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Guest post part II: How Seattle can rescue residents stranded by an incomplete bike network

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the second of two guest posts by Seattle Neighborhood Greenways this week. Their map conceptualizing the connectivity potential in the city’s bike planning is brilliant. If you like this vision or are frustrated by the city’s recent bike plan cuts, be sure to check out the calls to action at the bottom for Tuesday.

Just looking to help make a difference? Jump to the call to action!

In Part 1 of our story, we left Tim wondering how to commute by bike with his baby daughter and left Shirley stranded with her children trying to cross Seattle’s most dangerous street, Rainier Ave S. In Part 2, we explain how to rescue them.

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The city has a good plan.

Seattle’s Bicycle Master Plan is a 20-year plan (2014-2034). The plan “Proposes a network of bicycle facilities throughout the city that provides a way for people of all  ages and abilities to travel by bicycle within their neighborhoods, from one neighborhood to the next, and across the city.” The plan’s performance targets include quadrupling the ridership by 2030, getting to zero traffic fatalities by 2030, and having “100% of households in Seattle within 1⁄4 mile of an all ages and abilities bicycle facility by 2035.”

Unfortunately, when it has come to implementing the bike plan, the public feels the city is falling short. Much has been written about the implementation plan already (Stranger, Seattle Bike Blog, CHSBlog, etc), but to recap why people are disappointed:

  1. The bike implementation plan pretends downtown doesn’t exist. The city makes no commitments to connect our major job center and our densest neighborhoods.
  2. Less is being built after passing the Move Seattle Levy than was originally projected before the levy was passed. This may be due to simple over-promising, but now people like Shirley and Tim are understandably disappointed.
  3. It seems that the routes which have been selected to be developed first in neighborhoods are low hanging fruit rather than the routes people need most to be able to safely get around.

So what would a robust implementation of a bike network look like?

Our city is growing fast. Our urban villages, the places our city has designated to grow the fastest, desperately need better transportation connections. We must build a network of trails, protected bike lanes, and neighborhood greenways that link our fastest growing neighborhoods together. We must provide safe, time competitive, and comfortable routes that entice people of all ages and abilities to try biking for some of their daily transportation needs.

Here’s a purposefully-not-to-scale concept map of a connected bike network that links all of Seattle’s Urban Villages (PDF):

Using Move Seattle Levy money, over the next 10 years, the Seattle Bicycle Master Plan proposes more than 120 miles of greenways, multi-use trails, and protected bike lanes (PBL) designed for people of all ages and all abilities. Details here. The City of Seattle has followed a set of Urban Center & Village Plans for the past 20 years to prioritize its departmental work plans. The 20 year Comprehensive 2035 Plan will continue to base work plans on the Urban Village strategy. Details here.
Using Move Seattle Levy money, over the next 10 years, the Seattle Bicycle Master Plan proposes more than 120 miles of greenways, multi-use trails, and protected bike lanes (PBL) designed for people of all ages and all abilities. Details here.
The City of Seattle has followed a set of Urban Center & Village Plans for the past 20 years to prioritize its departmental work plans. The 20 year Comprehensive 2035 Plan will continue to base work plans on the Urban Village strategy. Details here.

We can build this. This represents about 60 miles of high quality safe routes for biking, the same number of miles the Move Seattle Levy promises over the next five years.

We can’t wait any longer to build a network downtown. We can’t wait any longer to build the important routes that people need most to get between neighborhoods. Join us and the Cascade Bicycle Club in calling on the city to improve the bicycle implementation plan!

You can make a difference! Here’s how:

Take Your Bike to Lunch Day at City Hall

What: RSVP and bring sack lunch & your bike to City Hall on Tuesday at 12 p.m. Let Seattle City Council know we can’t wait any longer for safe streets. Help fill the main 5th Avenue entry bike parking at City Hall with your bikes and write postcards to Seattle City Council telling your stories.

When: Tuesday, May 17 at 12 p.m.

Where: Seattle City Hall main atrium [Get Directions]

RSVP: https://secure.lglforms.com/form_engine/s/kvmPFGzZ_xCu5IlIcxpwjg

Testify At Seattle City Council

What: RSVP to testify on Tuesday at 2 p.m. at the Seattle City Council Transportation Committee to let them know we can’t wait for safe streets. Cascade will help you sign up to exercise your democratic rights to speak to our elected leaders.

When: Tuesday, May 17 at 2 p.m. Arrive at 1:45 p.m. to get on the speaking list, meeting begins at 2 p.m.

Where: Seattle City Hall – Council Chamber [Get Directions]

Really fired up? RSVP for both!

Let’s go. Take Your Bike To Lunch Day at City Hall on Facebook


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12 responses to “Guest post part II: How Seattle can rescue residents stranded by an incomplete bike network”

  1. Tom Fucoloro

    Thanks again! Love this vision for what the word “connectivity” really means.

  2. RainierValleyCycleMan

    Love the map, really – fantastic. But…

    The SE Seattle geography is wrong (the Urban Village dots are in the wrong place – Georgetown & Othello aren’t on Lake Washington, and Rainier Beach is much further south).

    For instance, Othello connects to Georgetown via Myrtle St. and Swift Ave. Since Rainier Valley has zero N-S infrastructure to Downtown, these E-W traverses across Beacon Hill are vital.

    Please somebody update the map, linking Othello to Georgetown. Thanks!

    1. Tom Fucoloro

      The map is VERY conceptual, and it’s very not to scale on purpose. It’s supposed to be high level, like a subway map.

      I agree Othello to Georgetown and even Rainier Beach to South Park could be added (though the latter would cross the city boundary, so would maybe be a regional concept). Also: South Park to Highland Park, Georgetown to Pioneer Square, Lake City to Bitter Lake, etc. N Beacon to the CD actually already exists.

      This is SNG’s attempt to get us thinking in terms of Urban Village connections rather than just thinking about connecting existing bike routes to each other. I think it does that well.

      1. RainierValleyCycleMan

        Excellent points – high level, conceptual, work-in-progress. The map is a great idea and is pretty good as is.

        A little feedback and the next version can be even more useful. Thanks.

      2. Ints

        The map is not the territory.
        While illustrating conceptual connections is great, how the urban villages on this map are located relative to the outlines of our geographical references (shorelines) is misleading to say the least north of the ship canal. Lake City is NE of Northlake, not due north. Ravenna isn’t Sand Point or Mathews Beach. Either abstract the lakes and bays to an equal degree or locate the nodes more accurately relative to the referenced shorelines, otherwise it implies that this network actually covers the geography of Seattle when it only connects the urban villages which is not the same thing.

      3. Meredith

        Ha! Glad I’m not the only one seeing the map’s flaws. South Park to the industrial area needs a partially solid line representing the Duwamish trail and a dotted line defining the miasma of SoDo. South Park to Highland Park absolutely does NOT exist. I just tried biking up Hughland Park Way yesterday! It’s an insanely steep grade ok only for road bikes with very determined riders willing to go in the street. There’s a narrow asphalt path that is not a true bike trail.

    2. ChefJoe

      SW isn’t that much better, considering Delridge Way leads S to Westwood villiage and Highland park is even further East of that.

  3. EHS

    In person activism is obviously way, way more effective, but can you include a link to appropriate email addresses, etc. for those of us who aren’t available in the middle of the day? Thanks!

    Also on the conceptual map – obviously the details of which streets are used, etc. don’t need to be determined yet, but information on hills makes a Seattle biking map a heck of a lot more useful (a critique you can apply to a lot of maps). I’d recommend adding some kind of symbol (a line with hatches on one side) to show where the really steep hills are, such as Phinney Ridge, the eastern edge of West Seattle, most sides of Queen Anne, the drop from Beacon Hill to I-5, etc.

    The point of a conceptual map is “wow, look at all the places I’d be able to go!” – which means a lot more to me if I know that the Crown Hill to Phinney/Greenwood route is north of the super steep stuff.

    1. Hills: Yes, hills are critically important to where routes should go, and we routinely remind SDOT of this. We actually created a list of route criteria, but deleted it because we wanted the post to be short and very high level.

      Transportation Committee is comprised of [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]

      Please also add your city council district rep: http://www.seattle.gov/council/meet-the-council
      1) [email protected]
      2) [email protected]
      3) [email protected]
      4) [email protected]
      5) [email protected]
      6) [email protected]
      7) [email protected]

  4. ODB

    I think this map is pretty odd. I know it’s not meant to be precise, but it should have some relationship to reality. So why is the “First Hill” southern terminus of the Broadway PBL way north of the “Central District,” at approximately the same latitude as Belltown and the Denny Triangle? Why is there a gap between the Fremont Greenway and the Interurban PBL? Isn’t that where the Interurban Trail is?

  5. […] projects connected high-demand areas and other high-demand areas. Seattle Neighborhood Greenways highlighted a different way of viewing connectivity goals in a recent guest […]

  6. Mike

    Great idea – not sure why the lack of E-W connections across South Seattle though? Conceptual or “high level” or otherwise it seems to me it should be the starting point on an add-on.

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