Seattle’s next bike share battle could be between Lime, Uber and Lyft + Let’s start a scooter pilot

Uber-owned Jump has applied to operate in Seattle alongside Lime and Lyft-owned Motivate.

Though it’s been scaling back its efforts for a while now, Spin has officially announced an end to its bike share service in Seattle. Citing an increase in fees and the decision not to include scooters in the city’s updated permit, Spin will not be applying for the next year of operations.

With ofo already leading the way out of town, that leaves Lime as the only bike share company actively in business for the time being. So at the height of summer, Seattle is seeing a huge decrease in available bikes.

But it might not be this way for long. The Seattle Times reports that in addition to Lime, Uber-owned Jump and Lyft-owned Motivate (once the operator of Pronto Cycle Share) have both submitted permit applications to operate under Seattle’s new pricier and more regulated bike share scheme. Though the plan was to have four companies, it seems only three have applied so far.

But the city’s target is still 20,000 bikes total divided among the companies raising $1 million in permit fees per year. This seemingly arbitrary bike total means that each bike will cost $50 to permit, among the more expensive rates in the country. But at 20,000 bikes, Seattle would also have one of the largest bike share fleets in operation, many of them with electric assist.

The fact that two of Seattle’s three bike share companies are all but suspending U.S. bike share operations is one possibly worrying sign about the state of private bike share. But that is counteracted by recent investments from Uber and Lyft to become major players in U.S. bike share. In the meantime, the market for shared electric kick scooters is seemingly blowing up, an innovation Seattle has so far spurned.

There are a lot of companies competing for the huge market of urban trips that are too long for a short walk but too short to be well-served by transit or car. About half of all trips are three miles or less, so there could be a lot of money to be made if you can capture even a piece of that total. So far, companies have tried pedal bikes, e-assist bikes and electric kick scooters, each of which may have their own places in the ecosystem. But what we know for sure is that this period of innovation is not over. Who knows what the shared mobility device market will look like this time next year. Continue reading

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Police release video of person snipping bike share brake cables

Screenshot of the suspect, from a surveillance video released by Seattle Police. Watch the full video below.

Seattle Police have released a surveillance video of a person in Sodo seen snipping bike share brake cables on more than one occasion, and they’re asking for the public’s help identifying the suspect.

For months, brake cables on bike share bike have been cut all over the city, posing a very serious safety hazard for users. If someone didn’t realize they had no brakes until they were already moving, they could be put in serious danger. Endangering the lives of random strangers is very disturbing behavior, and I hope the person in this video is identified and gets the help they need.

On top of that, snipping brake cables puts scores of bikes out of commission, making bike share less reliable for people just trying to get around town. It also costs companies a money to send workers all over town repairing the damage. Some bike share companies have been talking about hiding brake cables in future models.

It’s not clear if the brake cable sabotage is the work on multiple people or just one prolific vandal. I hope it is just one person. Here’s the video: Continue reading

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After 2 kids were struck and badly injured, Rainier Valley Greenways calls Saturday safe streets rally

Details from Rainier Valley Greenways:

We have had enough of kids and people of all ages being injured at the intersection of Rainier Ave S and S Henderson St. Just this year, three children have been hit at this intersection.

Join us to talk with Mayor Durkan about what can be done to fix this intersection before school starts, and urge finishing the entire Rainier Ave safety project. Let’s support the city as they consider acting quickly to address these critical safety problems.

When: 1:00 to 1:45 this Saturday, August 18th
Where: Intersection of Rainier Ave S & S Henderson St
Who: Mayor Jenny Durkan and people who care about fixing Rainier Ave – Seattle’s most dangerous street.

We hope you can join us!

If you can’t make it, please be sure to sign the petition:

Read more about the recent collision:


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Ian MacKay is making his second cross-WA bike tour on his sip-and-puff wheelchair

On of Ian’s riding partners helps him cool down on a long hot road. Photo from Ian’s blog.

Ian MacKay is on a 7 MPH bike tour across Washington State for the second time. As of press time, he and his riding partners are a day’s journey beyond the Grand Coulee Dam heading west on their trip from Spokane to his home near Port Angeles.

MacKay’s ride is an electric wheelchair he controls using sip-and-puff controls. It’s decked out this year with new lithium batteries that can keep him moving at his top speed for the 40 miles a day he hopes to cover during his two-week adventure. He is documenting his journey on a blog and via social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram), and he has been capturing the imagination of the local news everywhere he goes.

Ian was injured in a California bike crash in 2008 that paralyzed him from the neck down. While recovering he started exploring further and further from home along the Olympic Discovery Trail, a paved rail trail connecting Port Angeles to Discovery Bay. That’s how he got the idea for his first cross-Washington trip in 2016.

He gave an incredible keynote talk at the 2017 WA Bike Summit about his adventure, and I highly recommend setting aside a half hour to watch the whole thing:

Continue reading

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Wilson Ave S bike lanes will fill key gap in SE Seattle, meeting Thursday

Wilson Ave S is a true rarity in the hilly neighborhood above Seward Park: It is relatively flat and direct.

Well, OK, the whole street isn’t flat. But the 0.8 miles of the street that the Seattle Department of Transportation is repaving this year are surprisingly flat, connecting the very popular Lake Washington Loop bike route to the business district at S Dawson Street (Third Place Books) and the existing painted bike lanes on 50th Ave S that connect to the bike lanes on S Genesee St into Columbia City.

Workers have already started work to repave this stretch, and plans call for a northbound bike lane protected by parked cars and a southbound painted bike lane as well as new curb ramps all along the route. This meets the criteria in the Bicycle Master Plan, which calls for “in-street, minor separation” bike lanes here. In fact, this is one of the few new protected bike lanes planned in all of SE Seattle.

Though it is quite rare for designs to change once construction has begun, SDOT is holding a public meeting to get feedback about a change in the parking plan Thursday. People who bike are encouraged to attend to weigh in, but the proposed changes still include bike lanes. Details from the project page:

You’re probably wondering, “what’s up with the protected bike lane?” Well, we hope you will join us on Thursday, August 16 from 6 to 8 PM at the Lakewood Seward Park Community Club for a public meeting. We will be sharing an updated design for the planned protected bike lane. We heard the community’s concerns about the protected bike lanes and pedestrian and neighborhood safety.

Continue reading

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Lime’s expanded discount program lets people pay in cash, unlock 5¢ bikes with a text

A nickel. In 2018, there is essentially nothing that costs a nickel.

But that’s all it costs for qualifying low-income users to unlock a Lime pedal bike under the company’s newly-expanded Lime Access program ($5 for 100 rides). And qualifying users (see #4 below) can also now pay in cash and unlock bikes using any mobile phone that can send text messages or make calls, allowing people who don’t have a bank account and smart phone with a data plan to use their bikes.

Qualifying users can also access Lime’s e-bikes at half price (50 cents to unlock plus 7 cents per minute). So a half hour e-bike ride would cost about the same as bus fare ($2.60).

To get set up, the Lime Access webpage tells users to email the following:

  1. Full Name
  2. Phone Number (this number should be for the phone you plan to use for LimeBike)
  3. Valid government-issued photo ID
  4. Proof of low income status (e.g. EBT card, discounted utility bill, or any other state or federally-run assistance program document). Seattle Bike Blog has confirmed that an ORCA Lift card will also work.

It will take Lime staff up to two days to get accounts verified and set up. Users will also need access to a printer if they don’t have a smart phone so they can print a unique barcode they can use to load money into their accounts at any ParNearMe location, including the 50 or so 7-Eleven and CVS stores in Seattle. Continue reading

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West Seattle Link might destroy the Sodo Trail, but that could be a good thing

The Sodo Trial in Bike Master Plan. The planned extension is marked “17.”

SDOT has been planning an extension of the Sodo Trail to reach Spokane St under the West Seattle Bridge for a while now, but that work could take a major turn if Sound Transit chooses a West Seattle light rail alignment that displaces some or all of the existing trail.

At this point, the project team is still proceeding with design for a trail along the busway and light rail tracks assuming Sound Transit projects won’t change the area, according to an SDOT staff update to the Seattle Bicycle Advisory Board.

However, there is a chance that Sound Transit will decide to use the existing trail right of way. If that happens, design changes or even an entirely new route may be needed. The Board expressed the need for a connection, and SDOT Liason to the Board Serena Lehman said the department would work with Sound Transit to identify an alternative option if the trail is removed or impeded.

And trading the Sodo Trail for a different nearby connection might not be such a bad thing.

The Sodo Trail is a little oasis of low-stress biking surrounded by wide and often scary industrial streets. But access to the trail is awful from just about every direction. And the prospects for connecting bike routes to it are a bit difficult. It directly serves Sodo and Stadium Stations, but that’s really the only thing it does well. The connections to nearby businesses, the International District, West Seattle and Georgetown are all pretty rough.

4th or 6th Ave S, on the other hand, have much more complete connections. They serve more destinations and workplaces than the trail and have great potential for connectivity at their north and south ends. Continue reading

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Green Lake/Wallingford paving projects create opportunity to make huge bike improvements, comment by Wednesday

Overview map of projects in the paving group. Images from SDOT.

SDOT has grouped a bunch of Green Lake and Wallingford area paving projects together, designing and planning construction of them all at the same time. Because paving projects essentially wipe the street design clear, they are our best opportunities to build elements of the Bicycle Master Plan for little extra cost. The city can rehab existing infrastructure and improve safety using the same dollars.

Though the projects in this group were chosen for paving purposes, many of them happen to lie along routes designated for bike improvements. And the city’s plans are so far mostly very strong, including a two-way protected bike lane around Green Lake, uphill bike lanes on N/NE 40th St and improved bike lanes on N 50th St where it passes under Aurora.

You can learn more and weigh in on the projects through SDOT’s online open house. Responses are due Wednesday (tomorrow), so don’t procrastinate.

The repaving group covers a total of six miles. And though the city’s plans are a good start, a neighborhood group calling themselves Green Lake and Wallingford Safe Streets has organized to push for even more ambitious options.

Green Lake Way

The biggest changes of all are coming to Green Lake Way between N 83rd Street and N 45th St. The messy intersection at the north end of the lake will get a redesign and a new traffic signal, and the current paint-only bike lanes around the east half of the park will become a new two-way protected bike lane on the park side of the street. These are major upgrades to a major bike route.

The weirdest part of the whole plan is the transition from one-way bike lanes to the new two-way bike lane at N 52nd St. It would be cool if planners could find a way to do this transition at N 50th St instead, perhaps as part of a redesign of that awful intersection. The team currently does not plan any significant changes there, but they have heard loud and clear from basically everyone that they hate that intersection. It’s also worth noting that people walking have it the worst there, so a remake is very needed.

Here’s a look at the planned Green Lake Way changes starting at N 83rd St (a major bike connection across Aurora to Greenwood) and moving south: Continue reading

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Downtown-to-ID bike lane options are proving difficult, city plans subpar route

The blue line shows the route SDOT is planning for the near-term bike connection to the ID and and beyond. Green and Orange lines are current or planned bike routes.

Connecting the 2nd Ave bike lane to the International District and the Southeast Seattle bike routes beyond is proving to be very difficult.

This connection is the single most important missing piece of the downtown bike network, and the City Council this week included it in the resolution listing projects they want SDOT to complete by the end of 2019. A connection to the International District not only brings that neighborhood into the downtown bike network, it also unlocks Beacon Hill, Rainier Valley and large swaths of the Central District and First Hill. It is also connects to the Mountains to Sound Trail leading to the Eastside and beyond.

“The reality is that this route needs to exist if we want to connect to the southern half of the city,” said Clara Cantor of Seattle Neighborhood Greenways.

But the extreme steepness of First Hill, missing street connections over the railroad lines near King Street Station and streetcar tracks in the middle of S Jackson Street create a pinch point where the bikeable route options overlap with bus routes that are about to get a hell of a lot busier when buses get kicked out of the tunnel.

After exploring a lot of options, SDOT has picked a route that bike network advocates including Seattle Neighborhood Greenways have not supported. But SDOT staff says it is the only route feasible in the near term.

The city’s plan includes bike lanes on Main Street from 2nd to 6th Avenues, then on 6th Avenue to Dearborn. SDOT staff presented the concept, which is still in draft form, during Wednesday’s Bicycle Advisory Board meeting.

The benefits of the route are that it is legible (other options included more twists and turns), it mostly avoids the First Hill Streetcar tracks and it avoids conflicts with major bus stops on Jackson and 5th Ave.

The downside is that the block of 6th Ave between Jackson and Main is a very steep 11 percent grade, climbing about 30 feet in just one block. It may be so steep that many people will avoid using it, which would defeat the purpose. Continue reading

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Bellevue just opened bike lanes through the heart of its downtown, launched bike share

Bellevue City Councilmembers at the bike lane opening celebration. Photo from the City of Bellevue.

I just had by far the least stressful bike ride through downtown Bellevue in my life.

The newly opened 108th Ave NE bike lanes span the Eastside city’s downtown from NE 12th Street in the north to Main Street in the south, forming what could become the central spine of a Bellevue bike network.

The city launched the bike lane as a pilot project, saying they will study how it works over the next year and make changes to the final design as needed (the study framework is outlined in this PDF). The project is part of an effort city planners are calling the Bicycle Rapid Implementation Program, which is funded by a voter-approved 2016 transportation levy.

The bike lanes connect to Bellevue Transit Center, so the launch of bike share is timed perfectly to complement the new more comfortable route. People can now take one of many buses into downtown Bellevue, then hop on a Lime-E bike to go the rest of the distance to their destination. The city made a big leap in mobility choices all at once.

Project map from Bellevue.

Continue reading

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CM Mosqueda delivers must-watch speech as Council approves downtown bike lane resolution

Map of routes included in the City Council resolution.

The Seattle City Council unanimously approved a resolution Monday calling on SDOT to complete a connected bike network downtown by the end of 2019.

As we reported previously, the network includes sections of 8th Ave, 9th Ave N, Pike and/or Pine St, 12th Ave S, King St, and a south downtown pathway between 2nd Ave and the International District. The resolution is non-binding, but a unanimous Council vote should mean something.

Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda took the opportunity Monday to not just support the resolution, but to give a wide-ranging speech framing a safe bike network as a necessity. Mosqueda’s speech is a master class in how safe streets and access to biking is about public health and about environmental, racial and gender justice. It’s seven and a half minutes of some of the best safe streets leadership I’ve seen from my years covering transportation at Seattle City Hall. Enjoy and be inspired (watch the full meeting here):

Continue reading

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Council approves bike share expansion + ofo cites fee hike in decision to leave Seattle

ofo no mo. The company confirmed to Seattle Bike Blog they are leaving the city, citing increased fees.

The Seattle City Council unanimously passed a budget action Monday for new city rules on bike share companies that will expand the number of bikes in operation, increase the fees for bike share operators and put in place new regulations around the parking of the shared bikes.

The Council action also outlines $1 million in spending for administration, adaptive bicycle access, equity programs, a new parking compliance effort and a major expansion of bike parking. These investments will be covered by a major hike in fees for the bike share operators.

We previously expressed concerns that the hike in fees might be too steep, especially for the lowest-priced options such as the pedal bikes that cost just $1 for a ride. Indeed, the lowest-cost operator has announced they are leaving Seattle due to the fee hike. ofo, which offers rides at $1 for an hour (vs $1 for a half hour by the other operators), confirmed to Seattle Bike Blog that they will be leaving Seattle.

“We appreciate the efforts of City Council and SDOT in crafting new requirements for dockless bikeshare in Seattle,” said Seattle General Manager Lina Feng in an emailed statement. “The exorbitant fees that accompany these new regulations—the highest in the country—make it impossible for ofo to operate and effectively serve our riders, and as a result, we will not be seeking a permit to continue operating in Seattle. We’re incredibly disappointed to be leaving the first U.S. city to welcome ofo and thank the City for its partnership and support this last year.”

Lime, on the other hand, says they will apply for the new permit as soon as it is available, and plans to expand its pedal and e-assist bikes. Continue reading

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Bike News Roundup: Fox News wishes I would apologize for Seattle’s ‘jihad’ on cars

It’s time for the Bike News Roundup, a look at some of the bike stuff going around the web lately. This is an open thread.

First up, I was on Fox News recently, failing to apologize for Seattle’s “jihad” on cars. What a wonderful news network.

Pacific Northwest News Continue reading

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Bike Bingo 2018 starts July 31, get your card today at these bike-friendly businesses

For more details on the various bingo prizes, see the back of the card below.

The third annual edition of Seattle Bike Bingo begins July 31, and participating businesses are all stocked up on the $4 cards.

A summer tradition organized by Bicycle Benefits, Bike Bingo is a pretty simple game. Buy a card, then ride to the businesses listed on it to get a stamp. For each bingo, you can claim a prize like free pizza or beer or even a shoe shine. Get them all and you win an even bigger set of prizes.

So you win by going for a bike ride, you win by visiting great local businesses, and you win by winning prizes. Not a bad way to spend a summer.

“A lot of people have bicycles, but they want desinations and reasons to ride them,” said Ian Klepetar of Bicycle Benefits. The game is also a way to “draw visibility to the bike-friendly businesses in the community.”

New this year is a corner stamp for volunteering at Bike Works.

“We want to further engage bike riders into contributing further into the bike community,” said Klepetar. “We really appreciate the programs that Bike Works provides to an underserved biking population.”

The 24 businesses on the card are just a fraction of the businesses offering Bicycle Benefits deals year-round. You can see the full listings on the organization’s website.

More details from Bicycle Benefits: Continue reading

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WSDOT Secretary Millar: Congestion is a symptom of lacking ‘affordable housing and transportation solutions’

WA Transportation Secretary Roger Millar at the 2017 WA Bike Summit.

WSDOT Secretary Roger Millar delivered a keynote speech to the nation’s highway and transportation officials that directly challenged the central focus of transportation investments in nearly every state: Building and expanding freeways.

“We like to talk about traffic congestion as an issue, but it is actually a symptom of a larger problem – and the problem is we don’t provide affordable housing and transportation solutions,” he told the Joint Policy Committee of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (“AASHTO”) last week, according to the AASHTO Journal. “We have a rich list of transportation options for the rich that can afford to live in our cities – the rest are forced to drive. And they drive vehicles that often can’t make the trip.”

Millar’s take should be a wake-up call not only to state DOTs across the nation, but also to thriving urban centers like Seattle. When Seattle fails to provide affordable housing within areas that are well-served by transit, biking and walking options, the city shares responsibility for forcing people to live in lower-cost, car-dependent areas further from workplaces and other services and destinations. The result is that more people who struggle to afford cars are forced to drive further on a highway system we cannot successfully expand.

“Executive housing and Walmart jobs is not a housing solution – that only puts more people on road,” he said. Continue reading

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Work on Crown Hill to Northgate neighborhood greenway underway

Map from SDOT.

Work on a neighborhood greenway connecting Crown Hill to North Seattle College is underway, according to SDOT.

The construction will last six months and includes new traffic signals crossing Holman Rd at NW 92nd Street and Greenwood Ave at N 100th Street.

Bike commute data shows that bike-to-work rates drop steeply north of Holman Rd, a busy road without bike lanes and very few safe crossing options. The city repaved the road a few years ago, but chose not to adequately address the street’s major biking and walking access issues.

This neighborhood greenway route augments recent Safe Routes to School projects and several Neighborhood Street Fund projects led by dedicated neighbors in recent years. The western terminus at North Seattle College will connect to the Northgate biking and walking bridge scheduled to open in 2020.

More details from SDOT: Continue reading

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FreeRange Cycles’ new owner continues woman-owned legacy

As Emry was transitioning out this summer, FreeRange sported an all-woman staff: Moira ó Cearnaigh, Shawna Williams, Kathleen Emry.

Kathleen Emry is calling it quits. After 21 years of owning and operating the quaint FreeRange Cycles bike shop in Fremont, she has handed over the keys to Shawna Williams.

Emry had been talking about a potential retirement for a while now so at first, I didn’t quite believe it. But in June, the 700-square-foot shop was already showing signs of change. There was a new face behind the counter and the space, once teeming with 21 years worth of trinkets — art, postcards, stuffed animal, photos — felt surprisingly bare.

“One day I came in and found all my stuffed animal chickens piled up in the backroom!” Kathleen Emry said with laugh. “That’s good though. I want Shawna to make it her own. I want the shop to represent her vision.”

The little shop that could

For Emry, her vision for a shop started in the 1980s. She hadn’t grown up biking. She and her three sisters had shared one Western Flyer among them as kids, and she didn’t start biking again until well into her adulthood. But after stepping foot into Wright Brothers Cycle Works for a bike fix, she knew she had found her calling.

Intrigued by bicycle mechanics, Emry signed up for some bicycle maintenance classes and found herself working for Wright Brothers before long.

“I remember walking in and taking classes and thinking, ‘I love working with my hands’,” Emry said. “At the time I had just completed a Masters in ministries and had come to the realization that being an out queer in the Catholic Church wasn’t going to work. My philosophy is to be one’s authentic self in the world today and for me, the best way to do that at that time was to nurture my gifts, and that was working with my hands.

“But things brew with me. It takes time for me to manifest things.” Continue reading

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Man killed while biking on Rainier Ave, suspect arrested. RIP Alex Hayden

Photo of Alex Hayden from a GoFundMe campaign set up to support his family.

Alex Hayden was a husband and father of two who Gray Magazine described as “kind, funny, creative, and a true editorial photographer” in a memorial post.

Someone driving a pickup truck struck Hayden from behind while he rode in the bike lane on Rainier Ave just south of the Seattle city limits Saturday. The person driving fled the scene, dragging his bike down the street. Hayden died Tuesday from his injuries.

Our deepest condolences to his friends and family.

The King County Sheriff’s Office says a 51-year-old woman suspected in the hit and run has turned herself in. She has not yet been charged, and the Sheriff’s Office is still searching for a passenger who was reportedly in the truck at the time of the collision.

Hayden has not yet been identified officially, but word of his death has spread quickly as people impacted by his life learned the terrible news. Friends established a GoFundMe campaign to support his family.

According to the Sheriff’s Office, Hayden was biking south on Rainier Ave S in Skyway around 4:30 p.m. when the person driving the pickup struck him from behind in the 10600 block. The suspect then continued a little further before turning onto S Lakeridge Dr. Officers later found the pickup in SeaTac. A suspect was turned herself in Sunday, about 20 hours after the collision. We are not naming the suspect because charges have not yet been filed. She is in King County jail on $100,000 bail for investigation of felony hit and run.

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Help push to get the downtown bike network back on track in 2019

Map of the planned downtown bike network. Routes included in the City Council resolution are highlighted in peach.

The downtown bike network has been significantly delayed so far under Mayor Jenny Durkan’s administration, but there is hope to turn things around and get major pieces of the network constructed in 2019.

Seattle Neighborhood Greenways and Cascade Bicycle Club are gathering support for a City Council action to require SDOT to complete bike lanes on 8th Ave, 9th Ave N, Pike and/or Pine St, 12th Ave S, King St, and a south downtown pathway between 2nd Ave and the International District. The Transportation Committee will consider the resolution noon Wednesday at City Hall.

Some of the projects would be pushed ahead of schedule, though the 4th Ave bike lane planned for this year will remain delayed. But if SDOT can deliver the proposed set of projects by the end of 2019, downtown would become accessible by bike to many more neighborhoods at a time of serious traffic and transit constraints.

The text of the City Council resolution calls for completion of these segments “by no later than December 31, 2019.” So SDOT could deliver segments much earlier than that if the department puts its heart into the work and gets the political support to make it happen.

Where construction activity limits the ability to install permanent bike lanes, the resolution calls on SDOT to “make every good faith effort to establish “all ages and abilities” temporary connections.”

More details from SNG: Continue reading

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Bike share carried 209K trips in May + A look at the city’s updated permit rules

Seattle’s bike share ridership keeps climbing. Image: SDOT.

People in Seattle took more than 208,849 bike share trips in May as use of the bikes increased steeply throughout spring. In total, people took 1.4 million rides between late July and mid-June, according to the Seattle Department of Transportation (PDF).

To build on this astounding success, SDOT is updating its permit to allow four companies totaling 20,000 bikes, about double the number on the streets today. And the increase comes with some extra permit fees to vastly increase the amount of designated bike parking space in the city to help make sure bikes are parked appropriately.

The permit plan heads to the City Council Transportation Committee Tuesday. If approved, it is then scheduled to go before the full Council for a vote July 23 and would go into effect August 31. Here’s a look at what is in the new permit rules: Continue reading

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