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  • Alert 10/7–14: Spokane Street Swing Bridge to West Seattle will be closed again

    Top-down diagram of the swing bridge mechanism, which includes two turn cylinders next to a larger central lift cylinder.
    The upcoming closure is to install a repaired turn cylinder. Image from SDOT.

    Seattle’s least reliable bridge will be unusable for a week from October 7 through 14, creating a major headache for people who walk or bike between West Seattle and mainland Seattle.

    The bridge will need to remain in the open-to-sea configuration while crews replace the faulty turn cylinder that was removed during the previous unexpected closure at the start of the year. Unfortunately, the other three turn cylinders and the control system will also need maintenance soon, so more closures are on the horizon over the next two years but are not yet scheduled.

    The King County Water Taxi is running on a 7-day schedule, and the vessel can hold up to 26 bikes. Seattle is covering one round trip on the water taxi per day during the bridge closure if you buy your ticket on the Transit Go app using the rewards code LOWBRIDGE. Learn more in the SDOT Blog post about the closure.

    A truck passes a line of cones. Downtown Seattle is in the background.
    1st Ave S on January 5, 2023. SDOT is not planning a similar temporary bike lane this time.
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  • Join a celebration for the new Rainier Valley Greenway connector path

    Rainier Valley Greenways-Safe Streets and SDOT are hosting a community celebration of the long-awaited pathway connecting the I-90 Trail in Sam Smith Park to the start of the Rainier Valley Neighborhood Greenway at 28th Ave S.

    There will be a community walk at 4:15 p.m. Tuesday (September 26) starting at College Street Park followed by a gathering along the I-90 trail at 4:45.

    The new connection may be short, but it was a major headache to get it completed. This tiny trail dramatically improves the usability of the route, linking it with major regional bike routes. You can learn more about the history of the project in our previous post.

    More details:

    Event flier with an illustration of the full greenway route and event details. Includes Seattle Neighborhood Greenways and SDOT logos.
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  • This is the right time for CM Morales’ proposed sidewalk ordinance

    Pie chart of sidewalk conditions identified in the 2018 assessment. 60% are noted as height differences.
    A 2018 sidewalk assessment report found a lot of deficiencies with the city’s existing sidewalks.

    When Seattle invests in a major road repair project, the city does not always repair the adjacent sidewalks or build new sidewalks if they are missing. Councilmember Tammy Morales has proposed an ordinance that would fix this glaring omission, requiring that “the construction project shall include an evaluation of existing sidewalk conditions and correct any deficiencies identified in the evaluation that are within the major paving project,” according to the proposed ordinance text.

    Obviously, this added work would not be free. But there’s no ethical argument for making improvements for people driving while leaving the sidewalks in disrepair. Adding sidewalk assessment, repair and construction work to major paving projects will increase the per-mile cost of the projects, but it’s the right thing to do. Seattle should simply price it into the next transportation funding measure that will replace the expiring Move Seattle levy at the end of 2024.

    “Just like we can expect our city to build and maintain roads, the same should be true for our sidewalk network,” wrote Disability Right Washington in a letter of support.

    Additionally, repairing sidewalks will be an extremely popular sales pitch to voters, who all have personal experience navigating chunks of Seattle sidewalk heaved comically out of place thanks to a nearby tree root. A 2018 sidewalk assessment study (PDF) found 11,000 blocks that are missing sidewalks and 154,000 instances of sidewalk “deficiencies.” The most common deficiency is the familiar “height difference” issue. The worst deficiency, however, is a sidewalk that’s missing entirely. At our current rate of about 27 blocks of sidewalk per year, it will take 407 years before every street in Seattle has a sidewalk. Voters will certainly agree 407 is too many years.

    In addition to requiring sidewalk work as part of major road projects, the ordinance would also direct SDOT to assess nearby sidewalk conditions when conducting smaller projects and prioritize sidewalk repair and construction if the location meets certain conditions. For example, if the location is along a school, park or transit access route or if “the absence of a sidewalk substantially impairs pedestrian movement” within the project boundary. This section does not outright mandate such work, but perhaps it could insert sidewalk work into the department’s regular workflow when it goes out to make patch jobs and other smaller fixes to the streets.

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  • Bellevue seeks feedback on 11 bike projects, part of a less incremental approach to making bike improvements

    Map of all 11 projects.

    Rather than going project-by-project to build one-off bike projects, Bellevue is currently planning a more comprehensive and less incremental approach. The Eastside city is currently seeking feedback on what they are calling “Bike Bellevue,” a network of 11 projects that will build on existing work to create a connected network of bike routes in and near the city center and Spring District.

    You can learn more about each of the proposed projects and submit feedback via their online survey.

    Not only are many of these projects very promising, but approaching them as a network rather than single projects in isolation is smart. It puts each project in context rather than engaging the community about each individual and incomplete piece of what might some day be part of a network.

    Bike Bellevue did not come out of nowhere, though. It’s based on more than a decade of previous planning as well as the city’s adopted strategic plan, as the city notes in the project description:

    Bike Bellevue is the next step in improving the safety, connectivity and comfort of the bicycle network in the city. It builds on planning undertaken through the 2009 Pedestrian and Bicycle Transportation Plan, the 2016 Bicycle Rapid Implementation Program, the 2020 Vision Zero Strategic Plan and the 2022 Mobility Implementation Plan. These past efforts informed the council-approved project principles, which the Transportation Commission’s guide in developing Bike Bellevue.

    The overall goal is to “allow people to travel on a dedicated network of bicycle facilities throughout the project area, greatly expanding access between homes, transit, jobs and recreation.” The improvements also target the city’s “high injury network,” which are the streets where most of the deaths and injuries occur. When all the projects are complete, about half of the city’s current high-injury streets will have “a bicycle network improvement,” according to the project description. That’s up from 13% today.

    The survey includes project information about each of the 11 projects, complete with photo-realistic concept images. You can also look at the design concept diagrams for the projects and leave a comment about a specific location in the plan, which is pretty neat. Below is a quick look at all 11 projects. You can find their number on the map above. Click on the project name to go to that segment’s survey page.

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  • Alert: PSE working on Interurban Trail in Auburn/Algona

    Starting today, Puget Sound Energy crews will be working along the Interurban Trail between 37th Street NW in Auburn and the Boeing Auburn facility near 5th Ave N in Algona. The trail should generally be open, but crews will close it as needed while installing utility poles. Flaggers will instruct trail users on what to do.

    Unfortunately, there’s no schedule for when these closure will occur, and there is no established detour route. PSE also does not yet know when construction will end.

    My biggest concern would be any closures near SR-18 where the alternatives to the trail are extremely concerning. C Street, the nearest detour option, is a scary mess of freeway ramps that is not bike-friendly. There is a skinny and almost hidden walking path squeezed between the highways ramps and the railway that connects a bus stop on C Street south of SR-18 with the Sounder Station parking lot north of the highway, but I’m not confident trail users would find this without the help of detour signage. Even if a rider does find this path, there are still significant challenges for navigating back to the trail that I’m not sure people will find on their own without help or previous knowledge of the area. I strongly suggest that PSE crews never fully close this part of the trail. Holding folks for a few minutes until flaggers can let them through safely would be much better than sending people on a very dangerous mission to find a way to cross SR-18. If a closure cannot be avoided, trail users will need assistance finding a reasonable detour.

    As a side note, perhaps it should not be this dangerous and confusing to walk or bike across SR-18.

    The first I heard of this work was from a recent phone call from a reader who noticed some markings on the trail but was having trouble figuring out what was going to happen. I didn’t receive an official notice of the work until Friday afternoon for work scheduled to begin Monday morning (today). This does not give people enough time to plan, and it also does not give folks the time needed to work with PSE to find a workable detour plan.

    Map of the area with the closure marked between 37th Street NW and a point south of 15th Street SW.
    Map from PSE.

    More details from PSE:

    Due to public safety, sections of trail where crews are working will be closed when setting poles or moving trucks/equipment. Flaggers will be on the trail to direct people around the work area. No detours are available, but the trail will remain open when not actively installing poles. 

    Please follow all posted signs and directions from crews. Plan for extra time and/or alternate routes. We will share construction end dates as soon as they become available. 

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  • Seattle is testing an electric bike lane sweeper

    A street sweeper in a Seattle bike lane.
    Photo from SDOT.

    OK Broomer is starting to look like a boomer compared to the all-electric eSwingo 200+ bike lane sweeper SDOT is currently renting. The new style of sweeper is part of the city’s goal of electrifying as many city vehicles and machines as it can.

    Tenting before buying is wise because while the sweeper is rated for 10 hours of operation per charge, that figure is based on operation on flat roads. And Seattle, well, our streets are rarely flat.

    “One of SDOT’s goals is to determine the product’s operational capacity as it navigates the complex topography within Seattle,” SDOT noted in a blog post. “This will include assessments of the demand for sweeping, maintenance needs, charging time, charge hold, and durability in inclement weather.”

    The rental period will go through the fall and winter when Seattle’s wonderful street trees drop an enormous volume of leaves onto the city’s bike lanes. So electric or not, it will be great to have more sweeping capacity available.

    It the machine passes the Seattle test, it will be much quieter while also releasing zero emissions. While its reduced size is very useful for clearing protected bike lanes, it will surely also be useful for many other jobs.

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Bike Events Calendar

6:00 pm Ballard-Fremont Greenways Meeting
Ballard-Fremont Greenways Meeting
Sep 27 @ 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm
Ballard-Fremont Greenways meets monthly on the 4th Wednesday of the month. Join the google group for monthly meeting information: https://groups.google.com/g/ballard-greenwaysBring your enthusiasm and ideas to share with the group or just stop in to say hello … Read more
6:00 pm NE Seattle Greenways Meeting
NE Seattle Greenways Meeting
Sep 27 @ 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm
7:15 pm Point83 @ Westlake Park
Point83 @ Westlake Park
Sep 28 @ 7:15 pm
Point83 @ Westlake Park
Meet up in the center of the park at 7ish. Leave at 730. Every Thursday from now until forever rain or shine. Bikes, beers, illegal firepits, nachos, bottlerockets, timetraveling, lollygagging, mechanicals, good times.ShareMastodonTwitterFacebookRedditEmail
all-day Reach the Beach Washington Cycle… @ Lacey, Washington
Reach the Beach Washington Cycle… @ Lacey, Washington
Sep 30 all-day
Reach the Beach Washington welcomes riders from across the PNW on September 30, 2023 to enjoy a fast and flat century ride starting in Lacey, WA and ending with a celebration on the beach in … Read more
10:00 am Beacon Hill Safe Streets Family … @ Beacon Hill Library
Beacon Hill Safe Streets Family … @ Beacon Hill Library
Sep 30 @ 10:00 am
Beacon Hill Safe Streets Family Bike Parade @ Beacon Hill Library | Seattle | Washington | United States
Join us for a family bike Parade from the Beacon Hill Library to Jefferson Park playground! There will be bike decorating, snacks, drinks, and more. We’ll be hosting a slow, family paced bike ride starting … Read more
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