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Mayor Durkan chooses 35th Ave NE car convenience over street safety and the fight against climate change

Mayor Jenny Durkan’s vision for the future of Seattle streets is to reserve 100 percent of the street space for cars.

Mayor Jenny Durkan has officially abandoned the Bicycle Master Plan, which was approved unanimously by the City Council and funded through a vote of the people.

The Mayor has until recently only delayed Bike Master Plan projects, like essentially all downtown bike lanes. But the time for wishy-washy stances on bike lane projects is running out, and her office is finally admitting that they do not plan to build bike lanes, at least not bike lanes that have any opposition. Which is predictably almost all of them.

The 35th Ave NE bike lane saga will go down as one of the most unnecessarily frustrating  public debates about bike lanes this city has seen, and the worst part is that the Mayor has now given people a template for how to cancel Bicycle Master Plan projects they don’t like. Get loud, make signs, feel free to get loose with the facts, and she’ll have your back even if you don’t really have a solid policy basis for your bike lane hatred.

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The 35th Ave NE bike lanes are noted in the city’s Bicycle Master Plan as part of the priority-focus “citywide network.” SDOT will not build the bike lanes that were planned, designed and even sent to the contractor for construction. And they will not be replaced by a nearby facility (SDOT’s announcement makes a vague mention of “enhancements” to the existing 39th Ave NE neighborhood greenway, which is a steep eight-block round trip from 35th that does not function as an “alternative” or “parallel” bike route). Instead, they are just cancelled, and people in the neighborhood will not have a protected and comfortable way to access local businesses and destinations by bike. And there will now be a gap in the citywide bike network, which hurts bikeability for significant stretches of Northeast Seattle and Lake City.

This not only works against the city’s Vision Zero street safety goals, which requires bold investment in the Bicycle Master Plan to reach zero traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2030. It also works against the city’s climate change goals, which rely in part on shifting a lot more car trips to bicycles in every part of the city.

The Mayor is simply wrong here. She is acting against the will of the people as represented though our elected City Council and the 2015 Move Seattle Levy vote. She is prioritizing car movement and gasoline burning over safety and car-free mobility options.

Deleting these bike lanes goes against our Council-approved transportation policies. Will the Council push back or cede this power to her? If they don’t, then what’s the point of crafting city policies and passing them through that arduous City Council process if the Mayor can just choose not to follow them? Unanimous City Council approval should mean something.

At the very least, Councilmembers and the Move Seattle Levy Oversight Committee should make sure that now that the bike lanes have been cancelled, all Bicycle Master Plan funding spent on this project is returned to the bike budget for use on bike projects, including the $14,000 spent on a failed mediation attempt. Otherwise, this sure seems like an improper use of voter-approved funds. Plus, using Bicycle Master Plan funds to cancel bike lanes is just cruel.

And now that the Mayor has officially revealed her bike lane opposition, how do safe streets supporters respond? It’s a tough spot because Seattle has the necessary plans, policies and funding already on the books, the city just has a Mayor who refuses to execute them. We don’t have the time to wait out her term because we need to make safety and climate progress now. People’s lives and our city’s future are at stake.

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94 responses to “Mayor Durkan chooses 35th Ave NE car convenience over street safety and the fight against climate change”

  1. donttreadonme

    Immediate safety concerns aside, this is not a climate change issue. Climate change at this point can only be mitigated by all nations on Earth amending their carbon output to zero by the year 2030. This is eleven years to stop all carbon emissions on the planet. Bike lanes are not going to change this. We are past the point of no return here.

    1. Transportation causes 40+ percent of CO2 emissions in Washington State. Personal vehicles easily make up the majority of that. EVs make up ~3% of new car sales in Washington.

      Car infrastructure is co2 infrastructure. Period. Climate change isn’t a zero-sum game.

      1. donttreadonme

        Agreed! You do know that most people aren’t going to change what they are doing until there is a major economical – not environmental – distaster! We’re going to keep living the 1950s teen dream until people are dead in the streets and _bike lanes wont fix this_.

      2. donttreadonme

        Don’t get me wrong I need a place to ride my bike today, but the fact remains – unless EVERY ONE OF US stops driving, eating meat and using plastic by 2030, nothing we do matters from an environmental standpoint. We have already sealed our fate.

      3. It’s absolutely a climate change issue. We don’t know exactly how irreversible anything is. Everything is an estimate. If we lead, others may follow. So, this is inexcusable. When are we going to organize some more bike-tivism in Seattle? We need to start taking direct action if we’re going to see change.

      4. Rich

        Nothing wrong with Seattle that wouldn’t be fixed with $15 a gallon gasoline.

      5. Erik

        Lol sorry but there will never be cycling on a scale you dream of sufficient to materially reduce CO2 overidealism is dangerous.

      6. Erik

        How about taking the side streets people are acting like this is the end of the world.

    2. Brendan

      This is not true.

      There is a huge amount of readily available reporting and analysis on climate change – none of it says this. There is a large range of potential climate scenarios and the negative affects of climate change increase with each additional bit of warming. It is incumbent on all of us to do what we can to limit climate change in order to protect ourselves and out planet. Telling people that there is nothing we can do is both false and damaging. You are spreading dangerous nonsense – stop it.

  2. Nate

    Fire Durkan!

  3. Does anyone who reads this care about facts over ideology? If so, as a member of Save 35th, I can tell you that this blog, The Urbanist, and Rob Johnson really never paid attention to our extensive safety research and well-considered arguments and suggestions. Safety, community, equity, and small business survival were our agenda — and the proposed bike lanes served NONE of these goals.

    Did you know, for example, that the NE Seattle Library on 35th had nearly 300,000 patrons in 2017? And that it has only 17 parking spaces — so relies on on-street parking? Libraries are critical to a community’s health and without parking, they are inaccessible to many users. This is not an issue of parking = bad and biking=good. It’s a lot more complex than that.

    I would also add that contrary to what is going around in these venues, the Bike Master Plan is only a 1% Design document and not the Ten Commandments or even an ordinance. It is explicitly stated in both the plan and the implementation plan that changes to it can be made upon community input and additional information.

    1. Richard

      “Save 35th” is such a disingenuous pile of misrepresentation from the beginning, it’s tempting to not even bother reading someone who would embrace that level of dishonesty. I did anyway…. and you didn’t make any points. You say “x person is wrong” (no backing evidence or even supporting assertions); You outright misrepresent “safety”; You talk about people volume at a library (which supports bike connectivity just as much if not more than it supports your cartopia); you complain about parking (which is effectively complaining about the reality that the city is fundamentally incapable of warping space to provide the parking to support the numbers you mentioned before, AGAIN an argument for alternative modes); and then you completely misrepresent the fundamental fact of what the BMP is.

      So… thanks for making me regret giving you the benefit of the doubt, I’ll know better next time?

    2. biliruben

      The clear answer is that you should take 5 of those 17 spaces and turn them into 300 bike parking spots. I would never let me kid ride the library as 35th is currently designed. It’s a nightmare to cross, even at a light. Fix the street, and you fix the parking problem.

      Please explain how leaving it as a speedway is going to improve safety. Alcoholics for Sobriety Unite!

      Larger question from Tom – I’ve found the only thing communities have to force people to do the right thing is ADA regs. They are the only thing that has any teeth. Not sure if that’s been explored in Seattle, but it’s been effective where i am not because they will lose federal transportation dollars. Not sure it applies to 35th though.

      The other solution, which will happen sooner or later with the way it’s currently designed, is to wait for some poor kid on the way to the library, or Bryant or Nathan Hale to get squashed. Then call Durkin a kid killer. That often does it, but it take sacrifice, so to speak.

      It good the neighborhood is willing to make sacrifices!

    3. Ragged Robin

      you realize that driving isn’t the only way people can go to a library right?

    4. stinky

      Amy, so when I walked to the library you counted me as a car driver in need of parking? The “Save 35th” people are full of poor logic and misleading stats.

      I’m going to have no problem staying away from 35th Ave businesses that were actively against the bike lanes. They obviously don’t care about my safety or my dollars.

      1. Andrew Sapuntzakis

        With apologies to Frank Zappa, it seems that to be a real citizen you need a SFH and a car.

        The needs of apartment-dwellers or those who ride bikes are not serious concerns.

        In case you’re wondering why Americans have energy-consumption and CO2-production far and above any other large developed country…

      2. Breadbaker

        300,000 patrons and 17 parking spaces. Dividing that by the number of days the library is open, those spaces are either turning over pretty rapidly (and not being used by library staff) or else the neighborhood visits the library via walking, public transit and bikes to a significant degree.

        The Wallingford library has essentially no parking and a bus stop in front of it; people walk there.

      3. Michele Lawson

        And a lot of people park on the street.

    5. Southeasterner

      “Safety, community, equity, and small business survival”

      Is that you president Trump? It must be because nobody else would be ridiculous enough to use blatant counter facts to justify their actions.

      In your warped world:
      Safety = more people getting slaughtered by cars
      Community = dividing neighborhoods and neighbors for your own personal benefit
      Small Business Survival = Ensure through poor land use policy that the least possible number of people have access to small businesses.

    6. Evan D

      Amy, I followed up with your evidence. Your group put out a flier that said,

      “Studies of the effectiveness of protected lanes to reduce collisions show they are not very effective:
      they result in statistically significant increases in collisions at intersections (+24%), between bikes and
      right-turning vehicles (+140%), and between bikes and left-turning vehicles (+48%).”

      But when I followed up with the cited source, what I found was three studies immediately following the one you quoted which found dramatic safety improvements. The report *you* cited concluded that cycle tracks are an overall positive for cyclist safety, yet you falsely claimed that it condemned them. I think people here have seen as much of Save 35th’s “research” as they need to see.


    7. Amy maybe you missed the memo the same number of parking spaces are being removed under the new plan as would have been removed for the bike lane

    8. ChamoisDavisJr.

      please put your money where your mouth is and advocate for time-limited on street parking for 35th AV NE to keep turnover high and spaces open, allowing for more access to local businesses. Better yet, for improved turnover and availability of on street parking, advocate for metering on street parking along 35th AV NE where demand is greatest.
      Otherwise this claimed need for available on street parking is just for your convenience and laziness, not to improve access to community businesses.

  4. Erik

    Other sources are noting that parking on the West side of the street was still eliminated. So I’m not sure what was “saved” here.

  5. Tim F

    This is part of a wider pattern than simply a bike lane. This area of NE Seattle is due to get several new light rail stations in 2021. 35th Ave and 89th is about a 2 mile ride to the Roosevelt Station, and the new apartments on Stone Way are about a 2 mile ride to the U District station along 40th (also a cancelled bike lane). Instead of obvious safe routes (“just take 35th and hang a right at 65th”, “Just take 40th”), there are now only confusing roundabout detours that effectively separate these neighborhoods from access to Link.

    I’d also consider the delayed Broadway extension (to Capitol Hill station) in this list, and Eastlake would provide similar access to UW station. These bike lanes would serve really well for access in areas of the city that are just a little too far to walk practically, but instead even the many people who would happily live with one less car feel the need to maintain one or two cars.

    The 35th Ave area does not seem to have much additional housing capacity as a result of the recent MHA updates. I’m seeing many of the same names gearing up to fight ADUs. As much as there are claims to support transit, take a look at the fights against the NE bus restructure when UW Link opened just a few years ago.

  6. Jort

    Another amazing victory for the Seattle Times comment sections! Gee, Mayor Durkan, do you think if you cancel enough bike lanes, people will cut your some slack on the homelessness issue or something? Hey here’s a hint: no they fucking won’t, because those people are dipshits and are arguing in bad faith! Good work creating a reputation as a mealy-mouthed, wishy-washy coward politician. Best of luck in Seattle Process governing, it’s looking like you’re managing to piss off every single constituency in the city. Great work. Really good.

    But hey, you’ve gotta do whatever it takes to keep those mean ‘ole meanies in the Seattle Times comment section from having their feelings hurt!

    Really bang up job here, Jenny.

  7. So what do we do about it? Who’s organizing to fight it? Where do we write letters and where and when should we show up with picket signs? We can’t just give up. The Bike Master Plan needs to go forward. If the people with the loudest voices are the ones getting their way, we obviously need to be LOUDER.

  8. biliruben

    If I were the mom of the next kid or family crushed under 2 tons of speeding metal in the neighborhood, who would I blame?

    Not the Durk. She’s just a dithering stooge, who apparently has no appetite for actual governance. She is easily swayed and apparently can’t make a hard decision if lives depended on it. Which they do.

    Not the speeding driver. We know from long experience that if you design a road for speed, a certain percentage of people are going to speed.

    I will blame Amy, Save 35th, and their band of lawyers. They are ones who claim to have done the safety research. So they know that 35th is a dangerous road. And they worked extremely hard to keep it that way. The next blood is on their hands, if not their bumper.

    1. Pwilly

      It looks to me like Duran made a decision, claiming she didn’t and can’t is letting her off the hook. I also blame the businesses behind “Save 35th” but the decision wasn’t theirs, it was Durkan’s.

  9. merlin

    This is very sad and disappointing, and sets an alarming precedent. Bikes are a key component of a multi-modal city and need to be taken seriously.

  10. Yesler

    The messaging from CM Johnson’s office on this topic was so comically, absurdly bad, it seemed like he was actively trying to scotch the project. With buffoonish leadership like this, I’m surprised it took the Mayor so long to come to this conclusion. I’m kind of shocked he didn’t manage to kill the bike lanes on 65th as well.

  11. kDavid

    Can we start an initiative and get it on the ballot to officially change the name of SDOT to SDOC? Because clearly it is the Seattle Dept of Cars…

  12. Interesting that none of the people who have attacked me and Save 35th have asked to see our research, evidence, and contentions. None of them must know that Save and Safe raised nearly the same safety concerns about 35th. Or that Save presented numerous ways to address those concerns. Don’t want to be confused by facts, I guess. And for those who have called me Trump and a killer — shame on you. Maybe that’s why the bike lobby did not prevail here: it relied on name-calling and ideology rather than consideration of all of the facts and the larger community interests involved here.

    1. Ballardite

      Go ahead and give us the “research, evidence, and contentions.” Why wouldn’t you just post a link in your post to make it easy?

    2. Andres Salomon

      The fact that you refer to folks as “the bike lobby”, instead of just neighbors who want to get around safely says everything we need to know.

      I had enough close calls on 35th with my family (biking and just crossing the street on foot) that I stopped going to businesses there years ago. This doesn’t change anything for me, but it really sucks for people who have no choice but to continue using 35th.

    3. Amy, why do you push to “Save” space for cars instead of pushing to save people’s lives? Even people who like to drive, the minute they step out of their cars to get to businesses, they become pedestrians subject to getting whacked by someone driving on an unsafely designed street. You realize we went through “viadoom” a couple of months ago and things ran like clockwork because people adjusted their commuting habits when there was less infrastructure for cars. Many switched to using public transportation or learned the routes to commute by bicycle. Then when the tunnel opened up, car ridership went up again. Do you think it is a good thing that the city keeps trying to make it easier for people to drive and increase air pollution, asthma, cancers and toxins pouring into our marine environment? How is that good for people? I don’t follow your logic. To alleviate these environmental threats will take good will and good actions from every individual, including you.

    4. Dave

      What did you “win” here Amy? The two plans were not different with respect to parking. You successfully kept the “bike lobby” out of your neighborhood, but at the expense of the safety of your biking neighbors. Sounds pretty Trumpian to me.

    5. Ballard Biker

      We get it Amy, you and the 35th Parking Lobby (see what I did there?) are using statistical fallacies and data manipulation to push your agenda of “parking over people”. There’s no need to lie or be defensive about it.

    6. (Another) Tom

      And for those who have called me Trump and a killer — shame on you.

      No. Shame on you Amy. You and your ilk are selfish and deceitful.

  13. Are we all just going to bicker amongst ourselves, or are we going to organize for a positive solution? If the Mayor has truly abandoned the Bike Master Plan, we should be organizing a sit-in. Or a ride-in.

  14. Rich

    Last time I vote for a “Move Seattle” levy.

    1. Pwilly

      Even if Cascade assures you that it’s beneficial despite the lack of specifics or guarantees? Even if all your neighbors have signs stating their support?

  15. Stuart Strand

    I will think twice about visiting businesses on 35th in the foreseeable future. I don’t bike 35th but my sympathies are with my cyclist brothers and sisters who do and not with the myopic merchants there that I used to patronize.

  16. Clark in Vancouver

    So, what to do now?
    Critical Mass ride? Protest the mayor’s office? Contact all the councillors and demand they do something?
    Something with this much citizen support should not be so easily cancelled like this.

    Don’t give up. Get mad!

    1. JB

      At a minimum, there should be weekly protest rides that alternate between 35th and 4th Avenue in front of the Mayor’s office. Don’t hold your breath.

    2. freedom!

      Looks like 35th will be the route for my sloooowwwwww bike commute after all!

    3. Critical Mass is last Friday of every month. Meet at 6:30, ride at 7:00. This Friday we will go on 35th Ave NE.


      1. Danica

        Awesome! I would totally be there if I didn’t have to work overtime this week. But I will definitely try to make it to a Critical Mass ride next month!

        Is there a Facebook group page I can join or an email newsletter I can subscribe to so I get a reminder?

      2. Okay I am joining you this time. 6:30 at Westlake meeting time?

  17. JB

    Don’t worry, I’m sure the *next* time they give us some pretty maps and a bikey sounding levy, by golly we’re going to kick that football clear to the moon.

  18. stardent

    The issue was not bike safety or climate change but about control. 35th is a poor choice for an arterial to begin with and having a bike lane would have made it even more so. There are parallel streets that would be safer for bicycles and everyone else, 39th for example. I am glad SDOT made a smart decision at the end.

    1. Tim F

      Which 39th Ave neighbor’s door can I knock on to fill my prescription from their medicine cabinet? The little free libraries are nice, but the real one’s on 35th. Are people on 35th selling donuts now? Filling teeth with a dremel tool in their garage? Can I pop in for a religious service? My bike needed a lot of work from the wear and tear of year-round commuting. But I just called up a neighbor on 39th, dropped off the bike and picked it up the next day. Who’s house can I drop my kid off for preschool? When a driver enjoying the 20-foot-wide lanes on 35th blows through a crosswalk on 35th, will 39th Ave protect an elderly resident of the Jasper who’s trying to cross the 20-foot-wide lanes of 35th to get to lunch?

      39th Ave serves as an alternate route for 40th Ave. It does ok for that, but let’s not pretend that most of our city’s streets aren’t designed as car-dependent strip malls and glorified freeway ramps.

      1. stardent

        In that case lobby for a bike safe street closer to 35th. 35th is not safe for your kid nor is it for you.

      2. Conrad


  19. Durkan really pulled off the transition to worthless glad hand really quickly.

    Her Trump-esque deconstruction of SDOT was quite a feat.

  20. […] Seattle Times, Curbed, Seattle Bike Blog, and Erica C. Barnett report on the Durkan administration’s decision to abandon the plan for […]

  21. Ballard Biker

    Well, Durkan was elected to be a status quo, “good ol’ boys” politician and she’s fulfilling that role perfectly, 35th being no exception. By opting not to do anything, she’s setting herself up for an easy reelection in 2021, at which point she can spend the following four years planning her inevitable run for Governor. All she has to do is avoid a major scandal.

  22. David G.

    As a resident of the Wedgwood neighborhood that bikes every day, I too am frustrated by the city’s backtracking on mobility and climate solutions. Once again our “progressive” city talks the talk but fails to walk the walk.

    However, I have to hand it to the “save 35th” crowd for successful efforts to organize for power. While they carpeted the neighborhood with yard signs, organized sign-waving rallies on street corners, sponsored meetings with legislators, and leveraged the communication reach real estate agents, where were we? As a new member of the Cascade Bicycle club I contacted Seattle Policy Manager Vicky Clarke last June looking for advocacy leadership on the issue. I was basically told that the 35th plan was a done deal and that any efforts to change it were “last ditch.” Don’t worry be happy seemed to be the message I received from Cascade.

    As a former labor union organizer, I know that righteous; logical arguments are only a small percentage of the battle. This is about raw politics and politics means we need to organize bicycling citizens for power more effectively next time, particularly if the successful “save 35th” campaign becomes a model for other progressive talking yet NIMBY walking anti-bike/climate campaigns around the city.

    1. Did Vicky Clarke also work on the Hillary campaign?

    2. Andres Salomon

      I’ll stick up for Vicky here – we (of the #Safe35th group) were told that this was a done deal. SDOT had already decided on the bike lanes, and CM Johnson had their back. Cascade has plenty of other battles to fight; they were helping but not leading on 35th. That’s why we didn’t continue advocating; it was done, we just needed to start construction.

      It wasn’t until state legislators got involved (someone in the 46th LD primary Gerry Pollet PLEASE, that guy’s a massive NIMBY who fights bike lanes and backyard cottages) that all of the sudden we had to reconsider everything. Suddenly, the Mayor was refusing the sign the construction contract (again, this was a done deal – all it needed was signatures to get started). SDOT/Mayor’s Office was telling the anti-bike folks one thing (“oh, we haven’t decided yet”) and telling us something else entirely. I doubt this was malicious from SDOT’s side; SDOT probably thought they were going ahead, while the Mayor’s Office was speaking out of the other side of its mouth to the Mayor’s personal friends in the anti-bike lane group.

      Anyway, we’ve seen folks like Darby Watson and Mark Bandy leave SDOT very recently, and I expect more to leave over stuff like this.

      1. Yesler

        Slight clarification on the timeline. SDOT’s outreach showed only 24% in favor of the proposed design, so SDOT intended to create a parallel greenway on 36th Ave NE instead. The BMP by the way, clearly states that SDOT is supposed to incorporate public outreach into its design process, and that the plan is just a guideline and that alternate routes might be selected based on factors such as public input.

        However, CM Johnson over ruled SDOT, tossed the BMP in the trash can, and the rest is history. There is a saying that there is no such thing as settled politics. Setting aside the issue of parking, there were a number of other common concerns/questions about the project that should have been addressed on some level. However, CM Johnson chose to ignore the concerns and go on the offensive instead. This strategy created quite a bit of energy against the project.

        Had CM Johnson simply gone with SDOT’s recommendation on a 36th Ave greenway, the 35th Ave. striping project would be done by now, and presumably the 36th Ave greenway would either be complete or underway. Johnson did some real damage to the bicycling community.

  23. BobbyJ

    In the SDOT justification for the center left turn lane, they cite Nickerson, 75th, and 125th. They say it helped reduce collisions, but failed to point out:
    -There was a net lane reduction from 4 to 3. This is not the case with 35th.
    -2 of 3 projects added a bike lane.

  24. Mike, I voted for you. When I had to choose between Jenny and Cary I had a hard time deciding. I now realize my choice for Cary was certainly the better one. Elections have consequences. I checked out Amy’s bio and she and I are about the same age, 68. It astounds me how many senior citizens can’t see past their own self interests. It’s not all about us when it comes to determine what kind of city we need to build. Fortunately we have seniors like Merlin Rainwater who have the imagination and vision to look to the future and keep up the good fight.

  25. The fearful politics of the Mayor is just terrible, ignoring the bike master plan is just downright appalling in an era of global warming.

    There are no SDOT studies that show the proposed bike lanes were dangerous or uneconomical to local businesses. Plenty of evidence around the world that bike lanes grow local businesses.

    Amy above, has no facts to support opposition to the bike master plan in Wedgewood as well.

    The Mayor and SDOT caved to right wing radio and a terrorist act. They should be ashamed.

  26. Travis

    These facts are increasingly clear:
    — Bike lanes are unpopular and opposed by most neighborhood power centers
    — When bike activists go toe-to-toe w/ these power centers, we will lose (so many examples)
    — Bike supportive mayors can tip the balance in our favor (McGinn was, Murray was on Westlake)
    — Mayor Durkan is not a bike ally (far from it) and will set back the cause immensely

    I used to be pretty active pushing bike stuff in SE Seattle. I gave up because Murray was my Durkan down here. One can only swallow 35thAve-esque defeats so many times.

    Now, the whole city is getting the SE Seattle bike treatment now. Bums me out.

  27. I don’t know why I keep trying to defend Save 35th given the level of name calling and disrespect I experience on this site, but here goes. After this, I’m done.

    First, those who know the neighborhood know that there are several quiet side streets parallel to 35th that cyclists can use more safely than on 35th and which they can (and do) use to access businesses on 35th. So presenting this as a denial of safe access to 35th is bunk.

    Second, commenters can denigrate neighborhoods as illicit “power centers” or “wealthy,” but framed otherwise we merely harnessed the power of the people against a special interest through hard work over more than a year.

    Third, those above who say that we did not get much more parking than under the original bike lane plan: you are right. We did get a little more (and the parking will no longer be a dangerous 7 feet out from the curb), but we would have preferred that parking on the west side be preserved instead of the east side. However, the plan SDOT has come up with is MUCH safer and better in other ways than the original one.

    Finally, below are several sections of the detailed memo we submitted to the City regarding 35th. Take it or leave it. We did our homework and were correct on the safety and other issues.

    B. 35th Is Not Appropriate For Dedicated Bike Lanes

     Data clearly show that arterials are not safe for bicyclists.

    o 74.5% of bicycle crashes happen on arterials. (Source: SDOT Bicycle/Pedestrian Safety Analysis, September 2016, page 7. Attachment 7)

    o A NIH -funded study concluded that cycling on an arterial creates up to 8 times more risk than riding on a designated bike way on a side street. (Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22269506. Attachment 9)

    o A 2016 study concluded that cyclists inhale significantly more air pollution on high-traffic arterials than on routes with low traffic.
    (Source: “Breath Biomarkers to Measure Uptake of Volatile Organic Compounds by Bicyclists https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/acs.est.6b01159 (Attachment 10)

    o Most people do not want to ride bikes on vehicle-filled arterials. (Source: “Four Types of Cyclists,” Portland Office of Transportation. http://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/44597?a=237507 ) (Attachment 11)

     Multiple intersections/driveways/loading areas on 35th increase risks to cyclists and drivers alike.

    o The majority of bicycle and pedestrian crashes happen at intersections. “Arterial street intersections…contribute to higher potential risk for all bicycle crash types.” (Sources: (1) SDOT, Bicycle/Pedestrian Safety Analysis, 9/16, page 6. Attachment 7); and (2) “Vision Zero LA – Collision & Countermeasure Analysis: Literature Rev,” 3/16, page 5. Attachment 12)

    o The federally-funded Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center states “Separated bike lanes are most effective in locations where there are fewer intersection and driveway conflicts as well as minimal loading/unloading activity.” (Source: http://www.pedbikeinfo.org/planning/facilities_bike_cycletracks.cfm. Attachment 13)

    o From 45th Place NE to NE 89th, there are:
     4 major intersections
     17 residential cross streets
     79 driveways on the west side
     115 driveways on the east side (significantly more than on west side)

    o All these intersections not only create collision risks, but given that there are so many of them, special striping to alert turning drivers to cyclists likely will lose its impact.

    o Commercial loading and unloading activity on 35th is widespread and frequent, as is garbage and recycling collection.

     35th is very narrow from NE 47th to NE 85th

    o The width ranges from about 32 feet south of NE 65th (less in some areas), to about 40 feet between NE 65th – NE 85th, to about 56 feet from 85th to 89th.

    o Under the City’s plan, vehicle travel lanes will be only 10 – 10.5 feet wide south of 85th.

    o Standard minimum lane width per City and Metro guidelines is 11 feet.
    o Source: Seattle Right of Way Improvements Manual –Design Criteria for Roadway Width. Attachment 14.
    o Source: Complete Streets Assessment for the 35th NE project; email from MariLyn Yim, SDOT project manager dated June 22, 2018. Attachment 1.

    o Per MariLyn Yim “a narrower lane width was approved to accommodate the BMP recommendation.” (Source: Email dated June 22, 2018. Attachment 1.

    o There will be little if any room for error for buses, emergency, utility, and delivery vehicles. Source: Email from 35-year Metro bus driver. Attachment 15.

    C. The Protected Bike Lane On The East Side Is Not Safe

     There is much disagreement and little data re: whether bike lanes improve safety or create a false sense of security for cyclists. (Source: http://pedbikeinfo.org/data/faq_details.cfm?id=971. Attachment 13) But analysts have found that “bicycle crashes are more likely to happen at intersections with bike lanes or shared lane markings.” (Attachment 13, page 13)

     Other PBL studies show a statistically significant increase in certain types of collisions:
    o Collisions at intersections (+24%)
    o Between bikes and right-turning vehicles (+140%)
    o Between bikes and left-turning vehicles (+48%)
    Source: Vision Zero Los Angeles – Collision and Countermeasure Analysis; Literature Review,” 3/16, pp. 30-31. Attachment 12.

     The width of the proposed bike, buffer, and parking lanes are substandard.

    o The minimum width of a protected bike lane is 5 feet; 7+ feet is preferable. (Source: http://www.pedbikeinfo.org. Attachment 13)

    o The minimum buffer width between the lane and vehicles is 3 feet to prevent car doors hitting cyclists (dooring). (Sources: (1) http://www.pedbikeinfo.org, Attachment 13. (2) http://streetsillustrated.seattle.gov/design-standards/bicycle/protected-bike-lanes/ Attachment 16)

    o On 35th the bike lanes will be the bare minimum 5 feet wide. From 68th – 85th, the buffer between the protected lane and parked vehicles is only 2 feet wide. This violates basic safety standards.

    o WSDOT Design Standards state that parking lanes on a street such as 35th should be 10 feet wide and that 8 feet may be acceptable if the lane is not likely to be a traffic lane. On 35th, the parking lane between 65th and 85th will be only 7 feet wide. This too violates safety standards. (Source: WSDOT Local Agency Guidelines, April 2016, 42.5. Attachment 14A.)

     Experts say bike lanes should not be terminated in a place that leaves cyclists in a vulnerable situation. (Source: http://www.pedbikeinfo.org/planning/facilities_bike_bikelanes.cfm. Attachment 13)

    o The 35th bike lanes’ south terminus requires cyclists to cross an unsafe intersection (“Dead Man’s Curve”) to access the Burke Gilman Trail. (Attachment 17)

     Drivers emerging from vehicles parked outside the protected bike lane will face a dangerous narrow lane. Their passengers will have to go across the bike lanes to reach the sidewalk. (Attachment 18)

     Buses will drop off and pick up passengers at the curb, forcing cyclists to stop and wait behind buses or enter the stream of traffic. (Source: Email from Metro General Manager 05/25/18. Attachment 19)

    D. 35th Will Not Be Safer for Pedestrians

    o Per SDOT, nearly 80% of pedestrian crashes happen on arterial streets. (Source: SDOT Bicycle/Pedestrian Safety Analysis, September 2016, page 7. Attachment 7)

    o By eliminating parking on the west side of the street, moving it all to the east side, SDOT is forcing a large increase in pedestrian crossings, forcing pedestrians into high-risk situations with vehicles and cyclists, often at unsignalized intersections.

    o The current plan does little affirmatively to make it safer for pedestrians to cross 35th. It provides only two additional solar-lit crosswalks.


    o The 2014 BMP is not gospel. The consultants who prepared it did not delve into the details of the streets where bike lanes were proposed.

    o The BMP looks exclusively at cycling. It has no analysis of potential negative impacts of a particular bike lane. (Source: Search of online BMP 2014 Appendix using words “equity” “business” “parking” “elderly” “disability.”)

    o Comments on the first draft of the plan suggested that bike lanes be removed from the plan in a variety of situations, three of which apply to 35th:

    o Streets that are too steep or too narrow
    o Streets that have transit service
    o Street in neighborhood commercial districts, particularly where parking would be lost
    o Critical downtown transit streets
    o Increase car capacity downtown rather than build bicycle facilities” (Attachment 29)
    This was ignored.

    o The BMP itself recognizes that priorities may change over time. The Seattle BMP Implementation Plan 2017-2021 states that the BMP is a 1% design document. It also states:
    “As projects move through the project development process, our analysis, design, and community engagement may lead to a project being developed in a different way or location than envisioned in the plan. For example, the BMP may recommend a protected bike lane on a particular street, but through our project development and outreach process, we may determine that an alternate facility, such as a parallel neighborhood greenway, would be preferable.” (Attachment 34)

    1. stinky

      Amy, remember when you also had “Single mothers don’t commute to work on bikes. Privileged #techbros do…” on that list?

      Those were the good old days (of just one year ago).

    2. ChamoisDavisJr.

      Make the most of what limited parking there is by advocating for time-limited on street parking for 35th AV NE to keep turnover high and spaces open, allowing for more access to local businesses. Better yet, for improved turnover and availability of on street parking, advocate for the metering of on street parking along 35th AV NE where demand is greatest.
      Otherwise this claimed need for available on street parking is just for your convenience and laziness, not to improve access to community businesses.

    3. So your argument, Amy, is that protected bike lanes make cyclists less safe than having no bike lanes at all? Orwellian.

      1. Yesler

        Hi Doug,

        That’s sort of the rub. The proposed design included very little to make cycling safer. As we all know, most bike/car collisions happen at intersections. There was no protection for bikes at intersections (such as bike signals) at all.

        They were often referred to as “protected bike lanes” but they were only protected southbound for four blocks. For about 22 blocks bikes would have been sharing a lane of travel with cars. A sharrow, in other words. That’s exactly what we have right now. For the rest of the route southbound bikes had an unprotected lane. That’s a little better than nothing, but not much. We know from studies in other cities that cyclists tend to avoid unprotected bike lanes if vehicle speeds are above 15 mph. So unless you are already willing to ride on 35th southbound, the plan didn’t have much for you. Another strange design feature of the southbound lane was that it terminated right before a five-way intersection. Who thought that was a good idea?

        Northbound was a little better because there was protection provided by the parking lane. However, this design in this location didn’t make a ton of sense to me because drivers would have to turn across the bike lane to enter driveways connecting to residences and businesses. Since the bike rider would be partially or maybe even completely hidden by the parked cars, it seems likely this would cause problems. N. 34th St. uses this design, but there are no driveways on that side of the street. Another problem with the northbound lanes is the “Door Prize” which is the fourth most common, but third most deadly type of accident. NATCO requires a three foot buffer to prevent this. However, the buffers in the plan were only 2.3 feet. That’s more like the illusion of safety than actual safety.

    4. JB

      Spare us the crocodile tears Amy, it’s perfectly clear what your real interests are in this matter, and they are in protecting the subsidies for your cushy mode of transportation, not the health and well-being of people who ride bicycles. The person you’re really trying to convince here is yourself, and I’m not surprised that you’re feeling troubled – your behavior in this arena is precisely the behavior of someone who would sacrifice the life of a person riding a bicycle to save themself a few dollars of parking charges and a few minutes of travel time.

    5. Ballard Biker

      You can’t post a bunch of false facts and statistical fallacies and then cry “poor me” when people criticize and debate your talking points. To pull a modified Godwin’s Law, that’s very Trumpist of you.

      Arterials and other infrastructure are not safe for bicyclists because of people like you that fight safe and sane infrastructure tooth and nail behind a thinly veiled argument of “save the parking”. Your statistics only reinforce the need for the safer infrastructure that you are vehemently opposed to.

      How you can be OK making our City unsafe for anyone not in a two ton hunk of metal is beyond me, but you seem content putting on a fake smile and spouting false facts out of the side of your mouth to push your “parking over people” agenda.

      Have you considered a career as a politician?

  28. BC

    Last year SDOT spent $30k on a survey to learn (among other things) that only a small minority of Seattleites feel safe biking a road with no marked bike facilities. And if anything the survey oversamples existing cyclists. I look forward to seeing the rest of SDOT’s evidence!

    https://www.seattle.gov/Documents/Departments/SDOT/BikeProgram/APPENDIXC-EMCreport.pdf (Slide 13)

  29. Wil Reyes

    Seattle Critical Mass will be riding this stretch this Friday. Join our Facebook group and come ride with us. bit.ly/seattleCM

    1. stinky

      What is CM like nowadays? Do the rides actually kick off at 7pm?

      1. Wil Reyes

        CM has dwindled from its 100’s hayday. A few core riders are trying to revive this movement.

    2. krad

      If want to meet up with the ride @ 35th rather than ride downtown and double back what time / where should we meet up? Understood that the time may be approximate.


  30. michmill

    Greenways are great, but if the city is going to support riding greenways over arterials, they need to take their budget and put it toward:

    1) Enforcement of stop signs on greenways. I’ve been nearly hit many times on Fremont by cars blowing through the stop signs–and I can’t see them around other parked cars.
    2) Education of where the greenways are. As a sometimes bicyclist in different parts of the city, I often find a greenway on my 5th or 6th trip somewhere, sometimes only after following someone else on a bike. You need lanes on arterials for the visiting riders going somewhere they don’t know well. If you don’t have those lanes, I’m in the street (and not letting my kid bike).
    3) Education would also help drivers. My parents think no one bikes near them because the bikes take 77th while they drive 80th–if voters saw bikers more often, they’d be (a bit) more sympathetic.

  31. LLR

    I’m a bit green here…neither a zealous proponent of autos nor a sanctimonious cyclist….I prefer the bus. Cars are good too. So are bicycles.

    I think I remember hearing that Seattle allows cyclists to use sidewalks. Although this seems odd to me (when I was a kid we were told cyclists were to follow the same rules of the road as cars) am I correct to assume that sidewalks make bikers feel sufficiently safe, but that they effectively require a slower speed?

    When I was in Holland, bikers were common, of course, but in no kind of hurry. Perhaps taking advantage of the free-for-all sidewalks (not necessarily on 35th—presumably any N-S sidewalk would do) might be a safe alternative. Presumably, to the degree that bike traffic is currently congested on 35th (and might continue to be with a bike lane), that degree of bike traffic and congestion would be spread out among several N-S sidewalks.

    Just some random thoughts for consideration.

    1. George Thomas Jr.

      I live along 35th SW and often use the sidewalk rather than deal with 4 lanes of high-speed traffic. But sidewalks are not a solution. There’s a reason Seattle has a master plan for cycling. As a few others have noted, residential “greenway” streets are not “safe” alternatives, because drivers speed on those side streets, too, and most side streets are narrow, frustrating the aggressive drivers who are eager to pass the casual commuting cyclist (which would be me).

    2. Being allowed to use the sidewalk is definitely an advantage. At times it feels like the only safe/sane option. But they’re not a general purpose solution – riding on the sidewalk is often times more dangerous than riding on the street – cars turning into/exiting driveways, intersections, etc. Visibility is restricted. They’re often extremely narrow, and you will definitely annoy people on foot when you try to squeeze past on a bike. Riding in a dedicated bike lane is much safer.

  32. Clark in Vancouver

    This is such such obvious classism.
    After so much work to have what would have been essentially crumbs compared to the enormous subsidy that motor vehicles get, and then to not even get that is a huge drag.
    Shopping by bike is a natural thing to do and works well on shopping districts on arterials. Arterials tend to have smoother grades (having been chosen or graded for trunk sewers and sometimes street cars) so are often the best choice for cycling on. 35th has all the stores. 40th might make a good through-street to cycle on but trying to shop on 35th from there would be cumbersome. This is a story I’ve heard again and again. A similar thing is happening on Commercial Drive in Vancouver. A planned complete street is being resisted by a small handful of carheads who are saying that people should cycle a few blocks away instead of on the street with the stores on it. Like on 35th, they just don’t get that people will shop by bike.

    If the Save 35th group is claiming that people are better to cycle a few blocks over then insist that it happen. In fact insist on a complete network of high quality neighbourhood greenways all over the city. 40th should have extensive traffic diversion. Not just some signs.

    In Vancouver in the 1990s there was the first bike lane on an arterial and over a bridge. This was shut down by the usual classist politics. The response to that was to put resources into developing a greenway network. This network caused many people to take up cycling and become the political movement that eventually lead to cycling infrastructure on arterials (including the one that was shut down before.) So don’t let this one thing stop the movement. You pay for the roads too and deserve to use them.
    The actions of (some) motorists have caused the need for protected cycling infrastructure in the first place. Having them say it’s not needed is no different than racists who say that civil rights legislation isn’t needed. Cars are only getting bigger and more dangerous to be around.

    While the Save 35th group might be shills for the Koch brothers some of them might sincerely believe what they’re saying. They need to have their theories dismantled and diffused or they’ll only go after some other disenfranchised group. There’s a similar thing recently in West Vancouver where a bunch of carheads have stopped a bus lane and this has emboldened them so much that their next target is to shut down a proposed social housing project.

    The story isn’t over yet. The mayor needs to be raked over the coals for this action. If she doesn’t retract then she needs to be made non-re-electable. For her own political career she needs to change her mind on this.

  33. RossB

    This is unacceptable. As Andres Salomon mentioned up above, people assumed that the bike lanes were going to be built. This is not just a case of failing to implement the Bike Master Plan somewhere, this is a sudden, unexpected reversal. Proponents were told that it was going to be built, and a result, they didn’t push for it. This is not only bad policy, but it makes it impossible for bike advocates to trust the mayor and department of transportation. Should we know organize and push for bike lanes on the Eastlake corridor? What about the Missing Link — supposedly that is moving along, but maybe they will reverse course there as well. Are any promised projects going to be built?

    This needs to be fixed. The mayor needs to reverse course, and go back to the original plan (a double reverse, if you will). This will upset those that don’t want bike lanes on 35th, but it is the right thing to do.

    We need a letter writing campaign to ask the mayor to reverse course. There are a lot of people (myself included) who have shown only passing interest in this project, and just assumed that it would be built. But now we are pissed. My wife is pissed, and she doesn’t even bike. She knows when something is wrong, and this is wrong. A lot of those people will write to their representative and ask them to build the bike lane, because now we feel that it is necessary.

    1. JB

      Letter writing campaign, good luck with that. I wrote the mayor on the subject of bike lanes some months ago – a carefully worded, positive letter – and never heard a peep in reply. Even when you write the President, I think you’re likely to get at least a stock response from a staffer to say “Thanks for your input on x topic, we value the thoughts of our constituents blah blah blah.”

      Durkan plainly just does not give a crap.

      1. RossB

        Letter writing campaigns do work, if you get enough of them. It is rare for a mayor of a big city to read every letter (like yours). But representatives do respond to wide spread input from the public. We’ve seen this repeatedly (for good and bad). For example, I helped organize a letter writing campaign to the Seattle City Council to get the monorail to accept ORCA cards. The monorail is run by a private company (who ultimately works for the city) and their contract was up for renewal. Up to that point, they were just going to use the same old contract. But after the emails and phone calls, the city council put ORCA support into the new contract.

        Speaking of which, if we don’t think the mayor will respond, then it is time to take it up with the city council. Again, this is not like the slow progress downtown, where bike lanes have to deal with bus lanes (or buses in general). To me, that is understandable and excusable. This is not. This is the city saying it will do one thing, and then suddenly doing another. They are acquiescing to an organization that has used misinformation and borderline terrorist activities to achieve its goals. Nothing will be achieved with this change. The streets will be as dangerous as ever, and the businesses that are struggling (the ones that worry about parking) will continue to struggle, while parking — one of the most cited reasons for opposing the bike lanes — will still be reduced! There is simply no good reason not to build the bike lanes.

      2. Andres Salomon

        Always email both the mayor and Cc: . That goes to all of council. Even if it’s not relevant to council, it’s good for councilmembers (especially district councilmembers) to see what their constituents care about. I know several folks who’ve worked for councilmembers whose jobs involved tallying emails to get a rough idea of how many people are for or against something.

      3. Andres Salomon

        cc: [email protected].

        Apparently the blog comments disappear stuff between less-than and greater-than. :)

      4. JB

        I think Durkan simply does not have the vision to see that cycling can be a real ingredient in a broader and more enlightened strategy for urban mobility. And even more galling, has pretty well made up her mind that people who ride bicycles are of zero concern to her. Short of getting a new mayor I doubt that’s going to change without some visible protests (a la Critical Mass) or expensive lawsuits – if there is even a legal basis to sue and plaintiffs and attorneys who are willing to wade into this quagmire. As for Council, didn’t they just vote unanimously to tell Durkan and SDOT to proceed with the BMP – and where has that gotten us.

        Launch your letter-writing campaign, I’ll show up for it. I’m just pretty darn skeptical that it will be loud enough to change this dystopian car-fetishist trajectory that we’re on these days.

  34. Fish

    I recently returned from visiting a few Seattle-sized European cities. Although none of them are known for their bike infrastructure like Amsterdam or Copenhagen, I was simply blown away by the number of cyclists that I saw of all ages. More than anything, these cities were not full of PBLs or even much bike infrastructure in general. So why were so many people cycling? Because they all made it incredibly difficult/expensive to drive a car in the city. What I find most concerning about Durkan’s move is that it sets a precedent that cars should always be prioritized over any form of transit. As Tom pointed out in an earlier article, the “expensive” and complicated bike infrastructure that we have to build in this city is not for a cyclists but for cars. We need to demand less accommodations for cars in order to improve the livability and safety for everyone in this city. Improved bike lanes will never be enough if our city continues to prioritize the car. I’ve been stuck driving my car that past 9 months because I have an infant and I am MISERABLE. It doesn’t need to be like this…

  35. RossB

    By the way, people who claim that you can just bike the side streets don’t understand the street layout or topography of the area. Many streets just don’t go through. For example, here is how you go from 98th to 92nd, if you want to avoid 35th by going to the east: https://goo.gl/maps/LvEcfbmbyDn. Not only is that a lot farther, but it involves a lot more up and down. You can go to the west, but sometimes it is the same issue: https://goo.gl/maps/mHZFK1sR2R52 or https://goo.gl/maps/5JjYWohFfyr. You have both additional distance and additional altitude gain. If you look at a topographic map, you can see that 35th is actually the easiest way to deal with the hill. If you head west of there, you are needlessly climbing. If you head east, you are forced lower, and have to regain the altitude. Either way you are forced to zig-zag back and forth.

    People simply won’t do that. Opponents of the bike lanes don’t seem to understand that. People will continue to bike the street, despite the risks. There will be fewer bikers, but those that ride will put themselves at much greater risk. Riders will have to choose between a lengthy, tedious ride (with its own risks — like crossing 95th between Lake City Way and 35th) or a straight forward, more dangerous route.

    1. biliruben

      This is exactly right.

      As someone who used to bike this all the time, I hated the anxiety and danger of riding on 35th, and so tried pretty much any possible alternative to this nightmare. Even going so far as to experiment with Penguin Park. All routes were crap. I returned to risking my neck on 35th.

      BTW, I didn’t call Ms. Stephson a killer, as she claims. I simply pointed out that she has a casual disregard for the lives and welfare of others. Happy to trade life and health for speed and perceived convenience. There are some folks who can shrug off their part in the inevitable tragedies we will see in the forms of death, disability and the destruction of lives and livelihoods we will see by keeping 35th dangerous. I am assuming that Amy is not such a psychopath, and that she will, in time, regret her lies in the name of the advocacy in support of more injury and death in our communities.

      1. JB

        Amy and Save 35th are trying to give us the “Separate but Equal” treatment, and coming up with every tortured bit of logic they can throw out to make it sound politically correct. Of course what they really mean is, “go to the back of the bus.”

  36. I don’t know why drivers don’t take Lake City Way or Sandpoint. They’re only a few blocks away.

  37. Dave R

    So how to move forward? With Rob Johnson and Mike O’Brien going or gone, Teresa Mosqueda is probably the only council member left who has been an advocate for biking:
    [email protected]

    Also there’s a really thoughtful piece on the Seattle Transit Blog about changing the underlying policy:

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