As we reported earlier this week, Cascade Bicycle Club has wisely chosen not to ditch their political election work. We also reported that the club’s first political act after making that choice was to endorse Rob Johnson for Seattle City Council’s District 4.
That means the club plans to help unseat longtime incumbent Councilmember Jean Godden. That may have made this moment a bit awkward yesterday:
.@Jean_Godden & @CascadeED of @CascadeBicycle chat after the ribbon cutting today. #SEAbikes pic.twitter.com/Kd2Qoe2fYc
— Seattle Children’s (@seattlechildren) March 19, 2015
This choice is not a huge surprise. It’s not that Godden has been a big bike opponent (it’s clearly not her biggest issue, but she comes around in favor of bike votes more often than not), but Rob Johnson is the longtime Executive Director of Transportation Choices Coalition and “a proven transportation leader,” according to Cascade’s endorsement.
Cascade also endorsed Halei Watkins for the north end’s District 5, which has no incumbent, noting her intent to champion the Northgate Station bike/walk bridge and saying she has “a clear commitment to Vision Zero.” Here’s the full list so far:
- Bruce Harrell, District 2
- Rob Johnson, District 4
- Halei Watkins, District 5
- Mike O’Brien, District 6
- Sally Bagshaw, District 7
No surprise on Mike O’Brien, since he’s an enthusiastic bike champion. Also no surprise on Sally Bagshaw, who has become a big booster of safe streets and especially neighborhood greenways in recent years. She also has no opponent, which makes the choice pretty easy.
Bruce Harrell has not always been the biggest Council champion for bike efforts, but he also usually comes around when it’s time to vote. Even Cascade has been somewhat critical of his stances in the past (in the 2013 mayoral race he pushed back on the cost of protected bike lanes and the price of school zone speed camera tickets).
But recently, he has been closely involved in community discussions around safety changes for Rainier Ave. He has personally attended meetings to listen to neighbors and even spoke at a vigil walk for Zeytuna Edo, a young girl seriously injured when someone struck her and drove away while she was crossing MLK. He is in a position to be a strong leader in making the notoriously dangerous Rainier Ave safer, Cascade notes in their endorsement.
This is going to be a fascinating year for Council races. Especially in the new districts, Cascade could have a significant effect on results if they put their full volunteer weight behind a potential bike champion.
Seattle Bike Blog won’t endorse candidates until closer to election time. Stay tuned for coverage throughout the year.
Do you support a Council candidate you think would be a strong leader on safe streets and bike issues? Let us know who and why in the comments below.
Yes Harrell is in a position to take a leadership role to make Rainier Ave safer, but so far he’s been a follower, not a leader.
He may have “been closely involved in community discussions around safety changes for Rainier Ave” and “attended meetings to listen to neighbors,” however in one of the earlier Rainier Ave meetings he was openly hostile to the idea of a road diet and ended up verbally sparring over it with audience members.
It was only after the tide of community support for rechannelization became too great that it seems he may have finally come around. That’s not the mark of a leader for traffic safety; it’s a politician jumping on the bandwagon once he sees the writing on the wall.
Jean and the parks department responded very quickly to my request a couple months ago to repair the terrible conditions (root bumps) on the B-G trail near the new Children’s access path. The recent patches really made it safer, although a complete resurfacing is still needed.