District 6 Endorsement: Dan Strauss

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Seattle City Council Districts map.District 6 should have been an easy call if not for the damn Ballard Missing Link. Dan Strauss says all the right things about biking policy except for the Missing Link. But that’s a big one.

He has his own idea for how the trail could go partially along the rail line as planned and partially on Leary, and he seems determined to push for that despite overwhelming support for the city’s planned, designed and funded route currently tied up in the courts. Almost nobody in Seattle wants to reopen the Missing Link process and argue about it all over again. Over the past two decades, generations of Seattleites have argued about everything there is to argue about, and then some. We just need to build the compromise design we have and move on to other needs.

I know a lot of you can’t imagine voting for someone who, after decades of arguing over every inch of this trail, won’t support the city’s plans to complete it. I don’t blame you.

Unfortunately, his opponent Heidi Wills doesn’t have a good position on the Missing Link, either. She continues to talk about building an extraordinarily expensive and impractical elevated trail. Sure, at first it sounds fun and all to be up high, but the idea immediately falls apart under any scrutiny. It would cost tens of millions of dollars that A: We don’t have budgeted and B: If we were to find would be better spent on other vital bike network gaps with real life barriers to overcome (like waterways, busy rail lines or freeways). Spending that much money to get over a barrier that is purely political makes no sense. Really, an elevated trail is a distraction that would never happen. It’s an excuse to continue failing to complete this gap and make the area safe for biking and walking.

Wills says she supports dedicated bike lanes generally and talks a big game about walking safety.

But beyond all that, Wills already lost this job once following a corruption scandal. I am surprised she has made it this far, since I don’t see how people are so quick to trust her after that. She had her chance on Council, and I don’t see any particularly convincing evidence that she has gone above and beyond to earn another one.

If you somehow manage to ignore the Missing Link, Strauss is great on transportation. He also has had a scary personal experience that informs his strong support for protected bike lanes, as he writes on his campaign website (PDF):

“I know as well as anyone the importance of a connected network of protected bike lanes – I was once hit by a driver and nearly killed while cycling. Cycling in traffic – and even in bike lanes without protective barriers – is intimidating to all but the most experienced cyclists and is unsafe for everyone, including drivers. Creating separate, protected lanes increases ridership – the Second Ave bike lane saw over 4 times as many riders after it was upgraded to a protected lane – and makes biking for work and recreation a viable option for many more Seattleites.”

I take Strauss at his word on this. Unfortunately, that means I also have to take him on his word about the Missing Link. Given the options, I think Strauss is still the best choice. And at least in theory, the Missing Link shouldn’t need to go to the Council again. And even if Strauss really wants to stop it, he would need to convince a majority of the Council to side with him. Of course that’s not impossible, but it’s a pretty tall order.

Washington Bikes did not endorse either candidate in this race. Seattle Subway (PDF), the Urbanist and the Transit Riders Union endorsed Strauss.

So elect Strauss.

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District 5 Endorsement: Debora Juarez

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Seattle City Council Districts map.Look, the fun City Council endorsements are over. Districts 5, 6 and 7 are each fairly disappointing by comparison to 2, 3, and 4. But Seattle Bike Blog is still going to endorse anyway.

Debora Juarez has not been a bold champion for biking. Even though 35th Ave NE is partially within her district, she did nothing to support a good, safe solution out of that big-budget repaving project. And the resulting project is awful. We needed leaders to stand up for the city’s Bike Master Plan and climate change goals. Juarez did not.

I hope Juarez learned something from the 35th debacle. Our city’s safe streets plans, including the Bicycle Master Plan, are bold and need her support. And when Seattle enacts them, they work. We would want to see some clear dedication to taking action on safe streets if we are going to support her next election.

In the end, her final votes have mostly been good, even if she tried at times to water down safe streets efforts. For example, she expressed that she would have supported Councilmember Herbold’s amendment to water down the bike safety ordinance had Herbold not pulled it from consideration. But she still voted yes on the final ordinance.

But all this is only nitpicking because her opponent would be truly terrible. Ann Davison Sattler wants to round up people experiencing homelessness and store them in warehouses. No, really. It’s disgusting and inhumane, and she and her ideas deserve to be defeated by an embarrassing margin this election.

Washington Bikes did not endorse anyone in District 5 this year. Seattle Subway (PDF), the Urbanist and the Transit Riders Union endorsed Juarez.

So reelect Juarez.

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District 4 Endorsement: Shaun Scott

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Seattle City Council Districts map.This one is a no-brainer. District 4, my district, should elect Shaun Scott to the City Council.

There are elections where you vote for someone you believe in, and there are elections where you vote against someone you think would be harmful. Both are true in this race.

Shaun Scott does not shy away from big ideas. He is not afraid of making bold changes. His ideas for Seattle’s Green New Deal are appropriately and necessarily big. He’s not going to spit B.S. at you and pretend that adding some electric car chargers is going to solve climate change. He’s going to talk about how to build a ton of affordable housing near improved transit service. He’s going to talk about completing the Bicycle Master Plan even when it gets politically difficult. And he’s going to talk about not just how our city’s carbon emissions are bad for the climate, but how the pollution from burning those fossil fuels disproportionately impacts the health of working people and communities of color.

But it’s not just his ideas that are exciting. Scott has also inspired a movement. He maxed out on the city’s democracy voucher system in record time, almost making a joke of the program’s limits. He encouraged his campaign staff to unionize, which is extremely rare even in union-friendly Seattle. And his staff and a ton of volunteers have been putting in huge amount of time tabling, knocking on doors and in many ways innovating what a political ground game looks like in Seattle’s still-new Council district system.

His campaign is rewriting Seattle’s election rules and creating a new path to power. It would be a good thing for the city if they are successful because their model of organizing is truly grassroots and based on optimistic energy that, frankly, most other Council campaigns are lacking. Scott makes me feel like our city really can do what it takes to become the affordable, equitable and sustainable city I believe it can be.

His opponent, Alex Pedersen, fought against light rail. That’s right, he opposed the 2016 levy to fund a major expansion of Sound Transit light rail. Worse, he still stands by his opposition to the levy. And now he wants to represent this district while two of its three light rail stations begin service? No way. We need big changes to accompany these new stations with strong priority for walking, bike and bus access and more nearby affordable housing. And Pedersen has shown that he’s not the person to do that job. Continue reading

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District 3 Endorsement: Kshama Sawant

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Seattle City Council Districts map.With a victory in District 3, Kshama Sawant would become the senior member of the City Council. And in her time in office, she has redrawn the path to power in our city. She has broken conventions and fought the influence of big business money and won. But she’s currently fighting her most difficult campaign since her unlikely, narrow win over Richard Conlin in 2013.

Sawant has been a steadfast ally for biking, safe streets and transit in Seattle. And as a longtime member of the City Council Transportation Committee, she has consistently voted to move our city’s most ambitious efforts to make our transportation system work better for everyone. And she often speaks up to make sure equity is being centered in decision-making.

No, biking is not one of the primary centerpiece issues for her office, but that’s OK. It doesn’t need to be everyone’s top issue (that would be weird, actually). But she is always there when needed. And as I’ve written in several previous endorsements of Sawant, I’m not fighting for safe and connected bike lanes that only the rich can use.

Her opponent Egan Orion isn’t anti-bike or anything. But he is receiving an enormous sum of cash from big businesses, especially Amazon, in an effort to kick her off the Council. We need a Councilmember we know will stand up for the people if we are going to make the bold changes to our transportation system that we need, and Sawant will do that. Just watch her in this April Transportation Committee meeting fighting back against Mayor Jenny Durkan’s decision to cut the planned, designed and funded bike lanes on 35th Ave NE:

Download transcript (.txt)

Sawant has also been endorsed by Washington Bikes, Seattle Subway (PDF), the Urbanist and the Transit Riders Union.

Yeah, Seattle Bike Blog enthusiastically endorses Sawant for reelection.

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Watch: Fremont Bridge nears 1 million 2019 bike trips 1 month early

UPDATE: Cascade Bicycle Club, Queen Anne Greenways and Ballard-Fremont Greenways will host a celebration 3–5 p.m. Saturday, October 19. Details here.

Video transcript (.txt)

As we reported previously, 2019 bike trips across the Fremont Bridge are set to break one million within a week, likely this weekend or early next week.

But why read about this news when you can watch a video complete with giant graphs hovering over the city like the spaceships in Independence Day?

For real, though, this is pretty exciting. And those who did read the previous story, note that I actually cropped the peaks of some 2019 months in the month-by-month graph I posted. I have since updated it with this even more impressive (and accurate) image:

Graph of monthly Fremont Bridge bike totals since 2012.I also looked at how the average daily bike trips compare year to year, and it’s pretty incredible. Since it is only mid-October, I used only data from January through September of each year:

Average trips per day by year. The trend is steadily up with 2728 in 2013, 3006 in 2014, 2952 in 2015, 2965 in 2016, 2836 in 2017, 3109 in 2018 and 3442 in 2019.And here’s the year-over-year percent change by month between 2018 and 2019. This February’s major snowfall and 2018’s smokey August are the biggest outliers, but the trend is very positive across nearly the entire year so far:

Percent change by month between 2018 and 2019. 24% in January, -29% in February, 11% in March, 10% in April, -1% in May, 17% in June, 8% in July, 27% in August and 17% in September.All this is to say that you all are great and biking is wonderful.

Also, let me know what you think of this style of video.

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District 2 Endorsement: Tammy Morales

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Perhaps this exchange from a September candidate forum best sums up bike leanings among the District 2 candidates:

Seattle City Council Districts map.Tammy Morales has been consistent in her support for safe streets and bike lanes, so she gets the Seattle Bike Blog endorsement. She has also secured endorsements from many organizations working to improve walking, biking and transit in Seattle.

Washington Bikes wrote this glowing endorsement, for example:

During her campaign, Tammy Morales has been vocal in her support of making biking safer and more accessible, with a focus on racial equity in biking. Morales is motivated to address the reality that south Seattle currently has no direct bike route to downtown, and that fatalities for people on bikes is disproportionately larger in the south end. Morales highlights that her priorities will be to invest in the Seattle Bicycle Master Plan, and make our neighborhoods more bicycle friendly for kids.

The Transit Riders Union noted:

We know she’ll be a strong voice for workers’ rights, racial equity, and environmental justice. Tammy has also been a strong ally to TRU and the Trump-Proof Seattle and Housing For All Coalitions, and we are proud to endorse her campaign for District 2!

She has also been endorsed Seattle Subway (PDF) and The Urbanist.

Her opponent Mark Solomon is not out there constantly hating on bike stuff or anything (the primary bike hater in this race got crushed in the primary), he’s just clearly not angling to champion the cause like Morales. So vote Morales!

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Trail Alert 10/12-13: State will replace bumpy 520 Bridge Trail covers

Before and after photos taken from ground level. The before image has a clearly steeper bump.

Base photos from WSDOT.

It’s happening! WSDOT is going to replace all those abruptly bumpy expansion gap covers on the 520 floating bridge trail this weekend.

Of course, replacing the covers means crews need to close the trail for the weekend starting 11 p.m. tonight (Friday) and continuing until 5 a.m. Monday. But the trail was going to need to be closed anyway due to work in Montlake, so combining the work this weekend prevents a closure later.

As we reported back in 2016 before the bridge trail fully opened and again in 2017, WSDOT installed expansion gap covers with a steep enough rise that biking over them feels something like hitting a pothole. And there are a lot of them.

Because the bridge is floating on Lake Washington, it is built to rise and fall with the level of the lake. That means the bridge needs a lot of gaps in the bridge surface, which are then covered for obvious reasons.

But hitting what feels like a pothole every few seconds while biking across the world’s longest floating bridge is a bit of a bummer. Luckily, I have not heard of anyone crashing and being injured due to the bumps, which I was worried would happen.

Nearly a year ago, WSDOT started testing out a fix to one of the covers, and the response was 95% positive. So now they are fixing the rest of the covers this weekend and it should be a smoother ride come Monday.

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District 1 Endorsement: Lisa Herbold

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Seattle City Council Districts map.District 1 should reelect Lisa Herbold to the Seattle City Council.

Herbold has not been bad for biking, walking and transit, but she has at times been lukewarm to the bold changes needed to shift many more trips from cars and trucks to transit, walking and biking. For example, she considered proposing an amendment to water down the recent bike safety ordinance, but pulled the idea before it reached the Council floor (and then voted in favor). So that earns partial credit I suppose.

As noted in our voting guide for the primary, Herbold most directly butted heads with biking advocates when she fought against saving the beleaguered Pronto Cycle Share system. Though it is worth noting, as hard as it is to say so, that she was probably right. Though we did not see private dockless bike share coming at the time, it’s hard to imagine Pronto surviving once Lime, Spin and ofo hit the streets in much larger numbers and for much less money (at least less money to get started). The time may yet come again for public bike share in some form, but Pronto wasn’t it.

But all this is purely academic because as noted in our primary guide, her opponent Phil Tavel would be terrible on the Council. I mean, the guy’s primary campaign website (since updated) claimed that bike and bus lanes “eliminated parking spaces and impacted the viability of personal vehicles as a transportation option.” He also vowed to fight to protect free car parking, which he says is “One of District One’s unique qualities.” What an insult to his district! Don’t listen to him, District 1, you have so much more to offer than acreage of asphalt reserved for free car storage.

His website has since been updated and now talks about the need to reduce driving and praises “micro-mobility” like electric bikes, though he offers no support for bus and bike lanes. Has he had a change of heart? I am skeptical.

In their endorsement, Washington Bikes wrote:

Herbold has helped hold the city accountable to following through on key transportation projects in her district – including the Georgetown to Southpark trail and retaining bike improvements within the Delridge Rapid Ride project. In her response to our questionnaire, Herbold adds that in order to fund planned bike routes, money from traffic cameras and new revenue sources must be dedicated specifically to bike projects.

The Transit Riders Union wrote: “Lisa is a dedicated public servant, a smart and effective leader, and a strong ally to grassroots movements and groups like TRU.”

She has also been endorsed by Seattle Subway (PDF).

Vote Herbold.

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Fewer fights like the Missing Link? Seattle limits ‘weaponized’ environmental review appeals

Photo of two adults biking with a child each on the shoulder of Shilshole as heavy traffic goes by.

Environmental review has been used to maintain dangerous conditions for people biking through the Ballard Missing Link.

Just about everyone who first learns about the decades-long Burke-Gilman Missing Link legal battle is baffled when they hear that this delay is under the guise of “environmental review.” It’s a biking and walking trail! Isn’t safer biking and walking inherently good for the environment?

They’re not wrong. A process that should prevent degradation of the environment was instead being used to prevent the city from completing a project that would improve the environment, and that’s just nonsense. The process puts proposed projects on trial, but not the status quo. And the status quo can be pretty terrible to the environment.

To be clear, “environmental” in this legal sense is defined very broadly, including things like traffic and economic impacts, supposed negatives that can sometimes work against what the average person might associate with the term “environment.” When massive freeway projects like the Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement and the 520 Bridge Replacement Projects cruise through faster than a mile of biking and walking trail, there is a serious problem with the process.

The other problem is that environmental appeals are a tool available almost solely to wealthy individuals, groups and businesses. And it is so effective at delaying projects that even the threat of an appeal can get wealthy interests what they want as we saw clearly on Westlake. Continue reading

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Watch: Move over Sprocket Man, SDOT has a new spokesper…uh…salmon

OK, so departments of transportation are not known for their excellent advertising. There are exceptions, for sure, like those Midttrafik bus commercials:

Or New York’s recent car-shrinking bus GIFs:

But in general, Seattle’s 1980s Sprocket Man ads are much more the norm:

But SDOT has a new “spokessalmon” named Sal who went around town like Triumph the Insult Comic Dog interviewing people but not really letting them get a word in. The message of the video, part of the city’s Flip Your Trip campaign, is that people should try taking the bus, walking or biking to work at least one a week. I mean, that’s certainly a good start!

Watch:

So far so good. I look forward to the biking episode (there is one, right?).

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Biking boom: Fremont Bridge biking is on track to reach 1 million 2019 trips a whole month early

UPDATED 10/15

Table of percent change in monthly counts 2018 to 2019. January: 24.4. February: -28.8, March: 10.6, April: 10, May: -0.53, June: 17.1, July: 7.57, August: 27.4, September: 16.6.When the Fremont Bridge bike counter started ticking away in 2012, the big question was: How many years before it measures 1 million trips in a calendar year? It barely hit 1 million in 2014, though that year was a bit anomalous. It narrowly missed 1 million 2015 though 2017 before a big biking surge in 2018 hit the mark around Thanksgiving, itself an incredible feat.

This year, Seattle is on pace to hit 1 million trips before Halloween. With 958,572 trips measured as of October 6 and a weekly pace of around 25,000 we should be about a week and a half away (shorter with great weather, a bit longer if there is sustained heavy rain). But it is almost certain that the Fremont Bridge will reach 1 million before Halloween, a month earlier than the record set last year.

Dockless bike share services, which launched in 2017 and dramatically grew in 2018, are the most obvious force behind the boom in recent years. But the smoke choking the city last summer diminished the counts, as is clear in the 27% increase in August 2019 compared to August 2018.

But smoke is not the whole story. Neither is bike share. Monthly totals have seen significant year-over-year increases in 7 of 9 months so far (only volatile, very weather-dependent February saw a significant decrease). Meanwhile, bike share use is largely the same as in 2018, according to a recent city report. So it seems that in 2019, more people are riding their own bikes more often. Could the clear rise in e-bikes be part of the equation here? Did using bike share convince more people to buy their own bikes? There’s a lot worth exploring here. Continue reading

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The dark side of bait bikes

Screenshot from BikeIndex's post "What to do when your bike has been stolen in Seattle." Click to read.

BikeIndex is a great resource for people to report a stolen bike.

Bike theft is a serious issue. Not only do victims lose the value of their bikes — measured both by money and sentimental value — but they also lose their mobility. A bike isn’t a car stereo or Amazon package, it’s a mode of transportation. And if you can’t easily afford a replacement, a stolen bike can be devastating. And even for people who can afford a replacement, the hassle required to go bike shopping is sometimes enough that people don’t bother. And that’s not a good outcome either.

It’s also very difficult to catch bike thieves, especially since the item they just stole happens to be a great way to get away. So it makes some sense that departments would want to find ways to deter bike theft by making bike theft seem more risky. What if some percentage of bikes were tracked by police, and it was impossible to tell which ones they were? Would that make potential thieves think twice about stealing one? That’s the basic idea behind “bait bikes.”

However, there’s a point where theft deterrence becomes victimization of poor people, and Denny Westneat at the Seattle Times recently wrote about a troubling case in which the jury sided with the accused:

Back in the summer of 2018, [Jolene] Paris was hanging around near a Goodwill outlet store, on Sixth Avenue South in Sodo. It’s a regular gathering spot for the homeless and the near-homeless, as it’s a liquidation center where they offer stuff in bulk that didn’t sell at a regular Goodwill. (“Shoes — $1.19 per pound. All sales final.”)

Paris noticed a silver road bicycle, an old Sirrus Pro model, leaning against a tree in the dirt near some shrubs. According to her testimony, she thought it odd someone had left a bike there, unlocked and unattended, in this high-crime neighborhood. So she started wheeling it around the Goodwill parking lot, asking if it belonged to anyone.

It did belong to someone – the Seattle Police Department.

The police basically argued that it wasn’t her bike, but she took it. Therefore she should be guilty of theft (it was a misdemeanor charge because the bike was valued below the threshold for a felony). But context is everything, and the bike in the dirt near a Goodwill (where people get rid of things they don’t want) and was not locked. So how serious really was the crime they caught here? Was there room for someone to reasonably believe the bike had been abandoned? The jury thought so. Continue reading

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Crews are currently building Seattle’s most important new bike connection in years

Map of the south downtown bike route, which travels from 2nd Ave to 5th Ave via S Main Street and from Main to King Streets on 5th Ave.It may be short, but don’t let that fool you. The protected bike lanes currently under construction on a few blocks of S Main St and 5th Ave S between the International District and the 2nd Ave bike lane should easily be the most important improvements to bike access Seattle has completed since, well, 2nd Ave.

It doesn’t really look like a difficult connection on a map because the International District looks like it’s just part of the downtown street grid. But once you’re on the ground on a bike, you realize there is no remotely comfortable or functional option for getting between the neighborhood and the downtown core on a bike. And since a connection from the ID also unlocks bike routes from many central and southend neighborhoods, the lack of a south downtown bike connection has huge potential for a lot of people.

The problem is that the rail corridor separates the ID and Pioneer Square. And thanks to extreme grades up First Hill, the only flat street between the two neighborhoods — S Jackson St — has dangerous streetcar tracks. So people either need to ride in busy mixed traffic and hope they successfully navigate the streetcar tracks or try to ride on packed, skinny sidewalks. Both these options are bad. The only other option is to use the elevator (or stairs if you are able) next to the CenturyLink Field parking lot and cross the Weller St bridge, but this has obvious limitations (and is totally unusable if you have a family/cargo bike).

Short of making Jackson a truly complete street (which of course we should do), the planned route is the best option. And as we reported a year ago, it has not been easy to get to this point. At the time, SDOT was proposing a ridiculously steep option via 6th Ave S, which looks similar on paper but requires an absurd climb compared to 5th Ave S. There were serious concerns that nobody would use this steeper route, which would be a waste of money and still leave this connection incomplete. It took a lot of persistent advocacy and inter-agency coordination to make this much better route happen.

The defunct waterfront streetcar platform at 5th and Jackson had to be moved, sections of old streetcar tracks had to be repaved, busy bus stops had to move and precious bus layover space was displaced. None of this was easy. Continue reading

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Bike News Roundup: Cities with more bicycling are also safer for everyone

It’s time for the Bike News Roundup! Here’s a look at some of the stuff going around the web lately. On a personal note, I am in St. Louis for a funeral, so that’s why posts have been slower than usual. Things will be back up to speed soon.

Pacific Northwest News Continue reading

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Census survey: Biking, walking and transit up as commute data corrects itself + Driving alone down to 44.5%

Last year, you likely saw a story (or many) saying that biking was way down in Seattle. That was due to the annual release of the Census Bureau’s annual American Communities Survey data, which can vary quite a bit year-to-year. And the 2017 figures were way down.

But as we noted, these numbers were likely just outliers because they ran counter to the ten-year trend. And the 2018 survey results that just dropped seem to confirm that, with walking, biking and transit use significantly up compared to 2017.

Just as it was inaccurate last year to say that biking was down to a ten-year low, it is also inaccurate this year to say that biking increased 35% in just one year. These dramatic ups and downs are almost certainly just statistical noise. In reality, the trend line for bike commuting is on a steady upswing, and the 2018 figures fall much more in line with the trend than 2017:

Graph of raw bike commute estimates by sex, from the American Communities Survey. Both male and female trend lines are up, though the male trend like is growing faster.

City of Seattle bike commuters by sex (the terminology used by the survey).

More people in Seattle are biking as their primary way of getting to work than ever before. Both walking and transit use also continued their climbs in the 2018 survey. Walking to work is now up to an incredible 12% citywide, nearly double the rate in 2005. Public transit is closing in on a solid quarter of commutes, clocking in at 23%.

And all this added together means walking, biking and transit is up to 39%, and driving alone to work continues its steep decline. Now just 44.5% of Seattle workers drive alone to work, down from 53% a decade ago. Even if the 2018 estimates end up being a bit high, Seattle is on trend for walking, biking and transit use to overtake driving alone just a few years from now, a feat very few U.S. cities have accomplished. Continue reading

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Mayor Durkan’s 2020-21 budget would increase bike lane, Vision Zero, Northgate Bridge funds

Replying largely on revenue from selling a large parcel of land made available by the massive Mercer Street project, Mayor Jenny Durkan’s proposed 2020-21 budget includes millions more for protected bike lanes, neighborhood greenways and other Vision Zero projects.

These additions could help restore some of the major Bicycle Master Plan cuts her administration made in the recent years, including a list of south end and downtown projects that advocates fought hard to highlight in the city’s latest bicycle work plan. After cutting the projects entirely, SDOT and the mayor sort of added the projects back as funded through design, but not construction. The latest funds will be “prioritized for projects listed in the 2019 Bike Master Plan Implementation Plan as funded through design and/or planning,” according to a blog post from the Mayor’s Office. So that would be the dotted and gray highlighted areas in this map:

Map of Seattle showing existing and planned bike facilities.

Images from the 2019 Bicycle Master Plan Implementation Plan (PDF).

It’s not yet clear whether the $8.35 million for protected bike lanes will be enough to restore all the projects or which ones will get priority over others. It’s also not yet clear whether these funds will sufficient fulfill the City Council’s recent resolution supporting a specific set of downtown and south end projects. But clearly this is better than the dismal outlook from the work plan the mayor released earlier this year. Continue reading

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Cascade: Mercer Island plan should ‘futureproof’ I-90 Trail, open house Monday

Concept images showing that the trail would remain its current width through the lid park with a two-foot soft buffer on each side. East of the town center, the trail would be 12 feet wide plus two-foot buffers on each side.

From the draft Aubrey Davis Park Master Plan (PDF)

When the I-90 Trail crosses Mercer Island, it climbs up and through a park created in the 1990s to cover the freeway. Posthumously named after and Island Councilmember and Mayor who negotiated with the state to include the lidded park, Aubrey Davis Park hides what would otherwise have been a freeway trench dividing the island from end-to-end.

Mercer Island is nearing the end of its master plan update for the park, which covers the lid park and the section of the trail east of the town center. Cascade Bicycle Club is urging people to support a “futureproof” I-90 Trail design that follows modern best practices for multi-use trails. You can show up to support the trail in-person at an open house 6–8 p.m. Monday at the Mercer Island Community & Events Center.

Specifically, Cascade is suggesting: Continue reading

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Park(ing) Day 2019 is today! Here’s a map of all the temporary mini-parks around town

Map of Park(ing) Day 2019 parks. Text list is in the post below.It’s Park(ing) Day! Go enjoy one (or many) of these temporary mini-parks and spend some time thinking about all the ways city space can do so much more than simply store some cars.

Some parks will start closing in the afternoon, but some will be open until 7 p.m.

Park locations list: Continue reading

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Watch: The new Pike Street bike lanes are just a glimpse into the community-led vision for Pike/Pine

[video transcript]

There’s something very different about the new protected bike lanes on Pike Street on Capitol Hill: Community groups led the process every step of the way. When former mayor Ed Murray slammed the brakes on the Center City Bike Network in 2016, which included bike lanes on Pike and/or Pine streets between downtown and Broadway, the volunteers at Central Seattle Greenways were not going to just allow progress on the lanes to wallow.

Pike and Pine Streets connect the city’s densest employment, transit and destination center with some of the city’s most densely-populated neighborhoods, and the streets are lined with popular businesses. And though they are hilly, Pike and Pine are by far the least steep options available. So the potential on these streets is huge.

The city just competed new bike lanes on Pike Street between 9th Ave and Broadway, that latter of which has a protected bike lane already. There is still a very tough gap between 6th and 9th Avenues, so effectiveness of the lanes will be held back until that is completed. But the sections that have been finished demonstrate the potential of safe and comfortable bike lanes in this corridor, and that’s exactly why community members have been working so hard to make sure they become reality. Continue reading

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SDOT outlines Bell St bike route plans due to open in summer 2020

Map of the Bell Street bike route plan, showing protected bike lanes between Denny Way and 5th Ave, and two-way biking between 2nd and 5th. It also shows new traffic controls at intersections for drivers.Bell Street has been a major westbound bike route through the Denny Triangle and Belltown for a long time. As the most obvious relatively low-traffic connection between 7th and 2nd Avenues for people biking southbound into downtown, Bell is a major connection in the Basic Bike Network.

So it is great news that SDOT has announced a date to complete construction on a new bike route on Bell between 2nd Ave and Denny Way: Summer 2020.

A four-block section of Bell Street was completely remade in 2014 into a city park, though one that still allows car travel. The curbs were removed and turned into clever street furniture, creating a street that feels more like a place to hang out. And it mostly works that way. Belltown needed more public park space, and using this street space to create a park was fairly inventive.

But it is not car-free, and car traffic can still be heavy enough at times to make it feel more like a street than a park (thus it is sometimes referred to as the “Bell Street Park For Cars”). People are not supposed to drive more than a block through the park, allowing people to access alleyways and park. Signs at each intersection show turning arrows only (except transit and bikes). But people ignore this rule all the time, which really holds the park back from being as cool as it could be. A street that should be very slow and low-stress can still feel stressful when someone driving is using it as a cut-through.

But while Bell has no bike lanes, at least it is better than its eastbound counterpart Blanchard. Traffic is a bit heavier on Blanchard, though it is not as heavy as many other downtown streets. But it is far from an all-ages-and-abilities bike route.

That’s where the Bell Street project comes in. By making improvements to the park and creating a new two-way bike lane between 5th Avenue and Denny Way, the city will both improve westbound biking on Bell and create a new eastbound bike route option. And since Bell Street turns into 9th Ave N north of Denny Way, these new bike routes will connect to planned protected bike lanes on 9th. And 9th connects to the Westlake Bikeway, and … hey, this is starting to sound like a fully connected bike route! Continue reading

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