On vacation

A kid on an adult's shoulders walking next to a creek. Will return next week.

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Deadline to apply for the Bicycle Advisory Board is June 26

The deadline to apply for a spot on the volunteer Bicycle Advisory Board is Sunday, June 26.

This term on the Board may be particularly impactful since the Board should play a significant role in crafting the Seattle Transportation Plan, which will guide the city’s Comprehensive Plan and the next major transportation funding measure.

The SDOT Blog has more info and directions for how to apply. Or you can jump straight to the application page via the Boards and Commissions website (select “Apply to a Board or Commission” then follow the link to “submit your application.”)

Spots are also open on the Transit and Freight Advisory Boards.

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People For Bikes ranks Seattle as the #3 bike-friendly big U.S. city

Only Brooklyn and San Francisco ranked higher than Seattle in the 2022 list of the most bike-friendly big (300,000+ population) U.S. cities by national non-profit advocacy organization People For Bikes. Portland, Oregon, ranked 5th behind Queens.

These rankings are of course a rather imperfect science, but they’re interesting (NOTE: The Seattle page says it is the #4 big city, but their list of big cities puts Seattle at #3. I’m going with #3 since I can’t figure out what the 3rd city in front of Seattle would be). People For Bikes created a list of criteria based on the existing bike network, ridership, safety and some community response elements such as “how safe people feel riding a bike in their city.” Here’s a visual of Seattle’s results:

a diamond-shape graphic showing seattle as better than average in awareness, network, ridership, and safetyThey also have a bike network analysis tool that spits out a map of “how well bike networks connect people with the paces they want to go.” That’s a pretty tough goal to reliably measure, but it’s interesting to explore their results:

Continue reading

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Do Not Hold The Doors (a Sound Transit music video)

I made a Sound Transit piano. I don’t know why I did it, but I did. So then I wrote a song. Then I made a video for that song. I have no regrets.

The samples were from a public disclosure request by Kevin Wallace back in 2016. He requested all the audio files from Sound Transit’s light rail service, and then posted the files online. I for some reason took those files and dropped them into the Cubase drum sampler Groove Agent so that I could play Samantha’s robotic voice on my piano. My train-loving four year old had a good time playing it. So did I.

After spending some time with the tracks, I realized that Samantha sure talks a lot about doors. So I made a song about them. Then I took videos from the Sound Transit YouTube account and mixed those into a music video.

Here’s a making-of video about the process:

If you make your own Sound Transit song, be sure to post it in the comments below! I’d love to hear it.

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Add your ideas for improvements to the Seattle Transportation Plan map

Screenshot of city comments map.

Screenshot of the map as of June 16. From what I can tell after clicking around randomly for a while, nearly every comment is about safety, walking, biking or transit. Add your comments here.

The city is currently developing a major, all-inclusive transportation plan they are calling the Seattle Transportation Plan. The plan covers “more than just roads,” according to the city’s online engagement tool. It also includes “sidewalks, bridges, stairways, transit, paths and trails, bike lanes, crosswalks, public spaces like street cafes and benches, and much more.”

The plan could supersede the Bicycle Master Plan, which passed in 2014 after years of development and public outreach. It will also form the basis for the next major city transportation funding measure to replace the Move Seattle Levy, which expires at the end of 2024. The scale of the unfunded needs identified during the Transportation Plan process will likely form the basis for Move Seattle’s replacement. So because we need our city to go big and bold on walking, biking and transit investments, we first need to make sure the Plan identifies these needs.

This is where you come in. You can go online right now and add comments to the city’s map of “challenges and opportunities.” Even if your idea is already there from someone else, add it again in your own voice. There are already hundreds of comments, and nearly all of them are about making streets safer or more welcoming to people walking or biking. Let’s keep that going. You can also leave a general comment if you don’t have particular spots to identify.

The city is also hosting a virtual meeting 6 p.m. June 21. Details:

Join us for a virtual meeting on June 21, 2022 at 6 pm!

This meeting will be an opportunity to share your ideas for the future of transportation in Seattle and to share your comments on the Environmental Impact Statement.

How to participate:
https://us06web.zoom.us/j/87467428442

Seattle has an incredible opportunity here to lead the nation in making transformative investments in walking, biking and transit. With a potential funding measure due up during a Presidential election year, the city could go really big with its dreams as the high voter turnout helps push the measure over the top. But they will need big, attractive goals to secure the votes needed, and this plan can set those goals.

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How to bike naked in the revamped Fremont Solstice Parade 2022

Solstice bike route map.

From the Solstice Cyclists website. Visit the site for a more specific description. Or just show up and follow the crowd.

For the first time since 2019, the Fremont Solstice Parade is back. And of course that means hundreds of people are getting ready to strip down Saturday (June 18), paint their bodies and ride their bikes ahead of the official parade. And this time, the meet-up is happening at Gas Works Park.

Crashing the Solstice Parade with a naked or body-painted bike ride has been a tradition since the early 1990s, but the ride gained popularity in the 2000s and 2010s as the number of riders increased to hundreds or even thousands some years. I highly recommend the documentary Beyond Naked, which covers the history of the event in the lead-up to the 2011 ride. That film is also a good reminder that even somewhat chilly and drizzly weather won’t stop the Fremont Solstice Parade.

The 2022 parade route has significantly changed, and so has the biking plan. Perhaps most notably, there is still no big 2022 paint party location. “We do not yet have a paint party location that will accommodate the bulk of the riders for this year,” notes the Solstice Cyclists website. You can check back there to see if this changes, but you should plan on another option. Just, you know, make sure you help your friend clean their backyard when you’re done.

Here’s the schedule for participation in the bike ride:

Morning: Paint up, then ride to Gas Works Park.

1:00 -1:25 Form up at Gas Works

1:25-1:45 Ride from Gas Works Park to parade route

1:45-3:00? Loop on parade route as desired, then exit to Gas Works or beyond.

If you have never ridden in the parade before, the Solstice Cyclists FAQ is full of helpful information and advice. But here are some major items to know:

This event happens in public, obviously, so that means people will be taking photos. So take that into consideration with your costuming. It’s not in the spirit of the event for creepy dudes to be taking lots of photos, but it could happen. Also, don’t be that guy.

The best “paints” to use are face paints and theatrical make-up liquids and cakes. The Solstice Cyclists list these brands as popular options:

  • Mehron
  • Diamond FX
  • Wolfe FX
  • Kryolan Aquacolor
  • Ben Nye
  • Snazaroo

Many riders have used acrylic paint in years past, but just know it’s not meant for use on bodies. And don’t bother trying to use tempera paint. It will flake off.

Apply sunscreen and give it time to soak in before applying paints. It’s the afternoon of Solstice weekend! The strongest sunlight of the entire year.

Make sure you have a way to carry your clothes with you on the ride so you can get dressed at the end.

A plastic bag or saddle cover for your bike seat is a good idea.

Be creative, express yourself and have fun!

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Thorness: Celebrating the 125th anniversary of the Lake Washington Bike Path

Newspaper clipping headline: Bicycle Path Is No More

From the June 23, 1905 issue of The Seattle Daily Times. Male newswriters back then were seemingly incapable of writing about bicycling without saying something pervy about women who biked.

The Lake Washington Bike Path turns 125 this year! Or it would if it weren’t torn up in 1905 to build Interlaken Boulevard.

Bill Thorness, author of “Cycling the Pacific Coast” and “Biking Puget Sound,” wrote a story for the Seattle Times about the history of the old path. Thorness also spoke with yours truly to fill out some of the history:

In a way, said Tom Fucoloro of Seattle Bike Blog, “bike paths themselves shaped the city.” The city’s roads, its neighborhoods, and parks like Roanoke Park got their start thanks to bicyclists.

Fucoloro, whose book on Seattle’s cycling history, “Pedaling Uphill in the Rain,” is due out from University of Washington Press next year, said that, as the last decade of the 19th century began, “Seattle was behind the bike craze because there wasn’t anywhere to ride your bike.” A bike path network was envisioned. Cotterill, who would later become mayor and was also a leader of the Queen City Cycling Club, traced 25 miles of paths around the city.

Fevered bike club members raised money, volunteered labor and lobbied for progress. Along with the trail to Lake Washington, another traced Magnolia Bluff to what is now Discovery Park. They encircled Lake Union, went to Fremont, linked to Ballard, then went on to Green Lake and circled that, too. Many of those areas had yet to be platted for homes.

Read more…

Thorness is leading a Lake Washington Bike Path history ride June 19, and there are still a few spots left. Tickets are $50, which will go to the Phinney Neighborhood Association.

If you’re into the history of this path, you should watch my video where I searched for remnants of the old path route.

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How To Bike In Seattle: Finding a good route

This is part of our ongoing How To Bike In Seattle series, a collection of posts to help folks get rolling around this beautiful place.

OK, so you’ve decided you want to start biking around Seattle for transportation. But how do you find a good route to ride?

By far the best way to find a great route is to ride with a friend who knows the area. So for all you who are already familiar with biking in town, offer this to your friends. Leave early, communicate clearly and ride at whatever speed the new rider feels comfortable. Riding with someone makes the whole experience of getting started much less intimidating. Many people just need to ride a route one time before they feel reasonably comfortable riding it on their own.

If you don’t have a friend to ride with, the fastest and easiest way to get started is to plug your destination into Google or Apple Maps, select bike directions and follow those. These services rarely pick the best routes, but they usually spit out usable options. If they lead you to a street that looks too busy (for example, they both tend to suggest busy sections of Rainier Ave S), stop and re-map from your new location to see if they suggest an alternative.

If you want to do a little more research into routes before you get started, there are a handful of helpful tools to get you started. You can find an updated list of area bike maps on our Seattle Area Bike Maps page.

Let’s start with the official 2022 Seattle Bike Map (PDF):

2022 Seattle Bike Map. Continue reading

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Bike Route Alert 6/13-24: Burke-Gilman Trail work in Kenmore will require slowdowns, possibly some walking

Map of the construction closure.King County Parks will be making pavement repairs to the Burke-Gilman Trail between 47th Ave NE and 61st Ave NE in Kenmore between June 13 and 24. The good news is that users will be able to get by the work area without a big, hilly detour like we’ve seen in the past. However, you should expect delays and possibly some walking.

More details from King County Parks:

Pavement repairs will be conducted on the Burke-Gilman Trail from 47th Ave NE to 61st Ave NE in Kenmore from Monday 6/13 – Friday 6/24 between the hours of 7 AM & 5 PM. The trail will be accessible via designated detours on the shoulder during construction hours, & open outside of construction hours. Bicyclists should expect to walk bikes in the construction zone, & commuters should expect intermittent closures of up to 15 minutes.”

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Governor Inslee helps introduce new Leafline Trails vision map while on a bike

Screenshot of Jay Inslee taken from his phone mounted on his handlebars.

Governor Inslee on a bike during the event.

The Leafline Trails Coalition got a special guest for their online event announcing their new 900-mile regional trails vision: Governor Jay Inslee, who called in from a bike on the Sound to Olympics Trail in Kitsap County.

The Governor called in to voice support for the trails vision, which spans King, Kitsap, Pierce and Snohomish Counties. It happens around the 7:00 mark in the video recording of the event. He called it “the most exciting mapping project since Peter Puget mapped the shores of Puget Sound in 1792.”

Of the 900-mile network, 500 miles are already open. So the region is already halfway there.

The Leafline Trails Coalition started in 2019 as a way to encourage and coordinate a trail network that crosses city and county lines. It includes public partners from cities and counties as well as private partners like REI and community organizations. Below is the print version of the map. You can also explore a digital version. You can also see the criteria for inclusion in the map (PDF).

Leafline Trail Network map

More from Leafline: Continue reading

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Shout out to the person I just saw biking in shorts and short sleeves with Bar Mitts still on your handlebars. You’ve been fooled before, and you will not be fooled again. I respect that.

Posted on by Tom Fucoloro | 1 Comment

Building my kid’s loft bed by bike

A water pipe burst inside the wall of my kid’s bedroom a week ago, so it has been a stressful and expensive week of sleeping at a friend’s house, cleaning stuff and waiting for stuff to dry. So much waiting.

However, the whole fiasco did give me the push I needed to finally build the loft bed I had been promising the kid for at least a year. After drawing out the plans with my friend Danny (who knows a lot more about carpentry than I do), we headed to Dunn Lumber to acquire the materials: One sheet of dry wall, two sheets of 3/4″ plywood and five 2x4s. When the salesperson asked what vehicle I drove so the lumber yard person could find me, I said, “A bicycle trailer.”

I love hauling stuff by bike. Not only is it fun, it’s also often easier than using many motor vehicles. A lot of cars can’t fit a full 8×4 sheet inside, so your only option is to try to strap it to the top. And driving with stuff on top of a car isn’t fun, it’s stressful. A pickup truck or large van can fit lumber just fine, but where’s the adventure in that?

Bike with a trailer loaded up with lumber.

I pulled the trailer with the e-assist cargo bike, which did make the hill-climbing quite a bit easier.

Continue reading

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Bike Route Alert 6/6: Return of the Montlake Blvd detour

Map of the soon-to-be closed trail under SR 520 east of Montlake Blvd.

Map of the soon-to-be-closed trail from WSDOT.

Photo of a person biking on the trail near the bridge.The trail under the 520 Bridge east of Montlake Boulevard will close permanently June 6 as crews begin work on a new biking and walking bridge over the freeway, according to WSDOT.

The trail opened in March 2020 and was labeled as a temporary route, but it was very welcome at the time. After crews closed the 24th Ave E bridge, which had formerly been the primary bike route, the biking and walking detour to Montlake Blvd was not great. The old skinny sidewalk was sorely inadequate for a two-way biking and walking route, and the state chose not to make extra space on the boulevard to make the detour better.

Unfortunately, people will once again need to detour to Montlake Blvd for an extended period of time. This time, however, they will detour to an under-construction Montlake Blvd. as crews work to significantly expand the roadway as part of the $4.51 billion freeway expansion project (the total climbs to $5.11 billion when you add in the “Rest of the West” connection to Roanoke and I-5). Hopefully the biking and walking detour will not be as stressful as before, though that remains to be seen.

People will be need to deal with a detour until the new biking and walking bridge or the new path along 24th Ave E are open, currently scheduled for full completion in 2023. Hopefully a usable alternative will open as soon as possible.

concept map of the final project.

The finished project.

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Where are the people demanding safer roadways for driving?

Traffic camera image showing a backup on the bridge.

WSDOT traffic camera image of the collision site.

Biking to preschool this morning, as my daughter and I biked across the University Bridge like we do every morning, we saw some Seattle Police boats fishing in the calm waters of Lake Union below us. But they weren’t searching for fish, they were searching for a human being, the victim of a horrific act of violence hundreds of feet above the water.

The exact details are not all clear yet, but several people reported via Twitter that they saw a stalled vehicle on the bridge on the I-5 Ship Canal Bridge before two cars collided. The impact was so powerful that the vehicles rolled over. One person was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence. But the occupant of the other car was missing. The Harbor Patrol found their body hours later. The impact had apparently thrown them over the side of the towering freeway bridge and down hundreds of feet to the lake below.

Our deepest condolences go to this person’s friends and family.

Seattle Police tweet: #Update: SPD Divers have recovered the missing driver from the water below the bridge. WSP will conduct the crash investigation.I didn’t tell my daughter what the boats were doing in the water this morning, but I knew because I had seen the news reports before we left the home. My feed was full of news about the traffic backup. I-5 was closed southbound, and the traffic backup was going to be big. Here this person experienced unimaginable violence, and the news was mostly about a traffic jam. How can our society be so callous about human tragedy?

This morning’s fatality was exceptionally dramatic, but it is otherwise horribly common. 538 people died in Washington State traffic collisions in 2019. Of those, 327 were drivers or passengers in cars. Why do people who drive accept the level of danger they face every day traveling our highways and city streets? Where is the grassroots organization of car drivers demanding safer roadways? These deaths are preventable. This doesn’t happen everywhere, and there are known solutions that make roadways safer. Why is there no organization of drivers demanding that our public agencies implement solutions that could save lives? Continue reading

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RIP Gan Hao Li

A couple in front of water and tall buildings in Shanghai.

Gan Hao Li and Cui in Shanghai. Photo courtesy of Linda Vonheim to the Times.

The person killed while biking in SoDo May 11 has been identified as Gan Hao Li, the Seattle Times reports. He was 73.

Our deepest condolences to his loved ones.

Li immigrated from China and lived at Hirabayashi Place in Chinatown International District with his wife Cui. David Kroman at the Times spoke to several in his building about Li.

“He and his wife were just enjoying their retirement, growing old together,” [former building manager Linda] Vonheim said through tears, “and now that’s been taken away from her.” […]

“He was just a great man, one of the pillars of our community at Hirabayashi,” she said. “If you needed help he would be right there. He would never say no to anybody.”

Crystal Ng also lives in Hirabayashi Place and started to suspect something was wrong when she didn’t see his bike in the storage area. Ng often helped Li, who spoke little English, communicate with others in the building. “He always asked me if I’d had dinner yet and tell me that he hadn’t seen me for a long time,” she told the Times.

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Photo of parents and kids biking on a trail together. I’m testing the concept of having space on the blog for microposts. Basically, the kind of thing I might post to Twitter but aren’t fleshed out into a full story. These would not have headlines and would not be sent to email subscribers. Instead, they would sort of be sandwiched between longer posts.

What do you think?

Posted on by Tom Fucoloro | 6 Comments

Sunday: Hey parents, Kidical Mass is back!

Event poster with a photo of kids and adults biking together.After taking a few years off due to the pandemic, Kidical Mass is back. The celebration of family biking will host its first event of the 2020s Sunday as part of the first Bicycle Weekend on Lake Washington Blvd. Meet 10 a.m. in the Mount Baker Beach parking lot for a 3-mile ride down the car-free boulevard to Seward Park for a picnic and some playground time.

Seattle has gained a lot of new parents in since 2019, and I am very excited for them to discover Kidical Mass. It’s a very short, very slow and very patient group ride that welcomes people biking with kids on their bikes as well as biking with kids who are learning to ride. The ride also makes stops for playtime and snacks, making it a great opportunity to meet other biking families or get family biking advice.

Anyone who is not yet set up for family biking but is interested in learning more should also swing by the picnic. Familybike Seattle, the host of Kidical Mass, is a non-profit organization whose mission is to help more families bike. They can share all kinds of resources and advice. They are also very nice.

See the event listing for more details.

Photo of parents and kids biking on a trail together.

Kidical Mass in 2018.

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Happy Bike Everywhere Day! + Map of stations

Happy Bike Everywhere Day!

This is the first return to form for the long-standing bike day formerly known as “Bike-to-Work Day.” The Cascade Bicycle Club-organized event is one of my favorite days of the year because there are usually a lot of people biking to work for either the first time or for the first time in a long time. So you can get a glimpse into the near future when biking has increased even more.

People also host “celebration stations” all over the area, which are a nice morning stop for people headed to 9 to 5 jobs. Most are open from 7 to 9 a.m., though some stations have longer hours or will be open in the early evening. Check the map for details about each one. But they are also fun to visit for those who don’t work 9 to 5 because, well, you can spend all morning biking from station to station. If you play it right, you can eat a full breakfast and drink an irresponsible amount of coffee, all for free.

This year will still not be back to full strength the way it was before the pandemic, but I’m very happy to see it back in any form.

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How to play Seattle Bike Bingo 2022

Front of the bingo card.Bike Bingo is back! Bicycle Benefits launched its 2022 Seattle bike-friendly business game this month, and it runs through the end of October.

The game is simple: Ride your bike to the local businesses on your card and get something there. Participating businesses have cards for sale for $3. They should also have Bicycle Benefits stickers for $5. Hand them your card and they will give you a stamp. Get 5 in a row to unlock a reward, such as a free chocolate bar from Theo or a movie pass to Central Cinema. If you keep going, you unlock another reward with every row. Fill the whole card to unlock even more rewards, but you’re going to have to bike all around town to accomplish this feat. You gotta earn it.

More details from Bicycle Benefits: Continue reading

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Fact-checking SDOT’s excuses for not making Rainier Ave safer

Rainier Ave S bus lanes project map with phase 1 between South Edmunds and S Walden Streets and Phase 2 between Walden and South Massachusetts Street.The good news is that  SDOT is redesigning one of the worst stretches of roadway in the city: Rainier Avenue S between Columbia City and I-90. The bad news is that their design still prioritizes car movement above transit mobility and safety, especially for people walking and biking.

This design is simply not good enough. We are in the midst of a serious road safety crisis, especially in South Seattle. This roadway is very wide and is the only direct route between Rainier Valley and the city center. It must be safe and accessible for everyone. As Councilmember Tammy Morales said this week, “There is no excuse for not increasing the safety of our streets and sidewalks for the people of Seattle.”

At the bottom of SDOT’s project page for the Rainier project, staff responded to the consistent and persistent request from residents that the roadway should have safe bike lanes. As first noted by Ryan Packer, the response reveals a frankly terrifying lack of understanding of both the law and the city’s existing plans and policies concerning bicycling. It unfortunately needs a line-by-line analysis:

We’ve heard that Rainier Ave S is an important street for people biking because it is often the flattest and most direct route.

Yep! So they know that bike lanes are needed.

Rainier Ave S is also an important and frequently used route for transit, freight, and other vehicles. We must balance these needs and priorities when making decisions about changes to the street and the limited right-of-way space.

“Balance these needs.” On this metaphorical scale, how much does a person’s life weigh?

To date, we’ve heard that the community’s top two priorities for Rainier Ave S are to reduce crashes and keep buses moving.

“Reduce crashes.” Notice how this is actually a different goal than “safety.” People walking and biking are involved in about 7% of Seattle traffic collisions, but they account for 66% of traffic deaths. We are not asking for a general reduction in crashes, we are asking for specific safety improvements.

People biking are allowed to travel in curb-side bus-only lanes in accordance with Washington State law. The bus-only lanes on Rainier Ave S will be curb lanes, meaning that people biking are allowed to travel in these lanes.

This is accurate.

People biking in curb-side bus lanes should remember that transit has the priority and buses will often make in-lane stops.

This is extremely wrong and a bit troubling. Buses do not have priority over people biking even in a bus lane. The regular rules of the road apply. If a person is biking in the bus lane, then the bus driver needs to follow RCW 46.61.110 like any other vehicle driver. That means they must “move completely into a lane to the left of the right lane when it is safe to do so.” If the city does not want someone on a bike to be in the way of buses, then they need to build a bike lane.

People biking in bus-only lanes also need to follow the rules of Washington State law, including riding as near to the right side of the lane as possible if traveling at a slower speed than the rest of traffic.

This is also extremely wrong and a bit troubling. The law absolutely and very intentionally does not say a person biking must ride “as near to the right side of the lane as possible.” (emphasis mine). It says they “shall ride as near to the right side of the right through lane as is safe.” People biking are allowed to ride in the lane position that best keeps them safe because of course they are. It is simply unsafe to squeeze next to the curb to allow a car or a giant bus to pass you, and nobody should do this. Your life and safety is the most important priority at all times.

While bike lanes are not currently planned for Rainier Ave S, nor are they included in the Bike Master Plan, we are making other changes to Rainier Ave S that will improve conditions for people walking, biking, and rolling.

Rainier Ave S is, in fact, included in the Bike Master Plan. It was included as a part of the plan’s top-priority “Citywide Network,” which is why it got a thick blue line representing “protected bike lane.” The project team linked to the plan, but they apparently never bothered to look at it. I don’t understand how this happened, but it’s a sign that they need to go back and redo their work. Continue reading

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