Commute Seattle survey: Driving, transit and walking down, biking unchanged, and remote work way up

Chart of the mode split 2019 vs 2021 vs 2022. Remote work went from six percent to 46 percent. Biking stayed at 3 percent.Commute Seattle dramatically expanded its annual analysis of work trip survey data, finding a wealth of interesting data about how the city’s commute patterns have changed since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The biggest change by far is that as of late 2022, remote work was more than seven times higher than before the pandemic, making up 46% of “commutes” to Seattle center city workplaces on average and more than 50% on Mondays and Fridays.

Mode split by weekday. Remote work is highest on Mondays and Fridays.The data for biking is most notable for being rock solid and consistent while other modes saw major changes. Biking was 3% of commute trips to the Seattle center city in 2019, 3% in 2021 and it’s still 3% now. This means that biking has increased its share of non-remote work trips from about 3% in 2019 to about 6% in late 2022.

In one of the most fascinating charts in the whole 81-page document, you can see how commute habits shifted. It’s one of those charts that keeps being more interesting the more you look at it.

Chart with the 2019 commute modes in a stacked bar on the left, and the 2022 modes on the right. Lines in the middle show where segments of one mode when to another. Continue reading

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Watch: Take a history tour of North Beacon Hill by bike

Bob Svercl’s latest video is a bike ride around North Beacon Hill focused on some history highlights of the area. He even included a route map if you are inspired to ride to the featured areas yourself.

This is the second history ride video Bob has created recently. Two months ago, he featured Queen Anne. So definitely subscribe to his bobco85 channel on YouTube for more.

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Renton starts work on short section of Rainier Avenue trail + Seattle should prepare a connection

Project map marking Rainier Ave from south 3rd street to northwest 3rd place.There’s a very interesting piece buried deep within a major roadway rebuild project on Rainier Avenue in Renton: 1,000 feet of trail on the east side of the street that will someday be part of the Lake Washington Loop connecting Airport Way to Seattle.

The City of Renton is staring construction work on a massive $34.5 million rebuild of Rainier Ave that will add a center median, business access transit lanes and new sidewalks to the busy and dangerous street while also repaving the roadway. But the part that caught my eye (thanks for the tip Bob Svercl!) is the one block of trail included between Airport Way and the north end of the project boundary at NW 3rd Place. It is not even noted on the Rainier Ave Phase 4 project map, but it is mentioned in the description: “A pedestrian and bike path will also be built on the east side of Rainier Ave N, between Airport Way and NW 3rd Pl.”

This trail will be on the east side of the street and connect to the recently-completed trail along Airport Way and is part of the city’s plan to fill in a major gap in the regional Lake Washington Loop bike route. Continue reading

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CM Strauss asks mayor to study Market and Leary for Missing Link

Map of Councilmember Strauss's proposed route on 17th, Leary and Market.Councilmember Dan Strauss sent a letter (PDF) to Mayor Bruce Harrell asking him to shift SDOT’s Missing Link efforts to focus on designing and building a Burke-Gilman Trail connection on Market Street and Leary Way in Ballard.

“I see a lot of positive attributes to bringing this trail into our businesses and multi-use core,” said Strauss in an interview. “The trail on Shilshole requires people to cross Shilshole.”

His letter comes as new legal losses have put the city’s plans for a Shilshole Avenue trail back on ice. The state’s Shorelines Hearings Board issued a “courtesy” letter (PDF) to the city and Cascade Bicycle Club letting them know that they sided with the Ballard business coalition suing to stop the trail. The letter did not specify reasons or the options for appeal, but it’s bad news for the city’s plan to build a scaled-back version of the trail connection. With the Move Seattle Levy expiring at the end of 2024, there is a sense of urgency to invest the public’s money in a timely manor rather than continue to hold the funds for an unknown period of time. So even if the Board’s decision could be successfully appealed, it would mean further delay and further court battles. It’s not clear how long the city’s elected leaders would be willing to hold that funding for the trail when there are so many other uses for it.

This is the biggest development in the Missing Link saga in years. If Strauss’s request gathers enough political momentum and favor from Mayor Harrell’s office, it could mean a brand new design process for a legitimately exciting biking and safe streets project through the commercial core of Ballard. But it may also spell doom for a trail connection on Shilshole, which is the most direct and by far the most preferred route according to feedback collected in the city’s environmental megastudy back in 2017.

Rough design concept from Strauss showing a 12 foot trail plus a 5-foot buffer and and sidewalk.Strauss’s letter essentially calls for an extension of the trail design already on Market Street (though not technically open as a trail yet) between 24th Ave NW and the Locks. That 12-foot walking and biking trail would continue on Market, then turn down Leary and 17th Ave NW to meet back up with the Burke-Gilman Trial.

The letter itself does not officially change anything. One councilmember does not have such power. But it has a lot going for it in terms of timing and public benefit. Leary absolutely needs a safe streets update because it is a very wide and fast street through what has become a dense neighborhood. Market also needs safety improvements. In a vacuum, there is no question that this project would be great for biking and bike access to these homes and businesses. So with the city’s Shilshole trail plan somehow still not having a legal path forward, the Strauss route presents a chance for a reset. But it would be a bitter pill to swallow for many people who have fought for the Shilshole route for decades.

Cascade Bicycle Club is currently in a somewhat awkward spot. Because the Shorelines Hearings Board has yet to make their final decision, it’s not yet clear what sort of appeal options there are in that case and what the chances are of winning. It doesn’t make sense to abandon that effort unless it’s a clear loser, especially when that final decision should be coming soon. But they are generally positive on Dan Strauss’s plan, with some hesitancy.

“We’re not opposed to this option so long as it doesn’t cause any unnecessary delay to the Missing Link Shilshole route,” said Cascade Executive Director Lee Lambert.

Even if the Strauss plan does gain favor with the mayor and SDOT, there are still a ton of questions and challenges ahead. Will any business owners sue to stop it as was done on Shilshole? The city has been double-crossed on this project before, so this is a legitimate concern. Because the Leary/Market option was studied and ruled out during the environmental megastudy, does that have an impact on the city being able to build it now? And even if the trail is completed on Leary and Market, Shilshole will still be dangerous to the public and in need to safety improvements.

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

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

Many Seattle politicians have tried to be the one who finally brings people together to solve the Missing Link. Mayor Ed Murray was able to get trail opponents together to shake hands and smile back in 2017, but then the opponents went back on the deal and sued anyway. At this point, I think anything that is genuinely good and has momentum is worth considering. I think it makes sense for city leaders and bike advocates to wait for ongoing legal decisions to be finalized, assess the feasibility of the options, then move forward with something that can actually get done.

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Trails near Judkins Park Station will get lights

Trail connections to the under-construction Judkins Park light rail station will get lighting as the city and Sound Transit work to improve station access conditions before it opens in … uh … well, at some point.

Judkins Park Station is the only new Seattle station on the East Link line, and it could be one of the most bike-friendly with the Mountains-to-Sound Trail passing directly in front of its 23rd Avenue entrance. Trails already connect to Judkins Park, Dearborn/Hiawatha, through Sam Smith Park bound for the I-90 Bridge, and the northern edge of Beacon Hill. These trails act as collectors for many bike routes in the Central District, Beacon Hill, Atlantic, and the North Rainier areas. It will be fascinating to see what kinds of new bike-and-transit combos will be possible and popular once this station opens.

These trails already get all-hours use, but the light rail station is sure to increase the number of people using them after dark. The lighting is funded by a $2.1 million Sound Transit station access grant and $520,000 in Move Seattle Levy funds.

Markings are already on the ground, and construction will take 7–8 months. Be prepared for “limited trail closures” while crews are working.

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WA Bikes: Driver’s license review bill ‘very likely’ + More legislature updates

Photo of people biking near the capitol building in Olympia with text WA State Legislative Session Update 3-7-23.We are well into the phase of the legislative session where it becomes really difficult to keep track of which bills are moving, which ones are stalled, which have been amended to be better, which have been amended to be worse, and which are dead. So I highly suggest signing up for legislative updates from organizations like Washington Bikes, who are tracking things closely. You can also get a quick look at that status of biking and safe streets bills by checking out the WA Bikes bill tracker document.

Here’s the latest update from Washington Bikes:

We’re more than halfway through Legislative Session and things are moving faster than ever!

At this point in the legislative process votes can happen at any time, discussion and debate can take minutes or hours, and we’re working hard to get our bills through the process. There have already been some exciting votes, and there’s more to come.

Highlights for week 9 (March 6 – March 10):

  • On Thursday, March 9, HB 1319 (driver’s license review after a collision involving a person walking or biking) is scheduled for Executive Session with no hearing needed! That means we will *very likely* have a new law soon requiring drivers who hit a person biking or walking to re-test for their license. This is a big win!
  • Last week, a number of key bills passed out of their house of origin, including SB 5452 (authorizing impact fee revenue to fund bike and pedestrian infrastructure improvement), SB 5743 (a technical fix to Move Ahead WA) and SB 5583 (improving young driver safety). These bills are part of Washington Bikes’ safety agenda, and we’re proud to see them move through.

At this point in the session, only one of our priority bills has died – the bill to ban right turns at intersections where lots of people walk and bike. Thanks to your advocacy, so many more good bike bills made it through.

Background information:

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No, the city is NOT cutting down cherry trees to build a bike project

Screenshot of a tweet by the Seattle Times that says "To make way for a bike and pedestrian corridor, eight cherry trees will be cut down."Contrary to what you may have read on Twitter or saw written on yellow signs on trees on Pike Street near the market, Seattle’s decision to cut down cherry trees on the block between 1st and 2nd Avenues has nothing to do with bike improvements.

In fact, the project removing the trees will also remove the existing two-way bike lane on this block, a significant downgrade for biking. The change is part of the larger “Pike Pine Streetscape and Bicycle Improvements Project,” which does include exciting bike lane improvements between 2nd Ave and Bellevue Ave. However, the project’s design for the block with the doomed cherry trees will dramatically expand the amount of space for cars at the expense of all other users. Below are some concept images from the project’s outreach materials:

Existing Pike Street photo looking from 2nd Ave toward 1st. There are two lane, one for general traffic  and one used for a two-way bike lane. There is no parking. Proposed design for the block with a wide curbless space and no bike lane. Cars have more space, including new parking spaces.Looking at this, and you can see why it was so frustrating to read a Tweet from the Seattle Times that said, “To make way for a bike and pedestrian corridor, eight cherry trees will be cut down.” The exact opposite is true. This block’s design deletes the entire two-way bike lane and slightly reduces the sidewalk width in order to add car parking and widen the driving lane. Just because the concept image creators desaturated the colors in the “existing” photo doesn’t mean the “proposed” image is better. Here’s let’s try it another way:

The proposed image again, but with low saturation and contrast. Same existing image, but with higher saturation and contrast.For what it’s worth, Seattle Bike Blog would happily see the city cancel this one block of the project and more forward with the rest. This “curbless” street concept has yet to actually prove to be an improvement for walking or biking in Seattle, though they keep trying it (Denny Way near Capitol Hill Station and Bell Street are two such examples). In our deeply-ingrained car culture, cars will occupy every inch they can. The wider the driving lane, the faster people will drive, and if there is space that is not physically blocked, people will park their car there or use it to pass someone else. A curbless street is only better for people walking and biking if there are significant obstacles for cars or if cars are not allowed at all. The proposed design is worse in every way.

So keep the cherry trees until they actually need to be replaced. As David Kroman’s story in the Times notes (unlike the Tweet, the story gets the details right), cherry trees don’t love being in urban tree pits and might not last much longer. Maybe by then we’ll have a design for this block that truly does make it better for walking and biking.

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King County study finds helmet use unchanged after law repeal

Table comparing helmet use observations in 2004 to 2022. The top line is 85% use in 2022 versus 80% use in 2004.One year ago, the King County Board of Health voted 11–2 to repeal the county’s rare all-ages bicycle helmet law. One of the arguments in favor of repeal was that the law was not a top reason that most people choose to wear a helmet. To test this assertion, Public Health – Seattle & King County conducted an observational study (PDF) to assess helmet use after the repeal went into effect. And sure enough, helmet use remains high across King County, especially for people riding their own bicycles.

Researchers counted about 2,000 people at more than 50 different locations around the county. 91% of riders on personal bicycles wore a helmet while 45% of bike share users wore one. Only 9% of scooter share riders wore a helmet. Together, bike and scooter helmet use sat at 85%, with is higher than the 80% a similar study found in 2004. As David Kroman noted in the Seattle Times, the results are also nearly identical to a 2018 study led by a group of Harborview and UW researchers. This suggests that people are choosing to wear a helmet for reasons separate from the threat of police action, such as feeling safer with head protection.

It is probably worth revisiting this study in a few years to see if things change with time, but this initial result is a good sign that the Board’s reasoning was indeed sound. It should also be instructive for other places considering a helmet law repeal. The King County Board of Health was clear during deliberations that they supported the use of helmets, but they had concerns about inequitable enforcement. Black people in Seattle were 3.8 times more likely to get a helmet citation than a white person, an analysis by the volunteer-led Helmet Law Working Group found. “Differences in helmet use between populations cannot explain these disparities,” the group noted in their report. These figures do not account for stops that did not result in a citation.

On somewhat of a side note, the bike share figure is surprisingly high considering riders would have needed to plan ahead and bring a helmet with them. The sample size was 68, which seems significant enough to take seriously. As someone who owns a bike, my bike share use is mostly limited to spontaneous trips when I’m already out and about and unlikely to have a helmet with me. But I guess there are a lot of users who leave home knowing they are going to be using bike share to get around. It also suggests diverging use cases for shared bikes compared to shared scooters. Are scooters more likely to be used spontaneously while the bikes are more likely to be part of a user’s plan? We already know that bike share trips tend to be longer in distance than scooter trips, so perhaps this is another clue. It also suggests that there is value in bike share separate from scooter share, and that the two device types should not be considered interchangeable by government policy writers or by the companies offering them.

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Greenways and Cascade seek more specifics in plan to get Vision Zero back on track

Map showing Top 20 Priority Pedestrian Locations per Council District. Each data point is color coded to show the crash type, such as vehicle turning right, turning left or going straight.

The top 20 priority pedestrian safety locations. What’s the plan to fix them all as soon as possible?

SDOT is set to present their “top to bottom review” of the Vision Zero program to the City Council Transportation Committee March 7, and safe streets advocates are pushing for more specifics and hard deadlines to “light a fire under our elected leaders to get Vision Zero back on track,” as Cascade Bicycle Club put it.

In our previous story about the first draft of the Vision Zero review, we noted that a lot of the recommendations were internal-facing things like reorganizing internal processes and the department hierarchy. This is not necessarily a criticism of the review since this was its stated goal, but it’s also hard for the public to understand the impact of these internal changes.

The review includes lots of important findings and great statements about what needs to happen, such as the recommendation that the department must “Be willing to reduce vehicle travel speeds and convenience to improve safety.” But the review was somewhat lacking in specifics and timelines for making those necessary changes. Cascade and Greenways noticed this, too.

“[T]he public needs to know that tangible actions are coming next,” Cascade wrote in their sample letter that people can send to Councilmembers. Use their handy online tool to send your own letter. “Otherwise, it’s just another plan that gets put on a shelf.” Specifically, they are calling for Council to place a timeline on SDOT to accomplish tasks from the review, including a revision of the Vision Zero Action Plan, expanding turn on red restrictions, programming leading pedestrian intervals (giving walk signals a head start), and requiring follow-up progress reporting on these changes.

Seattle Neighborhood Greenways already offered their Vision Zero ideas back in November, which includes a lot more specific interventions the city could take. Much of their suggestions might be more appropriate for the Vision Zero Action Plan, which is why accelerating delivery of that update is important. This departmental review document is not going to get Vision Zero back on track, but it could help SDOT more effectively deliver safety-focused actions that the Mayor and Council task them with. Continue reading

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WA Bikes: Turn on red bill is dead, license reexamination bill moving forward + more legislature updates

Washington State bills banning turns on red near many key locations statewide are officially dead after neither the Senate nor the House failed to move them forward before a session deadline. This is how many bills die every year, essentially running out of momentum rather than getting voted down. It’s common for an idea to take a few years of organizing and modifying before it finally makes it through, so this hopefully isn’t the end for turn on red restrictions in future years.

But there are still good things moving through the legislature. From the latest Washington Bikes newsletter:

Last week marked the House of Origin cutoff for bills to make it out of committee. Several bike safety priorities moved forward, but , the bill to make our streets safer by banning right turns on red at busy intersections, didn’t move past fiscal cutoff.

Thanks to the hundreds of you who advocated for . Despite this setback, we’re confident that we educated leaders and the public on the safety impacts of eliminating right turns on red at intersections, and think we’re closer to local-led action because of this push.

After an initial period of intense committee hearings, we’ll see a flurry of floor action over the next few weeks, where bill are voted on by the full House or Senate. After that, bills will head to the opposite chamber for committee consideration – and we’ll need your help demonstrating support for active transportation and safety.

Highlights for week 8 (Feb 27 – March 3):

  • Yesterday, Monday, Feb. 27, WA Bikes priority bill, HB 1319 – legislation uniting the vehicular assault and Cooper Jones act, triggering driver’s license re-examination after a crash – sailed through its third and final reading on the House floor, with unanimous support, 96 votes for and 0 against!
  • Check the updated status of our priority bills in the 2023 WA Bill Tracker.
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Saturday: R+E Cycles celebrates 50 years in the U District

Black and white photo of 10 people in front of R+E Cycles holding bicycle parts.

1970s photo from R+E Cycles.

50 years in seattle. R+E Cycles. Bike and Pike 2023R+E Cycles is turning 50 years old, and the storied bike shop and frame builders behind the Rodriguez and Erickson custom bikes will be celebrating by hosting the return of the free Bike and Pike expo for the first time since 2019.

Bike and Pike runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday (March 4) at R+E Cycles on the Ave between NE 56th Street and Ravenna Blvd. “Come join us for coffee, beer, bicycles, and a chance to converse one-on-one with some of The Northwest’s cycling gurus,” R+E wrote in the event description.

There will be a special guest this year. Ángel Rodriguez is heading to back to Seattle from his home on the side of a volcano in Panama. In addition to building bikes, Rodriguez was a major Seattle bicycling booster throughout the city’s biking boom years of the 70s and 80s (I interviewed him for my upcoming book Biking Uphill in the Rain). So welcome back to Seattle, Ángel!

More details on Bike and Pike from R+E:

We’re Turning 50!
And we want celebrate dang it! We want you to join us, along with R+E Cycles founder, Angel Rodriguez in person for the long awaited return of R+E Cycles Bike and Pike expo. It’s been a long 3 years, so let’s kick the 2023 cycling season off right!

Come join us for coffee, beer, bicycles, and a chance to converse one-on-one with some of The Northwest’s cycling gurus at The Seattle Bike and Pike Expo of 2023.

At R+E Cycles, we love Seattle, and the small companies that actually produce their products here. In October 2008, I asked our friends at Pike Brewing Company in Downtown Seattle if they would like to put on an event here in Seattle with other Seattle based entrepreneurs (and personalities) and they were just as excited about it as we were.

The flavor of Seattle Small Business is unique
But that flavor really gets diluted when an event gets overwhelmed with big firms that have unlimited advertising budgets. We thought it would be great to put on a smaller event that showcased unique Seattle companies and their products, while at the same time raise money for a local charity. This is why we started the event.

Over the last fourteen years, the Bike and Pike has been a great success! We’ve raised over $56,000 for Food Lifeline here in Seattle, and had lots of fun doing it. You’ve helped us raise enough for almost 195,000 meals! Thank You!

Want to go to an event this March that’s bicycle oriented and highly focused on Seattle based small businesses? The 2023 Seattle Bike and Pike Expo is for you!

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Draft of SDOT’s Vision Zero review suggests internal reorganizing and more funding, but it feels small compared to our traffic violence emergency

Chart showing traffic deaths rising in Seattle with pedestrian deaths on a steep trend upward.On his first day on the job, SDOT Director Greg Spotts pledged a “top-to-bottom review” of the department’s Vision Zero program to figure out why traffic injuries and deaths are increasing, especially for people walking and rolling. He assigned employees from outside the Vision Zero team to perform the review, and they released a draft of their findings Thursday.

The document is mostly designed to be inside-facing, meaning it is intended to guide the department on how it can better deliver safer streets. But it also notes a few areas where the department needs outside help, mostly in the form of clear leadership and better funding for safety initiatives.

Most of the findings are probably not news to regular readers of Seattle Bike Blog, but it’s good to see them confirmed. For example, they found that when the city makes safety changes to streets, streets get safer.

“We found that safety interventions and countermeasures used by SDOT to advance Vision Zero make our streets safer,” the report notes. In fact, the report does not in any way place the blame for Seattle’s lack of safety progress on the existing Vision Zero program team. Every time it analyzes the team’s work, it finds that they are effective. The team has produced valuable data highlighting problem areas that need safety fixes citywide, and the relatively few projects they have led have made those streets safer. The problem is that they are just a small team with a very modest budget. A few miles per year will not get us to Vision Zero any time soon, especially at a time when deaths are on the rise nationwide. One way to put it is that the national and statewide trend of increasing traffic deaths is overpowering Seattle’s Vision Zero efforts in recent years. But that’s not an excuse, it’s a call to action.

Chart showing that traffic deaths are rising in the US even as they are falling in most peer nations.Vision Zero is supposed to be a department-wide goal, and that’s where the work often falls short. The report offers a list of strategies for doing better. “We also identified dozens of potential opportunities to improve SDOT’s Vision Zero efforts – by strengthening policies and improving policy implementation, streamlining decision-making, improving project delivery, and moving more quickly toward broader implementation of proven interventions where they are most needed.”

Pie charts showing that 80% of deaths of people walking were on multi-lane streets and 79% of deaths of people biking were on streets without bike lanes. Continue reading

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Alert 2/25-26: The 520 Trail will be closed (along with the rest of the bridge)

Map of the final design with Montlake Lid and a bike/walk bridge over 520.

Map of the final design.

SR-520 will be closed this weekend as crews install girders for the future walking and biking bridge that will cross the freeway heading toward the Arboretum, among other work.

The cross-lake trail will be closed along with the rest of the freeway this time. The work is scheduled to begin 10 p.m. Friday and end by 5 a.m. Monday.

The bridge trail may be open for an out-and-back ride from the Eastside, which is nice when the bridge is car-free and quiet.

More details from WSDOT:

Travelers should plan ahead and find alternate routes for their trips across Lake Washington this weekend. At 11 p.m. Friday, Feb. 24, crews will close both directions of State Route 520 and all associated ramps between Interstate 5 in Seattle and 92nd Avenue Northeast in Clyde Hill. The around the clock closure, which includes the SR 520 Trail, will extend until 5 a.m. Monday, Feb. 27.

During the weekend closure, contractor crews working for the Washington State Department of Transportation will place 30 girders, or support beams, over the highway for a future pedestrian and bicycle bridge. Seven girders will also be added for new HOV ramps that will lead to and from a new 3-acre lid under construction in Seattle’s Montlake neighborhood. People can watch the weekend work on this construction camera during the closure.

The 72-foot wide bike and pedestrian bridge will be the first of its kind in Seattle. Lined with green space, trees and shrubs, the 14-foot path will be a new north/south non-motorized option to cross over SR 520 while taking foot and wheel traffic off Montlake Boulevard. Crews expect to open the new facility at the end of the year.

The work is part of the $455 million SR 520 Montlake Project. The project also builds three new eastbound lanes over Union Bay between Montlake Boulevard and the floating bridge on Lake Washington.

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Construction to build major bike improvements brings many months of tough detours on Pike and Pine

Map of the initial construction zone on Pike between 4th and 6th Avenues.Crews building improved bike lanes on Pike and Pike Streets downtown will close existing stretches of bike lanes for months at a time. So while both bike lanes were already incomplete, biking there will get worse before it gets better.

Central Seattle Greenways has sounded the alarm about the sorry detour options for this major bike downtown bike route and “have written to [SDOT] Director [Gregg] Spotts asking for SDOT to do better.” Read the full Tweet thread:

The group notes that a detour to Bell Street is much too far out of the way, so the only practical options for people biking are to mix with car traffic or ride on busy sidewalks. Neither of these options are good.

A construction notice from SDOT notes, “To build those improvements we will need to temporarily detour the existing bike lanes. Detours will be to streets with existing, similar facilities.” However, as Central Seattle Greenways notes, there are no nearby streets with similar facilities. This is why Pike and Pine are such vital bike routes. They are the only viable options for biking between downtown and Capitol Hill or First Hill in this corridor.

The best option by far would be to construct a temporary bike lane that goes around the construction zone. This is the gold standard for detouring a bike lane, and it should be the city’s go-to option whenever possible. It might mean removing one of the extra general purpose lanes or on-street parking, but safety is more important. Continue reading

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Watch: Why cars rarely crash into buildings in the Netherlands

With all the discussion recently about how people crash a car or truck into a Seattle building about twice a week, a commenter reminded me of a Not Just Bikes video from a couple years ago about why this rarely happens in the Netherlands:

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I’m giving my first talk about my book Thursday (free, online) + Release delayed until August

Book cover for Biking Uphill in the Rain. At top is a close-up illustration of the lower part of a bicycle wheel. The lower part has a blue background and a distorted bike wheel illustration that resembles a reflection in a puddle.Well, I have good news and bad news. The bad news is that publication of my book Biking Uphill in the Rain: The Story of Seattle from behind the Handlebars has been pushed back to August due to delays in the proofing and printing process. I’m pretty bummed because I was really looking forward to spending the summer doing book release events and such. But I have seen the first draft of the proof, and it’s so good. I can’t wait for you all to see it. You can still preorder a copy, but it won’t ship until late summer now.

The good news is that the Pacific Northwest Historians Guild has asked me to be the guest speaker for their monthly lecture series Thursday. It’s free, online and open to the public. Register in advance to get the Zoom invite.

I’ll be talking mostly about the early chapters of the book, including a preview of some of the stuff I uncovered during my deep dives into the archives. Did you know there used to be a floating hostel with an on-board bike shop moored in Lake Union?

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Stone Way bike detour not yet in place

Seattle Public Utilities’ planned work zone bike path on Stone Way did not work out as they intended, the agency announced this week. While sidewalks remain open through the construction area between N 34th and 35th Streets, equipment has blocked the space that was supposed to house the bike path.

The work is part of SPU’s massive Ship Canal Water Quality Project, which has disrupted bike routes in Fremont and Ballard over the years. But as we noted in our previous story, SPU’s bike detours have been done well. Riding on the sidewalk is not a great solution, especially for a project that will last as long as this one in an area with lots of walking and biking. And because Stone is closed to cars and trucks, the potential side street detour routes are likely to have a lot more traffic than usual.

More details from SPU:

You may have noticed that there isn’t a bike lane on Stone Way N next to the closure yet. Unfortunately, our contractor will not be able to create a two-way bike lane on the east side of Stone Way N as we envisioned.

I’ve worked for the city for many years and sometimes what’s seems possible during project planning doesn’t match up with what’s actually feasible in practice. Our contractor’s shoring system (the temporary support that keep the earth in place so that construction crews can safely work below the surface) needs to take up more space in Stone Way N than we planned for. Our contractor is currently working on a revised detour plan with SDOT and we’ll let you know the longer-term plan for bicyclists to get around our work site as soon as the plan is approved.

SPU is still committed to prioritizing cycling safety on our projects. In the meantime, please use alternate side roads or dismount and use the sidewalks that remain open on both sides of Stone Way N. We apologize for this inconvenience, and as a cyclist myself, I’m grateful for the continuing dialogue around bicycle safety.

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People crash cars and trucks into Seattle buildings twice a week on average

Photo of a car inside Carol Cobb Salon.

Photo from Seattle Fire of a scary crash on Rainier Ave in 2014.

Make eye contact, wear bright clothes and only cross the street at designated locations. These are common instructions dictated to people trying to navigate our cities on foot in order to avoid getting hit by a car. What advice then should we be telling our homes and businesses, which were struck by cars and trucks on average two times per week in 2022 according to a story by David Kroman for the Seattle Times?

Every once in a while, someone driving a car or truck into a building does make the news, especially if there is dramatic security camera footage. But it is often treated as
“news of the bizarre.” But it is not actually rare, which is frankly even more bizarre. Our dangerous streets designed to accommodate irresponsible car and truck speeds inevitably leads to some of those vehicle drivers losing control and crashing into a light pole, ditch or building. Sometimes it’s due to a high-speed collision, sometimes it’s DUI, and sometimes the driver simply mistakes the gas pedal for the brake.

Beyond the death or injury of people in and outside of the building-bound vehicle, these collisions can also close businesses or destroy homes. As Charles Mudede at the Stranger asked, “Why do they generate no outrage?”

But beyond the building collisions themselves, the fact that people are crashing into buildings sure makes people’s efforts to avoid getting hit while walking or biking feel futile. If a building, which is not even on the road and hasn’t moved since it was built, can’t avoid a collision, then what hope do I have when I use a crosswalk? The major problem is the dangerous design of our streets and public places. Everything else is secondary.

From the Times:

Last year, a car or truck crashed into a building in Seattle on average every 3½ days — more than 100 times. That was the most in a single year since at least 2012, according to Seattle Fire Department records provided through a public disclosure request.

Building crashes represent only a fraction of the city’s overall traffic collisions, which number in the thousands each year. But their suddenness and potential for destruction to people and structures mean each incident brings with it an outsized feeling of unease — a sense that the danger of the city’s streets may not be confined to the city’s streets.

Many end in injury and some, like a 2017 crash near Lake City, are deadly. Damage to buildings and homes can easily run into the tens of thousands of dollars and sideline businesses for months.

Read more…

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WA Bikes: Legislative updates ahead of a big Friday deadline

Policy bills must be voted out of a committee in either the Washington House or Senate by Friday in order to stay alive this legislative session.

Washington Bikes is urging people to contact your legislators to ask them to advance the bill to ban turns on red at certain locations across the state. They have created a handy online tool you can use to quickly send messages to the correct legislators.

Bills to end the state’s “jaywalking” law also still need to make it out of a committee.

A number of other bills WA Bikes is pushing have already moved to the next step, as the org outlined in an email blast: Continue reading

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Some blog updates, including better web privacy

Hey, everyone. Sort of an unusual post here, but I figured at least some of you might be interested. I have put significant time and energy into some updates to this old WordPress site focused on improving user privacy and limiting third party trackers. This was not trivial, especially for someone like me who has limited knowledge about web site and web server management. I did this on my volition, and there weren’t any unusual privacy issues with the site before. In fact, it was probably already better on privacy than your average ad-supported website. But I wanted to see if I could completely eliminate third-party trackers so your visit to this site is not sending the tech giants free data. I got close. You’re tracked probably thousands of times a day on the web, but I wanted Seattle Bike Blog to be one less. Here are some recent changes:

Switched from Google Analytics to Matomo for site use statistics

Google Analytics is by far the most popular tool for keeping track of users and their behavior on your site. When I created this site in 2010, there was no question that installing Google Analytics was the obvious move if I wanted to better understand how many people were visiting the site, which posts were performing well and how people were finding our posts. However, using this service requires sending your data to Google for storage and analysis. This happens to you constantly as you surf the web. But why am I giving a large and creepy advertising company like Google your data for free? It may be the norm, but that doesn’t make it right. I just wanted to know which posts you all like! So it was quite difficult, but I have installed my own web statistics server and removed the Google tracking code.

Switched from reCAPTCHA to Turnstile

Continue reading

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