Attorney seeks people who have had incidents at fatal Issaquah trail crossing

Photo of the intersection in question, from John Duggan.

Wayne Wagner was biking on the East Lake Sammamish Trail September 22 when a woman driving made a right turn into him at SE 56th Street and killed him, according to the Issaquah Reporter. Wagner was 69.

Our condolences to his friends and family.

The trail runs alongside East Lake Sammamish Parkway in this part of Issaquah. At the intersection with SE 56th Street, the trail crosses 56th Street as a crosswalk. People driving are allowed to turn right at the same time that the crosswalk has a “walk” signal, but signage clarifies that they are supposed to yield to people in the crosswalk.

The incident is still under investigation, so it’s not yet clear what (if any) charges will be filed.

Cycling attorney John Duggan (also a Seattle Bike Blog advertiser) is pursuing a wrongful death case, and is seeking anyone who has had incidents at this trail crossing. Get in touch by emailing john@dugganbikelaw.com.

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Aviva Stephens: How a bike saved my life

EDITOR’S NOTE: I’m excited to feature this post by Aviva Stephens, a Seattle native and financial professional who discovered the benefits and joys of cycling on her challenging work commute between Ballard and the Eastside. Find more of her writing on Medium and follow her on Instagram at @avivarachelle.

I am a working stiff in the corporate rat race where I spend most days tethered to desks, meeting rooms, conference calls, cocktail bars, and motor vehicles: which means a lot of sitting. Early in my career I found that I could not sit for long periods of time so I learned to use a standing desk, take frequent breaks, and not work crazy hours, but I always struggled to incorporate sufficient exercise into my daily routine. Since I am in an occupation that’s known to be stressful (not sure which occupation is relaxing) I took up yoga and got really into it for some time. While yoga is a great all body workout and helped me stop smoking, it’s expensive and yoga studios have an ironically pretentious and cultish environment that I could never quite get with.

Bikes in Seattle

As a struggle to vinyasa some sun salutations into my daily routine, I saw that the bike community in Seattle had grown beyond bike messengers and white middle aged weekend carbon fiber road bike worriers (aka, Lance Armstrong drones). During this time, I moved into a sweet new pad and next door to Swift Industries (the most awesome bike bag company), and they inspired to hop on the bike!

Well … it didn’t happen overnight. While my friends at Swift were super inspiring, I was super intimidated to ride a bike in Seattle (hills, rain, hair, cold, traffic, sweat, apparel, can I even ride a bike?) and they were my neighbors for at least a year before I took the leap onto the peddles. Continue reading

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What can we learn from this scary close call video?

OK, Seattle, we need to talk about this close call video going around.

David Seater, who is the Chair of Seattle’s volunteer Pedestrian Advisory Board, was biking uphill on Pine Street on Capitol Hill earlier this week when someone driving a pickup chose to lay on the horn and make a purposeful, extremely close pass. Luck is the only reason the person driving didn’t hit Seater, causing serious injury or worse.

I am not posting this video to stoke anger. I also don’t want it to further scare people from biking, which is what the person driving here wants. But the video has ignited all kinds of bigger conversations, from questions about what constitutes a criminal threat when your weapon is a car to why someone biking might not always be in the bike lane. So if you’re feeling up to it (it’s troubling), give the short video a watch:

Continue reading

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The community-advised Missing Link design keeps getting better for everyone

The project includes a bunch of new and upgraded traffic signals, which help everyone.

The Ballard Missing Link of the Burke-Gilman Trail has been debated and challenged in court for two decades, and sometimes it’s hard in such a long, frustrating process to remember what this thing is really about.

On average, about two people crash badly enough every month along the Missing Link that they need emergency medical help. And this will not stop until the trail is complete. If work goes smoothly and legal challenges fail (the weeklong hearing is scheduled to begin November 27), construction will break ground in May 2018, and the final section of the Burke-Gilman Trail will open in May 2019, 41 years after the first section opened between Gas Works Park and Kenmore.

The Burke-Gilman Trail is a gem of our city and carries a major transportation load for the region. Some stretches move as many people during peak rush hour as a lane of a major freeway. And it does it with healthy, fun and safe biking and walking. It’s a beautiful success story we should never forget to celebrate and work to repeat and grow.

Plans for the Missing Link have reached 60 percent design (see updated designs in this PDF slideshow presented to the Seattle Pedestrian Advisory Board), developed through an intense stakeholder process where nearby businesses and people who live and work in the area have scoured every inch of the trail route to make sure business needs are addressed and safety is a priority.

Below is a look at the latest version of the trail plans, starting at the Locks and heading east: Continue reading

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Learn how to become a leader in the safe streets movement in 2 weekends

OK, maybe you won’t be able to learn everything you need to know to become a safe streets leader in just two weekends, but you’ll get a jump start.

Cascade Bicycle Club’s free Advocacy Leadership Institute is an innovative program that teaches community members how to organize around an issue, work with the media and craft their own personal stories to highlight a community need.

Alumni of the program have gone on to become leaders of all kinds of local efforts, some of which have nothing to do with Cascade at all. Kelli Refer, Statewide Engagement Director for Cascade (and, full disclosure, also my awesome and inspiring spouse) interviewed four graduates for a recent blog post.

I love this program because biking and safe streets are the perfect issues to cut your teeth as a community advocate or organizer. And the more new voices there are, the stronger and more complete the movement will be. So if you’ve been itching to get more involved, but don’t know where to start, you should apply. No previous experience of any kind is required.

The deadline to apply is Friday for the late October/early November program. You can find more details and the sign up form on Cascade’s websiteContinue reading

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It’s getting dark earlier, so let’s talk about bike lights

Biking at night is one of my favorite things to do. As we wrote in our 2013 bike light story, “a nighttime bike ride can turn a simple errand into an existential experience.”

It’s true. The pace of the city slows way down at night. All the wooded areas come alive. The magnificent vistas transform. The experience forces meditation and self-reflection, a vital part of a healthy life that is so easy to neglect in a busy city.

But you gotta have lights on your bike to ride at night. The law requires a headlight and a rear reflector, but a rear taillight is highly recommended.

Unfortunately, bikes in our country don’t just come standard with proper lights, and there are a huge array of confusing bike light options available out there. This is a frustrating legacy of the U.S. bike industry treating bikes as recreational sports equipment rather than practical transportation machines. Most people just want whatever lights they need to be safe and legal, and then they never want to think about their bike lights ever again. Can you imagine if cars were sold without lights? Of course not.

Here is Seattle Bike Blog’s advice for buying and using bike lights: Continue reading

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Friends on Bikes Seattle launches Saturday with brunch and bike overnight

SJ moved to Seattle via Boston and Montreal, and has been involved in the bike industry now on both coasts. And they have seen a persistent problem.

“Certain cultures and certain genders aren’t associated with bicycling even though all those people do bicycle,” they said. One example of how this problem manifests is in people’s experiences in many bike shops.

“A lot of women, especially women of color, would go into bike shops and have a bad experience,” they said. And that bad experience means even though someone might bike to get around, a bad bike shop experience might dissuade them from learning more.

So SJ started looking for ways to create a bike community where women/trans/femme/non-binary people of color come together and have fun on bikes. They found Friends on Bikes down in Portland, joined a bike overnight with the group down there and was inspired to start a Seattle chapter.

SJ said they were listening to the podcast Hella Black Hella Seattle, and loved an idea brought up about “curated space.” That’s how SJ sees Friends on Bikes. It’s a chance for people to come together and talk about what kind of biking they like to do, and share that with others.

SJ said the group is “a safe space for people out there who ride bikes or want to ride bikes.” And as they note, women are biggest untapped market for cycling growth in our city and country. Indeed, a huge percentage of Seattle’s newest bike commuters are women, Seattle Bike Blog found after crunching 2015 Census data. But there is still a ton of room for that to grow.

SJ is hosting a brunch Saturday at the Swift Industries headquarters in Pioneer Square to kick off the group. Interested people are also invited to join a relatively easy (optional) bike camping overnight trip afterwards.

“Everybody bikes differently,” they said. “Brunch can be a relaxed forum where lots of people can come forward and say, this is the kind of biking I do.”

More details from the kickoff brunch event listing: Continue reading

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By adding bike share, the Transit App just became the ultimate Seattle car-free mobility tool

I’m trying to get from here to there, and all I have with me is my ORCA card, my phone and my feet. What’s the best way?

The Transit App knows.

The app for Android and iOS works in cities all over the world, pulling all transit agency schedules, whatever real-time transit data exists, car share locations, walking and biking all into one convenient and easy-to-use place.

It was already my favorite app for navigating the city on transit, but today the app added private bike share data and blew me away.

For the first time you can see all the available bikes near you from ofo, Spin or LimeBike in one spot.

But that’s not even the best part. If you use the app’s routing feature (drag the screen around until the purple dot is on your destination, then tap the arrow in the top corner), the app will calculate your best real-time transit options as well as how long it would take to bike share there, walking time included. Continue reading

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Scenes from our move by bike

Photos and video in this post by Brock Howell, Editor of Bike Happy and Founder of Bicycle Security Advisors. Thanks, Brock!

A couple weeks ago, my spouse Kelli and I moved from the Central District to the Wallingford/U District area. And with the help of nearly 20 amazing friends — old and new — we did it by bike.

I have moved big items before, like dressers and mattresses for friends or random office stuff for Cascade Bicycle Club. But I had never tried to move my whole house of stuff in a big bike parade. It was a beautiful showcasing of the power of people working together. It was awesome.

Since writing about our plans to move by bike a month ago, I’ve received several questions from people interested in the idea who asked for advice. I don’t know if there is universal advice to give, but here’s what we did. Continue reading

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Bike News Roundup: The Classic American Road Diet

It’s time for the Bike News Roundup! Here’s some interesting stuff floating around the web lately.

First up, here’s a pretty good explanation of one way to redesign a four-lane street to be safer and more efficient. Seattle has so many streets that need this:

Continue reading

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New Pike/Pine bike lanes give a taste of their potential, but have been cut too short

For four glorious blocks between 2nd and 6th Avenues, Seattle’s new bike lane on Pike Street is a strong demonstration of how a connected network of bike lanes would dramatically increase the comfort and appeal of biking downtown. You can now bike from Pioneer Square to Westlake Park and major retail destinations along 5th Ave entirely within bike lanes separated from car traffic. The left-side bike lane, where it exists, is comfortable and intuitive to use, and major bus routes still maintain priority on the right side of the street.

And as the Urbanist points out, the biggest winner from the project might be people on foot, who are put in fewer situations where they are trying to cross busy streets while someone driving is trying to turn.

And SDOT designed and constructed it quickly using low-cost materials. It went from idea to reality in less than a year, which is light speed for city transportation projects.

The four good blocks of the new Pike Street show off a vision of downtown streets that prioritizes biking, walking and transit — modes that need space to grow in order to absorb the city and region’s steady growth — while still maintaining access for people driving and making deliveries. This is what it looks like when the city redesigns our existing streets to be safer and more efficient.

The problem is that the redesign ends before making a useful bike connection. So until it is extended to at least 8th Ave (preferably all the way to Broadway), it will remain only a demonstration of the future potential of a bike network. Until then, people are dumped out into mixed traffic halfway between 6th and 7th Avenues, and left to find their way through downtown traffic like before. Continue reading

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There’s nobody like Derek Blaylock, 1966-2016

Derek and his sons Ben and Geoff at the Tour de France in the summer of 2016. Photo courtesy of Jane.

Jane met Derek in the circulation department of the Seattle Times in 1988, and he wooed her by drawing silly cartoons for her. She still has some of those cartoons, and included a couple in the booklet for his funeral. They are nestled in right next to photos of a scruffy man, his wife and the two school-age sons he loved.

Derek Blaylock was killed one year ago while biking home from the Northgate Transit Center. The man who allegedly killed him has been charged with vehicular homicide and hit and run. If guilty, Blaylock would be the second person Kevin Brewer has killed while driving. He was arraigned in King County Superior Court today and released on $100,000 bail with the condition that he not drive.

But this story isn’t about Brewer or that awful day, September 21, 2016. This story is about a funny, reserved man who graced this region for half a century, from his childhood in Lynnwood with a bedroom wall fully dedicated to the band Kiss to his life as a husband and father in Seattle.

“He was completely charming,” his wife Jane told Seattle Bike Blog outside a Phinney Ridge coffee shop recently. He chose his words carefully, and that included his jokes.

“He had one-liners that would leave people on the floor,” said Jane.

Derek was “a major health nut,” and he could cook like no other. He drank a kale and flaxseed smoothie every morning (she grimaced at the thought of the drink, which she described as “gray”) and enjoyed a Gibson martini every Friday (gin and vermouth with a pickled onion). Continue reading

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WA Bikes endorses Moon for Mayor + more across the region and state

WA Bikes has endorsed Cary Moon for Seattle Mayor.

The politically-active sibling organization to Cascade Bicycle Club released its latest round of 2017 endorsements Tuesday, and Senior Policy Director Blake Trask said the organization will be writing more about their choices over the next week.

The choice of Moon for Mayor puts WA Bikes at odds with Transportation for Washington, who endorsed Jenny Durkan. TFW is the politically-active sibling to Transportation Choices Coalition. TFW is focused primarily on transit, but also includes biking and walking in their mission. The organization had endorsed Jessyn Farrell in the primary. TFW and WA Bikes are on the same page on most their choices, so the Mayor disagreement is notable.

Seattle Subway, which has endorsed Moon, expressed surprise at the TFW endorsement of Durkan, since their transit-loving members strongly favor Moon.

In Seattle, WA Bikes had already endorsed Teresa Mosqueda and Lorena González for their City Council Positions during the primary and continue to support them in the general election.

Seattle Bike Blog has not yet endorsed a candidate for Mayor or City Council Position 8 (of course you should vote for Lorena Gonzalez for Position 9). Let us know what questions you want Seattle Bike Blog to ask Moon, Durkan, Jon Grant and Teresa Mosqueda in the comments below.

You can also see Moon and Durkan debate their visions for a livable Seattle at the Mayoral Forum on Arts and the Environment noon Monday at KEXP.

The deadline to register to vote online is October 9. Ballots will be mailed October 18. The election is November 7.

Here is the cheat sheet for the rest of the WA Bikes endorsements:

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Missing Link community design reaches major milestone + Public workshop Thursday

The latest designs include new and upgraded traffic signals to help everyone, whether biking, walking, driving a car or driving a truck.

The design for the Ballard Missing Link continues to move forward, reaching a major milestone that puts it on track for construction starting in winter 2018.

You can check out the latest design details and weigh in at a design workshop 4:30 – 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Ballard Eagleson VFW.

Of course, the design work is all contingent on a good outcome from an ongoing lawsuit once again trying to delay or derail the project that has reached two decades of debate and legal battles. The lawsuit has already added another truckload to the Missing Link document mountain (this must be the most-documented 1.4 miles of trail in the world). A hearing is currently scheduled for October 16. A pre-hearing conference is scheduled for Friday.

Former Mayor Ed Murray announced the trail compromise in February flanked by local industry representatives and trail supporters, saying, “Today’s major announcement ends 20 years of lawsuits, studies and counter studies.” Seattle Bike Blog asked whether the compromise included a promise not to sue, and Murray said, “I feel pretty good that we have a track record [of getting lawsuits dropped].” So much for that.

Now it falls to Mayor Tim Burgess and Seattle’s next mayor to carry this compromise forward to the end and finish it. I hope they learn from Mayor Murray’s experience and realize that trail appellants won’t stop suing even if you agree to a compromise.

Yet the compromising continues despite the lawsuit. That’s above and beyond what trail supporters and SDOT need to do if the courts are going to decide it all anyway. Dropping the lawsuit probably should have been a condition of compromising. But the city has been actively courting the opinions and needs of appellants, anyway. And that’s the best the city can do at this point: Bring as many people as possible into the design process, address as many concerns as possible, and then build it.

Details of the community design should help ease many trail opponents’ worries about the project. The number of parking spaces removed has been greatly reduced in the latest design. While original estimates from the environmental mega study put the parking space removal count at 344, the design team was able to squeeze in 186 more spots. So the trail will now displace fewer than half as many parking spots as originally announced.  Continue reading

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City will build a few blocks of very needed Pike/Pine bike lanes this weekend

SDOT crews will install five blocks of protected bike lanes on Pike and Pine Streets downtown this weekend, making a vital connection to the under-construction 2nd Ave bike lane in the heart of the downtown retail core.

If the weather holds out and work goes smoothly, the bike lanes should be open Monday. Once completed, the bike lanes will be the most significant bike improvement downtown since 2014, when the initial section of the 2nd Ave bike lanes opened.

Since it is a significant change in a busy area, volunteers from Cascade Bicycle Club and Seattle Neighborhood Greenways will be on the ground during the morning and afternoon commutes to help educate folks about the changes. If you want to help (especially for the afternoon shift), sign up online. (Full Disclosure: My wonderful spouse Kelli is one of the organizers.)

As we reported last month, the plans fall just short of making a complete connection either to Capitol Hill or to South Lake Union via 8th Ave. At least for a while, there will be a gap after 6th Ave on Pike Street where the bike lane disappears. Heading west on Pine, people will also need to shift from the right side of Pine Street to the new left-hand bike lane at 8th Ave, which could be confusing and disjointed.

Several readers were upset after reading my August post because they felt I was praising SDOT too much for a project that actually falls short. While it is certainly frustrating that this project will not actually connect to any other bike lanes, don’t overlook how big a deal even this short stretch is. I believe you can simultaneously be disappointed by a project’s shortcomings and excited about the parts that are included.

I mean, just look at this new connection to Westlake Station. A protected bike lane will pass in front of the entrance, and the area left of the bike lane is planned as future TBD people-focused space (See also: Pike Pine Renaissance). This is genuinely awesome and exactly what the space outside this popular transit station needs:

Continue reading

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Man charged with killing father biking in Northgate had also killed woman walking in Marysville

Derek Blaylock was biking home from the bus stop on his way back from work when Kevin Brewer, 51, allegedly struck him with his pick-up truck and drove away from the scene. Blaylock died within an hour. He was 50 years old with a wife and two young children.

Our deepest condolences to his family and all his friends.

“On Tuesday morning, September 21, 2016, [50-year-old] Derek Blaylock dropped his son off at elementary school, parked his car, and rode his bicycle to the bus. He would never see his son again,” the King County Prosecutor wrote in the charging documents. He would be killed while biking on his way back that afternoon.

Blaylock would be the second person Brewer has allegedly killed while driving. He killed Nicole Cheek, a 58-year-old grandmother who was walking in Marysville in 2008, the Herald reported at the time. Brewer also left the scene in 2008, leaving Cheek for dead. Her body was not discovered for more than an hour. Brewer eventually came forward and pleaded guilty to felony hit and run. He said he fell asleep while driving and thought he had hit a mailbox. He was sentenced to three and a half years in prison and was released in December 2011, the Seattle Times reports.

Despite his time in prison, 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.” Brewer has sleep apnea, and friends told investigators that “he appears to doze off periodically,” according to the charging documents.

“He is well aware that he is at grave risk for falling asleep while driving,” the Prosecutor noted. Continue reading

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Bike share ridership is booming + Spin launches better bike, Forbes says LimeBike valued at $200M

Free-floating bike share is working in Seattle. Or at least it sure appears that way according to the city’s first analysis of anonymized private bike share data.

In just two months, people have already taken 120,000 trips on the bikes. And because companies are steadily increasing the number of bikes on the streets, the number of rides each day continues to grow at a steep rate. 6,000 bikes are currently permitted, but SDOT’s Kyle Rowe told the Committee that he estimates the actual number on the ground now is closer to 4,000 and increasingly daily.

In fact, as bike share companies add bikes to Seattle streets, the number of rides per bike per day has increased, as well. This is a big deal, since the business model for free-floating bike share is essentially dependent on this virtuous cycle in which adding more bikes leads to each bike carrying more trips and making more money.

This is good for Seattle, since it gives companies a clear incentive to keep adding more service to the city. And, of course, it’s a good thing for the companies who need to make money to stay in operation and keep expanding. At what point will adding more bikes fail to further increase ridership? Nobody knows. But we likely have a long way to go before we reach that saturation point.

SDOT officials presented (PDF, video) the City Council’s Transportation and Sustainability Committee with a first look at two months of bike share activity in the city, based on data companies are required to report as a condition of the permit. The data adds LimeBike, Spin and ofo information together to look at the sector in general without exposing individual company operations.

The graphs they showed were astounding. Here’s the growth in rides per day: Continue reading

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Seattle startup crowdfunding bike-focused vending machines

Rider Oasis has one machine in operation inside Peddler Brewing.

Seattle Bike Blog loves all our city’s local bike shops. But they all have one problem in common: They aren’t open 24/7.

And of course they aren’t. But what if you need a new tube for your morning commute? Or what if you get a flat in an area without a nearby bike shop? Or what if you’re just plain bonking in the middle of a long ride?

That’s where Rider Oasis comes in. The young company has plans to launch dozens of public-facing vending machines in the Seattle area stocked with bike-fixing necessities and pick-me-up snacks to keep people moving.

“Our goal is to have between 30 and 50 machines over the next two to five years,” said CEO and Co-Founder Aaron Mass. “We think there’s that much capacity within Seattle.”

Though Seattle is the first focus, “eventually the plan is to expand along the entire West Coast.”

The company has had one machine in operation inside Peddler Brewing for a while now, but the primary goal of the business is to have machines in locations accessible 24/7.

Bike part vending machines are not new in the world or even the U.S. Bikestock operates out of New York City and Bike Fixation has machines in Minneapolis. But the idea has not yet reached the West Coast in a big way, Mass said.

The company, which started as a UW business school project, has launched an indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to get off the ground: Continue reading

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New downtown vision includes 4th Ave bike lanes, new transit pathway on 6th Ave

Map presented to the One Center City Advisory Group.

After months of talks, agency leaders have a near-term plan for downtown streets that both builds a two-way protected bike lane on 4th Ave and creates a transit pathway to keep buses moving once they are kicked out of the transit tunnel next year.

The plan as presented to the Once Center City Advisory Group (PDF) would improve transit travel times for buses even after building a new protected bike lane on 4th Ave. This looks like a promising resolution to one of the biggest sticking points in the downtown transportation remake effort. And instead of pitting transit against biking, the new effort looks at how prioritizing both could lead to big increases in downtown street capacity.

When all the planned near-term changes are complete (including complete Pike/Pine bike lanes from 2nd to Broadway, bike lanes on 7th and 8th Avenues, a connection to Dearborn in the south end and the under-construction 2nd Ave bike lane extension in Belltown), analysis predicts a nearly 160 percent increase in daily bike trips downtown by 2023. This includes an estimated 25,000 bike share trips as both bike lane and shared bike networks grow.

Continue reading

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Friday is Park(ing) Day + Map of your local one-day mini parks – UPDATED

UPDATE: You can follow my adventures to parks around town below.

Park(ing) Day 2017 is tomorrow (Friday). For one day, neighborhoods across the city will have new mini parks, constructed and activated by neighbors.

It’s a day dedicated to new ideas for how public space can be used. And it’s a day to highlight just how much valuable space we are dedicating to the storage of cars. When public space is available to our creativity, people do amazing things.

The day goes from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. There are 47 parks planned, so be sure to give yourself some extra time to visit a few. Or, you know, tomorrow could be a good day to *cough, cough* call in sick.

I probably don’t need to tell you, but your bicycle is the best way to tour as many parks as you can see. It could also be a great chance to try out mixing transit and bike share (that’s my plan).

You can see the city’s map of 2017 parks below. For an idea of what to expect, check out our coverage from previous years. Continue reading

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