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2011 primary election bike-friendly voter’s guide

It’s voting time again. Odds are, your ballot is sitting in a pile of mail somewhere. Go dig it out. It’s time to vote with your spokes.

Seattle Bike Blog is hardly prepared to provide a comprehensive voter’s guide, but here are a few ideas and links to help make sure our policies and elected officials will help create the bike-friendly city and region Seattle and King County can and should be.

For all races not mentioned here (most of them), please contribute your thoughts and recommendations in the comments.

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Jean Godden is out of touch on safe streets

In the race for Jean Godden’s City Council seat, we should be working for a change. At a 36th District Democrats meeting in June, candidates were asked a lightning round of questions and asked to hold up cards saying “yes” or “no.” They also had an Eggo waffle they could hold in lieu of a more solid opinion.

When asked, “Is Mayor McGinn too pro-bike?” only Godden said, “Yes.” I asked Godden’s office for more clarification, and here is the response I received:

I did hold up the “yes” card, but on thinking about it a “waffle” might have been more appropriate. I support road diets in general — the Stoneway and Fauntleroy street road diets in particular. However, I have some concerns about other proposals, such as on 125th Street and Nickerson Street. For example, I am not sure that 125th is a good location for re-channelization and we have yet to get promised statistics on Nickerson Street showing that it will be effective.

On other bike issues, however, the Mayor hasn’t gone far enough. We have yet to complete the missing link of the Burke Gilman Trail running through Ballard and we sold the Bridging the Gap funding package with the promise that 18% would be spent on bike and pedestrian improvements, which we need to get started on.

First off, bicycles are just a tiny part of the NE 125th project. As anyone who has walked, biked or driven on NE 125th lately knows, the project there has been a complete success. The road is far safer and less stressful for every road user, especially drivers and people trying to walk across the street (more on that coming soon). Early results from Nickerson showed that capacity had been maintained while average vehicle speeds were successfully lowered to safer levels (I have yet to see an updated study, though the one-year point is still a couple weeks away).

These road diets are based on decades of solid traffic engineering experience. They are not based on petty political decisions. We should expect our city’s leaders to make decisions based on studies and professional expertise, not on the unfounded complaints of some citizens (well-meaning and otherwise) and “business” interests.

We need leaders with the courage to pursue cost-effective projects that dramatically improve public safety and give citizens the freedom to choose from a more diversified transportation network.

Most folks around town are endorsing Bobby Forch, who has climbed up the ranks of SDOT and is running on a platform of public safety, police accountability and transit. Though he has not been overly vocal about bicycles, we do have some proof that he has one.

Michael Taylor-Judd has run strongly on his opposition to the tunnel and is all about transit, but he has received lukewarm reception from most press around town.

So, lacking more footwork on our part to learn more about Forch and his opponents, we are not going full-on endorsement here. If you have more to add to this race, be sure to leave a comment.

“Reject” Referendum 1

We wrote at length last week about why you should vote to reject. But to relate it directly to bicycle-friendliness: The deep bore tunnel will make the city worse for bicycling. It is a huge investment to ensure that people continue to drive. Just like building bicycle facilities encourages people to bicycle, building highways encourages people to drive.

Some will say that the tunnel will allow the city to reconnect the street grid in South Lake Union. But the city’s plans for a more complete Thomas Street are already in doubt due to concerns over motor vehicle congestion around the north deep bore tunnel portal.

No, a $2 billion car-only tunnel is not the way to make the city bike-friendly. With a calmed Hwy 99 that would come with the reformed Alaskan Way, imagine the possibilities for increasing safety on Aurora. We could  tear down that awful concrete median and install some signaled crossings or even (gasp) install bike lanes on Aurora and across the bridge.

If we invest in a tunnel, chances are slim that will happen. If we invest in transportation diversity and choice, our city’s streets could open up and neighborhoods long divided could become connected again.

Cascade’s endorsements

For the many other races, Cascade Bicycle Club has a list of endorsed candidates. Seattle Bike Blog is not necessarily co-endorsing these choices, but it’s another guide to help you complete a bike-friendly ballot.

Sally Clark got endorsements from both Cascade and (reluctantly) the Stranger. She has cast several votes that make us cringe, but I have also heard her express a desire for a pie-in-the-sky cycle track on Rainier Ave (it was an aside during some Council committee meeting in the past year, but I don’t remember when). Imagine how cool that would be. In one move you could calm one of the city’s most dangerous streets and provide a very efficient bicycle route connecting southeast Seattle to the city center…

So those are a couple ideas to get you started. As for the non-Seattle elections, I leave those to people who live there (I have not been paying that much attention).

Did I miss any important bike-friendly candidates? Definitely leave a comment.

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3 responses to “2011 primary election bike-friendly voter’s guide”

  1. jeffuppy

    FYI – Michael Taylor-Judd has received lukewarm support from establishment press and insider Democratic organizations precisely because he opposes the deep bore tunnel. Most of these outlets and groups have made this explicitly clear. He’s established himself as the candidate with the clearest progressive credentials and the candidate with the deepest knowledge of transit and bike issues, by far. You should give him a call, he’s very accessable.

  2. BiggerPicture

    You guys are missing thoughts on Maurice Classen for Seattle City Council Position 1. His transportation commitments are well outlined on his website and he is always happy to answer questions personally if you want to send him an email.

  3. […] on the table right now. Jean Godden, who appears to be the only City Council candidate throwing all of her reelection chips in the “I like driving cars” pot, has proposed a $40 VLF increase that would spend […]

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