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.
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*):
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 →
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.
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.”
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 →
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.
You’ve probably heard this argument at some point as an excuse for why your town shouldn’t even try to build quality bike infrastructure. But half a century ago, death in traffic was rampant in the Netherlands just like the United States. Now they are among the safest in the world. How did they do it?
Well, there is a lot to unpack in that question, which is why Seattle Neighborhood Greenways is hosting Vancouver’s Melissa and Chris Bruntlett Friday evening for a presentation and discussion called “Building the Cycling City: Dutch Lessons for Seattle” (Seattle Bike Blog is a sponsor). Tickets are sliding scale and benefit Seattle Neighborhood Greenways. Buy them online.
Bellevue wants to know what you think of their demonstration bike lanes on 108th Ave NE, so take their online survey and let them know.
The city opened the new bike lanes this summer as a practical test of the concept through the heart of the downtown core. The lanes connect to the transit center and were accompanied by the launch of Lime e-bikes, which allow more people to use the new lanes.
They aren’t perfect, but the relatively low-budget lanes are a test of the concept that the city’s transportation planners say they will continue to improve depending on how things are working. So let them know!
Editor’s Note: Seattle Bike Blog reported yesterday on newly-released 2017 American Communities Survey data that estimates that the number of people biking to work is declining in Seattle. In response, the folks at Seattle Neighborhood Greenways wrote this guest post looking at the start-and-stop construction of a useful bike network in our city and discusses where we can go from here.
The number of people biking to work in Seattle has not been growing. This is disappointing, but it is neither surprising nor is it an inevitable trend.
60% of people in Seattle want to bike more but don’t. They want to bike more because biking for transportation makes us happier, keeps us healthier, saves us money, and reduces pollution.
But safety is the number one reason they choose not to.
The reality is that Seattle’s bicycle routes are still fragmented, inconsistent, and dangerous. We need quick implementation of a large-scale, connected network of safe, protected routes in order to see meaningful change in how people are choosing to get around.
After Sher Kung was tragically killed by a driver on 2nd Ave in 2014 the city acted quickly to build the first protected bike lane in downtown Seattle, but progress since then has been lethargic. In 2016, former Mayor Ed Murray put the Basic Bike Network on indefinite hold.
Seattle Neighborhood Greenways pushed back against this delay. Led by family bikers, we filled City Hall holding signs saying “My Family Bikes” and “Safe Streets Now,” and chanting “We can’t wait!” As a result of these protests, planning for the Basic Bike Network moved forward.
Former Seattle Neighborhood Greenways Executive Director Cathy Tuttle addresses a crowd gathered in May 2016 to urge city leaders to treat traffic violence like the public health emergency it is.
Bike commute trends, from the American Community Survey.
The latest Census survey does not look great for bike commuting, at least as the primary mode that people use to get to work on an everyday basis. The data is especially harsh for women biking to work, a count that has seemingly plummeted compared to recent years.
The annual American Community Survey asks residents which mode of transportation they used most to travel to work “last week.” So this is not a measure of total biking, only bike commuting. And there is no accounting for mixed trips, where someone bikes (or uses bike share) to connect to transit or for people who bike some days but not others. And by asking “last week,” a response will be very weather dependent. So, for example, many of the people who started biking to UW Station when it opened in 2016 would be filed under public transit, not biking.
The survey comes out annually, and the data released this week is from 2017. The data can vary quite significantly from year-to-year, so it’s typically not a good idea to take a single year of data too seriously until you see a multi-year trend. For example, we had a very positive survey in 2012 that, after looking at the trends, was probably an overestimate (perhaps 2015 as well).
I am similarly a bit skeptical of the 2017 numbers, which seem almost impossibly low and don’t seem to match up with the Fremont Bridge numbers. Those counts — which include all bike trips, not just commute trips — have been fairly steady:
Fremont Bridge annual bike trip counts are much less variable than the Census survey. And the promising news is that 2018 Fremont Bridge counts are way up compared to 2017.
Streets are not just for transportation, they are also places where city life happens. But Mayor Jenny Durkan’s proposed budget apparently doesn’t see them that way, because it eliminates the city’s modest open streets and pavement-to-parks budgets.
But the budget is not all bad news. It does include significant increases in sidewalk repair and new sidewalks. And it includes a very big increase in funding and staff for building curb cuts, though that is not exactly coming from the goodness of the Mayor’s heart. The city settled a lawsuit last year requiring them to build thousands of new curb cuts. But still, this is exciting to see in action.
The budget also includes $1.1M more for the Northgate Bridge, $1.4M increase for neighborhood greenways near schools and $500K for community-requested lighting upgrades along a planned King Street neighborhood greenway. The city will also spend $1M on a congestion pricing study. Funds for building the Ballard Missing Link are preserved, though the trail opponents’ appeal is still working its way through King County Superior Court. The latest court schedule has pushed oral arguments into December.
The 2018 Summer Parkways events already quietly did not happen, so perhaps it is not much of a surprise to see that reflected in the budget for next year. This will not affect Bicycle Sundays on Lake Washington Boulevard, which is run by the Parks District. But it’s a shame to see the city give up on what could be an amazing community-building use of our streets after just a handful of tries. Sure, the first few tries didn’t take off like Portland’s incredible Sunday Parkways program, but I wish the city dedicated itself to revamping the event and trying different ideas rather than throwing in the towel. Plans were in the works for a bigger downtown Civlovia-style event before the program was cancelled.
If folks are inspired by major open streets events like Ciclovia in Bogota or CicLAvia in Los Angeles, now is a good time to get organized. The city is clearly not in the mood to organize such a project itself, so it’s up to the people to get together and create a vision for an amazing Seattle street party supported by city funding. Because building community is a vital use our public spaces and worthy of SDOT funding. Continue reading →
Dr. Adonia Lugo is returning to Seattle Saturday to talk about her book Bicycle/Race: Transportation, Culture, & Resistance.
Lugo lived in Seattle for a spell a few years back while working on her anthropology dissertation on bicycle culture. Before that, she was a founder of Los Angeles’ massive open streets event CicLAvia. While in Seattle, she created the Seattle Bike Justice Project and helped Seattle Bike Blog organize the 2011 Safe Streets Social. Since leaving Seattle, Lugo has worked for the League of American Bicyclists, has contributed to and edited the academic collection Bicycle Justice and Urban Transformation, and has been an organizer of The Untokening.
Basically, Adonia is awesome (and, full disclosure, a friend), and you should go to G&O Family Cyclery in Greenwood at 6 p.m. Saturday evening to hear her speak.
As an anthropologist, much of her work is very academic. But Bicycle/Race, published this year by Microcosm Publishing, is written for everyone, reading more like a memoir of her adventures studying and leading US bike culture.
A walk through three WA State ecosystems in as many parking spaces, from Park(ing) Day 2014.
Park(ing) Day is one of my favorite holidays. For one day, people imagine better ways we could use just a tiny percentage of all the precious city space typically reserved for storing cars.
The idea started in 2005 in San Francisco and has since spread across the world. Originally, and still in many places, participants operated subversively and without official permission. But Seattle has taken a more proactive approach by not only encouraging the day of creativity, but also organizing an easy and free permit process for participants.
At a time when SDOT seems unable to escape bad headlines and goes from interim Director to interim Director without clear leadership, a day of pure fun and creativity may be just what the department needs. It’s a chance to celebrate the fun side of managing public spaces.
The plan for 35th Ave NE. Or is it? We can’t tell you because secret, ongoing meetings are confidential.
SDOT and Mayor Jenny Durkan’s Office (UPDATE 9/20: and Councilmember Rob Johnson’s Office) has convened a confidential mediation session between a handful of people who support and oppose bike lanes at part of the city’s under-construction 35th Ave NE repaving project.
Seattle Bike Blog has been working for a while to learn details about these mediation sessions — which are paid for by public funds and could influence public investments on a public street — but has been unable to receive times and locations for the meetings so I can report about them for you.
UPDATE 9/19: Since publication, Twitter user @bruteforceblog noted that the city’s chosen moderator John A Howell of Cedar River Group donated not only to Mayor Jenny Durkan’s campaign ($200) (UPDATE 9/20: and $100 to Councilmember Johnson’s 2015 campaign) but also to the failed 2009 City Council campaign of Jordan Royer, according to the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission. Royer is an organizer of the bike lane opposition, a committee officer of the group’s new political action committee and a party to the mediation. Royer, seen here embracing Mayor Durkan during a campaign event, also donated $500 to Durkan’s campaign. In 2009, Howell donated to Royer’s campaign on two occasions totaling $250. Another Cedar River Group employee, Tom Byers, donated another $400 to Royer bringing the firm’s reported total to $650.
I have an email out to both the Mayor’s Office and Howell asking how he was chosen for this role, whether this connection to a member of the opposition was disclosed and whether they see this as a conflict of interest. I will update this when/if I hear back. UPDATE: Howell emailed to say he did disclose his ties to Royer and does not think it is a conflict of interest:
I worked for Jordan Royer’s father in the 1970’s and 80’s. As a result, I have known Jordan for 40 years. I disclosed this to city officials. I have friends and colleagues on both sides of the debate about 35th Ave. I personally have not sided with either perspective, and will not do so. To answer your question about a 9 year old contribution to a city council race, I do not see that as a conflict.
UDPATE 9/20: Councilmember Johnson called to defend the talks, saying he reached out to Howell because he thought his relationship with Royer would be helpful.
“[Howell] is one of if not the most accomplished mediator and facilitator I’ve ever worked with,” Johnson said. “Between the unlit fireworks and gas cans, the death threats, the threat of real protest in front of people’s houses, and the real impact it is having on neighborly relations in the neighborhood, I had hoped that hiring John would allow people to come together and really take the temperature down.
“This isn’t a conspiracy by the Mayor’s Office.”
Erica Barnett at the C Is For Crank reported Tuesday that the mediation is costing taxpayers $14,000, and Seattle Bike Blog has learned that this money is coming from SDOT (UPDATE: An SDOT spokesperson confirmed that the funds are coming from the Bicycle Program). Barnett also reports that the completion of the project, which is already under construction, may be delayed because “SDOT is having an ongoing dialogue with the communities impacted by these projects,” according to a presentation to the City Council Transportation Committee (PDF).
There is no doubt that the opposition to 35th Ave NE bike lanes has been very organized. Several people behind the Save 35th Ave NE group have even formed a political action committee called Neighborhoods For Smart Streets PAC. Because saying people are not smart if they don’t agree car parking is more important than safety, that’s a great way to engage with your neighbors.
But regardless of the outcome, confidential mediation is an inappropriate way to make decisions about public investments, especially when we already have official policies and plans to guide such decisions. How are the participants for the mediation chosen? How do we know every Seattle resident is appropriately represented in these talks? Several of the anti-bike lane organizers happen to be lawyers. Do all parties have equal access to lawyers?
35th Ave NE passes though a very wealthy and white neighborhood compared to the rest of the city, but the investment to spend millions to repave that street is being made by all of us no matter where we live. Every street is of citywide importance. That’s why we make plans like the Bicycle Master Plan or policies like the Complete Streets Ordinance and the elected City Council passes them in the full light of day. Continue reading →
I thought we had already established this a few years ago during public outreach for Roosevelt RapidRide, but SDOT has tried again to find an alternative to building bike lanes on Eastlake Ave. And, just like before, the results are clear that Eastlake is the only good option.
The project team presented the latest study to the Seattle Bicycle Advisory Board earlier this month, and they found that the previously planned protected bike lanes on Eastlake are the best option for the project by essentially every measure other than car parking. They conducted a serious study of nine options, then narrowed that down to four, then found what anyone who bikes in the area could have told them: Eastlake is the only continuous option without very steep climbs that serves Eastlake businesses and connects the U Bridge to downtown.
And let’s not forget that the final phase of SR 520 work should include a bike connection from Eastlake to the 520 Trail, making Eastlake Ave even more important.
The study explored a new concept for the route that is, frankly, quite baffling. The city would build a protected bike lane northbound on Eastlake Ave, but would route people headed southbound down a steep 11 percent grade hill on E Roanoke Street to Yale Ave E, which curves to meet back up with Eastlake south of the neighborhood’s main business district (the city’s study did not seem to factor downhill grade in its analysis even though a steep downhill can also be a barrier to biking, especially if you have to make a turn mid-hill like this plan would require). One version would turn Yale into a one-way neighborhood greenway, which is not really a thing. Another version would include a protected bike lane on Yale, which would remove even more car parking than the Eastlake bike lanes.
The idea of splitting the bike route in this way is inherently flawed and would result in people biking southbound on Eastlake Ave without a bike lane. Not only is it confusing to essentially detour one direction of the bike route, but people headed southbound would have no safe way to access the neighborhood’s business district.
And since Eastlake Ave is where 39 of 40 reported bike-involved collisions occurred between 2012 and 2017, addressing bike safety on Eastlake Ave should be paramount.
An 18-year-old who was hospitalized this week after a crash near the University Bridge may be the first victim of a bike share vandal who cut the brake lines on his Lime e-bike. The teen is in stable condition, reports Gabe Cohen of KOMO News.
If caught, the person who cut those brakes could be charged with assault, police told KOMO. But catching the suspect will be the hard part.
Seattle Police recently released surveillance video of one person casually snipping brake cables in Sodo. You get the idea from the video that this is not the first time the suspect has cut bike cables. Brake cables on bike share bikes have been cut all over the city, and it’s not clear if this one suspect is just very prolific or whether multiple people are cutting them.
It’s very disturbing behavior to sabotage bikes, risking random strangers’ lives. Unlike most forms of vandalism, this is not just property damage.
You can protect yourself by making it a habit to check the brakes before you start pedaling, not only checking whether the levers move but also confirming they are stopping the wheels. This is in general a good idea even with your personal bike just in case a thief or vandal has tampered with the brakes since you locked it up. But the reality is that everyone is not going to check their brakes every single time they get on a bike.
We hope the victim heals up, and I hope whoever is doing this stops before anyone else gets hurt.
Seattle’s Bicycle Master Plan identifies 474 miles of new or upgraded bike routes to be constructed by 2034. But Cascade Bicycle Club launched a campaign this week called Connect Seattle to encourage the city to follow through on a handful of major city-wide routes by 2021.
The hard work to make this citywide vision a reality will likely happen at the neighborhood level, as has been the case for nearly every bike lane project in the city. But perhaps it would be good to have a reminder of how each project fits into a citywide vision.
The goal of the campaign is to get to 10 percent mode share by completing these projects over the next three years. There are certainly many important projects and neighborhoods missing from this map. But if these routes were all completed by 2021, much of the city would be much easier and safer to navigate by bike.
As more Seattleites look for fast, affordable transportation options, we envision a Seattle where 1 in 10 trips is made by bike.
Making that vision a reality isn’t about hitting a magic number. It’s about creating happier, healthier and more inclusive neighborhoods – connected by bike – all across Seattle. We envision a Seattle where everyone, regardless of how we look or where we live, has the choice to hop on a bike to get to the store, to commute to school or work, or to cross town to visit friends and family for dinner.
The UW Police Department is trialing the idea of a free bike valet service at UW Station this week in an attempt to help fight bike theft and get more bikes registered on the free bicycle database Bike Index. You do not need to be a UW student or staff to participate.
The valet will be staffed 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday this week only, and they will have computers ready to help you register your bike online if you have not done so already.
There is only space in the pilot service for 100 bikes, so you may need to get there early to take advantage of the service. They’ll be set up just north of the station in front of Husky Stadium.
UW Station’s location just off the Burke-Gilman Trail has made it a major bike-to-transit connection. Bike racks filled up immediately after opening as people from all over northeast and north-central Seattle realized that biking to the train is the easiest and often fastest way to get around. Sound Transit has since added more bike parking to help with the crunch, but the station could be a good place for something a bit more organized. UW already offers a bike valet service to handle the influx of bikes during home games at Husky Stadium.
Bike Index is a non-profit, nationwide database of bikes. It’s primary use is to serve as a one-stop shop for locating stolen bike listings. But very often, people have no record of their bike’s serial number and other identifying information. So Bike Index encourages people to register their bikes now. Then, if it is unfortunately stolen later, the details are all recorded and ready for you to post them quickly. The quicker a listing is posted and the more accurate its details, the more likely you are to get your bike back if police, a bike shop or a helpful community member finds it.
Learn about Seattle Neighborhood Greenways’ Volunteer Corps, our Theory of Change, and best practices for being an effective safe streets advocate. Seattle Neighborhood Greenways is powered by people like you who work to make our streets safer and more comfortable … Continue reading →
Details: Volunteer Repair Parties (VRP) are drop-in, weekly bike repair parties for adults (age 18 and up). You do not need to be a skilled bike mechanic to help out. This is how most volunteers with Bike Works get their … Continue reading →
Details: Volunteer Repair Parties (VRP) are drop-in, weekly bike repair parties for adults (age 18 and up). You do not need to be a skilled bike mechanic to help out. This is how most volunteers with Bike Works get their … Continue reading →
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