Imagine a new trail connecting Tukwila and Seatac to Renton. This trail would tie together the Green River Trail, Interurban Trail, Cedar River Trail and Eastrail, all while accessing rapid transit service. And someday, it could even reach the airport, Des Moines and Puget Sound.
Well, that trail is one step closer to reality. King County opened another couple miles of the Lake to Sound Trail between Tukwila and Renton. The new section doesn’t look like much on a map, but it included some difficult and important rail and river crossings as well as a connection to the Green River Trail.
Work is set to begin next year on a stretch between Seatac and Des Moines, but there is no current timeline for the major gaps between the new trail and the Cedar River or the Green River Trail to Seatac Airport. You can see on the map just how important this rare east-west link is to reaching much of south King County. Closing these gaps must be a major priority for future parks and trails funding.
The Seattle Bike and Outdoor Show is the area’s largest bike industry expo. So if you want to check out the latest gear, test ride some bikes, this is your chance.
The 2020 show is 9–6 Saturday and 9–4 Sunday at CenturyLink Field Event Center. Tickets are $12 and cover both days.
At least as of press time, the show is still on. Some major conventions and expos have been cancelled due to concerns about the ongoing COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak, so check the event website for any updates.
One of the most insidious ways our transportation infrastructure is designed to delay or harm people walking is mostly invisible: Traffic signals programmed to skip the walk signal unless someone pushes a button. Whenever a traffic signal skips a walk signal, anyone who shows up is faced with the choice to either wait an entire signal cycle or make a run for it without knowing whether there is enough time to get across. It’s a dangerous and completely avoidable situation. All it takes is for SDOT staff to change programming.
A few years back, the local #GivePedsTheGreen campaign tried to raise awareness of this problem. And though that did not result in a major signal reprogramming effort, it did lead to more people paying attention. Once you start looking for it, you see it everywhere.
Now Seattle Neighborhood Greenways has started an effort to get people to report signals that require a button push, take too long to change or don’t give enough crossing time to the city as part of the Your Voice, Your Choice: Parks & Streets program. This program funds relatively small community-generated project ideas to improve their local parks and streets. And it’s hard to think of anything smaller than a signal programming change. So is there a signal you encounter regularly that skips you or takes so long that people decide to run for it rather than wait? Report it!
The Cedar River Trail was washed out during recent heavy rains, and crews will be out working with heavy machinery to finish repairs and paving. So the trail will be closed for 4.5 miles from 154th Pl SE east to Cedar Grove RD SE until Monday (March 2).
There’s no official detour, but SR-169 does have a shoulder for most of this stretch. Obviously, that’s not nearly as comfortable as a trail, and you need to be especially careful at intersections.
More details from King County Parks:
Trail closed from 154th Pl SE to Cedar Grove Rd SE
Excessive rain and flooding washed out a portion of the trail. While repairs to the embankment and trail subsurface have been completed, the Cedar River Trail will remain closed at 154th Pl SE east to Cedar Grove RD SE until Monday, March 2, so that resurfacing and paving can be completed.
Heavy machinery will be on the trail along with spotters for safety. No formal detour will be available.
Led by former Councilmember Mike O’Brien, Seattle passed an ordinance last year that all but requires SDOT to build out the planned bike network as part of any major repaving projects along a planned route. And the ordinance faces its first test as SDOT does not plan to build complete bike lanes on Delridge Way SW as part of the RapidRide H project.
We already saw the law have a positive impact on the joint SDOT/Federal environmental assessment of the RapidRide J project that includes Eastlake Ave bike lanes. Because compliance with local laws is an important factor in environmental review, the Eastlake bike lanes were cited in the study as in compliance with Seattle’s new ordinance. As we noted in our story about that study, the law flips the old script by making construction of planned bike lanes the path of least resistance for a project. Decisions not to build them would require jumping through hoops and review by the Seattle City Council Transportation Committee. (Full disclosure: My spouse Kelli was a legislative aide to Councilmember O’Brien and worked on this ordinance)
The key line in the ordinance is: “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.” “Shall” is a particularly strong legal term, though the ordinance does provide a path for SDOT if they feel they cannot build planned bike lanes. And that’s the process that’s being tested for the first time now.
SDOT has sent a letter to Council (PDF) outlining why a planned project will not build the bike lanes noted on Delridge Way SW in the Bike Master Plan when the RapidRide H project redesigns the street. Construction is scheduled to begin this summer or fall and be complete next year. UPDATE 2/28: For more information, here’s SDOT’s longer response (PDF) to Councilmember Lisa Herbold’s budget proviso on the project.
We wrote about this project in October, arguing that there is room for better bike lanes on Delridge than what is planned. The city’s plan is to build a one-way protected bike lane that only goes southbound from SW Juneau St to SW Cambridge St. Going northbound? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Continue reading →
$1 now gets your a lifetime membership to the Bikery, part of an effort to expand participation in making decisions about the community bike organization.
For example, your first act as a member could be to apply to join the Board. Applications are due Saturday (February 29).
If you visit, volunteer or attend their events and have $1, you are eligible to be a member.
The volunteer-powered organization is based in a bike repair shop on Hiawatha Pl S not far from the intersection of Rainier Ave S and S Dearborn St since moving there in 2013. Its doors are open to anyone who wants to learn how to fix their bike. They have tools and space for you to work on it and helpful volunteers to teach what you need to know to get it rolling again. They do ask for a modest $5-15 per hour for your bike stand time. They also have a stock of new and used parts available and some bicycles for sale.
We talk about that story at the start, then we move on to talk about a few of the stories in the roundup. So if nothing else, watch (or listen to) the first 20 minutes or so. Thanks for joining the show, Marley!
First up in the Bike News Roundup, StreetFilms made a quick edit comparing Madison Square before and after the city built large public plazas in the street:
EDITOR’S NOTE: This story is by Conor Courtney through our partnership with UW’s Community News Lab journalism course.
A cyclist on a pedal-assisted Jump bike passes cars near the University Bridge. Photo by Conor Courtney.
Seattle cyclists can expect to see a substantial increase in the number of riders zipping around the city on pedal-assisted e-bikes in the next few years, according to an industry forecast by consultants at Deliotte.
Internationally, the number of e-bikes in circulation in 2023 will reach 300 million, up 50 percent from the number currently in use, according to Deloitte’s projections.
This increase in cyclists will bring significant benefits to the Seattle community, according to Kristi Straus, a lecturer in the University of Washington’s College of the Environment who teaches a course focused on personal and societal sustainability.
Viewing sustainability as an intersection between the environment, economy, and society, e-bikes help all three, says Straus. Cycling to your destination can often be faster than driving, especially in Seattle, which traffic analytics company Inrix ranked the sixth most congested U.S. city in 2018.
“E-Bikes are awesome, and can be a stepping stone for people who otherwise might not choose to bike or be able to bike the distances or hills that they’re now biking with e-bikes, and more e-bikes is likely to increase bike infrastructure and benefit all people in Seattle, not just all people who bike,” said Straus.
E-bikes can also make cycling more accessible to new parents, older cyclists, and cyclists in hilly areas.
“I think that e-bikes make a big difference for folks who are a little bit older, who aren’t as strong as they used to be,” said Clara Cantor of Seattle Neighborhood Greenways. Cantor also says that e-bikes make it easier for community members with chronic pain or other disabilities to have a reliable, healthy transportation option. Continue reading →
Nearly all Seattle elementary schoolers already go through the Let’s Go Bicycle and Pedstrian Safety program as part of their physical education. But now the program is expanding to include middle schools, as well.
The course, offered by Cascade Bicycle Club and Outdoors For All, will reach 40,000 students per year, doubling the number of students reached by the existing 3rd through 5th grade programs. That’s pretty great.
Students in the Let’s Go program “not only learn how to safely navigate their neighborhoods and get to and from school by bike, they also gain the confidence to hopefully become lifelong bike riders or transit users,” said Cascade Education Director Rachel Osias in the organization’s press release about the program’s expansion.
Funding comes from Seattle Public Schools and the Seattle Department of Transportation. And, of course, donations to Cascade support their programming.
Today is the final day for bills in the Washington State Legislature to pass out of at least one chamber in order to stay alive this short session. Any non-budget bill that hasn’t passed either the House or the Senate by 5 p.m. will almost certainly be dead for the year. And while passing one chamber is needed for a bill to stay alive, it still needs to pass the other, have the chambers work out differences if needed and then get signed by the Governor. So there’s a lot of work left to do.
Funding is, of course, the elephant in the room. The outcome of I-976 is still uncertain as legal fighting will extend beyond this session, so talks about how to fill the potential funding chasms in transportation departments across the state are in a bit of a strange place. Budget debates will really get going in the coming weeks, so stay tuned.
But there are a lot of non-funding bills moving this year, and there’s a lot of good news. Yesterday evening, the Senate passed SB 5789 by a divided 25-21 vote to allow crosswalk and bus lane enforcement cameras in downtown Seattle. This is the second year Rooted In Rights has helped lead the effort to get this bill into state law.
The Senate passed SB 6208 by a 44-1 vote, which would allow the Safety Stop (AKA Idaho Stop) in Washington, joining Oregon’s lead last year.
The House passed HB 2461 by a more divided 57-41 vote, adding health a state transportation goal (how is that controversial?).
The Senate unanimously passed SB 6493, which Washington Bikes described as a “technical fix” concerning the existing Cooper Jones Active Transportation Safety Council.
UPDATE (correcting a previous version that had the wrong bill number and current status): The House unanimously passed HB 2197 this week, which would allow equipment like a bike rack to temporarily obscure a license plate.
Washington is full of scenic places to bike, so it won’t be hard to identify a network of amazing routes to promote as part of the proposed Scenic Bikeways program that just passed the House 96-1.
Oregon has long has a scenic bikeways program, and they have successfully used the program to promote bicycle tourism all over the state. This supports local economies and encourages more people to try a bike adventure.
The HB 2587 is now sitting in the Senate Transportation Committee. It needs to pass out of the committee, pass the full Senate and then resolve any differences before going to the governor’s desk for a signature. Washington Bikes is advocating for the program this short legislative session, and they provided a little background in a recent blog post: Continue reading →
Roxy Robles joined me to talk about the SPLAIN survey results we released Friday. So if you found that story interesting and want to know more about how and why Roxy conducted it, check out the video. It’s 36 minutes and we talk for most of it, so it should be fine for those who want to just listen.
Nikki McThewson (left) and Shawna Williams in the doorway of Free Range Cycles. Photo by Kendall Rock courtesy of Free Range.
One Seattle shop was far and away the top-rated bike shop in the SPLAIN survey: Free Range Cycles. The shop in its iconic little building in Fremont received a 4.87 out of 5, and that was with 52 people weighing in. The shop had twice as many “5” ratings as the second shop on the list of 42 shops. See our report for more about that survey.
Clearly, Free Range is doing something right, and word has spread among women, trans, femme and gender nonconforming people that it is the place to go. And when they go, they have a very positive experience. So I spoke with Shawna Williams, the owner of Free Range since taking over for the legendary Kathleen Emry in 2018, about what she and the staff at Free Range do to make their shop so welcoming.
“As a queer mixed-race woman in the cycling industry, this is always there,” she said. A lot of staff conversations stem from personal experiences in shops that they don’t want to repeat.
But they don’t always get it right, either.
“We’re still working on these things all the time,” she said. “We work really hard to ask questions and to not assume someone’s knowledge about something based on the bike they come in with or their appearance … we spend a lot of time asking about their experience and if they have any questions. Asking what their goals are and what their riding style is.” Continue reading →
Editor’s Note: Roxanne Robles conducted an online survey between September and December of 2019 asking people who identify as women, trans, femme or gender nonconforming to rate how comfortable they feel at 42 Seattle bike shops. Though Seattle Bike Blog did not work on the survey itself, the two of us have worked together on how to present the data. I stand by Roxy’s work. You can read more of her thoughts on the survey on her blog.
Bike shops are vital infrastructure. They are the places you go to keep your bike working, and the experts who work in shops offer hard-earned knowledge that only the most dedicated do-it-yourself hobbyists can hope to match. Beyond just fixing bikes, though, shops can be the heart of a bike community, a place to meet up to have fun or learn.
Because shops are an important part of cycling, it is important they are inclusive and accommodating places to visit. Cycling is marked by a prevalence of not only cisgender men, but able-bodied, white, and wealthy people. Walking into a bike shop can be stressful if you do not fit within these intersections. It is a really common experience for many people outside these demographic categories to be ignored, talked down to, or talked over when they are trying to procure a professional service.
The Seattle Pedalers Looking for Action to Inform (“SPLAIN”) survey was developed to take the temperature of Seattle bike shop culture, to have a better understanding of where people feel comfortable, and to offer a space for them to relay their stories and experiences. People usually start their cycling journeys in a bike shop, looking for a bike — if this experience is stressful, traumatic, or uncomfortable it might turn them off to cycling completely.
We want to be very clear about what these ratings say (and don’t say). The survey was developed with Google Forms and distributed via email, Slack, Twitter, Cascade Bicycle Club’s social media, the Seattle Bike Blog Bike News Roundup and word of mouth. The survey had one page for each bike shop and asked respondents to rate their experience in each shop they had visited from 1 (“I don’t feel comfortable here”) to 5 (“I feel comfortable here”), with a space at the end of the survey for feedback and anecdotes. Respondents were asked to give feedback only for those shops they have visited. There were 90 responses in total. To calculate scores, the responses were weighted and the total was divided by the number of responses for each shop.
Because the survey was distributed organically and respondents self-selected, this cannot be viewed as a scientifically accurate poll representing all women, trans, femme and gender nonconforming people in Seattle. Rather, it is a qualitative snapshot of 90 people’s reported experiences. And people could have wildly differing experiences at the same shop. For example, Alki Bike and Board received a below average 2.78, but the only comment anyone left in the optional text box was, “Alki Bike & Board is the BEST!!!!!” Some shops received fewer votes than others, so their scores might be significantly impacted by just one or two ratings. The total number of votes received is noted within the bar for each shop on the chart.
The length of each bar represents the shop’s average rating. The colors of each bar break down the proportion of the shop’s 1 – 5 ratings. The number at the end of the bar represents how many of the 90 total respondents rated that shop. For more detail, see the spreadsheet of the rating counts.
Sound Transit is resurfacing a stretch of the Eastrail between the South Kirkland Park and Ride and the intersection of 120th Ave NE and Spring Blvd in Bellevue. So anyone trying to get through will have to detour via Northrup Way and 120th Ave NE.
Construction is scheduled to close the trail Wednesday through Friday, though of course at this time of year work is rather weather-dependent.
Staring Wednesday, Feb. 12, Sound Transit’s contractor, Hensel Phelps, will close a small portion of the Eastrail in Bellevue, for three days, near the construction site of the Operations and Maintenance Facility on 120th Avenue Northeast. The closure is needed to complete trail surfacing and reconstruct the temporary trail bridge.
Three-day trail closure and detour
Wednesday, Feb. 12, through Friday, Feb. 14
Eastrail near the Operations and Maintenance Facility East construction site on 120th Avenue Northeast in Bellevue.
In order to continue through to 120th Avenue Northeast, you’ll need to follow the following detour (Coming from the north, at the South Kirkland Park-and-Ride):
Detour off the trail to the existing bike lane/sidewalk on 108th Avenue Northeast to Northup Way
Use existing bike lane/sidewalk on Northup Way/20th Avenue Northeast
Head south on 120th Avenue Northeast to Spring Boulevard intersection
Plan ahead, leave early and allow extra time to reach your destination.
A group that wishes to remain anonymous posted an official-looking “Notice of Proposed Street Use Action” sign at the north end of the 2nd Ave bike lane near Denny Way, informing the public that “the City of Seattle has decided to remove this portion of the Second Avenue protected bike lane to make room for more cars.” It continues:
This will allow more people to drive to events at the new Seattle Center Arena at the cost of safety for pedestrians and people on bicycles.
If you have comments about this change please contact the following parties:
And, unfortunately, the sign is true. As reported previously, current transportation plans that are part of the arena remake would close this section of the bike lane, routing people biking onto the sidewalk just south of Denny Way.
The sign is amazing because it makes a couple important points at the same time. For one, of course, it alerts people that the city wants to remove a section of one of our city’s best protected bike lanes. But it also highlights the double standard regarding how much public notice and public debate is needed to add a bike lane versus how little public debate there has been about removing one. Continue reading →
I am very excited to try out an all-new feature for the Bike News Roundup: Video commentary! I will still be posting links to news and other interesting stuff from around the region and around the world like I have for the better part of the past decade. So if you’re just here for the links, they aren’t going anywhere. But now the roundup will also come with a video where we’ll walk through some highlights and talk about them. It could be a good opportunity to bring in guests, too. We’ll see where it goes. Post your feedback on the format in the comments below or on YouTube.
Kelli Refer joined me for this week’s chat. Kelli was Legislative Aide to Councilmember Mike O’Brien until his term ended at the end of 2019. She also happens to be my amazing spouse. Thanks, Kelli!
First up in the roundup, performance artist Simon Weckert put 99 smart phones in a little red wagon, loaded Google Maps directions on all of them and then walked around central Berlin creating “virtual traffic jams.”
The Cedar River Trail underpass at 154th Pl SE is full of water. Luckily, there is a street-level crosswalk that makes for what should be an easy detour. But we aware that increased rainfall could lead to more flooding for the riverside trail. Details from King County Parks:
Excessive rain and flooding has created adverse conditions on many of our trails today. The Cedar River Trail is closed at 154th Pl SE due to high water in the underpass tunnel.
A reader also noted in the comments of a previous post that the Green River Trail is closed in Tukwila near the I-405 crossing. So be on the lookout for other closures along that riverside trail if more heavy rain falls.
These closures are in addition to previous reports about closures on the Sammamish River Trail, Snoqualmie Valley Trail and Preston-Snoqualmie Trail.
Riverside bike trails are very pleasant for obvious reasons, and the grades are typically good, too, since they follow the river. But that obviously makes them vulnerable to flooding when rain gets too heavy for too long. I’m sure it will stop raining one of these days…
Heavy and persistent rains have caused more trail closures in the area. The Sammamish River Trail has closed in four places between Woodinville and Redmond because its namesake river has overflowed. See the links in the notice below for maps of the closures.
A section of the Snoqualmie Valley Trail is also closed near Boxley Creek due to a landslide.
And as we reported earlier, a landslide has also closed a section of the Preston-Snoqualmie Trail near Snoqualmie Ridge and Fall City.
More details from King County Parks:
Trail closed due to flooding under multiple overpasses
Excessive rain and flooding has created adverse conditions on many of our trails today. The Sammamish River Trail is closed at Redmond Way, NE 90th St, NE 124th St, and NE 145th St, due to flooding and high water over the trail.
The Northgate bike/walk bridge between North Seattle College and Northgate Station is scheduled to open in fall 2021. It’s been a lot of work to get this thing designed and funded, including a lot of advocacy from Cascade Bicycle Club and others as well as leadership by city, regional and state leaders.
Today, Seattle Mayor Durkan and Councilmember Debora Juarez hosted a groundbreaking celebration to mark the start of construction on the Northgate Pedestrian and Bike Bridge over Interstate 5. They were joined by other civic leaders, transportation agency partners, and community organizations who have supported this project.
The bridge will reunite two neighborhoods that have been divided by I-5 for nearly 60 years.
“Our City is under construction before our eyes and investments like light rail will be transformational for North Seattle. This bridge will be an important connection between the reimagined Northgate with light rail and North Seattle College, and will provide convenient and safe routes for pedestrians and bikers,” said Mayor Durkan. “I want to thank all the community partners who have helped us make this project a reality, including Representative Valdez and Pollet, and Senator Frockt, who along with bike and neighborhood advocates helped Seattle achieve this important milestone.”
By Fall 2021, people will be able to walk and bike across the bridge, connecting people to thriving neighborhoods and retail centers. This bridge will provide an easy connection between the future Northgate light rail station and North Seattle College.The light rail stop will see about 40,000 riders boarding there daily, making this pedestrian and bike bridge crucial. Continue reading →
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