Cascade makes the Pedaling Relief Project permanent

A child stands on a cargo bike in front of the Universtiy District Food Bank.

My assistant helped me make deliveries one week.

The Seattle Pedaling Relief Project (“SPRP”) started in the spring of 2020 as a way to help food banks deal with the sudden influx of people who needed to access their services at a time when COVID restrictions made it more difficult for people to get there.

The SPRP was initially designed as a “cargo bike powered crisis response group” partnering with existing mutual aid networks and community organizations to extend the reach of their delivery abilities. Basically, an organization would let SPRP know how many deliveries were needed, and the SPRP would organize people to get the work done by bike.

“My thinking was, ‘What if we did a Cranksgiving in reverse? And did it every week?,'” co-founder Maxwell Burton told me during a video interview back in July 2020. Cranksgiving is an annual ride Seattle Bike Blog has organized for more than a decade in which riders gather food from grocery stores and other food vendors to donate to food banks. Burton and co-founder Mike Lang’s idea was to have riders take the food from food banks and bike it back out into the community.

I have been volunteering for the PRP, and it’s a wonderful excuse to get out and bike around. You get to practice your navigation skills and your cargo-hauling skills, and all while helping fill in one of the more difficult parts of the food support system: Getting it to individuals and families.

A few months into operation, Cascade Bicycle Club hired Burton and supported the work of the PRP. With the stable source of funding and deep well of volunteer power, the PRP has since grown to work with seven food banks as well as a growing list of farmers’ market vendors and community gardens. The 500 volunteers not only made home deliveries, they also helped stock Little Free Pantries all around town.

Now as the project turns one year old, Cascade announced during its annual Bike Everywhere Breakfast that the PRP is becoming a permanent “cornerstone” program for the organization:

Previously a grassroots initiative that operated with support from Cascade, the Pedaling Relief Project now joins the Major Taylor Project, Let’s Go, Free Group Rides, and Learn to Ride as one of Cascade’s cornerstone programs. The Pedaling Relief Project will be managed by co-founder Maxwell Burton, who has been hired as a full-time Cascade employee to oversee Pedaling Relief and its expansion.

“This is bicycling with a purpose and a heart, and with a direct goal of helping neighbors who are struggling,” says Burton, who encourages people who bike to sign up at “The Pedaling Relief Project is a way for people who bike to make a difference in their community, while also enjoying the exercise, fresh air, and camaraderie of bicycling for a good cause.”

“Everyone in the Cascade community should feel proud to be involved with this initiative,” says Board President Tamara Schmautz. “The Pedaling Relief Project represents a new chapter for Cascade Bicycle Club as we add to our bicycling advocacy, events, and education programming to find new ways for our members–and the entire bicycling community–to use their bikes for good.”

Interested volunteers can sign up online. There are starting locations around Seattle and in White Center.

The added organizational support from Cascade will also enable the project to expand beyond Seattle. Similar efforts are already in the work in Spokane and Tacoma, and the organization will be putting together a tool kit to help more places get started.

The numbers (totals to date):

  • 120 tons of food rescued or delivered
  • 500 volunteers
  • 7,000 miles biked
  • 4,900 households served
  • 4,000 pounds of carbon dioxide saved by biking
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Apple Maps now has bicycling directions, and they are OK compared to Google’s dusty service

Comparrison of Apple Maps and Google Maps.Eight years after Google Maps introduced biking directions in its iPhone app, Apple Maps has finally introduced the feature. And much like the Google version, it is…OK.

When Google first introduced biking directions, it wasn’t perfect. The route decisions were rarely what I would choose, and sometimes it chose very busy streets. But at least it gave a biking option and a time estimate, which were very useful. It was a promising start, and I was hoping that the company would continuously improve the service so it would more consistently find high-quality routes. But like so many Google services, the company has let the feature languish with very few if any improvements (they improve the map data, like which streets are one-way, etc, but the way it makes routing decisions is much the same).

Apple Maps also gives OK bicycling directions. They are almost never the routes I would choose, but at least they usually work. Both services offer information on elevation changes and give a couple different routes to choose from.

Apple does offer a couple interesting features that Google lacks, like options to avoid hills and busy streets, but they seem to be a bit confused by Seattle’s complicated geography. For example, if you select either “avoid hills” or “avoid busy roads,” it will suggest taking 3rd Avenue downtown rather than the 2nd Avenue protected bike lane.

screenshot showing Apple Maps suggesting 3rd Avenue downtown. Continue reading

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WA Bikes: Some significant wins during the 2021 session, but the work is not done

washington bikes logoThe 2021 state legislative session is closing with some wins for biking, progress on other priorities and a lot of uncertainty about the future of transportation funding in Washington.

A massive transportation funding bill loomed over the 2021 legislative session, but in the end did not move forward. With a pricetag as high as $26 billion over 16 years in the House version, the transportation bill took a lot of the oxygen out of the room throughout the session. But the House and Senate couldn’t put together something that could get enough votes in each chamber to pass.

The legislature did pass a two-year transportation budget that includes a “$10 million increase to active transportation grant programs,” according to Alex Alston at Washington Bikes. The Senate version of the budget did not initially have this increase, so this was a significant win for Safe Routes to School and the state’s bicycle and pedestrian grant programs.

The state also passed a law change that will allow regional transit authorities (like Sound Transit) to “establish an alternative fare enforcement system,” according to WA Bikes. Fare enforcement is extremely inequitable. As the Times’ Heidi Groover reported in 2019, 9% of Sound Transit riders were Black but 43% of fare evasion citations and 57% of misdemeanor allegations (cases sent to the county for review, but not necessarily charged) went to Black people.

The legislature also directed the Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Department of Natural Resources to conduct a public review of “e-bike use on natural surface trails and roads that are limited to non-motorized use to determine where e-bikes can ride and which classes of e-bikes are acceptable,” according to WA Bikes. This process could become controversial among mountain bikers and other trail users, but it’s a conversation we need to have. E-assist mountain bikes have boomed in popularity, and the technology has the potential to greatly expand access to mountain and gravel biking to more people. However, there is a legitimate fear of allowing high-power electric bikes on trails, especially as the line between e-assist bicycle and electric dirt bike gets blurred. Perhaps there’s a middle ground? Would Class 1 and 2 e-assist bikes (capped at 20 mph) be acceptable as they are in city bike lanes and trails? Should e-bikes be OK on gravel trails and roads but not singletrack? These are questions folks will need to discuss.

The legislature also sort of passed a cap and trade bill modeled on California’s system (and supported by British Petroleum and some other major polluters). BP spent nearly $13 million to defeat I-1631 a couple years ago. I say “sort of” because the bill will only go into effect in 2023 if the legislature can pass a transportation package by then. The bill has divided environmental groups, as KUOW reported. Continue reading

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Following Healthy Street success, Bellevue will trial its first neighborhood greenway this summer

Project map.Bellevue is getting ready to rollout its first take at a neighborhood greenway this summer, a north-south route running along side streets to the east of 164th Ave NE between Nothrup Way and SE 14th St, where it will meet up with the Lake to Lake Trail.

The 2-mile project is very low-cost, coming in at just $200,000. The project team will add wayfinding, which is very useful since so few side streets go through in this area. They will also install new paint-and-post traffic circles at some intersections and turn stop signs to face cross-traffic instead of greenway traffic. And they will drop the speed limit to 20 mph.

The nearby 164th Ave NE is more direct and already has some stretches of painted bike lanes, though they are very incomplete and are definitely not welcoming to people of all ages and abilities.

The proposed route was trialed as a Healthy Street in 2020, and the number of people biking on the route increased 160% after the project opened, according to the city’s Healthy Streets Pilot Evaluation Report (PDF).

Charts from the report.

Neighborhood greenway options are more limited in suburban communities because so many developments have cul-de-sac designs that purposefully prevent through-traffic. It makes sense to take advantage of the greenway opportunities like this when they are available, but the bulk of the bike network is going to require bike lanes on major streets and trails. For example, the northern terminus of this route is Northrup Way, which has a skinny painted bike lane in only one direction. A lot more work is going to be needed to connect this route with other major bike routes, like the 520 Trail, or to connect to and through major business districts like Overlake Village.

But hey, do you have an opinion on how the traffic circles are painted? Well, you’re in luck. Bellevue wants you to let them know via this online survey. They’ve narrowed it down to these four concepts: Continue reading

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Seattleite Lindsay Caron seriously injured while biking in San Diego

Seattle resident Lindsay Caron was seriously injured while biking in San Diego last week when someone struck her from behind and drove away.

She is in the hospital in San Diego, where doctors have kept her in a medically-induced coma. Caron’s friends reached out to share a GoFundMe set up to help with her likely long recovery:

Our sweet Lindsay was seriously injured in a hit and run incident while bicycling in San Diego on Monday, April 19th. For the week since the accident, doctors have kept Lindsay in a medically induced coma to rest and protect her brain. She has undergone extensive surgeries on her brain, skull, face, and pelvis. We won’t know the extent of her condition until they wake her up and run tests, which could be days away.  There are many unknowns, but one thing is certain, the road to recovery will be long and difficult no matter the outcome.

Many of us know Lindsay for her generous friendship and her love of bicycling, skiing, acro-yoga, music, and dance. She’s a thoughtful and creative entrepreneur dedicated to improving lives. The sparkle in her eye and her mischievous laugh brightens every room (or mountain summit).

Please send her your love, and we’ll post updates on her condition as we learn more. Lindsay has touched so many lives, in circles across the country and around the globe. Let’s share gratitude for the joy she’s brought to our world and hope for good news in the coming days. I can’t encapsulate all that Lindsay means to her many communities in this intro, so please feel free to leave comments about the ways that Lindsay has brought joy to your world.

This initial fundraiser is a landing page for our collective support. We don’t know yet what the need will be or what insurance will cover, but all funds will be used for medical expenses and to support Lindsay and her family with the expenses related to this event and related to her recovery. We anticipate that the fundraiser amount may be revised as we learn more, and we will continue to update you about how funds will be used here.

Hang in there Lindsay! Much love❤️

Before moving to Seattle, Caron was active in the Portland bike scene, Bike Portland reports.

Sending our best wishes to Lindsay as well as her friends and family.

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City considering car-free(ish) Lake Washington Blvd all summer + More Keep Moving Streets updates and a survey

Maps comparing the 1-mile and 3-mile options for Lake Washington Boulevard.

Well this is an easy choice. Take the survey before May 10!

The city may close a three-mile section of Lake Washington Boulevard to most motor vehicles (people accessing homes and parking lots allowed) from Memorial Day to Labor Day. This would be like making every day Bicycle Sunday.

You can support this idea by taking SDOT’s online survey before May 10.

Seattle already has more than 50 years of experience with Bicycle Sunday on this stretch of the roadway, and the city’s experiments making it a Keep Moving Street in the past year have been popular. Seattle Neighborhood Greenways launched a campaign and petition in early April calling on the city to come up with a permanent concept for the street.

The survey has four options, but the permanent 3-mile options is obviously the best. Other options include a 1-mile option between Mount Baker Beach and Genesee Park, the 1-mile option plus the 3-mile option on weekends only and a weekends-only 3-mile option without any full-time routes.

Green Lake Keep Moving Street will allow parking access

Continue reading

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Action Alert: Tell City Council to protect $80M in walking, biking and transit funds

Pie charts comparing the SDOT proposal to the Council proposal.

The SDOT funding breakdown (left) vs the City Council’s proposed funding breakdown.

A City Council proposal would redirect $80 million over 20 years away from walking, biking and transit projects to finance a $100 million bond for roads and bridges.

With the West Seattle Bridge still closed and other bridges around the city in need to repair, replacement or removal, it is understandable that Council is seeking major funding for bridge work. However, the Vehicle License Fee is the wrong source because it is among the few transportation funding sources the city can invest in walking, biking and transit projects.

Seattle Neighborhood Greenways put out an action alert so people can contact City Council leaders and ask them to protect these funds:

Please support SDOT’s proposal for VLF funding.

Seattle is not making progress on Vision Zero, the city’s goal to reduce the number of road-traffic deaths and serious injuries to zero by 2030, which has been brought into sharp relief by three tragedies in the last month in Georgetown, Lake City, and Seward Park.

The proposal from SDOT for VLF funding doubles the level of progress on Vision Zero, fixes hundreds of inaccessible sidewalks, repairs bike routes, and plans for a bright transit future.

Unfortunately, Councilmember Pedersen is proposing a dramatic re-allocation of these funds: redirecting a full 75% of the available VLF funding for bridge repair and leaving a mere 25% for “other transportation infrastructure.”While we are all supportive of increased funding for bridge repair, we should seek state and federal funding for those projects and allocate local dollars to walk/bike/transit projects.

Please support SDOT’s proposal for VLF funding. SDOT’s plan would move Seattle towards our climate goals, our equity goals, and keep Seattleites safe as we get where we need to go.

The Council amendment currently appears to have enough support to pass with Alex Pedersen, Lisa Herbold and Debora Juarez listed as sponsors, and Andrew Lewis and Teresa Mosqueda listed as authors. I’m hoping at least some of them are open to changing their minds.

The vast majority of transportation funds in our state and country go to roads, and there are more sources of funding for such projects than there are for walking, biking and transit. For example, Washington State law requires that gas tax revenue be spent only on “highway purposes,” which is often interpreted to exclude transit service. But vehicle license fees do not have this limitation, providing an ongoing source of revenue for the walking, biking and transit investments Seattle residents consistently and overwhelmingly support.

Despite voters approving the Move Seattle Levy by a landslide in 2015, the walking, biking and transit promises of the levy plan have fallen far short. The city prioritized an overbuilt and very expensive Lander Street bridge in Sodo, and then ran out of money to complete the walking, biking and transit promises. As Seattle Neighborhood Greenways notes, we are falling behind on our Vision Zero goals.

As you may have heard, Seattle is not making progress on Vision Zero, the city’s goal to reduce the number of road-traffic deaths and serious injuries to zero by 2030, which has been brought into sharp relief by three tragedies in the last month in Georgetown, Lake City, and Seward Park. SDOT just released data finding that the burden of traffic fatalities falls disproportionately on Black Seattle residents, and over the last five years SE Seattle’s District 2 has had double the number of fatalities as any other council district. The Vision Zero team at SDOT knows what/where the main issues are, but they have been chronically underfunded to achieve their mandate. This funding would double the Vision Zero budget, allowing SDOT to redesign more of our dangerous streets like Rainier Ave S, MLK Jr Way, Aurora Ave, Lake City Way, and others.

None of the projects listed in the Council’s news release (West Seattle High Bridge, Spokane Street Bridge, Magnolia Bridge, Ballard Bridge, Fremont Bridge and University Bridge) are in Southeast Seattle. Continue reading

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After cancelling most 2020 events, Cascade’s ready to roll again (but no STP, Emerald Ride or RSVP)

screenshot of the event listing page

From the Cascade 2021 event registration page (as of 4/22, check link for updated info)

As a major event producer, the COVID-19 pandemic hit Cascade Bicycle Club hard along with so many other organizations and businesses. After Chilly Hilly in February 2020, nearly all of Cascade’s annual events were cancelled.

But after more than a year, the club is finally ready to start hosting events again. The lineup includes many long-standing events mixed with a lot of new ones, all designed around pandemic safety.

“We are trying to make our events as safe as jogging outdoors,” Events and Rides Director Dave Douglas said in a Cascade blog post. So, for example, the club has limits on how many people can start in each wave and how many people can start per hour.

Unfortunately, that means the club’s biggest events are still not possible. The Emerald City Ride, the Seattle to Portland Classic and the Ride Seattle to Vancouver and Party have all been cancelled. The club’s biggest rides can draw 8,000 to 10,000 people in a typical year, far beyond the scope of an event during the pandemic.

But the limitations have led the club to get creative, launching a new hub-and-spoke style of multi-day touring that starts and ends each day at the same place. They are calling these “Tour Lite” events, and the first one kicks of near Lake Chelan April 30 (registration is closed). They also have a Gig Harbor Tour Lite May 14–16 (registration open through May 7, as advertised on Seattle Bike Blog) and two tours in the fall. For the Gig Harbor tour, people will book rooms at the same inn, and Cascade will handle mid-ride food and support.

The lineup also includes a couple Bike-N-Brews rides, a DIY Wine Ride and classics like Flying Wheels, High Pass Challenge, Ride for Major Taylor and the Kitsap Color Classic, though many of the details are still TBD.

See updated lineup and event registration info on the Cascade website.

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Video: SPD officer hits person biking next to East Precinct wall

A Seattle Police officer driving a police cruiser turned in front of and struck a person biking near the East Precinct Tuesday evening.

The 31-year-old man was checked out by Seattle Fire Department medics, but was not transported to the hospital, according to SPD. Hopefully this means his injuries were not serious.

The incident was caught on camera and posted to Twitter by @MarcusKulik (it happens at the 0.09 mark in the upper left corner):

In the video, the officer appears to pass the victim near the Pine Street intersection, and both of them continue southbound on 12th Avenue. Then the officer makes a right turn mid-block directly in front of the man on the bike, who does not have enough time to stop and collides with the cruiser. It is the responsibility of the person turning to check for people biking and yield.

To make matters worse, there is technically a bike lane on 12th Ave, but the city constructed a wall out of concrete blocks that infringes on the usable bike lane space in addition to closing the sidewalk and decreasing visibility of the precinct garage entrance. Central Seattle Greenways has been trying to get the city to remove the wall, writing in November:

it was shocking to see SDOT fabricate this concrete and steel wall around the East Precinct, blocking sidewalks, crosswalks, and bike lanes, seemingly overnight, with not a single word of outreach or advance notice.

SPD told Capitol Hill Seattle in early April that the department would remove the wall, but has not yet done so.

I have questions out to SPD to see if the officer was cited and to learn more details. I will update if I get more information.

But in the meantime, tear down this wall, Mayor Durkan. And send these concrete blocks to Stay Healthy Streets and bike lanes that need them for safety.

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The Ballard Locks crossing will reopen April 28

Aerial photo of the Locks.

Aerial view of Hiram M. Chittenden Locks (Photo Courtesy of Civil Air Patrol)

After more than a year closed due to the pandemic, the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks will reopen its walking path connecting Ballard to Magnolia April 28. Gates will be open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Because crossing the Ballard Bridge is such an awful experience on foot or bike, the walkways across the Locks have long been a popular and useful option for people trying to get to the other side of the Ship Canal without going all the way to Fremont.

The Locks are far from a perfect option, since people are required to walk their bikes from the park entrance to the park exit and the pathways can be filled with tourists during warm weather. But it feels much safer than the Ballard Bridge, and you get to check for salmon in the fish ladder (though that area is currently closed for maintenance).

The park near the Locks will open April 23, but the walkways will remain closed until April 28.

More details from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers: Continue reading

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In May, the EasTrail will replace the Lake Washington Loop Trail near Coal Creek + Full closure May 4-5

Map of the 2.5 mile section2.5 miles of the Eastrail will be fully paved and opened next month between Ripley Lane N in Renton and Coal Creek Pkwy in Bellevue.

Sections of the EasTrail route between Gene Coulon Park and Coal Creek Pkwy have been opened on and off in recent years as King County works to transform the old Eastside Rail Corridor into a biking and walking trail that could some day rival the Burke-Gilman. Much of the trail will first be opened as a bikeable gravel trail before eventually being paved.

The 2.5-mile section opening in May is funded by WSDOT as mitigation for its massive $705 million I-405 freeway widening project. That widening project will swallow up the old Lake Washington Loop Trail that runs just west of the freeway, so the state is funding completion of the nearby EasTrail to replace it. The paved section will be 12-feet wide with an additional 2 feet of gravel on one side and 6 feet of gravel on the other.

Before it opens, the access point at Coal Creek Pkwy needs to be reconstructed. Thanks to a reader tip, Seattle Bike Blog reached out to the project team to ask about detour plans during the work, which was initially scheduled for ten days in late April. The project’s outreach team initially said there would be no trail access and no detour because “the surrounding area does not offer a safe alternative for bike and pedestrian traffic.” But a few days later, they reached out and said they had reworked the plan and would now only close trail access for two days in the middle of the week: May 4 and 5. From April 26 to May 3, a temporary path will provide access to the old trail.

Map of the project area.I don’t know if this change is because of Seattle Bike Blog’s question, but it’s welcome news (thanks Nick van den Heuvel!). It’s also a reminder to you all that you can email questions and tips to [email protected]. (UPDATE: Apparently Bellevue’s permit for construction work limited trail closures to 2 days, a fact the project team realized late.)

May 4 and 5 are going to be rough for anyone who relies on this trail connection. From what I can tell, there is no pathway between Newcastle Beach Park and Cascade Key, which would sure be nice. My best guess at a detour is to stay east of I 405 between Coal Creek Pkwy and NE 44th Street. Instead of the trail, take (heading south) 119th Ave SE, SE 60th Street and Lake Washington Blvd, crossing the freeway at NE 44th Street. This route is very far out of the way, adds about 330 feet of climbing, and the bike infrastructure comes and goes along the way. Or you could add some backtracking distance (but cut out some street riding) by crossing I-405 at the Newport Hills Park and Ride. Neither option is comparable to the trail, but they’re something.

Let us know in the comments below if I missed an option or if you have any additional advice.

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Watch: Touring the refreshed S Kenyon St neighborhood greenway with bobco85

SDOT recently refreshed the S Kenyon Street neighborhood greenway, adding proper wayfinding and making other improvements to the 1.1-mile route.

The greenway runs from Beacon Ave S to Seward Park Ave S, connecting to the Chief Sealth Trail, Renton Ave S bike lanes and the Rainier Valley neighborhood greenway at 46the Ave S along the way. It also includes improved crossings at Renton, MLK and Rainier.

Bob Svercl (bobco85 on YouTube) recently made a very informative video showing the route and the various useful connections it makes (transcript). Check it out above.

Project map.

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Man killed near Seward Park was Boeing Field deputy director. RIP Mike Colmant

UPDATE: A GoFundMe has been set up to support his family. “Mike is and always will be an incredible and supportive dad, loving grandpa, best friend, and so much more,” the memorial says. “Mike always put his family first and would give the shirt off his back to anyone in need.”

UPDATE (4/20): Seattle Neighborhood Greenways is organizing a memorial walk and bike ride for Mike May 15.

The man killed while biking near Seward Park Sunday evening has been identified as Mike Colmant. He was 63.

Our condolences to his friends and family.

Colmant was Deputy Director of Boeing Field, and his employer posted a sad memorial note on their website.

“Mike was a true professional who dedicated the last 20-plus years to making King County International Airport-Boeing Field better,” Airport Director John Parrott said. “He was a great colleague and a dear friend. He will be sorely missed.”

Colmant was a triathlete and marathon runner who moved to the area from Canada to work at Boeing Field. He was also a mentor to people looking to get into aviation.

He was biking northbound (downhill) on Seward Park Ave S just east of the intersection with Wilson Ave S when someone driving on the wrong side of the road struck him head-on and killed him. The suspect fled the scene. Police are searching for “a silver, older model compact sedan with a shattered windshield.” The license plate may start with something like “BKU 053.” Anyone with a tip is encouraged to call SPD’s Violent Crimes Tip Line at 206.233.5000.

A memorial has formed near the site of the hit and run, and someone etched “We love you Mike” into a nearby telephone pole.

From King County International Airport: Continue reading

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Person driving on wrong side of the road killed a man biking near Seward Park, police searching for suspect

Photo facing south on Seward Park Ave just north of in Wilson Ave S intersection. The street has no marking other than a center line. A person is biking.

Approximate location of the fatal hit and run from Google Street View. Image facing south on Seward Park Ave S toward Wilson Ave S.

A person driving on the wrong side of the street struck and killed a man biking toward Seward Park Sunday evening, according to Seattle Police. The suspect then fled the scene.

The man killed was 63. Our condolences to his friends and family.

Police are searching for the suspect, who was driving “a silver, older model compact sedan with a shattered windshield.” The license plate may start with something like “BKU 053.” Anyone with a tip is encouraged to call SPD’s Violent Crimes Tip Line at 206.233.5000.

The victim was biking downhill (northbound) toward the park shortly before 7 p.m. when the suspect drove the wrong way up the northbound lane and struck him head-on, according to police.

This stretch of Seward Park Ave S is part of the very popular Lake Washington Loop bike route. It is a relatively low-traffic street the primarily serves homes and Seward Park itself. It also feeds into Lake Washington Boulevard, a section of which was closed to most cars starting last week. The Bicycle Master Plan calls for bike lanes on the street, but they have not yet been installed.

This section of road was also on Seattle Neighborhood Greenways’ map of proposed Stay Healthy Streets, though it was never implemented. Their idea called for the parking lane to be turned into a bikeway. Continue reading

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Friday: Following death, community holds slow bike ride for safe streets in Georgetown

Event poster.The death of a man biking in Georgetown in late March has shaken the community, so some neighbors are organizing a slow bike ride tomorrow (Friday) to mourn his death and call for safer streets.

“For years, our community has demanded safe routes within Georgetown, and safe access to SoDo, the Chinatown/International District, and Downtown for biking,” the event listing created by John Persak and Amy Amaryllis says. “The city has been slow to prioritize this infrastructure which people in most other parts of the city already enjoy. This must be addressed now.”

The ride meets 4 p.m. at South Seattle College’s Georgetown Campus near Corson Ave S and E Marginal Way. Organizer say the ride will go slow and is for all ages, traveling major streets in the neighborhood before ending near Counterbalance Brewing.

As we reported previously, a person driving a semi truck made a right turn from northbound Corson Ave S onto S Bailey Street, striking and killing the man. The collision occurred shortly before 5 p.m. March 24. Seattle Police are investigating, and no new details are available at this time.

Our condolences to his loved ones. If any friends or family members want to share his story, you can reach me at [email protected].

Details from the ride event page: Continue reading

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Brooklyn Ave reopens today near U District Station, signaling the start of a new era for the neighborhood

Photo looking north on Brooklyn at 43rd Street.After eight years behind construction barriers, Brooklyn Ave NE and NE 43rd Street are finally starting to reopen today, Sound Transit announced. Brooklyn will open to all traffic while 43rd will open sidewalks.

This is a big deal for the neighborhood and a reminder that the opening of Brooklyn Station…ahem, I mean U District Station is getting very close. There is still no official opening date, but test trains have been running on the tracks up to Roosevelt and Northgate Stations. The current service plan calls for a September start, though train deliveries have been delayed. Each train needs to operate for a certain number of hours without any faults before it can go into service. So fingers crossed that all the testing goes smoothly.

Brooklyn’s street design is a big miss, unfortunately. It has a sidewalk-level protected bike lane headed uphill in the northbound direction, which should be lovely. But then people headed southbound are expected to mix with car traffic. It’s so strange. Who is the target user of this street? Who will decide to bike to the station because there is a comfortable bike lane in only one direction? There is space for a downhill bike lane, but instead SDOT and Sound Transit prioritized on-street parking on both sides of the street. Hopefully SDOT will closely observe car traffic on this street and will be ready to make significant changes to limit volumes and speeds if needed. This should also be an opportunity to improve the nearby 12th Ave neighborhood greenway, one of the worst in the city due to its relatively heavy car traffic thanks to people driving around the closed Brooklyn Ave.

A failed design concept for a “mall” on the Ave from 1972, as published in the Seattle Daily Times (PDF).

Brooklyn is also just one foot too skinny for two-way bus service, a huge priority for the advocacy group U District Mobility. This could make it more difficult to someday turn the Ave and NE 43rd Street into the car-free (or car-light) spaces they should be, a dream of many people in the neighborhood going back half a century.

Car ownership levels in the neighborhood are some of the lowest in the entire city. Only Belltown and downtown have fewer cars per capita than the U District, which has about one car for every two people. Yet the streets in the neighborhood still prioritize driving and parking cars even though half of the neighborhood residents don’t have one.

I’m not sure the city has yet to fully comprehend how much the U District is about to change. There are a lot of buildings under construction right now, and more are in the queue. It’s one of the few areas of the city that allows towers, and it is about to get a subway that brings it just minutes away from the heart of Capitol Hill and downtown.

With Brooklyn and 43rd closed since 2013, the neighborhood has felt a bit like a construction zone. But it’s about to open back up just as COVID vaccine rates start to gain steam (though Washington is currently seeing a spike in cases, so it is too soon to stop following the pandemic protocols!). But as the pandemic fades and the station opens, the neighborhood could assume its role as one of the biggest hubs of activity in our city. It will be transformative.

Continue reading

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Watch: Talking with Ryan Packer about being Editor for the winter

Ryan Packer did a fantastic job taking the helm of Seattle Bike Blog over the winter, writing 64 posts December through March.

Ryan was the Temporary Editor of Seattle Bike Blog while I focused on writing the first draft of a book for UW Press about bike history and culture in Seattle. Being a parent during COVID is very challenging, and my time had disappeared. So I was facing a tough choice in late 2020, and it seemed like I was going to need to shut down the blog entirely if I didn’t find someone who could do the job without much help from me. So you could say that Ryan saved Seattle Bike Blog.

I invited Ryan to talk about some of the most important stories of the past few months and to talk about taking over the Editor role. Check out our conversation above.

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Lake Washington Blvd ‘Keep Moving Street’ returns Friday + Campaign seeks permanent design

Project map.

From SDOT.

Lake Washington Blvd is reopening to people walking and biking Friday as the city’s Keep Moving Street program returns. The street will remain mostly car-free between Mount Baker Beach and Genesee Park from April 9 through 18.

Seattle has experimented with various versions of this Keep Moving Street for the past nine months, and they have been very popular (see the video above). Every time they shut it down and allow car traffic to take over, it’s a huge loss. So Rainier Valley Greenways is running a campaign to extend the project to Seward Park, keep the project open all year and to work with community to come up with a permanent design for the street that enables comfortable walking and biking on the street in some fashion.

There is no equivalent to the Burke-Gilman Trail in South Seattle, so a permanent route along Lake Washington Blvd would be huge for all ages and abilities biking access in the neighborhood. But it’s not just about biking. The open street also increases public access to the whole waterfront, an incredible public asset. It’s like an accessible extension of the lakefront park.

Additionally, Seattle Parks has been hosting Bicycle Sunday along the street for more than half a century, so this is not a major new concept. If anything, starting and stopping the program is more disruptive and confusing than simply leaving it in place.

Sign the Rainier Valley Greenways petition: Continue reading

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Court decides Hearing Examiner needs to redo 2018 Missing Link decision

Text of the court decision.

Read the full decision (PDF).

Many Seattleites have only ever known life with the Ballard Missing Link of the Burke-Gilman Trail held up in court. Children born when the City Council first approved the route are now getting ready to vote in their first election. Seattle has nearly wasted an entire generation arguing over about 1.2 miles of trail, and the Washington Court of Appeals just decided to extend the fighting even longer.

The court ruled this week that the Seattle Hearing Examiner needs to redo a 2018 decision that determined the city’s massive environmental study of this short trail segment was sufficient. That study rivals freeway megaprojects in scale and depth. It’s an absurd document that took years to create and goes over the entire trail proposal with a toothbrush.

But the Appeals Court’s decision has nothing to do with the study’s findings or the trail design or even the businesses along the planned route. In fact, it seems to have little or nothing to do with SDOT or the trail at all. Instead, the court levied a rather harsh rebuke of Ryan Vancil, now the Seattle Hearing Examiner. In 2017–18, Vancil was hearing the appeal against the Missing Link’s environmental impact statement as Deputy Hearing Examiner. At the same time, he had applied to replace the city’s retiring Hearing Examiner and was going through the interview process, a fact he did not disclose during the proceedings. Because the City Council appoints the Hearing Examiner and the Missing Link was a Council-approved project, “Vancil violated the appearance of fairness doctrine,” the Appeals Court wrote in its decision reversing King County Superior Court’s decision.

“Because the deputy hearing examiner failed to disclose that he was seeking appointment by the Seattle City Council to replace the retiring city hearing examiner while he was also considering the adequacy of a councilendorsed project, we reverse the trial court’s summary judgment in favor of the city, enter summary judgment for the coalition, and remand for a new hearing.”

UPDATE: The Hearing Examiner declined to comment, saying, “It would be inappropriate for the Hearing Examiner to comment on a legal ruling concerning a matter on remand to the Office of Hearing Examiner.”

SDOT said in a statement that “the decision was solely concerned with the procedures followed by the Hearing Examiner, which were outside of the Seattle Department of Transportation’s (SDOT’s) control or knowledge. The decision did not include any negative findings about SDOT’s plans or Final Environmental Impact Statement.”

But the result is largely the same, at least in the near-term. The project now needs to go back to the Hearing Examiner, and that means more delays. And to the Ballard Coalition, that’s a win. Continue reading

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Biking the new I-90 Trail tunnel and flyover in Factoria

The I-90 trail just got a major upgrade in Factoria.

A new bike trail tunnel and flyover opened Wednesday allowing trail users to bypass the busy intersection with Factoria Blvd and the I-90 off-ramp entirely. It also saves users some elevation change.

I biked out there to try it out Wednesday, and it’s fantastic. Not only do users now get to skip a stressful intersection, but it also crosses over to a new trail on the north side of SE 36th Street. Previously, trail users had to use skinny paint-only bike lanes, a significant gap in the major trail.

For now, the trail ends at 132nd Ave SE, where users can cross at a light to access the bike lanes. But work is underway to extend the trail to 142nd Pl SE, which has bike lanes across I-90 toward Bellevue College.The eventual goal is to extend this new trail all the way to Lakemont Blvd SE, which would be much more direct than the current route, but that segment is not funded.

The 3.6-mile stretch from Factoria Blvd to Lakemont Blvd is known as the “Eastgate Gap,” and this project crosses one of the more difficult sections.

Factoria project concept overhead map. Continue reading

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