Rainier Ave ride demos huge potential for bike lanes + City leaders support bike network at rally

SDOT Director Scott Kubly helped lead the ride with Cascade’s Kelsey Mesher. Bike Works’ Tina Bechler and Familybike Seattle’s Morgan Scherer brought up the rear.

I biked on Rainier Ave from Columbia City to downtown during rush hour this morning, and it was peaceful, easy and fast.

As part of the Bike Everywhere Day celebration, Cascade Bicycle Club and Bike Works partnered to host a group ride to City Hall that travelled down the notoriously stressful and dangerous street. With the company of a group of more than 20 people, we had safety in numbers. But I just couldn’t stop thinking about how many more people in the south end would bike if this street had protected bike lanes.

Because Rainier is very flat and direct. It follows the neighborhood’s namesake valley, cutting a diagonal across the street grid and avoiding nearly all the steep climbs nearby. If the city installed complete and protected bike lanes on Rainier Ave, they would be immediate and enormous successes.

Outside of the downtown basic bike network, no project in Seattle would have as big an impact on bike access as Rainier Ave bike lanes. Hey mayoral and City Council candidates, wink wink.

Cascade’s Mesher speaks to the crowd gathered at City Hall. Councilmembers Johnson and Bagshaw, SDOT Director Kubly, Mayor Murray, and Seattle Neighborhood Greenways’ Gordon Padelford also spoke.

Mayor Ed Murray, SDOT Director Scott Kubly and City Councilmembers Rob Johnson and Sally Bagshaw spoke about taking bold action to complete the basic bike network, perhaps even speeding up delivery of key projects as lower-budget pilot projects this year.

“It’s now time to get moving. It makes me crazy that it takes so long to get things moving around here,” said Councilmember Bagshaw. “Let’s put some pilots on the ground and see what we can do this summer.”

Mayor Murray touted the miles of protected bike lanes installed so far during his time as mayor, and voiced support for the promise of the basic bike network.

“If we build it, they will ride,” he said.

Now that he is not running for reelection, perhaps his administration can take bold action that they were hesitant about during a campaign year. Murray already proved with 2nd Ave in 2014 that he and SDOT can get a pilot protected bike lane on the ground in just six months. Let’s do that again with the key missing pieces of the basic bike network, like on 4th Ave, Pike/Pine and a complete connection to the International District and Dearborn.

But, of course, it’s not just Rainier Ave and downtown that need safe bike lanes.

“We also need basic bike networks throughout the city,” said Councilmember Johnson. He was at the neighborhood open house for the city’s NE 65th Street safety project last night.

“The most common thing I heard from my neighbors was build more connections and build them faster,” he said. He urged the crowd at the rally to “keep the pressure on people here at City Hall.”

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5 Responses to Rainier Ave ride demos huge potential for bike lanes + City leaders support bike network at rally

  1. Josh says:

    Quite apart from bicycle-only access, Rainier has huge multi-modal potential already with the I-90 express bus stops (no reasonable bike parking), not to mention the upcoming construction of light rail (a smattering of bike parking that appears to assume the site is not reasonably accessible by bike.)

    How many homes are within a two-mile bikeshed of Rainier & I-90? How many people would be able to leave their cars at home and have a faster commute to Downtown, Bellevue, or the U-District when light rail is complete?

    And where are they all supposed to ride and park their bikes?

    • Kelsey Mesher says:

      Totally agree. On a higher level, the ride this morning was about building a Rainier Ave. that is people-oriented. This means reliable transit that is easily accessible by biking and walking; safe crosswalks so people don’t have to make mad dashes across four lanes of traffic; as well as safe and connected places to bike, which in my mind includes PBLs on at least portions of Rainier Ave. There are so many projects coming up that present opportunities to achieve this — Accessible Mt. Baker, Judkins Park Station, Rainier Ave. Safety Project, RapidRide+.

  2. eddiew says:

    Please note that Rainier Avenue South routes 7 and 9 attract about 13,000 rides per weekday. The topography that made Rainier Avenue South attractive to streetcar early in the 20th Century also makes it attractive to cyclists. I have used it. The northern segment, between South Jackson Street and South Genesee Street really needs access management, or the channelization of two-way left turn lanes and driveway consolidation. The I-90 interchange is a danger point. Cars go too fast.

  3. Eli says:

    Good riddance, Mayor Murray.

    “voiced support for the promise of the basic bike network.”

    aka: politician, not leader, voicing no support or commitment to anything concrete.

    Whether he’s a pedophile or not, he’s been a crappy Mayor.

  4. Neel B says:

    When comment was sought for the SE Seattle Greenway the first thing I said in those meetings was simply “the best route North-South route in the Rainier Valley is Rainier Avenue, we’re here to find the 2nd best route.” SDOT didn’t really acknowledge that, and I understand why, but it had to be said.

    They chose to build the greenway on about the 10th best route.

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