Mayor Ed Murray’s Move Seattle plan is a “holistic transportation approach” that “includes a 10-year project list and maintenance and operations priorities.”
If you were engaged in shaping the recent update to the Bicycle Master Plan — which took two years and included lots of multimodal analysis — I know what you’re thinking: Another transportation plan in Seattle? How many of these do we need?
“This is a plan about how we integrate all those plans into a single plan,” said Mayor Ed Murray during a press conference Monday. In other works, Move Seattle doesn’t trash or replace the Bike Master Plan (whew).
Rather, it’s more like a list based on the city’s modal plans (walking, transit, bike and — soon — freight) that represent the mayor’s priorities and set the stage for the city’s next transportation ballot measure to replace the expiring Bridging the Gap levy. Details about the new measure will be released in the next week or so, and voters will take it up in November.
The Move Seattle plan also creates a framework for measuring success on its safety and mobility goals. It also creates a prioritization framework for selecting which projects rise to the top of the list.
So what’s in it? All kinds of stuff. Unspecified improvements to the Ballard Bridge, fixing the Ballard Missing Link, complete streets on Rainier, Lake City Way, Aurora, Delridge, E Marginal Way, Eastlake, Fremont/Phinney, Pike/Pine and more (see below).
But not all “complete streets” projects will include bike facilities. In fact, Mayor Murray made a point during the press conference that sometimes freight, transit and cars may be on one street while “perhaps people and bicycles are on another route,” such as a neighborhood greenway. The document expands on this idea:
For example, while Dexter Avenue’s design solution with buffered bicycle lanes behind transit stops was right for this location, it’s not a perfect fit for every street. Streets like East Marginal Way or 23rd Avenue are also important multimodal corridors and will have their own unique designs.
We have been critical of this concept that neighborhood greenways can be considered “alternatives” to proper bike facilities, especially on commercial streets packed with destinations. In Seattle, geographic challenges also make it hard in many cases to provide a consistent and usable parallel route, as we have seen in the hopeless search for a so-called parallel greenway to 24th Ave E (speaking of 24th, a road diet there is included in Move Seattle. See below).
But despite that quibble, there’s a lot to like in this plan. While Vision Zero sets a goal of zero traffic deaths or serious injuries by 2030, the Move Seattle sets its sight on zero deaths by 2025. With current rates of decline, I wonder if we can’t get there sooner. Especially if voters pass a new transportation measure with bold new funding for safety projects.
In the next three years, Seattle will build 50 miles of protected bike lanes and neighborhood greenways. This is on top of the speed limit reductions and speed zone projects outlined in the Vision Zero plan released recently. The city will also install 1,500 more bike parking spaces in the next three years, complete Safe Routes to School projects at 12 schools, build 30 miles of new sidewalks in areas without them, repair 25 blocks of sidewalk per year and rehab five stairways per year.
In addition to transportation routing, the plan also lays out plans for activating public spaces and imagining streets as places. For example, here’s a pretty cool graphic showing the potential to expand public, park-like space in the city’s right of way:
We all know that cars are expensive. The average household spends 17 percent of its monthly income on transportation. Most of that is for car costs. Here’s a graph showing how the average Seattleite who still owns a car can save a ton of cash by ditching their wheels:
Prioritized projects in next ten years
Below is a selection of the projects listed in the Move Seattle plan. We are only highlighting some (but not all) that specifically mention bicycling, though others may have chances to improve bike safety and mobility as well. If you want to learn more about how the priority scoring was calculated or see the full list of projects, start on page 36 in the Move Seattle document (27 MB PDF).
First up, OMG BALLARD BRIDGE:
Burke-Gilman Missing Link in Ballard included, though the document notes that the “exact route is yet to be determined.” A slow-moving Environmental Impact Statement is in the works to help determine the route.
Delridge protected bike lanes.
Desperately needed freight and bike improvements on E Marginal Way.
Interurban North bike route users (you may use this route without knowing it has a name), the city is going to fix the inadequate Fremont Ave/Phinney bike lanes.
People at the Rainier Ave meeting just last week were asking why the city wasn’t making the street safer all the way downtown. Well, they plan to.
No word yet if the Yesler bike lanes will come with a bike escalator.
A few other projects — like 24th Ave E from the CD to Montlake and 1st Ave S — don’t specifically mention bike lanes, but should.
Notice anything in the plan that I missed? Let us know in the comments below.
The problem with the Monthly Cost chart is that it’s not put in the context of SDOT funding.
My household uses Metro and bikes for about 90% of our transportation needs but our overall monthly expenditures are still the same…however now more of that money is going towards food, entertainment, housing improvements, and savings, instead of a car.
It’s extremely important to make that distinction because it means I’m paying more in sales tax and property tax then I was when I was driving a car and spending $50+ per week on gas (there is no sales tax and the gas tax almost exclusively goes to WSDOT for state roads). Since almost all of SDOTs budget is coming from sales and property tax it means that I’m contributing more to their revenue and at the same time I’m doing significantly less damage to their roads (although when I ride a bus you could argue it’s worse if you don’t include costs associated to safety, pollution, and congestion).
Anyway I would like to see SDOT really focus on educating Seattlites, especially car driving Seattlites, how things are paid for to pre-empt the guaranteed opposition from the “war against cars” contingent.
The worst damage to the roads is done by overweight buses and garbage trucks. The bending of the roadbed by these high weight vehicles is way worse than the road wear by the tires and weight of even the biggest SUV’s. Second is the cities lack of general maintenance to the point that repair costs jump. .. pothole filling in time saves nine… (and fixing the drainage under the street.)
They’re still not addressing the elephant in the room when it comes to getting around town: aggressive driving and distracted driving. It is past time to start training drivers according to the risk they present to others, past time to stop being so lenient every time someone hurts other people wih their car. Road rage, dui, driving while texting, speeding. All of these things need to be treated with the appropriate gravity instead of the insane Oh Well! stance we as a society seem to have been tricked into agreeing to accept.
Hilariously, the Greenwood/Phinney/67th project appears to deliberately leave out the critical blocks between 36th and the Fremont Bridge. I know there’s a lot going on in those blocks but they shouldn’t be impossible! Even looking at them without the intention of adding bike lanes could bring improvements, like disallowing the left turn from the bridge to 34th all day instead of only during afternoon rush hour (it’s a difficult maneuver for obvious reasons, and too important a route for biking and walking to keep us in the crosshairs when we do).
+1. There are transit needs there too. The sidewalks in central Fremont need to be extended to provide loading space for transit, and the idea of extending the SPU wire to Fremont/the zoo should be studied. This omission of this area is problematic for several reasons.
There was that proposal to remove parking/loading areas between 34th and 35th for short bus lanes, but I don’t know if it ever went anywhere.
The right turn the 26, 31, and 32 have to make from NB Fremont to 35th is another problem there. Maybe the centerline on 35th could be shifted a few feet north (perhaps requiring about one parking space on the north side of 35th to be removed), but I don’t know whether that would be enough to make that right turn work if the buses were starting all the way from the curb.
We should all be thanking Suzie Burke for advocating for all those desperately needed parking spaces in new Fremont developments, because throwing more cars into the mix at rush hour definitely helps to resolve the questions about road space just north of the bridge: it’s an interchange, dummies!
I appreciate your rosy comments on the Missing Link, to name one item covered in the Mayor’s proposal. Interested to know what you think about the comments from NSIA’s Eugene Wasserman in the Mike Lindblom article in the Seattle Times (Eugene is the voice of the Ballard Business Appellants in their ongoing lawsuits against the City, which has been trying since 2003 to complete the trail).
.”….Eugene Wasserman, president of the North Seattle Industrial Association, said talks about how to finish the missing link are again under way, and he’s glad to hear Murray won’t wait until a full environmental review is done.”
Is something a little fishy here?? Original designed/funded plan to complete the interim sections of trail, as specified in the City Council Resolution, was for about $9.1 million, at the time the plan was ready to put out for bid in 2009. Now hizzoner is proposing $15 million for the ‘missing link’? Is that for anticipated trail construction costs, or so that we can ‘study’ some alternate routes for non-trail completion?
Someone needs to dig a bit here to understand if there is fix in the works..
There’s an ironic touch in the Mike Lindblom article as well – he calls out the failure to complete the BGT….
“…Murray’s speech, next to the Ballard campus of Swedish Medical Center, included a promise to negotiate and plan projects faster.
An example of the opposite is the city’s failure, for a dozen years, to deliver the $16 million missing bike-trail link from the Ballard Locks to the Ballard Bridge. It is one of Move Seattle’s 24 big projects…”
No mention that the ‘failure’ is not the City’s, but the result of hundreds of thousands of $$ being spent by Mr. Wasserman and NSIA members to tie the process up in court. Are the BBAs achieving their goal, which is to just wear everyone down out about this?…. time will tell.
While the BBA NIMBYs are most certainly obstructionists responsible for delaying the completion of the Missing Link, I would have to agree that SDOT is also responsible for failing to complete the project. Time and again SDOT failed to anticipate what would be needed to surmount the legal challenges in court.
Wasserman is a tool for Salmon Bay Sand and Gravel, and to a lesser extent Ballard Oil and the Ballard Chamber of Commerce in conjunction with Veris Law Group. His comments can never be taken seriously.
That’s a good point – I glossed over some important angles, including this litigation, to keep the story length under control. My own thoughts about how to do the Missing Link tend to change, and differ from what’s proposed by the stakeholders, so I’ll keep those to myself.
Mike, one of the angles left out is that this group of businesses is trying to shift the Burke-Gilman to Leary and Market and still call it a “trail,” and doing so with very little scrutiny by the same people who write headlines claiming that not all things can fit on one street. Further, that those streets carry a far higher volume of general purpose traffic, parking for other local businesses that may like that proposal even less, and King County Metro buses that are getting stuck at the lights. Good luck fitting a cycletrack on Market! The goal for the Ballard businesses is to avoid using a flagger for their trucks to pull out of a few high volume driveways, and instead have bicyclists mix it up on streets that carry tens of thousands of vehicles per day.
Also in this mornings ST, was the comment, that the Ballard Business owners wanted to shift the trail over to where the Brew pubs etc are.
While I have no problem adding a safe lane to ride to a brew pub, it’s not the Burke Gilman trail that we already own. It’s not safe for kids learning to ride, like most of the rest of the trail. It’s a PR stunt to shift the focus to those beer swilling city bicyclists. BTW, I don’t drink and ride due to an unfortunate combination in college which left the contents of my stomach on the street after a hill climb. :)
A Leary route should work just fine — the BBA’s proposal to jump to Leary at 8th is ridiculous but jumping to Leary at 11th wouldn’t be unreasonable (because of the sort of intersections that you have to cross on Leary between 8th and 11th). There are a couple horribly misshaped intersections west of 11th, but they’re no less fixable than Shilshole. I’m not sure I buy the idea that a well-done Leary route would be less safe than a Shilshole route, or even much of the current BGT west of Fremont, which has lots of weird intersections.
The problem is that when you get to Market there’s truly nowhere to go without removing most of the parking. That means you’re trading a fight with the Shilshole businesses for a fight with the Market Street businesses. So while I can talk about this sort of thing in a blog comment, the city shouldn’t utter one word about moving it unless the BBA delivers the support of businesses along their proposed route for all the changes needed for a safe route.
I just spoke with the mayor’s office, and they are NOT moving ahead with Burke-Gilman plans before the EIS is finished. So Eugene’s comments are a bit misleading there.
And despite delays, the EIS really is actually happening (I know it feels like it isn’t). I’m gonna do an update to get better timelines and such.
Al, I agree with much of your comment except for Leary being potentially safer than Shilshole. There is so much more traffic on Leary at higher speeds, and crosssing movements from both directions. You might think that the Frelard section of trail is unsafe because of those awkward intersections, but the visibility is pretty good and the crossing volumes are so low that it’s not a big concern (at least for me as a 6-year bike commuter there). I’m not aware of bike-truck collisions in the years that the trail has gone through there.
Tom, the city cannot choose an official route during the EIS process but as Eugene’s comments and the Bertha tunnel history make clear, our city leaders have a habit of cutting deals behind the scenes before the analysis is done.
It’s frustrating, to say the least, that it sounds like the EIS for the proposed new sports arena is going to be finished before the EIS for the missing link.
A cycletrack on Leary or Ballard Ave is NOT a substitute for the Burke-Gilman trail, which is a mixed use trail accommodating joggers, walkers, skateboarders, cyclists, and more. Making part of the “trail” off-limits to everyone but cyclists doesn’t exactly qualify as completing the missing link…
Between Fremont and Ballard on the BGT today sight lines are so bad at a lot of the intersections that I can’t even run through at decent speed.
@Matthew: Sidewalks would still exist along the route, and improvements to intersections would make them more usable! The Market Street stretch would be a bit of a slog compared to bypassing it along the rail corridor.
I don’t think Leary/Market should be our first choice, but if it happened I don’t think it would be a tragedy we cursed for years, any more than the alignment through the office park area in Fremont is.
Al, yes, sidewalks would still exist along the route. Let’s say, though, that the alternative route is Ballard Ave, starting at 17th Ave NW and ending up at Market. That might make for a reasonable cycletrack bike route, assuming it’s done correctly (although there’s so much inebriated foot traffic on that street that I’m not sure it’s really desirable), but it would be a poor option for runners, skaters, etc, as the sidewalks on Ballard Ave are already overflowing.
On Leary, I could be a bit more optimistic, but I still think it’s a poor alternative.. You’d have more sidewalk room, admittedly, with some upgrades here and there. But you still have to deal with the unfortunate intersection at 15th Ave NW — it doesn’t really seem desirable to route a major bike/ped corridor that way. But what would this facility actually look like? I can’t think of a good reason for a two-way cycletrack on Leary, so you’d likely want to split the trail somewhere into two directions on opposite sides of the street. At that point, I worry it starts to feel a lot less like a cohesive continuation of the Burke-Gilman, and more just like bike infrastructure retrofitted onto the wrong street.
I’m intrigued that the E. Marginal Way improvements seem to reach past the West Seattle bridge and down to the 1st Ave bridge. Do you think this means “complete streets” all the way down? That would be phenomenal: on several occasions when the lower WS bridge is closed, I’ve had to detour down to the 1st Ave bridge. The Duwamish trail on the west side is great, but making the connection on the east side along Marginal is hair-raising, but the only alternative is to back-track to downtown and take a bus.
You can also use Spokane Street to jog down to 1st Ave S if you’re the sort that doesn’t mind 1st Ave S. If the general traffic lanes of Spokane aren’t your thing the north sidewalk is quite wide and (according to politician statements when it was planned) intended as a bike route, though there’s no signage indicating it today.
Depending on your ultimate destination, you can also stay on Spokane Street to 6th, then do 6th/Airport/Corson/Michigan to the 1st Ave S bridge. This route tends to have less traffic and slower traffic than 1st (and I think it has reasonably maintained sidewalks through all the scary sections if you prefer that), but it’s obviously less direct. It also has a nasty bit at the end where the rightmost lane of Michigan approaching East Marginal doesn’t continue west on Michigan (it’ll take you over the 1st Ave S bridge, but not the way you want to do it). If you end up stuck there (I’ve done that, after not realizing I should be in the left lane until too late) you can turn right onto 1st, get on the sidewalk at the nearest driveway, and take crosswalks and sidewalks toward the bridge. It’s also possible 6th/Airport/Lucille/1st is easier than 6th/Airport/Corson/Michigan.
(Of course if you’ve diverted that far you might take the South Park Bridge instead.)
(Also now that the 21 is back on the high bridge you only have to backtrack as far as 1st/Hanford to catch a pretty frequent bus to West Seattle)
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