Job Listing: Temporary Seattle Bike Blog Editor – Part-time for 3 months

After more than a decade writing Seattle Bike Blog, it is time for me to take a sabbatical. So I am looking for someone to work part time reporting bicycle and transportation news in the Seattle area and handling other editorial work like moderating comments, posting to social media and maintaining the events calendar.

The pay is $1,100 per month as a baseline for the contract, so that’s roughly 10 hours of work per week on your own schedule. The contract will last three months and starts as soon as is feasible.

Solid understanding of newswriting and reporting standards required. Photojournalists are also encouraged to apply. I will be available to offer advice, contacts and story ideas as needed, but you will need to be self-motivated. As a reporter and editor, you will be encouraged to pursue your own story ideas.

Proficiency in using WordPress a plus, but it’s not necessary. I can teach you. Ability to take usable photos is required, but proficiency in photography is a plus. Basic familiarity with any image editing software also a plus.

Please send your resume, cover letter and three clips to [email protected]. Position is open until filled. I will update this post when submissions are closed.

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Cranksgiving 2020 is now rolling. You have until Saturday to complete the scavenger hunt

The after-party is live! Watch:

Cranksgiving poster. Details in the body text.It’s on. Seattle’s 11th Annual Cranksgiving community-supporting bike adventure is rolling all week.

Find your online scavenger hunt manifest here. You have until 3 p.m. Saturday to complete as many of the tasks as possible. You are then invited to an online after-party starting at 3.

As with every Seattle Cranksgiving since 2010, the event primarily supports the important community work at Rainier Valley Food Bank. But due to rising COVID-19 cases and recent state restrictions limiting grocery store capacity, we fully reimagined the event with help from the great folks at Rainier Valley Food Bank, Swift Industries and the Seattle Pedaling Relief Project. We will not be asking riders to buy groceries to donate this year because we don’t want to add more grocery store visits. Instead, we are asking that you take whatever you would have spent on groceries for the event and donate it directly to Rainier Valley Food Bank.

The first item on your manifest is to donate online. Be sure to enter “cranksgiving” in the “Special notes for your gift” line so we can count it toward our goal. The Ellis Foundation has generously offered to match Cranksgiving donations up to $3,000. This means that even though we are not buying groceries this year, your dollars invested in the event will go further than any year prior. And I don’t think we need to tell you that the need for Rainier Valley Food Bank’s community-supporting services are more needed now than ever.

Together we donated a metric tonne of food in 2019 worth a minimum of $3,712.41. That smashed the previous record, both in terms of food delivered and the number of riders. So let’s raise at least that much money this year.

OK, but what about the bike ride? Well, as sad as we are to lose the food-hauling element of the ride, cutting out the grocery stops does open up opportunities to focus energy elsewhere. This year has been so hard, and I really miss all of you. I miss gathering together and experiencing your creativity and supportive community energy. So this year’s manifest is designed to spread love for your community and to capture and share your creativity. And, of course, you gotta do it all by bike.

The rules are simple. You can ride solo or as a team. You know the COVID safety guidelines. Please limit your team to people already in your pod and be extra safe. Your task will be to complete as many of the items on the online manifest as you can to earn more points. Everyone will have a chance to win a prize, though the top point earners will compete for the grand prize: A Sonora Daypack from Swift Industries.

Photo challenges are back this year of course, but for the first time ever we have a set of very short video challenges. I am very excited to get together online Saturday to view these photos and videos together.

So please reach out to your fb friends or your usual team and challenge them to join Cranksgiving 2020. Happy Cranksgiving!

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Seattle’s 11th Cranksgiving is happening all Thanksgiving week. Check-in starts Monday

Seattle Cranksgiving logo in the style of a Campbell's Soup logo.Seattle’s 11th Cranksgiving is going to be very different than the previous 10, but the goal is as important as ever. You will have multiple days Thanksgiving week to complete a scavenger hunt by bike that is more creative than any we’ve had before, and we will work together to support Rainier Valley Food Bank financially.

Cancelling Thanksgiving plans with people we love is very hard, but it’s the right thing to do to help prevent a truly devastating spread of COVID-19. In that spirit, we hope we can help fill some of the gap with some biking fun for a good cause.

A week ago, we scrapped our original plan for a socially distant food donation Cranksgiving event. We just did not feel comfortable adding extra trips to grocery stores at this time, which will be busy and operating at limited capacity due to new state rules. Instead, we have developed a new event focused on raising funds for Rainier Valley Food Bank directly and showcasing ways you can use your bike to be part of the Seattle Pedaling Relief Project’s ongoing community-supporting volunteer work, all while biking around town completing fun and creative scavenger hunt tasks.

We hope to showcase your smiles and capture some of that Cranksgiving good will during this tough year that just refuses to ease up. We are still here for each other even if we can’t get together like we used to.

In addition to buying groceries and necessities to stock their shelves, Rainier Valley Food Bank has many other costs that food donations alone can’t cover. This outbreak is stretching so many vital services thin. Donating may not feel the same as dropping off full panniers at their front door, but it’s just as needed. So if you can, we will be asking that you take whatever you would have spent at food sellers during Cranksgiving and donate it directly.

Together we donated a record metric tonne of food in 2019 worth a minimum of $3,712.41. So let’s raise at least that much this year.

The scavenger hunt manifest and donation page will go live Monday, so come back to Seattle Bike Blog then to start playing. We will also host an online after party with a fun twist. Stay tuned for details. And thank you all for all you do.

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Thursday: Join Seattle Neighborhood Greenways’ Streets For People celebration and fundraiser

Streets For People promo image. Line drawing of a person on a bike, a tree and people sitting at a table with a splash of color on the treetop.Our city is very lucky to have Seattle Neighborhood Greenways working to promote equitable, safe and fun streets. The organization’s paid staff and its many volunteers do an enormous amount of work, much of which the general public never sees. They are always going around town planting seeds and forming partnerships that turn into innovative ideas and strong coalitions.

You can be a part of their work by volunteering and by supporting them financially. Their second annual Streets for People celebration and fundraiser is Thursday. Register your virtual table to get access to the program and support their work.

Details from Seattle Neighborhood Greenways:

It’s our 2nd Annual Community Celebration and Fundraiser for Seattle Neighborhood Greenways  

Thursday, November 19th, 2020 from 6-7:15pm

And you’re invited!

Join us for an inspiring evening of community, celebration, and connection.

This year we’ll join together online, and celebrate the street spaces that have helped our families, communities, and local restaurants make it through a challenging year.

Help us pay tribute to the amazing grassroots activism that brought us Stay Healthy StreetsCafe Streets, and Whose Streets? Our Streets!, projects this year. We’ll feature community voices, fantastic videos, safe streets trivia prizes, opportunities to visit with friends and make new connections, and so much more.

We’ll celebrate the mission of Seattle Neighborhood Greenways that let’s us re-imagine our public spaces in a way that puts people first. All of our fundraising this night will go directly towards keeping this critical work moving forward.

TICKETS: Click here!

FACEBOOK: Share the word with your friends!

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Watch: Person driving injures a biking Real Change vendor, then SPD mocks and blames the victim

This video, posted by Real Change, is enraging. Using body cam footage, the newspaper and Black Fuji Studios pieced together key moments that reveal what appears to be an extremely biased March 2019 investigation by officers who responded to a call for help. I have not reviewed any extra footage, so I can’t report on anything beyond what’s in this Real Change video. But it’s pretty damning.

Witnesses, who happen to be Department of Corrections officers, tell responding SPD officers that the person driving was likely at fault and continued driving even after hitting the man biking on a Sodo street. It’s difficult to piece together the exact circumstances of the collision from the video, though witnesses say the man driving was going fast and should have seen the person on the bike.

But then SPD Officers Hagan, Pitzner and Gore mocked and laughed at the victim because he appeared homeless and tried to find reasons to give the injured man citations. The officers then let the man drive home without a citation. The injured man had to undergo knee surgery and had a fractured rib, injuries the responding officers seemed to find very funny.

“Is he gonna make it?” asked Officer Gore while the man was still in pain on the ground next to them. Gore and several other officers laughed. Is the joke that he’s in pain but not dying? How is that funny?

The officers then joke about wanting to see the video because “it was a good hit,” as one witness put it. This was also considered funny.

Officer Pitzner decided that the injured man needed to be cited for biking without a helmet. Helmet use is required in Seattle, but helmets never cause or prevent collisions. It is irrelevant to finding fault in a collision investigation.

Officer Pitzner then tried to pin a felony theft charge on the injured man by trying to figure out if he stole the Lime e-assist bike he was riding. The officer said the e-bike is worth $2,000, making it a felony if it is stolen. He asked another officer to search the injured man’s phone to see if he unlocked the bike legitimately. Investigating someone for theft based on how they look is a pretty clear case of baised policing. There seems to be no indication that the bike is stolen, and one of the other officers even notes that because the lights are on, it was unlocked properly. These Lime-E bikes must be switched on using the app before the lights and battery-powered motor will function. Simply cutting the lock will not switch them on. But even if it were stolen, theft of a bike is not a contributing factor to a collision.

But most of all, this video shows how stacked the deck is against people who appear to be experiencing homelessness. This person was injured while biking in a part of the city that is lacking safe bike infrastructure, then the responding officers did what they could to not only pin the whole thing on him, but also find more irrelevant charges to tack on.

What you see in this video isn’t justice, and it isn’t public safety.

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Yeah, there was no need to be worried about Seattle voting for transit

Screenshot of the Prop 1 results showing 80% yes.Transit is extremely popular in Seattle.

More than 80 percent of voters approved Prop 1, which would expand the sales tax to fund bus transit service hours, infrastructure improvements and access programs in Seattle. And considering 9 in 10 registered voters weighed in on this election, that’s a pretty epic mandate from the people of our city.

Congratulations to Transportation Choices Coalition and everyone who worked on the Yes For Transit campaign.

There should never again be any consternation about a transit improvement project or question about whether the public would support a significant change to a roadway in order to improve transit service and reliability.

The result is also frustrating in a way because it makes clear that a far more ambitious transit package would have easily passed. A King County measure would also have passed, but County leaders declined to run one.

But because the state legislature failed to legalize other taxing options for local transportation benefit districts and the WA Supreme Court had not yet ruled on the constitutionality of I-976 (it was ruled unconstitutional well after the deadline to submit a proposition to voters), Seattle had to go with a proposition that cut the vehicle license fee and relied on a regressive sales tax. And though the City Council could have sought a full 0.2% sales tax, they instead decided to raise the Mayor’s proposed 0.1% tax to 0.15%. Think about that for a second. Mayor Jenny Durkan wanted a smaller version of a transit measure that 80% of voters ended up approving, with her office calling her smaller proposal “fiscally prudent” in an SDOT Blog post back in July:

At a time of great economic challenge, the new Transportation Benefit District package proposed today aims to both right-size our transit investment to be fiscally prudent on our path to economic recovery, while doing our best to protect the all-day transit service that is essential to building back stronger than ever before.

“Right-size.” Cutting transit is not the “right size” for meeting our growing city’s climate, mobility and equity goals. Times got hard, so Mayor Durkan wanted to retreat. But the people of Seattle were like, “Hell no don’t run, let’s fix this problem.” Voters would have gone for much more if given the chance. Mayor Durkan is hopelessly out of touch with this city, and I’m glad the Council was there to increase her proposal. Continue reading

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Support the MASS Coalition’s efforts to ease the pain from the 2021-22 Seattle transportation budget

Both Cascade Bicycle Club and the larger MASS Coalition (including Seattle Neighborhood Greenways and Transporation Choices Coalition among others) they are part of have action alerts out right now asking supporters to call on city leaders to limit the huge cuts in walking, biking and transit funding Mayor Jenny Durkan proposed in her 2021-22 budget. (Correction: This post erroneously said TCC is a member of the MASS Coalition. While TCC has partnered with MASS and its members in the past, they are not a member.)

Specifically, the Move All Seattle Sustainably (“MASS”) Coalition is backing the “Solidarity Budget” led by a long list of community organizations and is specifically pushing for a list of transportation budget amendments (PDF):

  • Upgrade Rainier Avenue sidewalks in Southeast Seattle ($1 million)
  • Continue work on the Georgetown-to-South Park Trail ($1.8 million)
  • Cancel cuts to the Route 44 Multimodal Project connecting Ballard to the U-district via Phinney Ridge and Wallingford ($1 million)
  • Advance planning and early design for bike network connections in South Seattle, specifically a route through the Rainier Valley (along MLK Way) and a connection between Georgetown and Downtown, via SoDo ($400,000).

The mayor’s budget levies heavier cuts to walking, biking and transit than to car-centric budget lines. Perhaps the most egregious is an increase in the so-called “Intelligent Transportation System,” investments that do nothing to help people get around outside of a car and can even make conditions for walking and biking worse. Just look at the disaster that is Mercer Street.

Safe streets projects in Seattle have been huge successes. ITS projects have been either useless or actively bad. Why would we invest in repeating our failures while slashing the budgets for our successes?

Worse, when Seattle voters passed the Move Seattle Levy in 2015, they did so based on big promises about investing in walking, biking and transit. But the city front-loaded the car-centric projects, and now the walking, biking and transit projects are exposed to budget cuts. If they don’t get funded before the levy expires, projects will fall off the end of the list. The city needs to dedicate itself to the vision voters approved and deliver big improvements for walking, biking and transit.

So while the budget is certainly going to be tighter than in previous years, cuts should obviously come from car-centric programs that don’t help us meet our climate, traffic safety and equity goals. And pointless freeway-style electronic signs are a great and very easy place to start. Continue reading

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The Seattle Pedaling Relief Project will bike your ballot to a drop box

The Seattle Pedaling Relief Project has been organizing volunteer efforts to deliver food and necessities from food banks to community members for months. Now they want to help people get their ballots to the ballot box.

If you need assistance getting your ballot delivered for any reason, fill out this form online. If you want to help deliver, fill out this form. Delivery teams will consist of at least two volunteers.

Looking for voting advice? Check out these endorsements from local transportation organizations.

More details on the ballot delivery effort from the Seattle Pedaling Relief Project:

Do you know of any late voters who would like help transporting their ballot to a ballot box?

The Seattle Pedaling Relief Project is a group of volunteer bike riders who have been gathering since the beginning of the pandemic to deliver groceries from food banks to neighbors in need. With over 260 volunteers, we work with 5 food banks and multiple community gardens and little free pantries. We are grateful that in Washington we can mail in our ballots and we want to be a resource for those who want to be sure their ballots get counted in time for the election.

On Nov 1 and Nov 3 we will have groups of riders (at least 2 or more in each group) ready to pick up ballots anywhere in the Seattle/ King County area and deliver them to the nearest ballot box. Anyone who would like their ballot picked up can fill out this form. The riders who will be picking up the ballots will be coordinating with the ballot-givers directly for address details. We encourage folx to keep their ballot tab to track that their ballot has been counted.

If you are interested in volunteering to pick-up ballots from your friends, family, and neighbors and then bike them down to your local ballot box please fill out this form or visit the Bike the Ballot page on the Seattle Pedaling Relief Project website!

Thank you so much for your time and please promote this to anyone and everyone who could use this service.

Let’s go practice some democracy!

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Halloween Peace Peloton starts in Wallingford and includes fundraising costume contest

Event posterCelebrate Halloween in the Peace Peloton Saturday.

The ride stages at Wallingford Playfield at noon for some food from the excellent Pam’s Kitchen, then leaves at 2 p.m. for a 12-mile ride to Gas Works Park via Discovery Park.

The “Hunter’s Moon Halloweekend Fun-Raisier” ride ends with a fund-raising costume contest at Gas Works. For more details and info on how to donate, go to peacepeloton.com.

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Endorsement: Vote Sherae Lascelles in the 43rd

Photo of Sherae Lascelles.

Photo from Sherae For State.

Seattle Bike Blog did not do endorsements this year for a number of reasons (mostly that I haven’t had the time it takes to do a full slate of endorsements). Instead, I rounded up endorsements from a handful of transportation-focused organizations in the area and posted them here. There was very little disagreement.

But there was one split endorsement that caught my eye, perhaps because it is my district. So I figured it may be helpful to weigh in on the race for House Legislative District 43, Position 2. The Transit Riders Union and the Urbanist endorsed Sherae Lascelles while Seattle Subway and the Sierra Club endorsed Frank Chopp. Washington Bikes did not endorse in this race.

Seattle Bike Blog says to vote for Lascelles.

This race ultimately comes down to what access to power should look like. Neither candidate says anything notably bad in their transportation policy sections. Chopp, who has been in the legislature since 1995, clearly has a very detailed understanding of how the legislature works. But is it working?

The Democrats have had control of WA State’s government for years, yet the state still has an extremely regressive tax structure, still funds new and expanded freeways while leaving transit funding to local communities, and still has not made meaningful progress on reducing our climate changing emissions. No matter what major local issue you are talking about, conversation nearly always gets to this exchange:

Person 1: Well, in order to do that, we’d need to change state law.
Person 2: Ugh, that’s not going to happen.

This dynamic needs to change. Lascelles brings a dramatically different philosophy to their campaign. Everything in their platform is about centering people most impacted by each policy. For example, here’s Lascelles’ campaign policy statement on free mass transit: Continue reading

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Who local transportation organizations endorsed in the 2020 general election

Photo of two adults and a child wearing bike helmets while putting ballots in a drop box.Your ballot is either in the mail or has already arrived. If you are in King County, you can check your ballot’s status online here. The tracker now indicates whether it has been mailed or has been delivered, which is very cool. The deadline to register online is October 26, but you can also register anytime up to and including the day of the election if you go in-person (online is encouraged during the pandemic, though). Ballots must be postmarked by November 3 or delivered to a ballot drop box before 8 p.m. November 3.

Here’s a look at endorsements and recommendations from local transportation organizations, including The Urbanist (“U”), Washington Bikes (“WB”), Seattle Subway (“SUB”) and the Transit Riders Union (“TRU”). Visit their sites to read more about their decisions. Note that these orgs sometimes cover different areas. So sometimes a non-endorsement means they couldn’t decide, but sometimes it means they just aren’t covering that race or issue.

FEDERAL CANDIDATES

Continue reading

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WA Supreme Court strikes down I-976, calling it ‘deceptive and misleading’

Tim Eyman continues to be very bad at writing initiatives, wasting an enormous amount of people’s time and energy arguing over a statewide initiative that wasn’t even constitutional.

The official description for I-976 that appeared on ballots in 2019 said it would lower so-called “car tab” fees “except voter-approved charges.” But the initiative would actually lower the fees even for charges that voters had previously approved. Eight of the nine WA Supreme Court justices said that was “deceptive and misleading” to the point of being unconstitutional, Heidi Groover at the Seattle Times reports.

This is great news for several reasons. The most immediate cause for celebration is that Seattle and so many other communities that rely on these fees to fund transportation will not need to pay back any fees collected since the initiative passed. Seattle has been collecting the fees, but has not spent them in case they needed to be refunded. With transportation budgets in crisis, this is a huge relief.

“Car tabs” is also a bit of a confusing term because it combines different kinds of taxes together. A vehicle license fee—like the one used by Seattle—is a flat-rate fee attached to any vehicle license, but a vehicle excise tax—like the one used by Sound Transit—is based on the value of the vehicle. The term “car tab” attempts to lump them together, but they are different. Some voters were angry about the way Sound Transit’s excise tax valued vehicles, but does that mean they were also opposed to vehicle license fees? It’s impossible to know. That’s why initiatives are also not allowed to combine multiple issues into one vote, another concern the justices cited.

Again, Eyman is pretty decent at passing votes, but terrible at writing initiatives. Many YES voters will likely be angry at the Supreme Court, but they should reserve a lot of their anger for Eyman.

Even though it was struck down, the initiative has had a big impact anyway. Seattle is currently voting on Proposition 1, which would renew funding for the Seattle Transportation Benefit District (“STBD”). The previous STBD was funded in part by sales tax and in part by vehicle license fees and expires at the end of 2020. But with the fate of I-976 unknown, Seattle leaders could not feasibly propose a new vote on a potentially illegal tax. So the version up for a vote does not include vehicle license fees. I-976 supporters can claim that as a victory.

It’s also not yet clear how state Democrats are going to respond. 53% of statewide voters approved the initiative, flawed as it was, though it failed miserably in Seattle and King County.

This decision also opens the door for adding vehicle license fees to the STBD in the future. Maybe next year? Obviously, it would have been nice to only have to run one campaign, but this is just how it played out. And in the end, maybe we’ll end up with an even bigger STBD than the version expiring now.

But man, it sure is exhausting and precarious work to fund transit in this supposedly pro-environment state.

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Why you should vote YES for transit even though Prop 1 won’t be enough

Ballots are in the mail. And ejecting that complete monster from the White House is not the only thing on the ballot. For one, you’ll have a chance to help give local transit a fighting chance in the very difficult years ahead.

Proposition 1 will not save transit on its own. The pandemic has done enormous damage to our region’s transit system, decimating ridership and leading to huge cuts in service. At the same time, the economic fallout has also impacted other sources of transit funding. I doubt anyone fully understands the extent of the challenge transit faces in coming years, but it is certainly big. Definitely bigger than what Prop 1 can deliver.

However, that is no reason not to vote for Prop 1, which would invest $39 million per year in Seattle transit service, affordability and equitable access programs, and capital improvements like bus lanes and signal changes to reduce bus delays. These are vital investments.

And our transit efforts were working before the pandemic hit. As we reported recently, transit commuting by Seattle workers topped 25% in 2019, the first time this has happened in current memory. Transit commuting has carried over half of downtown workers for years. The city can only function with a quality transit system in place. All hopes for an economic recovery hinge on it, let alone hopes of meeting our climate and equity goals.

Prop 1 would renew and slightly expand the sales tax portion of the Seattle Transportation Benefit District. The extra sales tax will not fill the hole left by I-976, which sought to dramatically limit the use of vehicle license fees used to fund transportation districts around the state. That initiative was successful in 2019, though legal challenges are ongoing. With the outcome uncertain, the city couldn’t feasibly send a possibly illegal tax to voters. So the vehicle license fee was removed. It’s not the measure anyone wishes we were voting on, but it’s the measure we have.

Photo of a child sleeping on and adult's leg in the seat of a bus.

November 14, 2019.

I have deeply missed taking non-essential bus trips. My toddler and I used to just hop on a bus and take it somewhere new. She didn’t care where we went, she would just ask to ride the bus. I enjoyed those trips so much. Thinking back to rainy bus rides to museums or to find coffee shops with kid rooms, it hurts. None of that has been possible this year. We are all feeling so much loss and pain this year in so many different little ways in addition to the big ones that get most the attention. But those little losses add up.

Voting YES on Prop 1 won’t allow me to wake up November 4 and hop on a bus with my daughter to go play in a crowded kids play room inside a local business. It won’t even prevent service cuts for the many people who rely on transit every day. But it will make six years of investments we will need to help rebuild a city with freedom of mobility for everyone.

Voting YES is also one small way that I can reject the crush of cynicism that has been building throughout a year when everything seems to get worse and worse. Voting YES almost feels like an act of faith. I believe in Seattle and all of its people. I believe the people have a right to move freely around their city no matter their race, ability or how much money they have. I believe the city has a moral obligation to cut the climate-destabilizing emissions we release. And I believe in the power of the people of Seattle to succeed together.

Over the past four years, our horrific Federal leadership has set us way back. Our state leadership has failed to provide communities with the options we need to address our problems (many state leaders are on the ballot this year, vote for the ones who will do the right thing even if it is politically difficult). Our county leadership chose not to step up to the plate and at least try to pass a regional transit initiative. And our very poor Mayoral leadership has delayed, reduced and cut so many of our remaining walking, biking and transit plans that the city will fail to deliver its 2016 Move Seattle Levy promises. In 2020, even a small step in the right direction feels like a triumph.

Your role today in fighting for our city probably looks different than you once imagined it would. The cause of safe and sustainable transportation has understandably fallen down the priority list. Many of you are in the streets protesting against racist police and so many other systems of oppression. Thank you. Many of you are campaigning and phone banking for close campaigns at home and across the country. Thank you. And many of you are just hanging on and getting through another tough day. Thank you, too.

One thing I know for sure is that we will not stop fighting for a better future no matter what happens. My daughter needs us to keep fighting. She is worth it. We are all worth it. We will put out these fires together, and we will start building again. We will replace every politician who abandoned our values when the going got tough, and we will elect new leaders who actually believe in and care about every single member of our community. And we won’t stop after we vote.

Prop 1 is a down payment on the next era of Seattle transportation, led by the people under a new mayor who will need to help pass a regional solution to transit funding and craft the next big Seattle transportation levy. The movement we build now will be in a position to make enormous changes to so many structures of our society, one of which is to direct the next decade of transportation investments.

I believe in SDOT and the many professionals there (or soon to be there) who don’t let the callous tools of engineering obscure their love for their community. I believe in the voters of Seattle, who will support massive public investments if leaders would just be honest about how much it will cost. And I believe in us all to keep organizing and fighting in our own unique ways to make it all happen.

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The WA bicycle and pedestrian count has resumed + How you can help

Details from Maimoona Rahim at Cascade Bicycle Club:

After a short break, the Washington State Bicycle and Pedestrian Count is back! It’s happening this fall on October 20, 21 and 22 at a street or trail near you. To sign up today, head to: bikepedcount.wsdot.wa.gov

Every year hundreds of volunteers across the state get up and out for the Washington State Bicycle and Pedestrian Count! At the last count 425 caring neighbors volunteered across 431 sites in 46 cities throughout Washington state! This is your chance to be a part of a statewide data-collection effort that will inform decisions about funding for sidewalks, trails, and bike lanes in communities all across Washington state, including yours.

Volunteers choose either a morning (7 to 9 a.m.) or evening (4 to 6 p.m.) shift and choose from the designated locations to document the pedestrians and bicyclists who pass by. After signing up, every volunteer receives detailed instructions. Sign up to volunteer today!: bikepedcount.wsdot.wa.gov

What is the count data used for?
Every year, volunteers collect a massive amount of data that improves our understanding and informs decisions to make it safer to bike and walk across Washington state. This data is important for measuring the number of people bicycling and walking on trails, bike lanes, sidewalks, and other facilities across the state.

The data is made publicly available, and it is used frequently by governments, transportation planners, and non-profits to design projects, track changes, and to measure the demand and benefits of investing in active transportation. To learn more, visit WSDOT. To see where the data goes visit the WSDOT data portal.

This once-a-year opportunity provides policymakers with critical data. One of the best ways to help support infrastructure in your neighborhood or city is through this data count. Here’s the link to sign up: bikepedcount.wsdot.wa.gov

Please share this with your network, friends and family so we can cover the whole state!

If you have questions, please email [email protected].

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Alert 10/12: Bell Street closed between 5th and 6th Avenues for up to 3 weeks

Map of the full Bell Street project.Heads up! Work is underway to complete the Bell St bike lane and install new signals between 5th and 6th Avenues. This means the street will be closed 24/7 for up to three weeks, according to SDOT:

The Bell St Protected Bike Lane project will resume construction next Monday, 10/12. Our remaining work includes:

  • Install new traffic signals infrastructure at west corner of 6th Ave and Bell St
  • Construct ADA compliant curb ramps at all four corners of 6th Ave and Bell St
  • Install new low landscaping in curbed barrier between protected bike lane and parking lane, between 5th Ave and Denny Way

Please note that our work will require temporary full closure of Bell St between 5th Ave and 6th Ave to vehicular traffic (except for emergency vehicles) for up to 3 weeks, beginning next Monday, 10/12. The closure will be in place 24/7 until the signal installation is complete. Due to the restricted roadway space and nearby construction work, full closure of Bell St between 5th and 6th Ave is the only feasible option to safely install the new signal. We apologize in advance for any inconvenience this may cause. During this closure, please expect delays when traveling in and around the area and follow signs for detour.

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us at [email protected] or by phone at 206-900-8760.

Thank you for your patience as we install right-of-way improvements in your neighborhood.

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A message from the Editor

Photo of Tom Fucoloro with Gas Works Park machinery in the background.My dearest Seattle Bike Blog readers,

I have been putting off this post for a couple weeks now, but I can’t avoid it any longer. The rigors of parenting during a pandemic have reached a point where I cannot keep up with the demands of running a full-time news site. So for the foreseeable future, I am pulling back to part-time.

I am not quitting, and Seattle Bike Blog is not going away. But I am letting go of the drive and pressure to have posts every weekday. And that necessarily means that I am also letting go of my vision of Seattle Bike Blog as a comprehensive news source about biking and safe streets news.

I have been missing so many stories because I just do not have the capacity to cover them, and being constantly behind is a huge source of stress in my life. Every day I go without writing about, for example, the city’s plan to connect the Duwamish Trail to the low bridge, the stress builds up more. I know I need to write this story and many others, but I just don’t have the time and energy after childcare. And the stress is turning into depression, which is immobilizing and makes it even harder to pick myself up and work during the limited time I get.

These times are very hard for everyone. There are so many sources of stress. And I need to let this one go. Continue reading

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In final Census survey of the before times, number of Seattle bike commuters hit an all-time high

Bike commute chart over the years.

Note: The Census survey only accepts a binary gender selection.

The number of people biking as their primary mode to work hit a new high water mark in 2019, crossing the 17,000 mark for the first time in the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. The survey results confirm that before the total shitshow that is 2020 hit, door-to-door bike commuting was still on the steady climb it had been on for well more than a decade.

We have no idea what these numbers are going to look like in 2020, 2021 or beyond, but we know they will be different. Bikes effectively sold out nationwide this year, and shops are still having a hard time stocking them. Interest in biking is up, but so many workplaces are closed or have gone virtual. Counting work commute trips has always been severely lacking as a measure of biking, and 2020 will make that especially true.

The main reason commute stats are cited so often is because this survey is among the only consistent datasets we have. But so many bike trips are not counted. People biking to run errands or see friends or just have fun are not counted. Neither are most people who bike to transit since the survey only counts the mode used for the most distance. (Exact wording via Bike Portland: “How did this person usually get to work LAST WEEK? Mark (X) ONE box for the method of transportation used for most of the distance.”)

But overall, transportation trends in Seattle were headed in the right direction. Though the number of drive alone commuters reached 205,000, the mode share for driving alone remained near its all-time low at 44.5%. Meanwhile 25.1% took transit (the first time in recent history transit has reached the 25% mark), 10.7% walked, 7.9% worked at home, 6.8% carpooled and 3.7% biked. Because the total number of workers increased so much, the raw number of people driving and door-to-door biking both increased while their mode shares stayed about the same compared to 2018.

But what now and what next? Obviously working from home is going to be off the charts in the 2020 survey, and it is very likely that a lot of jobs (that still exist) will never come back from the home. But transit is also going to face a funding crisis and likely a ridership crisis, and without serious intervention service will be much less frequent than it was in 2019. A lot of people are buying bikes, but a lot of people are buying cars, too. Meanwhile the West Coast is burning and choking in smoke, and the urgency to reduce emissions from driving is extremely urgent. Our planet cannot bear us going back to driving.

The chart above comes to you from the before times. Essentially every foundation of society is shifting right now, and it’s never going back to the way it was before. I’ve been writing about these survey results every year for a decade, and this one feels like writing on the last page of a notebook. Time to put it on the shelf and grab a crisp new blank one.

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Initial stretch of the 4th Ave bike lane opens downtown

Crews have finished work on the first phase of the 4th Ave bike lane downtown.

The new two-way bike lane connects the six block from Pine St to Madison St, directly connecting Westlake Park and the Central Branch Library.

Future phases scheduled for 2021 should connect the bike lane through Belltown and into Pioneer Square. See our previous story for more on those plans.

This bike lane has been a long time coming after Mayor Ed Murray delayed it in 2016, then Mayor Jenny Durkan delayed it again in 2018. Safe streets supporters have protested on the street several times to urge the city to take bike safety and transportation seriously.

Because of downtown’s severe grades when headed east-west, 4th Ave is a very necessary complement to 2nd Ave because some of the steepest streets in the entire city separate these two streets. So they look close together on a map, but when you’re on the ground, they sure feel very far apart.

This is an odd time to make safe streets improvements downtown because so many of the destinations they reach are closed right now due to the pandemic. But that also makes it a very smart time to make these changes. When the central library and City Hall and all those other government and office buildings reopen, this bike lane will be there to help keep people safe and provide a non-motorized way to get there.

Have you ridden the 4th Ave bike lanes yet? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Project map.

 

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Day after Council votes to slightly reduce police funding, officer rolls bike over person’s head and neck

A Seattle Police officer was caught on video intentionally rolling their police bicycle over the head and neck of a man lying face down in the street last night as people protested the lack of charges against the officers who murdered Breonna Taylor in Kentucky.

The officer was walking the bike and stepped over the man lying face down, then purposefully rolled the bicycle first over the man. The front wheel goes over his head, then the rear wheel goes over his neck. The man is in obvious pain as it happens. CJTV captured the moment during a live stream.

In a statement, SPD said they are “aware of a video circulating on the internet that apparently shows an SPD bike officer’s bike rolling over the head of an individual laying in the street. This matter will be referred to the Office of Police Accountability for further investigation.” Of course, the bike didn’t roll itself over an individual, an officer intentionally rolled the bike over the person’s head and neck. UPDATE: The King County Sheriff’s Office will investigate the incident, according to the SPD Blotter.

Caution, the video is disturbing:

It’s assault, it’s violent and the officer did it knowing that cameras were rolling and that we were all watching. It’s shocking to see just how comfortable this officer is while casually hurting someone who could not possibly pose any threat. These police bikes, made by Washington State bike maker Volcanic, are heavy both in design and because they are carrying lots of equipment.

The police are out of control, and Mayor Jenny Durkan is doing nothing to stop them. Instead, she is spending her time and effort protecting the department from any budget cuts. The City Council this week defended its mid-year budget, which included very modest cuts to the SPD budget, by voting 7 to 2 to override Mayor Durkan’s veto. The vote was a moment of victory for people who have been pouring their hearts out in the streets all summer protesting against racist police violence and advocating for investments in community, especially Black community. Continue reading

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Bike Route Alert: Little 116th Street trail closed near I-5

Photo of the closed trail.

Image of the closed trail connection from Google Street View.

Detour map. Sound Transit has closed a short trail connection between NE 116th St and the 1st Ave NE I-5 overpass to N 117th St.

This trail will never reopen. Instead, the agency will construct a new trail under the light rail tracks a block away at NE 115th St.

The official detour is fairly out of the way and uses busy NE Northgate Way for a block. There are no bike lanes on Northgate, and the detour map suggests using the sidewalk. However, I suspect most people biking and walking will find their own unofficial ways through, likely using shorter routes through nearby apartment building parking lots.

More details from Sound Transit:

As early as September 21st, Sound Transit is closing the Northeast 116th Street bicyclist/pedestrian path to construct the Lynnwood Link Extension light rail guideway. The NE 116th Street trail will be closed permanently. The Lynnwood Link rail-track alignment in this area changes from aerial (supported by columns) to at-grade (supported by retaining walls), similar to guideway being constructed just south of Northgate. Sound Transit will be constructing a retaining wall and track guideway for the Lynnwood Link light rail through the existing NE 116th Street trail. Sound Transit plans include a new pedestrian/bicyclist trail at NE 115th Street crossing under the new light rail aerial guideway.

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