Huge fire burns lumber warehouses near SPU, expect Ship Canal Trail delays

Photo from the Seattle Fire Dept. As you can see, the Ship Canal Trail is in the middle of it all.

A huge fire destroyed lumber warehouses owned by Gascoigne Lumber Company and Northwest Millworks Saturday night, but luckily there are no reports of injuries at this time. We hope it stays that way.

Regular users of the Ship Canal Trail should recognize the building in the photo to the right, because the trail runs closely behind the building near Seattle Pacific University campus. Buildings were destroyed on both sides of the trail. I have asked Seattle Fire if they have an estimate for when the trail might reopen and will update this post when I hear back. But I think it’s safe to assume that it will be closed for a while, so give yourself a little extra time to get through the area.

Reader Rob Huntress said firefighters were still working as of Sunday evening, and Nickerson Street was the nearest detour option between 3rd and 6th Avenues W. Nickerson has a paint-only bike lane westbound, but no bike lane eastbound. There is also a sidewalk for folks who are not comfortable biking in busy traffic, but remember to yield to people walking. If the closure will be for an extended period of time and no other detour is possible, a temporary trail on Nickerson might be a good idea. Continue reading

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Tell the City Council to protect red light camera funds for safe streets near schools

A huge bike train to Bryant Elementary on Bike-to-School Day 2013

In an attempt to balance the City Council’s 2019-20 budget, Councilmember Sally Bagshaw has eyed nearly $2.7 million in red light camera funds that currently go to the School Safety Traffic and Pedestrian Improvement Fund (see the budget green sheet PDF).

The city has the goal of making street safety improvements at every public school in the city, which also means safety improvements in every neighborhood. But it is going to take a lot more work and funding to build all the missing sidewalks, safe crosswalks and neighborhood traffic calming needed to provide all our city’s young students a safe way to walk or bike to class. We need more funding for safe streets near schools, not less.

Additionally, red light cameras are already a somewhat controversial, though effective, tool for enforcing traffic safety without requiring a police officer interaction. But perhaps knowing that your ticket funds are going to help make streets near schools safer will take some of the sting out of that ticket. If the money just goes into the general fund, that takes away one good argument in favor of the cameras: They can do double-duty by enforcing traffic laws and funding street safety improvements at the same time.

Seattle Neighborhood Greenways has created a handy online tool you can use to contact the City Council and tell them to reject this funding change. More details from SNG: Continue reading

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Bainbridge Island voters reject $15M safe streets levy

Planned spending for the failed SAFE Mobility Levy, from the City of Bainbridge.

Buried in the election results this week was a somewhat disappointing result over on Bainbridge Island. The city’s modest SAFE Mobility Levy lost, with the ongoing result sitting at 45–55 as of Thursday morning.

The levy would have raised $15 million over seven years to fund sidewalks, Safe Routes to School and wider shoulders, which serve as walking and biking space on the island’s roads.

The failure came as a surprise to Demi Allen, a Bainbridge resident who worked to develop and support the levy effort.

“I continue to believe that a high percentage of residents on the island want better facilities for walking and biking,” he said. But clearly more needed to be done to gather support for the levy vote.

“In retrospect, it seems more needed to be done to get out to people where they were and make sure they understood what was proposed and what was possible to achieve through the levy.”

The Bainbridge Mobility Alliance conducted a survey in the spring that showed a high level of support for a ballot measure like the one that ended up on the ballot, Allen said. Ten percent of island adults responded with 70 percent in favor. But respondents self-selected, so it was not a scientific random survey (those can be expensive to conduct).

One concern they heard often was that the levy was too open-ended, with the specific projects to be selected later.

As for now, supporters are taking some time to figure out what happened, who they didn’t reach and how they could make a levy more people would support.

“We want to make sure that the next time we go to voters that we have a package that’s really on-target,” said Allen.

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Bike News Roundup: Biking to protect Seattle beaches

It’s time for the Bike News Roundup! Here’s a look at some stuff going around lately that caught our eye.

First up, it may not be a carbon tax, but Seattle’s Jen Strongin was recently featured in a Lime promo video talking about her work to photograph Seattle beaches and why she rides a bike to get around as a way to protect the small creatures she finds:

Continue reading

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Seattle’s Cranksgiving 2018 is November 17

Download the poster PDF and print it out to help spread the word.

A food drive scavenger hunt by bike, Cranksgiving riders bike to a secret list of unique food sellers around Seattle buying food to donate to Rainier Valley Food Bank. For the ninth year, Seattle’s Cranksgiving is hosted by Seattle Bike Blog.

The 2018 ride is Saturday, November 17, starting on Occidental Ave near the CenturyLink Field north parking lot. Register at 10:30 a.m. Hunt starts at 11 and ends back at the start by 2.

Invite all your friends via Facebook! The more the merrier.

You will get a list of needed food items and places to shop. You can go solo or as a small team (four adults max per team). The more you buy and the more places you buy from, the more points you get. There are also photo challenges and more.

New this year, Swift Industries is hosting a camping gear drive for neighbors experiencing housing instability through Just Say Hello. Donations at the start line will earn bonus points. Items accepted include: New adult socks, hats and gloves, and new or gently used (clean and undamaged) tents, tarps, backpacks, coats and rain jackets.

All skill levels welcome! Anyone can win a prize!

Free to enter, but expect to spend at least $20 buying groceries (more is welcome, of course). Bring a pen and a way to carry groceries.

Party at Swift Industries after the ride. Thanks to Olympia for sponsoring the party with some beer.

Last year, 125 people hauled an incredible 1,631 pounds of food to Rainier Valley Food Bank. Come have fun and spread the love.

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Obligatory end of Daylight Saving Time bike lights post

Sunset is at 4:45 today. 4:45! That means the typical evening commute will happen in the dark and twilight hours for the next several months. So lets talk about bike lights.

Longtime readers may remember previous posts about bike lights like this one, and my advice remains largely unchanged: Buy a headlight bright enough to see bumps in the road, don’t put it on flashing mode and don’t point it in people’s eyes.

Biking at night is wonderful. But shopping for bike lights can be overwhelming because there are so many different options at a wide range of prices. Most people don’t want to spend any time thinking about their bike lights. But unfortunately, you need to. So here’s my advice as someone who has gone through a lot of bike lights in my time: Continue reading

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Missing Link design nearly complete, construction to begin this winter (unless the court intervenes)

Barring a court order, construction on the Ballard Missing Link of the Burke-Gilman Trail is scheduled to begin this winter. So while an appeal is still working its way through the courts, the city is moving forward with a construction plan that would have the trail fully open by the end of 2020. That’s 18 years after the Seattle City Council first voted to build this segment.

The work has beed divided into two phases that will overlap. The first section, from the Locks to 24th and Market, is scheduled to begin construction in just a few months. If all goes as planned, it would be open in about a year. Construction on the second phase, from Market St. to Fred Meyer, is set to begin in the summer and would open in autumn of 2020.

The biggest sticking point of the whole route is the industrial driveway crossings along Shilshole. The latest design includes green paint and flashing LED signs warning trail users about trucks.

Many crosswalks have been significantly improved, as well. And there is now a biking and walking path to the 20th Ave NW Street End Park on Salmon Bay, which I did not even know existed. So that’s very cool. Here are the latest designs moving from east to west: Continue reading

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Vote YES on Bainbridge Island’s SAFE Mobility Levy

As you may have noticed, Seattle Bike Blog does not have a voter’s guide this year. This is partly due to the limited number of local races and partly due to having a baby at home who occupies a lot of my time by being super cute and having a preference for sleeping in my arms.

We previously published a guest op-ed by Chris Covert-Bowlds in favor of I-1631. I just realized that Seattle Bike Blog never officially said we endorse this campaign, so here that is: Vote YES on I-1631!

But across Elliott Bay, Bainbridge Island voters have a very cool levy on their ballots that would invest $15 million over seven years into safe streets, walking and biking projects on the island. Proposition 1, or the SAFE (“Safe Access For Everyone”) Mobility Levy, would focus on improving roadway shoulders, trails, Safe Routes to School and sidewalks. From the City of Bainbridge Island:

Continue reading

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In a return to its 1907 roots, UPS will deliver by cargo bike in downtown Seattle

Promo photo from UPS.

111 years ago, UPS began making deliveries by foot and bike out of Seattle’s Pioneer Square. Today, the company is returning to bikes, at least for some downtown deliveries.

The global delivery giant announced the pilot today along with Mayor Jenny Durkan.

“As Seattle grows and public and private megaprojects limit capacity on our downtown streets, this pilot will help us better understand how we can ensure the delivery of goods while making space on our streets for transit, bikes, and pedestrians,” said Durkan in the UPS press release. “We are eager to learn how pilots like these can help build a city of the future with fewer cars, more transit and less carbon pollution.”

The company has been experimenting with cargo bike deliveries in a handful of cities, mostly in Europe. The UPS bikes are electric-assisted cargo trikes with a rain cover for the operator and an enclosed box for the cargo. Continue reading

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Seattle’s new program will more quickly scrape the wreckage of people’s lives off our streets

Two stories have been floating around in my head in the past 24 hours, the cognitive dissonance so deafening it’s hard to think about anything else. One is the news that Mayor Jenny Durkan has purchased five trucks and funded a program to more quickly respond to and clear the scenes of traffic collisions. The other is a powerful story Owen Pickford wrote at The Urbanist about a devastating moment 17 years ago when he was riding in the backseat of a friend’s station wagon. They collided with a box truck while making a left turn.

The feeling of autumn compounds the mood I get from this memory–its fuzzy edges and vivid snippets. There was yelling just before we were hit. Afterwards, I think my door wouldn’t open and I slid across the backseat, exiting on the driver’s side. I saw a friend on his phone. I laid down on the ground.

I’m unsure how long it took for the paramedics to arrive. They asked if I was hurt and I said I couldn’t breathe. There was an ambulance ride. Then at some point, my mom was standing next to my bed. She told me that one of my friends had died and I remember crying.

My friend, who was killed, sat in the front seat directly ahead of me. He was a few fractions of a second further, directly in the path of the oncoming vehicle. I had broken ribs, a partially collapsed lung, a lacerated liver, and internal bleeding.

Owen, Executive Director of The Urbanist, shared his powerful story this week. Everyone should read it in full.

The pain, both physical and emotional, that Owen has endured and continues to endure due to this one traffic collision is immense. Yet his friend was only one out of the 42,196 people who died in U.S. traffic collisions that year. And Owen was only one of hundreds of thousands of people who were seriously injured that year, and one of millions who had a friend or family member killed or seriously injured. Continue reading

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Transportation and climate change groups unite to push for a better Seattle budget

Read the full letter (PDF).

A new coalition of transportation and climate change groups has penned a letter to the City Council and Mayor Jenny Durkan urging bolder action to address our city’s transportation needs, which also happen to be our biggest source of greenhouse gasses.

The group is calling itself Move All Seattle Sustainably (“MASS”), and their letter includes a long list of smart and achievable changes to both the Mayor’s proposed budget and the city’s priorities.

As climate disruption accelerates and Seattle hurtles towards the “Period of Maximum Constraint” that begins with the viaduct closure next January, advocates fear that the City is not acting fast enough to cut carbon emissions, keep people and goods moving, and prevent traffic fatalities,” the group wrote in a press release.

The City Council is hosting a budget hearing at 5:30 p.m. tonight (Tuesday) at City Hall, and folks are encouraged to attend and show support.

The letter is four-pages and quite detailed (read it in full in this PDF). It is spot on. Here is an abbreviated version (emphasis and edits mine): Continue reading

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Puyallup considers sidewalk biking ban ‘because we’ve got people riding around, dealing heroin’

Puyallup City Councilmember Jim Kastama (right) proposed a ban on sidewalk biking due to “a recent increase in criminal activity by persons riding bicycles on the sidewalks located in the CBD-Core.”

Puyallup City Council is considering a ban on people over the age of 12 riding a bike on a sidewalk, city-owned parking lot or alley in the city’s downtown in part due to “a recent increase in criminal activity by persons riding bicycles on the sidewalks located in the CBD-Core,” according to a whereas clause in the ordinance proposal by Councilmember Jim Kastama (PDF).

Though bill sponsors said they were concerned about pedestrian safety during an October 2 meeting (video), targeting people suspected of drug dealing seemed to be at least part of the desire for the proposed ban.

“My understanding was that our law enforcement officials are asking for this because we’ve got people riding around, dealing heroin,” said Councilmember Cynthia Jacobsen during the meeting. “That’s kind of a tough thing to say from the dais, but that was my understanding.”

Puyallup Police Chief Scott Engle said he does support a sidewalk biking ban, but for pedestrian safety.

But this proposal follows a dramatic Council action to use zoning laws to severely limit the locations of facilities that serve people experiencing homelessness in Puyallup. The ordinance effectively make it illegal to open a facility anywhere outside a small industrial area in the northeast corner of town, the News Tribune reported. Earlier this year, Councilmember Kastama also led a successful effort to get rid of public toilets because they were used by people experiencing homelessness.

Kastama’s sidewalk biking ban proposal lists “criminal activity” as one of the reasons, and during the meeting he described a rather specific demographic as the target of his ordinance.

“For some strange reason, there are a lot of adult men on BMX bikes but nevertheless they are wreaking somewhat havoc in the pedestrian areas,” he said. Councilmember Robin Farris questioned Kastama’s motivation behind the proposal during the meeting. Continue reading

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After much study and some changes, Cheasty Trails and Bike Park gets environmental thumbs up

The community-led Cheasty Trails and Bike Park concept has been six years in making. With a series of walking and mountain biking trails in the greenbelt, project boosters hope to create much-needed access to outdoor recreation in a steep greenbelt slope between Beacon Hill and Rainier Valley.

Volunteers for the effort have spent years working on environmental restoration projects in the greenbelt, but the full vision has been sidetracked by a lengthy legal process. The Seattle Hearing Examiner directed Seattle Parks to do more environmental study back in 2015, and that effort has led to some changes to the plan and a more robust environmental analysis. Parks has released a new “Determination of Non-Significance” (PDF) for the project based on this work, and project supporters are urging folks to send supportive comments (see below).

The plan now avoids the steepest sections and wetland areas as much as possible. Here are the updated (and somewhat difficult to read) plans: Continue reading

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Seattle wants your ‘big ideas’ for downtown streets and public spaces (again), open house Thursday

The Center City Mobility Plan One Center City Imagine Downtown Imagine Greater Downtown inter-agency partnership is hosting an open house Thursday (tomorrow!) to gather your “big ideas for great public places and lively streets in the heart of Seattle.”

I know, I know, didn’t we just do this, like, two years ago? And didn’t that effort include a project list of bold ideas? Well, that was when it was called One Center City, the part of the SDOT, King County Metro, Sound Transit and Downtown Seattle Association partnership focused on near-term projects. Imagine Greater Downtown is focused on the mid-term and long-term, looking to 2035.

They are hosting an open house 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. Thursday at City Hall.

By 2035, the entire Bicycle Master Plan is supposed to be completed. That means the bike network in the study area should look something like this (each line may move a block or two based on project design, but this density of bike routes is needed to meet the plan’s goals):

From the Bicycle Master Plan. Blue: Protected Bike Lane, Red: Trail, Green: Neighborhood Greenway.

So, uh, Seattle’s got some work to do. Continue reading

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Community leads effort to build bike lanes on Pike/Pine, groups host workshop Oct 25

A coalition of community groups on Capitol Hill is hosting a design workshop October 25 to help craft a vision for the protected bike lanes on Pike and/or Pine Streets that were funded through the convention center expansion community benefits package. The City Council passed a resolution in July calling on SDOT to design and build these bike lanes by the end of 2019.

You should RSVP online for the evening workshop, which even includes dinner. Space is limited.

The workshop concept is a wonderful example of what can happen when community groups get together and invite folks to be part of a positive change in the neighborhood and to shape public investment. Neighborhood groups like Central Seattle Greenways have already been going around to area businesses for years talking about the need and potential for bike lanes. And, of course, neighborhood groups organized to boost the convention center public benefits package to include this funding. Few bike lane projects in the city’s history have been so community-led.

There are few bike routes in the city with as important and promising as Pike/Pine, which connect downtown to large swaths of dense housing and business districts. These streets are already heavily used today by people biking despite lacking quality bike lanes.

More details from the workshop organizers: Continue reading

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Bike News Roundup: Let’s organize bike trains ahead of the ‘period of maximum constraint’

It’s time for the Bike News Roundup! Here’s some stuff going around the ol’ World Wide Web that caught our eye.

First up, as Seattle heads into the so-called “period of maximum constraint” downtown (the years after buses are kicked out of the transit tunnel but before Northgate Link opens), perhaps we could learn from New York City’s TransAlt and organize a series of bike trains. While this would be a lot easier if Seattle had a connected bike network, successful and inviting bike trains could provide folks with the safety and comfort of biking in a group for those stretches where bike infrastructure is lacking (*cough*Rainier Ave*cough*):

Continue reading

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Citing bike share and bike lane innovation, Bicycling Magazine names Seattle the #1 bike city in the U.S.

From Bicycling Magazine. See the full list.

Bicycling Magazine has named Seattle the “best bike city in America.” Seattle typically places fairly high on the magazine’s list, which is based on editorial judgment and comes out every two years. But Seattle has not been picked as the top city in a long time (Zosha Millman at the Seattle PI reports that the last time Seattle won was 1990).

So what put Seattle over the top this time? Well, the magazine has a whole list of reasons, including the city’s recent high-quality downtown bike lanes, the city’s role in private bike share innovation, the number of women who bike here, and our great cycling community.

The photos alone are worth checking it out (not to mention that yours truly was interviewed for the feature). I especially like the mini profiles at the end.

Seattle is an amazing place to get around by bike, and everyone out riding is doing so for their own reasons and finding joy in their own ways. Riding a bike is such an intimate way to get to know your city, and the same geography that makes Seattle challenging at times to navigate by bike also makes the city endlessly rewarding to explore.

Of course, Seattle has a lot of work to do, and Mayor Jenny Durkan’s administration has so far been putting the brakes on many of the qualities the Bicycling Magazine feature so admires about our city. Downtown bike lanes have been delayed. Other Vision Zero road safety projects have been extremely watered down or are under threat. And bike share innovation has seemingly stopped, with the number of companies operating down from three to just one and the city unwilling to try new ideas like scooters.

It doesn’t need to be this way. The city could easily modify its bike share permit to encourage innovation. And the city already has great plans and significant funding to make huge improvements to connect communities with a safe and inviting bike network. It just requires political will and leadership.

But it’s also important to simply enjoy the city, even if you know there is so much work to be done. Sure, this list might be very subjective and prone to big swings (the last city to claim the top spot, Chicago, is now down at number six), but it’s a good reminder that Seattle is a really special place. So get to know it a little bit better by riding a bike.  Continue reading

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Tuesday: Open house for stunning Eastside Trail Wilburton segment

King County Parks will show off the latest plans for what could easily become one of the most stunning segments of trail in the region: The Eastside Trail through Wilburton.

The open house is 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Bellevue City Hall.

This segment will include the rehabbed Wilburton Trestle, a very cool old rail bridge that will provide trail users with towering views of downtown Bellevue and beyond.

But, of course, it’s not just the views that are exciting. The trestle and a planned NE 8th Street overpass will also make it much easier to bike through the area, providing routes that fly over wide streets near a I-405 interchanges. This segment also needs to include a connection to the I-90 Trail. It’s hard to overstate how much this segment of trail will improve bikeability in the immediate area and through the region.

The County has applied for a Federal BUILD grant to help build these bridge structures as well as a trail bridge in Totem Lake.

Sections of the Eastside Trail are already open as interim hardpack gravel trails through Kirkland, north Bellevue and Renton. If all the pieces come together perfectly, the trail could be open by 2021. But, of course, there are still a lot of “ifs.”

More details from King County Parks: Continue reading

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More than 3,000 Lime users contact city asking for scooter share

An email to Lime users.

Lime launched a digital campaign Wednesday to encourage its users to contact Seattle city leaders and ask them to allow scooter share. In just one day, the company says more than 3,000 people have done so.

Before ofo and Spin left town in July, people in Seattle were taking more than 200,000 bike share trips a month. But Lime reports that in markets that have both bikes and scooters, the scooters each get several times more use per day than the bikes. So there is big potential for scooters to carry a lot of trips, and all the city needs to do is write up some permit rules to allow them.

“Especially given impending major traffic challenges, we are committed to providing last mile mobility choices to this community and believe scooters should be a part of that,” said Lime’s Washington State General Manager Isaac Gross in an emailed statement. “Clearly, Seattleites agree.” Continue reading

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Bainbridge Island hosts its first Open Streets Festival Saturday

While Seattle’s Mayor Jenny Durkan tries to end her city’s open streets events, Bainbridge Island is getting ready to host its first ever Open Streets Festival from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday.

The City of Bainbridge Island, with leadership help from the Bainbridge Mobility Alliance, will create an all-ages-and-abilities circuit from downtown Winslow to the high school and back. Some sections of the route already have bike paths, but other busier sections will temporarily become one-way streets for cars so that the other half of the street can be reserved for biking, walking, skateboarding and more.

If you have never biked onto the Bainbridge ferry, Saturday is the day to give it a try. It’s a wonderful way to spend a weekend day even without the Open Streets Festival.

In addition to the route, there will be a handful of events at the high school, Waterfront Park and Winslow Green.

More details from the Bainbridge Mobility Alliance: Continue reading

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