Trail Alert: Burke-Gilman Trail detour along Seaview

Approximate work area. Image from Google Street View.

Work is starting on a Seattle Public Utilities project that will detour the Burke-Gilman Trail along a stretch of Seaview Ave NW in Ballard so crews can stage equipment.

Unfortunately, the detour plans currently say that people biking will be “encouraged to walk their bikes through the detour,” which should last a month.

Details from SPU:

Construction equipment for Seattle Public Utilities’ Pump Station 43 Emergency Sewer Force Main Replacement project will impact the 5500 block of Seaview Avenue Northwest and the Burke-Gilman Trail in Ballard as early as Feb. 14, 2019. A contractor will be drilling a new sewer force main underneath the waterway from Ballard to Magnolia, and the large drilling equipment will block portions of the trail and roadway.

  • Approximately 200 feet of the southbound lane of Seaview Avenue Northwest near the 5500 block will be closed. Two-way traffic will be maintained via an electronic traffic signal in the northbound lane.
  • The Burke-Gilman Trail will be detoured to the north side of Seaview Avenue Northwest. There will be an electronic signal for bicyclists and pedestrians to push when crossing the street. Bicyclists will be encouraged to walk their bikes through the detour.

These impacts are estimated to last approximately one month.

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The Seattle Bike & Outdoor Show is this weekend at CenturyLink Field Event Center

The Seattle Bike & Outdoor Show is this weekend. So if you want to check out the latest wares or test ride some new bikes, head down to CenturyLink Field Event Center in Pioneer Square 9–6 Saturday or 9–5 Sunday.

The show is $12 (12 and under are free), though you can get a $3 discount if you use the promo code BIKE when buying tickets online.

The show is the latest form of what used to be Cascade Bicycle Club’s Seattle Bike Expo, which the club ended in 2014. The show has changed management since and combined the bikes with other outdoor equipment. Snow and slush won’t cancel the show.

More details from the show promoters: Continue reading

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Electric Lady’s Alex Kostelnik on why he’s closing the Central District e-bike shop

Kostelnik celebrates opening Electric Lady in spring 2016.

Alex Kostelnik is getting out of the e-bike showroom business. After nearly three years on the front lines of a volatile e-bike industry, selling shiny new bikes out of the Central District’s Electric Lady, he finds himself looking longingly up E Union Street where, just two blocks away, his first shop 20/20 Cycle is still grinding away to keep the neighborhood rolling.

“I’ll sit on the bench in front of 20/20, and within ten minutes I’m sharing a cookie with a neighbor and petting their dog, and they sat down to join us, and they’re going to be late to wherever they were going,” said Kostelnik during a long interview on the shop floor of his soon-to-be-closed shop at 23rd and Union. “That’s what I thought I would be doing with e-bikes, but it turns out the bike industry would have none of that. Which is too bad because I would argue that my system is actually a prescription for health for the e-bike industry, and that they are absolutely missing the boat in terms of investing in actual community.”

Founded in 2016 and staffed in recent years by Anthony Beauchemin and Lee Corbin, Electric Lady (a Seattle Bike Blog sponsor) is putting its stock of e-bikes and cargo bikes on sale and will close its doors in the coming months. Their retail space is already listed online.

Kostelnik says the business is doing well financially, but he is not enjoying the work needed to navigate what he sees as an unreliable industry where companies start up, go under, fire staff and get bought constantly. And Kostelnik’s proudly anti-corporate mentality was destined to butt heads with major players in the bike industry.

So with the used-bike-focused 20/20 Cycle up the street waiting for him to return, he is getting out. 20/20 will still sell some e-bikes, but they won’t have a showroom full of them ready to test ride.

“The bike industry is insane, in constant flux, does not know its ass from its elbow, is throwing so many spaghetti noodles at the wall to see what sticks that you’re in a room full of noodles that are sticking all over the place,” he said. “The cutting edge of the bike industry is about as sharp as a butter knife. They don’t know what they’re doing and it’s random insanity.” Continue reading

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People walk across street at crosswalk

Here’s a story that will seem like common sense to everyone who isn’t a traffic engineer. Almost nobody used to try to cross 15th Ave NW at NW 53rd Street in Ballard because 15th is wide and busy and there was no crosswalk there. But now that SDOT has added a signal and crosswalk, lots of people cross the street there.

This should be the most boring story possible: “People walk across street at crosswalk.” How is this news? Well, because this result is only obvious to people who have not been trained in the standards of American traffic engineering.

The national “Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices” — essentially a guidebook for traffic engineers — tells professionals that unless there are already a lot people trying to cross the street, a signal is not warranted. Neighbors across the nation run into this answer all the time when pressing their cities for crosswalks and signals: “There is not enough pedestrian activity to warrant a signal.” Signals stop cars, and stopping cars is a sign of failure if you are a traditional American traffic engineer.

But SDOT tried a different approach: Build the signal first, then count to see if the resulting pedestrian volumes ended up justifying the signal after all. And they did.

There are many great traffic engineers, but the field has some gross negligence baked into its core. The best traffic engineers I’ve met had to purposefully unlearn stuff they were taught, and their ideas — like installing a crosswalk signal even if people aren’t currently running across the six-lane roadway — are often still seen as radical. Just this year, the advisory board behind the MUTCD decided against an effort to make installing walk signals best practices when installing a new traffic signal. Continue reading

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Redesigned Northgate bike/walk bridge construction should start middle of this year

Crossing I-5 in Northgate is terrible today. The freeway divides the neighborhood, and the few places where crossing on foot or bike is possible are either far apart or very stressful. So as the region prepares to open a light rail station and Northgate Mall prepares for significant redevelopment, including a lot of new housing, we need to help people get across the freeway.

From its inception in 2011, the Northgate bike/walk bridge was focused on dramatically expanding access to the light rail station. Today, there is no crossing option for the 18 blocks between NE 92nd Street and NE Northgate Way, and the Northgate Way underpass is stressful and does not have bike lanes. North Seattle College and the nearby neighborhood would be within an easy walk of the station if there were a bridge, and the number of homes and destinations within an easy bike ride would be dramatically expanded.

It has been something of a half-decade roller coaster ride for the Northgate bike/walk bridge. The initial design, which included a striking and potentially iconic design, was likely only going to happen if the city could win a Federal TIGER grant. But SDOT failed twice — in 2014 on its own and 2015 as part of a Pronto bike share expansion — to win the grant. So SDOT, Sound Transit and Washington State partnered to fund a lower-cost version of the bridge instead.  Continue reading

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City advances plans for N 34th St redesign in Fremont + Take the survey

SDOT is moving forward with a plan to redesign N 34th Street between Stone Way and the Fremont Bridge, a major connection in the regional bike network linking the Burke-Gilman Trail to the Fremont Bridge.

Though the most popular option for the street during initial outreach was a two-way bike lane on the south side of 34th, the project team has decided after further study to prefer paint-and-post bike lanes on each side of the street.

You can learn more and share your thoughts via this online survey.

Today, the street has paint-only bike lanes, and the westbound lane is constantly blocked either by people double parking or by people queued up to turn right onto Fremont Ave. So a redesign that can remove these conflicts and keep the bike lanes clear would be a huge improvement.

Here are the concepts considered and how the team rated each idea: Continue reading

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It’s snowy! Obviously, that means it’s time to look for ‘sneckdowns’ on streets near you

We don’t get the chance to do this often, Seattle, so don’t miss the chance to document some of the “sneckdowns” on streets near you.

What is a sneckdown, you ask? Well, mother nature has essentially painted the city’s streets with a valuable traffic calming and street design demonstration. It’s tactical urbanism falling like manna. When snow covers the lane markings and obscures the curbs, people driving create new and much narrower paths. The result is a very visual demonstration of how much space on our streets could be reclaimed for extended sidewalks, curb bulbs, crossing islands, bike lanes or even public plazas in the most dramatic cases.

Basically, when you are trudging to the sledding hill, imagine if the state or city built permanent sidewalks wherever the snow is untouched. A “neckdown” is more commonly referred to as a “curb bulb” in Seattle, an extension of the sidewalk to help make people waiting to cross the street more visible and to shorten the distance needed to walk from curb-to-curb. “Sneckdown” is a portmanteau of “snowy neckdown” coined in New York City.

Our streets have been designed to give an enormous amount of space to cars, especially at intersections. When sidewalks are cut back, people driving take turns much more quickly. This is extremely dangerous, and a major cause of injury and death. But when snow falls, one of the most common results is that people take slower and sharper turns, leaving snow near the curb untouched. A slower turn doesn’t stop people from getting where they’re going.

So why can’t it be this way even when it isn’t snowing? Nature has already taken care of the early design concept.

Have you noticed any sneckdowns near you? Let us know in the comments! If you have photos to share, email tom@seattlebikeblog.com.

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Check out these 300+ neighbor-created ideas to improve Seattle streets

Neighborhood Street Fund timeline, from the program website.

Seattle residents and organizations submitted more than 300 specific Neighborhood Street Fund ideas for improving our city’s streets, and now SDOT needs help prioritizing them. You can weigh in online by February 22. The refined list will then go through another round of voting this spring.

NSF projects should be in the $100,000 to $1 million range and can include anything from sidewalk improvements, crosswalks, signals, bike connections, curb ramps or anything else people can think of that could make the streets near them better. And it turns out that most of the improvements people want are for people walking and biking.

Though they are both participatory budgeting programs, the NSF is a fully separate fund and process than the lower-budget “Your Voice, Your Choice: Parks & Streets” program that is currently gathering idea submissions.

NSF ideas submitted this year range in feasibility from simple and easy to major undertakings. And no matter then intention of the project creator, there are many more steps after this as SDOT engineers design and modify them to meet standards and city goals. It’s a long process.

There a ton of great ideas in this list (and a few not-so-great ones, of course). So thanks to everyone who has volunteered their time and energy to get these ideas out there. It turns into a lot of work, especially as projects advance.

Here’s the full map of submitted project ideas: Continue reading

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Bike News Roundup: Batman parks in a bike lane

It’s time for the Bike News Roundup! Here’s a look at some of the stuff floating around the web that caught my eye recently.

First up! Seattle Police tweeted this the other day:

Continue reading

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Stoked Spoke 2019 kicks off Wed. with ‘Women, Trans and Femme Riders in Early Cycling History’

Seattle’s annual bicycle adventure presentation series Stoked Spoke kicks off 2019 Wednesday with a unique look back at the early days of American cycling by Tessa Hulls.

Swift Industries (a SBB sponsor) is once again hosting the series at the Rhino Room on Capitol Hill. You can catch the first event of the season Wednesday. Doors at 6:30, show at 7. The venue is 21+.

Hulls is not just a storied bicycle adventurer herself, she has also become a historian focused on early women, trans and femme bike riders. As she told the Stranger in a recent interview, she got tired of people telling her women can’t go on long bike trips alone, so she dove into history and found women who have been doing so ever since bicycling arrived to this country.

“We’re kicking off the 2019 Stoked Spoke Season with something a little different, and especially powerful,” Swift Industries wrote in a recent blog post. “Please join us for an evening with Tessa Hulls, lifetime creator, seeker and adventurer, as she takes us on an adventure through the history of Women, Trans and Femme vanguards in cycling. Tessa shares her research through a delightfully crafted narrative and artistically dynamic timeline, it’s a real gift for our communities!”

Hulls’ talk is a special first edition of the Stoked Spoke series, which typically features several people sharing their bike adventures, sharing information and answering questions. You can catch the next two evenings in the series February 27 and March 27.

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Rails-to-Trails Conservancy launches campaign to build trail from Seattle to DC – UPDATED

“The Great American Rail-Trail” could stretch from Seattle to Washington D.C., entirely off-road and with gentle grades. This is the dream the national Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (“RTC”) announced today, noting that about half the 4,000-mile route is already complete in some form thanks to decades of advocacy work in Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland and the District of Columbia.

Though the organization says it “will take years to complete,” they have spent a year and a half analyzing the possibilities before determining that it is “viable.”

“Analyses that were used to confirm the project’s viability included a thorough assessment of route options using RTC’s database of more than 34,000 miles of open trails nationwide; analyses of state and local trail plans; and discussions with hundreds of local trail partners and state agencies representing all of the trails along the potential route,” the organization wrote in a press release (posted in full below). A more developed route concept will be announced in the spring.

The Washington State segment would, of course, follow the recently-renamed Palouse-to-Cascades State Park Trail (formerly known as the John Wayne Pioneer Trail or the Iron Horse Trail). So in order for the Great American Rail-Trail to become reality, Washington State has some work to do. The PTC Trail (what are we calling this thing for short?) is fairly high quality from Rattlesnake Lake to the Columbia River, which is the most difficult stretch due to the mountain pass and all the tunnel repairs completed a few years ago. So we’ve already done the hardest part. But the Beverly Bridge across the Columbia River and the long stretch across the state to Tekoa and the Idaho border need a lot of infrastructure work and additional services (like better drinking water access, toilets, etc). You can make the trip today, but it’s pretty rugged and requires some significant detouring.

UPDATE: There is a funding proposal going through the state legislature right now to rehab and reopen the Beverly Bridge, one of the most important gaps in the cross-state trail. The Palouse to Cascades Trail Coalition has a more details (PDF) and a call to action if you want to help make it and other improvements happen:

Washington State Governor Jay Inslee has proposed $5,575,000 toward the Department of Archeology and Historic Preservation (DAHP) in the 2019-2021 State Budget for rehabilitation of this significant structure. Opening the Beverly Bridge for non motorized use enjoys broad public support, including many statewide and national organizations interested
in recreation, historic preservation, and revitalization of rural communities. Rehabilitation of the Beverly Bridge represents a critical investment in Washington State tourism, continuing to enrich the lives of Washingtonians.

Continue reading

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Even a skewed Seattle Times poll finds little support for more driving

Demographics from the Elway/Seattle Times survey. These are not representative of King County or Seattle.

You may have seen a headline from the Seattle Times going around this weekend saying that people in Seattle and Kind County don’t like bike lanes. Well, it’s not really as simple as the headline might suggest.

I’ve been thinking about the poll for a couple days now, and we should get one thing out the way: It’s never great to see bike lane support in any context from any sample of the population be below 50 percent. The Elway/Seattle Times poll found 40 percent of respondents in Seattle and 36 percent in King County support more bike lanes. Those aren’t devastating numbers (did anyone think bike lanes were not divisive?), but they sure aren’t great.

So while this post will dive into some serious caveats, let’s be clear that there is still work to do to get more bike lane buy-in from more neighbors of all ages.

But it is important to note that just over half the survey sample came from landline phone calls, and reporter David Gutman notes that 75 percent of respondents were homeowners, a far higher rate than the 57 percent countywide rate. Homeownership and the presence of a landline means these results are going to be quite skewed older and wealthier. Indeed, the majority of respondents were older than 50. A quarter of respondents were 65 or older, but the 2010 Census found that only 11 percent of county residents were in that age bracket. That’s a huge difference that’s going to have a big impact on the results.

Since we already know that bike stuff is less popular among older populations, it’s not surprising to see bike lanes get lower marks in this survey. The Times didn’t release a breakdown by demographic, but I bet bike lanes got less popular with each age bracket increase. Bike advocates and organizers should be looking for ways to make sure they are reaching people of all ages, so that could be a worthy takeaway from this survey. Continue reading

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We have just proven that Seattle doesn’t need a highway tunnel or massive waterfront road

Do we really need all this?

So it turns out that when people across the Seattle region plan ahead and change their transportation habits, we can prove to ourselves that we don’t need SR 99 to go through downtown after all. After months of news stories about how terrible traffic would be once the Viaduct closed for good, traffic during the first couple commutes was not much worse than it was before.

We should be celebrating this accomplishment, because people all across the region had to work together to make this happen. It is empowering to know that we don’t need a new car tunnel or a nine-lane waterfront road, that we can change our habits to reduce our dependence on cars and burning oil. Cars are a major cause of preventable death and serious injury in our region, and transportation is our biggest source of greenhouse gasses. But it’s so easy to feel defeated because reducing driving just seems like an impossible lift.

These demonstrations are important because we have far too little faith in our collective ability to change, and that’s holding us back from addressing the massive challenges ahead of us. This pessimism led state Democrats to invest billions in a too-good-to-be-true car tunnel solution to the Alaskan Way Viaduct rather than investing in non-driving methods to move people and goods through the region. The same pessimism led Seattle voters to back that tunnel (well, the lack of a cohesive vision for an alternative didn’t help). A lot of people who care about addressing climate change still supported the tunnel because they just couldn’t imagine that our region could survive without two north-south freeways through downtown.

Worse, leaders were so pessimistic about our ability to change that they allowed the Viaduct to remain in heavy use for 18 years knowing full well that it would collapse in an earthquake. We got lucky, but that was not a gamble worth taking.

So it’s not just important that traffic wasn’t so bad Monday and Tuesday, it’s important that the people of our region take time to recognize and celebrate what this accomplishment represents. Continue reading

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Bike counts were way up on first day of SR 99 closure, and West Seattle neighbors deserve a ton of credit

Data from Seattle Traffic Engineer Dongho Chang via Twitter.

The bike counter at the foot of the Spokane Street Bridge to West Seattle measured a 327 percent more trips Monday than seen at this time of year previously. The counter has only measured more trips in a single day a few times before: August 11, when charity bike ride Obliteride used the bridge, and a couple days in May 2016 when a similar Viaduct closure left folks looking for other ways to get around.

OK, sure, the weather Monday was great. But that alone can’t explain the jump. More people biked across the lower West Seattle Bridge Monday than any June, July or August day ever recorded other than Obliteride. That’s incredible, and neighborhood group West Seattle Bike Connections deserves a lot of credit for all their work to help their neighbors learn how to navigate their way around the Viaduct closure even in the winter.

WSBC has not only distributed information to neighbors looking for help getting on a bike, they also lead a couple SurviveRealign99 weekend rides where they invited interested neighbors on a slow group ride from the Junction to downtown and back. This allowed people to learn the route in the comfort of a group and get their questions answered by folks who are familiar with navigating the industrial streets and trails that separate West Seattle and Duwamish Valley from the city center.

So, other neighborhoods, are you taking notes? It’s not too late to get organized like WSBC and help your neighbors get around in winter by bike.

Though the West Seattle increase really stands out, bike counts across town were way up Monday. As Seattle Traffic Engineer Dongho Chang posted, counts were up 191 percent on the Elliott Bay Trail and 176 percent on the Fremont Bridge compared to January Mondays in recent years: Continue reading

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Aside from some untreated ice patches, biking was a great way around Day 1 without SR 99

Bike train headed down Jackson (a major gap in the downtown bike network)

Biking around the city this morning was amazing. Sure, the weather helped a lot, with clear skies and a jaw-dropping sunrise fueling my ride to join the SE Seattle Bike Train. No matter how many times I experience it, the beauty of this place always inspires me while biking around town. But it was also amazing to see so many other people out biking and experiencing it with me.

We won’t know for sure until tomorrow when the bike counter data rolls in, but anecdotally it sure seemed like more people biking than on a typical January weekday.

I caught a ride on the inaugural run of the SE Seattle Bike Train 7:30 Local via Beacon Hill. Going into Monday, West Seattle and Green Lake also had community-organized efforts to teach people how to bike downtown and give them an opportunity to try it with a group. More of this, please!

Not everyone can easily bike to work, so there’s a fine line between spreading the word about how great it is to bike and gloating. It sucks if you are truly stuck driving in traffic, and it’s not worthwhile to rub that in. But there are a ton of people driving who could bike if they gave it a shot. And the closure of a highway is a great time to make the leap.

SDOT needs a better ice plan

It wasn’t all smooth riding, unfortunately. I have received multiple reports of unsalted ice patches in known problem areas, including the turn at the north end of the Westlake Bikeway, a section of the Beacon Hill Neighborhood Greenway, parts of the Ship Canal Trail, the Alki Trail, the Missing Link and the sharp rail crossing on the Burke-Gilman Trail near 6th Ave NW, where a true hero was out warning folks:

Viaduct closure or not, SDOT should have protocols that kick in whenever overnight lows drop into the 30s to make sure known problem spots are properly treated. Though any stretch with ice can be a problem, the worst spots are curves that are shaded from morning sun.

Deicer and cones were added to this turn at the north end of the Westlake Bikeway, a spot that gets notoriously slick when temperatures drop overnight.

The north end of Alaskan Way needs bike lanes.

I also took a ride along Alaskan Way downtown and was pleasantly surprised to find it not only much quieter (thanks to the lack of traffic on the Viaduct above) but also not particularly busy. I thought that the road would be packed with people trying to get around the highway closure, which I was worried might make an already incomplete and stressful bike route even worse. But if anything it seemed lighter than usual. Again, I don’t have official data to back up my hunch, though.

One improvement that could really help a lot more people bike downtown is a bike lane from the Elliott Bay Trail to at least Pier 66 if not the Seattle Aquarium. From there, the existing substandard waterfront trail picks up and is at least usable, though many prefer to remain in the street rather than navigate around people walking in the trail. If the city really wants to shift Viaduct trips to bike trips, this connection is vital and can’t come soon enough.

Now, here are a few scenes from the morning’s commute:

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Want some company biking downtown? Join these welcoming West and SE Seattle rides or start your own

SE Seattle Bike Train. Exact route subject to change.

Biking on city streets can be more fun and less intimidating when you are with a group. And riding with a group can be a great way to become familiar with a route and learn some tips before trying it on your own.

So as a lot of people are looking for other ways to get around during the upcoming closure of SR 99, this is the perfect time for people to get together and ride downtown as a group.

West Seattle Bike Connections is leading the way. The group already held one ride for neighbors last weekend, helping 28 adults and 4 kids learn how to navigate the industrial streets and paths on the way downtown.

The group is hosting another SurviveRealign99 ride 9:30 a.m. Sunday. Meet at the Starbucks at 4100 SW Alaska St.

The SE Seattle Bike Train, which Seattle Bike Blog has helped get started, will host an inaugural ride 7 a.m. Monday and a weekend orientation ride January 20 for those who want to try the route outside of rush hour. The plan is to host weekly rides every Friday, at least. The route will go from Columbia City to Beacon Hill Station to Pioneer Square to Westlake Station.

So if you live in West of SE Seattle, you should get involved with these efforts. The more energy and volunteer power, the more (and longer) rides will be possible.

And if you live anywhere else, what are you doing just sitting there reading this post? Grab a couple neighbors and get organized. Kimberly Kinchen, who was previously an organizer of NYC Biketrain, is helping to organize the Seattle Bike Train effort. She has put together a handy FAQ you can use to help get started.

Rides should be for people of all experience levels, but the focus is on helping people new to city biking. It should move slow enough that everyone can comfortably stay together, and there should be at least a few experienced volunteers to bring up the rear and help folks along the way as needed. So while regular riders should be welcome, they should know that the ride will likely move a lot more slowly than they are used to.

Pick a route that won’t be too intimidating for folks to try on their own and that will work well for a group, choose a good meet-up spot in your neighborhood (a coffee shop is not a bad idea, though a covered area in a park could work well, too), then pick a time and day to give it a try. Hosting a weekend ride might also be a good idea.

If you are organizing (or want to help organize) a bike train in your neighborhood, let us know in the comments below. Seattle Bike Blog can help spread the word, but you should also spread the word locally.

Here’s a video from West Seattle’s weekend ride:

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Waterfront bike routes will remain open during upcoming SR 99 closure

Work zone maps from WSDOT.

Waterfront bike routes, including the path under the Viaduct along Alaskan Way downtown, will remain open during the upcoming SR 99 closure, SDOT confirmed today.

We have received a lot of questions in the past week from folks wondering is the Viaduct closure would also close their bike route, and it was difficult to find info about bike route closures in the information released. So it’s great to hear that the current routes — including the Portside Trail (connecting E Marginal to Alaskan Way between Atlantic St and King St) and the pathway under the Viaduct — won’t be disrupted, at least not anymore than they are normally.

Unfortunately, WSDOT and SDOT will not be providing any temporary bike route improvements to help people travel through gaps in the bike lane network, however. Such improvements were not expected, but it’s still disappointing that the city is not lifting a finger to help more people get around by bike during this closure. And SDOT’s Heather Marx gave Mike Lindblom at the Seattle Times an even more disappointing reason for the lack of temporary bike lanes:

January is not a comfortable month for biking or walking,” said Heather Marx, city downtown mobility director. “It hasn’t been a big part of our message, because it’s just a hard sell that time of the year.

While certainly fewer people bike during the winter than in the summer, there are still a ton of year-round bike riders in Seattle. The Fremont Bridge recorded 58,591 trips in January 2018, and that’s just one bridge. Sure, that’s a little less than half the trips in July, but it’s still a lot of people who are probably saying to themselves, “What? Am I invisible?” And a highway closure event like this could have been a great opportunity to help more people become year-round bike riders. Continue reading

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Bellevue is creating a Vision Zero ‘action plan,’ take their survey

Click here to take Bellevue’s Vision Zero survey.

The Bellevue City Council unanimously endorsed Vision Zero in 2015, and now they are putting together an action plan to help eliminate deaths and serious injuries on city streets by 2030.

City staff have put together an online survey to gather perceptions of traffic danger and stories of how traffic collisions have affected people’s lives. The survey walks through some of the basic tenets of Vision Zero, including questions that don’t get asked enough such as whether “it is unacceptable for anyone to be killed or seriously injured while traveling on Bellevue streets” and whether “human life should always take priority over moving vehicles faster.” The survey is probably as much about getting the respondents to think about traffic collisions in a different way as it is about gathering useful data.

But the sad reality is that our culture has thoroughly embraced death and injury on our roads as simply the cost of getting around, and it will take a lot of work to change that. The questions in this survey can’t be asked enough.

So if you live, work or spend time in Bellevue, take the survey and pass it around. Because Bellevue has a lot of work to do to reach this goal, and as with any city it’s going to take both infrastructure and cultural changes to get there.

City map of deaths and serious injuries on Bellevue streets 2008-2017.

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JUMP expands service to SE and West Seattle following criticism, announces 2K new bikes

Phase 2 service area map is outlined in red. The initial launch area was within the blue dashed line. Image from JUMP.

Following a Seattle Times story critical of the company’s limited service area, JUMP has expanded to include all of Southeast and West Seattle.

Though the Times story headline says that JUMP has been charging people $25 for parking outside the service area, the company says it has not actually charged the fee to anyone yet. Instead they have issued warnings.

As we reported when the bright red bikes launched in November, their initial service area was limited because they only had 300 bikes. But as they grew they would expand the area. Their permit allows up to 6,666 bikes, though the company has not yet launched the bulk of them.

They will expand again in coming months to include the entire city limits, the Uber-owned company said in a statement today. They also announced that 2,000 bikes are on the way in coming weeks to shore up supply in the newly expanded service area. And they are bringing their newly redesigned bikes, which will have a much less bulky lock compared to the current square metal locks. Users will also be able to unlock them by scanning a QR code, similar to Lime’s bikes. Continue reading

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Would you bike on the ‘E?’ How about the ‘Eastway?’

As we reported previously, King County is trying to come up with a better name for the Eastside Rail Corridor, and they have narrowed it down to four finalists: The E, The Eastrail, The 425 and the Eastway.

You can let them know what you think of these names via their online survey.

First off, I’m glad the names are short. “Eastside Rail Corridor” is a mouthful, and it doesn’t do a good job of describing a corridor that no longer has very much rail since Kirkland and King County have removed most of it (though Sound Transit is adding some for a stretch in Bellevue).

I can’t say any of these names immediately jumps out, and part of the problem might be that they are trying to rename a corridor without pigeonholing it to a single use. So while Seattle Bike Blog has for years been referring to the trail portion of the corridor as the “Eastside Trail,” that name does not include potential transit uses alongside the trail. “Eastrail” is the only name the contains the word “trail,”  but it does so in a way that could also be read as “EastRail.”

Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter what they name it. The people will decide in time what it will be called. If the official name is good, then it will stick. If not, people will find their own term.

Want to make your case for any of the four names here? Do so in the comments below.

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