SDOT is hosting an online ‘drop-in session’ for MLK Way bike lanes

Project map.SDOT is hosting an online “drop-in session” from 5 to 6 p.m. today (Tuesday) to share early design details about planned MLK Way S bike lanes between Judkins Park and Rainier Ave S.

There will also be an online survey. I will update this post to include that link once it is available, so be sure to check back.

The project is going through design now, but it likely won’t be completed for a while. The project website only states that it will open by the time Judkins Park Station starts operating in 2023.

The project team conducted a survey in the spring seeking feedback on three options, and the overwhelming majority of respondents (67-69%) chose Alternative 3 with protected bike lanes on each side of the street (see feedback in this PDF).

Notably, the project map shows the route continuing across the intersection with Rainier. This is a big deal, since that intersection is truly terrible and desperately needs safety improvements for all road users, especially people walking.

More details from SDOT:

We are currently in the early design stage for this project and are focusing on gathering input and feedback from the community as we further develop the design for the chosen alternative.

How you can get involved:

Attend the online early design drop-in session
5 to 6 PM Tuesday, August 11
Transcripts available in English, Simplified Chinese, Spanish, and Traditional Chinese
Click here to join via Webex | Password: MLKWayPBL

Take our online survey (check back for link once it is available)
Starting August 11, and closing August 18
Available in English, Simplified Chinese, Spanish, and Traditional Chinese

We will continue advancing design work in 2020 and plan to build the protected bike lane by the Judkins Park light rail station opening in 2023. This will be an important connection to both light rail stations as well as the I-90 Trail, Franklin High School, and the Metro Transit Center.

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Seattle independent journalists stand together to oppose SPD’s subpoena

We are independent news organizations, editors, reporters, photojournalists, and freelancers working in Seattle, and we are coming together to oppose the Seattle Police Department’s subpoena seeking unpublished photographs and video taken by journalists at the Seattle Times, KIRO 7, KING 5, KOMO 4, and KCPQ 13.

This is not the Trump Administration pursuing these subpoenas. It is the Seattle Police Department, charged with serving and protecting our city. Those duties should include protecting our free press rights.

We believe that a democratic society requires a truly free press, and that the Constitution protects the rights of journalists to work independently from the power of the state. That obviously includes independence from the Seattle Police Department. Journalists cannot safely and effectively do our work if authorities can seek our unpublished notes and images as evidence. We cannot gain the trust of sources, including protest participants, if we are seen as collaborators with the police. Some of us already have been targeted with that allegation as a result of the subpoena. We cannot hold government agencies accountable if our unpublished notes and images can be scooped up and used as evidence in criminal cases.

As the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Guild wrote in a statement, “Journalists and their work product are not the agents and tools of the police.”

“We disagree in the strongest possible terms,” the Guild continued, referring to a June court decision largely in SPD’s favor. “This move by SPD and decision by Judge Nelson Lee undermines the credibility of local journalists and puts us at risk for danger.”

We stand with the Guild, the news organizations fighting the subpoenas in court and the individual journalists who may end up in an impossible position to either betray their values of journalistic integrity or face potentially serious charges.

The ongoing court case is frightening for our counterparts at these major news organizations. But it is terrifying for us, independent journalists without the financial and legal backing of a major media corporation. If SPD is successful in this case, there is no reason to think that independent journalists won’t be targeted next.

As newsrooms across our city have shuttered or shrunk, independent outlets and freelancers have become more and more vital, watchdogging government and telling a wide variety of stories about life in Seattle. Unless some business model comes along to revitalize or build large local news organizations, independent journalists will only become more important in the future.

The Seattle Police Chief is the person who can most easily stop this case, and we urge the Chief to do so. There is no piece of evidence that the police might discover in journalists’ unpublished videos, photographs, notes or audio recordings that justifies this violation of fundamental press freedoms.

We also urge the SPD Chief, Mayor Jenny Durkan and the City Council to create clear policies to prevent another similar case in the future. Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda has introduced Resolution 31961, which calls on police to stop arresting and harming journalists during protests and urges the City Attorney to stop supporting SPD’s subpoena. That’s a good start.

But the city should also develop legally binding policies to prevent or severely restrict police subpoenas of journalists’ unpublished work in the future. At its most basic level, journalism is a two-part process: Gather information, then choose what to publish. Both of these steps are vital, and both have faced SPD attacks in recent months.

When the state starts threatening journalists, democracy itself is threatened, too.

Signed,

Erica C. Barnett, The C Is for Crank

Carolyn Bick, Freelancer, South Seattle Emerald

David Calder, photojournalist

Justin Carder, Capitolhillseattle.com

Martin Duke, Seattle Transit Blog

Susan Fried, freelance photojournalist

Tom Fucoloro, Seattle Bike Blog

Alex Garland, freelance photojournalist and reporter

Nate Gowdy, photojournalist

Brett Hamil, political commentator and cartoonist, South Seattle Emerald

Marcus Harrison Green, South Seattle Emerald

Dae Shik Kim Hawkins, Jr., freelance journalist

Sarah Anne Lloyd, freelance journalist

Ari Robin McKenna — South Seattle Emerald

Jessie McKenna, freelance writer & content manager, South Seattle Emerald

Renee Raketty, writer/photojournalist

Tracy Record & Patrick Sand, co-publishers of West Seattle Blog

Kevin Schofield, SCC Insight

Morgen Schuler, freelance photojournalist

MK Scott, Unite Seattle Magazine

Gregory Scruggs, freelance journalist

Joshua Trujillo, freelance photojournalist

Doug Trumm, The Urbanist

Elizabeth Turnbull, freelance reporter

Jill Hyesun Wasberg, International Examiner

Katie Wilson, columnist at Crosscut

 

 

If you are an independent or freelance journalist working in Seattle and want to add your signature, email [email protected].

NOTE: This letter was released shortly before SPD Chief Carmen Best announced her resignation. The letter has been slightly edited to change references to Chief Best to “the Seattle Police Chief.”

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Geekwire: Lime is adding another 1,500 JUMP bikes in Seattle, bikes now available in Lime app

Screenshot of the Lime app showing bikes available.

Read JUMP bikes can now be checked out via the Lime app.

If you have been having trouble finding a bright red shared JUMP bike around town, relief may be on the way. Lime is planning to quadruple the number of shared e-bikes on Seattle streets from 500 to 2,000 by the end of summer, Geekwire reports.

Lime acquired JUMP in a complicated investment scheme with Uber back in May (wow, that really wasn’t very long ago but it sure feels like an eternity). After Seattle went about a month with no bikes available, Lime launched 500 JUMP bikes in June that were only available for checkout via the Uber app. Now Lime seems to have JUMP fully integrated into its system and is ready to start expanding.

But Lime’s Director of Strategic Development Jonathan Hopkins told Geekwire something the company has been saying a lot recently: The bikes are not a viable business on their own. Lime needs Seattle to allow scooters in addition to bikes in order to make it all pencil out.

The era of private bike share companies and investors losing money to prop up their services may be coming to a close. Scooters have been shown to be more profitable (or at least closer to profitable), though a scooter and a bike are also used in different ways. Lime says they hope to be able to balance both, though with more scooters than bikes. Seattle’s scooter permit has been in process for a long time but is still in limbo.

The incredible roller coaster of a private bike share experiment in Seattle in recent years has taught us so much about the benefits of bike share and the costs associated with it. Bike ridership increased steeply along with bike share, and it continued to climb even as the number of bikes in service decreased or stayed flat. The combination of building new protected bike routes and the availability of on-demand bikes was a clear success, at least from the perspective of a city with transportation, public health and environmental goals that all include increasing bike ridership. Continue reading

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Cascade is hosting family-friendly scavenger hunts every weekend in August in Kent, Renton and Tukwila

Event poster with illustartion of a woman and two children walking across a bridge in the woods. Details in the body text.

The event poster (PDF).

Cascade Bicycle Club is partnering with King County Parks and the cities of Kent, Renton and Tukwila to host a series of weekend scavenger hunts during August.

They are free to join and family-friendly. You can bike, roll or walk as you explore trails and parks. Challenges include things like searching for answers to questions or taking photos.

This is a new event for Cascade, designed to follow COVID-19 safety guidelines. Teams of up to five people are allowed, but members should already be part of the same household. Masks are required at all times. And, of course, give other users at least 6 feet of space at all times.

Cascade had to cancel nearly all their 2020 events, which draw thousands of participants in a typical year. Obviously, large events like their annual Seattle to Portland Classic just can’t happen responsibly right now. So it’s cool to see them trying something new and different like this.

Details from Cascade: Continue reading

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SDOT installs concrete blocks to improve safety on car-light Lake Washington Blvd

SDOT has finally installed the concrete “ecology blocks” the department had initially planned as part of their efforts to deter driving on the people-focused Lake Washington Blvd Keep Moving Street.

As we reported last week, the eco blocks are there to help reinforce the wooden “street closed” signs, which are easily dislodged or moved. But just days before the project opened, SDOT used their supply of eco blocks to build a wall around the Seattle Police Department’s downtown West Precinct instead.

Lake Washington Blvd is closed to through traffic, but people can drive on the street in order to access or service a home on the street. People are allowed and encouraged to walk in the street along with people biking, creating a lot more space for people whether they are getting around or just out for some fresh air. Previously, there were no bike lanes and everyone walking needed to share a path that is far too skinny for maintaining social distancing.

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Trail Alerts: Ship Canal Trail won’t be detoured to Nickerson + Burke detour near Fred Meyer

Map showing the planned Ship Canal Detour through a nearby parking lot.Some great news from Seattle Public Utilities: The Ship Canal Trail will not be detoured to Nickerson Street for the next couple years as was originally planned. As we reported previously, concerned neighbors including Queen Anne Greenways drew attention to a multi-year detour that would route the trail onto Nickerson Street, which has a paint-only westbound bike lane and no eastbound bike lane. This would have resulted in a huge reduction in the level of protection and comfort for users of the trail until mid-2023.

After neighbors voiced concerns, the two SPUs (Seattle Public Utilities and nearby Seattle Pacific University) and the contractor for this section of the massive Ship Canal Water Quality Project cancelled the detour and went back to the drawing board. And now they have announced their new plan: A very short temporary eight-foot-wide path through a parking lot adjacent to the work zone until summer 2022.

This is a great outcome, keeping the trail fully functional for the next several years. Big thanks to everyone who brought attention to the problem and to SPU for taking those concerns seriously, changing the plans and coming up with what appears to be a very good alternative.

Burke-Gilman Trail detour near Fred Meyer

Map of the trail detour at 9th Ave NW.Map of the trail detour at 11th Ave NW. Continue reading

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Celebrating 10 years of Seattle Bike Blog

Side-by-side photos of a person standing with a bicycle. The left is labeled 2010, the right is labeled 2020. In the right photo, a child is in a seat on the bike.In July 2010 at the midst of the Great Recession and with very little money in the bank, I quit my job to become an independent bike journalist.

I had no idea what I was doing. I had no idea how to run a business. I didn’t know anyone in bicycle advocacy. But I did have a background in journalism, which I used to track down people who did know what they were talking about so I could ask them questions.

Since then, I’ve published 3,572 posts, which averages out to about 1.3 posts per weekday. I’ve posted 40,600 tweets, which averages out to way too many per weekday.

A lot has changed since I started writing this site, both in Seattle and in my own personal life. When I started this site, people would have laughed you out of the room for suggesting that the city build a protected bike lane downtown. Also, I’m a dad now.

I am currently working on a book for UW Press about biking in Seattle, and it’s been fascinating to get out of the day-to-day contemporary coverage and try to look at the big picture. The movement for safe streets still loses all the time, most often in the form of funding (millions of local, state and federal tax dollars are spent on car stuff without anyone blinking an eye, but every dollar for walking and biking gets scrutinized and left exposed to budget cuts). But transportation culture has clearly shifted toward seeing walking, biking and transit as our city’s path forward. Culture and bureaucracy just take so long to change directions that when you’re on the ground in the moment, it doesn’t feel like they’re changing at all.

2020 is a major inflection point in our history. In some ways, the book I’m writing now feels like the conclusion chapter for an era of transportation history. By the time the book hits shelves (estimated 2022), it may describe a world that is in many ways unrecognizable. 2019 already feels a decade away. 2010 is ancient history. The way the city used to actively and purposefully prioritize car speed (“Level of Service”) over the safety of someone riding a bike or walking in a crosswalk feels as barbaric and archaic as bloodletting to balance a person’s humors.

The biking community in Seattle has also changed a lot. Most obviously, it has grown. And the vision has evolved to be more bold, ambitious and inclusive. And it feels like the next generation of biking leaders are finding their voices and innovating new ways that biking can be tools for direct action and community organizing for causes beyond biking itself. Biking has become more of a core piece of Seattle culture and less of a special interest. Changing a culture is so hard, and I know so many of you have poured enormous amounts of time and energy into shifting the way our city thinks about transportation and safe streets. Thank you.

Before the pandemic, I had lots of fun ideas for the blog’s tenth anniversary celebration. None of those are possible now, of course, because they all involved getting together with you all. I miss all those Seattle bike gatherings, planned and spontaneous, where I would get to see longtime readers and meet new ones. We will get to do that again someday.

Until then, thank you for supporting this work, thank you for being caring members of your community, and thank you for reading.

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People are driving on ‘closed’ street because SDOT used barriers to build a wall at police precinct instead

When the Seattle Department of Transportation announced their plan to turn a section of Lake Washington Blvd in south Seattle into a car-light “Keep Moving Street,” a July 21 department blog post noted that they would use heavy cement “eco blocks” at many intersections along with signage to inform people driving that the road is closed to cars.

Two days after that blog post, SDOT crews used eco blocks to build a heavy wall around SPD’s West Precinct downtown:

Now people are reporting that many people are driving on the supposedly closed Lake Washington Blvd, which can be dangerous to people walking and biking in the roadway as intended. One problem is that the wooden road closed signs are easily moved or knocked over. Why didn’t SDOT install those eco blocks like they said they would? Yes Segura asked the department via Twitter, and SDOT responded that “eco blocks are currently not in inventory.”

So the city is literally using cement blocks intended to keep people safe in south Seattle to build a wall around the West Precinct instead. Wow.

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Council puts less-deep transit cuts to voters in November

Chart showing the percent of households with access to very frequent transit service 2015 thorugh 2019. It's 25% in 2015 and 70% in 2019.

From an SDOT presentation to City Council (PDF).

Transit is getting cut. But Seattle voters will have the chance in November to make the cuts less awful by approving the Seattle Transportation Benefit District’s (“STBD”) sales tax measure.

As we reported previously, state legislators and the court-pending voter approval of 2019’s I-976 have put the city in a very tough spot. Seattle voters approved the STBD by a wide margin in 2014, improving transit frequency and investing in transit access programs like the ORCA Opportunity Program to provide free transit to public school students. The 2014 measure expires at the end of the year and included a 0.01% sales tax and a $60 vehicle license fee, but the license fee portion is now wrapped up in the courts after Washington voters approved I-976. That initiative would have limited license fees to $30, though Seattle, King County and others are challenging its constitutionality.

But with the court case still ongoing, putting a new car tab measure on the ballot was not a significant part of the discussion for the 2020 measure. And because the state legislature did not provide transportation benefit districts with any new revenue options, Seattle is forced to go to the ballot with a regressive sales tax.

But while sales tax is regressive, hitting low-income folks the hardest because they don’t have the luxury of saving their money, cutting transit is also regressive, taking time and mobility away from people who rely on transit to get around.

The initial proposal from Mayor Jenny Durkan and City Council Transportation Chair Alex Pedersen would have only renewed the 0.1% sales tax, effectively cutting the measure in half or worse depending on the economic fallout from the pandemic. The 2014 measure had been bringing in about $56 million per year. The Durkan/Pedersen version would have brought in $20-$30 million per year.

Councilmember Tammy Morales championed the idea that the city should max out its funding capability allowed under state law and proposed a 0.2% sales tax. This would have gotten close to maintaining current funding levels, though of course at the cost of furthering our reliance on sales tax. Her amendment barely failed with Councilmembers Kshama Sawant, Teresa Mosqueda and Dan Strauss joining Morales in a 5-4 defeat.

Instead, Council President Lorena González proposed a halfway compromise of a 0.15% sales tax, and that effort passed 8-1 with only Councilmember Pedersen opposed. So this is the version that will go to voters. If approved, the measure would bring in an estimated $39 million per year, the Urbanist reported. Still a significant cut, but not as bad as the original proposal. Continue reading

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Saturday: ‘Sani Cycle’ bike ride scavenger hunt to support food banks with non-food necessities

Promotional image with a collage of animals and bikes with trailers and vegetables. Text: Sani Cycle: A commnity ride, scavenger hunt and donation drive. Saturday August 1st, 2020. 10AM to 1PM. Virtual after party 5PM.The term “food bank” has long been a misnomer because these organizations provide community members with so much more than food. Food donations are always great, of course, but so are the other necessities like diapers, menstrual products, soap, toothbrushes and so much more.

So the Seattle Pedaling Relief Project, noting the need for more of these non-food items at their partner organizations, decided to organize a charity bike event to gather and drop-off donations. Inspired by Cranksgiving, the food drive bike ride Seattle Bike Blog has organized locally for ten years, Sani Cycle is a scavenger hunt that challenges individuals or teams to get on their bikes to gather items that food banks need.

The event is Saturday (August 1) at four different food banks in the city. But teams must register online by the end the day Thursday (tomorrow!). To prevent crowding at donation spots, each team will get a unique manifest with a food bank and time slot for drop-offs (teams are asked for their preferred times and locations during registration). That’s a pretty clever solution for preventing crowding during a bike event, and also why you need to register in advance. Teams will receive their manifests Friday, which will contain all further instructions.

Teams can be up to five people, though they should be people you are already in your COVID circle. It’s free to register, and there’s no minimum donation to participate. “Whatever you feel comfortable with is best,” the organizers wrote in the event description.

As we reported previously, the Pedaling Relief Project has been using bikes and volunteer power to help distribute goods from food banks and other organizations to community members who need them. The pandemic has greatly increased demand for delivery services as people either can’t or do not feel comfortable accessing the food bank in person. Now they have decided to try to help increase donations, as well.

More details from the Seattle Pedaling Relief Project:

This is a community bike ride / scavenger hunt / donation drive! Modeled after Seattle Bike Blog’s ‘Cranksgiving’, teams of 1-5 riders will be delivering sanitary products and other supplies to various food banks in the Seattle area while competing in fun challenges!

Participants in this event will receive a prize, a link to join us afterwards for a super cool Zoom with super cool folks, and the satisfaction of a job well done and a Saturday well spent.

How to Do This

1. Choose your team! You can ride as a lone wolf or you can ride on a team of up to five folks. Try to choose folks that are already in your riding / living / interacting circles.

2. As a team choose your first two choices for food banks to donate to, and first two choices for time slots to donate within. You will be given your final food bank and time slot on July 31st.

a. Your food bank options are:

i. Byrd Barr Food Bank

ii. Rainier Valley Food Bank

iii. El Centro de la Raza

iv. University Food Bank

b. Your time slot options are:

i. 10am – 11am

ii. 11am – 12pm

iii. 12pm – 1pm

3. Choose a team captain! This person will be filling out the registration form with the above info.

4. Each team member fills out the registration form! Woot! Now you’re ready to go!

(Full disclosure: My wonderful spouse Kelli helped organize Sani Cycle.)

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Person biking struck and killed in Woodinville

Someone driving turned left in front of a person biking in Woodinville Monday morning, striking and killing him.

Our condolences to his friends and family.

The person biking was a Woodinville man in his 40s on an e-bike, according to the King County Sheriff’s Department. He was headed westbound downhill on the wooded and winding NE 171st Street when a person driving, also from Woodinville, was headed eastbound. The person driving failed to yield when turning left onto 143rd Place NE directly in front the person biking, who collided with the side of the car. The person driving told police he didn’t see the victim, possibly in part due to glare from the sun. The collision happened around 9:50 a.m.

Photo from a roadway with a left turn lane. A treelined street is ahead.

Looking eastbound on NE 171st Street approaching 143rd Place NE. From Google Street View.

An investigation is ongoing, though the Sheriff’s Department spokesperson said they did not yet see signs of a criminal infraction.

Sun glare is often claimed as a factor in collisions, and while it is a real challenge it is not an excuse. People driving are still responsible for their vehicles regardless of visual conditions. When dealing with sun glare, people driving must slow down and be that much more aware and cautious. Life can change so suddenly, and cars are so deadly.

Again, our condolences to the victim’s loved ones.

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City will (finally) start accepting street closure permits for businesses

We have known for a while that the coronavirus doesn’t spread as easily outside as inside, yet so many Seattle businesses are obviously based inside storefronts. What if businesses could move more of their operations outside?

Cities all over the world have been allowing just that. Streets in major businesses districts have closed to traffic to allow a major expansion of outdoor restaurant seating and outdoor retail space. Nearby Bothell has demonstrated the concept well, for example:

The city already has permits for expanding onto sidewalks and parking spaces, which can work for many businesses. But those spaces are still limiting, and they can also cause added congestion on sidewalks or even accessibility problems if done poorly. Closing a street entirely provides a lot more space for everyone, which is vital right now.

The city will start accepting street closure permits Wednesday.

Of course, the biggest risk is that it becomes too popular. There’s a balance between helping businesses operate more safely and creating a crowded destination. The outbreak is on the rise, and Governor Jay Inslee just announced new restrictions such as prohibiting indoor service at bars and breweries. That makes expanded outdoor space even more important, but it also points to the general need for more social distancing and mask wearing. So yes, more outdoor business space. But also, stay home. Life during the outbreak is full of contradictions.

Not every street will be eligible for a full street closure, and permit applications must demonstrate support from neighboring businesses. The city offers permit “coaching” for interested applicants to better understand the process.

More details from Mayor Jenny Durkan’s press release: Continue reading

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Alert: Postponed U Bridge bike lane work rescheduled to start Monday

SDOT will close the northbound bike lane of the University Bridge Monday to Wednesday to install a higher-traction surface treatment across the bascule section of the bridge. The southbound bike lane will then be closed August 10 to 12.

As we reported previously, this work was delayed from its original schedule due to issues with the primer crews were planning to use. For more details on the project, see our original post.

Work both weeks will hopefully only require Monday and Tuesday closures, SDOT said in an email.

“If we are able to complete the work ahead of schedule we will check back on Tuesday evening to see if the treatment has completely set and the lanes can be reopened early,” said an SDOT spokesperson.

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Peace Peloton rides Saturday, expands to Tacoma + Video

The Peace Peloton rides Saturday from The Station coffee shop near Beacon Hill light rail station to Maple Wood Playfield in South Beacon Hill.

Meet at The Station from 10 to noon, then ride all over Beacon Hill and Rainier Valley before ending in the park. Food trucks Al’s Gourmet Sausages and Swagg-N-Wagon will be there for snacks and such.

The Peace Peloton is a growing and expanding effort to ride bikes, learn about economic reform for Black people and support businesses owned by Black and brown people. Watch the video above for more insight into the mission.

RSVP online if you plan to attend so organizers and businesses can be better prepared.

In other exciting news, Peace Peloton organizer Doc Wilson told the Cascade Blog that organizers are planning the first Tacoma Peace Peloton August 9.

More details from the InGaj website: Continue reading

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Thanks to concerned neighbors, SPU is reconsidering multi-year Ship Canal Trail detour

Thanks to concerns from neighbors, especially Queen Anne Greenways, Seattle Public Utilities and a contractor working on the Ship Canal Water Quality Project will not be closing the Ship Canal Trail and detouring people to Nickerson Street as announced in a recent project update. Work is moving forward, but the trail will remain open in the meantime while they figure out a different detour route (if one is needed at all).

This is a very big deal because this detour was set to be in place for more than two years.

The detour route previously announced (pictured in the tweet above) would have required people to bike in mixed traffic on Nickerson Street. The announcement said the people could bike in the Nickerson bike lanes, but there is no eastbound bike lane on this stretch of the busy street. City bike maps note the street as a bike route because it has a westbound bike lane. But as anyone who bikes is very aware, a bike lane in only one direction does not make a bike route because people don’t only travel in one direction. And the Ship Canal Trail is used by people of all ages an abilities, including children. Detouring the trail into traffic for years is not an acceptable option.

If the trail does need to close, the obvious solution would be to create a temporary trail along the north side of Nickerson St. SPU had a fairly high quality trail for a long-term closure of the Burke-Gilman Trail in Fremont in recent years, and that should be the standard for the Ship Canal Trail, too.

The messy detour rollout is likely also due to the way the pandemic has impeded public outreach. Work is moving forward, but the usual opportunities to solicit public feedback have been limited. This is the kind of issue that could have been caught and fixed much earlier. The planned detour probably looked fine if you were only looking at the Seattle Bike Map, but anyone who bikes in the area could have told the team that the reality on the ground is much different. Both public and private project teams need to find ways to make sure they are not skipping or glossing over public outreach during the pandemic.

More details from SPU: Continue reading

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Following successful test, Lake Washington Blvd will go car-light again

Map of the Keep Moving Street route.Lake Washington Boulevard is going car-free(ish) again starting Friday and continuing until at least Labor Day.

SDOT and Seattle Parks tested the concept of what they call a “Keep Moving Street” on the stories lakefront street for five days in late June. The street is marked as closed to cars, though people can still drive on it if they are accessing a home (whether they live there, are visiting someone or are making a delivery or service call). So it’s not entirely closed to cars, but cars are very limited. People are allowed to walk in the street, which helps limit overcrowding on the skinny sidewalks and paths along the lake.

The city collected feedback following the five-day test, and the response was very positive, according to an SDOT Blog post. More than two-thirds of respondents enjoyed the pilot, according to a non-scientific online survey.

Parking lots along the waterfront remain closed in an attempt by Seattle Parks to limit crowding in what would typically be one of the busiest summertime waterfronts in the city. This is where Seafair festivities are centered, after all. So closing the street helps to maintain that goal while also creating more open space for the people who do go there. Extra accessible parking has been added at both ends of the route, and the Seward Park parking lot is entirely dedicated to accessible parking.

How did the pilot go?

City staff studied travel habits and measured car and bike volumes before and after the June pilot, and it was successful by nearly every measure. Biking increased a lot, but not so much that overcrowding would become a problem, they found: Continue reading

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POSTPONED: Southbound U Bridge bike lane closed through Tuesday, NB closed 7/27-29 – UPDATED

UPDATE 7/24: The work is now scheduled for 7/27-29 northbound and 8/10-12 southbound.

UPDATE: This work has been postponed. From SDOT: “Unfortunately, this work has been postponed. When we opened the buckets of primer yesterday, we discovered that it had hardened inside of the sealed buckets and was unusable. So we reopened the bike lanes last night around 7pm and are waiting to hear back from the manufacturer on when new materials will arrive.”

Previous post:

The southbound University Bridge bike lane will be closed today until early Wednesday morning, SDOT announced today. The northbound lane will be closed July 27 until early July 29.

SDOT crews are installing a high friction coating to the sections of bike lane over the bascule bridge. The metal grating has long been filled in with concrete for the bike lanes, but the concrete is recessed a bit. Bike tires still touch the metal, which can be very slippery when wet. Hopefully, the new coating will make it more comfortable to bike and improve traction in case users need to brake.

Unfortunately, users don’t have great options for getting around the closures. There is a sidewalk, but it’s pretty skinny. You can also bike in the general purpose lanes, but be aware that the metal grating can be very slippery when wet and can feel a bit squirrelly when dry.

The city started testing the idea back in October, and you may have noticed a small rectangle of green. I guess it was successful, because now the whole bike lane is getting the treatment:

The closure will be 24-hours because the materials need to cure. Timelines are weather dependent. More details from SDOT: Continue reading

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Trail Alert: Green River Trail closed at Tukwila Intl Blvd until December

Map of the detour route.The Green River Trail is closed on the south side of the Duwamish River between Tuwila International Boulevard and E Marginal Way S until November 30. The City of Tukwila is working to daylight Riverton Creek, “which has been flowing through a pipe for roughly 50 years,” according to Tukwila.

The detour follows S 112th St and E Marginal Way S, which both have painted bike lanes most of the way. The only potential tricky part is turning left from Marginal to 112th when headed north, where the is no traffic signal. There is a center turn lane.

But the work sounds great, daylighting the creek as part of an effort to restore it and its coho salmon runs. There will also be new public art when the trail reopens.

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Technicality about updating railroad track delays Ballard Missing Link until 2022

Design concept for the new rail crossing near the intersection of Shilshole and NW 45th Street.

The city’s trail design would realign the railroad tracks. A court decision says the Feds have jurisdiction over such a decision.

Appellants fighting the city’s decades-long plan to finally complete the Ballard Missing Link of the Burke-Gilman Trail have successfully found another legal maneuver to further delay the needed safety project until 2022, the Seattle Times reports.

A King County Court has decided (PDF) that Seattle cannot redesign the railroad tracks along Shilshole Ave NW and NW 45th Street without first getting approval from the Federal Surface Transportation Board. Though the city’s planned trail route would not remove the mostly-abandoned (but still technically operational) railroad tracks, there are points in the current trail design where tracks would be realigned to make crossings work better. These rebuilt sections of track would be funded by the city, which owns the tracks, not the Ballard Terminal Railroad. The issue isn’t that there’s anything wrong with the city’s plan, just that they need another approval. And every new process opens more opportunities to find more technicalities to further delay the project.

This design was the result of a much-lauded “compromise” between many industrial leaders and trail supporters. Now details of that compromise has been used against the city to further delay the project. Every time the Missing Link comes up for debate again, people say, “Let’s just get trail supporters and opponents together at the same table and work out a deal.” So much for that.

Two people shake hands near a podium. A group of people stand behind them.

Former Councilmember Mike O’Brien, a longtime trail supporter, and Warren Aakervik, the retired owner of Ballard Oil, shook hands during a 2017 press conference announcing a compromise deal.

The City of Seattle will appeal the decision, saying it “could have concerning broader implications for public safety,” according to a statement (see full statement below). Cascade Bicycle Club, which has long championed the trail and legally intervened on the city’s behalf, put out a statement that the decision does not alter the fate of the project, but does add delay: Continue reading

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Watch: ‘This is no longer a Disaster Relief Trials, this is disaster relief’

Maxwell Burton and Michael Lang had started organizing the 2020 Disaster Relief Trials, a cargo-hauling bike competition, when the COVID-19 outbreak hit. As soon as schools closed down in the spring, Lang and Burton realized their mission had just changed.

The Disaster Relief Trials (“DRT”) is “a trial competition that’s meant to simulate a natural disaster happening in an area,” said Burton in a recent interview for Seattle Bike Blog TV (SBBTV). During a disaster, “bikes, and especially cargo bikes, are going to be the most flexible way to transport needed goods and medical supplies and water and other things around.”

Seattle has held DRTs several times over the past decade, usually organized by Familybike Seattle. It’s a ton of fun, but it’s also very informative. Teams or individuals bike around the city completing various tasks, from hauling water or “medicine” (usually an egg that you need to deliver unbroken) to demonstrating that you can fix a flat tire or carry your bike over a blocked path. It also connects different community-led and public disaster preparedness efforts, and it gets participants to think about their own personal disaster planning (or, commonly, the lack thereof).

But when schools and businesses closed and people hunkered down to prevent the spread of this scary respiratory disease, Lang and Burton knew that the crisis all the previous DRTs were practicing for had just arrived.

“This isn’t a trials anymore,” said Burton. “This is no longer a Disaster Relief Trials. This is disaster relief.”

So they threw out all their planning notes for the event and created the Seattle Pedaling Relief Project (“SPRP”), an all-volunteer effort designed to help food banks and other community organizations with the huge logistical challenge of getting resources to people who need them. One of the unexpected challenges of a pandemic is that many of the most vulnerable people in the community can no longer safely or comfortably access services like food banks the way they used to. Meanwhile, the need for services like food banks has increased as people have lost work.

The SPRP forms relationships with service providers and organizes volunteer opportunities for people with bikes to help make deliveries. Continue reading

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