I’m traveling home today after a week in St. Louis and Las Vegas visiting family, but I wanted to put out this notice since it is a top priority bike network improvement.
The Eastlake Community Council is hosting a meeting at 6 p.m. tonight (July 25) at the Agora Conference Center (1551 Eastlake Ave E) with Councilmember Sara Nelson in which they will discuss the RapidRide J project. The Board itself seems divided on it, but there are folks trying to gather support for an effort to kill the fully-designed and ready project.
This has already been debated to death over a period of many years, and it is very late in the process to try to stop it. But until crews are out there pouring concrete, it’s best not to assume it will definitely happen.
So for anyone who missed it the first time (or times) this was debated, Seattle studied all of the potential bike routes in Eastlake extensively last time folks organized pushback against the project, specifically the planned protected bike lanes. SDOT’s report on the matter is lengthy and exhaustive, concluding that Eastlake Ave bike lanes are the only viable option for a safe and direct bike route through the neighborhood that serves people of all ages and abilities. There is really nothing left to say about it that has not already been said during the previous years of outreach.
The project also has significant Federal funding and has gone through the necessary Federal scrutiny in addition to the usual Seattle Process. It is on its fourth mayor, and even bike-lane-killing Jenny Durkan supported it.
The street is not safe for walking and biking as it is today. The city’s study found that while bicyclists and pedestrians only make up 6.3% of all crashes on Eastlake Ave, they represent a much larger percentage of serious (47.4%) and fatal (39.7%) crashes.
The street is also in terrible condition. This project will improve conditions and safety for all road users, including people in cars. It will also improve non-driving access to the many great businesses along the street.
Folks concerned about parking reductions could press the city to scour the neighborhood for blocks where parking could be added. I know of quite a few with parking allowed on only one side even though they are as wide as streets with parking on both sides. They could also expand short-term parking limits on blocks near businesses. These are reasonable asks, and I’m sure you’d find wide support for them. I’d support those effort, for what that’s worth. But trying to kill a needed safety and transit project that’s ready to build? That’s not being reasonable.