Green Lake and Wallingford paving projects are a chance to make major bike network improvements

A series of planned paving projects in Green Lake and Wallingford are a big chance to make significant improvements to the North Seattle bike network. And of course, the city could save a lot of money by making these improvements at the same time the streets are being torn-up for paving, anyway.

The collection of paving projects represents a new approach the city is taking for handing paving work. Instead of making each streets its own project (with its own public outreach and contract bids), SDOT is grouping nearby projects together and beginning outreach on the group of projects earlier.

SDOT is hosting an open house 5:30 p.m. – 7 p.m. Wednesday at Green Lake Elementary. They will also host a drop-in session 10 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. June 10 at Billings Middle School. An online open house will go live Wednesday (so stay tuned for that link). Continue reading

Posted in news | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

City’s 2019 plans for SW Avalon would dramatically improve bike access to the heart of W Seattle

Proposed layout for a stretch of Avalon Way, from SDOT. See full proposal below.

Proposed map.

There are only so many ways to get up West Seattle’s formidable hills, and SW Avalon Way is an absolutely vital one.

Connecting the Alki Trail/West Seattle Bridge to Fauntleroy and the heart of West Seattle, Avalon is one of the neighborhood’s most important bike routes. It already has old, paint-only bike lanes in spots, but much of the route requires mixing with car traffic on intimidating stretches of hill.

With a paving project coming up in 2019, the city is planning to make the street safer for all users, including protected bike lanes and safer crosswalks.

SDOT is hosting an open house 5:30 p.m. – 7 p.m. today (Tuesday) at Delridge Community Center. If you can’t make it (sorry for the late notice!), you should comment via the project’s online open house. Continue reading

Posted in news | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

City could set stationless bike share rules in June + LimeBike is third company to ready a Seattle launch

Screenshot from LimeBike’s how-to video.

West Seattle’s Gabriel Scheer was a founding member of Pronto Cycle Share, so he was disappointed when that now-shuttered bike share system failed to expand beyond its small service area.

“I don’t think it served the city as well as it should have,” he said. That’s a shortcoming Scheer plans to address as the Director of Strategic Development for LimeBike, a young dockless bike share company based out of San Mateo, California.

LimeBike is one of at least three companies with plans to begin service on Seattle streets as early as next month. Along with Bluegogo and Spin, LimeBike is working with SDOT and the City Council to develop rules for this new-to-the-US business model for private bike share services.

The city could have either legislation or an SDOT Director’s Rule in place in June, likely framed as a pilot for a limited timeframe for this summer or a bit longer. Companies will be able to compete in an open market so long as they abide by guidelines set by the city. The experience with the pilot will inform the creation of a more permanent permit for stationless bike share services.

The city needs to get the rules right in order to encourage responsible use of city right-of-way while also providing room for innovation and competition. This means putting the onus on companies to, for example, react quickly if users or vandals put bikes in inappropriate locations (like on private property or blocking bus stops, etc) or if a large volume of bikes end up in the same place. The companies also must have appropriate amounts of insurance and have an effective way to keep bikes well-maintained and safe.

But as always, Councilmember Mike O’Brien wants to make sure these potential concerns are put in perspective.

“The idea that the city might be inundated by bikes and we’ll be overwhelmed … it’s kind of like, ‘Wow, that’s a cool problem to have,'” O’Brien told Casey Jaywork at the Seattle Weekly recently. Continue reading

Posted in news | Tagged , | 9 Comments

Lake Washington Blvd goes car-free 12 times in 2017, Bicycle Sunday starts today

Bicycle Sunday route, made via Google Maps.

For the 49th year, Seattle kicks off Bicycle Sunday today (May 21).

Three miles of Lake Washington Blvd will go car-free 12 Sundays in 2017. It’s a great chance to experience of the most beautiful urban streets in the world without stressing about car traffic. Literally generations of Seattleites have learned to ride a bike during Bicycle Sunday, and this year will be no exception.

So bring the kids. Invite your friends who are nervous about getting back on a bike. And most of all, have fun in some much-needed sun.

From Seattle Parks: Continue reading

Posted in news | Tagged , | 5 Comments

Rainier Ave ride demos huge potential for bike lanes + City leaders support bike network at rally

SDOT Director Scott Kubly helped lead the ride with Cascade’s Kelsey Mesher. Bike Works’ Tina Bechler and Familybike Seattle’s Morgan Scherer brought up the rear.

I biked on Rainier Ave from Columbia City to downtown during rush hour this morning, and it was peaceful, easy and fast.

As part of the Bike Everywhere Day celebration, Cascade Bicycle Club and Bike Works partnered to host a group ride to City Hall that travelled down the notoriously stressful and dangerous street. With the company of a group of more than 20 people, we had safety in numbers. But I just couldn’t stop thinking about how many more people in the south end would bike if this street had protected bike lanes.

Because Rainier is very flat and direct. It follows the neighborhood’s namesake valley, cutting a diagonal across the street grid and avoiding nearly all the steep climbs nearby. If the city installed complete and protected bike lanes on Rainier Ave, they would be immediate and enormous successes.

Outside of the downtown basic bike network, no project in Seattle would have as big an impact on bike access as Rainier Ave bike lanes. Hey mayoral and City Council candidates, wink wink. Continue reading

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

WA now has a Bicycle Safety Advisory Council

Washington State is getting a Bicycle Safety Advisory Council to help watchdog and improve the state’s approach to keeping the thousands of its residents who bike safe.

The council is named in honor of Cooper Jones, who was killed while biking 20 years ago. His parents have David and Martha have been a strong force in advocating for better bike safety efforts in the state, according to a blog post by Washington Bikes.

The Council will be “the first interdisciplinary panel dedicated to examining causes of serious injury and death for people who bike and providing subsequent recommendations for prevention to the legislature,” according to WA Bikes. Here’s their full post about it: Continue reading

Posted in news | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Sound Transit offers half-price access to Beacon Hill and Angle Lake bike cages

The Beacon Hill bike cage shortly before it opened for business.

Sound Transit is offering a sweet deal on membership to two of its stations’ secure bike cages: Six months free if you sign up for a year.

The catch is that you have to sign up by the end of May to get the deal.

Secure bike cages are an alternative to the fairly ugly and inefficient bike lockers available at many major transit stations across the region.

The problem is that signing up for bike cage access is a huge hassle. You have to write a check for the reduced $25 price (a check is like a paper Venmo), print (yes, like, on paper), fill out (using an actual hand-held pen) and mail (good luck finding an envelope and stamp) the sign-up form (PDF).

After processing your paperwork and exchanging your check for counting stones (or however checks work), Sound Transit will send you an access code for the cage.

The good news about all this is that once you have a code, you can be pretty sure no thief is going to go through all this trouble just to steal your bike. And if they do, Sound Transit would know who they are because everyone gets a unique code.

More details on the deal from Sound Transit: Continue reading

Posted in news | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Four neighborhood rides will meet at City Hall for a Friday rally + Map of Bike Everywhere Day stations

Planned Celebration Stations, from Cascade’s map.

Cascade Bicycle Club is hosting four rides from different ends of town that will converge at City Hall Friday for a rally to support a Basic Bike Network to and through downtown.

The rides are part of the annual Bike Everywhere Day celebration (formerly known as “Bike to Work Day”). As always, there will be more than 100 “celebration stations” hosted by volunteers, community groups and businesses all over the region. Some have food, some have coffee, and some are just there to cheer you on as you bike to wherever it is you’re going early on a Friday morning.

Tomorrow is a great excuse to help your friend or co-worker bike to work for the first time. Most days, people aren’t standing around cheering you on just because you’re biking to work. And there will be a much bigger “safety in numbers” effect tomorrow as many new people give bike commuting a try.

That safety in numbers effect will be in full force for the four organized rides, especially the ride down Rainier Ave from Columbia City to City Hall. That’s right, Friday is your chance to ride the flattest and more direct route from Rainier Valley to downtown without fearing for your life in heavy, stressful traffic. Even if you don’t live in Rainier Valley, this ride might be worth waking up extra early to join. See you in Columbia City at 7:30 a.m.

And if you don’t work a downtown job, give yourself extra time to stop by a bunch of stations on your way in. You’ll also want to take time to appreciate all the new people out biking your route to work or school or wherever you go. Because Bike Everywhere Day is like a glimpse into the near future, when the number of people biking has grown just a little bit more.

Here’s the full map of stations: Continue reading

Posted in news | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Salomon: Finally fixing NE 65th Street (Part One)

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is Part One of a two-part series by NE Seattle Greenways leader and former mayoral candidate (“I ran for Mayor before it was cool“) Andres Salomon. In this post, Salomon gives an update on the need for NE 65th Street safety improvements. Part Two will cover potential designs that the city could build to make 65th much safer for vulnerable users.

A tweet from 2014. The street remains unchanged.

The design of NE 65th St continues to be dangerous in the Roosevelt and Ravenna neighborhoods, resulting in numerous injuries and even deaths. The #Fix65th coalition is a group of concerned neighbors and community groups who have organized to advocate for safety fixes to NE 65th.

At the urging of Councilmember Rob Johnson, Mayor Ed Murray and SDOT finally got to work over the winter to kickstart an effort to fix the street. But the current plan would wait until 2019 to make any real improvements.

We can’t wait another two years for a safe walking and biking environment on 65th.

You have an opportunity to tell the city that we need to take the safety of our most vulnerable road users seriously during an open house 6 – 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Roosevelt High School. SDOT staff will provide updates on their NE 65th safety project and take public feedback. Please attend, and/or fill out the survey (launching tomorrow, stay tuned) to let the city know that you support bold safety improvements to NE 65th.

The history of this process has been both tragic and frustrating. Seattle’s Department of Transportation (SDOT) has never been responsive to requests for safety improvements on 65th, despite years of asking.  When Andy Hulslander was killed biking home from work in 2015, neighbors were told that SDOT was studying improvements. However, not a single change was made to the corridor. Continue reading

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

Governor vetoes delayed rollout of distracted driving law: ‘We can’t wait that long’

The moment Governor Inslee told bill supporters he would veto the rollout delay. Image from a video by the Governor’s Office.

In three months, it will finally be illegal to flip through Facebook or watch Netflix on your phone while driving a car in Washington State.

Though Washington was among the first state’s to ban texting while driving, the state has been slow to update it’s laws to outlaw other mobile device uses as the technology evolved beyond just text messaging.

It took several years of failed bipartisan efforts (House Democrats killed a similar bill in 2015 after Republicans passed it in the Senate) before the legislature finally passed SSB 5289 (PDF) this session to outlaw using a “personal electronic device” while driving. This includes holding the phone at all while talking (you can no longer just hold it in front of your face, which was actually legal before), watching video (this was also somehow legal until now), and using your finger to do anything more than activate a function on a device (so you can still answer a call on speaker, for example, or skip a song on Pandora).

Before signing the bill into law Tuesday, Governor Jay Inslee struck a provision that would have delayed the law’s effects until January 2019.

“We can’t wait that long,” he said, surprising the bill’s supporters and eliciting a round of applause. It was a moment of truly great leadership from Governor Inslee. Because he’s right. There’s no reason why people need another year and a half of streaming Netflix while driving. Continue reading

Posted in news | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

Panel of experts will discuss solutions to bike theft

Graph from a Bicycle Security Advocates presentation to the Seattle City Council.

Bike theft continues to rise steeply in Seattle. And that not only costs people money, but many people won’t replace their stolen wheels. At a time when our increasingly congested city needs more people to get around by bike, theft is a growing impediment.

Brock Howell’ Bicycle Security Advocates group has put together a presentation for the City Council’s Transportation Committee meeting 2 p.m. today (Tuesday) and will host a public panel discussion 6:30 – 8 p.m. this evening at Métier on Capitol Hill.

The basic question: What can we do to stop the rise in thefts?

More details from Bicycle Security Advocates: Continue reading

Posted in news | Tagged , , , | 9 Comments

Cascade: Redmond stations are a chance to go all out on Sound Transit station access

Transit works better when people can get to the stations.

This might seem like an extremely obvious point, but many of the region’s biggest rail and express bus stations have awful walking and biking access problems. Like truly awful:

It’s incredible how many people navigate 520 freeway hell every day to use these vital express bus stops in Montlake. Image from Google Maps.

And it’s a lot harder to go back and fix station access problems once the core issues have been baked into the planning process.

That’s why Cascade Bicycle Club’s East King County Policy Manager Vicky Clarke has put out an action alert calling for people hopeful for great light rail stations in Redmond to get engaged now. Sound Transit is hosting an open house 5 – 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Old Redmond Schoolhouse Community Center.

Specifically, Cascade is pushing for these station options:

Cascade supports an at-grade station at SE Redmond, and an elevated station at Downtown Redmond. This configuration promotes safety by minimizing at-grade road crossings, is the most cost effective alignment, and will enable King County to build a trail connection from the East Lake Sammamish Trail to the Redmond Central Connector, during construction of light rail.

This early process will guide high-level decisions about rail alignment and station locations. Making the right choices now to prioritize biking and walking access is far better than trying to tack on biking and walking improvements later.

More details from Cascade: Continue reading

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

Seattle’s top bike commuting workplaces are all within 5 blocks of a protected bike lane or trail

New analysis from Commute Seattle found that the city’s large workplaces (100+ employees) with the highest bike commute rates all are within five blocks of a protected bike lane or trail and offer secure bike parking.

Even more telling: The top seven workplaces were all within one block of a trail or protected bike lane. And the gap between these workplaces and the citywide bike commute average is astounding.

The Allen Institute tops the list with more than one in five employees biking to work. If every Seattle workplace had a bike commute rate as high as the Allen Institute, there would be 117,000 people biking to work every day in our city.

This in not pie-in-the-sky dreaming here. These are actual major employers getting huge bike commute rates today. And the path to building on these successes is clear: Build more safe and connected bike routes between more homes and workplaces.

And we should start by building the downtown Basic Bike Network now. The top seven workplaces are all on or connected to the Fremont Bridge and Burke-Gilman Trail. Several of them are even at the north end of South Lake Union, which is served well by Dexter and Westlake. But the lack of safe connections from the south end of Lake Union into downtown is holding back all the other center city workplaces.

There is a lot of pent-up demand waiting for a good bike lane network. With center city traffic only getting worse, a bike network is the fastest and cheapest way to provide people with another option for getting around. It’s also the fastest way to get major results. Continue reading

Posted in news | Tagged , , , | 13 Comments

Happy Bike to School Day!

It’s National Bike to School Day! Here are few scenes from around town. Got photos or stories to add? Let us know in the comments below or email tom@seattlebikeblog.com.

Here’s an idea for families who already bike (or walk) to school: Add a doughnut detour on Bike to School Day. Continue reading

Posted in news | Tagged | 1 Comment

Work underway to replace S Holgate bridge staircase with ramp

Map from SDOT

The only sidewalk on the Holgate Bridge currently turns into stairs. SDOT is replacing the stairs with a ramp. Photo from SDOT.

The S Holgate Street Bridge is far from the friendliest bike route between Sodo and North Beacon Hill, but it is definitely the most direct. But because the only sidewalk on the bridge turns into a staircase at the Sodo end, people biking have to take the steep and often scary roadway. Worse, the bridge is not accessible at all to people who can’t navigate stairs.

But there’s some good news. The city is making some key changes to at least make the sidewalk accessible and provide an option for people biking who don’t feel comfortable or safe on the steep roadway. The project will also make some improvements to help people cross to the north sidewalk at the Sodo end of the ramp.

Work is already underway and will continue into September.

The project will not make Holgate a great route for biking and walking, but it will address the most basic accessibility needs. And that’s a good thing. Continue reading

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

Despite more than a decade of bicycle activism, Ballard Bridge remains a danger

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story is by Taylor McAvoy through our partnership with UW’s Community News Lab journalism course.

Haley Keller has adopted the Ballard Bridge sidewalks. She holds cleaning parties for the bridge every two to three months. Photo: Taylor McAvoy

Riding home at night a few years ago, Haley Keller had to cross the Ballard Bridge with its notoriously skinny three-foot-wide sidewalks. She usually carries only one bag on the left side of her bike rack to avoid the occasional concrete pillars that protrude into the sidewalk on that section of the bridge. That night she carried two, one on each side.

“I don’t know exactly what it was,” she said. “Whether it was a gust of a wind or a car had come by that had pushed me a little bit but I went over and my bike bag hit the side wall.”

Catching on the wall, Keller’s bag threw her off balance and over a ten-inch-high curb, into the oncoming traffic lane.

“I was able to pick myself up and get off the bridge quickly,” She said. “But if it had been in the middle of traffic on a busy day, I don’t know what would have happened.”

Terry McMacken was biking on the bridge in July 2007 when something similar happened. He fell over the curb, too, but someone driving struck him. He died in November 2008 from complications from the injuries he sustained.

McMacken and his wife filed a lawsuit against the City of Seattle in July 2008. His estate settled with the City a year after his death.

“The fixes are very simple,” attorney Jack Connelly told the Seattle P.I. in 2008. “The concern that we have is that there were people telling the city about this problem well before this incident.”

But the city of Seattle has noticed and is taking steps to improve bicycle safety.

Seattle launched Vision Zero in 2015 as a goal to end serious injuries and deaths in Seattle’s streets by 2030. As a 2016 campaign for the project, volunteers for Seattle Neighborhood Greenways and Cascade Bicycle Club placed white silhouettes around the city representing the people who died in traffic over the previous ten years.

“You hear about an accident or a collision and you have to realize there are real people affected by that,” Connect Ballard activist Sean Cryan said. “And the number of those things that were around the city just from ten years was really startling, that that many people have died on the roadways. I think that is something to keep in mind as all of this moves forward. Really the goal is to not have any more white silhouettes out on the streets.”

Continue reading

Posted in news | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 35 Comments

Bike News Roundup: Should Seattle get a Bicycle Mayor?

It’s time for the Bike News Roundup! This is an open thread, so feel free to discuss anything at least vaguely bikey below.

First up! Should Seattle have a Bicycle Mayor?

Should NYC Have a Bicycle Mayor? Meet Anna Luten Amsterdam's Bike Mayor from STREETFILMS on Vimeo.

Continue reading

Posted in news | Tagged | 3 Comments

Test riding a Bluegogo stationless bike share bike in downtown Seattle

Yours truly about to ride a Bluegogo bike around downtown

I took a ride on what could be one of Seattle’s next bike share bikes and made it up one of downtown’s steepest hills.

It was a Bluegogo bike, one of at least two companies actively pursuing Seattle as one of the first major U.S. markets to launch a low-cost, app-connected, stationless bike share service.

We broke the story late last week about Bluegogo and Spin eyeing a Seattle launch in the very near future. How near? Bluegogo has thousands of bikes in storage in the Bay Area right now (UPDATE: Bluegogo requested I not list how many thousands), said Anthony Desnick, who works on strategy and expansion for Bluegogo. 3,000 of them are earmarked for Seattle. That’s six times as many bikes as Pronto.

But because stationless bike share is such a new concept, Seattle does not even have a permit these companies can buy for their bikes, let alone a set of rules for how they can operate. Both companies have expressed a desire for the city to create these rules soon, saying they can have bikes in operation on Seattle streets this summer.

If the city delays, however, another company could choose to launch without permits, following the “ask for forgiveness” business model that Uber used when it first launched. Companies are eager to gain market share ahead of the competition, and that means getting on the ground first.

But before getting too far into the weeds about market share and city regulations, perhaps you all want to know: How are the bikes?

Desnick invited me to take one of the company’s bikes for a spin downtown Monday.  Continue reading

Posted in news | Tagged , , , , | 18 Comments

Happy Bike Everywhere Month! Event schedule, online challenge + more

Click to register for the online challenge.

It’s May, which means it’s time to give in to your co-worker’s constant reminders and say, “OK, fine! I’ll sign up for your Bike Month team if you just let me sit here and enjoy this cup of coffee for five freaking minutes!”

The annual online challenge is a good way to stay motivated for the whole month, biking as often as possible and logging the trips for your team. Once you build your biking habit over a month, it’s much easier to just keep it going the the rest of the year. You may also be very surprised how far you’ve biked just by running errands or going to work for a month.

Bike To School Day is May 10, and Bike Everywhere Day (AKA Bike to Work Day) is May 19.

Friday (May 5) is the Bikery Bash, a party at Love City Love on Capitol Hill to benefit the Bikery.

Bike to either Lake Union Park or Occidental Park May between 7 and 9 a.m. May 12 for a free bagel, cup of coffee and other bike swag as part of Commute Seattle’s annual Bikes and Bagels event. People who walk or take transit to work are also invited. But if you drove to work, buy your own bagel.

And get ready to close the month out with Cascade’s second Emerald Bike Ride a rare chance to ride on the I-5 express lanes, the 520 Bridge and the I-90 express lanes May 28.

You can check out more events on Seattle Bike Blog’s events calendar. And if you know of anything that’s missing, be sure to add it!

More Bike Month details from Cascade: Continue reading

Posted in news | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

By killing Pronto, Seattle could become the center of private bike share innovation

Photo from a Spin pilot launch in Austin during SXSW. Image from Spin.

The Pronto docks have been scrubbed from city streets. As much as I am sad to see it go and feel the system never got a fair shot at success, it’s done. Time to move on and look to the future of bike share in Seattle.

And we may not need to wait long.

“We’re very optimistic for bike share in Seattle,” said Derrick Ko, CEO of a San Fransisco-based stationless bike share startup called Spin.

Spin bikes are free-floating. Open up their mobile app to find a bike near you. Walk to it and scan the QR code on the bike to unlock the rear wheel. Bike to your destination and park it using the kickstand. Lock the wheel to end your trip. And that’s it. It’s basically Car2Go, but a bicycle.

But here’s the kicker: It only costs $1 per ride (Bluegogo is $1 for 30 min, Spin says “Ride for $1”). Dock-based bike share systems cannot touch that price.

So when is Spin going to launch in Seattle?

“As soon as possible,” said Ko, who was previously a product manager at Lyft. Spin staff recently flew out to Seattle to meet people and check out the possibilities for themselves. “For a top tier city in the US, it’s really rare to not have some form of bike share.” Continue reading

Posted in news | Tagged , , , , , , | 19 Comments