City Council will vote on ‘mandatory’ bike lane bill + funding bike parking and southend bike lanes – UPDATED

Screenshot text: 15.80.020 Requirements A. Whenever the Seattle Department of Transportation constructs a major paving project along a segment of the protected bicycle lane network, a protected bicycle lane with adequate directionality shall be installed along that segment. Yes, please!

UPDATE: The ordinance and both resolutions passed unanimously. Details on amendments in updates below.

The City Council will vote today on an ordinance and set of resolutions that would all but require the Seattle Department of Transportation to build planned bike lanes when repaving streets, would dramatically increase the bike parking supply and would request additional funding in the mayor’s budget to build key southend and downtown bike lanes that were left out of the mayor’s most recent short term bike plan.

The Council meets 2 p.m. at City Hall today (September 3). You can watch online via Seattle Channel. I will update this post after the meeting, so stay tuned. UPDATE: Passed!

As we reported previously, the bike lane ordinance (CB 119601) would effectively strengthen the city’s existing complete streets ordinance by stating, “Whenever the Seattle Department of Transportation constructs a major paving project along a segment of the protected bicycle lane network, a protected bicycle lane with adequate directionality shall be installed along that segment.”

The ordinance does create an out for SDOT if the department determines a bike lane to be infeasible, but they would need to justify the decision to the City Council’s Transportation Committee. (Full Disclosure: My spouse Kelli works as a Legislative Assistant to Councilmember Mike O’Brien.)

UPDATE: A Councilmember Lisa Herbold amendment (with Councilmember Debora Juarez’s support) to water down the ordinance did not make it to a vote. A note was added that requires broad community outreach.

The two resolutions up for a vote are budget requests to the mayor as city leaders head into its annual budget season. Resolution 31898 seeks funding to build an additional 3,000 bike parking spaces, mostly in the form of on-street bike parking corrals, to support parking private bikes as well as shared bikes and scooters. This is key to the city’s goal of reducing sidewalk blockages from dockless bikes (and, soon, scooters).

Resolution 31894 seeks funding to add a list of vital bike projects in the southend and downtown that did not make the mayor’s cut in her latest short-term bike plan. Specifically, the resolution highlights:

  • Beacon Ave S Segment 1 (S 39th St to Myrtle St)
  • Beacon Ave S Segment 2 (Myrtle St to S Spokane St)
  • Beacon Ave S Segment 3 (S Spokane St to Jose Rizal Bridge)
  • Georgetown to Downtown
  • Martin Luther King Jr Way (Rainier Ave to Henderson St)
  • Two-way protected bike lane on 4th Ave (Main St to Vine St)
  • Alaskan Way (Virginia St to Elliott Bay Trail)

UPDATE: Two amendments passed: Councilmember Herbold added the Georgetown-to-South Park Trail to the list. Councilmember Bagshaw added Vine St from 2nd Ave to Thomas St.

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12 Responses to City Council will vote on ‘mandatory’ bike lane bill + funding bike parking and southend bike lanes – UPDATED

  1. Matthew Snyder says:

    I realize that the BMP has bike lanes suggested for MLK in SE Seattle, but… how’s that gonna work? SDOT’s long-term goal is to move car traffic off of Rainier and onto MLK. It’s hard to imagine how MLK could get additional lanes, and the sidewalks are already narrow. I doubt there’s enough room to squeeze in a truly protected bike lane while maintaining two general purpose lanes in each direction. Paint alone, or paint and posts, just aren’t going to be sufficient on MLK. Is there the political will to take away a general purpose lane or two from MLK?

    • asdf2 says:

      It’s not happening, for the reasons you mentioned. The time to add bike lanes was back when Sound Transit widened the street. It’s too late, now.

    • NickS says:

      Running bike lanes on MLK, while wildly implausible for the reasons you stated, also ignores the fact that the majority of the existing residents of the Rainier Valley live along Rainier Ave S., not MLK Jr. Way S.

      It’s one thing to climb on your bike and take a relatively efficient, direct route that may involve a hill climb or two. It’s another thing to ask people to go very much out of their way to get somewhere on a bike, and put more hill climbs in their way.

      Rainier Ave S. has always been the preferred bike route through the valley for bicyclists, but remains totally off limits as far as SDOT is concerned. Rather than bike lanes, we are getting a longer center-turn-lane-to-nowhere that will predominantly be used for reckless passing of any vehicle that dares observe anything approaching the new 25mph speed limit. Any idea of a bike lane on this arterial is simply not feasible we are told (translation: $$$ that is better spent… elsewhere).

      When it comes to this part of the city, Seattle and King County get a very firm grip on their pocketbooks. This is the same sort of bullsh*t that gave us dangerous at-grade light rail on MLK, rather than tunneled light rail along Rainier. Yet NE Seattle gets tunneled light rail all the way to Northgate, Ballard will get tunneled light rail, and W. Seattle will likely get it too.

  2. JB says:

    Nine-zip, way to go Council! Maybe there is hope for bike infrastructure in Seattle after all. Durkan has shown herself to be little more than a cynical political hack, but at least she’ll know which way the wind is blowing.

    • Peri Hartman says:

      I think this is particularly significant, considering we had a 42% turnout in the primary and some incumbents will be on the ballot. The pundits may make a lot of noise but they seem to be a small minority.

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  5. Richard says:

    Critical question here: and what happens when SDOT and the Mayor’s office ignore it?

    • chefjoe says:

      Stern letter writing or crickets, but it does give grandstanding opportunities. The Levy to Move Seattle had included a required yearly bridges and structure report from SDOT that has, as best I can tell, never happened. That’s something with the effect of law (and not something like a resolution or statementoflegislativeintent/SLI).

      What I find more interesting is if the idea of “we should find a way to fine the bikeshare companies themselves for bad parking” becomes an excuse for, in the future, not invoking the bikeshare permit’s mechanism for fixing parking issues – removing bikes from the streets so that the company has a financial incentive and the bikes:employees ratio adjusts to allow more attention to the bikes.

      • AW says:

        Apologies to get OT here, but anything that can help encourage the bike share companies and the bike users to park the bicycles responsibly is a good thing. The current state is more an annoyance for me but for others it can be a very difficult situation to navigate around an improperly parked bicycle.

        Also I see bicycles left in places that would be unlikely that others would rent and difficult for the bike share companies to retrieve and relocate. A great example is in the middle of the 520 bridge. This only increases the bike share company costs and as a result the cost to use the bicycle.

        I’d be happy to see fines from the bike share company or “parking” tickets issued by the city in these cases.

  6. B says:

    What was the watered down amendment that Herbold tried to include?

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