Judge decides Missing Link megastudy did not adequately address economic concerns

In yet another partial court defeat, the Ballard Missing Link of the Burke-Gilman Trail has once again been thrown into question this week after King County Superior Court Judge Samuel Chung sided with the city on two out of three of the major challenges to its environmental megastudy of the trail route. But that isn’t enough.

We are still trying to learn what exactly this means for the project, which is currently scheduled to begin construction early next year. So stay tuned. UPDATE: The City Attorney’s Office told the Seattle Times they disagree with the decision and plan to appeal it.

Previous court decisions required the city to conduct a massive environmental impact statement (“EIS”), the kind of study typically required of megaprojects on a much larger scale than a short stretch of biking and walking trail. The 829-page study took years to complete at significant cost. It’s safe to say that this is the most-studied section of trail in state history. Maybe in the nation?

Because the city conducted the EIS, trail opponents’ only legal path was to argue that the city’s study, which the Seattle Hearing Examiner approved, was legally inadequate. This should have been a pretty tough bar to clear, but they did it. Appellant attorney Josh Brower continues to surprise with his ability to win just enough to block or delay this project. This is the second time he has won small pieces of his cases against the trail in King County Superior Court.

On questions of safety and parking, the judge found the study adequate. So that’s the good news. But on the question of economic impact, the judge found the study inadequate. Specifically, the judge “identified the potential for increased costs of insurance” as the basis for the ruling, according to a Cascade Bicycle Club statement. Cascade has been involved in the legal fight for many years, intervening on the city’s behalf.

“We believe this can be resolved and that the City can move forward with getting construction back on track,” the statement says.

The question of increased insurance costs has been floated for many years as a reason to block the trail. It’s always been a somewhat baffling argument because the trail is safety project designed to provide folks biking and walking with a separated and protected space to do so. It also feels strange that the whims of a private insurance company could decide whether the city can build a trail on public right of way. But here we are. It has been an argument against the trail for so long that it is discouraging that the city did not address it well enough in its massive study to satisfy the court. Continue reading

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WSDOT is testing out a less bumpy gap cover on the 520 Bridge trail

Base photos from WSDOT.

The trail on the 520 Bridge is amazing, except for one annoying and possibly dangerous detail: The metal plates that cover the floating bridge’s expansion gaps are jarringly bumpy. It’s a frustrating detail in what is otherwise a wonderful experience (well, as wonderful as being next to a freeway can be).

Well, great news! WSDOT installed a demonstration gap cover yesterday to test a design that is hopefully less jarring and meets all their engineering criteria (the plates need to handle heavy loads in case the trail is used for maintenance vehicles). It is located near the east end of the bridge, and WSDOT is hoping to gather feedback from folks about whether it addresses the issue. Text (206) 200-9484 to submit feedback.

  • This is an improvement, upgrade all similar plates: text “A
  • I didn’t notice a difference/the old plates are fine: text “B

You can also post to social media using the hashtag #RateThePlate.

We noted these bumps before the bridge opened and argued that the state should smooth them out so they are not so jarring. When biking, you hit a bump every few seconds. This is annoying, for sure, and diminished the otherwise pleasant experience of biking across Lake Washington. But my main concern is that someone will not be expecting such a bump on a brand new trail and will crash.

I have not yet heard any reports of crashes caused by these gap covers, which is a good thing. But it is still worth fixing the issue to be sure. Continue reading

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Mayor’s last-minute ousting of Bike Advisory Board Chair was an awful way to treat a volunteer

Casey Gifford speaks to a crowd gathered for the Bike to Work Day 2018 rally at City Hall.

Just hours before the November meeting of the Seattle Bicycle Advisory Board, Co-Chair Casey Gifford received a call from the Mayor’s Office informing her she was headed to her last meeting on the volunteer board.

The decision stunned Board members and surprised Gifford because this has never happened before, at least in recent memory. And it certainly has not happened to the Chair of the Board with no time to plan for a leadership transition. There are so many new members on the Board that only Amanda Barnett has completed a full term, Erica Barnett reports.

“I wanted to step down as chair, but I didn’t feel it was the right time with how many new people we had,” Gifford told Seattle Bike Blog.

Typically, if a Board member wants to stay on for a second term, they can. Members are limited to two two-year terms, which prevents the Board from becoming stagnant and creates space for new leaders and new voices. This system works, which is why the statement the Mayor’s Office sent Seattle Bike Blog doesn’t add up: Continue reading

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Ahead of January’s traffic crunch downtown, here’s some advice for first-time winter bike commuters

Is it the Period of Maximum Constraint or the Seattle Squeeze or the Jenny Jam? Doesn’t really matter what you call it (well, Mayor Jenny Durkan would really like you to call it the Seattle Squeeze), you should be figuring out right now how you are going to avoid driving to or through downtown Seattle.

Biking is a great option, but Councilmember Mike O’Brien made a good point earlier this week:

There’s a reason most bike commute programs start in Spring. It’s just easier to convince people to start biking to work when it’s sunnier. But with the Viaduct closing January 11, we don’t have that luxury.

But with all the doom and gloom talk about the Period of Maximum Car Squeeze, I agree with today’s Seattle Transit Blog Editorial: This is an opportunity. And as the Move All Seattle Sustainably (“MASS”) coalition said in a press release today, “This multi-year traffic crunch should be a catalyst to move rapidly towards the carbon-neutral, multimodal transportation system Seattle needs.

Under Mayor Durkan’s leadership, SDOT squandered its chance to have a fully-functional Basic Bike Network operational by the time the Viaduct comes down January 11. Sure, I can dream that she will boldly direct SDOT to make the nearly impossible happen and build a pilot bike network in just one month. But as Donald Rumsfeld once maybe said, “You Maximum Squeeze with the bike routes you have, not the bike routes you might want.”

So in that spirit, Seattle Bike Blog asked readers for their advice to someone commuting by bike for the first time in the dead of winter: Continue reading

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Man recovering from Harvard Ave E hit and run Friday seeking folks on bikes who stopped to help

Approximate location of the hit and run, via Google Maps.

Did you see or stop to help a man injured while biking on Harvard Ave E at E Allison St Friday morning around 9 a.m.? Ariel and his wife Roï are trying to get in touch with the people who helped him and may have seen the person driving, who fled the scene.

Ariel is recovering from serious injuries to his shoulder, ribs and lungs. Several people on bikes stopped and stayed with him until help arrived. Roï reached out to Seattle Bike Blog to help get the word out. If you are one of those who stopped, please email tom@seattlebikeblog.com and I will forward your email to them.

More details from Roï:

My husband, Ariel, is a regular bike rider and uses his bikes for his day to day commute. [Friday] around 9am he was hit by a car – it was a hit and run…Ariel was riding downhill on Harvard Ave E towards University Bridge (alongside the I-5 to Ariel’s left), and the car was coming uphill in the opposite direction, and has taken a turn left at Harvard Ave E and E Allison St (which is where it ran over Ariel).

Ariel is hospitalized in Harborview and suffers shoulder and ribs fractures, and pneumothorax injury.

When Ariel was hit, a group of bicyclists was there and they talked to him to make sure he’s OK and stayed until help arrived. Some of them took pictures – we are hoping they captured the car that hit Ariel, because the driver stayed at the scene for a minute or two before he took off – while the bicyclists were already there. I was wondering if perhaps there’s a way to reach out to bicyclists who were there to contact us? Any help is appreciated!

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Cascade: Support the Missing Link at a Friday court hearing

From 2015.

The Ballard Missing Link of the Burke-Gilman Trail has (hopefully) one last legal hurdle to clear. Opponents have appealed the trail’s massive environmental study even after the Seattle Hearing Examiner said it was sufficient. Now the case is in the hands of King County Superior Court, which is holding a hearing tomorrow (Friday) morning.

If you have the morning clear, Cascade is inviting supporters to attend. Sounds like you’ll even get a pro-trail t-shirt out of it.

Final design for the trail is just about complete, 18 years after the Seattle City Council first approved this basic route. If this final court decision goes the city’s way, the city could begin construction next year.

Details from Cascade: Continue reading

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After WA won #1 for a decade, Bike League changes its state-by-state report cards

From the League of American Bicyclists’ 2018 WA State Report Card (PDF).

Perhaps tired of handing the top honors to a barely-deserving Washington State year after year, the League of American Bicyclists changed its annual state-by-state rankings into a set of 50 individual report cards that track each state’s progress. And by this new measure, Washington State isn’t doing so hot.

Washington had won the top spot in the League’s rankings an absurd ten years in a row. On one hand, this was an impressive feat by our state. But after years of winning the honor even without any tangible progress, it also started to feel a bit sad. Were other states even trying? Was Washington winning “best” or “least bad?”

So while it might take a positive headline away from Washington, it probably makes sense to stop ranking our state number one every year. Instead, the League is issuing each state a report card that tracks its own progress compared to the previous year. And their report isn’t as rosy:

Washington state, the only state to be ranked #1 in the ten years of our Bicycle Friendly State ranking, shows some weakness in its federal data indicators.

While the state’s federal data indicators are consistently above the national average and each one is in the top 10 over the last decade, both the rate of bicycling to work and the rate of bicyclist traffic fatalities are headed in the wrong direction.

The state certainly has the tools to reverse these trends in both
its advocacy organizations and the Washington Department of Transportation & Public Facilities, but the state is in danger of losing its long-time #1 ranking.

Continue reading

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Under Mayor Durkan, Seattle has only built about 4% of its 2018 bike lane goal

Even many of the claimed mileage is misleading, since they are delayed from 2017. From an update to the Move Seattle Levy Oversight Committee (PDF).

Under Mayor Jenny Durkan, Seattle has nearly stopped building bike lanes. With the need to build more than ten miles of protected bike lanes in order to reach the Move Seattle Levy’s bike lane goals, SDOT says it will have constructed 1.88 miles in 2018. That is a pitiful 18 percent.

But the truth is even worse. That 18 percent is an inflated number. 1.49 of those 1.88 miles of bike lane were actually delayed 2017 projects that opened at the start of the year. They were accounted for in last year’s Move Seattle performance update as the excuse for why SDOT would miss its 2017 bike lane goals. So if you subtract those projects, SDOT has so far only constructed 0.39 of the 10.43 miles of protected bike lanes needed to meet the 2018 goal set by Seattle voters. That’s 3.7 percent.

There is no term for this other than failure.

But rather than apologizing for so wildly underdelivering on a goal set by the voters, Mayor Durkan had the gall to highlight it as though it were some kind of success. As though we can’t see that 1.4 or 1.88 or 0.39 are all numbers far lower than the goal of 10.43. In her self-congratulating document “One Year of Urgent Action (PDF),” she lists building bike lanes as an example that she is “delivering essential services and meeting the needs of our growing city”:

Continue reading

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2018’s one millionth Fremont Bridge bike trip is about to cross, smashing the record

Whoever bikes across the Fremont Bridge as number 1,582 today will tip the 2018 bike counter into seven digits, clobbering all previous records by a wide margin.

Bike trips across the iconic bridge, which forms a pinch point for many north and northwest Seattle regional bike routes, have been smashing monthly bike records ever since bike share companies launched in summer 2017. But the counts really started taking off in 2018, when the number of bikes in service ramped up to nearly 10,000 across Lime, Spin and ofo. And the biggest increases were in winter and spring, with the first five months of the year each increasing by an astounding 17 to 32 percent (though winter 2017 was extremely rainy).

Good work, everyone! Somebody should probably throw a party, because it feels like it has been too long since we had a good bike celebration in this town. One million bike trips across a single bridge is an awesome accomplishment, and we still have all of December to run up the score. You all contributed to this one bike ride at a time.

Of course, there is still a lot of work to do. The city needs to get back on track because 2018 successes came from 2017 work. And due in large part to a leadership vacuum that Mayor Jenny Durkan has created at SDOT, Seattle has done very little in 2018 to ensure an equally exciting 2019.  Continue reading

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After mediation fails, 35th Ave NE bike lanes head to Mayor Durkan’s desk

Comparison of the options for 35th Ave NE, from Safe 35th Ave NE.

Remember the $10,000 of bicycle safety funds Councilmember Rob Johnson and Mayor Jenny Durkan spent on a confidential mediation effort to see if there was any way for bike lane opponents and supporters to agree on a plan for the street? That didn’t really work.

The result of those meetings is a new street design option that would remove the bike lanes from the street. But it would also remove the on-street car parking that bike lane opponents have been saying they want to protect. Instead, there would be a new center turn lane. The decision is in Mayor Durkan’s hands now.

“The Mayor’s Office will make a final decision on 35th Avenue NE’s new street configuration by the end of the year – choosing between the current “contracted design” and a new “alternative” that closely resembles a suggestion made by Save35th leadership last fall,” the pro-bike lane group Safe 35th Ave NE wrote in an update to their online petition. “We hold firm that the contracted design already represents a compromise, and that the alternative would  be less safe, and would not serve the needs of the community.”

Let’s get one thing perfectly straight: Removing an already designed and contracted plan for bike lanes that were designed in accordance with Seattle’s unanimously-approved Bicycle Master Plan is not a compromise just because they are also removing parking. Without bike lanes, people biking on 35th will be less safe, and the city will be less able to meet its biking goals.

Mayor Durkan should reject this new design option and stick with the contracted design that meets our city’s established and Council-approved transportation policies. Continue reading

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The Eastside Rail Corridor needs a new name

It may be the most exciting opportunity for biking and walking (and some transit) in the whole region, but the name “Eastside Rail Corridor” sure sounds boring. It describes what the corridor used to be rather than what it could become.

For years, Seattle Bike Blog has been referring to the whole trail element of the entire corridor by the unofficial name “Eastside Trail.” We have used this name to encompass both county-owned and locally-owned segments and to shorthand the laborious “Eastside Rail Corridor Trail.”

But there may be a better name for this incredible Eastside-spanning trail, utility and transit corridor. And the Eastside Rail Corridor Regional Advisory Committee wants your ideas. Complete this online survey to throw in your two cents. And, of course, discuss your ideas in the comments below.

If you are really into what this thing is called, the advisory committee is holding a meeting 1 p.m. Thursday at Kirkland City Hall (more details in this PDF).

The Eastside Trail (or whatever it will be called) could be largely open, at least in bikeable hardpack gravel form, by the end of 2021 if all the funding and construction details come together as planned. That’s pretty much light speed for a trail project of this length. But, of course, there are a lot of “ifs.”

In addition to the transportation and recreation opportunities, the project will also rehab and reuse historic and stunning bits of rail infrastructure, such as the Wilburton Trestle in Bellevue.

The Eastside Trail will also connect many Eastside neighborhoods and city centers to light rail, the I-90 Trail, the 520 Trail, the Burke-Gilman Trail, the Cedar River Trail and more. It has the potential to be the more impactful and important regional trail since the Burke-Gilman opened in the 70s.

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Take this Pike/Pine bike lane survey + Rethinking Pine St downtown

Few bike improvements in the city could have a bigger impact than a safe, comfortable and fully connected bike route from the Pike Place Market to Broadway. And due to the grade of First and Capitol Hills as well as I-5 cutting off many streets, Pike and/or Pine are the only options to make this connection.

These streets are already very popular for people on bikes despite their insufficient or lacking bike lanes because they are the only real choices for people living in large swaths of Capitol Hill, First Hill and the Central District. Being packed with destinations helps, too. Since most people have no interest in biking mixed with car traffic, connecting 2nd Ave’s protected bike lanes to the Broadway bikeway has enormous potential to connect a lot of homes, businesses and destinations.

More than 150 people attended a late October community workshop organized by Seattle Neighborhood Greenways, Capitol Hill Housing and the Capitol Hill EcoDistrict. They provided a lot of feedback on the city’s effort to complete this connection by the end of next year. But the organizers want to make sure the opinions of folks who couldn’t attend are also included, so they put together an online survey.

After considering the realistic options, organizers determined that the lanes will most likely go both ways on Pike Street from Broadway to around Melrose, then switch to westbound on Pine and eastbound on Pike through downtown as outlined in the Pike Pine Renaissance plan.

The first major question is about the basic design of bike lanes on Pike from Broadway to the street curve near Minor. Should they be one-way bike lanes on each side of the street or a two-way bike lane on the north side of the street?

Continue reading

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Scenes from Cranksgiving 2018: A new donation record

Miguel Jimenez from Rainier Valley Food Bank addresses Cranksgiving riders at the start of the event.

Seattle’s Cranksgiving 2018 hit a new record Saturday, with 150 riders donating an astounding 1,713 pounds of food to Rainier Valley Food Bank.

For the ninth year, Seattle Bike Blog hosted this food drive scavenger hunt by bike on RVFB’s final distribution day before Thanksgiving. It’s a very low-budget event that is free to join. Participants are given a list of items to buy and a list of local grocery stores and stands around town to buy them from. So participants’ money and effort goes directly into donating food and having fun biking around our beautiful city. There are also some photo challenges for extra points, and you can see some of the results below.

New this year, Swift Industries hosted a gear donation drive for Facing Homelessness, and people brought boxes worth of tents, tarps, hats, socks, rain jackets, coats and more. Swift also hosted the after party and donated prizes.

Thanks to Swift Industries, G&O Family Cyclery, Cascade Designs and Olympia Beer for your prize and party donations. And big thanks to my wonderful spouse Kelli for helping to procure prizes, donating a few copies of her book Pedal, Stretch, Breathe, and for taking on extra baby-watching duty so I could organize the event.

And finally, thanks to everyone who joined us Saturday. You were all so positive, lovely and generous. I’m thankful for all of you.

Now I just need to figure out what we are going to do next year to celebrate the tenth annual Seattle Cranksgiving…

Here are a few scenes from #CranksgivingSEA: Continue reading

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Uber’s JUMP launches their lock-to, slightly cheaper e-bikes in central Seattle

JUMP bikes staged downtown over the weekend. Unlike with Lime, JUMP bikes need to be locked to a rack or pole.

After months of delays getting the new bike share permit in place and through environmental review, Uber’s JUMP launched in Seattle this morning. They join Lime, which has had a temporary monopoly on bike share in town since early summer when Spin and ofo left.

The company is launching 300 bikes initially with plans to ramp up “over the coming weeks and months,” according to a press release (see the full release below). During this initial phase, the service area is limited to 65th Street in the north and McClellan Street in the south (basically, the north end of Green Lake to Mount Baker Station). But the service area will expand as they add more bikes, the company said.

JUMP’s red bikes are a bit different than Lime’s e-bikes. They have gears, for one. They also have a keypad and RFID reader for app-less unlocking. So, for example, you could tie your ORCA card to your JUMP account, letting you unlock their bikes with the same card you use to board transit (though you still need to set up a JUMP or Uber account and pay through the company). Both the JUMP and Uber apps should give you access to the bikes. As a promo, your first five trips up to 30 minutes are free every day through December 12.

JUMP’s initial service area, from their Seattle webpage.

Continue reading

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After deep review, SDOT reaffirms plans for Eastlake bike lanes

From a project presentation.

There may be no bike project north of downtown Seattle more important than Eastlake Ave. Connecting to the University Bridge today and the 520 Trail in the future, Eastlake is an already well-used bike route with huge promise for growth. The problem is that today, biking on the street is very stressful because there are no bike lanes.

But SDOT’s Roosevelt RapidRide project has the potential to transform the street into the multimodal neighborhood commercial street it should be, prioritizing walking, biking and transit. And plans, developed over years of study, public outreach and dedicated people-powered advocacy, have included protected bike lanes on Eastlake Ave because they are vital to achieving that vision and connecting the citywide bike network.

But due to pushback from folks worried about losing on-street parking, the city went back to the drawing board this year to take another, deeper look at every option they could think of to see if there was any way to create a quality bike route through the area that provides access to Eastlake destinations and a direct route between the University Bridge and South Lake Union. And that effort only further supported what we already knew: Building protected bike lanes on Eastlake Ave is by far the best option.

So in a project update email this week, the team announced that the bike lanes are staying in the plans. Continue reading

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Sunday: World Day of Remembrance will be a healing space for those impacted by traffic violence

People gather in City Hall for World Day of Remembrance 2016 surrounded by silhouettes representing people who died in traffic in recent years.

Every year, about 20 people die in traffic collisions in Seattle. Another 150 people are seriously injured, often resulting in life-changing health issues. And for every one of these victims and survivors, there is a community of loved ones whose lives are changed, too.

That’s why Seattle Neighborhood Greenways is hosting Seattle’s memorial for World Day of Remembrance Sunday at the Impact Hub in Pioneer Square.

The organization wants the event this year to focus on creating a healing space for people impacted by injury or death on our streets, said Executive Director Gordon Padelford. Considering the scale of how many lives are impacted by traffic collisions, there is a lot of healing to be done.

Our society tells people that traffic collisions are just “accidents,” like they or a loved one simply won some kind of terrible lottery. But this is just a story we tell ourselves so it is easier to continue with our destructive car culture. Because truly changing how people and goods move around our city just seems like too heavy a lift.

But ask any room of people for a show of hands if they or someone they love has been killed or seriously injured in a traffic collision, and nearly every hand will go up. This is not OK.

More details from SNG: Continue reading

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ALERT: West Seattle swing bridge will be out from 7-9 Tuesday night, shuttles available

Attention folks who bike across the lower West Seattle Bridge: SDOT just announced a closure from 7 to 9 p.m. tonight (Tuesday). As with the previous closure, there will be a shuttle to help folks walking and biking get across, but this will add significant delay. So leave early or late if you can. Otherwise, be ready for delays waiting for the shuttle or add extra time to bike the long way via the 1st Ave Bridge.

From SDOT:

For 2 hours tonight, starting at 7 PM, the Spokane St Bridge (West Seattle Lower Bridge) and the bike trail will be closed, so crews can replace a power control cable. A shuttle van will be available both directions, to take interested travelers over the high bridge.

What you can expect:

During this project, barrels and barricades as well as message boards, will direct traffic. After cable replacement and successful bridge testing, the bridge will reopen to traffic.

November 13 | 7 – 9 PM

Impacts | 

  • Spokane St Bridge (aka Lower W Seattle Bridge) closed.
  • W Seattle Bridge Trail closed.

Assistance | A shuttle van will travel back and forth over W Seattle High Bridge, in 15-minute intervals, with the following stops:

  • East Side11th Ave SW & SW Spokane St.
  • West side SW Spokane St and Port of Seattle Terminal 5 Entrance.

Shuttle service is scheduled to run during the duration of the outage. Should this maintenance work experience unexpected challenges, the shuttle will run all night, as needed.

Questions?

Email paul.jackson@seattle.gov to learn more.

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Huge fire burns lumber warehouses near SPU, expect Ship Canal Trail delays – UPDATED

Photo from the Seattle Fire Dept. As you can see, the Ship Canal Trail is in the middle of it all.

A huge fire destroyed lumber warehouses owned by Gascoigne Lumber Company and Northwest Millworks Saturday night, but luckily there are no reports of injuries at this time. We hope it stays that way.

Regular users of the Ship Canal Trail should recognize the building in the photo to the right, because the trail runs closely behind the building near Seattle Pacific University campus. Buildings were destroyed on both sides of the trail. I have asked Seattle Fire if they have an estimate for when the trail might reopen and will update this post when I hear back. But I think it’s safe to assume that it will be closed for a while, so give yourself a little extra time to get through the area. UPDATE: Seattle Fire spokesperson Kristin Tinsley confirmed that they have not yet assessed damage to the trail and do not yet have a timeline for reopening it: “Due to the amount of debris on the Ship Canal Trail, the trail is still closed for the time being until clean-up is complete. No damage estimate on the trail yet or ETA on reopening.”

Reader Rob Huntress said firefighters were still working as of Sunday evening, and Nickerson Street was the nearest detour option between 3rd and 6th Avenues W. Nickerson has a paint-only bike lane westbound, but no bike lane eastbound. There is also a sidewalk for folks who are not comfortable biking in busy traffic, but remember to yield to people walking. If the closure will be for an extended period of time and no other detour is possible, a temporary trail on Nickerson might be a good idea. Continue reading

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Tell the City Council to protect red light camera funds for safe streets near schools

A huge bike train to Bryant Elementary on Bike-to-School Day 2013

In an attempt to balance the City Council’s 2019-20 budget, Councilmember Sally Bagshaw has eyed nearly $2.7 million in red light camera funds that currently go to the School Safety Traffic and Pedestrian Improvement Fund (see the budget green sheet PDF).

The city has the goal of making street safety improvements at every public school in the city, which also means safety improvements in every neighborhood. But it is going to take a lot more work and funding to build all the missing sidewalks, safe crosswalks and neighborhood traffic calming needed to provide all our city’s young students a safe way to walk or bike to class. We need more funding for safe streets near schools, not less.

Additionally, red light cameras are already a somewhat controversial, though effective, tool for enforcing traffic safety without requiring a police officer interaction. But perhaps knowing that your ticket funds are going to help make streets near schools safer will take some of the sting out of that ticket. If the money just goes into the general fund, that takes away one good argument in favor of the cameras: They can do double-duty by enforcing traffic laws and funding street safety improvements at the same time.

Seattle Neighborhood Greenways has created a handy online tool you can use to contact the City Council and tell them to reject this funding change. More details from SNG: Continue reading

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Bainbridge Island voters reject $15M safe streets levy

Planned spending for the failed SAFE Mobility Levy, from the City of Bainbridge.

Buried in the election results this week was a somewhat disappointing result over on Bainbridge Island. The city’s modest SAFE Mobility Levy lost, with the ongoing result sitting at 45–55 as of Thursday morning.

The levy would have raised $15 million over seven years to fund sidewalks, Safe Routes to School and wider shoulders, which serve as walking and biking space on the island’s roads.

The failure came as a surprise to Demi Allen, a Bainbridge resident who worked to develop and support the levy effort.

“I continue to believe that a high percentage of residents on the island want better facilities for walking and biking,” he said. But clearly more needed to be done to gather support for the levy vote.

“In retrospect, it seems more needed to be done to get out to people where they were and make sure they understood what was proposed and what was possible to achieve through the levy.”

The Bainbridge Mobility Alliance conducted a survey in the spring that showed a high level of support for a ballot measure like the one that ended up on the ballot, Allen said. Ten percent of island adults responded with 70 percent in favor. But respondents self-selected, so it was not a scientific random survey (those can be expensive to conduct).

One concern they heard often was that the levy was too open-ended, with the specific projects to be selected later.

As for now, supporters are taking some time to figure out what happened, who they didn’t reach and how they could make a levy more people would support.

“We want to make sure that the next time we go to voters that we have a package that’s really on-target,” said Allen.

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