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Mayor updates Move Seattle levy, could put Bike Master Plan on track for first time ever

How Seattle does community feedback.
How Seattle does community feedback.

When Seattle created the 2007 Bicycle Master Plan, it was clear that the $365 million Bridging the Gap levy did not include enough funding to keep the plan on track. In fact, the city never even got close to funding that plan at the rate required to reach its goals. By some measures, the city had funded less than half the recommended amount before enough time had passed to renew the plan.

With a new and much better plan in place, the Move Seattle Levy is gearing up to replace Bridging the Gap, which expires at the end of the year. And Mayor Ed Murray claims the revised version he is sending to the City Council includes enough funding to put the 20-year Bike Plan on track to be half completed by the time it turns ten years old.

Murray and his administration announced the revised levy during a press even on Beacon Hill Wednesday. There are no huge surprises and few giant changes from the first version, though there are pretty significant increases in sidewalk and intersection work.

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The Mayor’s Office will submit their detailed plan to the City Council very soon, and the Council will then have the chance to make changes before passing a version this summer to send to voters in November.

Here’s a quick rundown of what’s different as far as biking and walking is concerned (see more in this PDF):

  • Total size increased from $900 million to $930 million (though thanks to planned growth and property value increases, the property tax bill will remain the same as the previous proposal: $275/year for a median-value $450,000 home)
  • Boosted the sidewalk budget from 100 blocks to 150 blocks
  • Now includes curb ramp and crossing improvements at 750 intersections (!)
  • Funding to fully complete the Burke-Gilman Trail Missing Link
  • “Build over 50 miles of new protected bike lanes and 60 miles of greenways. When added to work already underway to implement the Bicycle Master Plan, this completes half of the Bicycle Master Plan network, keeping us on track for full implementation.” – The previous version only committed to building half the “citywide network” in the Bike Plan, leaving out many of the neighborhood-focused parts of the plan.
  • Implement Phase I of the Accessible Mt Baker project

The most noticeable decrease was the plan to repave 180 lane miles of busy streets rather than the 250 in the initial version.

The outreach process was pretty extensive, and the city received about 8,500 comments. Below is a brief excerpt of the feedback summary (see it all in this PDF):

When asked to prioritize a list of improvements, the highest ranked were:

  • Improve connections to light rail
  • Keep our bridges safe
  • Protect our most vulnerable travelers – people walking and biking

There were several across-the-board recurring themes consistently highlighted:

  • Safety is the number one priority
  • Improve transit reliability and access
    • Fund the Graham Street Station
    • Improve bus service by making it more frequent and reliable
    • Make more efficient corridors for all modes of travel
    • Optimize traffic signals
  • Make it easier to walk and bike
    • Increase investments in pedestrian improvements like sidewalks and work to make all of Seattle safer and more comfortable for walking
    • Add small, inexpensive neighborhood projects that encourage walking and bikingand develop community connections
    • Continue to implement Bicycle Master Plan


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14 responses to “Mayor updates Move Seattle levy, could put Bike Master Plan on track for first time ever”

  1. Adam

    Addition of Mt. Baker heck yeah!

    Would prefer funding for the whole project, but committed funding for phase one is still better than nothing.

  2. jt

    I see this comment a lot on Seattle Transit Blog too. While there’s good arguments to be made about directing transit investments to where they’re most likely to be used and useful, saying “X group of people gets what they deserve” just sounds spiteful. But even on the terms of “people who vote for transit deserve it should get it and people who vote for roads should get those”, there’s a question of aggregation. If 80% of people at California Junction and Admiral Junction want transit over roads, but 55% of West Seattle overall favors roads instead, which do people at the junctions “deserve”? They are in two groups, which on average “cried out” for opposite things.

    The same goes for Seattle vs. the region: if Seattle voters cry out for transit but suburbs narrowly outvote them in a regionwide election, are you content to say “well the region as a whole, including Seattle, gets what it deserves?” If that were the end of it we’d never have gotten Prop 1 last year, and I think that makes perfect sense, for a subset of a group to keep advocating for their preferences, even if the larger group disagrees, and finding a way to thread the needle is the art of politics.

    When it comes to biking, West Seattle has many vocal, clear, helpful bike advocates and commuters, e.g.: http://westseattlebikeconnections.org/. If they’re outnumbered (at least presently) by all-cars-all-the-timers, that is just all the more reason for us advocates in other parts of the city to speak up for them too.

    1. Eileen

      I appreciate your thoughtful comments jt. I don’t understand the “WS=people who like cars” I see here and on other blogs. There are some loud vocal “cars-all the time” people in WS, but just because they are louder does not mean the represent WS or out number people who support transit and biking.

    2. Andrew

      I understand there are a lot of people in WS that enjoy biking, and use their bikes to commute or get around.

      I think the “It gets what it deserves” comment was a little abrasive, but very practical. If the city only has so much capital it can spend – both in money and political capital – it should spend it where it can have a large impact.

      For the time being, it appears as if the fight in WC is eating up a fair amount of these resources that could otherwise go to implementation in more friendly neighborhoods.

    3. Andrew

      d’oh. WS not WC. sorry about the typo :(

    4. SGG

      These comments come up any time there is a post about some bicycle improvement in West Seattle or essentially anywhere that isn’t the Ballard Bridge. There’s a fairly self-absorbed crowd that in all likelihood has never bothered traveling anywhere beyond their immediate neighborhood who don’t consider West Seattle to be the “real Seattle.” Get over it folks, we had those votes back in 1907.

      It’s pretty unhelpful when we’re all hoping for a real system-wide approach to then fall back on territorialism. Unfortunately now with district elections, that will be the norm, not the exception.

      Transit is it’s own issue in West Seattle, but as far as bicycling goes, everyone on the peninsula pretty much has to ride over the lower Spokane street bridge to get anywhere. Fix the dangerous intersections and feeders into this location, and you fix 75% of West Seattle’s issues for biking.

      It’s really counterproductive to get all divisive just because someplace isn’t your neighborhood.

    5. Kirk

      I think it’s not so much territorialism or regionalism, but more a question of how are projects prioritized. When evaluating the current bicycle network and where to improve it, it seems SDOT should focus on the problem areas. SDOT has identified the problem areas, but they don’t prioritize them.

    6. SGG

      Exactly, and when you review the report, their outreach consisted of the north end. You need to get out there and cover the whole city.

    7. Kirk

      Actually the majority of the feedback was from an online and phone survey. Personally, I do bike the whole city, and I must say the lower Spokane Street Bridge to West Seattle is a nice crossing, far superior to any crossing of the Lake Washington Ship Canal.

  3. LWC

    Chief: again, your comments are biased and unhelpful, not to mention factually incorrect. Where are you getting these ideas, and why do you keep repeating them?

  4. Nate Todd

    Cheif that is most unhelpful. If a West Seattle had a monorail now instead of just a reduction in car lanes (i.e. Tunnel) people here wouldn’t be pushing for more car lanes because there would be an alternative way to get to town.

  5. Ben P

    I’m glad there is finally money for the nice plans. I wish they would just jump straight to phase three for Mt Baker madness though.

  6. […] call for safe streets during Tuesday’s public hearing on the Move Seattle levy was overwhelming. Indeed, as person after person and family after family got up to advocate for […]

  7. […] And when the city needed to pass a transportation levy, they made promises that the levy would build half the Bike Master Plan, including the protected bike lanes pictured in the first map at the top of this post. They knew […]

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