
“We all know that just changing what the sign on the street says doesn’t actually change behavior,” Brie said. As part of their ongoing advocacy, Seattle Neighborhood Greenways focused on the need to not only put up a new sign, but also to redesign the streets to limit driver speeds.
Obvious challenges aside, biking in freezing weather can be a lot of fun. It’s also an excellent cure for cabin fever. Today’s flurries mostly failed to stick to roadways and paths, and people in Seattle have reported clear routes during their morning bike rides and commutes. But with below-freezing temperatures in the forecast, this is a good time to get ready for winter biking.
By far the most important thing is to be aware of freezing overnight weather because patches of ice are the biggest concern. When riding over any wet-looking surface that could potentially be ice, avoid braking (especially with your front brake) or turning until you are clear of the spot. If the potential ice in on a curve or near a stopping point, go very slowly until you are sure it is not slippery.
Forecasts do not currently predict a long frozen stretch, but in previous years we have seen agencies be slow to clear bike routes, especially trails that fall within Seattle Parks jurisdiction. We argued in 2019 that “while trails certainly don’t need to be the top priority, they should be on the list somewhere.” Hopefully agencies will be at least a little better if major freezes hit the area this winter. When dealing with freezing roads, local agencies focus on clearing and treating priority arterial routes. So especially if there is a lot of ice, the main busy streets might be the most bikeable. Though, of course, biking in mixed traffic on a busy street isn’t for everyone. Continue reading →
A section of the Interurban Trail near the Algona/Pacific border will be closed for repairs now until January 27.
There is no official detour or temporary trail. Frontage Road is probable the most obvious alternative, though Josh Putnam noted some additional options via Tacoma Blvd or a longer route via Milwaukee Blvd: Continue reading →
Considering the budget crunch, biking and safe streets did OK through this Council budget process. Many larger project additions didn’t make it, such as Councilmember Lisa Herbold’s effort to revive the shelved Fauntleroy project, Councilmember Andrew Lewis’s effort to save the Thomas Street Redesigned project that Mayor Harrell cut, and Councilmember Tammy Morales’s Home Zone program expansion. The Council also made some frustrating cuts to the sidewalk repair program and ADA compliance in parks.
But the ill-advised bike and scooter share tax was also cut, which is a significant win considering how appealing a new potential revenue source was during an austerity budget session. However, as we argued, the revenue was far from assured, and creating the new taxing process could even have cost the city money in its first year of operation.
One of the biggest wins late in the Council’s deliberations was a Councilmember Morales proviso setting aside $1 million “solely for the replacement of plastic bollards with concrete barriers on currently protected bike lanes in Council District Two and may be spent for no other purpose” (budget action PDF). Morales tried hard to get more street safety funds into this budget, continuing to stand out as a champion for Vision Zero and equitable safety investments.
While not related to biking specifically, Ryan Packer at the Urbanist has sounded the alarm about a concerning move to shift $12 million in funds from Seattle’s 2020 transit funding ballot measure to fund bridge maintenance instead of transit service. They are managing this bait and switch by noting that buses also use the bridges, so it should count as a transit investment. This is not what voters thought they were voting for when an overwhelming 80% of them approved this measure. There are many pools of money available to fund bridges that are not available for transit service, such as state gas taxes. That’s why it is so important to protect transit service funds. Unfortunately, the severe bus driver shortage has been leading to King County Metro bus service cuts even as funds are available to maintain that service. So as reserves from the ballot measure built up, it became a juicy pot of cash to raid.
The City Council is scheduled to make a final vote on the budget 2 p.m. Tuesday. While they are able to make last-minute changes, approval is often more of a formality as the vast majority of debates happened in the Budget Committee.
After two years of dramatically-scaled-back events due to the pandemic, I missed you all so much. The Cranksgiving crew is so special. Everyone is just beaming with positivity and love for the community. I am still glowing just from being around you all.
The 2022 event may have been the 13th Cranksgiving Seattle Bike Blog has organized, but it was also a new beginning as we partnered with Cascade Bicycle Club’s Pedaling Relief Project to take it to the next level. 2019’s 190 riders was at the limits of what I could feasibly handle as a sole organizer working on a shoestring budget. Swift Industries had long been our closest partner, hosting the afterparty in their Pioneer Square showroom for many years. But their showroom is no longer there (you can now check out their wares inside Peloton Cafe), and our crowd was already bursting at the seams. To allow the event to grow, we needed more careful organization and a coordinated crew of volunteers. PRP, led by friend of the blog Maxwell Burton, did that and more.
Big thanks to Burton and Cascade Ride and Events Program Manager Rishan Mohideen for working with me behind the scenes to make this year such a success. Central Cinema graciously waived venue fees for the afterparty and were very patient with all our last-minute changes. Thanks also to Bike Works, who brought their BikeMobile to the start line to help with pre-ride mechanical issues and secured donated gift cards from REI to help some riders offset their purchases. Thanks also to Eugene Pak for presenting about the upcoming film Riding Han.
These donations will be a big help, but your local food banks need all the help they can get right now. As Josh Cohen reported for Crosscut this week, food banks are facing a serious squeeze as pandemic-related funds dry up and inflation makes groceries more expensive. The Ballard Food Bank, for example, expects to spend about $1.5 million on groceries this year compared to $300,000 a year ago. So please consider monetary donations to support these organizations doing important and direct community support work. You can also volunteer your time with the food banks directly or by joining a (very fun) Seattle Pedaling Relief Project team to help with food rescue and delivery work.
People held a series of actions and press conferences across the Puget Sound region to remember the victims of traffic violence and call for action to prevent more of them.
A Rainier Valley Greenways action at Seattle City Hall set out 189 pairs of shoes to represent the people killed on Seattle streets since announcing the Vision Zero program in 2015. Actually, they had to update their sign to say 190 after learning of another death over the weekend. As of posting this story, the total was up to 191.
Washington Bikes also held press events in Seattle and Everett with a third planned to start at 4 p.m. in Tacoma. The events included heart-wrenching statements from people who have lost loved ones as well as calls for policy changes. Continue reading →
Image from the Reasonably Police Seattleites, April 1, 2013.
In the dead of night in early April 2013, one First Hill resident dragged $350 worth of reflective plastic posts down the hill and glued them on top of the brand new bike lane line SDOT had painted on Cherry Street under I-5. He then went home and wrote an email to Seattle Bike Blog with a cc to then-Director of SDOT Peter Hahn explaining his action. He called himself the Reasonably Polite Seattleites.
A “guerilla” bike lane was already an interesting story, but it was SDOT’s response that attracted national and global attention. Yes, the department sent out a crew to remove the posts, which did not conform to standards. But SDOT’s new Traffic Engineer Dongho Chang surprised everyone when he apologized to the Reasonably Polite Seattleites for needing to remove the posts, thanked them for their statement about the need for more bike lane protection, and then offered to return the posts. But it didn’t end there. Within months, SDOT crews were out installing plastic posts as an official city engineered project.
I know that today’s SDOT is aware of the story of the Reasonably Polite Seattleites, but judging by this week’s response to a community-created crosswalk on Capitol Hill, they may have missed the lesson it can teach them. Dongho making that Cherry Street bike lane official did not set off a string of other unofficial bike lanes across the city. His thoughtful response did not embolden people to take matters into their own hands to get their desired improvements completed. It did the exact opposite. It communicated to people that they don’t need to do this themselves because SDOT was going to do better. And they did. The number of protected bike lanes they installed increased dramatically after 2013 thanks to the department’s commitment to the revised Bicycle Master Plan.
This week, SDOT presented a gruff and authoritative stance against the painters of the Olive Way crosswalk, writing on Twitter, “Improperly painted crosswalks give a false sense of safety which puts pedestrians in danger. There are better ways for people to work w/ us to indicate crossing improvement needs & to make sure changes achieve what is intended — get people to their destinations safely.”
People have responded adversarially as you would expect because the whole point of the crosswalk action (I assume since I don’t actually know the painter’s intent) was to highlight the city’s lack of urgency in painting official ones. It comes off as though the agency is more concerned about defending its domain over street changes than it is about creating safe places for people to cross the street. Continue reading →
Don’t get me wrong, the NE 45th Street overpass desperately needs safety improvements. I should know since I live less than two blocks away and bike or walk across this bridge daily. I personally appreciate that Councilmember Alex Pedersen has been pushing for investments to improve this bridge. But the project has developed all wrong and needs a total reset before getting a dime for construction. Worse, the specific “improvements” cited in the budget text would do next to nothing to address the real safety and mobility issues on the bridge while also potentially limiting future redesign options.
The budget action would use $1.5 million in funds raised by a $10 increase to Seattle’s vehicle license fee to build “pedestrian and bicycle safety improvements on the NE 45th St structure crossing Interstate 5 including, but not limited to, interior and external fencing of pedestrian and bicycle crossing space, and lighting improvements,” according to the November 14 draft of the initial balancing package (PDF page 120). What they are calling a “pedestrian and bicycle crossing space” is actually just a sidewalk that is in no way set up for bicycling. People do bike there, but only because biking in the roadway can be extremely stressful. The sidewalk is not wide enough to serve as a multi-use trail, and adding a railing would potentially reduce this space even further. But worse, there is no usable connection on either end of the bridge for someone try to bike between Wallingford and the U District.
The process that led to this point was frustrating because WSDOT said no to the kinds of changes that are actually needed to make this a safe and usable bike connection. The project needs a total reset, and this time we need WSDOT to be a genuine partner in safety with the community and with SDOT. We need to start all over and put bike lanes and neighborhood connections back on the priority list.
This is where my concerns with the railings come in. It is possible designing safe and protected bike lanes on the bridge would require modifying the existing curbline to create space for both a sidewalk and protected bike lanes. The presence of a railing would likely constrain these options. Here’s an example I found in my Streetmix drafts from back in early 2021:
I’m not saying this is the version they need to build, but my point is that the existing curb would have to be modified to make this or many other options work.
If the City Council moves forward with this funding, they should consider rewording it to remove a railing from the requirements and add a proviso that the project must include protected bike lanes in both directions. Otherwise, as much as it truly sucks to say it as a user of this terrible bridge, the money should go to more deserving investments.
The Seattle City Council has released its “balancing package,” an updated draft of the 2023-24 budget that factors in some Council changes as well as the city’s latest revenue forecast, which wasn’t great.
As Ryan Packer reported for the Urbanist, the reduced revenue forecast was not good news for some of the Council’s proposed additions. The Home Zone program expansion, Thomas Street redesign, and Councilmember Tammy Morales’ south end safety improvement budget adds did not make it. Additionally, the balancing package would cut $4 million over two years from the sidewalk safety repair program and $1.5 million from the Seattle Parks ADA compliance program.
However, one bright spot is that the ill-conceived bike and scooter share tax did not make the cut. We argued against this tax in a post a couple weeks ago.
Seattle Neighborhood Greenways has put together a sample letter you can send to Council to support some key changes to the proposed budget, including restoration of the sidewalk and ADA budgets and inclusion of south end vision zero investments. Here’s the text of their letter: Continue reading →
A reader on Mastodon asked the other day, “Does anyone know what happened to the big glittery pieces of art at the south end of the Westlake bike path?”
The blue and gray glittering sculptures on both sides of the Westlake Bikeway disappeared earlier this month, and I have some bad news: The Glacial Canoes are gone for good.
I asked SDOT about what happened to them, and they delivered the sad news that the sculptures had deteriorated and are not reparable. The pieces were part of a series of public art pieces along the bikeway that were funded by SDOT’s 1% for Art funds. The full series, created by Jennifer Dixon, is called JewelBoats, and the sculptures at the south end of the path were probably the most eye-catching elements. Called Glacial Canoes, the structures paid “homage to the glacier that formed the land and created Lake Union eons ago,” according to Dixon’s website. “The patterns on the sculptures’ backs represent the current lake and its surrounding topography. Split like a geode, Glacial Canoes’ watery insides provide an ever-changing portal for bicycles to pass through. Their basic shape refers to the history of boats and mirrors the constant motion and fluidity of the lake’s surface. Like glacial erratics, Glacial Canoes appear as displaced rocks transported by time and nature.”
I just happened to take some photos of the Glacial Canoes in mid-September, and zooming in reveals that much like an actual glacier in 2022, there was some deterioration and cracking. Continue reading →
Where the greenway ends. 28th Ave S just north of S Massachusetts Street.
The Rainier Valley Neighborhood Greenway may finally connect to the I-90/Mountains to Sound Trail after years of delay and inter-agency disagreement.
In early 2021, Ryan Packer reported that WSDOT had refused to work with SDOT on completing the connection from the greenway route to the trail. So the greenway route on 28th Ave S has ended about a block short of the trail for years, greatly diminishing its usability. People who want to make the connection have to either navigate to a skinny sidewalk via S Massachusetts St, ride on the roadway on MLK or ride across a grassy hill through the freeway lid park. None of these options are great.
But things may be changing, tough the agreements between SDOT and WSDOT are still tentative. Once again Packer has the full story for the Urbanist:
The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) has announced that they’ve reached a preliminary agreement with the Washington Department of Transportation (WSDOT) over a trail lease that will allow Seattle to finally complete the missing northern segment of the Rainier Valley Neighborhood Greenway running between Mount Baker and Rainier Beach.
The announcement was made last week at the monthly Seattle Bicycle Advisory Board meeting by SDOT greenways program manager Summer Jawson, with Jawson telling the board that there has been “a lot of movement” on the connection recently and that the department is anticipating starting construction in 2023. In a follow up, SDOT confirmed the news but did note that there are some boxes that need to be checked before it can truly move forward.
Take the city’s “Visioning Process Survey” now to let them know. This is a whole new survey, so fill it out even if you already completed the 2021 survey last year. It is relatively short and easy.
The survey notes that “since January 2015, there have been about 100 reported collisions between people driving and people biking along Lake Washington Boulevard.” That alone should be reason for city leaders to move quickly through this process so that it can be made safer as soon as possible to prevent further serious collisions.
“Sharing the road” is not a viable solution to Lake Washington Boulevard unless vehicle access is dramatically reduced to essentially only serve driveway access (much how Bicycle Sunday has operated since 1968). Otherwise, separated and protected space on the roadway is the only viable solution. And we need a 24/7/365 solution, not just an expansion of Bicycle Sundays to cover more days.
We already know how this can work because we’ve been holding Bicycle Sunday events for more than half of the roadway’s entire existence. There are plenty of solutions that preserve car access to every driveway and parking lot while also making it safe for people outside of cars.
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Join Ballard-Fremont Greenways for a walk audit of 15th Avenue and the Ballard Bridge between Interbay and Ballard. SDOT is planning to repave this segment next year with no major pedestrian or bike improvements. Join us Sunday, December 4th at … Continue reading →
Lets Give Together Join Move Redmond & Complete Streets Bellevue at our joint Fundraiser at Mox Boarding House on December 4th from 4pm – 6pm to help us raise our goal of $4,000 will help power the advocacy work of … Continue reading →
Our regularly scheduled meeting, happens every other month. Please check NW Greenways Twitter account – https://twitter.com/NWGreenways, our Google Group – https://goo.gl/W9jmzW or our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/NWGreenways/) to confirm the meeting. FacebookTwitterRedditPocketEmail
Monthly agendas can be found at: http://www.seattle.gov/seattle-bicycle-advisory-board/meetings/meeting-agendas The Seattle Bicycle Advisory Board (SBAB) advises the Mayor, City Council, and City Departments and Divisions on projects, policies, and programs that improve and/or affect bicycling conditions in Seattle. Responsibilities SBAB’s responsibilities include: … Continue reading →