Watch: The case for a bike lane over the Fremont Bridge

The Fremont Bridge is Seattle’s busiest bike route pinch point. Routes from all over the region converge here to cross the Ship Canal, which is why the bridge’s bike counter registers the highest number of trips in the city. A record 1,187,146 bike trips crossed the bridge in 2019. It may the the region’s most important bike route, serving local trips and the Interurban North bike route that connects all the way to Everett.

But that 1.2 million bike trips have to squeeze by each other and all the people walking across the bridge on two skinny sidewalks. The crunch is not comfortable for anybody.

That’s why neighbors with Ballard-Fremont Greenways have put together a proposal and petition you can sign calling for bike lanes on the Fremont Bridge. The pandemic has made this need far more acute since social distancing is impossible on the skinny bridge sidewalks, but it’s a necessary improvement even without the threat of spreading a deadly virus.

The bridge is historic and, unlike with the Ballard Bridge, there is no plan to replace it any time soon. The sidewalks have been beyond their comfortable capacity for a long time now, and they will only get worse. There’s no reason to put off this improvement.

The biggest challenge is almost certainly transit. The bridge raises and lowers often, leading to a build-up of traffic that then needs to clear in a big and often scary rush. As it is now, buses that serve downtown Fremont (31, 32, 40 and 62) simply get in line with cars. So the key to making a bike lane work here is to also give buses priority, especially during the moments when the bridge reopens. This likely means bus lanes and queue jumps that get buses to get to the front of the line before they even reach the bridge. Signal changes could also give buses a head start before allowing cars.

Changes like this will impact drive times for people in cars, but most people with cars have other options. The Aurora Bridge is right overhead and they also have free reign on the Ballard Bridge. Sure, these are not the most direct routes for all trips, but at least there are options. For people walking, biking and taking Fremont buses, there is no other option. So walking, biking and transit should be the priority here. The group’s proposed design (or some other design that meets these needs) still provides car and freight access, it’s just not the top priority anymore. And that’s the way it should be.

I think another major advantage of creating bike lanes on the bridge deck is that the sidewalks can become the iconic spaces they should be. People walking across should be able to stop in the middle and take a moment to take in the incredible view down the Ship Canal or out to Lake Union. People should be able to take a selfie. I know that sounds like a silly reason, but the Fremont Bridge is so cool and should be the kind of space that belongs to the people on the ground living life. It’s so much more than yet another pipe funneling cars.

Watch the King 5 report: Continue reading

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Report: NE 65th Street bike lanes have saved lives and prevented serious injuries

Chart showing the change in collisions, deaths and injuries before and after the project.Map of the project and locations of deaths and injuries.For a four-year period, the short stretch of NE 65th Street between NE Ravenna Blvd and 39th Ave NE killed one person and seriously injured at least one other person every year. But a hard-fought safety project installed in spring 2019 has cut collisions by more than half and has so far eliminated deaths and serious injuries, according to a new SDOT report (PDF).

As with nearly all of SDOT’s Vision Zero street redesigns, the project is a huge success. It once again demonstrates the department’s ability to save lives and improve mobility when it prioritizes safety on our streets.

There is at least one person somewhere who is sipping coffee, Zoom chatting with a loved one or otherwise living life at this moment who would be dead if not for these safety changes. Is it your friend? Your mother? You? We will never know who that person is, but we do know that had the city chosen not to take action and make changes to this street, one person would die every year. And that person would most likely have been walking or riding a bike.

And these benefits come even though the city compromised fairly heavily on many of the details. For example, intersections do not have separated signal phases for people on bikes and bike lanes share space with bus stops in several locations. And worst of all, the bike lanes stop at 20th Ave NE, providing no dedicated biking space between 20th and 39th. But even with these compromises and half measures, the results are impressive.

And the problems that led to traffic danger on this street were not at all unique to NE 65th Street. They are problems repeated on streets all over the city and the region. Too much space for cars leads to speeding and no space for people biking or crossing the street leaves them vulnerable.

Photo of the street before the changes, with just one yellow dotted line down the center..

Before

Photo after the changes with a center turn lane and bike lanes.

After

Continue reading

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Lime launches scooter share in Seattle

Screenshot from the Lime app showing a scooter available.After years of talking, the first shared electric scooters are hitting Seattle streets today as Lime rolls out 500 of its popular Lime-S scooters.

Lime has been serving Seattle for years with its pedal bikes and e-bikes. The company now owns and operates the red JUMP bikes available around town. Though the city has invited three companies to operate scooters in town, Lime was clearly in the best position to launch quickly.

“As Seattleites look to open-air transportation options that allow for social-distancing, shared scooters offer a reliable solution for short and medium-length trips, as well as for trips not served by public transit,” the company said in a press release. “The Seattle e-scooter pilot will help reduce car usage, augment transit and allow for safer and more sustainable travel.”

Their scooters cost the same as the JUMP bikes, with a $1 fee to unlock plus 36¢ per minute. While they are limited to only 500 scooters, the company is limiting their distribution efforts “from the Central District and SODO to Capitol Hill, Downtown, South Lake Union, Ballard, Fremont and the U District,” but users are able to ride them anywhere in the city that they want. Notably, this initial distribution area does not include West Seattle, though people can ride to West Seattle if they want to. Helping with the West Seattle Bridge transportation crisis was one reason the city cited during City Council debate over the permit plan. “As the fleet is authorized to expand, the deployment areas will expand,” the company noted in a press release. Continue reading

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Cascade launches flashy new resource to help people bike to and through West Seattle

Illustrated map showing common West Seattle bike routes.Cascade Bicycle Club and IZIP electric bikes partnered to create a pretty great-looking map of popular bike routes to and through West Seattle to help more people visualize how they can shift more trips to bike.

The illustrated map is cool because it’s a high-level look at the options. But once someone is interested in the details of each route, Cascade has very detailed guides online. For two routes (Junction to downtown and White Center to downtown), they have Ride With GPS maps (which can be used for turn-by-turn directions) and very good video guides.

Continue reading

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Bike Route Alert: Lynnwood Link construction will close Scriber Creek Trail for 2 years, disrupt Interurban Trail

Map of the planned closures and detours near Lynnwood Park and Ride.Work on Lynnwood Link will close the Scribner Creek Trail for two years and will require intermittent closures of the Interurban Trail, Sound Transit says.

The Scribner Creek Trail is basically a path along the southwest edge of the Lynnwood Park and Ride parking lot that connects to the Interurban Trail. So if you don’t recognize the name, you may use this trail if you access the trail from the park and ride.

The more significant impact, though, will be the series of Interurban Trail closures in the area over the years of construction. The first such closure is scheduled for late October and will last two weeks, but later closures could last up to 6 months. And the detour route includes a busy stretch of 200th Street SW and the sidewalk of 44th Ave W (there is no curb cut from 44th to the trail, so the sidewalk is the only option unless Sound Transit adds a ramp). Maybe there will be an unofficial way to weave through the park and ride area to skip some of the detour, but the official detour map doesn’t suggest an alternative.

Details from Sound Transit: Continue reading

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Seattle knew 5 years ago that a Rainier Ave safety project would save lives, but is just now starting work

Diagram of the new road layout with bus lanes and a center turn lane.Rainier Ave S has long held a terrible title: The most dangerous street in Seattle. It saw more crashes per mile than the city’s other deadly streets, including Lake City Way and Aurora, despite carrying far fewer trips.

“During a 6-month study in 2015, on average, there was 1 crash per day that took 45 minutes to clear,” SDOT wrote on the project website.

Despite being the central commercial street for many Rainier Valley neighborhoods, Rainier Ave was designed like a highway. With multiple lanes in each direction and no center turn lane, the street encouraged speeding and prioritized people traveling through the neighborhood over people trying to make turns or cross the street. So not only were there a lot of crashes at high speeds, but they were often the most dangerous kind (pedestrian, cyclist, head on and left turn collisions). The result has been decades of people dying and being seriously injured with little to no action to prevent them.

Then in 2015, Seattle redesigned a stretch of Rainier Ave S in Columbia City to reduce collisions along one part the street. It took an enormous amount of political pressure, including a protest in Columbia City, to convince the city to take action and redesign the street. And the results were jaw-dropping. Just by repainting the lines and changing some signs, SDOT’s Vision Zero team was able to reduce dangerous collisions and speeding by huge percentages. But most notably, this stretch of the street averaged 9 serious injuries and 1 death every year before the changes. The project reduced that to zero.

Chart showing before and after collision counts on Rainier Ave following a 2016 safety project.With such an incredible success, the city immediately went out and completed this safety project along the rest of the street, right? The logical and compassionate response to the results in these charts would be to all but declare a public health crisis and fix the rest of the street immediately before more people get hurt. If this were a medical study, researchers would have taken one look at these results, stopped the study and then immediately administered this obviously effective medicine to all patients. Because physicians have a sworn ethical duty to do no harm, and every number in these charts represents a real human being with people who love them. Even one should be considered unacceptable.

But there is no Hippocratic Oath for people making transportation policy. It is considered acceptable to knowingly allow people to die preventable deaths in traffic, and therefore such deaths are not treated like an emergency. Continue reading

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SDOT: Keep Moving Streets extended until October 5

Chart showing increased bike use on Lake Washington Blvd during the Keep Moving Street program.

From SDOT.

Seattle’s car-light Keep Moving Streets have been a success, so the city has extended them another month.

Created in partnership between SDOT and Seattle Parks, the city’s four Keep Moving Streets are typically on arterial streets near parks or along waterways that don’t have enough sidewalk space to safety handle all the people who want to use them. Streets, on the other hand, have lots of space. So the city decided to try closing streets to through traffic (local access is allowed) and open that space to walking and biking.

And people love it.

The program has been extended until October 5. But there’s no reason to think they won’t be needed beyond that point. Neighbors of the Alki Point project even put together a campaign to make it permanent (complete with a video).

More details on the October extension from SDOT: Continue reading

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Bike Route Alert 9/11-14: 520 Bridge closed, including the trail

Map of the 520 Bridge closures.The 520 Bridge will be closed 11 p.m. September 11 until 5 a.m. September 14 for a series of major construction projects. These closures include the trail over the lake.

The trail under the bridge on the Montlake side connecting Shelby/Hamlin to Lake Washington Blvd will be open during the daytime, but will close at night.

Details from WSDOT:

Reminder to travelers: SR 520 will completely close for construction between Seattle and the Eastside from 11 p.m. Friday, Sept. 11, to 5 a.m. Monday, Sept. 14. During that weekend, crews will repair a damaged sign bridge that goes over all lanes of SR 520, realign Montlake’s eastbound SR 520 on-ramps, restripe a section of the westbound lanes, and more. Check out our latest video to learn more.

What travelers should expect:

  • All east- and westbound lanes will be closed between Montlake Boulevard and 92nd Avenue Northeast near Medina.
  • The SR 520 Trail will be closed across Lake Washington.
  • The temporary path under SR 520 between East Montlake Park and Lake Washington Boulevard will be open during the daytime, with flaggers present, so please use caution. This path will close at night.
  • SR 520 will remain open between I-5 and Montlake Boulevard.
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Saturday: Peace Peloton rides from NE Seattle to White Center + Fundraiser

Event poster. Details in the story.Mmmmm… Junebaby is so good. And Saturday’s Peace Peloton starts at the NE Seattle restaurant in the early evening, then rides to Beer Star in White Center.

Dr. Rayburn Lewis will be speaking this week, a former Cascade Bicycle Club Board member who is Chief Medical Officer at International Community Health Services.

As always, the ride is focused on supporting Black-owned businesses and promoting economic reform for Black people.

Meet at Junebaby between 4 and 6 p.m. Pre-order food from the Junebaby website (seriously, it’s so good). The ride is 14 miles with a midway stop in Centennial Park. Riders will roll into White Center around 8:30.

It will be getting dark by the end, so make sure you bring bike lights.

And hey, wanna support the cause financially while also getting a chance to win a pro’s bike? You can! $50 gets you one chance to win Tejay van Garderen’s 2019 Cannondale Supersix EVO Race bike, and their goal is to raise $25,000. More details here. Continue reading

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Construction begins soon on initial segment of the 4th Ave bike lane

Project map.Crews are gearing up to build a protected bike lane on 4th Ave between Pine and Madison Streets downtown.

This is the start of the second north-south bike corridor downtown and a key piece of the Basic Bike Network vision, which would build a connected web of protected bike lanes from Seattle Center to the International District and places in between, helping more people bike to more homes, workplaces and destinations within our state’s busiest area.

Though 4th and 2nd Avenues look close together on a map, the topography on the ground puts them in different realms. At Pine Street, the streets are basically at the same elevation. But the two blocks separating them at Madison are some of the steepest streets in the entire city. So for people trying to access major institutions, like the Seattle Public Library or City Hall, or heading further up to First Hill, 4th and/or 5th Avenues are vital.

The first segment will be a two-way bike lane on the west side of the street between Pine and Madison, essentially mirroring 2nd Ave.

Cross-section of the proposed road changes.There is currently an uphill painted bike lane on 4th Ave that ends at Spring, so this project will connect to that old bike lane for the time being. That should be a huge improvement for people heading northbound who currently have to either merge into the left general purpose lane and bike in mixed traffic or try to merge across the entire street in front of the library in order to ride in the bus lane. Neither option is good. Being able to simply continue straight into a protected bike lane should be a massive improvement. Continue reading

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Seattle finally builds protected bike lane on stretch of Yesler where Desiree McCloud died in 2016

Photo of people walking past a ghost bike locked to a road sign at 13th and Yesler.

Friends, family (including her brother Cody) and community members walk in honor of McCloud in June 2016.

SDOT has installed protected bike lanes on Yesler Way between 14th and 12th Avenues, part of a project to further protect and separate the bike lanes from the First Hill Streetcar tracks in the area.

But this two-block stretch fulfills a heavy purpose: This is where Desiree McCloud was biking when she crashed and died in 2016. Video shortly before her crash showed that she was between the westbound streetcar tracks, and Desiree’s brother Cody filed a wrongful death claim against the city alleging that she crashed because of the streetcar tracks. Seattle settled the case in 2018 for $490,000, though the settlement did not include promises that the hazard would be fixed.

Streetcar tracks pose a serious hazard to biking because the gap in the road surface is just barely wide enough for a bike tire to slide into it. This often results in the tire getting wedged, throwing the person riding it to the ground with little to no warning.

Following her death, her family, friends and local safe streets advocates demanded immediate safety changes. They gathered for a memorial walk to dedicate her ghost bike and to meet with SDOT officials to talk about what the city was going to do to make sure this didn’t happen to anyone else. The meeting was an enormous gift to the city by the McCloud family, who expressed righteous anger and heartbreak over what happened and yet were still willing to show up to try to help make the city better.

So it’s great to see these bike lane changes finally happen, but it’s 2020. More than four years have passed without action. The community and Desiree’s mourning loved ones could not have been more clear about the need for immediate changes. You look at the photos, and it’s just some cheap paint and plastic posts. It’s great that they are finally in place, but the people of Seattle deserve a more urgent response from our city.

Desiree’s death was avoidable. I really hope these bike lane fixes make it so nobody ever crashes here again. But many streetcar and railroad hazards remain in our city, not to mention the overwhelming number of hazards caused by streets that prioritize car speed over safety. Fixing hazards that kill people is the very least the city can do.

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Letter: Invest 1% of West Seattle Bridge budget to help meet biking goals

Start of the letter, featuring logos from West Seattle Bike Connections, Duwamish Valley Safe Streets, Cascade Bicycle Club and Seattle Neighborhood Greenways. Text in linked PDF.

Read the full letter (PDF)

A collective letter from neighborhood and regional bike and safe streets advocacy groups calls on SDOT to invest at least 1% of the West Seattle Bridge replacement budget on improving bike connections.

The city’s mode shift plan for helping people get around during the bridge closure calls for a massive increase in biking (from about 1% to 10% for commute trips). But the current plan would only fund about 10 spot improvement projects for biking at less than $100,000 each. That’s a small amount of money compared to the estimated $160-225 million project budget. And it is simply not the level of investment needed to break down the biggest infrastructure barriers that prevent more people from cycling to, from and within West Seattle.

Increasing cycling tenfold is a very difficult task, but it’s not unreasonable or wildly unprecedented. As pointed out in the letter, cycling more than doubled during the 2019 Viaduct closure and shifted more trips away from driving than the water taxi despite essentially no city infrastructure changes to help more people bike. Instead, neighbors got organized and helped each other. And this was in January, so save your bad weather excuses. Imagine what would be possible if the city also invested to make the streets safer and connect the neighborhood’s bike routes.

The ramifications from the bridge closure have also extended to Duwamish Valley neighborhoods, including Georgetown and South Park. Increased traffic has made streets more dangerous and made many of the the already poor bike route options there, many of which only offer sharrows, even worse. So investments are also needed to mitigate harm and increase bike trips in neighborhoods that now serve as detour routes.

The alternative is to not improve and fully connect bike routes, then later bemoan the fact that biking didn’t rise to meet the mode share goal. Getting a dramatic shift requires dramatic action.

West Seattle Bike Connections, Duwamish Valley Safe Streets, Seattle Neighborhood Greenways and Cascade Bicycle Club all signed the letter and included a list of projects that would help improve safety and encouraging more biking. The letter: Continue reading

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Seattle’s proposed scooter rules set riders up for failure

Banning electric scooters on sidewalks seems to make sense at first. Sidewalks are for walking, right? That seemed to be the guiding principle behind Seattle’s decision to mostly leave the existing ban on riding electric scooters on sidewalks in place while launching a permit scheme to allow large numbers of shared scooters to start operating on Seattle streets.

But the city could be setting up a very serious problem, exposing scooter riders to confusing laws and creating a big new opportunity for racially biased policing. The city is effectively prepared to punish individual users for the city’s own failure to build safe streets.

As we reported yesterday, Ordinance 119867 would also amend Seattle’s city code to allow electric scooter use on sidewalks only if “there is no alternative for a motorized foot scooter to travel over a sidewalk that is part of a bicycle or pedestrian path.” The intention here is to allow sidewalk riding on key routes like over the Fremont and Montlake Bridges where there is no feasible alternative, but it’s very squishy and will be confusing in real life.

The language seems to be pulled almost word-for-word from state law and city code updates made a few years back that allowed e-bikes in bike lanes and on paths. Though most e-bikes are mostly allowed anywhere bikes are allowed, rarer and higher-speed “Class 3” e-bikes capable of assisted power beyond 20 mph are not allowed on sidewalks “unless there is no alternative to travel over a sidewalk as part of a bicycle or pedestrian path.” This language has posed confusion for Class 3 e-bike users, but the problem wasn’t massive because there are not many of those bikes around and because there is really no way for an observer (like a police officer) to know which class an e-bike belongs to without measuring its assisted top speed or seeing the regulation sticker if there is one. So Class 3 e-bike users have just sort of existed in legal limbo with very little chance of facing enforcement unless they do something obviously dangerous (contact me if you know of a case).

But electric scooters are a totally different story. They are very easy to identify and there may soon be thousands of them on the streets available for rent in addition to the growing number of people who own them. So the sloppy language here will not be a marginal problem, and the City Council and SDOT needs to carefully consider the effects of this law.

How is a regular user (or a police officer) supposed to determine when a sidewalk user has “no alternative.” Who gets to decide whether an alternative exists or whether a stretch of sidewalk is “part of a bicycle or pedestrian path?” They often look exactly the same:

Two photos side-by-side of streets with sidewalks. One says "scooters illegal" and one says "scooters legal"

These images are just a couple blocks from each other.

Continue reading

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Scooter share permit gets committee approval + How the system would work

Photo of a person standing in front of a Lime scooter.

Yours truly took a test ride of a Lime scooter in 2018. So this has been a long time coming.

Seattle is finally maybe going to give shared scooters a try.

The City Council  Utilities and Transportation Committee voted last week to approve two ordinances that would allow SDOT to launch a scooter permit program (Council bills 119867 and 119868). Councilmembers Strauss, González and Morales voted in favor, Pederson opposed. The ordinances still need to pass the full Council during the September 8 meeting.

“We’ve been having this academic conversation about the use of scooters for 18 months or longer,” Councilmember Dan Strauss, the legislation sponsor, said during the committee meeting. “I still have many concerns that need to be addressed, but we are at a point where the academic conversation has gone on long enough that if we don’t try this in the real world to see if this program does work and is appropriate for our city, we’re just going to keep circling around the same questions.”

And some of those questions are not entirely answered by the permit plan or by the Council actions, which would allow SDOT to enact their permit fee structure and would make some changes to city code regarding scooter use like allowing people to ride electric scooters in bike lane, on trails and on some stretches of sidewalk that are part of a bike route (like the Fremont Bridge for example). Oddly, this was not already the law, though people already use scooters this way. These law changes affect all electric scooter users, whether they are riding a personal scooter or a shared one.

“If we are able to allow people to learn to ride these scooters in good weather while it’s not rainy and dark, we have a higher likelihood of people being able to use these in a responsible and effective manor,” said Strauss.

Most the scooter rules will be similar to bike share rules, though scooters are currently illegal on sidewalks and the city is not looking to change that. Like the bikes, they will be limited to top speeds of 15 mph and must be parked in the furniture zone or an on-street bike corral. Continue reading

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Saturday: The Peace Peloton rides from Madrona to Green Lake, will create a mural on the way

Peace Peloton event poster. Details in the post.The Peace Peloton rides again Saturday, and this time riders will create a mural along the way.

The ride meets from 10 a.m. to noon at Café Soleil at 34th and Union in Madrona, where folks will work to get the mural panels ready. Shortly after noon, riders will head to a secret location to assemble the mural, then continue to Green Lake.

Elmer Dixon, Cofounder of the Seattle Chapter of the Black Panther Party, will speak at the end of the ride about “Reparations and The Need for Controlling the Institutions Within the Black Community.”

The Peace Peloton’s mission is to support Black-owned businesses and to promote economic reform for Black people.

Details from Peace Peloton:

Please join us for a rain or shine, casual, no drop, peaceful, and FUN 10 mile bike ride/demonstration . . . did I mention it’s fun?

  1. Bike stage: Café Soleil, 1400 34th Ave, Seattle, WA 98122
  2. Time: 10:00a – 12:00p
  3. Peace Peloton Mural Curation* (see below for details)
  4. Bike Ride Start: 12:15p (10 miles)
  5. Midway Ride: Peace Peloton Mural Assembly (confidential location)
  6. Ride End: Green Lake Park, 7201 E Green Lake Dr N, Seattle, WA 98115 (Food Trucks)
  7. Speaker: Elmer Dixon, Cofounder, Seattle Black Panther Chapter, Topic: “Reparations and The Need for Controlling the Institutions Within the Black Community.”

* Peace Peloton Mural

  • Donate $25 to:
    • PayPal – @peacepeloton (write PP Mural in the description)
    • Venmo – @peacepeloton (write PP Mural in the description)
  • Receive a blank canvas the morning of the event.
  • Decorate your canvas with a message of peace, inspiration, or love to the world.
  • We will stop midway along the route and artfully arrange your offering in 10ft intervals for as long as we have canvases.

To better accommodate our business partners and provide the safest and most enjoyable cycling experience for our participants please complete the R.S.V.P. and waiver.

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Tonight: Phyllis Porter talks biking and activism

Photo of Phyllis Porter standing with her bike in front of a body of water.Tonight (August 19) at 6 p.m., log in to hear Phyllis Porter talk about “her adventures and growth as a bicycle rider and activist including her passion for safe streets for all.”

Porter has been a strong advocate and friend of Seattle Bike Blog for years. She ran for City Council in District 2 last year and has since resumed her work as an organizer and leader for safe streets.

Register for free with Bike Works to get the link. Details:

A talk from Phyllis Porter: Shero of the Seattle Black Girls Do Bike chapter, member of the Rainier Riders Cycling Club, SE Seattle resident, former Bike Works employee, volunteer, Bike Works Racial Equity Taskforce member, Rainier Valley Safe Streets activist, and former candidate for Seattle City Council will talk about her adventures and growth as a bicycle rider and activist including her passion for safe streets for all.

Wednesday, August 19th, 6 – 7 PM.

Q&A to follow presentation.

Register for a link to participate.

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Seattle Bike Repair Mutual Aid connects folks with bike fixing skills to those who need to get their rides rolling

Do you need to get your bike rolling again? Do you want to put your bike tools and skills to work helping your community? Then Seattle Bike Repair Mutual Aid is for you.

The concept of the project is very simple: Collect info from people who need their bikes repaired and people who want to help, then connect them.

Elise Hirschi and Max Kauffman started the project after attending Cascade Bicycle Club’s Advocacy Leadership Institute program. They have graduated, but decided to keep their class project going. Hirschi also works for Bike Works, though she is working on this project in her free time. They have already made a handful of connections, and they are especially looking for more folks who need bike repair help.

The Federal government has essentially abandoned its people as they struggle to make ends meet during this crisis. Getting people’s bikes rolling is at least a way to help them get around town affordably and safely. We gotta come together and support each other, because things look like they will get worse before they get better. Access to a working bike won’t stand in for a functional and compassionate government, but it could help.

Whether you need some bike repairs or have fixing skills to offer, just fill out the online form. Details from Seattle Bike Repair Mutual Aid: Continue reading

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Seattle Parks announces week-long, very steep Burke-Gilman Trail detour for … mowing?

Map of the detour route with a graph showing the elevation change, including 174 feet of climbing.

The detour route, from Google Maps.

People who bike or walk on the Burke-Gilman Trail in northeast Seattle have dealt with a lot of tough detours in recent years. But the detours are always for a good reason, such as the city or county rebuilding or repaving the trail, or because a landslide has washed out a section of the trail.

But the closure planned to start Monday is different. The trail will be closed for the morning commute until the afternoon so Seattle Parks can mow the slope next to the trail between NE 125th St and 42nd Pl NE. And because the slope is so steep, they are planning to use heavy machinery and must close the trail from 7 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. for a week.

Of course, the same steep slopes that make mowing difficult also make the detour difficult. The 900 or so feet of NE 125th Street climbs a stunning 138 feet. That’s a 15 percent grade climb for 900 feet, which is grueling even for strong and fit riders. I know slope grades are difficult numbers to understand, so I was trying to figure out a way to demonstrate just how steep that is. But then Google Street View did it for me:

Photo showing a steep road to the left and a flat trail to the right. A person is walking their bike up the hill.

The detour is so steep, this person randomly captured by Google Street View decided to walk their bike rather than ride. And to be clear, it is also difficult to walk your bike up this hill.

I cannot remember another time that Seattle Parks has closed the trail for mowing in this location (I searched my decade-worth of emails and news releases and couldn’t find any significant trail closures for mowing anywhere in the region). A detour like this is a major reduction in service for trail users. There are a lot of users who simply cannot climb these hills and who may be on the trail specifically because it is an old railroad bed and is therefore very flat.

Sometimes trail closures are unavoidable. But is this one of those times? I have questions out to Seattle Parks and will update this post when I hear back. Continue reading

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SDOT is studying options for fixing or replacing aging Magnolia bridge. No, not the one you’re thinking of.

Project map.

Photo looking down the wooden bridge surrounded by trees.

Photo from SDOT.

As you emerge from the tree cover on a bridge high above the train tracks, it’s easy to feel like you’ve found a magical secret hidden deep within Seattle. The 33rd Ave W Bridge is an old biking and walking bridge connecting W Government Way in Magnolia (not far from the main Discovery Park entrance) to the Ballard Locks.

When wet and especially when covered in wet leaves, the wooden bridge surface and its steep approaches can be very slick. But apparently, that’s the least of its problems. SDOT has identified “signs of deterioration.” And though it is currently safe to use, the city is starting work to identify options repair or replace it.

Crews will be out August 21 through and 26 studying the soil conditions to help inform the process. The bridge will remain open while they are working.

SDOT plans to have the first stage of design ready later this year, and there will be community outreach about the options this fall. As of now, there’s no word on expected costs. Sign up for project emails here.

More details from SDOT:

The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is evaluating the feasibility of options to rehabilitate or to replace the 33rd Ave W Pedestrian and Bicycle Bridge. While still safe to use, the bridge is showing signs of deterioration. This evaluation will be based on considerations like demand for walking and biking, short- and long-term residential impacts, bridge maintenance, cost, and environmental impacts. There are no plans to remove the bridge.

This bridge is an important part of Seattle’s biking and walking network, and links Magnolia to Ballard and the Burke-Gilman Trail. The bridge crosses an active railroad corridor, which runs through the city from the Industrial District in the south to Broadview in the northwest.

What’s next?

We’re  in the early design phase and are working toward the first milestone (30% design) in late 2020. This fall, we’re hosting an online engagement opportunity where the public will be able to learn about the project and ask questions.

We’ll be back in touch  with more information about this event and other ways to be involved in the project.

If you have questions, please email us at [email protected]gov or call us at (206) 256-5458.

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SDOT starts design work on major Beacon Hill bike route – UPDATED

UPDATE: Here’s the video of the city’s presentation:

Project map.Beacon Hill has one street that cuts across the grid to be the most direct route and is less steep than other streets nearby: Beacon Ave S.

Even with hardly any bike infrastructure at all, Beacon Ave is a fairly well-used bike route because it’s just the most direct route. But it can also be a nerve-racking experience to mix with car traffic on a street that changes its layout constantly. Sometimes there’s room for people to pass, then there isn’t, then there’s parking, then there’s a bus stop, then there’s a turn lane. And some sections go long distances without interruptions, meaning people driving can pick up a lot of speed.

But a truly safe and protected bike lane on Beacon Ave would change everything, especially for people south of Jefferson Park. It would also greatly improve the usefulness of the recently-completed connection to Columbia City via S Columbian Way.

Thanks to major pressure from neighbors and safe streets advocates during the 2019 city budget process, the City Council restored funding that Mayor Jenny Durkan cut from the Bicycle Master Plan budget and directed SDOT to invest in a major south Seattle bike lane like Beacon Ave or MLK Way S. So this is the result of that advocacy.

SDOT is currently in the early planning phase, and they are trying to identify the basic route the project will take before getting into the finer details. Though design work is underway, the project is not scheduled for construction until 2023.

SDOT is hosting an online presentation 5 to 6 p.m. today (Wednesday) about the project:

Attend the online presentation 5 to 6 PM Wednesday, August 12
Transcripts available in English, Simplified Chinese, Spanish, Tagalog, Traditional Chinese, and Vietnamese
Click here to join via Webex | Password: BeaconHillBike

South Segment

South of S Forest Street, there really aren’t other options. The project team is pretty much set on Beacon Ave as the route, which is great. This includes the section between Jefferson Park and the golf course, which includes a mostly useless center turn lane and a huge, long parking lot. There are several options here for creating protected bike lanes.  Continue reading

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