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Interim SDOT Director will speak at April Bike Board meeting + Construction impacts, budget, 520

It’s the first Wednesday of the month, and that means the Seattle Bicycle Advisory Board is meeting. The volunteer board provides guidance and feedback on various city projects and policies that impact bicycling.

As with last month, I’m posting the agenda in advance in case you want to sit in on the meeting. If you can’t make it, I’ll post updates below during the meeting.

SBAB Agenda 04-02-14

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Updates from the meeting

Bicycle Master Plan will be considered in committee Tuesday and could go to the full Council for final approval April 14.

Goran Sparrman, Interim SDOT Director

“How do we make our bicycle system more accessible to people of all ages and abilities?” That’s the question Sparrman thinks the updated Bicycle Master Plan answers.

As Seattle grows, our road system will stay congested, he said, and we can’t build more roads. So the growth must be in walking, biking and transit.

23rd Ave: Started with only one mode in mind, but later realized there were other community needs. City came up with “a comprehensive plan” to balance the space for users. Plan now includes expanded sidewalks to create more pedestrian and green space. Decided to move the bikes to a parallel street. “We can agree or disagree with whether that was the right facility to do.”

How do we hit the ground running on the Bicycle Master Plan?

There is support from the mayor and City Council to make progress on the Bicycle Master Plan, Sparrman said. We need strong examples of successful facilities.

Huge need it a cycle track through the Center City. Biking through downtown “is a pretty frightening experience.”

West Lake Sammamish Parkway in Bellevue was a hard public battle while he was working for the City of Bellevue. Now, a part of it is built and “people love it.”

Bicycle Advisory Board should continue advocating for higher funding and holding city accountable for using the money they have to build high quality facilities. The Board could also be helpful “conferencing” with people advocating for other modes on the city’s limited street space.

Dongho Chang, City Traffic Engineer

Lots of construction along the Burke-Gilman Trail in the University District, including UW Station work and new UW buildings.

The city and UW wanted to make sure needs are being served, especially due to all the construction. Took advice from University Greenways (shout out to Eli) and created a new two-way protected bike lane on NE 40th Street between Brooklyn and 15th.

Did the analysis on the University Way intersection and realized that almost all the cross traffic was from people walking. Traffic flow should actually improve by turning it into a four-way stop instead of using the current traffic signal.

“Maybe opening a section of the Broadway Bikeway early wasn’t the best idea,” Chang said, because you get people using it, then have to close parts for ongoing construction. “Lesson learned.”

Traffic Control Manual, updated in 2012 (download bike or walk chapters). Gives guidance on lane closures.

Try the best they can to make sure there is a pedestrian pathway and a bike pathway during construction work.

Dongho adds that people are human and might make mistakes. The city has inspectors who can make sure contractors are handling bike and walk access near construction sites properly.

As construction picks up, city needs to make sure there are enough inspectors out there keeping construction zones in line.

When a contractor uses right of way (parking lane, bike lane, sidewalk), there is a fee that escalates over time. So there is an incentive for them to close things for as short a time as possible.

Board members point out that some of the biggest construction detour challenges have come from WSDOT. Chang says the state has been “a very responsible party” whenever the city has come to them with issues. Atlantic Street overpass issue is prime example.

Chang says the state has their own rules and guidelines they have to follow, and says they have been receptive to ideas like installing a cycle track on Royal Brougham near the stadiums.


Interesting side note: Nearly all SDOT presentations now include preface stating the city’s transportation mission to achieve zero traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2030. Cool to see Vision Zero get reenforced like that.

Bridging the Gap is mostly property taxes, but does have a commercial parking tax element.

It’s hard to tease out how much money is spend on bike stuff because so many projects have shared benefits. How do you split up the percentage of a safe streets project according to mode?

Problem is that the Bike Master Plan has a dollar sign attached to it, so the Board wants to be able to make sure the city is on track to complete it on schedule.

520 construction issues in Montlake

Limited connections across Ship Canal, so obviously it’s a big deal to preserve and improve Montlake Bridge bike access.

State is gearing up to replace the north part of the west approach bridge. Schedule for construction was summer, but it may be slipping to winter or even later.

Biggest issue: 24th Ave bridge will be closed during construction. Vital to bike movement through the area.

Detour will follow E North Street to Montlake Boulevard, then widen the sidewalk to make it big enough to be a multi-use trail.

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8 responses to “Interim SDOT Director will speak at April Bike Board meeting + Construction impacts, budget, 520”

  1. bikingalongthebay

    Does anyone have the link where we can leave public comment for the advisory board.

    The fact they closed a section of Elliott Bay Trail which is a major bike commuting trail is appalling. SDOT should be reprimanded. We use that trail for out safety and oh it is OK if we ask bicyclist to get off there bikes and walk. This is transportation not some leisure experience. This is another reason why people do not get bikes. The city is forever closing and changing bike paths that are the safe route for our community. Shame on you City of Seattle. And a side note when are we going to have a safe route over the Ballard Bridge? Not being detoured to walk across the Locks or way out of our way to Fremont.

    1. Josh

      That’s not SDOT, the trail through the sculpture garden is officially a park.

      This does point out a larger issue — many bicycle facilities are not built or maintained as transportation infrastructure.

      Say what you will about transportation engineers being generally car-centric, they at least recognize that bicycles are a type of vehicle that isn’t the same as a pedestrian, and they generally try to respect safety standards from FHWA, AASHTO, WSDOT, etc., at least when they’re aware of them.

      Bike facilities designed and built as parks are far more likely to overlook or ignore standards for sight distances, turning radius, safe clearances to obstacles, bollard hazards, directional signage, etc. Poor planning and communication of closures is just another symptom of the bikes-aren’t-transportation mindset.

  2. Andres Salomon

    I’m curious how the transition from 2-way bike lane to normal street will happen at 15th & NE 40th, going onto UW campus (at Grant Ln). Ever since they made the Montlake detour on the ‘Burke, I’ve been going that way to get to The Ave. Bike up the detour, head north past the fountain (stopping for a toddler duck/geese-watching break, of course), turn left, take Grant Ln/40th, and right onto The Ave. It would be great if it was a smooth transition.

    1. The same question could extend to the west, too — there’s a two-way bike lane on the south side of 40th from 7th to the Eastlake ramp exit. Will people riding from the Burke to the Ave via 40th (which should be a great route for that!) have to make multiple awkward transitions to do so?

      1. Yesterday I had an opportunity to run an errand on the Ave, so I got to take a look at the 40th Street stuff. Fortunately the two-way bike path is on the south side of the street, lining up with the path farther to the west. Unfortunately the way through is currently blocked by construction. If they complete the two-way path west of Brooklyn and through the construction zone to the existing path it should be great. If they don’t it’s pretty questionable.

    2. Mark Ellis

      I’m concerned about these transitions between Grant Lane and NE 40th too. How are you supposed to move from the north side of Grant Lane as you exit UW across 15th to the south side of 40th. I don’t fancy making a NE to SW diagonal run across that intersection. I suspect I’ll stay on the north side of 40th without the “protection” of the bike lane unless there is some plan to allow bikes to make that transition without interference from moving vehicles and pedestrians. It sure would be nice if there was some joined up thinking between SDOT and UW in regards to Grant Lane connectivity to the new bike lanes. If there isn’t then this improvement is anything but for UW commuters.

      1. Tom Fucoloro

        They created an all-way walk phase. Bikes should go then. I’ll have more on this early next week.

      2. Andres Salomon

        I noticed the all-way walk. Sitting in the left lane (the right lane is a right-turn-only), I was a bit surprised and confused. I hope they put some paint or something to show what you’re meant to do. Or even better, extend the protected bike lanes through UW campus.. :)

        I’m pretty sure UW was heavily involved in this. It was through them that I first heard about it.

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