The first in a series of Bicycle Master Plan public meetings was held Wednesday at City Hall, giving a first look at the draft map of recommended bike facilities and asking people for modifications and feedback. The next meetings are 5:30–7:30 p.m. today (Thursday) at New Holly Gathering Hall, November 13 at UW’s Gould Hall and a November 15 online lunchtime meeting.
The map contains many bold and exciting facilities that, if completed, would vault Seattle into position not just as a top U.S. cycle city, but a top global cycling city. The map, while not yet perfect in every way, includes an approach to bike facilities as focused on safe, separated bike infrastructure on high-demand commercial streets as it is on low-traffic neighborhood greenways.
The plan so far includes 523 miles of facilities to build or upgrade. Seattle currently has 104 miles of bike facilities that meet the recommended facility quality levels.
During the meeting, attendees split into groups each looking at a different section of the map (West Seattle, NE Seattle, etc). Facilitators helped steer conversation and record input and suggestions for changes.
Instead of getting deep into the nitty gritty details, here are some broad thoughts I think everyone should bring with them as they go into future meetings:
- Neighborhood greenways are NOT replacements or alternatives for high quality facilities on commercial, destination-filled streets. They are about creating new transportation options that increase all-ages mobility within a neighborhood. For Seattle to be truly friendly for people biking and walking, we need to improve our commercial streets, as well.
- Do not be scared away by fears of future political battles. When you see a cycle track down Rainier Ave or Lake City Way or Market St, remember that this is a 20-year plan that should represent the city we want, not the political realities of 2012.
- Remember that we are building a plan for people who are afraid or unconvinced by cycling today. We are not here to merely represent the needs of people who are already cycling regularly. A facility that is “good enough” for you is not the kind of facility that is going to get a significant return on investment in terms of encouraging more people to cycle. As the neighborhood greenway groups stress, these facilities need to be comfortable for people 8-80 years old and attract the plurality of people who are interested in biking as transportation, but do not for various reasons.
The task of picking and choosing where to locate bike facilities is an enormous task. Use the meetings as a chance to lend your local knowledge of dangerous spots and comfortable grades to modify the road and facility choices they currently list. And keep in mind that each project will not be set in stone, and exact details will be worked out later (for example, if you think the neighborhood greenway should turn here instead of there, that’s not as big a deal as the route being left out entirely).
If you can’t make it to the meetings, you will have a chance to contribute online starting next week. And, of course, stay tuned here for more analysis of the plan in the days and weeks to come.
Here’s the pdf version of the draft map for those who want a closer look: