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Ahead of fundraiser by group opposing a Westlake cycle track, Murray says ‘I support cycle tracks’

image001-14I received an email about a fundraiser for mayoral candidate Ed Murray recently from a group opposed to the idea of a safe bikeway connecting the Fremont Bridge and South Lake Union along Westlake Ave.

That project, which has received grant funding, is still early in the design process. But a group of people concerned that it could maybe result in some reduction of parking in the huge, city-funded parking lot are organizing early to fight it, and they have the idea that Ed Murray will help them out. From the email:

The Westlake Stakeholders Group oppose Mayor McGinn’s cycle track which will absolutely have a devastating impact on the well-being of the Westlake Community, and we strongly encourage the Community to embrace a change in the Mayor for Seattle.  Please consider attending the fundraiser for the leading candidate to replace Mayor McGinn, Ed Murray.

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Save our parking! Save our business!

Are you concerned about losing 50% of your parking along Westlake? Would you like a change in direction in the mayor’s office?

So reads the campaign email. Despite some very clear factual errors (the project was actually selected for funding by the Puget Sound Regional Council and has been pushed hard by the City Council in addition to Mayor McGinn), the email raised some concerns that Ed Murray somehow gave this group the idea he would help them fight it.

Along with Publicola and Seattle Transit Blog, we reached out to the Murray campaign for a response yesterday. Only Publicola received a response: “I support cycle tracks. I used them in Europe. If they think I am opposed, then they’ll be surprised.”

However, Murray would not say whether he supports the Westlake project, telling Publicola he is not familiar with the specifics of the project.

We are still waiting for clear answers from Senator Murray about whether he supports this project as well as some other key biking and walking projects in the city like the Burke-Gilman Trail Missing Link in Ballard.


Westlake Cycle Track concept image by Cascade
Westlake Cycle Track concept image by Cascade

The Westlake project is unique because that are several good and very different options for building a safe bikeway. The vast city-funded parking lot is already heavily used by people looking for a flat, lakefront bike route, but there is no clear safe way to get through on a bike. Biking through the parking lot is frustating both for people on bikes who have to be extremely vigilant to avoid cars backing out of spaces and for people trying to park in the lot who are not expecting a steady stream of people on bikes.

Screen Shot 2013-10-02 at 9.24.17 AM
Lots of space and options for redesign on Westlake. Image via Google Street View

Others choose to bike on the fast, four-lane street. But as Karlyn Beer discovered, that can be dangerous as well. She was struck by an allegedly drunk man who turned his truck in front of Beer in July, severing Beer’s thumb in the collision.

Something must be done to improve bike safety. I hope people organizing to “oppose” the cycle track will engage instead in hopes of finding a solution that works better for everyone. There is a ton of city-owned space between businesses and the far side of Westlake Ave, and many opportunities to make it a more inviting place to travel through and to.

For example, the Cascade concept image above shows a cycle track installed on the street itself. Other options would reorganize the city-owned parking lot to provide a consistent, predictable and safe bikeway through it. There are benefits and trade offs with both options, but either would improve safety and comfort along the street for all users and bring new customers to storefronts along the west bank of Lake Union.

Hopefully those with concerns will engage is a discussion instead of simply saying “no” to any changes at all.

And hopefully Senator Murray gives them this advice instead of taking the bait and opposing a project with regional support that would address such vital safety and access issues on what should be one of Seattle’s destination corridors.

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60 responses to “Ahead of fundraiser by group opposing a Westlake cycle track, Murray says ‘I support cycle tracks’”

  1. Adam Parast

    I don’t see why a significant number of parking would be needed to be taken. Just from personal experience Westlake could undergo a road-diet for a majority of the corridor excluding the areas around the signalized intersections. Those 10-12 feet and possible re-appropriation of the sidewalk by the roadway would be plenty of room to build a cycle track without touching parking spaces. Am I missing something?

    1. biliruben

      The streetcar.

      That, and their will be a huge push against a diet. The numbers in 2011 were 23900, which is above the number proscribed for dieting. It’s clearly too fat, but it’s hard to lose weight once you have put it on. At least in this town.

      1. Tom Fucoloro

        I’d be interested to see if traffic is heavier in one direction. For example, maybe two lanes toward downtown, one lane away would make sense. These are the kinds of details that should be hashed out in the design and public process.

        In the end, I see benefits to either a road diet or parking redesign option. The park and ride issue is a problem and there’s way too much “free” parking. On the other hand, I always feel terrible for people who need to cross Westlake on foot, and a road diet of some kind could help them. All things that should be considered.

        The only thing that can’t be considered is saying: No changes, no way.

      2. biliruben

        Anecdotally, it’s as you would expect. The flow southbound is higher in the morning, the flow northbound is high in the evening. My experience was pre-Mercer redesign, so perhaps it isn’t quite that simple anymore, but I would guess that’s still pretty much the state of things. Maybe a center-running street car which can be shared by HOV and other transit similar to I-5 express lanes, changing at noon.

      3. Unfortunately, the road’s capacity is most where it’s least needed (just south of the ship canal), and least where it’s most needed (near Mercer), causing huge backups any time there’s even a moderate amount of traffic and extreme unreliability on bus routes that use Westlake (the 40, primarily, and to such an extent that it’s not even any faster from Fremont to downtown than the 26/28 are). Dexter does the opposite, widening near Mercer, and doesn’t have this problem.

      4. SashaBikes

        @Biliruben – a few times in the past few months, I’ve had to drive along Westlake in the evening rush hour. Northbound flows absolutely fine. Southbound is the biggest cluster there ever was.

        Those instances required me being in my car, and all I could think about was how if I’d been on my bike, I’d have saved myself 45 minutes of frustration to go about a mile. It’s part of the Mercer mess.

        The northbound direction can comfortably sacrifice a lane with minimal impact to traffic (in my uneducated, completely biased!) opinion.

      5. biliruben

        With all the construction near Mercer/Valley, I could see why that would be now. The question is, what will it look like when the new mess is finished replacing the old mess. I think it’s also very dependent on Fremont Bridge openings. That really backs things up northbound.

  2. Biliruben

    Those spots next to the road are free. They are used by commuters as an in-city park and ride/walk. Wiping them out and replacing them with a cycle-track and street car will be a huge win for sensible land use.

    Until Murray says specifically ” I will fight to make Westlake cycle track happen”, don’t believe his vague nonsense. He is the establishement.

    1. SashaBikes

      Hear, hear.

    2. Bruce Nourish

      Seriously. I used to commute along Westlake, and a decent chunk of people getting off the buses went straight to a car. There’s also a bunch of cars with resident permits who can park as long as they like. While they may well have their own reasons for not wanting to lose this almost-free parking, they definitely aren’t contributing to the economic vitality of the area.

      I bet a survey of weekday parking use would show that at least half the cars there are present for the whole day. The street parking by the Ballard bridge, and the parking south of Green Lake just east of Aurora are both the same way.

    3. Charles B


      Its Murray’s non committal response on the issue that has me worried. He might well be on my side, and he might not. Clearly this looks like a play for votes to me, but I find it pushes me even further to the candidate that is more clear on the subject.

      Why would I want to vote for someone who won’t commit on the issues I care about when there is one who is doing just that in a two candidate race?

      1. joseph


    4. What is missed is that these parking spots support businesses that pay taxes. It isn’t as if there are no effects for moving or changing the existing structure. If a duplicate bike lane is so important a couple hundred feet away from an existing one then tax the bikers who will benefit on a per use basis and make an elevated bike lane free from vehicle and pedestrian traffic along the waterway because the bikes are using Westlake as a means to get somewhere else. The cars and parking benefit the city and citizens economically. The bicycle track will have no economic impact on the Westlake community and this is what the bicycle community and plan promoters ignore as an inconvenient truth.

      1. Leif Espelund

        Yes, because the only possible way to get to a business is by car. Nobody on a bicycle or foot ever spends money at any business. Finally someone with some sense is commenting here. Thanks Steven Pearce!

      2. Leif Espelund

        And totally agree about the duplicate bike lane. Seriously, why would anyone ever need more than one way to get somewhere?! I was just downtown and I noticed there is a 2nd Avenue right next to 1st! Let’s get rid of one of those duplicates and turn it into parking for the businesses along that road. I have no clue how on earth they can currently survive without massive taxpayer subsidized free parking right in front of their shops.

      3. To clarify. There is an existing bike track on Dexter that is “safe” and effective. Seattle is built on hills so people who use bikes should get used to this.
        Next, A bicycle track if built on Westlake will not economically benefit the Westlake Community as these people by definition are commuters coming from somewhere else and going somewhere else their destination is not Westlake, so no economic benefit for Westlake Businesses.
        Another point that does not make sense is there is no vast population that is served by the Fremont Bridge. If this is a supposed route for people from Ballard then let’s consider this. Ballard is going to get a new Bridge and just make bike lanes a part of the new bridge in addition to the traffic lanes it must have. Then there is a level route along a road that can access the whole of downtown Seattle. Every major vehicle route does not need to be a bicycle route.
        800 -1000 or (fill in # here _________) bicycle devotees should not expect to usurp existing car/business/freight road lanes for their benefit because they want it.
        Another point is bicycle planning is simply not realistic. A goal of having a bike lane within a 1/4 mile of everyone? This is already done! It is called roads and sidewalks! Make major arterial bike tracks that can be safe and secure and useable and work to share the roads with motor cars and then we have a plan that will get broad citizen support.
        The bike plan surveys itself show that Seattle has major obstacles to becoming a major bicycling town. Obvious ones are 1. Hills, 2. Weather. Then there are obvious ones such as work demands of travel – carrying stuff, as well as lack of desire and simply the casual biker. We can’t afford to transfer public resources as expensive as roads into part time use with NO visible means of economic return.
        So when do we start taxing bikes – toll fees for cycle track lanes?

      4. Leif Espelund

        Your logic is flawed. Saying that the cycle track is only for commuters on bikes is like saying Westlake Avenue is only for commuters in cars. The infrastructure can and will be used for both.

        The Fremont bridge is one of the most heavily biked places in Seattle. Many of the users going on Westlake now aren’t just trying to avoid the hills, they need to get places like South Lake Union or even Eastlake. Using Dexter is going out of the way for them. And did you really just suggest a new bridge by Ballard as an alternative? Downtown Seattle is not the only destination and Ballard is not the only starting point. We need more than one safe bicycle route in Seattle.

        Your right, more people drive than ride bicycles. A century of auto-centric transportation planning will do that. We are trying to in some small ways provide safe options for people. We aren’t saying every single road needs to have a separated bicycle facility, but some certainly do and this is one of them.

        What has shown Seattle can never become a heavily biked town? Show me some evidence of that. People say it is because of hills and weather, but I see no evidence. The more facilities we build the more people ride. There is proof of that. We will never get to a point where everybody rides bikes, that isn’t our goal and it isn’t necessary, but there is a catch 22 here. You say not enough people ride bikes to warrant building safe bicycle facilities, but the reason bicycles have a low mode share is because there aren’t enough safe facilities.

        “So when do we start taxing bikes – toll fees for cycle track lanes?”

        Do you know what funds city streets? You probably think its gas taxes. It isn’t. The majority of funding for city streets comes from property taxes. Guess what, we all pay those. And even the small percentage that comes from gas taxes are still paid into by cyclists because most of us also drive cars.

      5. JB

        Pearce is funny. He must think of cyclists as members of some alien species that use Westlake to commute between Venus and Jupiter. Or perhaps just a prime example of the classic foaming-at-mouth 1% bike hater who it’s not worth the tine and energy to engage with.

      6. Leif Espelund

        I know, I know. Sometimes you just really hope you can change someones mind in the smallest way. But you are right, halfway through typing out a reply I realized I was wasting my time. People who think like that don’t live in reality and certainly don’t base their opinions on any sort of fact.

      7. JB

        > Sometimes you just really hope you can change someones
        > mind in the smallest way.

        It’s an easy trap to fall into! But even if you win the argument ten times over, they never succumb to logic and you end up absorbing way too much of their anger and zero-sum mentality.

  3. JBob

    I keep hoping that when the Broadway cycle track opens and people start to really see how safe and pleasant and non-hard core biking in the city can be, it will help move the needle on discussions like this on Westlake.

    1. Charles B


      I love the cycle track up on Linden up on the north end of town. I wish more people would come up to this part of town to use it. Everyone I know who has loves it.

      I look forward to using the new track on Broadway as soon as it opens.

      1. Karl Johnson

        I’ll be a dissenting voice on that one. I hate it. I’d rather ride in the road.

  4. David

    Here’s another thing to consider:

    Nixing – or even delaying – the cycle track’s design and construction would likely mean returning or refusing the competitive Non-Motorized CMAQ funding that the City has already been awarded (nearly $2 million). It’s not an enormous sum of money, but it’s not insignificant and it does represent 20% of King County’s entire CMAQ Non-Motorized Program funding. Returning that kind of money as one of your first steps as mayor would look pretty bad locally, not to mention regionally.

    More importantly, demonstrating that type of unreliable grant stewardship would weigh heavily on the City’s future applications for CMAQ funding. It’s difficult for me to imagine a new mayor jeopardizing money-in-hand, long-term funding, and political face just to appease the concerns of a few vocal businesses, but stranger things have indeed happened.

  5. Charles B

    I understand that Murray has not come out against (or for) the cycle track specifically, but his wishy-washy position on the issue (and on a load of other issues) are exactly why I have trouble supporting him.

    I don’t know if he’s for my issues or against them. He’s acting this way to get votes for sure, but it doesn’t make me any more comfortable with his answers. By being non-committal he *can* be in favor of increased bicycle and transit use of Westlake or he can be against them after being elected.

    I would like to see him commit to a position so I know who I am voting for or against. Especially when I have a choice that is more clear on the subject.

    1. Biliruben

      Absolutely. I’ve been chanting “give me safe and flat” for so long, I don’t recall when I started. I had been told repeatedly a route that took away parking along Westlake was a non-starter, by someone high up in council staff. The same council that has universally endorsed Murray.

      With mcginn, my number one bike priority, a safe, flat route downtown from the north, suddenly went from impossible to being planned. He has certainly earned my support. Murray, all cozy with old Seattle power brokers, has to prove he will fight for the changes we need. All he’s shown me are red flags and business as usual.

  6. Fnarf

    I’ve been through that area on both car and bike, and parked in that endless lot before a number of times (I have friends in a houseboat, and I took a Spanish class there), and I agree, it’s a recipe for disaster. Most of the bikes seem to settle on the pedestrian path, veering out into the parking lot when the ped traffic gets too heavy. But a lot of that ped traffic is crosswise, from car to shop or moorage, and is thus a dangerous game of dodgem — as is cycling in the lot, with cars pulling in and out constantly. Plus, a lot of cars use the lot as an access road, traveling long distances to avoid the highway-like Westlake, which is another of those 50 MPH arterials this city has so many of. Not safe for any of the three transit modes.

    I really think it’s crazy to fight for so much free parking on what is in effect a 250-foot-wide street. It needs to be rationalized. And, like so many of these “neighborhood groups”, the “Westlake Stakeholders Group” is a very unrepresentative sample of neighborhood opinion. I know my Westlake friends, houseboat owners, are avid cyclists and support the cycleway.

    1. Breadbaker

      My experience is the same, which is why it’s been a long time since I’ve taken Westlake instead of Dexter. Even at night, with the restaurants on Westlake, both the sidewalk and the parking lot are not conducive to a relaxing ride.

      The sidewalk is part of the “Chehsiahud Lake Union Loop”, which the Parks and Recreation department claims “creates a safe and attractive access to the lake for all Seattlites.” But calling it safe and attractive doesn’t mean that it is either. I suspect Brian Fairbrother’s family doesn’t think it is. The whole point of improvements like the proposed cycle track is to stop thinking we can paint lipstick on a pig and think we’ve solved an issue.

  7. Leif Espelund

    There is seriously so much space there that could be put to much better use for everyone. I can’t believe these people are already freaking out about losing some of the crazy amount of free parking that is available. I’d guess that whole space (from the edge of buildings on the West side of the street to the edge of buildings on the east) is at least 100′ wide. There is enough room there to put a 7 lane road (2 parking lanes, two dedicated bus or streetcar lanes, two general purpose lanes, and a turn lane) and still have space for nice sidewalks and a cycle track: http://streetmix.net/-/61126 (and the parking lane could be interupted for bus bulbs)

  8. I think a good strategy would be to let businesses know how much easier it is to patronize them via bike rather than car. As SashaBikes points out, it is much easier by bike at rush hour. I ride there from downtown for meetings and conferences at the AGC building and to a visit a consultant’s office. So much less hassle than driving. And have ridden there to rent kayaks. Wouldn’t work to buy a boat or for some other things, but even if it meant losing a few City subsidized park n ride spaces, a better bike route could actually add customers.

  9. Leif Espelund

    The city could also make a compromise: we’re taking x number of spots to build a proper cycle track, but we guarantee the remaining spots will not be subject to fees for at least y years. Otherwise that city parking should be subject to market rates.

    1. biliruben

      There must be some heavy weights among the business owners along Westlake.

      They’ve successfully fought any sort of reasonable transportation plan along Westlake for decades. They appear to have Murray in their pocket.

      I’m going to go out on a limb and predict the end of the Westlake cycle-track if Murray wins.

      1. Leif Espelund

        It’s the China Harbor mafia!

      2. JBob

        Well, I just got through my first ride on the much-ballyhooed 58th Street “Greenway” and I must say that whoever in the McGinn administration considers this serious bike infrastructure needs an extended vacation; preferably in Holland or Denmark. If it’s supposed to be a bike priority route, someone sure hasn’t informed the motorists who are pulling all the usual stunts, and on a street that is too narrow for any error or daydreaming. Missing link would be great, and how about a cycle track on Market Street – surely there is enough width there to accommodate one.

      3. Shawn

        Agreed. I’ve heard nothing from Murray to suggest he’s remotely pro-bike, or even tolerant of them. Remember, his Transportation Master Plan scheme: “It’s letting the data pick the modes (of transportation) we use instead of us getting into mode wars,” Murray said. Visionary, it ain’t. Murray is smart enough not to come out as anti-bike, but it’s pretty clear from his wishy-washy statements and data-driven biases that cycle won’t have a friend in a Murray adminstration. And Seattle will just be a ward of the state.

  10. Dick Schwartz

    As a Westlake community resident I find many of these comments quite astounding. This corridor is probably the worst thing that has ever happened for the pro-cycling interests in that it is a showcase for how rude, self centered, and unlawful cyclists have become in Seattle. I challenge you to go there and talk to people who live, work and patronize businesses in the area. You will hear endless stories of the close calls people have had with cyclists riding unresponsibly (high speed, too close to the rear of parked cars, dodging around any and everything in their path rather than yielding as common sense and basic courtesy would dictate, etc). I am not being dramatic when I say that if I could be “deputized” to issue traffic tickets I could make a reasonable living if I could keep just 50% of the revenue from the violations I observe on a daily basis (riding at unsafe speed, riding without a helmet, riding without lights after dark, riding the wrong way down one way lanes, riding with no hands on the handlebars, riding while talking on a cell phone). I don’t understand why the cycling community, rather than whining about bad vehicle drivers which is not something they can do anything about, doesn’t put some effort into reigning in these cyclists who do so much harm to the public’s perception of cycling. I have discussed this situation with SPD traffic officers and they say they observe the same things on a regular basis. For your own good it’s time for you guys to get your act together and start policing your own.

    1. Tom Fucoloro

      You’re funny. The day people who drive cars can convince other people in cars to obey traffic rules, i’m sure people who bike will get the same magic abilities.

      You know tens of thousands of people in seattle bike regularly, right?

      Also, safe bikeways have been shown to dramatically decrease traffic offenses among people cycling. When a space is designed for cycling, people follow the rules better. It’s that simple. So you should be joining in the call for a safe bikeway on Westlake.

      1. Karl Johnson

        Hear, hear! Tom is correct on all counts!

    2. JBob

      Dick Schwartz must think we all hang out at the same bar or something. And I never get tired of the parental tone of “You’re not getting any new toys until you do what daddy says!” by bicycle haters who have convinced themselves that they speak for every Decent Person in the city. Schwartz, if you want to see cyclists behaving better you should be writing city council to advocate for some real bicycle infrastructure on Westlake – no one will be dodging and weaving amongst the cars and pedestrians when there is a dedicated cycle there.

      1. JBob

        dedicated cycle *track* there.

    3. Leif Espelund

      As a Westlake bicycle rider I find Dick’s comments quite astounding. This corridor is probably the worst thing that has ever happened for the pro-driving interests in that it is a showcase for how rude, self centered, and unlawful drivers have become in Seattle. I challenge you to go there and talk to cyclists who live, work, commute through, and patronize businesses in the area. You will hear endless stories of the close calls people have had with people driving irresponsibly (high speed, pulling out of parking stalls without looking behind them, driving around “slow” cyclists in their path rather than yielding as common sense and basic courtesy would dictate, etc). I am not being dramatic when I say that if I could be “deputized” to issue traffic tickets I could make a reasonable living if I could keep just 5% of the revenue from the violations I observe on a daily basis (driving at unsafe speed, driving without a seatbelt, not parking between the lines, not yielding to pedestrians, driving while talking on a cell phone). I don’t understand why the driving community, rather than whining about bad bicycle riders which is not something they can do anything about, doesn’t put some effort into reigning in these drivers who do so much harm to the public’s perception of single occupancy automotive transport. I have discussed this situation with SPD traffic officers and they say they observe the same things on a regular basis. For your own good it’s time for you guys to get your act together and start policing your own.

  11. John Q

    While there is no doubt that a safe solution is needed, it seems that many of those that are for the Westlake Cycle Track see the business owners and their employees in the area, and the parking that they depend on to stay in business and support their families, as obstacles to be overcome, instead of actual “people” and vital businesses to be considered and worked with.

    Is this want or need for a cycle track so important that you are willing to sacrifice the lively hoods of hundreds of small business owners and their employees? At the meeting last night and on this blog, the reality of the parking situation was grossly misrepresented. I know because I am there every day. I highly suspect that the picture taken on this blog was done so on a Saturday.

    Given the state of the economies in other cities across the country, Detroit for example, some in Seattle have taken our good fortune and good economy for granted. Designing a cycle track that reduces the parking even 10% will greatly affect all the business along Westlake, forcing some to move or fail, and a 50% reduction of parking would surely destroy most of the businesses. Don’t agree with me? Ever own a business or work down there? Ever try to find a parking spot at noon on a Wednesday close to where you want to go with a load of tools or product?

    So I’m asking you as fellow Seattlites, and as fellow humans, to think about the employees, families, and the life’s work of these small business owners before you just write them off as obstacles. There certainly is room for a solution that will suit us all. All the business owners I have talked to understand the need for a safe solution, but they also need to protect their way of life.

    1. Tom Fucoloro

      I also agree that a solution that suits everyone’s needs can be found. For example, if there is some parking reduction, perhaps there is a way to ensure that new loading zones and short term parking is added (or whatever businesses need most).

      It does not help businesses for Westlake to be a park-and-ride for folks just trying to avoid paying downtown parking costs. So reworking parking so it is business-and-resident-focused would help everyone and allow for a safe bikeway and improvements for people on foot.

      There is so much room to work with that we can solve this for everyone. I have yet to hear anyone talking about taking away 50% of parking, and I highly doubt that will be necessary.

    2. Leif Espelund

      John, nobody is writing people or businesses off as obstacles to be overcome. But there is a lot of space on Westlake that is dedicated to free SOV parking. It isn’t unreasonable to say that it is time to move some of that to more active use. After all, much of it is used as a de facto park and ride lot currently.

      And why is it that the businesses and employees along Westlake are entitled to free unrestricted parking right near the urban core while the rest of us have to pay for it? Where else near downtown has that benefit? Parking is a commodity and it should be treated as such.

      Also, stop with the dire warnings of businesses relocating. Most of those businesses are marine-based. Where are they going to go that offers marine access with more free parking? And if they do leave guess what, other businesses will take their place. That is prime real estate.

      I’m all for converting some of those parking spaces into limited commercial load zones for the industrial businesses that need them.

      Remember, we aren’t just cyclists, almost all of us are also car drivers when the need comes and we understand that there is a need for places to park while you do businesses. But I’m used to paying for parking when I need to drive in an urban environment.

      There is room for compromise here, but if your position is going to be “no removal of any free parking ever” it is going to be hard to work together.

      1. John Q

        Leif, again, another person thinking they have in-depth knowledge of business activities on Westlake based mostly on traveling through the area. True, a lot of the businesses are marine based but there is a great diversity of businesses and many more than you are obviously are aware of.

        Also, please read my original post again. No where did I say “no removal of any free parking ever” Please try to be accurate when you quote me. Unrestricted free parking is also going a bit far. There isn’t unrestricted free parking anywhere in town.

        The bottom line is this: One of the proposals, it was right there at the open house, has the west side of the parking lot being removed for the cycle track. Help me out here but I think that is around half the parking. Take that parking out, paid, free, whatever, and most businesses will fail.

        What I’m asking for here is that everyone involved to understand the implications of such a development and to think of the people and their families that will be adversely affected by it. Certainly some of you have some empathy? Don’t you want it to be a win/win situation for everyone? Has the era of idiot no-compromise politics trickled down from the “leaders” of this country’s “government” to infect it’s citizens too?

      2. Leif Espelund

        I actually have a fairly good understanding of the types of businesses along Westlake and it isn’t just from travelling through. I have spent money at restaurants, the fuel dock, and the Northwest Outdoor Center, just to name a few. But one doesn’t have to have in-depth knowledge of the workings of every business on the street to have an informed opinion on transportation infrastructure. And just because you work there, doesn’t mean you know everything about them either. What are the businesses that will somehow completely fail if in your stated scenario half of the parking were to be removed? (Which again, is very unlikely to be proposed when the time for an actual proposal comes). Why are these businesses different from downtown businesses which survive with almost no street parking?

        I just provided evidence that removing parking and adding bicycle facilities does not generally harm and in fact can help businesses. Where is your evidence that businesses fail when parking is removed? The problem here is you are using common fear mongering arguments that come up every time any new bicycle infrastructure or road safety project is proposed. And every time the stated negative outcomes turn out to be either wholly untrue or dramatically overstated.

        Your original post said “Designing a cycle track that reduces the parking even 10% will greatly affect all the business along Westlake, forcing some to move or fail…” I read that as you basically not being willing to even consider any parking removal. What kind of removal would be acceptable to you?

        And how is that parking currently restricted? It is my understanding (from using it to park myself) that you can park there all day for free. Is that incorrect? I can’t seem to find a city map that shows what the parking restrictions are for particular areas.

        Again, as cyclists (and drivers) we do understand how removing parking to build safer transportation infrastructure that serves both active and passive users can affect businesses, and for the most part it is a positive change for everyone. It isn’t unreasonable for us to want a safe place to ride and we are totally willing to compromise on what dream plans would be in order to get that. Nobody here is advocating removing all the parking and putting you out of business. We all want your business to succeed. Successful businesses are a key to a strong tax base which provides the revenue to build and maintain good infrastructure.

        Please stop trying to make this an us vs. them thing.

      3. Tom Fucoloro

        “The bottom line is this: One of the proposals, it was right there at the open house, has the west side of the parking lot being removed for the cycle track. Help me out here but I think that is around half the parking. ”

        That’s probably the issue here. There was no design at the open house, and no analysis of potential parking loss. That comes in the next phase of design. I have yet to see anyone here say we should remove half the parking. That would be an absurdly large bikeway (it’s a huge lot).

        The image you refer to is likely that one where they overlayed the existing conditions with general areas of the parking lot where the bikeway could go. But you forget that they can do things like redesign the parking lot to, say, change it to angled parking and/or include areas with parallel parking or other methods to more efficiently pack parking into a slightly smaller space. So stay involved, but saying that somehow people on bikes want to take away half the parking is simply not accurate.

        I’m glad to hear you are interested in reforming the unrestricted parking situation. I think that’s probably one of the best ways to make the area safe while also preserving parking for businesses: Change the rules so people can’t just use the lot as a park-and-ride to downtown. Parking should be to the benefit of the economy.

    3. JB

      Are you saying that bicycle infrastructure killed Detroit? As far as I can tell, Detroit is the poster-child for how designing for nothing but automobiles will eventually rot a city to its core. People on foot and on bikes are far more likely to spend their dollars locally than drivers are, and you can fit far more people (customers) into a given amount of space when they are walking or biking. I would think a struggling business owner would be clamoring for any kind of infrastructure that would get more bicycles and pedestrians going past their front door.

      1. Leif Espelund

        Well, to John’s point, a lot of the businesses along that section are to serve the marine industry. I doubt many people on bikes are picking up bilge pumps and scuba tanks. Of course there are also restaurants, lawyers, dentists, and massage clinics so it is a mixed use area with lots of businesses that could benefit from bikes. On the other hand I count at least three yacht companies. If those types of businesses can’t bare the slightly higher cost of paid parking I’m guessing they aren’t going to last much longer anyway.

      2. JB

        > I doubt many people on bikes are picking up bilge pumps and
        > scuba tanks.

        Of course not, he is setting up a false dichotomy – that by wanting one parking space removed you might as well be asking people to haul their scuba tanks on a bike to Shilshole. We all know that loading and unloading heavy equipment is a key part of the transportation equation, and we also know that you could remove about 95% of the parking down there and still have plenty of capacity for that type of operation.

        As to this:

        > There is room for compromise here, but if your position is going
        > to be “no removal of any free parking ever” it is going to be hard
        > to work together.

        Cycling advocates need to stop buying into the “us versus them” mentality that is propagated by the noisy 1% of motorists who like to think anyone biking on a street must be a sociopath. We all want mobility and a dynamic economy – how are we going to work together to get there? The facts are that more cycling, pedestrian and transit infrastructure boosts mobility for people who never get near a bicycle or a bus. Make that case and 99% of the public will be with you. Let yourself get boxed in as “car-hater” by people who hate bicycles and you’re going nowhere fast.

      3. John Q

        JB, Don’t be ridiculous. Of course I am not blaming cyclists for the economy in Detroit. Are you here to reach common ground or are you here to just argue?

        You say “People on foot and on bikes are far more likely to spend their dollars locally than drivers are…” Really? And where did you come up with this conclusion? To which study are you referring?

        This is what I’m talking about. People who think they know more about the businesses and their customers on Westlake than the business owners themselves. If your above statement were true, then wouldn’t it make the owners and employees of the businesses excited to potentially loose half the parking?

      4. Leif Espelund

        John, that is the point! Most businesses should be excited about adding bicycle and pedestrian facilities (and to reiterate Tom’s point, it likely will not take removing anywhere near 50% of parking to do). I don’t know what your particular business is, and as I’ve said this probably doesn’t apply to marine-based businesses (though SCUBA might), but the restaurants, lawyers, massage places, etc. should benefit by having more active transportation going past their door. Or at the very least not be harmed by the loss of parking (ie: it would even out). Here is a blog post that summarizes the findings from a bunch of different studies. Links are there for additional reading/sources: http://walkthewash.blogspot.com/2013/09/more-bikes-means-more-business.html

      5. JB

        > JB, Don’t be ridiculous. Of course I am not blaming cyclists for
        > the economy in Detroit. Are you here to reach common ground
        > or are you here to just argue?

        I am totally here to argue! No seriously, my mistake, I must have misunderstood you. What exactly was your point about Detroit?

  12. John Q

    Leif, you missed my point. It seems that you are inferring that all my fellow Westlake business owners and I have no clue about the parking usage of our employees and customers. Also, Tom telling me “it likely will not take removing anywhere near 50% of parking” just isn’t enough for me to quit worrying about the future of me and my neighbors.

    If it weren’t such a serious matter, It would be funny that you all just think we are concerned for no reason, as if we show up to our businesses and just go through our day without doing any research, math, or planning.

    Maybe we can agree on this: If you want to know about parking utilization by businesses on Westlake, ask a bunch of the business owners. If I want to know about the best bike helmet for my kid, I’ll ask you.

    1. Tom Fucoloro

      Well, that last sentence was a cheap shot. You seem to not take the safety issues in the lot very seriously. You think people want Westlake to be safe because… we’re greedy? People are getting hurt for no reason. It’s poorly designed. Let’s redesign it.

      1. John Q

        Not so cheap when people keep telling ME what the needs of MY business are. I agree, let’s redesign it to be safe AND economically feasable. I’m not talking about profits here, I’m talking about people’s lively-hoods.

      2. Tom Fucoloro

        Agreed. We’re totally on the same page about that. Project priorities:

        – Safety for everyone.
        – Promote business health.

        We can do both. Thanks for engaging in the comments here. It’s helpful.

  13. John Q

    JB, I’ll assume you are sincere. Point: That we are lucky in this town to have a good economy compared to much of the rest of the country, and that to marginalize the needs of a large group of small businesses is a mistake that would not necessarily be made in a place where the economy is not doing as well.

    1. JB

      But to get back to Detroit, it is a perfect example of how clinging to an outmoded concept of transportation and urban land use is a recipe for stagnation and decline. What makes you think that replacing some parking with a cycle track is going to put people out of business?

      By the way, if parking availability is an issue down there, why not raise the price of it? Surely people who have money to spend in your store have a dollar or two to park for an hour.

  14. […] and statements he made about many of the city’s planned bicycle-focused projects including a downtown cycle track. Outgoing Mike McGinn, meanwhile, seems likely to be forever associated with bicycling in the […]

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