Editor’s Note: Seattle Bike Blog reported yesterday on newly-released 2017 American Communities Survey data that estimates that the number of people biking to work is declining in Seattle. In response, the folks at Seattle Neighborhood Greenways wrote this guest post looking at the start-and-stop construction of a useful bike network in our city and discusses where we can go from here.
The number of people biking to work in Seattle has not been growing. This is disappointing, but it is neither surprising nor is it an inevitable trend.
60% of people in Seattle want to bike more but don’t. They want to bike more because biking for transportation makes us happier, keeps us healthier, saves us money, and reduces pollution.
But safety is the number one reason they choose not to.
The reality is that Seattle’s bicycle routes are still fragmented, inconsistent, and dangerous. We need quick implementation of a large-scale, connected network of safe, protected routes in order to see meaningful change in how people are choosing to get around.
After Sher Kung was tragically killed by a driver on 2nd Ave in 2014 the city acted quickly to build the first protected bike lane in downtown Seattle, but progress since then has been lethargic. In 2016, former Mayor Ed Murray put the Basic Bike Network on indefinite hold.
Seattle Neighborhood Greenways pushed back against this delay. Led by family bikers, we filled City Hall holding signs saying “My Family Bikes” and “Safe Streets Now,” and chanting “We can’t wait!” As a result of these protests, planning for the Basic Bike Network moved forward.
When Mayor Jenny Durkan’s administration took over, they delayed the Basic Bike Network again. And again, a groundswell of caring people joined us to push back against the delay by emailing, calling, and taking to the street:
In response, City Council rose to the moment and passed a resolution to finally extend the disconnected 2nd Ave protected bike lane to the Westlake trail, Capitol Hill, and International District by the end of 2019.
More work remains to be done. We need to complete the Basic Bike Network for Uptown and the new arena, and connect it to the rest of the city. Seattle Neighborhood Greenways has been leading the charge by pushing for solutions that work for Uptown, listening to the Chinatown-International District community, and doing extensive outreach on Pike/Pine.
But even as we work to make it easy to commute by bike, we need to remember that getting to work only represents 25% of our daily transportation needs. We also need to make it convenient and comfortable to bike to the store, to see friends, to school, and more. That’s why in 2016 we worked with our neighborhood chapters to envision a system that connects every growing neighborhood (the map is not to scale).
- West Seattle Bike Connections is working to connect the spine of West Seattle and Delridge to downtown.
- Duwamish Valley Safe Streets is working to connect Georgetown and South Park with a trail.
- Beacon Hill Safe Streets is working to connect to Columbia City and the International District.
- Rainier Valley Greenways is working to connect the Rainier Valley to the rest of Seattle.
- Central Seattle Greenways is working to connect Capitol Hill to Downtown and the Central District.
- Queen Anne Greenways is working to connect to the new Seattle Center Arena.
- Green Lake & Wallingford Safe Streets is working to connect to and around the park.
- Lake City Greenways and University Greenways are working to connect people to new light rail stations.
There are no shortcuts to make biking in Seattle welcoming, comfortable, and convenient for people of every age, language, ethnicity, gender, race, ability, and level of wealth. Changing our streets and transportation system to reflect our values and needs requires on-the-ground advocacy and community-building in every neighborhood — work that our staff and volunteers do everyday. But to win, we need everyone who cares to be a part of this movement.
Here are four ways you can join:
- Join us on Friday, October 5 for an inspiring evening of ideas at Building the Cycling City: Dutch Lessons for Seattle, including how to address Seattle’s gender gap.
- Sign up to volunteer with us or attend our next Volunteer Orientation on Wednesday, October 17
- Donate to support our grassroots organizing to make every neighborhood in Seattle a great place to walk, bike, and live. Right now we have a 2-1 match, meaning your $100 contribution will become $300!
- Ride a bike, and bring a friend!