Bike News Roundup: ‘It’s smart to be dense’

It’s time for the Bike News Roundup! Here’s a look at some of the transportation stuff floating around the Internet recently.

As always, this is an open thread. Discuss whatever bikey stuff is on your mind in the comments below.

First up, as the city debates very hyperlocal issues related to increasing density and improving affordability in Seattle, perhaps it’s a good time to consider how our decisions fit in a global context:

It’s Smart To Be Dense from STREETFILMS on Vimeo.

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About Tom Fucoloro

Founder and Editor of Seattle Bike Blog.
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13 Responses to Bike News Roundup: ‘It’s smart to be dense’

  1. Matthew Snyder says:

    After trying to lock up to yet another crappy bike rack in Seattle, I was wondering if there’s any movement on trying to get municipal standards in place for acceptable bike parking designs, a la Portland. I realize that replacing all of the crappy “coat hanger” and “comb” bike racks all around the city is probably not going to happen anytime soon, but it would be nice to at least have standards in place for new installations. These don’t need to be overly wordy — they’d just need to define required spacing, setbacks/clearances, acceptable designs and materials, and some mechanism for enforcement, I would think. Anyone working on this?

    • Tom Fucoloro says:

      Talk to Brock Howell or Bob Edmiston. They presented on this very topic at the city’s Employers Bike Summit recently.

    • Andres Salomon says:

      SDOT suggested emailing [email protected] for instances where you can’t fit your bike into a city bike rack. I haven’t tried it yet.

      • Harrison Davignon says:

        Hi Andres, I just Sent a email to the address you posted. I said we need the uuuuu shaped bike racks, anchored in the ground, or the one I saw recently that are secure, yet have arms that fold in and out, research if you want more details, there at Evergreen College Olympia Washington. Thanks for the web site and hope my voice works and maybe yours as well once you send a email.

  2. Harrison Davignon says:

    Mathey I totally agree with you about the crummy bike racks. We should install the more versatile uuuuu shaped bike racks. I think density in cities would help get people to bicycle ride more because of closer amenities, but we should leave some rural , peaceful areas, for people who don’t enjoy the city. We should start also putting bike racks at campsites and hiking trailheads, which i’m trying work on. Give people more care free options.

  3. Al Dimond says:

    The article on Dongho Chang seems to be based more on his Twitter presence than his record. I don’t know what exactly his job responsibilities are now, but at least a few years ago I heard he had a lot of responsibilities around traffic signals. So if he’s so focused on walking and biking why are so many of our traffic signals programmed for maximum car throughput at the expense of walking, biking, and transit?

    I’ll give him a pass on Fremont/39th because it’s likely enough nobody’s looked at it in 10 years and the layout of the intersection is pretty crazy. But the signals at Broad/Valley/Westlake and Broad/Roy/9th are brand new, and impose unjustifiable waits on bikes using Roy/Broad/Valley, as if the signals were programmed by rote application of standards based on traffic volume without understanding that the real bottleneck to north-south traffic flow is Mercer, or that north-south traffic is incredibly peaky and is in no danger of backing up even just an hour past peak. These are strange oversights; Mercer was the impetus for the re-build of Roy/Broad/Valley, and the north-south streets have convertible parking lanes, indicating SDOT’s awareness of peakiness. Similar stuff is common all over SLU. Then there’s the famous D-Line intersection at Mercer/Elliot. That one certainly got some attention when the D Line was starting up, and I’ve seen Dongho Chang defend the way it’s programmed, without any TSP whatsoever (not even the ability to hold the light), in person, at a public meeting.

    Does Dongho Chang believe in cycling but continue to use signals in an auto-centric way? Does he believe in better signals but not have the power to get them through? Has he been moved off of work on traffic signals so he can make us happy by tweeting about biking while someone else makes sure auto capacity is prioritized where it matters? Whatever the case, it’s suspicious that a city with stated goals to improve biking, walking, and transit, and with such a visibly supportive engineer, manages to program signals to put cars first every time.

    • Josh says:

      Not to let the city off the hook where it makes mistakes, but recognize that they don’t have unlimited leeway to alter signal timing, or staff to do it.

      When you’ve contacted SDOT about the signal timing at Broad/Valley/Westlake and Broad/Roy/9th, what was their response?

      With more than a thousand signal installations, which have to be programmed on-site, it’s safe to assume that a signal won’t be reprogrammed unless it has a record of collisions or complaints.

      Even major regulatory changes take a long time to implement — the timing for pedestrian crossings changed in the 2009 MUTCD, and as of 2014, SDOT still hadn’t gotten around to updating signal timing on streets as busy as Rainier and MLK.

      Social media are great for venting and collaboration, but have you asked SDOT directly about the signal timing?

      • Al Dimond says:

        I have asked about this and was given a standard blowoff response, something along the lines of, “Thank you for commenting from your unique perspective, most people commenting on traffic signals are concerned with travel speed, but we’ll take your note into consideration.” i.e. nothing indicating anyone involved actually understood these intersections.

    • Andres Salomon says:

      Traffic signals are handled by a separate group. SDOT’s latest org chart (OMG WHEE NEW ORG CHART) is here:

      You can see that Dongho works on project development. His responsiveness on Twitter to problems that would otherwise be reported via FindItFixIt is something he does on the side because he’s awesome. Project development is unrelated to maintenance.

      Meanwhile, under Engineering & Operations, there’s a Signal Operations group. If you report, for example, a poorly timed signal via FindItFixIt, someone from that group will respond (if you’re lucky) to tell you that they’ve updated the signal, or tell you why they can’t update it (because we have to move cars, silly).

      On top of that, there are various signal positions scattered throughout the org chart. A good chunk of the supervisor positions are vacant.

      That doesn’t excuse new projects with bad signal timing, of course. I wouldn’t call Mercer a “new” project, though, as it was designed years ago and has just been taking a while to implement.

      Perhaps Dongho is more interested in designing walk/bike projects than signal minutiae, due to his past? After years of working in a donut shop, he probably never wants to see another donut for as long as he lives.

      • Andres Salomon says:

        As a side note: SDOT needs to take a page from SPD and get better at social media. Much, much better.

  4. scott t says:

    I think that I shall never see
    something as crappy as my soma derailleury….


  5. Gary says:

    I see that you have the Seattle times article on SOV preferred commuting listed twice. For more effect? Today was especially gratifying riding past cars on I-90 and that cluster F, on 4th Ave down next to the Fire station/ emergency response center.

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