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So, how did the city do at building the Bike Master Plan in 2015?

BMP 2015 6 month progress-mapAfter years and years of planning, 2015 was the year Seattle’s Department of Transportation finally tried to hit a stride delivering bike network additions and upgrades regularly and consistently. In order to keep the Bike Master Plan on track, the city needs to build many miles of protected bike lanes and neighborhood greenways every year.

And they are going to get close to meeting their goals in 2015, especially if you count Westlake and other projects ready to begin construction in early 2016.

And perhaps more importantly, SDOT can keep their roll going in 2016 and beyond thanks to voter approval of the Move Seattle levy. If the levy had failed, progress would have ground nearly to a halt.

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Of course, there is still a ton of room for improvement, both in delivering projects on time and in the quality of those projects. Seattle still has not built a single protected intersection on any protected bike lane project, and many of the neighborhood greenways suffer from insufficient busy street crossings and too much cut-through traffic due to a lack of diverters.

Much of the protected bike lane miles included in the 2015 count are on Ravenna Blvd, a project we praised for doing a lot with little budget. But ultimately, Ravenna was already mostly there, making it very low hanging fruit. There aren’t many projects that easy out there.

But the biggest problem with essentially every project is a lack of connectivity to other quality bike routes. And that’s a problem we can only solve by keeping up the work every year to build out the Bike Master Plan and by focusing hard on the biggest and most difficult missing links, like downtown and Rainier Ave.

So, sure, let’s celebrate (and learn from) the work completed in 2015. There are a lot of pieces that have to come together in the background to deliver these projects consistently, and that takes hard work by SDOT staff. But the city’s bike network machine still needs to pick up more momentum in 2016 and beyond if we’re really going to create a citywide network of bike routes that are safe, comfortable and connected for everyone.

We will have more posts coming about the top safe streets priorities for 2016, so stay tuned.

Of course, the Bike Master Plan is about more than a bike route network. Here’s a look at the status of the measurable goals, from the December report (PDF):

BMP 2015 6 month progress-1BMP 2015 6 month progress-3BMP 2015 6 month progress-2

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20 responses to “So, how did the city do at building the Bike Master Plan in 2015?”

  1. Adam

    Thank you for the update. We need to keep holding SDOT’s feet to the fire.

  2. bill

    I’m trying very hard to restrain my language here. The Chelan intersection work is INCOMPLETE. The very important warning lights for the Delridge slip lane were installed over a month ago. They are still wrapped in plastic bags. That is a blind crossing for westbound bikers. The lights are probably the most important safety feature of the project, and they are not working! SDOT should not be patting itself on the back for the current state of the intersection.

  3. tom rasmussen

    Filling in the missing links is a priority in the Bike Master Plan. I would hope to see that reflected in the projects over the next year. Especially since I will have more time to ride my bike.

  4. DCL

    I hope this isn’t off-topic, though it does relate to the bicycle master plan. If it is off-topic, I apologize and please feel free to delete.

    I’ve seen reference to improving 15th NE between Roosevelt and the city line, but I haven’t seen this improvement actually detailed on any of the short-term planning maps.. Does anybody have any insight on if/when this would actually get done? There aren’t many good, direct options between Northgate and Shoreline east of I5 aside from the BG.

    1. New bike lanes were painted on Pinehurst Way, the diagonal swinging from Roosevelt to 15th, within the last few months. Last I was through they weren’t actually open yet (i.e. other signage indicated paid street parking, and cars were parked over the lanes). As far as I can tell there’s no plan to continue north of 125th in the next few years — which means that in 2020 the only nice bike routes north of the 125th/130th arterial will still be the Interurban Trail, the greenway near 25th, and the Burke. Thats too bad, since Shoreline has bike lanes on 15th for a while, but they don’t really connect to anything.

  5. Mark

    Seattle’s main issue is that it is physically too large. Seattle needs to allow Rayonier valle y and West Seattle to split off along with North Seattle. Then..maybe then they can take care of business.

    1. William

      What a fabulous idea. A few more municipalities are just what the region needs for a coordinated approach to transportation.

    2. Pedro

      Fantastic idea, Mark. Let’s split off the poor, non-white sections of town. That way we can focus all our bike infrastructure investments north of downtown.

      Oh, wait, that’s already happening. There is no bike infrastructure in SE Seattle. Save the good stuff for the hoods where important people live!

      Way to go SDOT!

      1. Mark

        Well, let’s focus first on your race point. Is all of West Seattle and Rayonier valley “non-white and poor” as you put it? I checked Zillow, not a lot of homes out there under 250K. The racial makeup also seems mixed as well. But..let’s not let facts get in the way.

        You have pointed out that bike infra is making slow progress out there. Perhaps the people don’t want it? Let them follow their own path. They will come around eventually. Let Seattle focus on what matters in areas where it’s wanted.

  6. William

    So in a few words the answer to the question is “not particularly well”, but we do not have worry because thank to the generosity of voters, the city has lots of money to spend in its usual inefficient way on a hodgepodge of bicycle projects that will slowly make the city more friendly to cyclists and may at some point way in the distant future create a complete network of safe interconnected bike routes. All very reassuring!

  7. My concern is that a lot of what is being built is no good. The green bike boxes at intersections are helpful, even though people still stop cars in them more often than not. A separated bike lane that abruptly ends at an intersection is more dangerous than what was there before. If you have a separate bike lane, you need a separate signal, as in Dexter and Mercer. Those bollards that last all of a week before trucks run them over and they turn into large upright corkscrews? Not helpful! Bike lanes that are de facto construction staging areas? Not helpful!
    I have been commuting on my bike for over 10 years now in Seattle. Unfortunately, I don’t feel any safer now than I did 10 years ago.

    1. Tim F

      I’d like to see ‘green triangle’ crosswalk marking at separated bike lanes that end crossing an intersection. Big end on the crosswalk side where the protected lane is ending, narrow end on the other side. Saw one in Vancouver near the convention center I think. It’s very visible and intuitive. Gives people on bikes, on foot and in cars all notice that the protected lane is going away (or starting up).

  8. The city has at least made some tangible progress on all the projects they said they would this year. I’m not sure how exactly they’re planning to finish off all the things they now say they will by the end of 2015 with so much water on the ground, but even if some things slip a bit that’s not a big problem. We have had a really wet last month, but overall that shouldn’t cause compounding implementation delays for what are mostly small projects on SDOT’s scale. The BMP Implementation Plan covers 41% of the BMP’s “citywide network” (the big thick lines), and the BMP is a fairly bold plan.

    All this is what we should expect: the department to execute a recent plan. But there is one more uncertain area in the BMP Implementation Plan: downtown. A lot of the 2016 plan consists of downtown routes that were supposed to be planned this year for implementation next year. I don’t think that planning has occurred, and that puts everything downtown in danger of major delays. It’s not a good sign that in this one area of uncertainty SDOT has not yet developed the concrete plan they were supposed to.

    1. (There’s also a real danger that we’ll get less than what was promised downtown, and SDOT’s general silence on the matter isn’t encouraging in that regard, considering how often it falls back on the status quo.)

      1. Andres Salomon

        The downtown network also says “done by 2020”, which is quite a lot of time. I really hope SDOT pushes for a more aggressive timeline than that!


      2. In the BMP Implementation Plan SDOT set out a more aggressive timeline than that: they set out a 2016 implementation date for a Pike Street PBL (possibly using a couplet with Union for the western portions) all the way from 2nd to Broadway, extensions of the 2nd Ave PBL all the way from Broad Street to Jackson, and a 5th Ave PBL from Denny Way to Olive.

        Only having scheduled further open houses on a single north-south PBL for January 2016 constitutes a delay already, as by the end of 2015 they haven’t chosen routes or even talked about an east-west PBL. If, by the end of 2016, there isn’t at least a signed-off, complete design for north-south PBLs that will cover every block between Denny and Jackson, and east-west PBLs that will cover every block between 1st and Broadway, we’ll be in major delay territory. If there’s no tangible progress on the ground toward these it will be a minor delay.

        That’s the standard SDOT set for themselves by including these corridors in an implementation plan, and it’s a standard they must be held to absolutely.

      3. Andres Salomon

        Right, I understand. The implementation plan has additional corridors being added downtown through 2019, with 4 implemented in 2016 (2nd, 5th, 7th, and Pike). However, I’ve become pretty used to seeing schedules slip at SDOT, so I would be at all surprised to see route selection delayed into 2016, with implementation taking place at the tail end of 2016 (and into 2017).

        Personally, I want to see them do the entire planned downtown network this year, rather than aiming for 2020 (in time for NACTO). I don’t know what it would take to get that, but I bet if the Mayor pushed hard enough…

      4. Andres Salomon

        Whoops, I meant to say: so I *wouldn’t* be at all surprised..

  9. M.B.

    There are some improvements that SDOT is making that aren’t shown on here, but that will have a positive impact on the bike plan. Jumping out to me is the Dexter like improvement on Greenwood Ave, which is ahead of schedule and should be done before the calendar year end, or close to it.

  10. […] additions and upgrades regularly and consistently,” local bike wonk Tom Fucoloro wrote in the Seattle Bike Blog. According to the December progress report, WSDOT so far this year has added 242 bike racks and […]

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