With ceremonial unlocking, LimeBike officially launches + LimeRide Saturday

LimeBike Toby Sun (green and gray jacket) officially launched the service with a ceremonial unlocking.

LimeBike started rolling out its 500 bikes en masse Tuesday, a week after Spin launched its similar free-floating, app-based $1 bike share service.

“Seattle is really a city that, through our research, really excels among its peers in promoting green transportation and technology,” said LimeBike CEO Toby Sun during the company’s launching party at Westlake Park Thursday.

The company has had a couple bikes floating around since July 17, but started rolling them out in serious numbers Tuesday. They had 360 bikes on the streets Wednesday, and Sun said those bikes saw 1,000 rides in just 24 hours.

All 500 LimeBikes will be on the streets by the end of the day Thursday, staff said. This will bring Seattle’s total number of bike share bikes to 1,000. That’s the size of Portland’s Biketown system and double the size of Pronto. LimeBike plans to keep up with the bike increases allowed under the city’s pilot permit rules, staff said Thursday. So Spin and LimeBike could go to 1,000 bikes each August 7.

People who sign up for LimeBike before Sunday will get a handful of free rides to get them started.

The company is also hosting an event this weekend called LimeRide (as advertised on Seattle Bike Blog). LimeRide starts at Gas Works Park at noon, and is something of a scavenger hunt around Fremont, ending at Fremont Brewing. They will be giving out a bunch of free rides (including a year of free rides (!) to the winner).

Spin has also announced a weekend event spanning Saturday and Sunday they are calling SpinHunt. It’s a bit looser than LimeRide and spans downtown and Fremont. Basically, if you post selfies at various landmarks with the hashtag #spinhunt, you’ll get $1 ride credit for each spot.

So basically, you should clear your schedule this weekend and just spend the whole thing biking bike share bikes around Seattle. Continue reading

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Your comments worked, WA Ferries won’t charge more for most bike trailers

WA State Ferries will not charge extra for most bike trailers, Cascade Bicycle Club reported Wednesday morning.

The WA Transportation Commission will instead limit the new rules to people hauling kayaks or canoes on a bike trailer. So people hauling kids in Burly trailers or pulling their camping gear will still be charged the normal bike fare.

But it gets even better. Debbie Young, a commissioner from San Juan County, also pushed to exempt people pulling kayaks and canoes from having to pay each time they use the inter-island ferry. People walking and biking can island hop for free, so paying for each trip would be a big increase in costs for the relatively few people who haul kayaks on their bikes.

Young also requested a study of how many people are bringing trailers onto the ferries and how they are currently being stowed. The fare increase was proposed without any real data about how much deck space was being occupied by bike trailers that could have been used for other paying vehicles. Even big bike trailers are usually off to the side in the bike area, not in the car deck space.

The Commission received 800 comments on their proposed list of changes, with the vast majority coming from people concerned about the bike trailer fares.

“They literally pointed to these binders that were full of comments,” said Cascade Bicycle Club’s Vicky Clarke. 550 of those comments came through the Cascade online action alert. Continue reading

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Spin smashes Pronto ridership in week one, announces improved bikes

Heatmap of week one bike pickups, from Spin.

People took 5,008 rides on Spin in the company’s first week operating in Seattle, 60 percent higher than Pronto’s opening week in October 2014 and 300 more rides than Pronto’s busiest week in its two-and-a-half year life (mid-July 2015).

And this is just a taste of Spin’s vision for serving Seattle. The city’s pilot permit limits the company to 500 bikes in the first month, 1,000 in month two, 2,000 in month three and then more after that if all goes well. Spin said in a press release when they launched that they hope to get to 10,000 bikes.

But this week was a great chance to learn about the power of the stationless bike share model. It’s the closest thing to a bike share Pepsi Challenge we may ever get. Both Pronto and Spin had 500 bikes operating essentially exclusively in Seattle, and Spin got more rides. A week isn’t an overwhelming amount of data, of course, and there are still unanswered questions about how the company is going to keep up with maintenance. But at first blush, wow. This stationless bike share thing seems to be off to a promising start. From Spin:

In week one, we’re excited to share that we’ve hit 5,008 rides. Our average ride lasts 16.71 minutes, our top user has logged 20 rides, and an average rider has taken 2.7 trips.

The company focused most of its initial bike drops and redistribution on downtown and nearby areas, since 500 bikes is not enough to cover a wider area very well. But users can ride the bikes anywhere they want. So just about any bike outside the city center got there because someone biked it there from downtown. And people biked Spin bikes to just about every corner of the city.

Outside downtown, the Burke-Gilman Trail corridor and nearby areas obviously did very well. This is an area Pronto never served outside a small section in the U District. Pronto was supposed to expand to Fremont and lower Wallingford shortly after launching, but this never happened. So all you Pronto members who were pulling your hair out waiting for the system to serve Fremont, the Spin heatmap above vindicates you.

The heatmap also shows strong use along Alki, far away from the central neighborhoods where the bikes were initially dropped. I worry a bit about the existing beach cruiser rental businesses on Alki who have been serving the beachside trail for many years.

There are also hubs of rental activity around every Rainier Valley light rail station, especially in the area between Othello Station and Graham Street. Previous bike share efforts were very bearish on the business potential for bike share in Rainier Valley, and we have consistently pushed back against that. Spin is showing that there is demand in Rainier Valley despite the lack of quality bike lanes. The light rail stations are often located an awkward distance from major business districts and residential areas, a little long for a walk but too short to wait for a bus. Bike share is the perfect solution to this problem.  Continue reading

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Cascade/WA Bikes have a new Executive Director: Richard Smith

Richard Smith will be the new Executive Director of Cascade Bicycle Club and Washington Bikes, the organizations announced Friday

Smith comes from Microsoft, and the press release says he was “the executive sponsor of his division’s Diversity & Inclusion efforts” and has worked as a board member for the Seattle Chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

Smith takes over an organization that has been without an Executive Director since the end of December, when Elizabeth Kiker left. And they will go a little longer without an ED, too. Smith starts September 5.

(Full disclosure: My incredible spouse Kelli works for Cascade and WA Bikes as their Statewide Engagement Director)

Smith joins Seattle Neighborhood Greenways’ Gordon Padelford as a white man taking over a local safe streets organization leadership position previously held by a woman. Commute Seattle’s Jonathan Hopkins also recently took over for Jessica Szelag. So while I congratulate these men on their new roles, I also hope they recognize this quick shift toward white male leadership and go far above and beyond to be inclusive and empowering to everyone through their work.

Here’s the full press release from Cascade and WA Bikes: Continue reading

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Bike News Roundup: A dangerous rail crossing. No not that one.

It’s time for the Bike News Roundup!

First up, University of Tennessee Civil and Environmental Engineering Professor Chris Cherry and graduate students Ziwen Ling and Nirbesh Dhakal recently documented a ton of bike crashes at a single railroad crossing (hmm, this reminds me of a certain “missing” trail in Ballard…). Not only did they publish their findings, they also put together this video:

Continue reading

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Spin reaches 1,000 rides in first two days, have you tried it yet?

Looking for bike share app download links, an up-to-date list of companies in operation or rules on where to park? We’ve got it all and more in our Seattle Bike Share Guide.

Spin staff were biking around Monday helping people learn about the new service.

People took 1,000 rides on Spin bikes during the company’s first two days of operations, the company said via Twitter Wednesday:

A snapshot of available bike locations as of Wednesday afternoon, following two full days of use.

The launch Monday is the young company’s largest venture, so it’s pretty impressive to see their bikes get solid use so quickly out of the gate while they are still putting more bike on the streets and squashing inevitable bugs in the system.

As a comparison, Pronto saw 3,134 rides in its first week of operations, but averaged only 394 trips per day over the course of its first year. July and August weeks saw more than 4,000 rides on Pronto.

Of course, it’s hard to compare the services based on the number of bikes alone. Pronto had stations, so getting a bike was dependable if you knew where the stations were. With Spin, dependability will increase as the number of bikes increases. They are limited to 500 for the first month, but a sustainable number is much higher than that. In a press release Monday, the company said they have their sights on 10,000 bikes eventually.

Both Spin and LimeBike have said they wish they could go bigger at launch, but the city’s rules are written to ease into the water rather than jump into the deep end. LimeBike has a couple bikes in circulation, but their real launch is still on the way (they said they hoped to be launched by Friday, so stay tuned). In a month, the companies can add other 500 bikes. The next month they can add another 1,000. After another month, the limits will be lifted, assuming things are going well. So think of the service as it is as a beta test of the concept. Continue reading

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Cascade: WA Ferries proposes huge fare increase for … bicycle trailers?

WA State Ferries has proposed a dramatic fare hike for people pulling a bicycle trailer.

For the Bainbridge and Bremerton runs, for example, a person biking with a trailer would have to pay $16 during peak season, a 73 percent increase over the current passenger plus bike fare of $9.20, Cascade Bicycle Club’s Vicky Clarke wrote in a blog post. The $16.10 fare would be almost the same as driving a car onto the ferry ($18.20). The costs on the San Juan routes could add up even more because a person with a trailer would have to pay $6.40 – $7.95 for each inter-island ferry ride, which is currently free if you bike.

The way the proposed rule change is worded (PDF), any bicycle trailer (even a little trailer used to pull a child) would be classified the same as a motorcycle or car trailer (“stowage”). So hauling a kid or some camping gear in a bicycle trailer will add as much to your fare as towing an ATV in a trailer behind your car or truck.

“The proposed bike trailer reclassification boils down to an unprecedented fare increase on a small number of ferry users,” wrote Clarke. “It’s a change that will impact a few people greatly – like families with small children, bike tourists and people who use a bicycle as their sole mode of travel –  while generating a negligible revenue increase to the system.”

Cascade is urging people to comment on the proposed changes by the end of the day Friday. They even created a handy online form you can use. Continue reading

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Bike share is now live + A handy guide to the new $1 bikes – UPDATED

Annotations by Seattle Bike Blog. Base image from SDOT’s draft update for their Right of Way Improvement Manual.

Nothing costs a dollar anymore.

But that’s all it costs to ride one of those bright orange or lime green bikes popping up on sidewalks and bike racks around Seattle.

See our new Seattle Bike Share Guide for questions about how to get started and where to park. We will keep that page updated going forward as rules or services change (you can find a link in the navigation bar above).

Spin (the orange ones) are already distributing their bikes around the city and have activated their app. The company has called a press conference at City Hall at 10 a.m. Seattle Bike Blog will be there, so stay tuned for updates.

LimeBike has also said it is ready to launch and confirmed Monday morning that they received their permit. UPDATE: LimeBike is rolling their bikes out this week, with a few in circulation as of Monday afternoon. They hope to be up to 500 by the end of the week.

The companies are allowed to have 500 bikes for the first month, 1,000 the second month, 2,000 the third month, then the cap is lifted. See our previous post for more details on the city’s pilot permit. The pilot will run for six months, giving the city time to see how things go and develop permanent rules.

Spin sent out a press release announcing the start of service and said they hope to ultimately have 10,000 bikes in service in Seattle: Continue reading

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I want to endorse Nikkita Oliver, but she says she may pause downtown bike lanes and the Missing Link

Seattle Bike Blog has not yet endorsed in the mayoral race. See our coverage of the June mayoral forum on transportation and housing here. The August 1 primary ballots are in the mail.

Photo from the People’s Party Facebook page.

When I received Nikkita Oliver’s answers to a couple key follow-up questions recently, my heart broke.

Oliver and the People’s Party campaign supporting her are doing something truly amazing right now. If you can’t see that because you’re too focused on that one time months ago she sure seemed to say she’d pause all development (she took that back) or because you’re tallying how many times she has voted in the past decade, you’re missing the forest for the trees.

The Oliver campaign is forging a new path to power in Seattle, based on people power and centering the experiences of people of color and people from other marginalized communities. She is running on a message of addressing the core problems in our city, not just treating symptoms. And people are loving it. I am loving it, too.

Cary Moon has a very strong and deep understanding of biking, walking and transit issues. Jessyn Farrell has been a champion for biking, walking and transit in Olympia and has a lot of experience to bring with her to this race. And we strongly backed Mike McGinn in the primary and general elections back in 2013. But none of them have built engaged movements even comparable to Oliver.

So when I reached out to Oliver and her campaign (along with the other top mayoral candidates) to ask how they plan to handle a set of specific biking and safe streets projects that will come up during the next mayoral term, I was really hoping she would see efforts to redesign our streets to prevent serious injury and death on our streets as one of those solutions to a core public health problem (traffic danger). Or at the very least, I was hoping she would support continuing these hard-fought, long-planned and long-awaited safety projects that are set to break ground next year, like the downtown bike lane network and completing the Missing Link of the Burke-Gilman Trail.

“I have to stress that our city is currently in a state of emergency around homelessness,” she said in a written response. “I believe it is the duty of our city leaders to prioritize addressing these exigent human service needs first. This may require us to put some projects, like construction of bike lanes on hold in order to ensure that we have the financial resources to address the state of emergency around homelessness in our city.”

But the real tough line that got me came when she called the Ballard Missing Link a “beautification project” that is “not an immediate need” during Candidate Survivor this week (17:25 in this video).

These are major priorities this blog has been writing about consistently since it launched in 2010, and that neighbors and safe streets advocates have been working on for much, much longer than that. Oliver saying she may pause these projects right as they are finally about to happen is just heartbreaking. I don’t really have a choice. Seattle Bike Blog cannot endorse her if she says she may stop or pause the core projects this blog has spent the past seven years writing about and advocating for.

That said, she did have other good things to say about some of these projects. And even more, if she changes her mind as she learns more about the projects, the injuries and deaths they will prevent and all the years of hard work neighbors and city staff have put into them, project staff and advocates could learn a lot from her leadership.

So this is a bit odd, because Seattle Bike Blog wants Oliver to make it through the primary and to give her time to keep working on her stances on these safe streets projects, but we also can’t endorse her because of those stances. And since you can’t vote for multiple people, that’s puts our primary endorsement in a tough spot.

That might make this very long post among the most unhelpful things you’ll read about this primary election. But it’s my honest take on the mayoral race at this moment, and the best I can do is lay it all out for you to pick through. If you have thoughts to add, share them in the comments.

Don’t give up on Oliver, join her

I’m not shutting this door, and I hope people reading this don’t, either. This is clearly not an area where her campaign is focused or has lots of specific expertise. And that is OK. I don’t think a candidate needs to already be an “expert” in transportation planning, so long as they are willing to hire good people, seek answers and make the right calls when the time comes. And having a leader who approaches transportation leadership from outside the typically white male dominated transportation planning world could be a huge asset.  Continue reading

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Missing Link open house Thursday will dive into the gritty trail design details

Comment on the online open house.

The Burke-Gilman Trail Missing Link team has been working hard in recent months to gather very granular comments about the planned trail route to address safety and business access concerns section-by-section.

SDOT staff held a series of workshops on specific trail sections in recent weeks, and now they are hosting a big open house to discuss the project design as a whole. You can also comment online.

This is your chance to see the latest concepts and weigh in on specific design considerations. This is part of the community design process Mayor Ed Murray, many longtime project appellants and and longtime trail supporters have created together to finally finish this damn trail.

Open house details from the Missing Link project page:

We want to hear your ideas. Join project design staff at an in-person event to help us better understand local conditions, opportunities, and challenges along the preferred alignment of the Missing Link:

When: Thursday, July 13 from 5 to 8 PM
Where: Ballard Eagelson VFW Post, 2812 NW Market St, Seattle, WA 98107

Can’t make it to the event? Visit a 24/7 online open house from July 10 to July 23 at BGTMissingLink.participate.online

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Trail Alert 7/13: Expect some delays from Burke-Gilman Trail paving

Approximate location of asphalt work.

King County Parks is doing some asphalt work on a section of the Burke-Gilman Trail in Bothell Thursday. So give yourself a little extra time in case of delays.

From King County Parks:

There will be upcoming trail asphalt pavement repair along the Burke-Gilman Trail on the west crossing of NE 175th St., across from the Ivorywood Apartments.

The duration of work is expected to take one day starting 8 a.m., Thursday, July 13. Trail users should be prepared to expect occasional short delays as the construction progresses. For safety reasons trail users may be asked to dismount their bikes and walk as they are escorted through the construction area by flaggers.

Thank you for your patience as we continue to improve this valued regional asset.

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Replay and recap: City Council Position 8 transportation and housing forum

From left: Jon Grant, Mac McGregor, Teresa Mosqueda, Hisam Goueli, Sarah Nelson, Sheley Secrest and moderator Erica C Barnett.

Your ballot will arrive in your mailbox within a week or so, and you only have until August 1 to figure out who you’re going to vote for.

Online registration and address changing already ended, but you have until July 24 to register in person at the downtown King County Administration building. For those already registered, ballots will be mailed July 14.

And don’t forget that, unlike the mayoral race, you can use your democracy vouchers to help fund these candidates.

Seattle Neighborhood Greenways and a long list of partners hosted a candidate forum focused on transportation and housing in June. Erica C. Barnett of The C Is for Crank moderated. The full video and a recap of the City Council Position 8 forum is below. You can find the recap of the mayoral forum here.

Seattle Bike Blog has not yet endorsed in this race.

As a general note, Seattle has a serious embarrassment of riches when it comes to quality candidates for this City Council position. In many ways, the candidates in this race are more exciting than the candidates for mayor. Their positions are passionate and nuanced. All the candidates at the forum spoke strongly in favor of safe streets, road diets and transit-oriented development. There was a round where each candidate was basically trying to love road diets more than the others, which is amazing considering how wildly controversial such project were just a few years ago. Our city’s movement for safe streets is working.

But there can only be one. Continue reading

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Spin and LimeBike are first to apply for bike share permits, ready to launch once approved

Spin and LimeBike appear to be the two bike share companies most ready to get an early start on the streets of Seattle this summer.

SDOT has confirmed that the companies are the only two who have yet submitted complete applications, though both permits are still under review. The city said it could take a week or two to process permits, which means if the companies have crossed all their Ts they could have bikes in operation any day now.

If both LimeBike and Spin launch with a full 500, Seattle could have bike share services twice as big as Pronto within the next week or so.

Spin released a statement saying the company has 500 bikes ready to go as soon as their permit is approved: Continue reading

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New fast ferry to Bremerton sails Monday, but bikes with fenders, disk brakes won’t fit – UPDATED

Bike rack image from Kitsap Transit.

The new Kitsap Fast Ferry routes. Bremerton starts Monday. Kingston is scheduled for July 2018. Southworth in 2020.

Kitsap Transit is set to start service on the first of its new walk-on fast ferries to downtown Seattle Monday.

The first route will provide a much faster alternative to the Washington State Ferry to Bremerton (about a half hour vs an hour on the state ferry). You can reserve a seat online, though limited walk-up tickets will also be available.

But many (most?) people hoping to bring their bikes on the new ferry may find that their rides don’t fit on the custom hanging bike racks installed on the Rich Passage 1 vessel, the Kitsap Sun reports.

Bikes with fenders (!), fat tires, some kinds of front racks, or disk brakes will not fit, Kitsap Transit cautions. E-bikes are also not allowed due to weight concerns. And it seems unlikely many cargo or family bikes will fit even if they don’t have e-assist motors, fenders or disk brakes.

Kitsap Transit is aware of the issue and is working with the vessel manufacturer on a solution:

“We have shared our concerns with the boat’s manufacturer and their engineers are working on a fix for the Rich Passage 1,” said Kitsap Transit spokesperson Sanjay Bhatt. “Once we have an idea of what that fix looks like, we will be able to give the bicycle community an update on our timeline for retrofitting the vessel.”

UPDATE 7/14: “Passengers departing Bremerton can use a newly installed test bike rack at the head of the gangway to see if their bicycle fits in the fast-ferry’s bike racks,” Kitsap Transit said in a press release. “Kitsap Transit is also coordinating with King County on the installation of a test bike rack near the dock for passengers departing Seattle. Based on community feedback, Kitsap Transit is expediting plans to retrofit its fast ferry over the winter to accommodate a wider variety of bicycles and exploring the options with bike-rack designers.”

Continue reading

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Kitsap volunteer firefighter killed while biking near Poulsbo

Screenshot from a KOMO News report.

Longtime Kitsap County volunteer firefighter, Seattle-to-Portland bike ride medic, father, grandfather and husband Joe Vlach died July 2 while biking near Poulsbo. He was 77.

Our condolences to his friends and family.

Vlach was on a training ride to get ready for STP when he reportedly collided with someone driving while making a left turn from the southbound SR 3 offramp to eastbound SR 308. The collision is still under investigation.

KOMO produced a good report about Vlach and all the ways he had an impact on his community: Continue reading

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Terrible person shoots Ballard safe streets advocate with pellet gun

Image from Keller. The pellet hit her in the thigh.

Some terrible person shot Haley Keller with a pellet gun Monday night while she and her husband Dave were biking home from watching the sunset at Golden Gardens.

Keller, a Connect Ballard advocate, Board Member of Cascade Bicycle Club and Washington Bikes, and co-founder of Pedder Brewing, said the pellet hit her in the thigh, leaving a nasty welt that is turning into a bad bruise. The experience shook her up, but she’s glad that at least it didn’t hit her in a more dangerous spot, like in the face.

The two of them were biking south around 11 p.m. on the Burke-Gilman Trail where it runs next to Seaview Ave NW near Shilshole Marina when someone in the rear seat of a car driving in the same direction shot “at least five times in a row,” she said:

We immediately stopped, and I sat on the ground trying to process what just happened and look at my leg. Dave immediately called the cops. They came pretty quickly, took my story, took pictures of my leg, it’s Incident #17-239632. They said they had reports of someone shooting something similar from a vehicle at houses & condos in the area too. So sounds like they shot at me on my bike, sped away, then shot at some houses too. Really terrible, I’m quite shaken up about it, definitely didn’t sleep well last night.

Continue reading

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Seattle is now accepting private bike share permits, first bikes could hit streets in a week or two

Spin is one of the companies that hopes to be among the first to operate in Seattle.

Bike share is coming back to Seattle.

SDOT just released its permit application (PDF) for a six-month pilot program. Staff says companies should expect one to two weeks for their permits to be processed. Once approved, companies can start putting bikes on the streets and turn on their apps.

The final rules are not too much different from the draft rules we reported about a couple weeks ago. The permit prices have moved around a bit ($15 per bike instead of $23) and the data sharing rules have changed to allow companies to share data directly with the UW Transportation Data Collaborative instead of sending it to the city.

Spin, one of the companies hoping to be among the first to get up and running in Seattle, was ready right away to send out a press release praising the rules: Continue reading

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Bike News Roundup: Citi Bike vs a couple car parking spaces

It’s time for the Bike News Roundup! This is an open thread.

First up, a quick and clear comparison of the benefits of well-used bike share (and sidewalks) vs car parking spaces in New York City. “The Citi Bike dock and the parking spots take up roughly the same area with much different results,” video maker Luke Ohlson told CityLab. “In just over an hour, there are nearly 200 bike trips taken compared to 11 car trips.”:

Continue reading

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Last chance to vote for the best neighbor-generated projects where you live

Tomorrow is your last chance to vote for the best community-generated park and street projects where you live.

The city revamped its community-generated park and street improvement program this year, turning the old Neighborhood Parks and Street Fund into Your Voice, Your Choice. Neighbors from all over the city submitted about 900 ideas for improvements over the winter, and a community and feasibility process whittled the list down to a handful for each City Council district.

But each district only gets $285,000, so only a few projects will actually get funding and become reality.

You can vote online or vote in person at any library or community center before the end of the day tomorrow (Friday). It only takes a couple minutes. You can only vote for projects in one district.

More details from Your Voice, Your Choice: Continue reading

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Trail Alert 6/27-7/7: Short section of Snoqualmie Valley Trail near Fall City closed

Approximate area of trail closure, made using Google Maps

Attention holiday bike adventurers: A half-mile section of the Snoqualmie Valley Trail near Fall City will be closed for culvert work now through July 7.

From King County Parks:

Snoqualmie Valley Trail will be closed for a culvert replacement near Fall City beginning Monday, June 27 through Wednesday, July 7. The closure begins at SE 39th Pl and continues for one half mile south.

It’s hard to tell from Google Maps, but getting around the closure will likely require quite a detour, traveling down the Fall City-Carnation Road to the Fall City-Snoqualmie Road until you reach 356th Dr SE. From there, you can climb back up to the trail.

If anyone has better advice for a detour, let us know in the comments below.

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