I want to endorse Nikkita Oliver, but she says she may pause downtown bike lanes and the Missing Link

Seattle Bike Blog has not yet endorsed in the mayoral race. See our coverage of the June mayoral forum on transportation and housing here. The August 1 primary ballots are in the mail.

Photo from the People’s Party Facebook page.

When I received Nikkita Oliver’s answers to a couple key follow-up questions recently, my heart broke.

Oliver and the People’s Party campaign supporting her are doing something truly amazing right now. If you can’t see that because you’re too focused on that one time months ago she sure seemed to say she’d pause all development (she took that back) or because you’re tallying how many times she has voted in the past decade, you’re missing the forest for the trees.

The Oliver campaign is forging a new path to power in Seattle, based on people power and centering the experiences of people of color and people from other marginalized communities. She is running on a message of addressing the core problems in our city, not just treating symptoms. And people are loving it. I am loving it, too.

Cary Moon has a very strong and deep understanding of biking, walking and transit issues. Jessyn Farrell has been a champion for biking, walking and transit in Olympia and has a lot of experience to bring with her to this race. And we strongly backed Mike McGinn in the primary and general elections back in 2013. But none of them have built engaged movements even comparable to Oliver.

So when I reached out to Oliver and her campaign (along with the other top mayoral candidates) to ask how they plan to handle a set of specific biking and safe streets projects that will come up during the next mayoral term, I was really hoping she would see efforts to redesign our streets to prevent serious injury and death on our streets as one of those solutions to a core public health problem (traffic danger). Or at the very least, I was hoping she would support continuing these hard-fought, long-planned and long-awaited safety projects that are set to break ground next year, like the downtown bike lane network and completing the Missing Link of the Burke-Gilman Trail.

“I have to stress that our city is currently in a state of emergency around homelessness,” she said in a written response. “I believe it is the duty of our city leaders to prioritize addressing these exigent human service needs first. This may require us to put some projects, like construction of bike lanes on hold in order to ensure that we have the financial resources to address the state of emergency around homelessness in our city.”

But the real tough line that got me came when she called the Ballard Missing Link a “beautification project” that is “not an immediate need” during Candidate Survivor this week (17:25 in this video).

These are major priorities this blog has been writing about consistently since it launched in 2010, and that neighbors and safe streets advocates have been working on for much, much longer than that. Oliver saying she may pause these projects right as they are finally about to happen is just heartbreaking. I don’t really have a choice. Seattle Bike Blog cannot endorse her if she says she may stop or pause the core projects this blog has spent the past seven years writing about and advocating for.

That said, she did have other good things to say about some of these projects. And even more, if she changes her mind as she learns more about the projects, the injuries and deaths they will prevent and all the years of hard work neighbors and city staff have put into them, project staff and advocates could learn a lot from her leadership.

So this is a bit odd, because Seattle Bike Blog wants Oliver to make it through the primary and to give her time to keep working on her stances on these safe streets projects, but we also can’t endorse her because of those stances. And since you can’t vote for multiple people, that’s puts our primary endorsement in a tough spot.

That might make this very long post among the most unhelpful things you’ll read about this primary election. But it’s my honest take on the mayoral race at this moment, and the best I can do is lay it all out for you to pick through. If you have thoughts to add, share them in the comments.

Don’t give up on Oliver, join her

I’m not shutting this door, and I hope people reading this don’t, either. This is clearly not an area where her campaign is focused or has lots of specific expertise. And that is OK. I don’t think a candidate needs to already be an “expert” in transportation planning, so long as they are willing to hire good people, seek answers and make the right calls when the time comes. And having a leader who approaches transportation leadership from outside the typically white male dominated transportation planning world could be a huge asset. 

And I definitely don’t think bike lanes and safe streets need to be a candidate’s top priority, either. Councilmember Kshama Sawant has never made bike lanes a central piece of her organizing, yet she has been a consistently positive voice and vote on the Council’s Transportation Committee. She’s been killing it on her other priorities while still showing up to support biking and safe streets projects when it comes time to vote. Seattle Bike Blog endorsed Sawant in her 2015 run saying, “I am certainly not spending my energy working for safe streets that only the rich can enjoy.”

Being able to have biking be a top priority is a sign of a lot of privilege. People of all races and income levels ride bikes out on our city’s streets, but bike advocacy is still typically very white, yours truly included. I am grateful every day that my job is to write this independent news site and focus on such a positive solution to so many tough transportation, environmental and public health issues. I do think it’s very important work.

But I don’t think for a second that bike lanes are anywhere close to being as important as housing for people without homes or ending the school to prison pipeline or protecting undocumented people from a hostile Federal government.

These unfortunate project delay stances from the Oliver campaign are partly the safe streets movement’s fault for not reaching enough people engaged and active in the heart of her campaign. I know many strong supporters of Oliver who are also involved in safe streets advocacy. Perhaps it’s time to get more involved if you support both safe streets and Oliver.

This is a long post, so you are welcome to stop here. The following sections are basically footnotes backing up points I made above. They dive into some of Oliver’s responses to follow-up questions and make the case for reconsidering her stances on downtown bike lanes and the Missing Link.

Oliver supports bike lanes on Rainier Ave

If she does shift her stance on pausing these projects, SDOT staff and the safe streets movement could learn a lot from her leadership. For example, she’s very supportive of protected bike lanes on Rainier Ave, a project that could happen during the next mayoral term. She also is asking good, tough questions about that project that the neighborhood, bike lane supporters and SDOT staff are going to have to work through together. And Oliver could be a strong guiding force for that process.

Seattle Bike Blog asked specifically about bike lanes on north Rainier Ave as part of the Judkins Park Station access, tying them into the Accessible Mount Baker project and, eventually, reaching the whole length of the street:

Q: With the Judkins Park Link Station, the city, WSDOT and Sound Transit have an opportunity to make significant changes to a very busy stretch of northern Rainier Ave to prioritize biking, walking and transit access to the station and beyond. The city also has a major project in the works near Mt Baker Station called Accessible Mt Baker. The full vision is to create protected bike lanes for the full length of Rainier Ave. You can learn more here. As mayor, will you support installing protected bike lanes on Rainier Ave? Why or why not?

A: Yes, protected bike lanes are important for creating safety. They are also very expensive. We want to be evidenced-based in our approach to developing our bike lane system. Some streets/areas that we see as most strategic for this type of expansion are Madison Avenue, Delridge Way SW and Rainier Avenue. I would support prioritizing these areas and specifically the Rainier Avenue expansion project because adding bike lanes in these areas would be cost effective, efficient for cyclists and would increase safety.

As a project like this unfolds, I would also want to consider:

  1. Equity issues that come with bike lanes
    1.  Displacement and “push out” in many Seattle neighborhoods have been preceded by particular types of neighborhood changes including the light rail and bike lanes. It is important to do this development with an intersectional analysis that understands who is most likely to ride bikes in Seattle, drive cars, and take public transportation.
    2. Since we know displacement is a possibility as these neighborhoods change we must utilize different community development strategies to preserve the culture and demographics of these neighborhoods.
    3. We MUST prioritize first those areas and streets where a) they are the most dangerous and b) bike lanes will actually provide the necessary safeguards to make our cyclist safer.
  2. Improving bus routes. It is often residents living in areas farthest from our city center that don’t have access to public transportation. We need to address this “last mile” problem in order to ensure our residents in south Seattle have equitable, cost effective access to transportation and other areas of the city.
  3. Effective solutions for congestion and traffic. As the Rainier Beach neighborhood becomes more dense congestion and traffic will be increasingly more of an issue. The more we can do to prevent this early on, the better for the neighborhood and the environment.

Then she again stressed:

Additionally, I have to stress that our city is currently in a state of emergency around homelessness. I believe it is the duty of our city leaders to prioritize addressing these exigent human service needs first. This may require us to put some projects, like construction of bike lanes on hold in order to ensure that we have the financial resources to address the state of emergency around homelessness in our city.

Private bike share should serve everyone

Oliver also had some great things to say about how the city can learn from the private bike share pilot to craft permanent rules that make sure such services serve everyone:

Q: Do you support SDOT’s pilot program to permit bike share companies to operate on city right of way (including being parked on city sidewalks)? As mayor, would you work to create permanent bike share permits when the pilot period ends? What role do you believe bike share can play in Seattle (if at all)?

A: City-wide bike share opportunities are an asset for cities. Private bike sharing can be cost-effective in terms of implementation and provide an economical mode of transportation for residents. They also encourage many health and environmental benefits. Given that Pronto is no longer a program in Seattle, we need new options for residents and so, I would welcome the piloting of private bike sharing programs.

When it comes to the question of permitting, it would be smart for our city to set regulations and require a permit before allowing private programs to launch. This would allow us to get in front of changes and avoid conflicts like the ones that developed as a result of UBER entering the ride-sharing market without a permitting process in place. Temporary permits would also give our city the chance collect data and think through the cost-benefit of programs before committing to them in the long-term.

I would also like to consider ways for new companies to help shape bike culture in our city. While there are many cyclist in Seattle, not all Seattleites have had access to bike culture and these private companies could invest in some city-wide cycling education. I am also committed to centering equity in how our city makes decisions and so I would want to be intentional about city-wide accessibility to these programs for our residents, making sure neighborhoods, especially those farthest from the city center have bike sharing opportunities.

Why the Missing Link is an immediate need

Image from Michael Marian, who works near the Missing Link. Sick of a lack of action by the city, Marian started documenting the absurd number of injuries on this missing section of trail back in 2014.

Two people crash on the Missing Link so badly every month that they require emergency medical attention. Some, like Jessica Dickinson, are left with serious longterm pain and injury. Many more are injured to a lesser extent.

A nearby business owner sick of the lack of action to improve safety started documenting the ridiculous number of injuries at a single bike-wheel-grabbing railroad crossing in 2014 and sent the photos to the city and Seattle Bike Blog. This is an absurdly dangerous missing section in the middle of a very popular trail that extends across the county, and people will continue to be seriously injured (or worse) every two weeks until we fix it.

This isn’t about beautification. By far the biggest concern voiced by people responding to the city’s draft environmental study was safety. No other concern is even close. Beautification didn’t even make the list:

Public feedback from the draft environmental impact statement. The final version had similar results, but from another 4,400 comments (and many concerns about protecting the Farmers Market).

People have been working consistently for more than two decades to get this section of trail built, and most of the strongest voices are people who got engaged after crashing themselves or helping someone else who crashed. We are so close to finally finishing this damn trail, with people finally coming together to work through the details after 20 years of arguing and legal action. We simply cannot stop now.

I hope she takes another look at this project before holding it up as a symbol of wasteful spending. She told the Candidate Survivor crowd the Missing Link will cost $33.1 million to build, but SDOT staff says the estimated cost is $12.5 million ($15 million if you count the huge environmental study just completed, $9 million of which comes from the Move Seattle levy). The $33 million figure includes the section by Fred Meyer and the section from Gold Gardens to the Locks, both of which have been completed for nearly a decade. This error suggests she has not spent a lot of time studying the ridiculously long and complicated history of this project (and maybe too much time reading Seattle Times Editorials, which also got this number wrong). I mean, it is a pretty long and frustrating story. So if that’s the case, I hope she gives it another look, and I urge people reading this to give her campaign the space to do that.

Before she called it a beautification project, Oliver told Seattle Bike Blog she “would be happy to see this project completed,” but said she sees it as her duty to prioritize homelessness first:

As an amateur boxer, running is a regular part of my daily life. As a result, I frequent many of Seattle’s incredible parks and trails. The Burke-Gilman Trail missing link is a valuable part of connecting our residents to different parts of the city and I would be happy to see this project completed. However, many in our city are currently facing insurmountable barriers to finding affordable housing and over 10,000 of our residents are currently living without shelter. I believe it is the duty of our city leaders to prioritize addressing these exigent human services needs first. This may require us to put some projects, like construction on the Burke-Gilman Trail on hold in order to ensure that we have financial resources to address the state of emergency around homelessness in our city.

She also said the trail should be delayed so SPU doesn’t have to just dig up the trail to install a pipeline for a major sewer project they have planned. It’s wise of her to be looking for these kinds of cost savings, but SDOT and SPU already figured that out and are planning to lay that section of pipeline during trail construction. So, she is right, and city staff is on it.

We need the Basic Bike Network to help treat downtown’s traffic injury and death crisis

Every year we delay making safety improvements to downtown streets, dozens of people are seriously injured, many left with lifelong health issues. Several people die. Here’s a snapshot of just three years of serious traffic injuries and deaths (2012-2015):

Image from a 2015 open house for the Downtown Bicycle Network.

Seniors and people of color are disproportionately likely to be one of the symbols on this map. So are people experiencing homelessness. One of the red symbols was a loving uncle who had immigrated to Seattle from the Philippines in 1979 and was killed walking from the bus to the janitorial job he had held for 17 years. Another red symbol was a woman crossing the street with the help of a walker. Another red symbol was a woman who friends say was working to get out of the cycle of addiction and homelessness. Another red symbol was a powerful civil rights attorney and new mother who was biking to work when she was killed. Just ten days later, the city built their planned protected bike lane on the same street, designed to prevent the exact kind of collision that killed her.

Through many years of public meetings and hours of volunteer advocacy and community organizing in neighborhoods across the city, Seattle has developed the plans to start fixing this problem. We also have the means to do so through the Move Seattle Levy, which voters approved specifically for transportation projects including the downtown bike network and the Missing Link. Levy funds can’t easily be moved to address homelessness.

All we need is a mayor who will give the Department of Transportation the green light to make it happen. Mayor Ed Murray started strong with the 2nd Ave bike lane in 2014, then he slammed on the brakes and delayed so long that now the bulk of work won’t start until he is out of office. He had a golden opportunity to build a lot of the downtown bike network in 2016, and he blew it. Hopefully the next mayor doesn’t make the same mistake.

And it’s vital to remember that the downtown bike network is not just about biking or efficient mobility. It’s about reducing injuries for everyone, whether they are in a car, walking or biking. A study out of New York City found that protected bike lanes like these reduced injuries by 35 percent on one street and 58 percent on another:

From NYCDOT.

Oliver says she does support the Basic Bike Network:

Yes and I would like to begin this process by supporting the “Basic Bike Network” proposed by Cascade Bicycle Club and Seattle Neighborhood Greenways. The Basic Bike Network would bring quick changes for current downtown bikers and provide our city with the opportunity to collect data so we can make evidence-based decisions when we develop a more comprehensive multi-modal plan for downtown. I believe this “pilot” approach would help quell opposition. Additionally, I would want this project to develop in tandem with the expansion of our public transportation systems. This would provide a public transportation infrastructure that would reduce the need for cars downtown and hopefully present a comprehensive plan for everyone and alternatives for folks who commute downtown.

But…

In funding this project, it is essential we also consider that our city is currently in a state of emergency around homelessness. As mayor my first priority will be to address this state of emergency. This may mean pausing certain city projects in order to fund exigent human service needs.

I fully understand that safe streets are not even close to the top priority for battling homelessness in our city. And I agree with Nikkita that homelessness needs a real emergency response. I am intrigued by her plan for a response so big that she needs to raid funding from other departments. I am not necessarily against that idea, though there are far, far bigger and more wasteful pools of general fund money to go for than the safe streets budget. Or at least I hope such cuts are fair and spread out across the department. At the moment, it feels like she’s got her target set on safe streets projects specifically, and that’s what is so worrying.

So there you have it. I hope the Oliver campaign moves a little on singling out safe streets projects for cuts, and I hope people who are hyper-focused on bike projects take a step back and recognize how impressively Oliver’s campaign is challenging our city’s traditional power structure. I believe there is a space where people’s passions about safe streets and passions about Oliver’s campaign can meet, and it would be very powerful if they do. Many individuals are already there, but the movements are not. At least not yet.

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61 Responses to I want to endorse Nikkita Oliver, but she says she may pause downtown bike lanes and the Missing Link

  1. Darius says:

    It would be incredibly disappointing if this blog endorsed someone who lacks an even basic understanding of the issues this community focuses on, particularly considering the wealth of excellent candidates in this race. Oliver’s rhetoric is divisive and lacks unifying or thoughtful stances. I would encourage you to consider that the resources our community has for leadership and guidance on topic of biking, walking, transit, and general urbanism in this city are limited. Though just one person’s endorsement, it should not be given lightly, and should not be handed to someone so unqualified for both the recommendation of this blog and for the office itself.

  2. Andres Salomon says:

    I want Nikkita in charge of Seattle’s Office of Civil Rights, or even SPD. I don’t want her in charge of budget decisions that potentially remove Vision Zero/Safe Routes To School funding.

  3. Richard Slaughter says:

    I had generally been hopeful for her candidacy, in spite of the common criticism that she lacks experience. This convinced me that the criticism is fair; a city is not and cannot be a myopic organization. I don’t disagree with her prioritization of homelessness. But shutting down critical infrastructure development is neither a reasonable nor effective means of addressing those problems.

    I know you’ve said here that you’re keeping the door open, but frankly, I don’t see why; if she believes cutting bike Lanes somehow helps homelessness, I cannot conceive of her having the skills needed to effectively steer an entire city executive.

  4. Frank says:

    Reading “I want to endorse Nikkita Oliver” on this blog makes me feel like I’m reading “I want to endorse Bob Hasegawa” on the Seattle Transit Blog.

    Over and over again, Oliver makes it clear that safe streets generally and cycling specifically aren’t priorities for her—at all. She goes out of her way to say that she’ll take away money from these needs to fund her priorities.

    I thought no mayoral candidate could be worse for cycling than Ed Murray. Boy howdy was I wrong. All he did was slow-roll protected bike lanes because something-something-Center City. Oliver, on the other hand, surveys the city budget, looking here and there for pots of money she can use, and every time she does so, her first answer is safe streets and cycling. Why this is so, I can only imagine.

    • Lynn says:

      Yes, this.

      I’m only getting around to reading these comments after my candidate (pro-bike and transit leader Jessyn Farrell) didn’t make it through. I hope that Oliver doesn’t somehow surpass Moon so that the future of bike infrastructure in this city can be assured. Oliver would be a disaster for bikes; it’s astonishing to think SBB would even consider endorsing her. Like you said, Tom, don’t miss the forest for the trees.

      • Frank says:

        I was very much pro-Jessyn Farrell as well. I’m disappointed that she’s not in the runoff because I think she’s so amazingly qualified. I continue to believe she has a bright political future ahead of her.

  5. Ballard Resident says:

    Thanks for the honesty.

    She doesn’t want to represent the whole city so there is no reason to give her my vote.

  6. Tim F says:

    Not for any specific campaign, but I’ve been concerned that a safe connected biking network as part of a multi-modal system is an important part of what makes building more housing possible. To limit displacement, one great source of land for new buildings is surface parking lots. Building that housing costs far less if you don’t have to provide excessive off-street parking. Building near great transit is ideal, but for many people to give up their car, transit access alone might not be enough.

    Biking allows more families to go to one car. A single person might use transit or walking for most trips, but a bike can replace a weekly trip or provide an emergency backup option that otherwise would require a car. For those who can’t or aren’t ready to give up driving, there’s only so much room on our roads, and a wealthy person’s car takes up just as much space on them as someone with less income. It’s easier to ask people to move away from driving in order to make more room for people if the experience is reasonably safe and straightforward. Living two miles from a transit hub might not be practical for everyone, but with a safe bike route, quite a few people would have an option to live there. Incrementally, such things relieve some of the upward price pressure on centrally located “walkable” neighborhoods. It’s always possible to find a reason to delay a bike lane, but when it’s done indefinitely the expenses in parking, competition for walkable housing, driving from ever more remote neighborhoods or even building a truly complete transit-only network will likely be much higher and I doubt they can lead to a lower housing+transportation cost.

    • Alex W says:

      Exactly. I feel like from reading the responses the Tom posted that she doesn’t necessarily see the full connect between multi-modal transportation decisions, land use decisions, and homelessness. While bike lanes on its face seems like a first world problem type of thing, there are many homeless folks whose only mode of transportation is biking. While it also helps the more affluent that choose to ride bikes, it also improves safety for the less advantaged to move safely about the city.

  7. Central Districtite says:

    Yeah….nope.

    • Central Districtite says:

      Just to follow up: Great to try to work with her (and any) campaign to help them understand issues, but it would be ludicrous for folks who care about people who bike to vote for someone who has EXPLICITLY called for cutting the top bike safety projects.

      Vote Moon

  8. Hay says:

    When I moved to Seattle in 2002 I sold the Prius and bought bikes for the family. She was never on my top 5 picks for mayor, the main reason is because in debates she scores lowest in supporting cycling, metro, community areas. Personally, to me she simply says ‘hear what I say, don’t see what I do.’

  9. Becky says:

    Wow, thank you for all the time, effort, and analysis you put into this post. This sums up a lot of how I feel. As a white person with access to enough $$ to meet all my basic needs, who also bicycles, it’s easy for bicycling stuff to take highest priority. But what I’m working on as a person is understanding where I can learn from people of color and where I can step back because my stuff maybe isn’t as important. Annnd that said, people of color are riding bikes all over the place, they just don’t talk about it as much as we white people do. Safe streets really matter, too. I’m so grateful you took the time to do this well thought-out analysis that considers our whole city and our whole humanity.

  10. Eli says:

    Also, when I hear: “I have to stress that our city is currently in a state of emergency around homelessness”…

    …it’s hard not to see this as the equivalent of “we’ll fund space exploration after we’ve solved every single problem left on earth.”

    After homelessness, what is the next crisis or excuse that would delay action? Ultimately, this means “I don’t actually care about street safety.”

    NYC has something like 70,000 homeless people in their annual count, growing almost as rapidly as their bike share usage. The bike program is a pittance of the money being spent on homelessness — killing it would not materially change the outcome.

    It is indeed a crisis, but they are not crazy enough to defund effective transportation safety projects to try to solve an intractable societal mess.

    • Peri Hartman says:

      That’s exactly how I feel. This is not a one-issue town. Just because we have homelessness doesn’t mean we drop everything else til the [unsolvable] problem of homelessness is solved.

      • Tom Fucoloro says:

        Just like I believe we can reach Vision Zero, I also believe we can end homelessness. It will take a serious investment far, far beyond what we’re doing, though. That’s why I am intrigued to hear more about her big homelessness plan, which seems to be on a whole other scale compared to everyone else’s. I just am worried when she talks about safe streets projects as the pool of cash she has her eyes on. I would at least hope any such cuts are fair, and I know there are other pools of cash much, much bigger than safe streets.

  11. J says:

    “Displacement and “push out” in many Seattle neighborhoods have been preceded by particular types of neighborhood changes including the light rail and bike lanes. It is important to do this development with an intersectional analysis that understands who is most likely to ride bikes in Seattle, drive cars, and take public transportation.”

    There’s some truth to this, but she may have fallen into the trap of thinking that bike lanes are for “cyclists.” If you walk outside and open your eyes, you’ll see that there are many, many people on regular bikes wearing regular clothes going about their day. Head on over to the south end and regular, non-spandexed, non-stereotypical-“cyclists” are the majority. I think the results of a comprehensive analysis of who rides bikes in Seattle would surprise many people.

    I lived under the poverty line for six years (in a different city). I didn’t own a car or even have a driver’s license. My bike was the most economical way to get around since I couldn’t afford the bus some months. Better, safer infrastructure would have been a great benefit to me.

    We can provide neighborhoods at risk of gentrification (ie pricing out current residents) with better pedestrian, bike, and transit infrastructure at the same time as trying solutions to minimize the negative effects of development on a neighborhood. Neglecting infrastructure improvements in the hopes of staving off development is not really going to benefit the existing community.

    In general, I do like hearing about “evidence-based” decisions. God knows Seattle needs more of that, especially if we’re really going to commit ourselves to helping the homeless.

    • Clark in Vancouver says:

      This is something that needs to come up more in discussions about transportation change. That many people for financial reasons cannot afford a car and all the related expenses that go along with one. The discussion is often framed as though some wealthy people want their own place to do their hobby.
      I also have lived for times in my life with a low income and while it was tough, I was able to live through the times, partly because I could use my own muscle to get somewhere at a low cost. I could bike across town to the stores with the deals.
      I consider this resourcefulness.
      Someone with political aspirations to help poor people really needs to be better educated about how cycling makes a big difference to them. How it enables them to take care of themselves better. How improving safety on a cycling corridor is not about it looking prettier.

  12. Forrest says:

    I hope Nikkita Oliver really does talk to those most impacted. Any serious candidate should do so. They should also act on what helps most to support them.

    I volunteered at The Bikery, and encountered people who were homeless weekly, when they came to work on their bike. The Bikery provides tools and helps people fix their bikes themselves for minimal cost. We’d let people in need volunteer to work off used parts, heard their stories. and got to know them.

    I also personally went through a time when I was barely making ends meet. I’d take the bus when my car died, and had to when it got towed. But I wouldn’t even have to spend those two dollars on the bus. I could simply bike all across town, and dumpster food, and be okay. I’ve walked the whole way home late at night, but I much prefer biking. I could also bike to the food bank with a trailer. My bike really helped me through that rough patch, now that I think of it.

    That time also helped me understand. I hung on to my car, even when I didn’t have the money to fix it. It was a symbol of quick and easy freedom, and I hated to lose it. I learned the hard way that the car was more of a liability to living with a tight budget. When I didn’t have the option anymore, I adjusted to my new reality quickly. There are plenty of options. People who are homeless need transportation. If you want to help them, you need to include safety in their choices.

    So I hope Nikkita Oliver walks to the homeless camps a block from the Bikery, near Dearborn and Rainier, tucked between cars zooming from the freeway off-ramps. I hope she goes to talk to the homeless in Ballard, and sees that they walk and bike along the Burke-Gilman Trail. People who are homeless need to get places, and if any of our candidates are really serious about helping them, they’ll help those who are really in need stay safe and alive while doing so.

  13. GlenBikes says:

    I am similarly excited about Oliver’s campaign, but almost every single response to SBB questions highlights that she does not think she is a person who can focus on more than one issue at the same time.

    I agree with Tom that homelessness is a much higher priority than a bike network. But this is not the difference between curing cancer and having a nice garden party. This is the difference between curing cancer and creating a vaccine for type 2 diabetes. Both are important. Yes solving homelessness is more important than building a safe bike network (note: many of the homeless use bicycles to get around our city). Just like curing cancer is more important than a vaccine for type 2 diabetes (I’m a diabetic so please keep the ranting about my not understanding diabetes to a different place – I’m on Twitter if you want to tell me how smart you are and how not smart I am), but nobody with half a brain would suggest the planet should all agree to stop all diabetes research until all cancers are cured. That seems to be what Oliver is (repeatedly, with her answer to almost every single question) is saying about homelessness and Vision Zero.

    We absolutely need a mayor who can put the critically important and long-overdue focus and money into solving homelessness. But no matter how great her ideas are, homelessness won’t be solved next year or the year after. It is completely reasonable to expect that the best of plans and executions will take a decade or decades. Do we want to elect a mayor who will have blinders on for all other issues facing our city until she thinks she’s solved homelessness?

    More importantly we need a mayor who can chew gum and walk at the same time. And of course skip and blow bubbles too. I’d rather have a mayor that does a 90% job on all issues than a mayor that does 99% job on one issue and 40% on the rest.

    I share Tom’s hope that the Oliver campaign can rethink these also-critical priorities for the city and adjust their platform and priorities. But right now, my ballot is sitting on my table and I just can’t check that Oliver box.

  14. Skylar says:

    Is the reason we don’t have money for a homelessness crisis response (which I definitely agree should be a very high priority) because we spend a few million dollars per year on cycling and pedestrian improvements, or is it because we blow $70 million on a project like Mercer without even thinking about the fact that it won’t improve traffic at all, which then requires that we blow millions more to retime signals to benefit motorists ahead of everyone else?

    I haven’t gotten my ballot yet so haven’t really put much thought into it, but am leaning towards Farrell myself. It seems she is likely to be very effective fighting homelessness, /and/ able to get other projects done.

    • J says:

      Wasn’t the issue with the Mercer project that SDOT hadn’t anticipated the explosive growth in SLU that started a couple years after the project began in 2010? The project was planned out before Amazon moved in, and Amazon’s really rapid growth didn’t start taking off for a few years after that. With Google moving its headquarters to Mercer St in SLU I doubt there’s much SDOT can do to improve the situation at this point. Those 3 16-story building are going to contain at least the 1000 employees that work in Kirkland; that’s a lot of vehicle traffic being dumped onto Mercer.

      As a former East Queen Anne resident I can tell you that making Mercer two-way and adding the bike lanes made for a tremendous improvement for cyclists and pedestrians. The choice before that when riding west to Taylor was to use the very narrow sidewalk a long detour around the south of Seattle Center, up 1st to Mercer, then head back east to Taylor.

      • GlenBikes says:

        No the issue was that SDOT did not understand #induceddemand which has been common knowledge for decades.

        Actually I know they do understand it, but like most DOTs they ignore it because they think wasting millions on projects that will have no impact that last longer than a few months is better than explaining to citizens/voters why the thing that some of them (a loud minority of them BTW) are asking for will just flush money down the car sewer.

        And now that they’ve spent all this money on it, they have to do everything the can to try to eke out more than those few seconds they gained/lost for the surprisingly more (oh no, wait, we knew there’d be more) motorists who use it. So even if it means making things much more dangerous for people walking/bicycling, almost certainly resulting in an increase of serious injuries and deaths and making things much worse for transit… they will still do it.

        Want proof: SDOT has had very loud input from every direction about how Mercer adaptive signal changes has impacted safety and travel times for people walking, bicycling or busing across Mercer. They have known exactly what the impact of their changes had on these people since April:
        http://www.kiro7.com/news/local/mercer-mess-traffic-improvement-creates-issues-for-pedestrians/517057247
        http://www.thestranger.com/slog/2017/04/28/25113735/the-morning-newssdot-says-fuck-you-to-pedestrians-with-new-traffic-technology-city-authorities-getting-their-sawant-hate-on
        Of course a few days before that barrage our daily car paper published a “rah rah” cheerleader piece by David Gutman about the adaptive signal changes and only mentioned in passing one impact to people walking (must beg for light) http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/transportation/new-high-tech-traffic-signals-make-the-mercer-street-trek-less-messy/

        And on May 30th there was a walk audit with Scott Kubly and SDOT traffic engineers/staffers organized by Queen Anne Greenways, The Urbanist, SLU Greenways and others which made it 100%, undeniably clear to SDOT how dangerous they’d made it for peds (but really they knew this all on Apr 28th)

        But what I am pointing out is that at the very latest, SDOT could say they didn’t completely understand how dangerous they’d made it for people walking until April 28th. And then they did nothing… and nothing… and nothing… Finally at the very beginning of July, SDOT made some changes (see https://queenanneview.com/2017/07/06/pedestrians-get-more-time-to-cross-mercer-thanks-to-queen-anne-greenways/) to undo some of the negative impacts to pedestrians. It’s not clear how this update compares to the state before the April 1st adaptive signal changes were made (which was already a terrible experience for people walking). But since SDOT didn’t mention it, my guess is that they didn’t completely undo the negative impact to people walking.

        Now can you imagine SDOT finding out that something they’d done had had a very serious impact on both the safety and travel times of people driving alone through the city and not doing anything to address it for more than 2 months? Especially if all the local print/online/TV news orgs were highlighting it? Of course not. Because SOVs are a much higher priority for the department than people walking, right up to Scott Kubly and Mayor Ed Murray.

  15. Mike M says:

    I only scanned the comments above, so my apologies if I’m repeating this: the idea of a trade-of between social spending and safe streets is false, IMO. I think its more reasonable to assert a trade-off between the lack of a progressive income tax, and not requiring developers and wealthy home buyers to pay a fair share of the social costs that come with their personal benefit. My guess is, there are people around Ms. Oliver who see bike lanes as something that came with gentrification (not entirely a false idea, IMO, but one that fails to account for the fact that safe streets benefit everyone, and not just white people with $3K bikes), but that she can be persuaded to look more closely at anti-bike assumptions, especially when she understands she needs the votes of a wider community if she’d like to win.

    • Mike M says:

      I meant to say “a trade-of with the lack of a progressive income tax…”, not “a trade-off between…” Sometimes I really need that FB style ‘edit’ feature.

  16. CT says:

    I’d like to note that Oliver used Missing Link as her *sole* example of wasteful spending. If she had mentioned other things in a list I think that would be more forgivable, but my jaw dropped when I heard her expound on Missing Link as wasteful government spending. I hesitate to support anyone whose mind goes to street safety as the top of mind thing to cut.

    • ronp says:

      Yeah, the real waste of money in this town was that stupid viaduct replacement tunnel. we could have built Copenhagen level bike infrastructure all over town and had a billion dollars left over for homeless emergency and transitional housing.

      The other thing about housing is it is really a regional issue that should be worked on at the county level. Yes there is a concentration in the center city, but lots of homeless all over the metro area.

      I hope to never see any additional road widening ever again in this town. Dedicated walking, bus, rail and bike right of way only in the future.

  17. Breadbaker says:

    As Tom suggests, Oliver brings a lot of strengths to the campaign and is paying attention to voters whom mayoral candidates have, in the 36 years I’ve lived here, either ignored or taken for granted. Unfortunately, her answers to Tom’s questions indicate a misunderstanding of the role of the city. Cancelling every single bike program in the city would not materially impact homelessness. But it might save some serious lives of actual citizens. We could get more money to aid the homeless if we stopped paying for streetlights or traffic signals or potholes, but we won’t, and for the same reason we shouldn’t stop the small amount we spend on bike projects (particularly since Murray delayed so many of them, and Josh Brower has delayed others). The city does not have just one mission. This is the wrong mission to sacrifice to no meaningful benefit to her laudable goal.

  18. Pardo says:

    I really can’t understand why you want to endorse so badly, even though she fails the litmus test for this blog, which would be related to bicycling. You should feel free to endorse a candidate for bicycling, yet hold your vote for a different candidate that you feel is more compelling. People shouldn’t vote on one issue only anyway.

    Personally, I really don’t want to see another activist in the office, and Oliver is just that. She would be a disaster in office, much like McGinn was. McGinn was a bridge burner out of the gate, and I suspect Oliver would be too. McGinn actually did more harm for cycling in his brief tenure than good. Most of the bicycling infrastructure accomplishments that went in during his tenure were actually in the pipeline from Nickels’ tenure. Better to endorse someone who plays well with others, and work to bring them on board with your priorities.

  19. Kevin Love says:

    “I fully understand that safe streets are not even close to the top priority for battling homelessness in our city. ”

    Sorry, I must disagree with this statement. I would rather be homeless than dead.

  20. Amon says:

    Lord, this non-endorsement (if that’s the right term?) is absolutely dripping with white urbanist liberal guilt. Imagine your response, Tom, if someone at The Seattle Times editorial board called the missing link a “beautification project”! Lol

    • GlenBikes says:

      Except the Seattle Times Editorial Board is not something Tom 90% agrees with on policy/position. Also not something that Tom could ever imagine voting for.

      Speaking for Tom by assumption. ^^^ My views since my take on the candidate(s) is fairly similar to Tom’s. And I have similarly been attacked for them. Not crying discrimination against cis white males, everyone gets attacked for every political opinion (especially recently in this country). Just pointing out that Tom is not alone and neither is Amon.

      Both sides have points. We should consider and think about both views.

  21. Brendan says:

    Nikkita Oliver is not a good candidate by any measure. She has never held office before. She’s not knowledgeable about the issues. She doesn’t support your positions.

    Why are you apologizing for not supporting her?

    Let’s be honest. You just don’t want people to think you aren’t “woke” for voting against the black, female, queer candidate.

    It’s not progressive to pretend to like someone based on their race, gender, sexuality and to completely ignore who they are as an individual.

    • J says:

      There’s some truth to that and it is a bit of a problem in SJ circles, but there’s also to the idea that we need fresh voices and new ideas in this city—and Oliver seems to have those. Being black, female, and queer also means a perspective and representation that has historically not been in a position of power and we need to change that. It doesn’t mean that we should be voting solely on those criteria, but it’s worth factoring in. I’ve bailed out of SJ circles due to disagreement and concerns with ideological purity, but I do think that’s a reasonable thing to add to voting criteria.

      That said, I have some concerns about political experience. I’d love to see her on the city council for even one term to see what she does in practice (I think she’d do a great job) and get some experience playing whatever games are played. I’d like similar from all candidates, actually. Jumping right into the mayor position without that makes for a rougher ride for most people, and Seattle has enough problems that it might have too large of a negative impact.

      I kinda agree with her to a point on streets—sometimes you need to make hard prioritization decisions. There are projects to keep and projects that can be delayed. But we should move forward on the missing link because it’s just ridiculous to have not completed it at this point and it is a problem that has to be solved once and for all.

  22. bidab says:

    She said homelessness is a more serious problem than the missing link, and everybody commenting says, “over my dead body can I support a mayor who believes that people having to sleep on the streets is worse than my having to ride through traffic for a few blocks.” Sheesh.

    While I think it’s certainly possible to continue building transportation infrastructure while we address the other problems Oliver mentioned, I do agree with her characterization of the Ballard Missing Link.

    It’s not a strictly cosmetic fix, but when held up next to homelessness and displacement, and even the many other “missing links” in infrastructure in other parts of the city, the Ballard Missing Link looks more like a vanity project.

    As cyclists, we’ve got to look beyond our immediate interests, especially when it involves the safety and dignity of other people in our community. If we don’t look out for the interests of everyone in this city, then they won’t look out for our narrow interest group.

    • GlenBikes says:

      Exactly who said that. Nobody, including me – scroll up and reread, said that.

      We’re just saying (paraphrasing everyone so apologies if my simplification misrepresents anyone’s views) that Vision Zero is also very important and it is hard to make a decision in this race for many reasons, one of which is how low a priority Oliver seems to think Vision Zero is. Not that she thinks it is lower priority than homelessness, everyone is agreeing with that. Just that it seems she will not focus on both.

      • Kevin Love says:

        In my opinion, not being dead is more important than not being homeless. But guess what! We can do more than one thing at a time and achieve both goals!

    • Jay says:

      The Missing link is not a new bike trail but a location where cyclist are being seriously injured. Too bad there isn’t a database with victims, injuries, legal actions. Does anyone have the amount Seattle has paid out in legal fees, payments for injuries, band-aid repairs? A large portion of us cyclist live in the lower classes and cycle for health and to save on transportation costs. Yes, Seattle has a homeless issue so increase property taxes. Those who can afford homes in Seattle can pay.

      • Svejk says:

        Your comment reeks of the dismissiveness of any concern or interest other than bicycling that is all too prevalent in the bicycling community, at least as manifest in the comments on biking blogs.

        Not everyone who owns a home in Seattle hold some cushy high paying job that makes the ever increasing tax burden an inconsequential inconvenience. In our case, we own a home that we’ve lived in for almost 20 years. Although it”s worth more than we paid for it, it doesn’t provide income to supplement our single substantially less than median income (one that in real terms declines in value every year (we haven’t seen a raise that met the increase in the cost of living in many years– i.e. we are making less with each passing year).

        So yeah, seeing our taxes increase by $800 just last year and looking ahead to more years of the same, for reasons totally out of our control, taxes are a fucking hardship. I know people who’ve had to take reverse mortgages and in one case (a single woman on disability income) sell her house because of increasing taxes.

        Your dismissiveness and complete self-absorption is just the kind of thinking that makes many reasonable people hate the asserted entitlement that sadly characterizes much rhetoric of the “bicycling community”.

        So when you demand that my tax dollars go to support your special interest, you’d better be able to tell me what you’re doing for me (and no, taking cars off the road on glorious cycling days when the bike lanes are empty for most of the year, doesn’t qualify as a benefit to me).

      • Kevin Love says:

        “…taxes are a fucking hardship.”

        Me being dead would be a considerable hardship to my wife and children.

      • Sanders says:

        Kevin,
        We hear you loud and clear. You don’t want to die. Putting aside the facts that we are all in the process of dying every day and that bike lanes or not, life is fragile, you are missing every point. Prioritization does not mean one or the other. And your proclamation that you’d rather be homeless than dead is neither relevant nor helpful. If you were a viewpoint, you’d be individualism. Got it.

      • Jay says:

        I am happy reaking from a sweat after a cycle ride in summer and not your walled off stench. You’re free to debate here but can the hatred.

        ….and why should my tax dollars go to your special interests? Because I’m a grown up and understand how a community grows.

      • Andres Salomon says:

        Svejk, that’s a lot of words. We cyclists are a simple people, only concerned with our trivial special interest of not bleeding to death by the side of the road. Selfish, I know!

        Could you summarize your comment for me, so I can understand it? I figure I’m entitled to at least that.

        Thanks!

      • GlenBikes says:

        Svejk, you seem to be classifying bicycling as a recreation. While it is true that some people ride bicycles for fun, that is a small segment of the trips and most of those are not done on Seattle streets.

        Bicycles are a form of transportation. In fact many people who are struggling financially like yourself, depend on a bicycle to get around cheaply: to work, to shop, and all other trips they must make. Also, a lot of people who are transit users because they can’t afford to own a car depend on a bicycle to get to and from the transit they use, particularly those who are lower income and therefore live far away from frequent transit.

        I hear your frustration with increased property taxes and that is a completely valid point. I agree with you. Our state’s method of raising money is very inequitable and falls disproportionately heavily on those on the lower rungs of the income ladder like your family as well as people who are below you on the ladder and have already lost or were never able to consider buying a home.

        However, if you look at where your property taxes are going, much more of it is going to pay for transportation spending that is car-only spending. More than half the funding for local roads (not interstates or state highways, but local Seattle roads) comes from the general fund which in WA state is mainly property and sales taxes since we don’t have a state income tax.

        So while it is completely valid for you to demand to know where your tax dollars are being spent with respect to bicycle infrastructure, you should also be questioning how it is being spent on automobile infrastructure. I don’t know what the exact split is for money from your property taxes going to car infra vs bicycle infra but I suspect it is much more than 10:1, probably closer to 100:1. So consider what it is like for people who are in your same financial situation but can’t afford a car. As long as they have a home (rent or own) they are paying property taxes and are disproportionately subsidizing people above them on the income ladder who have cars. This is just one of the many way these people, the ones with the least money to spare, are subsidizing those above them all the way up to Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos. When they walk or bike to the grocery store to buy milk, the price they pay subsidizes the “free” parking the grocery store provides to the people who drive there. When they pay city taxes they subsidize the free street parking that homeowners get on their residential streets.

        The finances of the city are not tilted toward recreational cyclists in the way that you think.

        Glen – car free and therefore subsidizing those who drive

      • J says:

        “So yeah, seeing our taxes increase by $800 just last year and looking ahead to more years of the same, for reasons totally out of our control, taxes are a fucking hardship. I know people who’ve had to take reverse mortgages and in one case (a single woman on disability income) sell her house because of increasing taxes.”

        I was shocked at how regressive taxes in WA are when I moved here from a state with an income tax. I was also shocked at how dysfunctional funding is (education, mental health, etc). I strongly believe we should replace a huge chunk of existing taxes with an income tax—and I mean replace/reduce existing taxes, not just add an income tax—that relieves the burden on the non-rich. It’s nuts that my tax burden is the same as my neighbor when I make literally four times as much money. The middle class has been destroyed in Seattle and god help you if you are lower-income.

    • EB says:

      Thank you, Bidab, for your characterization of these issues, which is far more accurate and honest than most of the folks on here.

  23. Natasha Pietila says:

    For many reasons I really appreciate your post and your messaging. I also have some thoughts for you.

    I really value your hard word around bike accessibility, safety, awareness, and community. It is so difficult to enact change around traffic and roads in this town. I know this, being connected to the brain injury community here and hearing horror stories about how slow and unresponsive the city can be around community feedback and requests for safety changes. My own father had a brain injury and I grew up as a caregiver for him and so awareness and safety measures around protecting cyclists (and their brains) is near and dear to my heart. Also, as a cyclist myself, I appreciate your writing here and decades of hard work.

    I am also white. I am privileged in so many ways. I am a transplant from the Bay Area and so Seattle and particularly the North End feels very similar to the community in which I was raised. I see this largely around privilege, inequity, and the power dynamics. I share this with you so that you understand that I appreciate the place from which you write and work and also because I believe that we do not, as white people, talk enough about race and how it shapes our understanding of politics and community.

    I read in your blog that you very much care about people, safety, inclusion, and complexity. I so appreciate this. I am voting for Nikkita and urge others to do so because she so personally understands that creating real transformative change in Seattle is a life-or-death matter for so many. She is not someone who takes safety lightly. She can’t. As a queer woman of color, her own life is at risk every day in this city. As a renter (and one who has been priced out nearly every year she has lived here) her ability to continue to live and work in this city is at risk every day in this city. As an educator of young folx of color, many of whom are unhoused, she has to fight for the safety and well-being of her students every day. She understands death, struggle, and institutional oppression in Seattle far better than many of us. When she says that the homelessness crisis has to be the number one priority, it is because she recognizes that many many people die in Seattle as a result of being unhoused and from the myriad of complex reasons that contribute to houselessness and that keep people unhoused. She understands that for folx of color in the Central District, who long relied on being in close proximity to the Odessa Brown clinic, displacement is a life-or-death matter. She understands that for people like Charleena Lyles, who are ripped out of their support communities and are shuffled into other communities without the same supports, who don’t have the privilege of mental health support like her wealthy white counterparts, and who are black, displacement and lack of stable housing means death.

    I appreciate that you, and many of the people who commented here, dearly value human life and care so much about this death trap of a missing link because safety is at stake. I also hope that you will pause and reconsider how many peoples’ lives are at stake with the homelessness crisis and how many peoples’ lives are at stake if we don’t make drastic, community-driven changes to police accountability, development, housing, and education. Transportation is a key part of this puzzle and Nikkita knows this. She also knows that she and the communities of color, communities of queer folx, communities of cash poor folx, need a mayor who will actually listen to them, involve their expertise, who they already trust and have a relationship with, and who understands that we must addressing the housing crisis.

    One of the main reasons why I am voting for Nikkita and am volunteering for her campaign is that I believe (based on her conversations and actions) that she is the only candidate who will truly create space for nuanced dialogue, who will invite feedback from those who are community experts, and who will help to fight for the human rights and inclusion of those who are most oppressed in our city. She has demonstrated this time and time again through her work as an educator in the Creative Justice program, as a lawyer where she works to better serve her students, as a community organizer, and through the myriad of community listening posts she has held. I believe you would agree with me that living in a community means recognizing that there are complex and often intersecting unmet needs and similarly complex power dynamics that privilege certain voices and needs over others. Recognizing this, I believe it behooves us to center those who are most oppressed, most silenced, most attacked in our decision making because through this we not only protect their human rights but we also ensure our community’s well-being. Knowing Nikkita, I can attest that she is not the type of person who thinks or acts in zero-sum ways. She holds complexity better than any person I know. She also listens better than any person I know.

    I appreciate and thank you for the time and effort you put into writing a nuanced post and hope that you will consider how white privilege allows us to ignore the voices of people of color. I imagine you have heard this and in case you or anyone else who is white hasn’t hear this, the folx of color I have spoken to about Nikkita’s campaign and work have impressed upon me that they cannot afford to sit through another 4 years of having a white, wealthy mayor in office who doesn’t know how to center the voices of the oppressed in their work and who continues to shore up white supremacy by expecting folx of color to help them in their work. They are fighting for their lives and the least we can do as white people is to hear that, sit with that, think about how our privileges allow us to focus myopically on certain issues, and to work to be accountable to requests for support.

    I hope you will reconsider your lack of endorsement here.

    • GlenBikes says:

      [Thumbs up emoticon] Thank you for sharing your views and knowledge here Natasha. I don’t think anyone here, including Tom, said that they would not vote for Nikkita. And I suspect that all or most would agree with everything you have said here (I do) and are glad that you have posted it in much more eloquent and succinct terms that most of us could’ve hoped to describe our own views/process/thinking/hopes around this election.

      I am still undecided about the Mayor’s race, although reading your comments above has moved me a bit more. Perhaps you can arrange for Nikkita and Tom to have a phone call to discuss? From reading Tom’s post it sounds like he wants to endorse Nikkita but needs more information and details from her.

      I also hope that Tom will endorse Nikkita and I hope SBB will be able to a place where Nikkita can expand and elaborate on her transportation policy ideas and priorities. Not because transportation is more important than homelessness or more important than racism or human rights or economic inequality, but simply because transportation violence is also an important issue that the future mayor will need to address. Vision Zero seems to fit right in with all of Nikkita’s other positions and priorities. And those that are passionate about Vision Zero would probably all love to have a candidate that we can vote for, volunteer for and wholeheartedly support on all the important issues facing our city. For me, no candidate is quite there yet (given the information I have so far), but Nikkita certainly seems like one who may be there, just perhaps hasn’t yet expressed her positions on all of the issues yet to all of the constituencies. That’s what campaigning is, after all.

    • EB says:

      Natasha,
      Thank you so much for your thoughtful comments. Really helpful & insightful post. You have amazing communication skills. And I really wish I had your patience!

  24. NickS says:

    This quote killed any support I might have had for Oliver — in response to a question about adding protected bike lanes and other amenities to a neighborhood — “Since we know displacement is a possibility as these neighborhoods change we must utilize different community development strategies to preserve the culture and demographics of these neighborhoods.”

    I’m a long-time (over a decade) resident of Dunlap / Rainier Beach, and 20+ year resident of Seattle. I find the attitude expressed above to be abhorrent.

    I interpret her quote as being, in plain English, “If improvements make [lower-income] neighborhoods more desirable, and increase the risk that existing residents will be displaced, we don’t want those improvements and will make other (?) improvements that won’t encourage displacement.” I struggle to imagine what those other improvements could be — by definition, an improvement will make the neighborhood more desirable.

    What does that mean for people like me that live in “these neighborhoods”, my neighbors that are black, white, Asian, that spend money in the community, and hope for a better, safer neighborhood for our families with the same amenities that people in wealthier neighborhoods expect and demand. People that have invested in the community, literally, by buying homes, working p-patches, have children at local schools. Can we who are already here expect little to no improvements in transit and bicycling safety because of the risk that “people who would displace” like bike lanes?

    Should I expect that investments like the recently renovated aquatic center at the Rainier Beach Community Center will no longer occur, because they appeal to a “different” demographic, one that might displace existing residents? Who gets to interpret what “development strategies” will displace residents? Why not attempt to make the entire city a place where all residents feel welcome? Why not encourage a diaspora of social services throughout the city, rent control, and more mixed income family housing spread across the city so that residents that need those services and housing aren’t effectively cordoned into “these neighborhoods” as they are today?

    Over the decades, the Rainier Valley has had large numbers of Jewish residents, Italian American, and most recently Vietnamese and African American. The idea that we, in perpetuity, lock in a neighborhood to a particular income level, ethnic group, culture, or race is disgusting and un-American; a bizarre concept that has more in common with racial covenants of the middle part of the last century than any platonic ideal of multicultural neighborhoods. To hear this opinion coming from a potential mayor with the potential to direct and influence municipal spending is horrifying.

    • David Schraer says:

      “strategies to preserve the culture and demographics of these neighborhoods”
      Given who Oliver is and what she represents, this quote can be read as “preserve the diversity of these neighborhoods”. There is a big difference between preserving diversity and instituting covenants. Of all the candidates in the race, Oliver makes the case that the city should be welcome for everyone by actually working for those who are currently made to feel unwelcome. In no case can disinvestment be read into her words.

  25. EB says:

    At least Tom spends time and energy considering issues beyond those that affect only him and his – questioning the status quo. Besides Becky and a couple other folks on here, these comments are the biggest pile of privileged garbage I have ever read. You people are the epitome of the ignorant blue bubble liberalism that got Trump elected. Let me guess…a great number of you posted photos of your pussy-hat-topped, gleaming white, smiling faces on your Facebook pages in January, and haven’t given much thought to human rights issues since. And before you compare anything about us to Denmark, maybe you should look at how Denmark takes care of all of its people, not just the cyclist. I stay south of the ship canal bridge whenever possible to avoid witnessing your brand of blissful ignorance. This is disgusting.

    • EB says:

      *cyclists

    • Richard says:

      You are mis-characterizing our position. A city cannot focus on only one issue, period. Stopping all cycling projects would not substantively impact homelessness, and would seriously impact street safety. For her to suggest this idea shows a lack of competence at managing a large, complex organization that can only succeed if it approaches more than one problem at a time.

      For you to characterize this opinion in such a hateful, insulting, emotionally-charged way is disingenuous and counterproductive.

    • Scott says:

      Richard, you’re right, EB clearly went too far with the inflammatory language. As someone who rides my bike to work every day, I obviously have a personal interest in the rapid advancement of the bike projects. However, I understand EB’s frustration, because while these issues are indeed important, particularly as a part of our growing need for a solid multi-modal public transportation system, I resent the use of arguments such as, plenty of poor people ride bikes, simply as a way to further your own interests. I agree with Richard’s point that a competent candidate must be able to address multiple issues at once, but anyone, Tom included, who has for even a moment considered voting for Nikkita Oliver, should understand that she is committed to issues of environmental justice that prioritize alternative transportation and responsible and sustainable urban development, but that she will work to make these things priorities within a framework of promoting equality and demarginalization. The bike projects will go on. We will have a great mass transit system. Progress has been slow, but part of the problem has been politicians who say one thing and do another (or do nothing) because they were caught in a corporate agenda trap from the start. There may be further delays, but Oliver will not sell out to private interests. She will listen and she will work for all of us – the people of Seattle! And we all need to start getting used to the idea that the people are ultimately going to win. EB is right that it’s the corporate-bought liberal agenda which essentially ignored an enormous faction of our country’s population for far too long that got Trump elected. Let’s not prove the liberal elite characterization of our city right. Let’s seize the power, folks, for our public, our Seattle, even if it means minor slowdowns in the advancement of our own personal needs. I support Nikkita Oliver, not only because I believe this is a golden opportunity to begin to create true change in the structure of our society, but also because history has shown us time and time again that a candidate telling you all the things you want to hear means absolutely nothing. Nikkita Oliver isn’t lying to us to get our votes. She is working to make essential changes that should have been made a long time ago, and she is neither lying about it, nor apologizing for it. If you’re worried about your bike projects, get out there and talk to her about why. She is spending a great deal of time in the community every day, making herself available to voters to answer our questions and hear our concerns. She is listening. Go see for yourself.

      • Richard says:

        Glad you like her. Nothing you said addresses my concern, however. The bike master plan has already been hobbled and implementation has been pushed back *years*, and we’ve been fighting the missing link for *TWO DECADES*. If we killed every single bike development item in Seattle and dumped every cent it saved into homelessness, it would be an insubstantial impact. You’re telling me to vote for a candidate that apparently believes a large, growing city like Seattle can afford to myopically focus on a single issue. I won’t dispute that homelessness is the most important issue, but not to the exclusion of all else.

        Even if she backtracks on this, the damage is already done, as far as I’m concerned. My objection to her isn’t about biking – my objection stems from the fact that even proposing this exposes a dire lack of competency.

      • Kevin Love says:

        “I won’t dispute that homelessness is the most important issue”

        I will. I would rather be homeless than dead. But you are right that it is possible to do more than one thing at once. Specifically, tackling homelessness and traffic violence can both be done at the same time.

  26. Pingback: Mayoral Race Is Seattle's Chance To Get Our Priorities Right » The Urbanist

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