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Seattle Times Ed Board adds its support to the Westlake bikeway

Screen Shot 2014-06-16 at 8.36.51 AM
Click to read the full editorial.

The Seattle Times Editorial Board added its two cents about the Westlake bikeway project this weekend, backing the city’s plan to build protected bike lanes from the Fremont Bridge to Lake Union Park and praising Mayor Ed Murray’s ability to steer the process out of a litigation hole (so far, at least).

When the Times and the Stranger both agree about something, you know you’ve got a popular idea. Certainly, we here at Seattle Bike Blog do not always agree with the Times Ed Board on transportation issues. For example, the board recently opposed King County’s ill-fated Prop 1 to shore up Metro bus service, a measure we supported and were sad to see fail.

But the Times Board, especially in recent years, has been pushing for better bike lanes, urging Seattle to be “in the vanguard” of city cycling. To them, the Westlake bikeway simply makes sense: Reorganize the parking to make it work better, and use the space created to build a great, flat bikeway between the city’s fastest growing neighborhood and its busiest bike trail.

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As we’ve said, there really is no reason to fight. This project can and should be a win-win.

10005900_802626019755011_6562333666023877062_o copyThe Board uses the editorial to get in a few swipes at former Mayor Mike McGinn — the SBB-endorsed mayor the Times Board opposed from beginning to end of his single term — by praising Murray for “acting as broker, not agitator” in moving the plan along instead of letting it get mired in a millennial generation vs the maritime industry fight.

“In short-circuiting the trope of past versus future Seattle, Murray has charted a course that should be repeated as the city rolls out its ambitious citywide Bicycle Master Plan over the coming years” the editorial says. Murray ran for mayor on the promise that he could get more done by bringing more people together. The Board, which endorsed him, sees the Westlake project as an example that he is fulfilling that promise.

Though judging by this scary, violent comment some maniac placed on a plan skematic at a recent public meeting, I don’t think everyone is down with the Ed Board’s rosy view yet. But the Board knows this, and urged opponents to “stay constructive, and not default to angry anti-bike rhetoric.”

After all, this is about making Seattle a better place to be and easier to get around. Once it is built, it will be a “jewel,” the board says.

From the editorial:

Once the parties started talking, they found common ground. The parking lot has 783 free parking spots, allowing it to be a no-cost park-and-walk lot for South Lake Union workers. Losing some of them, and swapping others for paid spots could accommodate the businesses’ interests in ample parking.

The city must continue its nuanced approach, ensuring Lake Union floating homeowners and boat owners aren’t squeezed out. But the businesses along Westlake must also stay constructive, and not default to angry anti-bike rhetoric. The city’s interest is clear: In exchange for parking, it gains a safer waterfront biking route for commuters, recreational riders and tourists. Call it a very fair trade.

The Westlake bike lane will — and should — be built, and the dust-up will be forgotten among regard for a jewel of a trail. How it was built should be the project’s true legacy.

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8 responses to “Seattle Times Ed Board adds its support to the Westlake bikeway”

  1. Jessica

    I hadn’t ridden in this area much before, and had the occasion to ride there this weekend on the way back from the Mariners game on Saturday. It could definitely use better lighting! Pretty scary to be there at 11:30 pm not sure if drivers pulling out of parking spots are looking for you and can see you! And pretty scary to not be able to see bumps in the terrain until you’re right up on them… and I am a slow biker and was going slower than usual, as I was shaken up from having just gotten flipped head over heels in the streetcar tracks :( Because of the dark and rain, I purposely chose the safest route available that night, and even that felt pretty rough.

    1. Gary

      Time to buy some better lights of your own if you are going to do night ridding.

  2. jay

    I just don’t understand the popularity of this idea. considering there doesn’t seem to have been decided what this is going to be. The possibility that the bikeway would be (nearly) adjacent to Westlake with what, 14? driveway crossings seems terrifying.

    I rarely ride down Westlake, and when I do it is recreationally and non-peak commuter times, and I have little problems with just riding through the parking lot. I understand that during busy times that may not be so pleasant, but I have to think that during busy times the driveway crossings will be at least proportionally worse as well, and possibly much more than proportionally.
    A driver going Southbound trying to turn left into the parking lot against Northbound traffic going 40mph or so, will, far too often, not be looking for bicyclists, and if the bicyclist is also Southbound…. And of course people trying to leave the parking lot will be stopped (if they stop) in the crossing waiting for a hole in traffic.

    Now, it could be that option A is not actually intended to be built, it is just to jive the “stake holders” a “choice”. You don’t want to give up the service lane? Fine, no problem, we’ll just take more of the free parking (and for icing on the cake, prohibit left turns from/to Westlake ). What’s that? you don’t really need the service lane that badly? well, ok we can go that way if you prefer.

    1. Ben P

      Even if this trail will never be great from a traffic perspective, it is the only realistic path for less powerful riders. I can climb Dexter no problem, but I can recall a time when I couldn’t. Thus is about making cycling a viable transport option for more than a handful of young athletic males. As an added bonus, views on westlake are beautiful. But I do agree, putting it by the buildings is the obvious plan and even thinking of putting it by the street seems strange.

  3. Jason Graham

    Significant credit goes to the group of folks Cascade Bicycle Club fired, who worked hard to sit down with and educate the Seattle Times editorial board about the benefits of biking.

  4. bill

    “praising Murray for “acting as broker, not agitator” in moving the plan along instead of letting it get mired in a millennial generation vs the maritime industry fight”

    Time for Murray to whisper sweet nothings into the ears of the obstructionist businesses blocking the Missing Link.

  5. […] about bike trains for kids in Southeast Seattle. Out of nowhere, the Seattle Times editorial board came out in favor of the Westlake Bikeway. $2.4m was awarded to a cyclist in Philly for getting “doored”. Greater Greater […]

  6. Simon

    I have recently been dropping kids off and picking them up by car along Westlake for summer camp; I have been shocked at how dangerous it is for bikers as it’s laid out right now, because they are forced to ride right down the middle of what is essentially a parking lot. There are cars pulling, pulling out, visibility is poor . . . I’m literally amazed a biker hasn’t been killed yet.

    The parking lots along Westlake have three layers of parking and one or two sidewalks currently; there is PLENTY of room for a nice, two-way bike track without any impact on parking or businesses at all. I do think signage will be needed to alert drivers to the presence of bikers, though, because the signage is sorely needed now too.

    I literally don’t understand what possible reasonable objection someone could have to putting in a bike track on this route. There’s room, there’s no impact on parking, and it’s very needed to keep bikers and drivers (and walkers) alike all safe.

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