Bike Happy: When bikes ruled Seattle

EDITOR’S NOTE: Thanks again to Brock Howell of Bike Happy for putting together this comprehensive weekly newsletter.


TOP THINGS TO KNOW & DO

  1. Watch excellent videos about bicycling history.
  2. Seattle Bike Blog called for Mayor Durkan to implement protected bike lanes on Rainier Avenue S and to reset the Move Seattle Levy/Plan with priority to walking and biking.
  3. JBLM has bikeshare.

There are three great videos for you to watch this week. First, Knute Berger provides a brief history of Seattle bicycling in the 1890s. Then Hennessy (yeah, that Hennessy) produced a series of short inspirational videos of Major Taylor, including one about the “Six Day Race” at Madison Square Garden.




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Mayor Durkan is right, we do need a ‘reset’ on Move Seattle

This Move Seattle map shows the clear focus on transit, biking, walking and maintenance that voters approved in 2015. Seattle’s leaders need to get back to this vision.

As regular readers of Seattle Bike Blog know, I have been on family leave since late January following the early birth of my daughter. So unlike the daily news regimen I have reported since 2010, I have not had the bandwidth to post about some major local transportation stories as they have happened. It’s been hard to follow the news and not be a part of it.

But maybe taking a step back and looking at the big picture around Seattle transportation would be helpful right now. Mayor Jenny Durkan and Interim SDOT Director Goran Sparrman are calling for a “reset” of Move Seattle to recognize the likelihood of less Federal funding than was assumed under the levy proposal.

I agree that we need a Move Seattle reset, though not in the form of big cuts targeting walking, biking, transit and safety projects as has been the pattern so far under Mayor Durkan. Since passage of the levy, our city’s transportation actions have drifted far off course from the transit, walking, biking, safety and maintenance mission voters approved in 2015. What we’re doing now is not working. Our city needs strong leaders with a creative vision to figure out how to get the job done even if the Feds don’t come through as originally hoped.

But a reset should not mean abandoning the extensive walking, biking and transit master plans that took years to develop, were approved by City Council, and were funded by the voters. Nor should it mean abandoning the city’s Vision Zero plan or the multi-agency One Center City plan for downtown. It may be true that the methods for accomplishing the goals in these plans needs to evolve — either due to funding or because there are better ideas — and that’s where the mayor can step in and be a strong leader.

The Move Seattle levy may be the most ambitious local transportation funding package voters have passed in any U.S. city. $930 million over nine years, and almost all the funding was earmarked for transit, walking, biking and maintenance of existing assets. To pass a levy of this scale with very little funding for new or expanded roads and highways marked a big shift in the city’s transportation vision. The voters were clear in November 2015 that they believe walking, biking and transit are the future in Seattle, and they are willing to pay hard-earned cash for it. City leaders must deliver what the people of Seattle are paying for. Continue reading

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Rainier RapidRide remake concepts fall short + Mayor Durkan should push SDOT for a more visionary plan

Rainier Ave is the only flat and direct street between Mount Baker and the International District/downtown. If southeast Seattle is ever going to have good bike access to the jobs and other major destinations downtown, Rainier Ave will need bike lanes. It is a diagonal street through the low point in a valley. There are no other options for a direct and flat bike route.

At the same time, Rainier is so wide and dangerous that it sees far more traffic collisions than north end streets with double its daily traffic volumes:

The street connects downtown to neighborhoods with low rates of car ownership that have been shamefully underserved ever since Seattle started building bike lanes:

While there are two high quality bike route options for people traveling the three miles from the Fremont Bridge to the downtown core, there are zero quality options for people biking the three miles from downtown to Franklin High School and Mount Baker Station. Continue reading

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Bike Happy: Don’t capsize the ferry system with stranded bikeshare bikes

EDITOR’S NOTE: Thanks again to Brock Howell of Bike Happy for putting together this comprehensive weekly newsletter.


TOP THINGS TO KNOW & DO

  1. Don’t leave your bikeshare bike on a ferry. The system shuts down.
  2. E-bikes will likely be allowed on most Seattle trails soon.
  3. Mayor Durkan is expected to “reboot” the planned projects in the Move Seattle Levy. Keep your eye on how this will impact planned bikeway investments.

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Bike Happy: The Future of Downtown Shifts

EDITOR’S NOTE: Thanks again to Brock Howell of Bike Happy for putting together this comprehensive weekly newsletter.


TOP THINGS TO KNOW & DO

  1. Seattle City Council adopted a bold new bike parking code.
  2. Mayor Durkan delayed the 4th Ave protected bikeway, halted the 1st Ave streetcar, and wants congestion fees for downtown.
  3. There are grand opening ceremonies for the Pioneer Square alleys tonight, the Arboretum Loop Trail on Saturday, and a crosswalk in Georgetown on Tuesday.
  4. Cascade’s Emerald City Ride is on Sunday, and it’s probably the first and last time you can ride across the Alaskan Way Viaduct.

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Aviva Stephens | Bikes are for boys: Cycling while woman

EDITOR’S NOTE: Aviva Stephens is a Seattle native and financial professional who discovered the benefits and joys of cycling on her challenging work commute between Ballard and the Eastside. She just launched a new blog called Biking In the Rain, which is also on Instagram at @bikingintherain. Find more of her writing on Medium and follow her on Instagram at @avivarachelle.

As a young girl I rode my bike everywhere around town, to the corner store for my daily candy stash, through the lovely wooded areas around Seattle, and the beaches along Lake Washington. But once I hit my tweens I became consumed with the tidiness of my apparel, containing my offensive odor, and maintaining a cool facade that included no outwardly appearance of effort or trying. While the boys remained boys, I was being groomed by society to be a young lady for the remainder of my school days and into my professional career as a tax accountant. As I proceeded to pursue my life ambitions the bike of my childhood gathered dust in the garage, and those moments of joy slowly faded from memory.

In finding my way to bike commuting, I was faced with the unexpected challenge of having to hunt down where I fit in the bike community as a woman. In every facet of my experience — from shopping for bikes to finding folks to ride with to procuring bike apparel — there are countless implications that bikes are for boys. The majority of bike shops are full of boy employees, group rides are led by the boys from the bike shop, and the readily available apparel seems to only fit athletic boy like bodies.

I use the word boy rather than man because there is a certain child playfulness with cycling so boy seems more fitting. While navigating my way to bike commuting is much more challenging than purchasing a car at my local dealership, the benefits are enormous, including health, sanity, and most importantly finding my childlike spirit at least once during my work day.

It’s the little things

As a marginalized minority, I’ve grown accustomed to confused glances and microaggressive questions when I repeatedly defy stereotypes in my day-to-day life, but I was shocked to find this same friction present on my journey to bike commuting. While there’s no sign over the bike shop that says “boys only,” it’s the little things that send the “boys only” message loud and clear.  Just the other day my coworker took a glance at my sick-ass All-City road bike and asked “is that is girls bike,” then shoots me a confused glance that implied “because bikes for boys.”

Everywhere along my journey there are these little “boys only” signs that create a boys’ club mentality in the bike community.  Here’s a few that I’ve observed: Continue reading

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Bike on I-5, the Aurora Bridge and the soon-to-be-closed waterfront Viaduct April 8

Cascade Bicycle Club’s Emerald City Ride 2018 won’t ever be repeated because part of the route will be on the slated-for-demolishion Alaskan Way Viaduct.

The third annual Emerald City Ride sticks with the theme: Bike on freeways typically off-limits to biking. And 2018 is shaping up to be one of the best routes yet. Rather than crossing the 520 Bridge as in the two previous years, the April 8 ride will start with a ride across the Alaskan Way Viaduct downtown, then continue on Aurora all the way to Fremont before taking city streets past Gas Works Park and onto the I-5 Express Lanes back to Sodo. The I-5 Express Lanes alone are reason enough to register.

Speaking of registration, the 12-mile full ride is $40 for adults with discounts for youth and Cascade members. You have until April 4 to register online. Day-of registration may be available for an extra $10, but only if they don’t sell out online. So since this is probably your last chance ever to bike on the Viaduct, I wouldn’t wait.

If you just want to bike on the Viaduct, you can register for a shorter 3-mile “Viaduct Experience” ride for $25 (again, discounts for youth and members).

Check out our post from last year’s ride for an idea of what you’re signing up for. It’s worth the cash.

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Anti-bike lane group tweets that single moms don’t bike. It backfires spectacularly

A twitter handle representing the “Save 35th Ave NE” group fighting against city plans for safer crosswalks and bike lanes posted a sexist tweet the other day saying that “single mothers don’t commute to work on bikes.” It backfired spectacularly when the many biking moms in Seattle pointed out that they do, in fact, exist. Many of them are 35th Ave NE neighbors.

The tweet goes on to bafflingly suggest that only “privileged ” bike, which is perhaps a wonderful insight into the minds of at least some of the people fighting these bike lanes. This poster has no idea who bikes, so they created some “other” group of people that they feel they don’t need to care about and bunched all people who bike together into that group. It’s just #techbros! Who cares if they die?

What’s depressing — beyond the blatant retrograde sexism, of course —is that this poster has lost sight of the fact that it’s their own neighbors who are trying to get around by bike. If your neighborhood organization relies on pretending that many of your neighbors don’t exist, then something has gone terribly wrong with your organization. The problem is right there in the name: “Save” 35th. Save it from what? Being a safe and comfortable place for people to bike? Just because you or your friends don’t bike doesn’t mean your neighbors who do bike are not worth caring about. That’s practically the definition of being selfish.

Bike lanes on 35th Ave NE would make make it safer and easier for more people of all ages, gender identities and income levels to get around without a car. More people biking is good for traffic, good for business, good for the environment and good for people’s health. In other words, it’s good for neighborhoods.

As of press time, that tweet has been up for 48 hours without any sort of clarification or retraction from the Save 35th group.

Below is just a taste of the responses people have posted so far. I hope that 35th Ave neighbors fighting the bike lanes take a step back and question some of their assumptions about who bikes and why these bike lanes might actually be good for their neighborhood. Read the tweet at the top of this post again and ask yourself whether that really represents the values you have for your neighborhood.

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Bike Happy: Get stoked + Eastside cuts bikeshare loose

EDITOR’S NOTE: Thanks again to Brock Howell of Bike Happy for putting together this comprehensive weekly newsletter.


TOP THINGS TO KNOW & DO

  1. Attend the third and final presentations of the Stoked Spoke Adventure Series this year on Wednesday, 6:30-9pm, at the Rhino Room. You’ll learn about amazing bikepacking and other bike adventures here in the Pacific Northwest. RSVP >
  2. Kathleen Emry, owner of Free Range Cycles, is retiring.
  3. Seattle City Council is set to move forward on major improvements to bike parking requirements for new buildings, although the update isn’t perfect.
  4. There’s sooo much bikeshare news this week, from vandals cutting brake wires to Eastside expansion.
  5. Cascade, SNG, and others are pushing SDOT to push forward on a planned two-way protected bike lane on 4th Avenue in Downtown. Take action >

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Seattle tests low-budget painted bike parking to make bike share more orderly

Photo from SDOT

Thousands of bikes spread throughout the city available on-demand for $1, what could be wrong with that?

The private, free-floating bike share companies serving Seattle are already changing how people get around the city by providing a new fast, healthy, low-cost and very environmentally-friendly mobility option. Combined with an expansion of safe and comfortable bike routes, bike share is poised to be part of a significant transportation shift in Seattle (if city and regional leaders choose to follow through with the bike route plans, of course).

But there is one downside to the stationless bikes: They sometimes block walkways, bus stops and accessibility. Only a very small percentage of the thousands of bikes cause issues, but they can be especially problematic for people with vision impairments and people who use mobility devices or otherwise can’t easily navigate around a blocked curb ramp or bike toppled across the sidewalk.

Sometimes the problem is that a vandal has pushed a bike over, and that’s a hard issue to remedy. The same thing happens to trash cans, newspaper boxes, signs, construction fences and any other movable thing in public space. Sometimes the problem is inadequate kickstand design or maintenance on the bikes (they should be able to handle a strong gust of wind without toppling). But sometimes, the problem is due to a bike being parked in the wrong spot either due to ignorance of the rules or by accident or because the user doesn’t care.

To help remedy this issue, SDOT is trialing a handful of low-cost, painted bike parking boxes in five Ballard locations. Users are not required to use the boxes, but they are there to help guide use to be more orderly and maybe even teach people visually about how they should park the bikes. Details from SDOT: Continue reading

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Don’t delay the downtown bike network

From a One Center City presentation. These bike trips will only happen if the city invests in a safe and connected bike network.

Downtown Seattle is facing a massive transportation challenge when buses are kicked out the transit tunnel in 2019. That is not long from now, and the City of Seattle and our region’s transportation agencies need to be taking action right now to keep everyone moving.

Light rail service to Northgate begins in 2021, which will be a great opportunity to restructure transit service into downtown and increase light rail frequency and capacity. But until then, the fate of transportation downtown relies on bold action to prioritize transit, walking and biking. Because if more people start driving, we’re all screwed. Traffic will be worse, busses will get stuck, air quality will degrade, etc.

But we don’t need to just sit back and allow this happen. We can make a choice as a city and region to invest in bold changes to city streets that create more space for reliable bus movements, improve safety for people walking and provide safe and connected bike lanes that make biking downtown an appealing choice for the huge number of people in our region who would love to bike but would never even consider biking mixed with downtown traffic.

Both Cascade Bicycle Club and Seattle Neighborhood Greenways have sounded the alarm, saying that it’s time to act. You can use their handy online forms to tell city and regional transportation leaders agencies you support plans for a 4th Ave bike lane and the many other safety and transit improvements downtown. Continue reading

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Family update + Some news we’ve missed

Fiona loves her ducky friend.

Hello, Seattle Bike Blog readers, it’s been a while since I updated you all on my daughter Fiona and my current leave from writing.

First of all, you have been amazing. So many readers have risen to the occasion to help us out, either through gifts or making us meals or sending words of encouragement and love. It has been just amazing to feel so supported by all of you. Following my initial post telling you all that I won’t be writing as often while on family leave, the number of paying reader supporters actually went up. Thank you for investing in my family. Seattle Bike Blog will someday be back bigger and better than ever thanks to you.

Special shout out to the Mama Bears, Seattle’s incredible family biking community that has been an especially strong pillar of support. Thank you.

Fiona is still in the NICU, but she’s headed in the right direction, growing bigger and stronger every day. But growing takes time, and our stay here still has many weeks left to go. I am so eager to get her home, and can’t wait until we can go for walks and bike rides together. But for now, she’s confined to this room. Kelli and I sit by her side every day, holding her and soothing her as best we can while she works hard to grow. Sitting by her side all day doesn’t sound particularly exhausting or time-consuming, but it is. In some ways, it feels like I am doing nothing all all day. Yet time flies by, and I can’t seem to find a moment to answer emails, let alone report stories.

It has been so hard not to be writing because so many cool bike things are happening: Continue reading

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Bike Happy: Explore Seattle’s racist history (March 15 – 22)

EDITOR’S NOTE: This week’s edition was posted to Seattle Bike Blog a week late. Sorry! So if you’re just now seeing this, our apologies that you missed all this fun stuff. Thanks again to Brock Howell of Bike Happy for putting together this comprehensive weekly newsletter.


TOP THINGS TO KNOW & DO

  1. On Saturday, you can join one of two rides to explore how historic racial redlining of Seattle neighborhoods shaped our communities (10am-1pm3-6pm).
  2. Plans are afoot for major changes at the Northgate Mall and in Bellevue’s Wilburton neighborhood for more compact development patterns, connected to transit, walking, and biking.
  3. Seattle’s One Center City Plan, which is supposed to improve transit and bike infrastructure in downtown, has been delayed.

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Bike Happy: Pi Edition

EDITOR’S NOTE: Thanks again to Brock Howell of Bike Happy for putting together this comprehensive weekly newsletter.


TOP THINGS TO KNOW & DO

  1. REI won’t sell Giro and Bell helmets because the parent company also sells AR-15s.
  2. The Your Voice Your Choice Project Development Meetings to choose small transportation and parks improvements in your neighborhoods continues this week.
  3. There are four community workshops/meetings this week relating to transportation improvements for North Downtown, including one tonight.
  4. Last chance to help reach Bike Happy Month fundraising goal by the March 11 deadline.
  5. Be irrational. Go on a Pi Pie Ride on March 14, 1:59 p.m. and 26.5 seconds.

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35th Ave NE: A Project at Risk

This is a guest post written by Liam Bradshaw. Liam is a research scientist in materials chemistry who lives near 35th Ave NE in Wedgwood. He enjoys riding for both commuting and recreation, but drives, walks, and busses when necessary.


35th Ave NE runs through the heart of the Wedgwood and Bryant neighborhoods, connecting our schools, post office, grocery stores, and restaurants. It currently has an outdated design that is causing injuries and collisions at an alarming rate, and SDOT’s repaving this spring provides the perfect opportunity to address the safety problems as the community has been requesting for years.

The design has been finalized and bids returned for construction, but a few vocal neighbors are petitioning the mayor to halt the project and remove the bike lanes that are included to improve the safety of all who use the street. We need your voice on a petition to make sure this project happens.

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Bike Happy: Roar-in March like a lion on an e-bike

EDITOR’S NOTE: Thanks again to Brock Howell of Bike Happy for putting together this comprehensive weekly newsletter.

MOST IMPORTANT THINGS TO KNOW & DO

  1. Thanks to Washington Bikes advocacy, the State Legislature passed legislation that clarifies state law relating to e-bikes. Now, unless a local law specifically says otherwise, people can ride their e-bikes in bike lanes or trails just like any other bike so long as the bike isn’t powered to provide e-assist past 20mph. King County laws regarding its trails still need to be updated (SBB).
  2. The Seattle Bike Show is this Saturday and Sunday at CenturyLink Field Event Center.
  3. Attend community-led workshops on mobility in the U District (3/7) and Uptown (3/8).

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Clarified e-assist bicycle rules head to the Governor’s desk

Both the State House and Senate have passed a bill clarifying the legal status of electric-assisted bicycles on streets, sidewalks and trails. The bill (SB 6434) now heads to Governor Jay Inslee’s desk for a signature.

If signed into law, the new rules will help the burgeoning e-bike industry grow by aligning state regulations with existing Federal rules. Until now, there were too many gray areas about when an e-assist bike should be treated like a bicycle and when it should be treated like a motor vehicle. The outdated rules failed to account for modern e-assist bike technology that follows a more nuanced three-class system:

E-assist bikes have huge potential to expand access to bicycling to more people, so it is good for communities across the State of Washington if the e-assist bicycle industry succeeds here. But uncertainty and legal gray areas are no good for business.

Washington Bikes worked hard to advocate for this bill, and they deserve some serious props for getting it through on the first try. It passed 44-2 in the Senate and 86-12 in the House. Continue reading

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UW master’s student is surveying bike share users

Screenshot of one set of survey questions.

Did you use Pronto? Have you used the new bike share bikes? If you answered yes to either of these questions, University of Washington master’s student Luke Peters would like to hear from you.

Peters recently launched a survey in an attempt to better understand the lessons from the failure of Pronto Cycle Share and how the current private bike share services improve (or not) on the previous system.

It’s a pretty short survey, and you could win a Swift Industries bag. So if you have a couple minutes, fill it out.

More details, from Peters: Continue reading

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Bike Happy: Chilly Hilly, YVYC, & Last week for Bike Happy Month Fundraiser

EDITOR’S NOTE: Thanks again to Brock Howell of Bike Happy for putting together this comprehensive weekly newsletter.


TOP THINGS TO KNOW & DO

  1. With less than a week left to reach our fundraising goal to hold Bike Happy Month and Pedaler’s Fair, we still need quite a few donations. It’s a critical we reach our $2,500 goal so we can cover the basic permitting and website costs. Plus, for every dollar donated we are hopeful to match it with two dollars in city grant funding. Contribute now >>
  2. The city’s Your Voice, Your Choice program to fund 4-5 $90,000 street and parks projects in each council district enters its “project development” phase this next week, and our calendar is completely overwhelmed by the YVYC meetings. Learn more >
  3. This weekend, join the end-of-the-month Critical Mass ride, celebrate and learn about Seattle’s Black history on a ride with Merlin Rainwater and Jessica Evotia Hall, and start your season with a truly Chilly Hilly.
  4. Tell Mayor Durkan you support a safer 35th Avenue NE in Wedgwood/Ravenna-Bryant >>

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Bike News Roundup: Four weeks old

It’s time for the bike news roundup! As always, this is an open thread.

A little update on my family. Fiona turns four weeks old today. Kelli and I spend every day at the NICU with her, holding her for hours and trying to help how we can (changing her diaper, taking her temperature, etc). It’s a stressful place to be, and I am just blown away every day by the patience and composure of the medical professionals here. We will be here for several more months. I anticipate that posts will continue to be somewhat sporadic, and that I will be slow to cover big news (I haven’t even written about the fact that the 2nd Ave bike lane extension is open! Or the Arboretum Trail! Or 35th Ave NE! Or bike parking regulation changes! Or that LimeBike and Spin want to add electric kick scooters! Lots of big stories are going uncovered here, but I’ve just had to make peace with letting them go for now.

Thanks, everyone, for reading. And keep sending tips: tom@seattlebikeblog.com

Now, here’s a bunch of bike and transportation stuff floating around the web in recent months:

Pacific Northwest News Continue reading

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