After 9 years as a cornerstone of the Seattle bike scene, Peddler Brewing will close March 5

Photo of the front of the business with bikes overflowing everywhere. Peddler Brewing is closing in march, nine years after opening its bike-loving doors on Leary Way just west of the Ballard Bridge. Owners Haley and Dave made their bike-friendly intentions very clear from the start by dedicating a front corner of the taproom to indoor bike parking.

With the space mostly constructed, they ran a Kickstarter to fund some finishing touches and to build some hype for their opening (it was 2012-13, after all, and Kickstarter was a pretty big deal back then). One of the donation level prizes was a small plaque on their indoor bike repair stand. Seattle Bike Blog eagerly paid for one.

Photo of the bike parking area with a bike stand. Seattle Bike Blog's plaque is visible.

I found this video in an old Bike Blog post, and it’s pretty fun to watch now knowing how much the place grew and changed over the past nine years: Continue reading

Posted in news | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Alert 1/21-24: Montlake Bridge is fully closed this weekend for maintenance

Map of Montlake Bridge closure. Shuttle stop locations noted in story body.The Montlake Bridge will be closed for maintenance this weekend starting 10 p.m. Friday (today) and ending 5 a.m. Monday. The closure includes the sidewalks as well as the roadway.

There will be a shuttle to take people on foot or bike around the closure, but you’re probably best off rerouting to the University Bridge if possible.

As we wrote when the University Bridge was closed in November, the detour options between the Montlake and University Bridges on the south side of the Ship Canal are not great. It’s best to plan your reroute early rather than riding all the way to the closed bridge, then detouring. Perhaps this is a good excuse to ride Interlaken Boulevard.

Details from WSDOT:

The SR 513 Montlake Bridge will be closed from 10 p.m. Friday, Jan. 21 to 5 a.m. Monday, Jan. 24. The bridge sidewalks will also be closed.

  • Shuttles will be available to transport pedestrians and bicyclists from one side of the bridge to the other using a detour route. The shuttle stop on the north end is near the bus stop on eastbound Northeast Pacific Street just west of Montlake Boulevard. The stop on the southern end is on southbound Montlake Boulevard just south of Shelby Street. Shuttles will run from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily on Saturday and Sunday. The sidewalks will be open outside of those hours.
Posted in news | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Watch: Biking to Pike Place Market via the U Bridge in 360 and hyperlapse

I’m trying something new on the blog today. I’ve got two videos for you. Well, really they are two very different versions of the same video, which I shot while heading downtown to pick up my daughter from preschool. The first is a short hyperlapse video showing the route at 15X speed:

The second is a 360-degree video the plays in real time. You can view this 360 video in a number of ways. If you play it in a browser, you can click on the video to drag the view around. If you play it on a phone in full-screen, you should be able to move the phone to look around. Or you can play it in a VR headset:

There’s no consensus about the best way to bike from the University Bridge to downtown because, well, there’s no route that is all good. Eastlake Ave is the most obvious and direct option, but there are no bike lanes and the pavement is terrible for most of it. I can handle some bad pavement, but trying to dodge big bumps while also looking over my shoulder for car traffic? No thank you.

If you’re headed to Capitol Hill, there’s a pretty nice route via Lakeview Blvd, though it has its own challenges. But if you’re headed to the downtown core, the Lakeview route requires extra hill climbing. This is my second choice.

So that leaves one other option: Fairview Ave. There are really two Fairviews. Fairview Ave E is north of Fairview Ave N (because Seattle), and it connects from the University Bridge to South Lake Union. The skinny lakeside street is typically quiet, though it is lined with parking. Nobody seems to expect to be able to drive fast here, making it a quality bike route. Well, except for one big problem. There is a missing piece where the Mallard Cove development blocks public access. To get around this, you have to bike up an extremely steep hill, then down an alleyway that also has intense up and down grades. Able-bodied people might be able to handle it OK, but it will never be an all ages and abilities route for this reason. Well, at least not until the city builds a path through Mallard Cove (stay tuned for a post about some interesting old ideas to solve this problem).

I bike the Fairview route most of the time when doing preschool drop-off and pick-up. I think it’s the least-bad option. I’m often happy to trade dealing with car traffic for a short steep climb. It’s not quite as fast as taking Eastlake Ave, but it’s not too much slower since there are no stop lights. Plus you get some great views along the way (hey, I bet that’s why they named it that!).

Do you have a preferred route that I didn’t mention? Let us know in the comments below. Also let me know what you think of the two video formats. I’m still figuring out all the things I can do with this 360 camera, including how to edit footage. I want these to be useful for people looking for a route option, but also entertaining just to watch. I’m open to your ideas for the next one.

Posted in news | Tagged , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Under new policy, Seattle Police should no longer stop people for biking without a helmet

Seattle Police should no longer pull people over simply for riding a bicycle without wearing a helmet, according to a new department policy.

These violations do not have a direct connection to the safety of other individuals on the roads, paths, or sidewalks,” wrote SPD Chief Adrian Diaz in a letter (PDF) to Seattle Inspector General Lisa Judge about the policy changes. In addition to bicycle helmet violations, officers have also been instructed to cease stopping people for driving with expired or missing vehicle registration, or driving with low-level violations like stuff hanging from the rear-view mirror or non-obstructing windshield cracks.

All of these violations are still illegal and can be enforced, they just can’t be the primary reason for officers to initiate a stop. So if an officer stops someone for riding through a red light, for example, they can tack on the helmet ticket as well.

These changes came out of a process that Inspector General Judge initiated last year, Publicola reported:

The announcement comes after months of discussions between the police, the Office of Inspector General, the Seattle Department of Transportation, and civil rights and police oversight groups. Judge organized the conversations herself last year, when she wrote a letter to Diaz urging him to consider removing police from low-level traffic enforcement. “Stopping a person is a significant infringement on civil liberty and should be reserved for instances when a person is engaged in criminal conduct that harms others,” Judge wrote. “Stops for government-created requirements like car tabs, with nothing but a potential monetary penalty, do not justify the risk to community or to officers.”

In Diaz’s letter, he cites the fact that the King County Board of Health is considering abolishing the helmet code anyway. The Board was very close to taking this action during its November meeting, but decided to delay the vote. King County’s helmet law is very rare, and a large coalition has formed to urge a repeal. There are many concerns about the unintended consequences of the law, but biased policing is one of the biggest.

“In Seattle, nearly half of all helmet citations since 2017 were issued to people experiencing homelessness,” the Helmet Law Working Group wrote in a lengthy 2021 report. “Since 2003, Black cyclists in Seattle have received citations at a rate 3.8 times higher, Indigenous cyclists 2.2 times higher, and Hispanic/Latino cyclists 1.4 times higher than white cyclists. Differences in helmet use between populations cannot explain these disparities.”

Hopefully the Board of Health takes this as yet another reason to move forward with their repeal because now there is a confusing mismatch in King County where the largest municipal law enforcement agency has effectively made biking without a helmet a secondary offense but other agencies still treat it as a primary offense. It’s time for the county’s helmet regulations to come into alignment with pretty much everywhere else in the country. This law is a distraction taking up a lot of energy that would be better put to use building safer streets that prevent collisions from happening in the first place.

Posted in news | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

WA Transportation Secretary: Further freeway expansion is ‘a dead end’

Chart showing the gap between the state's goal of reducing walking and biking injuries by 5% annually to the actual increase in these injuries in recent years.

The number of people killed while walking or biking in Washington is headed in the wrong direction. Images from Secretary Millar’s presentation (PDF).

Washington Transportation Secretary Roger Millar argued against further highway expansion during his State of Transportation presentation to the House Transportation Committee this week. Instead, he argued for “a resilient response” to the state’s major challenges, including climate change, inequitable traffic impacts and increasing traffic injuries and deaths.

“We are a Target Zero state, and we’re going the wrong way,” said Millar. “The data shows our system isn’t safe. It kills people, and we need to invest to stop that.” WSDOT estimates that the monetary cost of collisions, injuries and deaths is about $14 billion per year. Of course, a life is more important than money.

Chart showing the annual cost of various transportation challenges. Safety is by far the highest at $14 billion.Meanwhile, the state is investing less than half of what it should be investing to maintain existing infrastructure. The state has been building a lot of new and expanded infrastructure, which only makes it more difficult to maintain the infrastructure the state already has. As that new infrastructure comes due for maintenance, the backlog gets that much worse. At this point, the state would need to spend about a billion dollars more per year than it is currently spending just to tread water.

Table showing about $2 billion in annual maintenance need but only $900 million in annual funding.One part of the solution is to stop trying to expand highways to solve congestion. WSDOT gave a rough estimate that it would cost upwards of $115 billion over ten years to add enough lanes to freeways to allow people to drive the speed limit at all times. That would require as much as $2.50 per gallon in additional gas taxes. This rough estimate does not even include all the costs associated with increasing local and connector roads to meet the induced demand from the newly-widened freeways.

“Addressing congestion through adding lanes to the Interstate system is not financially feasible, it’s not economically feasible, it’s not environmentally feasible. It’s just not going to happen,” said Millar. “We need to think about doing things differently.” He even said that the state’s path of continually expanding freeways to solve congestion has “come to a dead end.” Continue reading

Posted in news | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

WA Bikes: ‘There’s opportunity abound’ in short 60-day state legislative session

State legislators seemed determined to pass a major transportation funding bill during the 2021 session, but the focus on highway spending and backwards ideas like a tax on bicycles ultimately helped stall the effort until the session ran out of time. There was even talk of a special session to get the effort passed, but that fortunately never happened.

Governor Jay Inslee picked Steve Hobbs, the previous Senate Transportation Committee Chair, to serve as Secretary of State after Kim Wyman joined the Biden administration. Hobbs was a major force pulling the funding talks backwards, proposing a new bicycle tax, cutting the House’s proposed multimodal investments and adding millions for highway expansion projects.

Marko Liias is the new Senate Transportation Chair, setting off a surge of hope that a quality transportation funding package, along with other needed transportation policies, will be possible this year. Liias has long received glowing endorsements from safe streets, bicycling and transit advocacy organizations. But it’s a short session, so legislators and advocates will need to move quickly to get it done in time.

“With a new Senate Transportation Committee Chair, and momentum from work started in 2021 on a state transportation revenue bill, there’s opportunity abound,” wrote WA Bikes State Policy Director Alex Alston in an email to supporters.

Washington Bikes has published their goals for the session, which include increasing the funding for biking, walking and transit, addressing inequities in transportation (including inequitably dangerous streets), e-bike incentives (if electric cars get them, why not electric bikes?), and updating the Growth Management Act to include climate resiliency. That’s ambitious but achievable list for the short session. You can help the effort by signing up for the WA Bikes Legislative Week of Action February 1–5.

From WA Bikes: Continue reading

Posted in news | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Pedersen remains City Council Transportation Chair – UPDATED

Councilmember Alex Pedersen (D4) will continue as Chair of the Transportation and Seattle Public Utilities Committee, the City Council voted Tuesday. Dan Strauss (D6) will remain as Vice-Chair, and Lisa Herbold (D1) and Tammy Morales (D2) will remain as committee members. Kshama Sawant (D3) will take former Councilmember Lorena González’s committee member seat, a role Sawant played for many years throughout the 2010s.

The Transportation Committee has been relatively quiet in the past couple years under Pedersen. According to the City Clerk’s Legistar calendar, the committee only held 9 out of a potential 24 regular meetings in 2020 thanks to a 168-day meeting cancellation streak between March 4 and August 19 (note that the West Seattle Bridge broke March 23, and there were special meetings about that). The committee stepped it up in 2021 by holding 18 regular meetings.

UPDATE: Councilmember Pedersen reached out to clarify the committee’s 2020 work. March through June, many committees including Transportation conducted their business during full City Council meetings and during full Council briefings, he said. The Committee also focused mostly on the Seattle Transportation Benefit District measure due for voter passage in November 2020. Finally, because committees don’t meet during budget deliberations, the total potential meetings per year is more like 20 or 21 rather than 24. I appreciate the Councilmember’s clarifications, and I can see how my original text came off as more critical than I had intended. 2020 was obviously a very unusual year.

But the next two years will need to be much busier because there is a lot of work to do to watchdog the final years of the Move Seattle Levy investments and prepare city transportation plans ahead of whatever transportation funding measure replaces Move Seattle in 2024. Anyone who has been snoozing on Transportation Committee business (*author looks into mirror*) will need to start paying much closer attention.

Seattle has an enormous opportunity to be a national leader in sustainable transportation with a bold ballot measure in 2024, a high-turnout Presidential election year. Mayor Bruce Harrell and the Transportation Committee will both have opportunities to craft this measure, and they won’t have a ton of time to do so. Committees could see another shake-up in early 2024 after the 2023 City Council election, but much of the transportation measure will likely be developed by then.

Here is the committee membership roster for (likely) the next two years:

Table of committee assignments. Text-readable PDF linked in story. Table part 2.

Posted in news | Tagged , | 1 Comment

South Park community group seeks to reclaim neighborhood land from a harmful, redundant highway

Regional map of the proposed freeway removal area.

All images from Cultivate South Park.

South Park has some of the most harmful air quality of any residential neighborhood in Seattle and King County, and it doesn’t take long to figure out where a lot of it comes from: The freeway that splits the neighborhood in two.

It’s a story that has been repeated many times across the city and the nation. Low-income communities and communities of color are often located in the areas with the worst air quality and the most dangerous roadways. This is not an accident. Perhaps no neighborhood better represents our region’s environmental racism more starkly than South Park.

Map of the traffic-related air pollution in South Park with community and youth center locations marked within the worst zones.“The cumulative impacts of these environmental burdens result in a 13-year lower life expectancy for South Park residents compared with other Seattle neighborhoods,” according to Cultivate South Park, a “resident-led Asset-Based Community Development organization.” But it doesn’t need to be this way. South Park is a flourishing community that deserves clean air and safe, connected streets, and Cultivate South Park is taking on the biggest barrier to both of these goals: SR-99.

“What if we were to close this segment of 99 and reclaim 40 acres of land for affordable housing, community owned businesses, parks and amenities that serve the people of South Park?” That’s the bold and very exciting question at the center of the organization’s Reconnect South Parks proposal. With leadership at the national, state and city levels all talking about reducing the community harm caused by past freeway projects, this project is the perfect opportunity to stand by those words. Continue reading

Posted in news | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

Key section of Georgetown to South Park Trail moving forward alongside a new dog park

Concept map of the park and trail.

Concept design (PDF)

A gravel cut-through in Georgetown near Boeing Field will become a dog park and trail corridor, providing a key piece of the community-led Georgetown to South Park Trail. If all goes according to schedule, the park and trail connection should begin construction in the summer and open in 2023.

The City Council’s Transportation and Utilities Committee voted before the holiday break to transfer the former “flume” property from Seattle City Light to SDOT and the Parks Department. The long and skinny property once housed a conveyance that transported water from the Duwamish River to the Georgetown steam plant, but it has been essentially unused since that plant closed in 1975. As part of the deal, City Light will also pay for soil remediation.

The new park will lie at the middle point of the Georgetown to South Park Trail, planned to connect from near S Bailey Street and Ellis Ave S to the South Park Bridge. Routing the trail through the new park will require a couple extra turns, but it will likely be more pleasant than the moderately busy intersection of Ellis and E Marginal Way S. The project is the result of a community-led effort that brought together three different city agencies. That is no small feat. Kudos to Duwamish Valley Safe Streets, who have been working for years to make this trail and park a reality.

Overview map of the full trail project.

Posted in news | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Outgoing Director Zimbabwe led SDOT through a very rough storm + Mayor-Elect Harrell outlines transportation vision

Sam Zimbabwe speak at a podium in front of a crowd with a walk/bike bridge behind him.

Sam Zimbabwe speaking at the opening of the John Lewis Memorial Bridge in Northgate.

It feels like Sam Zimbabwe never had the chance to lead the Department of Transportation without an emergency beyond his control dictating the work of the day. With the news that Mayor-Elect Bruce Harrell will not keep him on after the year’s end, Zimbabwe’s tenure as Director ends with some remarkable accomplishments considering the circumstances.

Zimbabwe arrived in Seattle in early 2019 to discover an agency in shambles and a city in the midst of major traffic and transit crunches downtown as buses were kicked out of the transit tunnel and the Alaskan Way Viaduct finally closed for good. He had essentially no role in planning these shutdowns, but he was in the big office when they happened. Oh, and there was a big snow storm in the middle of it all. Then shortly later he had to defend the Mayor’s decision to cut bike lanes from the repaved 35th Ave NE, which immediately put him in a tough spot with safe streets advocates who were already very frustrated with the total lack of progress on the city’s bike network since Mayor Durkan took office in 2018.

But things started to change under Zimbabwe’s leadership. Bike lane construction restarted, focused on connecting the downtown bike network. Morale at SDOT also seemed to improve (I don’t have any hard measurement of this, but it sure seemed like staff were happier than they were before).

Then COVID hit. Then in the early days of the pandemic shutdown, the West Seattle Bridge was discovered to be at risk of collapse and had to be closed indefinitely. It’s as though a decade worth of major city transportation challenges all hit during the first year of Zimbabwe’s tenure. Yet through it all, SDOT was still able to innovate solutions to make the city’s streets better for everyone. The department opened a series of Stay Healthy Streets, designed to clearly prioritize walking and biking while still allowing slow local car traffic. They also continued working on the downtown bike network, completing the final pieces of a protected bike route connecting from the Burke-Gilman Trail through the heart of downtown to the International District. You can see this route in action: Continue reading

Posted in news | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

Ballard Missing Link opponents file appeal against city’s scaled-back trail plan

Proposed cross-section of the Shilshole Ave NW section.

Example cross-section for Shilshole Ave NW, from SDOT.

As expected, longtime opponents of the Ballard Missing Link of the Burke-Gilman Trail have filed a complaint in King County Superior Court (PDF) challenging SDOT’s claim that their redesigned trail project is exempt from the State Environmental Policy Act (“SEPA”), the primary legal tool opponents have used to delay the 1.4-mile trail for two decades. Because SDOT anticipated an appeal, they built some legal delay time into their anticipated project construction timeline. If all goes well, the department hopes to begin construction in 2022 or 2023 and complete the project using the funds earmarked for this specific trail project in the voter-approved Move Seattle levy.

The latest trail design significantly scales back the previously planned package of roadway changes, especially along NW 45th Street between Shilshole Ave NW and Fred Meyer. Because the Ballard Terminal Railroad pursued action to block the city’s plans to realign the tracks, SDOT’s new design would leave them where they are, build the trail along the south side of the street, and maintain one-way travel for general traffic rather than reopening two-way traffic as was planned. This dramatically reduced the cost and scale of the project. The new design also decreased the planned trail width to ten feet plus a buffer. Added together, the total area of new pavement falls beneath the threshold for environmental review, SDOT says.

The appeal will test SDOT’s environmental review argument. The complaint also argues that SDOT needs a Shoreline Substantial Development Permit from the Shoreline Hearings Board and a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (“NPDES”) Construction Stormwater General Permit from the State Department of Ecology. As has proven effective in previous appeals, the new complaint throws a lot of different arguments at the city in hopes that at least one of them sticks. We will see how this one goes.

“It is unfortunate that legal challenges from special interest groups have delayed this important safety project for so many years,” SDOT spokesperson Ethan Bergerson told the Seattle Times, “and we believe this new plan will resolve this issue in court so we can finally move forward and give the bike, walking and rolling community a safe route to enjoy the treasure that is the Burke-Gilman trail.”

There are no new substantive arguments in the appeal. It’s all about legal technicalities at this point. Does the project exceed such and such criteria for this or that permit, etc. The latest court defeat for the trail also had nothing to do with the trail itself or even with SDOT. Instead, appellants somehow completed a legal Hail Mary by arguing that the then-Deputy Seattle Hearing Examiner Ryan Vancil had “violated the appearance of fairness doctrine” in making his decision about SDOT’s environmental impact statement. So years of court battles were erased on a technicality that had nothing to do with the trail design itself. With the prospect that redoing court battles would stretch beyond the expiration of the Move Seattle Levy, SDOT decided to pursue their simplified project instead.

The public debate portion of this project is long behind us, with the public very clearly advocating on behalf of the city’s planned Shilshole route for the trail. About 89% of people who commented on the city’s exhaustive environmental study and specified a preferred option said they supported the trail on Shilshole. Now it is simply up to the courts. Again.

Meanwhile, Washington Bike Law (Disclosure: Washington Bike Law advertises on Seattle Bike Blog, though they did not pay for this mention) is building a case representing people who have been significantly injured (broken bones, ligament damage, head injuries, anything requiring surgery, etc) due to the unsafe biking conditions along the Missing Link. They are encouraging people to get in touch if they have been injured while biking in the Missing Link area. Unfortunately, this applies to a lot people.

Posted in news | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Veo launches e-bike share in Seattle

Promotional photo of two poeople riding Veo bikes on a path.

Promo photo from Veo.

screenshot from Veo app showing bikes available in downtown seattle.

Veo bikes are live in Seattle. App available for iOS and Android.

A new bike share competitor has entered Seattle. Today, Chicago-based Veo is rolling out 500 e-bikes onto Seattle streets, the first legitimate bike share competitor to Lime since Lime acquired Jump in spring 2020.

Veo is launching its new Cosmo e-bikes, which are a pedal version of their sit-down electric scooter. Unlike the “pedelec” Lime/Jump bikes, which provide electric assist automatically as you pedal, the Veo Cosmo has a throttle similar to a scooter. So it’s sort of like the Wheels scooters already in operation in Seattle, except you have the option of pedaling in addition to the electric motor. If you have ever tried going up a long hill on a scooter, you can probably see how pedals could be a very welcome addition (I have yet to try Veo, so I can’t say for sure how they handle Seattle’s hills).

Veo’s pricing is also competitive, undercutting both Wheels and Lime by charging $1 to unlock plus 29¢ per minute (to promote their launch, they are waiving the $1 unlock and giving $5 of ride credit with promo code RIDESEA). For comparison, Lime charges $1 plus 36¢ per minute and Wheels charges $1 plus 39¢ per minute (with a $4 minimum). Saving 7–10¢ per minute can add up. A half-hour ride on Veo would be $9.70 compared to $11.80 on Lime or $12.70 on Wheels. Take 10 30-minute rides, and you’ve saved $21 to $30. It will interesting to see if other services lower their prices to match Veo.

Promo image of the Veo Cosmo bike

Promo image of the Veo Cosmo pedal bike.

Continue reading

Posted in news | Tagged , , , , | 9 Comments

Seattle Neighborhood Greenways reaches ten-year milestone

EDITOR’S NOTE: Caroline Carr is a student in UW’s News Lab program.

Seattle Neighborhood Greenways, celebrated 10 years of working towards a more walking and biking friendly Seattle last month.

Three groups from Beacon Hill, Wallingford and the Central District realized they were working towards the same goal in 2011, so they formed a nonprofit and began collaborating on larger citywide projects. The organization has since grown to encompass 15 smaller neighborhood committees that span from Lake City to Rainier Valley.

When it first began, the group focused around its namesake: neighborhood greenways. Greenways are streets with a low volume of vehicles where pedestrians and cyclists can feel more comfortable. Before they were introduced in Seattle, greenways were incorporated into cities like Vancouver and Portland. During its early days, the nonprofit was successful in their efforts to implement greenways in a few neighborhoods. From there, the organization expanded their goals to larger projects.

The organization contributed much to the 2014 Seattle Bicycle Master Plan, a large plan of how the city can better accommodate cyclists and allow bicycles to be a more safe and functional form of transportation. Safe bike lanes are integral to this plan, and over the years the goalposts have shifted from the mere existence of bike lanes to bike lanes that will tangibly make riders safer. Previously, the city painted skinny bike lanes and sharrows, or shared lane markings, that only demarcated the biking space but did not protect riders from the traffic beside them. The 2014 Bike Plan pushed for protected bike lanes. The city has since created plastic flex posts that provide the illusion of protection in some areas, along with adding more durable and protective concrete planter boxes alongside bike lanes.

The goal of these lanes and protective barriers is to protect riders while also serving to encourage more apprehensive riders. Executive Director Gordon Padelford explained that previously, the infrastructure was designed for a very narrow group of people that was thought to be mostly white, able-bodied, middle-aged men who were willing to bike in traffic. With a new, more inclusive vision, biking can be a more viable option for more demographics.

“The vast majority of people are not comfortable biking traffic,” He said. “If you want to make cycling more accessible and more useful to everyone, then you’ve got to implement things like trails, neighborhood greenways and protected bike lanes.”

One of the group’s newer initiatives is turning Seattle into a 15-minute city, where residents can reach all of their daily activities within 15 minutes by foot, bicycle or public transit. Robert Getch, co-chair of Beacon Hill Safe Streets, spoke about the recent expansion of public transit in Seattle, emphasizing the importance of transit for all aspects of life.

“I think the one mistake we have in a lot of people’s heads is that transit is for commuting and we really need it to be for everything.” Getch said. “I think high quality frequent trains really make that a possibility.”

Another goal that Seattle Neighborhood Greenways has been working towards is equity in traffic enforcement. Along with other organizations who are pushing to defund the Seattle Police Department, the organization hopes to shift the job of traffic enforcement from SPD to the Seattle Department of Transportation. Whose Streets? Our Streets! is a majority-BIPOC fronted group within Seattle Neighborhood Greenways that aims to review current laws regarding the use of public space and seek to make the streets safer for residents, specifically BIPOC who have been historically excluded from these conversations. With disparities in law enforcement in Seattle that disproportionately target people of color, residents have been supportive of policies that aim to remedy the issue. Staff at Seattle Neighborhood Greenways stated that the public has been supportive of shifting traffic enforcement responsibilities to SDOT.

“How can we make our streets safer for everyone and in a way that doesn’t involve the police and doesn’t criminalize poverty and rely on archaic, punitive measures?” Said Community Organizer Clara Cantor. “How can we make this supportive of our communities instead of detrimental?”

Looking out into the next 10 years, the organization is focusing on several different initiatives. Along with the 15-Minute City initiative and the traffic enforcement equity work, the organization hopes to advocate for a pedestrian-only street, a project the city has not carried out since the 1970s. Padelford described the pedestrian-only outdoor dining setups that popped up due to COVID-19 restrictions as a “successful experiment showing the way towards a better future.”

Regarding all of Seattle Neighborhood Greenways’ current and prior initiatives, Getch encourages his fellow Seattle residents to remember that none of our current infrastructure was done by accident.

“Everything is designed, everything was planned. We did this; we built giant roads, we put in parks,” He said. “It’s important to think about it because we designed it to be this way and it can be anything we really want it to be.”

Residents can learn more and get involved at the neighborhood or city-wide level by visiting Seattle Neighborhood Greenways’ website or contacting them directly at [email protected].

Posted in news | Tagged | Leave a comment

Watch: Biking from Gas Works to Pike Place using only trails, protected bike lanes and very slow streets

In the middle of the 2020 COVID shutdown, Seattle missed an opportunity to celebrate a remarkable achievement. With completion of the Bell Street protected bike lane and implementation of the Stay Healthy Street through the Bell Street Park, Seattle had fully connected a downtown protected bike route. For the first time, it became possible to bike all the way through the heart of downtown without needing to mix with car traffic.

Unfortunately, there was bigger news at the time, and many downtown workers were working from home. So this monumental achievement many years in the making went by without fanfare. But it’s still an incredible asset to our city, and one deserving of a belated celebration. Because there are a lot of people in our city who are not interested in mixing with cars in busy downtown traffic, and they may be very excited to learn that they no longer need to.

The protected bike route network through downtown keeps growing, with 4th Avenue now connected through Bell Street, providing a connection to City Hall. And the connection from 2nd Avenue to 5th Avenue in the International District brings the downtown network very close to the new Jose Rizal Bridge bike lanes to Beacon Hill and the Mountains to Sound Trail. The Pike Street bike lane are still missing a couple blocks near the Convention Center, but then they connect all the way to the Broadway Bikeway, which goes all the way to Yesler Terrace. It’s becoming a real network.

To highlight one example of what is now possible, I created this short video of a bike ride from Gas Works Park to Pike Place Market. The entire trip takes place on trails, protected bike lanes and very slow streets like the Bell Street Park and Pike Place. I think this route is viable for people of all ages and abilities. Think about that! This was barely a dream ten years ago. And thanks to an enormous amount of work by a lot of people, now it’s here.

Posted in news | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Survey: Seattle voters overwhelmingly support safe streets, bus lanes and bike lanes

Pie chart showing strong support for bike lanes.The vast majority of Seattle voters support the city’s safe streets efforts, including pedestrianized streets, on-street café seating, bus lanes and bike lanes. According to a recent survey commissioned by the Northwest Progressive Institute in partnership with Seattle Neighborhood Greenways, it’s not even close.

The survey, conducted online by Change Research (methodology), asked likely voters in Seattle how much they support various value statements, infrastructure changes and policy ideas. And the results are very vindicating for the city’s safe streets movement. Opinion is not actually very split about many concepts that people assume are controversial, such as bus lanes, bike lanes and even fully closing streets to cars. People are confidently for them. I wish we had survey results for these questions from 10 years ago, because I think public opinion has massively shifted.

Among the infrastructure questions, support for protected bike lanes was the most divided, but even those had 71% support versus 26% opposed. Of course that 26% can still be very loud, which is why organizing to support bike lane projects is still so important. But it is important to understand where the majority opinion lies.

Interestingly, people were also very supportive of moving traffic enforcement duties from the Seattle Police Department to the Seattle Department of Transportation. 73% supported the idea while only 17% opposed it (10% were not sure). Many instances of police violence start with a simple traffic stop, whether it’s “jaywalking” or biking without a helmet or driving with a broken taillight. It is very encouraging that Seattle is ready to make a dramatic change to the way we enforce traffic safety laws. I hope Mayor-Elect Bruce Harrell and the City Council see this result and are encouraged to take bold action.

From the Northwest Progressive Institute: Continue reading

Posted in news | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Watch: Fixing a flat the lazy way

Seattle Bike Blog does not usually do bike tutorial stuff. There are many other excellent YouTube channels and online resources if you want to learn about bike maintenance and such. However, the vast majority of YouTube fix-a-flat tutorials start by having you take off your wheel. There is an easier way.

So when I got a flat biking my kid to the playground recently, I figured that was a good opportunity to show you all my favorite method for fixing a flat. This method is easier than replacing the tube and chucking out the old one. It’s also a lot cheaper and saves a tube from going into a landfill. It is even easier than rolling your bike to a bike shop unless you just happen to be very close to one.

The total time for me to fix the flat and record this video was 15 minutes, and the total cost was 20 cents for the patch (assuming you already have levers and a pump). While you probably could remove the wheel, replace the tube and put it back on in less time, this method completely avoids dealing with the chain, the brakes, the quick quick release, and all the other frustrations that come with taking a wheel on and off. So I think this is the easiest method for fixing a flat, even (or especially) for beginners.

This method only works if the location of the puncture is obvious. If you pump up the flat tire and can hear air escaping from a puncture, then this method is perfect. If the hole is so big you can barely get it pumped up before it goes flat again, then the hole is too big to patch and you need a new tube. If it is a slow leak that goes flat overnight, then you will probably need to spend more time finding the hole and are best taking the wheel off. However, if you picked up a piece of glass in the middle of a ride, chances are good that this method will work.

What do you think?

Posted in news | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Vital E Marginal Way bike route to West Seattle is fully funded

Project design map.

Excerpt from the project design (PDF).

With $20 million in federal funding, Seattle now has enough money to complete a long-planned E Marginal Way rebuild in SODO. Final design is scheduled to be complete in early 2022, with work beginning later in the year. Construction should be complete by 2025.

The funded phase stretches from S Atlantic Street near T-Mobile Park to the West Seattle Bridge, and there is a continuous and protected bikeway the entire length connecting the downtown Alaskan Way Trail at the north and the West Seattle trail network at the south. Plans for a multi-use trail between the West Seattle Bridge and Diagonal Ave S in Georgetown have been moved to a later Phase 2.

The $20 million in federal funding comes from the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) program, and an additional $7.1 million comes from the Move Seattle Levy. The Port of Seattle and the Freight Mobility Strategic Investment Board will also contribute funds to the project.

“The grant funding will enable us to do both the safety improvements and the road reconstruction at the same time,” SDOT wrote in a press release. “This means that there will be fewer disruptions to freight traffic during construction.”

The project has such a high price tag primarily because the entire roadway will be reconstructed to accommodate heavy trucks from the Port. The existing sidewalk will also be reconstructed and brought up to accessibility codes. The new protected bike lane will travel along the east side of the roadway for most of the route. Between S Horton Street and the West Seattle Bridge, an additional two-way bikeway will travel along the west side of the street to connect the West Seattle trail network to the new bikeway.

If we zoom out a little bit, the implications of this project are remarkable. When combined with the under-construction downtown waterfront bikeway, the E Marginal Way bikeway would create a fully complete and protected bike route from Alki to downtown Seattle and beyond. If the waterfront bike lanes are indeed connected to the Elliott Bay Trail like they should be, then there will be a connection through Interbay to the Ship Canal Trail (and therefore the Burke-Gilman Trail) and the larger regional trail network. Then if the Duwamish Trail is finally connected to the Green River Trail, wow. In a few years, it should be feasible to bike more than 50 miles from the northern border of King County in Woodinville to the southern county line beyond Auburn almost entirely on trails or protected bike lanes. Suddenly, connecting the Foothills Trail in Pierce County to the Centennial Trail in Snohomish County feels within reach.

Combined with the EasTrail work underway over the next few years, the number of new additions and connections for the regional trail network are enormous. So many people have worked on so many different pieces of walking and biking improvements across the region, and they’re all coming together in the next few years. Get ready.

Posted in news | Tagged , , | 11 Comments

Action Alert: Eastlake Ave needs protection for planned bike lanes near U Bridge

Screenshot of the action alert website. Text: Protected Bike Lanes Are Needed for ALL of Eastlake Green Bike Lane at Eastlake and Fuhrman Avenue East, Seattle, WA | National Association of City Transportation Officials Designs for protected bike lanes along Eastlake are inching forward, but currently the physical protection between bikes and fast moving vehicles will stop one block short of the University Bridge, right where it’s needed most.

Screenshot of the Cascade action alert.

Today is the final day to submit comments on the revamped Environmental Assessment for the RapidRide J project, which includes a redesigned Eastlake Ave E. There are a lot of excellent improvements included in the project, which would finally build desperately-needed bike lanes on this vital bike route along the east side of Lake Union.

But the design is still sorely lacking at one of the most important places: The south end of the University Bridge. The current design would make essentially no improvements to the existing skinny, paint-only bike lanes. Perhaps more importantly, it would do little to improve the intersection with Fuhrman Ave E, which is an intersection of multiple bike routes. It is an excellent candidate for a protected intersection.

I talked about the lack of protection in this area in a long video about the Eastlake design plans back in early 2020 (starts at 15:49). There are definitely options for recapturing the space needed for protection here, the project team just needs to genuinely prioritize safety. The current design prioritizes car movement, which is not acceptable.

Today (November 22) is the last day to submit comments about the Supplemental Environmental Assessment for the project, and Cascade Bicycle Club has a handy online tool you can use to voice your support for better bike lanes on this block. Seattle Neighborhood Greenways is also calling for more protection on this block. Here’s the text of Cascade’s sample letter:

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the Supplemental Environmental Assessment for the RapidRide J-Line. I am writing to request that protected bike lanes extend along the full length of Eastlake Ave E, including between Harvard Ave E and Fuhrman Ave E.

This project and its accompanying multi-modal improvements serve an important role in connecting major hubs of our city, and we want to ensure its implementation improves safety and mobility for all people biking, walking, rolling, and taking transit in this area.

The protected bike lanes along Eastlake Avenue fill an essential missing connection for people traveling between the University District, Eastlake, and downton and to the homes and businesses along the way.

However, I am concerned to see that the lane protection currently ends prematurely at Harvard Avenue. This means that for the last block of Eastlake, people on bikes are required to ride on a striped bike lane, with no physical protection from vehicles. Dropping the protected bike lane in this area is especially concerning due to the volume of vehicle traffic that travels at high speeds in connection with the I-5 highway on-ramp.

Bike routes are only as comfortable as their scariest section, and dropping the protection for people riding bikes in the most dangerous intersection will deter even experienced riders and will not encourage new riders. It also presents a real safety risk for vulnerable road users, at a time when the number of people losing their lives while walking and biking in our city is going up, not down. Fully protected bike lanes are critical for maintaining safety throughout the entire corridor, creating better bike network connections, and ultimately increasing ridership.

Every effort should be made to increase the utility, safety, connectivity, and attractiveness of the city’s bike network to make bicycling a viable option for more people, and more trips. We appreciate the work that has been done to this point to plan for a designated bike route along the Eastlake corridor: there is much to like about the designs to date. With a small fix to this one block section, Seattle will have another world-class bikeway that prioritizes safety.

Thank you for prioritizing the safety of vulnerable road users in this project.

Posted in news | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Hey District 3, vote NO on the Kshama Sawant recall

This election is only open to voters who live in Seattle’s City Council District 3 (PDF map), encompassing Capitol Hill, the Central District, and some surrounding areas. If your registration is up-to-date, you should have received your ballot in the mail this week. You can check the status of your registration or update your address via the King County Elections My Voter Information website. That site also has a tab for “December 2021 Recall Election,” which will tell you if your address is included.

District 3 map.

Detailed District 3 map (PDF).

Even if you don’t like Kshama Sawant’s politics, District 3 voters should say NO to the special recall election underway now through December 7.

Recalling her would set a terrible precedent to set for our city’s elected government system. Sawant won the 2019 election, and was elected to serve a full four-year term. People who don’t like that’s she’s a socialist or whatever can support a different candidate in 2023. That’s how our city democracy works.

There is too much real work to do in our city to spend a ton of energy on mid-term recall elections like this. A recall is a BREAK GLASS IN CASE OF EMERGENCY kind of tool for when the public has no other means to prevent an elected official from further harming our city or as a response to a particularly egregious malfeasance. None of this applies to Sawant.

The supposed “charges” that form the legal basis for the recall are very flimsy. For example, she used City Hall printers to print materials supporting a Tax Amazon ballot initiative that never happened. This was not an appropriate use of public printers, but she owned up to the mistake and paid a fine. Don’t tell me you’re going to recall our most senior  Councilmember over the use of a printer. Other charges say she participated in a summer 2020 protest march that went by the Mayor’s house and she opened the City Hall doors to another protest group. I would say that supporting protests against police brutality was a good thing for a Councilmember to do, and opening the doors of City Hall to the marching public was an effective and way to make her point that our city government belongs to the people. Even if you don’t agree with her tactics, these are not reasons to recall a Councilmember.

Seattle Bike Blog has endorsed Sawant many times. She is the senior member of the Council, and she has been a consistently positive vote for biking and safe streets efforts. But again, these aren’t even the most compelling reasons to vote NO. This election is not asking whether you like her politics, it’s asking whether we need to disrupt our government and the four-year term cycle in order to cast out someone who was legitimately elected in 2019.

Additionally, it is concerning and undemocratic for the recall campaign purposefully delay submitting their signatures until after the deadline to put the issue on the higher-turnout general election ballot in November. They are hoping that fewer people vote because then they have a better chance of sidestepping the younger voters who have long been strong Sawant supporters. If they were really so concerned about harm from Sawant’s ongoing presence on Council they would have tried to get the recall onto the ballot as soon as possible. Instead, they delayed in an expensive effort to get a less democratic process. No voter should support these tactics.

Vote NO.

Posted in news | Tagged , | 25 Comments

Green Lake bikeway would help restore the original Olmsted park plan

“The Aurora Avenue extension, if authorized by the voters, must be paid for not in money alone, but in the blood of the children who are entitled, first to safe passage to their schools and second, to safety in their parks—a thing which this speedway would absolutely deny.” — Front page editorial in The Seattle Times, November 2, 1930.

1930 map arguing against the Aurora Extension.

From a front page editorial in The Seattle Times, November 2, 1930 (PDF).

Despite the rather desperate pleas from residents in Fremont, Wallingford and Green Lake as well as the entire Seattle Park Board and The Seattle Times, King County voters in 1930 approved plans to extend Aurora Avenue through Woodland Park and along the planned pathway for Green Lake Way. The decision set in motion the creation of a pseudo-freeway that destroyed hundreds of homes, divided Woodland Park, separated neighborhoods and become the most deadly street in Seattle. We are still dealing with the negative consequences of this decision to this day.

But a small, relatively low-budget project currently in development could help fix at least one of the many problems the Aurora Extension created by reconnecting the biking and walking loop around Green Lake. The west side of Green Lake is baffling to new riders trying to navigate their way around the lake. The bike route just sort of disappears, dead-ending into a freeway. The only option is to take the very busy path around the lake, but signs say anyone with wheels can only go one-way. A one-way bike route doesn’t work. What is going on here?

The problem is that in addition to digging a trench through Woodland Park, the Aurora Extension also demolished the west segment of Green Lake Boulevard, which was a vital part of the Olmsted Brothers’ design for the park.

1910 Olmsted map of Green Lake showing a full boulevard loop.

1910 Olmsted Brothers plan for Green Lake Boulevard.

SDOT’s Green Lake Outer Loop project, urged by a community campaign by the Green Lake and Wallingford Safe Streets group, would utilize an extra lane on Aurora to complete the two-way bike route around the lake. SDOT’s plan is to install a jersey barrier to protect the bikeway from highway traffic, then connect the bikeway to the recently-completed bikeways at the north and southwest sections of the lake.

The project team is collecting feedback on the idea via an online survey that you should definitely complete.

Below is a look at the plan for the Aurora section of the bikeway and three options for West Green Lake Drive N. Continue reading

Posted in news | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments