While Seattle is the only gold-level community in Washington State and one of only four US cities with populations larger than 300,000 to achieve gold status, the reconfirmation of gold status shows that the city is not doing enough to be a true top-tier leader in becoming a truly bike-friendly US city.
The good news is that Seattle has done a lot of work to get up to speed on advocacy and planning. But the city has a whole lot of work left to do to build a complete and connected network of bike lanes and neighborhood greenways. Despite what some angry talk radio hosts or Seattle Times commenters might say, only 17 percent of Seattle’s arterial streets have bike lanes. That’s far lower than the platinum city average of 78 percent.
Seattle has a lot of work to do.
But Seattle is almost on track with the platinum cities in one key measure: Fatalities per daily bike commuter. Unfortunately, 0.7 deaths per 10,000 commuters is still not low enough, and Seattle’s collision rate of 148.6 per 10,000 commuters is significantly higher than the platinum city average (90).
The League does have advice for Seattle as it tries to get in shape for its next application for Platinum status:
- Continue to expand the on and off street bike network, and make intersections safer for cyclists. Focus on network connectivity. On roads with posted speed limits of more than 35 mph, it is recommended to provide protected bicycle infrastructure. Ensure that all Seattle bridges have safe entry and exit points for cyclists, as well as a safe space to cross.
- Provide high quality on-street bike parking throughout the community, especially in the historic and landmark districts. Provide convenient and secure bike parking at event venues and major transit hubs.
- Expand the Safe Routes to School program.
- Dedicate SDOT staff time to encouragement and education efforts and better financially and logistically support bike-related encouragement and education efforts by advocates and bike groups. Set encouragement and education goals, metrics, and values.
- Continue to expand your public education campaign promoting the share the road message.
- Host a greater variety of family-oriented, low income and young professional-oriented bike events and rides.
- Step up enforcement of the Vulnerable User ordinance , 20mph speed limits, and the Failure to Yield ordinance.
- Aggressively implement the new bike plan by increasing funding.
For more thoughts on Seattle’s gold rating, see this post by Seattle Neighborhood Greenways.