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Watch: The Westlake Bikeway makes it on StreetFilms

Westlake has made it to the big leagues: StreetFilms.

The New York-based mini-documentary organization led by Clarence Eckerson Jr was in town for the NACTO conference last week, and the call of a long-sought bikeway finally constructed was just too strong.

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It was a long and often frustrating fight to get this bikeway completed, so it’s pretty fun to see it get the full StreetFilms treatment.

Sadly, the frustrations continue as people keep getting flats from tacks on the bikeway. At first, it seemed possible that the tacks were dropped by accident. But after many efforts to clean them up, people are still getting flats from the same kind of tacks weeks later.

So it seems pretty certain that some unhinged person is assaulting strangers at random by spreading the tracks on the bikeway. I hope this person is caught and receives whatever help they need. Anyone with information should go to the police. People are already showing up late to work or to pick up their kids thanks to flats. It’s only a matter of time before someone is injured when their tire blows out.

In the meantime, many people are avoiding the brand new investment because they don’t want to deal with a flat. So congratulations to that asshole, I guess.

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18 responses to “Watch: The Westlake Bikeway makes it on StreetFilms”

  1. Rob

    I tried it out last week. It’s a good setup… of course, got a flat like everyone else. Will stick to Dexter.

  2. NW

    I support bicycle transportation however months back I rode along the bike path as it was then in the summer and found a large majority of cyclists going far too fast in a narrow area and noticed pedestrians crossing who where impacted by the fast bicycle riding. I hope those using it will slow down adjust their speed to their surroundings. I will most likely stay away due to the issue with tacks and the dangers of inconsiderate people going far to fast on their bikes.

    1. Eli

      From my point of view, it’s less about inconsiderate user behavior — than SDOT designing infrastructure that knowingly fails to meet user needs.

      It was *repeatedly* pointed out in this blog’s comment section by folks like Josh that the 10 MPH design speed was ludicrous. Even in the Netherlands – global slow bike central – nobody designs for 10 MPH.

      Personally, I couldn’t believe the number of twists and turns on the route. I’ve ridden thousands of miles in the Netherlands and I’ve never seen anything like this. It’s less of a PBL, than a bad parody of a PBL.

      If they had just moved it a few feet further into the parking lot (and prioritized safety over underutilized city-owned parking), I imagine most of these issues would not have happened.

      One of my colleagues made a super-short video of the reality of riding on this defective-by-design PBL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ybktys0SRkY

      The result is the inevitable outcome of a facility where cyclists will be flying through the adjacent sidewalks and running over pedestrians (since the bike path is too narrow for side-by-side riding or even passing).

      1. Damon

        I used to commute through the parking lots. It was the most dangerous thing I did in any given month (except maybe the Missing Link)… but as long as I was willing to take my life in my hands it was pretty fast.

        For me, the test of whether it’s a “good enough” route is this: do people ride on it, or do they ride through the parking area? I changed jobs and don’t commute through there any more. Can anybody who rides this route regularly speak to that?

        Maybe we won’t really know how that settles out until the tack nastiness dies down. And I’m sure it will vary by season, with the cycletrack going over its built capacity in the crowded summers.

  3. Gary

    How many times does he say “flat route” and “Tack tile” in this video!? It’s too funny with that asshat still throwing tacks around.

  4. Fortunately I missed the tacks when I took it the other day… but I did notice another thing. I had sort of assumed, because this was explicitly a transportation facility in a transportation ROW, that it would have basic overhead street lighting like almost every street in the city does. It doesn’t. It’s not as bad as some trails because it gets helpful spillover from practical overhead (surface-directed) lighting in the adjacent parking lot and in business awnings, and doesn’t suffer from major distracting light sources nearby. But it’s still disappointing. This is a basic thing that we should be able to do right.

  5. Dave Shaw

    The new path along Westlake is an improvement but I think it’s a stretch to call it a protected bike lane. In 1.2 miles there are 34 intersections with crosswalks or driveways, about one every 50 yards. There are visual cues, of course, a yellow line along the adjacent sidewalk and green in the intersections, but as people have pointed out, if it’s intended to be a commuter route 10mph design speed is nuts.

  6. Lisa

    The Westlake path is awesome. It’s really not that hard to slow down for a couple of seconds to navigate a few obstacles. (Except for the tacks of course, that’s ridiculous).

  7. Ballard Resident

    I ride it at > 10mph. :)

    1. Ballard Resident

      I mean less than 10 mph.

  8. Gary Anderson

    How do you train or educate pedestrians to look both ways before they cross the PBL and not just stand in the middle of it like it’s a sidewalk? Isn’t a PBL kind of like a street for bikes?

    1. Dave

      You probably dont but there is usually plenty of room to go around them on the sidewalk, at least in this case

    2. Lisa

      I think they’ll figure it out eventually- I already see a few people waiting and looking both ways. Especially as PBLs become more common around town.

    3. Clark in Vancouver

      The best way would have been to have the cycle path be lower than the sidewalk. This wasn’t done. For now it will take some time for people to get used to the new thing. If you ring your bell well before you get close to them they might notice.
      And there will always be a busy section where you have to be aware.

  9. Kirk

    I’ve said it all along, if this route doesn’t work the person commuting by bicycle, it will be a major failure and will have to be rebuilt a third time. It’s probably too early to tell if it will or won’t work, but it won’t take too long. My prediction is by next May it will be overloaded and people will again be riding in the parking lot.

    I think the safest design would have been on the west side with limited access from the street to the parking lot with fully signalized intersections. This most direct central bike route for the entire north end into downtown should be a wide bicycle superhighway suitable for all users.

  10. Mark smith

    $5 bucks says it’s a trump voter dropping tacks

  11. Patrick

    Seattle Bike Blog,
    I’m a fan of the new Westlake trail (have switched to taking it nearly every day instead of Dexter), but do you know if anyone is doing anything about the flooding? There are at least 2 small ponds on the trail currently, and one of them is threatening to grow into a lake!

    We’re in the rainy season now and it’s clear that several sections have large concave areas without any drainage at all. These ponds / lakes create a couple inches of standing water, and biking through them sprays sheets of water, dousing myself or anyone nearby. (I’ve learned to slow down and go around them now, but not everyone realizes to do that)

  12. […] you find a flat spot, you really need it,” Scott Kubly, city transportation director, said in a video feature by Streetfilms. Even detractors say it works better than the old layout, where bicyclists dodged moving cars […]

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