Will Mayor Durkan meet the City Council’s downtown bike lane 2019 deadline? – UPDATED

From a March 19 presentation to the City Council Transportation Committee (PDF).

SDOT will update the City Council Transportation and Sustainability Committee today on the progress (or lackthereof) on the downtown Basic Bike Network.

The City Council passed a resolution last summer calling on SDOT and Mayor Jenny Durkan to complete key sections of the downtown bike network by the end of 2019, including Pike/Pine, 8th and 9th Avenues, King Street, a south downtown connection and a segment of 12th Ave (see the resolution’s bike lanes in orange in the map above). The presentation notes that Pike/Pine and a south end connection are on target for December (so, as late as possible to meet the resolution), but does not include an update on the rest of the projects.

UPDATE: SDOT’s Jim Curtin told the committee Tuesday that the city had reached a “breakthrough” on 8th and 9th Avenues that will allow construction to start in the third quarter of this year. The biggest hangup for building the south downtown connection is Metro bus layover space, he said. And he noted that the stretch of 12th Ave between Yesler and King “will be very difficult.” You can watch the update via Seattle Channel (starts around the 34:20 mark).

The mayor and SDOT have nearly stopped building bike lanes, especially downtown. The only downtown bike lane to open under Mayor Durkan’s watch was already under construction before she took office. The City Council’s resolution last summer was essentially an attempt to remind her that the bike network is a Council and voter-approved priority. After years of bike network delays, SDOT would need to dramatically increase bike lane construction to catch up to the progress promised to voters who approved the Move Seattle levy.

The Mayor has already blown her chance to have a downtown bike network in operation before the city’s major transit and highway changes began earlier this year. The plans, funding, Council and voter support were all ready, but she chose to stop it. Even without a bike network, biking helped absorb a lot of trips during the initial Viaduct closure. This happened because neighbors got organized and people took it on themselves to bike despite her administration’s clear disinterest in helping people do so. And now that buses are due to be kicked out of the transit tunnel, another transportation crunch is about to begin. And once again, the mayor will have done essentially nothing to help more people shift to biking.

Has the number of people biking during these downtown transportation crunches inspired the Mayor’s Office to rethink their anti-biking stance? Will they rise to the challenge the City Council unanimously set last summer by building a connected skeleton of a downtown bike network by the end of 2019?

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Update on transportation bills in Olympia: What’s dead and what’s still got a chance

Non-budgetary bills in the Washington legislature had until yesterday to pass in at least one chamber in order to remain on track for passage into law. We wrote about a few transportation-related efforts Tuesday, so how did they do?

Well, it’s a mixed bag. Heidi Groover has a longer list over at the Seattle Times. Below are some highlights:

  • DEADHB 1793 – Bill to allow automated enforcement of illegal bus lane driving and “blocking the box.” Disability rights group Rooted in Rights has done a great job leading on this bill, including this fantastic video explaining the need. A combination of resistance to traffic cameras and worries about unequal enforcement did it in. Failure possibly shows the need for more intersectional organizing to promote automated enforcement as a better and more fair alternative to police enforcement. This felt very close, and it was very cool to see Rooted in Rights and Transportation Choices Coalition team up the way they did to promote it. It didn’t win this time, but they made a powerful team. Also, the next version should also look into including bike lane blockages along with bus lanes and “blocking the box.”
  • ALIVE: SB 5723/HB 1966 – Revising the Vulnerable Road User Law. We wrote about this bill in depth earlier this week. It is way ahead of schedule, with both the House and Senate already passing companion versions of the bill. One of these two bills still needs approval by the other chamber, but the Senate vote was unanimous and the House vote was 61–36. So this is looking very good.
  • DEAD: SB 5104 – Prohibit local jurisdictions from imposing tolls. This is essentially the state trying to make sure no community can experiment with congestion pricing.
  • DEAD: SB 5299 – A DUI could become a felony if the offender has had three or more DUIs within 15 years, five years longer than the current ten years.
  • ALIVE: HB 1772 – Update definitions and add regulation details for electric foot scooters. It is way ahead, having already passed the House 85–13. It still needs Senate approval.
  • ALIVE: SB 5971, SB 5972, SB 5970 – These bills make up the $16 billion transportation package Senator Hobbs has proposed. As the Urbanist has reported, this package is filled with highways, even leveling a carbon fee to pay for them. This is all backwards, since transportation and highways are a top cause of greenhouse gas emissions in our state. And don’t get me started on the proposed bicycle tax (that will need to be the subject of a longer post…). This package should die and come back in a future session in a form that invests in building a better future rather than the gas-powered highway vision of the last century. As a budgetary package, it operates on a difference schedule than the other bills. So even though it still has not passed either chamber, it is still alive.
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Mountains to Sound Greenway is now a National Heritage Area

The Mountains to Sound Greenway, a huge swath of land surrounding I-90 from Seattle to Ellensburg, has been designated a National Heritage Area.

This designation could qualify the area for National Park Service funding to the tune of $150,000 to $750,000 per year, the Seattle Times reports. As the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust wrote in a press release, this funding could help:

  • Amplify our rich history and natural heritage on a national stage
  • Increase visibility for the Greenway’s communities through an enhanced sense of place and importance
  • Encourage ecological restoration across multiple jurisdictions and watersheds
  • Grow funding opportunities through private and public partnerships
  • Promote regional tourism and attract new economic opportunities

OK, maybe we need to take a moment to clarify what’s what here, since the term “Mountains to Sound” is used in a lot of different ways and can be confusing. The Mountains to Sound Greenway is 1.5 million acres encompassing much of King and Kittias Counties including Seattle. The Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust is a non-profit organization that works to “conserve and enhance the landscape from Seattle across the Cascade Mountains to Central Washington, ensuring a long-term balance between people and nature,” according to their mission statement. The Trust was a leading partner in the campaign to have this area designated as a National Heritage Area. The Mountains to Sound Trail is the name of an incomplete trail that more or less follows the path of I-90, also commonly known in sections as the “I-90 Trail.” So while people in many parts of the country refer to such a “trail” as “greenway,” the Mountains to Sound Greenway is massively bigger in scope than just the Mountains to Sound Trail.

Here’s a map of the Greenway:

Map of the Mountains to Sound Greenway National Heritage Area, from the MTS Greenway Trust.

Continue reading

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A look at some transportation bills still working through the WA legislature

So Washington Democrats have both legislative chambers and the Governor’s Office for the first time in a while, so what does that mean for transportation?

Well, some great things are moving forward, but so are some pretty not-so-great things. As the session nears its vital halfway point, Heidi Groover at the Seattle Times put together a handy transportation bill tracker to see what’s still alive. Check out the Times story for the full rundown. I’ll highlight a few below.

Non-budgetary bills typically need to pass at least one chamber by 5 p.m. Wednesday in order to stay alive. After this deadline, the chambers shift to working on amending and passing bills that have already passed in the other chamber. So if you see something in the list you care about (either in favor or against) that has not yet been approved by the Senate or House, now’s the time to contact your legislators. The bill must say “Approved by House” or “Approved by Senate,” approval by a committee is not enough.

Here are a few highlights:

Continue reading

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Bill moves forward to strengthen ‘Vulnerable User Law,’ revise road sharing rules

$42.

That’s the “unsafe lane change” ticket a teenager received for striking and killing John Przychodzen while he biked in the shoulder of Kirkland’s Juanita Drive in 2011. Authorities claimed that because they couldn’t prove he was driving recklessly, the $42 ticket was all they could give.

That $42 ticket became a rallying cry for a change in state law to increase penalties for negligent, but not criminal, driving that resulted in a serious injury or death of a “vulnerable road user,” such as people walking, biking, riding an animal, using farm equipment, etc. The $42 became a symbol of the slap on the wrist too often given to people responsible for death or injury on our roads. It also became a symbol for the slap in the face victims and/or loved ones feel when they have to watch those responsible receive few or no repercussions.

But in the seven years since the law passed, law enforcement and prosecutors have not been regularly using it as was intended. So advocates such as Washington Bikes and lawmakers are working this session to pass a revised version of the law that increases penalties and makes them mandatory, putting the increased fines into a new “vulnerable roadway user education account.”  In the process, the bill also revises the laws around various road use responsibilities, including many biking and driving interactions.

The Senate already passed SSB 5723 (sponsored by Senators Randall, Saldaña, Liias, Rolfes, Billig, and Nguyen) with a unanimous 48–0 vote (PDF). It is currently in the House Transportation Committee.

Currently, state law basically just says that someone driving a car must pass someone biking “at a safe distance.” The new bill would attempt to clarify that by stating: Continue reading

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JUMP now reaches city limits, undercuts Lime by $1

Previous service areas are outlined in blue and red dashes. Image from JUMP.

After adding more bikes and changing its fare structure this week, JUMP’s red bikes now reach all of Seattle and cost $1 less to ride than Lime’s green and yellow bikes.

JUMP initially launched Seattle service in November with a limited coverage area that excluded most of South Seattle, but quickly expanded to reach most of the city south of Green Lake in December. Now the Uber-owned service has expanded to the city limits while also challenging Lime on price.

Both services charge $0.15 per minute to ride their e-assist bikes, but JUMP has removed the $1 unlock fee that Lime still charges.

Removing the unlocking fee is great news for a couple reasons. For one, it opens the next chapter in price competition for the free-floating shared bike services in Seattle. But it also removes a barrier to using the service for short trips or for chaining bike share and transit together.

While the $1 unlocking fee is not exorbitant, it does make very short rides make less sense. Bike share is very effective at turning 15-minute walks into five-minute bike rides, but paying $1 for every little five-minute bike ride really adds up when you get into the habit. Biking to and from a grocery store that is only five minutes away turns into a $2.75 round trip, same as a transit fare that is good for two hours. But without the $1 unlock fee, the same grocery store round-trip costs only $1.50, which feels more appropriate for a neighborhood grocery run.

Removing the $1 unlock fee also makes it more sensible to string bike share and transit together because you don’t have to pay that $1 twice for the same leg of a trip. With the unlock fee, biking five minutes to a bus then another five minutes to get from the bus to your destination costs as much as the bus fare itself. For a round trip, the bike costs would be $5.50. That really adds up if you are relying on these kinds of multimodal connections daily, even though your total time using the bikes is pretty short.

Paying by the minute is also just simpler. You pay for what you use no matter how you work the bikes into your trips. The $1 unlock fee feels sort of like an artifact from docked bike systems (like Pronto) that charge a fee by the half hour. There have been many times I have chosen not to take bike share because it didn’t make sense to pay that amount for such a short ride. I am lazy, and I would gladly bike to save a few minutes of walking. So while removing the $1 fee might mean companies take a hit on some trips, there are likely more trips to be gained elsewhere.

It will be interesting to see how Lime responds, since that company now has many different options that all cost $1 to unlock (bikes and cars in Seattle, but also scooters elsewhere). Continue reading

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Family of Derek Blaylock files suit against city, Sound Transit and contractors after 2016 death near Northgate Station

Derek and his sons at the Tour de France. Photo courtesy of Jane Blaylock.

Derek Blaylock drove his son to school the morning of September 21, 2016, then grabbed his bike and rode to Northgate Transit Center to catch a bus to work. On the way home, he was biking from the transit center along 1st Ave NE next to a construction barrier set up for work on the Northgate Station when Kevin Brewer struck and killed him. Brewer was sentenced to more than six years in prison for vehicular homicide.

I had the chance to sit down with Jane Blaylock a year after her husband’s death to learn more about him. She described a loving father of two who was quick with witty one-liners, was a master at cooking meat and usually preferred to avoid the spotlight. I encourage readers to read that profile if you haven’t already.

Blaylock’s death was devastating to his friends and family, of course. But making matters worse, the person who killed him should not have been on the road at all after a long history of dangerous driving that included killing one person.

Brewer had previously killed Nicole Cheek, a grandmother walking along the side of a road in Marysville, in 2008. He left Cheek on the side of the road, where she was not discovered for another hour. He later turned himself in a pleaded guilty, saying he fell asleep. He served three and a half years for Cheek’s death, but investigators found that “[b]etween 2007 and 2016, Brewer was responsible for at least 10 collisions in which the driving behavior was consistent with that of a driver impaired by alcohol or drugs, or by a fatigued/drowsy driver” according to court charging documents.

On that terrible day in 2016, Brewer was driving southbound on 1st Ave NE behind Blaylock when he veered off the road around NE 95th Street and up the side of the construction Jersey barrier. This is when he struck and killed Blaylock, who was trapped between the truck and the barrier.

Brewer is named in a wrongful death lawsuit filed recently by Blaylock’s estate, of course, but so are Sound Transit, the City of Seattle and a list of contractors working on the Northgate Station project (JCM Northlink, Jay Dee Contractors, Frank Coluccio Construction Company, Michels Corporation and North Star Seattle Runnel and Rail).

The lawsuit alleges that removal of the shoulder and placement of a concrete barrier and raised asphalt berm “degraded the safety of 1st Ave NE for southbound bicyclists in particular.” The suit also alleges that degrading an established bike route in this way “created a need for properly placed signs and reasonably safe detour routes for bicyclists.” The suit also alleges that a 2013 traffic control plan required bike detour signs away from southbound 1st Ave NE, but that those signs were not in place when the collision occurred.

The suit seeks unspecified “economic and non-economic damages.”

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Chrystal Barber sentenced to 7.5 years for hit-and-run killing of Alex Hayden

Photo of Alex Hayden from a GoFundMe campaign set up to support his family.

Chrystal Barber, 51, was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison after she pleaded guilty to striking and killing Alex Hayden, 50, with her aunt’s red pickup truck on Rainier Ave S last July. After veering into the bike lane and hitting Hayden from behind, Barber kept driving, dragging his bike down the Skyway section of the street.

Hayden was a photographer and father of two. His wife Susan spoke about his last day during the sentencing hearing, Neal McNamara at Patch reported:

When it was Susan Hayden’s turn to address [King County Superior Court Judge Laura] Inveen, she talked about the day her husband went out on his last bike ride. He finished up some household chores and then announced he was going to enjoy the rest of that sunny day doing something he loved.

Reflecting on the possibility that Barber could spend almost a decade in a jail, she told Inveen that she would gladly wait that long if it meant Alex would come back.

“I would like to keep my community safe,” she said. “Maybe she can’t get better.”

Continue reading

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CHS: City wants to install electric car charger in future path of Broadway bikeway

Base image: SDOT’s Broadway bikeway and streetcar extension plans. As noted, the proposed car charger would be directly in the path of the bikeway.

Seattle is about to invest to build a public car charger directly in the path of the on-hold Broadway Bikeway extension north or Denny Way.

Once complete, people biking northbound in the Broadway protected bike lane would need to merge into mixed traffic at Denny Way to go around a parked electric car using the city’s charging station. And neither Seattle City Light nor SDOT seem concerned about this conflict, as Capitol Hill Seattle reports:

“In the absence of a bike lane currently, we believe this is a great location for an electric vehicle charging station,” Scott Thomsen, spokesperson for City Light tells CHS. “Should there come a time, we will be able to move our infrastructure.”

The Seattle Department of Transportation describes the situation a little differently.

“We do not believe installation of a charging station would preclude future bike lanes,” a spokesperson tells CHS. “Assuming a charging station is installed on Broadway, we would work with our partners at SCL to determine how to design a (protected bike lane) around it or shift the charging station to accommodate when the time came.”

The Broadway Bikeway extension is at the 90 percent design phase, which is essentially shovel-ready. It was initially scheduled for 2016, but has been put on hold due to a lack of funding for the associated streetcar extension. The design does not have on-street parking next to the charger location, but it does have parking space across the street as shown in the image above.

You can learn more and provide feedback at an open house 6 p.m. March 6 at Seattle Central College’s Broadway Edison Building in Room 1110. If you can’t make the open house, you can also contact the project team: Continue reading

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Learn about the future of Mercer Island’s Mountains to Sound Trail at Thursday open house

The Mercer Island Parks Department is creating a master plan for Aubrey Davis Park, including the Mountains to Sound Trail, and they are looking for public feedback.

Their open house got snowed out, so the rescheduled event is 6–8 p.m. tomorrow (Thursday) at the Mercer Island Community and Event Center (map) in Luther Burbank Park. You can also comment via their online open house through March 8. But be prepared, it’s pretty long.

The online open house shows a handful of potential trail design options depending on the location, and all of them would be 12 to 14 feet in width plus some gravel buffer:

Today, the trail is mostly lovely except for the stretch along the town center, where it crosses in front of driveways with poor visibility and crosses streets in crosswalks that could use improvement. Signals that separate trail and turn phases could be a good addition, as would better walk signal timing and bike detection. Elements of protected intersections could also work well here to make biking and walking more comfortable. The stretch of trail that passes through the transit center bus stops is also a bit awkward and could use more separation from the walking and waiting spaces.

More details on the open houses, from Mercer Island Parks: Continue reading

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Man killed biking across Rainier Ave, suspect in white sedan fled the scene

The 9200 block of Rainier includes this curve just south of the Safeway and Rainier Beach Branch Library. Image from Google Maps.

A man biking across Rainier Ave was killed Monday evening when someone driving a white sedan struck him and fled the scene, according to Seattle Police. The suspect is still on the loose.

The man’s identity and age have not been released. Our condolences to his friends and family.

Police said in a blotter post that the victim was riding his bike across Rainier Ave S in the 9200 block, which includes a wide curve in the busy and notoriously dangerous street just south of the Safeway and Rainier Beach Branch Library.

Police did not release any more specifics about the circumstances of the collision. Other media reports suggest it happened near Sturtevant Ave S near the south end of the curve. The suspect’s white sedan should have “extensive damage to the front end and windshield.” Anyone with information should call the SPD non-emergency line at 206-625-5011.

This is the same block where someone struck and killed Kao Saeteurn while he was trying to cross the street on foot just over a year ago. That suspect also fled the scene.

The south segment of the Rainier Ave safety project was originally scheduled for 2016. Now the city says maybe 2020. Original graphic from SDOT, edits by Seattle Bike Blog.

This stretch of Rainier Ave was supposed to receive a safety redesign in 2016, but city leaders have delayed that project for three years now despite consistent neighborhood outcry. Neighbors renewed their calls for the city to complete the Rainier Ave Road Safety Corridor Project last summer after someone driving struck and injured two kids at Rainier and Henderson, just a couple blocks north of Monday’s fatal collision.

Mayor Durkan did rush out a few small changes to that intersection after neighbors held a rally to demand safety changes to the street, but she and SDOT have continued to delay the full safety project.

Serious and fatal collisions were nearly eliminated after a wildly successful safety project on Rainier Ave between Columbia City and Hillman City, which makes it that much more infuriating that the city still has not completed the safety project. We can see that it works, yet the city still does not even plan to fix it for another year. And that’s assuming it doesn’t get pushed back again.

It’s way to early to know whether the city’s safety project could have prevented Monday’s collision. There just aren’t enough details. But we know that this stretch of Rainier is deadly, especially this block. And we know that we can redesign the street to reduce speeding, serious injuries and deaths. It is simply unethical for the city to ignore this safety problem the way they have. At this point, it’s a dereliction of the city’s basic duty to protect the well-being of its residents.

More details on Monday’s collision, from Seattle Police:

Detectives are investigating after a man was struck and killed in a hit and run while riding his bike in the Rainier Beach neighborhood Monday evening.

Officers were dispatched to the 9200 block of Rainier Avenue South at 4:50 p.m. Monday for a report of a white sedan that had struck a bicyclist and then fled the scene.

Seattle Fire Department Medics attempted life-saving measures but the man died at the scene.

Witnesses said the bicyclist was attempting to cross Rainier Avenue South when he was hit by the sedan which was traveling in the southbound lanes.

Traffic Collision Detectives are now investigating and are searching for a white sedan with extensive damage to the front end and windshield.  If you have any information please call the non-emergency line at 206-625-5011.

This remains an active scene and details may change as the investigation continues.

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Ballard-Fremont Greenways launches Wednesday, and you’re invited

Ballard and Fremont have both had local chapters of Seattle Neighborhood Greenways in the past, but they have been quiet in recent years. So some neighbors are organizing to bring the neighborhoods together into a new supergroup, and you’re invited.

The group is hosting a launch party 6 p.m. Wednesday at Peddler Brewing.

From the event page: Continue reading

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Proposed $738M King County Parks levy would fund Eastside, Lake Sammamish and Lake to Sound Trails

Map of proposed improvements, from King County.

About 80 percent of the King County Parks budget comes from a levy that goes to voters every six years, and King County Executive Dow Constantine is proposing an even bigger levy to send to voters this autumn for 2020–25.

The $738 million proposal would cost the average property owner about $7 per month, $2 more than they pay under the expiring levy according to a press release from King County.

Among many investments in Parks facilities and programming across the county, the next levy would complete regional trail connections that have been in the works for a long time. It would also close funding for some of the most difficult and iconic segments of the Eastside Trail like the Wilburton Trestle. Here are some highlights from the press release:

  • Opening to the public nearly 12 miles of the 16-mile-long Eastside Rail Corridor, making accessible the Wilburton Trestle and connecting the cities of Renton, Bellevue, Kirkland, Redmond, and Woodinville
  • Completing the Lake to Sound Trail, a 16-mile-long paved connection that extends from Lake Washington in Renton to Puget Sound in Des Moines
  • Paving the final segment of the East Lake Sammamish Trail to complete the 11-mile-long corridor and connect the cities of Redmond, Sammamish, and Issaquah

Renton in particular stands to see some major bike improvements from the Lake to Sound and Eastside Trails. After these projects are complete, Renton will have quality access west to the Green River and Interurban South Trails as well as north via the Eastside Trail connecting to the Mountains to Sound, and 520 Trails.

The levy map also shows a connection from the current north terminus of the Cross Kirkland Corridor (Eastside Trail) at Totem Lake to the Burke-Gilman and Sammamish River Trails. The Lake to Sound Trail will make connections in SeaTac, Tukwila and Des Moines. And the Green River Trail should finally connect to the Duwamish Trail in South Park.

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Bike League suggests $74B ‘Bike New Deal’ + Why the Feds should dramatically increase bike funding

From a 2011 study (PDF) by Heidi Garrett-Peltier for the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Building walking, biking and safe streets infrastructure employs more people per dollar than a road-only project. In Seattle, building trails employs 25 percent more people per $1 million invested compared to building roads, according to a 2011 study (PDF) by Heidi Garrett-Peltier for the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. The work is more hands-on, so more of the costs go to paying workers rather than buying raw materials and equipment.

And while this is hardly the best reason to build bike lanes and trails, it is an important fact to keep in mind as Congressional leaders craft a “Green New Deal” that attempts to both improve the nation and employ more people at the same time.

The League of American Bicyclists recently posted their concept for a $74 billion “Bike New Deal,” which would invest heavily in community bike networks, regional and national bike trails, child bike safety education, commuter benefits, and vehicle and road safety standards. And while I imagine that $74 billion price tag might seem like a pipe dream, an effort of that scale would be a great investment directly into communities big and small across the country that would pay off for generations to come.

So far, the Green New Deal is more of a statement of intent rather than a set of specific policies, so it seems like a good time to start thinking big and getting ideas out there. And while Seattle Bike Blog rarely focuses on national issues, our time covering the challenges of building local and regional bike infrastructure and safe streets projects could help shine a light on ways Federal funding could dramatically change the speed and scale of project delivery for these projects.

One lesson comes from, yes, the Netherlands. The Dutch only have their bicycle networks now because their national government stepped up and made those networks a national transportation priority decades ago: Continue reading

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Some trails still slick a week after the snow stopped + Lessons for future freezes

Even though most streets in the region are clear following the massive snow fall last week, trails that are far from salt-treated roads can still be icy in spots. Much like the wonderful people who have volunteered their time in recent weeks to clear bus stops and curb ramps, folks like Robert here are biking with shovels to clear trail sections that still have snow and ice:

Of course, these trails are public property and are important transportation facilities, so it shouldn’t fall to kind, able-bodied individuals to do this work. When asked why Parks was not clearing trails, this was their disappointing response:

Continue reading

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Trail Alert: Burke-Gilman blocked by downed tree in Bothell until Tuesday

A large tree fell over the weekend and has blocked the Burke-Gilman Trail in Bothell, and King County Parks says it cannot remove the tree until Tuesday.

The tree is blocking the trail at about 91st Ave NE, a tricky spot in the trail route with no easy detour route. And Parks says no detour will be marked, so you’re on your own if you end up here.

The intrepid and able-bodied may be able to find a way to climb through the branches, though I’m guessing Parks would frown on this. There is also a sidewalk on the north side of Bothell Way, but the closest crosswalks are at 83rd and 96th Avenues NE. And the sidewalk does sort of disappear in a couple spots, so be prepared for that. You can ride on the highway, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

Base image from Google Maps.

King County Parks said that the blockage much wait until Tuesday because the necessary equipment won’t be available until then.

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Trail Alert: Burke-Gilman Trail detour along Seaview

Approximate work area. Image from Google Street View.

Work is starting on a Seattle Public Utilities project that will detour the Burke-Gilman Trail along a stretch of Seaview Ave NW in Ballard so crews can stage equipment.

Unfortunately, the detour plans currently say that people biking will be “encouraged to walk their bikes through the detour,” which should last a month.

Details from SPU:

Construction equipment for Seattle Public Utilities’ Pump Station 43 Emergency Sewer Force Main Replacement project will impact the 5500 block of Seaview Avenue Northwest and the Burke-Gilman Trail in Ballard as early as Feb. 14, 2019. A contractor will be drilling a new sewer force main underneath the waterway from Ballard to Magnolia, and the large drilling equipment will block portions of the trail and roadway.

  • Approximately 200 feet of the southbound lane of Seaview Avenue Northwest near the 5500 block will be closed. Two-way traffic will be maintained via an electronic traffic signal in the northbound lane.
  • The Burke-Gilman Trail will be detoured to the north side of Seaview Avenue Northwest. There will be an electronic signal for bicyclists and pedestrians to push when crossing the street. Bicyclists will be encouraged to walk their bikes through the detour.

These impacts are estimated to last approximately one month.

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The Seattle Bike & Outdoor Show is this weekend at CenturyLink Field Event Center

The Seattle Bike & Outdoor Show is this weekend. So if you want to check out the latest wares or test ride some new bikes, head down to CenturyLink Field Event Center in Pioneer Square 9–6 Saturday or 9–5 Sunday.

The show is $12 (12 and under are free), though you can get a $3 discount if you use the promo code BIKE when buying tickets online.

The show is the latest form of what used to be Cascade Bicycle Club’s Seattle Bike Expo, which the club ended in 2014. The show has changed management since and combined the bikes with other outdoor equipment. Snow and slush won’t cancel the show.

More details from the show promoters: Continue reading

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Electric Lady’s Alex Kostelnik on why he’s closing the Central District e-bike shop

Kostelnik celebrates opening Electric Lady in spring 2016.

Alex Kostelnik is getting out of the e-bike showroom business. After nearly three years on the front lines of a volatile e-bike industry, selling shiny new bikes out of the Central District’s Electric Lady, he finds himself looking longingly up E Union Street where, just two blocks away, his first shop 20/20 Cycle is still grinding away to keep the neighborhood rolling.

“I’ll sit on the bench in front of 20/20, and within ten minutes I’m sharing a cookie with a neighbor and petting their dog, and they sat down to join us, and they’re going to be late to wherever they were going,” said Kostelnik during a long interview on the shop floor of his soon-to-be-closed shop at 23rd and Union. “That’s what I thought I would be doing with e-bikes, but it turns out the bike industry would have none of that. Which is too bad because I would argue that my system is actually a prescription for health for the e-bike industry, and that they are absolutely missing the boat in terms of investing in actual community.”

Founded in 2016 and staffed in recent years by Anthony Beauchemin and Lee Corbin, Electric Lady (a Seattle Bike Blog sponsor) is putting its stock of e-bikes and cargo bikes on sale and will close its doors in the coming months. Their retail space is already listed online.

Kostelnik says the business is doing well financially, but he is not enjoying the work needed to navigate what he sees as an unreliable industry where companies start up, go under, fire staff and get bought constantly. And Kostelnik’s proudly anti-corporate mentality was destined to butt heads with major players in the bike industry.

So with the used-bike-focused 20/20 Cycle up the street waiting for him to return, he is getting out. 20/20 will still sell some e-bikes, but they won’t have a showroom full of them ready to test ride.

“The bike industry is insane, in constant flux, does not know its ass from its elbow, is throwing so many spaghetti noodles at the wall to see what sticks that you’re in a room full of noodles that are sticking all over the place,” he said. “The cutting edge of the bike industry is about as sharp as a butter knife. They don’t know what they’re doing and it’s random insanity.” Continue reading

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People walk across street at crosswalk

Here’s a story that will seem like common sense to everyone who isn’t a traffic engineer. Almost nobody used to try to cross 15th Ave NW at NW 53rd Street in Ballard because 15th is wide and busy and there was no crosswalk there. But now that SDOT has added a signal and crosswalk, lots of people cross the street there.

This should be the most boring story possible: “People walk across street at crosswalk.” How is this news? Well, because this result is only obvious to people who have not been trained in the standards of American traffic engineering.

The national “Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices” — essentially a guidebook for traffic engineers — tells professionals that unless there are already a lot people trying to cross the street, a signal is not warranted. Neighbors across the nation run into this answer all the time when pressing their cities for crosswalks and signals: “There is not enough pedestrian activity to warrant a signal.” Signals stop cars, and stopping cars is a sign of failure if you are a traditional American traffic engineer.

But SDOT tried a different approach: Build the signal first, then count to see if the resulting pedestrian volumes ended up justifying the signal after all. And they did.

There are many great traffic engineers, but the field has some gross negligence baked into its core. The best traffic engineers I’ve met had to purposefully unlearn stuff they were taught, and their ideas — like installing a crosswalk signal even if people aren’t currently running across the six-lane roadway — are often still seen as radical. Just this year, the advisory board behind the MUTCD decided against an effort to make installing walk signals best practices when installing a new traffic signal. Continue reading

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