Text message cover-up shows Mayor Durkan is unfit for office

Screenshot of the start of the SEEC's letter to Mayor Durkan.

A letter to Mayor Durkan from the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission (Full Letter PDF).

Mayor Jenny Durkan, then-Police Chief Carmen Best and Seattle Fire Chief Harold Scoggins all deleted or otherwise lost their text messages from the midst of one of the most tumultuous times in Seattle history. The mayor has hidden the loss of these texts from the public since at least August in an apparent attempt to cover-up her breach of public disclosure laws, and one whistle-blowing public records officer resigned out of fear of retaliation while another has been placed on unpaid leave after they bravely informed the public about the cover-up. Our city owes Kim Ferreiro and Stacy Irwin a debt of gratitude (and probably compensation, too).

Jenny Durkan has destroyed whatever trust the public might still have in her, and she is not fit to be Mayor of this great city.

Though she denies it, the deletion of these texts looks like an attempt to hide damning information from the public. Perhaps those texts include the answer a gigantic, extremely consequential question Durkan and Best have continually dodged: Who ordered police to abandon the East Precinct? Or maybe those texts could shine a light on who was ordering police officers to gas people protesting police brutality and the murder of George Floyd every day for more than a week. The mayor publicly ordered SPD to stop using tear gas, yet the practice continued. Did she lose control of the department, or did she lie to the public? One of those must be true, though neither is good.

Mayor Durkan’s failures of leadership last June were so egregious that Seattle Bike Blog joined many other groups in calling for her resignation or removal from office. Seattle Bike Blog has not changed that stance.

She has refused to answer the public’s questions about these decisions, and now key records that could have provided insight have been deleted not just from her phone, but also the phones of the public officials in the relevant chain of command. This stinks of possible criminal activity and must be investigated as many elected officials and candidates have demanded.

But even if the public were to accept her dubious defense that she accidentally set her phone to auto-delete texts thinking they were saved in the cloud somewhere, her fully conscious and purposeful cover-up of the missing public information is more than enough reason for her to leave office and should also be investigated. The Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission (“SEEC”) has already found her Legal Counsel Michelle Chen in violation of the Public Records Act (PDF) for failing to disclose the missing texts and trying to conceal that they were missing. But the SEEC finding raises more questions than it answers, and should be just the beginning.

When Mayor Durkan is conducting public business, her texts do not belong to her. They belong to the people. Every city employee whose communications quality for public disclosure are trained in how to preserve their records including their texts. Durkan, who was a U.S. Attorney before running for mayor, is very familiar with public disclosure laws. It is vital to the integrity of our democracy that we have the ability to observe how our elected officials are conducting city business in our names. We must know who ordered the precinct to be abandoned, for example, because we need that information to make better electoral choices in the future. That’s how democracy works. Mayor Durkan deleting the texts and then covering it up is nothing short of an attack on our democracy.

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Saturday: Memorial walk and ride for Mike Colmant near Seward Park

A ghost bike decorated in bright flowers with photos and mementos about Mike.

A ghost bike in memory of Mike Colmant near the site of the collision.

Mike Colmant was a father, grandfather, triathlete, and Deputy Director at Boeing Field. He was biking on Seward Park Ave S just north of Wilson Ave S when someone drove on the wrong side of the road and struck him, killing him before fleeing the scene. Police have not posted any updates in the case. Colmant was 63.

His death April 11 led to an outpouring of love from friends, family and colleagues. A white ghost bike memorial sits near the location of the fatal collision, overflowing with flowers, a Clif Bar, a small airplane, mementos from Boeing Field, a photo of him cycling in a race, Hawaiian leis, and a photo of him holding a child after completing the 2000 Hawiian Ironman competition. Someone wrote “We love you Mike” on the telephone pole.

Just over a month after his death, friends and family will join Seattle Neighborhood Greenways for a memorial walk and ride 2 p.m. Saturday that is open to the public. The walk will start at Seward Park and the bike ride will start at Be’er Sheva Park. Both will meet at the site of the ghost bike, where friends and family will speak. You can also contribute to a GoFundMe set up to help his family in British Columbia with all their costs, including the added difficulty of crossing the border during the pandemic.

More details from Seattle Neighborhood Greenways: Continue reading

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Last chance to tell the Feds: Make our national road standards safer

Cover of the 2009 MUTCD.

This very boring-looking book has had a huge impact on the way our communities look and function (or not).

There is a book that gives traffic engineers across the nation guidelines for how to design streets and highways, and the Federal Highway Administration is updating it right now. Unfortunately, the current draft of the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (“MUTCD”) is backwards, limiting safety innovations while defending the same dangerous road designs that contribute to the deaths of tens of thousands of people every year.

Preliminary counts show that about 42,000 people died in U.S. traffic collisions in 2020, the highest count since 2006 and a figure on par with the 1980s. We will not see the amount of carnage change until we change the designs of the roadways to encourage safer travel for every person. The status quo is not working, and our faulty national road-building standards are largely to blame.

You have until tomorrow evening (9 p.m. 5/14) to submit a comment on the updated guide. The League of American Bicyclists has a handy online tool you can use.

The MUTCD does not make the laws exactly, but it does constrain the design decisions traffic engineers feel comfortable making. The guide encourages car-prioritized streets with many lanes, high speeds, wide turns and long crosswalks, conditions we know are dangerous and lead to deaths and injuries. But if someone dies in a crash on a new roadway, it’s very difficult to win a lawsuit against the agency responsible if the design follows the national standards outlined in the guide. The guide gives agencies and engineers cover to repeat the same dangerous design mistakes over and over and over again in communities all across the nation. Continue reading

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Now streaming at NW Film Forum: Phoebe’s Father, a family drama with lots of Seattle biking scenes

Woman on a bike in a park stopped to talk to a man.You have until Sunday (5/16) to stream Phoebe’s Father from the Northwest Film Forum website. And you should! Tickets are sliding scale $5–$25 ($10 suggested) for a 48-hour streaming rental.

We wrote about the film back in 2015 when it first came out. It’s a family drama centering about Phoebe’s (Marie Lazzaro) strained relationship with her father (the late Lawrason Driscoll). Meanwhile, she discovers cycling and starts training to race. So she processes a lot of what’s going on while biking around Seattle. That is extremely relatable to me, because that’s what I do!

There are many scenes inside Recycled Cycles in the U District and along various trails and bike routes. Locals Jessica Cutler (then a pro cyclist, now founder of the Northwest Women’s Cyclocross Project) and longtime racer David Friedt were cycling consultants on the film.

Oh, and its a good movie, too. Very character-driven with excellent acting.

American films are notoriously bad at representing transportation cycling (people biking just to get around). It’s practically a rule that if a character rides a bike in a movie, they will be hit by a car. That or a character riding a bike is a symbol of them being poor or unlucky or juvenile.

But Phoebe’s Father is different. Her biking around town is never scoffed at, and it feels realistic to watch her go from a new rider to someone who discovers that riding is a great way to get out and process everything that’s going on in her life. When she gets overwhelmed by a heavy family issue, she gets on her bike. Partly, it is about escaping from difficult feelings, but it becomes a way for her to exert some control over her life rather than letting the decisions and desires of others control her. It’s a lovely metaphor that also generates many opportunities for scenic shots. They aren’t fast action shots, they just show biking around Seattle for what it is, creating space for her to work through her emotions. I hope other filmmakers take some lessons from director John Helde here. Continue reading

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Bike lanes coming to Eastlake Ave between Stewart and Fairview, work starts this summer

Project map.SDOT and King County Metro are getting ready to redesign a significant stretch of Eastlake Ave E from Stewart Street in South Lake Union (near REI) to Fairview Ave N in Eastlake. The changes will happen in two phases with work on the north phase from Fairview to Roy beginning this summer.

The project will construct high-priority protected bike lanes and build more layover space for Metro buses. It also includes a new “comfort station” with restrooms, break area and a small office for Metro bus operators. The comfort station won’t be open to the public.

Construction on the north segment will be timed with reopening of the Fairview Ave N Bridge, which has been under construction since fall 2019. Since then, Eastlake Ave has been the construction detour route. So this work can’t really begin until Fairview is open, which is expected during the summer.

The north segment’s design will look something like this:

Concept cross-section for the north segment.

From SDOT.

There will be bike lanes on both sides of the street as there are today. However, where there is on-street parking, the bike lane will be protected by the line of cars.

The big changes will come in 2022 when Metro’s layover project is complete and the south segment opens. That project includes all-new, sorely-needed bike lanes between Roy and Stewart Streets. And for most of the length, the bike lanes will be protected by either on-street parking or parked buses.

The biggest change will be at the south end of the Lakeview Boulevard Bridge over I-5. Here, the bike lane will hop up onto a new sidewalk separating the street from a new larger space for more bus layovers.

Concept image of the new bus layover space and sidewalk.

From Metro.

Continue reading

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Support Ryan Packer’s reporting

Ryan Packer was the Temporary Editor of Seattle Bike Blog for the entire winter as I worked on completing the first draft of a book. During that time, they reported many important stories such as this report about an internal SDOT policy that would all but dismantle the Bicycle Master Plan. We spoke more about their time as Editor in a recap video back in April.

Ryan has since continued reporting for The Urbanist, but has also expanded to cover state transportation news, such as watching the reboot of the expanded I-5 Columbia River crossing between Vancouver, Washington, and Portland. Bike Portland has started publishing that work.

You can now support Ryan’s journalism work directly via their brand new Patreon. The independent journalism economy is broken, and getting direct support from readers is vital for enabling this work to continue. Reader support is what keeps Seattle Bike Blog going, for example. Ryan’s work is definitely worth funding.

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Council seeks project list to determine if a $100 million bond is necessary

Pie charts comparing the SDOT proposal to the Council proposal.

The SDOT funding breakdown (left) vs the City Council’s proposed funding breakdown. From Seattle Neighborhood Greenways.

A majority of the City Council, led by Councilmember Dan Strauss, voted Wednesday to defer their decision on issuing a large bond until they have more details on what it would fund and when the money would be needed.

As we reported last week, the City Council is considering a 20-year, $100 million bond on a $20 vehicle license fee that would put 75% of funds into bridge work rather than the focus on safe streets that SDOT’s community outreach process recommended. Over the course of 20 years, this could result in an $80 million reduction in funding for safe streets projects according to an action alert from Seattle Neighborhood Greenways.

Of course most of the city’s bridges are vital infrastructure, and the city will be hit with a significant bill for the West Seattle Bridge soon. So it may be that bonding against some of the vehicle license fee will be needed at some point. But Seattle does not have a list of shovel-ready projects that need the immediate funding a bonding measure would generate. That’s why Transportation and Utilities Committee Vice-Chair Strauss proposed a successful amendment that would hold off on issuing bonds until projects and their schedules are identified.

“We must dedicate city funding to the work of investing in our bridges that is matched by state and federal dollars,” said Councilmember Strauss during the meeting. “We need to have a more accurate and detailed understanding of our maintenance and investments needs, and we need to use this information to raise the correct amount of bonds at the right time to invest in our infrastructure rather than taking on unneeded debt until we’re ready to use it.

The initial version of the bill, as proposed by Committee Chair Alex Pedersen, would have called for issuing the bond without knowing the scope or schedule of the work it would fund.

“If this non-binding language was enacted on today, we would raise bonds without shovel-ready projects,” said Strauss. “This means we would be paying bankers interest on dollars we would not be ready to spend today.”

Strauss also rejected the argument that the bond money could pay for the planning studies to get projects shovel-ready, saying, “This would be akin to taking out a home loan to pay for our groceries.” Continue reading

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Cascade makes the Pedaling Relief Project permanent

A child stands on a cargo bike in front of the Universtiy District Food Bank.

My assistant helped me make deliveries one week.

The Seattle Pedaling Relief Project (“SPRP”) started in the spring of 2020 as a way to help food banks deal with the sudden influx of people who needed to access their services at a time when COVID restrictions made it more difficult for people to get there.

The SPRP was initially designed as a “cargo bike powered crisis response group” partnering with existing mutual aid networks and community organizations to extend the reach of their delivery abilities. Basically, an organization would let SPRP know how many deliveries were needed, and the SPRP would organize people to get the work done by bike.

“My thinking was, ‘What if we did a Cranksgiving in reverse? And did it every week?,'” co-founder Maxwell Burton told me during a video interview back in July 2020. Cranksgiving is an annual ride Seattle Bike Blog has organized for more than a decade in which riders gather food from grocery stores and other food vendors to donate to food banks. Burton and co-founder Mike Lang’s idea was to have riders take the food from food banks and bike it back out into the community.

I have been volunteering for the PRP, and it’s a wonderful excuse to get out and bike around. You get to practice your navigation skills and your cargo-hauling skills, and all while helping fill in one of the more difficult parts of the food support system: Getting it to individuals and families.

A few months into operation, Cascade Bicycle Club hired Burton and supported the work of the PRP. With the stable source of funding and deep well of volunteer power, the PRP has since grown to work with seven food banks as well as a growing list of farmers’ market vendors and community gardens. The 500 volunteers not only made home deliveries, they also helped stock Little Free Pantries all around town.

Now as the project turns one year old, Cascade announced during its annual Bike Everywhere Breakfast that the PRP is becoming a permanent “cornerstone” program for the organization:

Previously a grassroots initiative that operated with support from Cascade, the Pedaling Relief Project now joins the Major Taylor Project, Let’s Go, Free Group Rides, and Learn to Ride as one of Cascade’s cornerstone programs. The Pedaling Relief Project will be managed by co-founder Maxwell Burton, who has been hired as a full-time Cascade employee to oversee Pedaling Relief and its expansion.

“This is bicycling with a purpose and a heart, and with a direct goal of helping neighbors who are struggling,” says Burton, who encourages people who bike to sign up at Cascade.org. “The Pedaling Relief Project is a way for people who bike to make a difference in their community, while also enjoying the exercise, fresh air, and camaraderie of bicycling for a good cause.”

“Everyone in the Cascade community should feel proud to be involved with this initiative,” says Board President Tamara Schmautz. “The Pedaling Relief Project represents a new chapter for Cascade Bicycle Club as we add to our bicycling advocacy, events, and education programming to find new ways for our members–and the entire bicycling community–to use their bikes for good.”

Interested volunteers can sign up online. There are starting locations around Seattle and in White Center.

The added organizational support from Cascade will also enable the project to expand beyond Seattle. Similar efforts are already in the work in Spokane and Tacoma, and the organization will be putting together a tool kit to help more places get started.

The numbers (totals to date):

  • 120 tons of food rescued or delivered
  • 500 volunteers
  • 7,000 miles biked
  • 4,900 households served
  • 4,000 pounds of carbon dioxide saved by biking
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Apple Maps now has bicycling directions, and they are OK compared to Google’s dusty service

Comparrison of Apple Maps and Google Maps.Eight years after Google Maps introduced biking directions in its iPhone app, Apple Maps has finally introduced the feature. And much like the Google version, it is…OK.

When Google first introduced biking directions, it wasn’t perfect. The route decisions were rarely what I would choose, and sometimes it chose very busy streets. But at least it gave a biking option and a time estimate, which were very useful. It was a promising start, and I was hoping that the company would continuously improve the service so it would more consistently find high-quality routes. But like so many Google services, the company has let the feature languish with very few if any improvements (they improve the map data, like which streets are one-way, etc, but the way it makes routing decisions is much the same).

Apple Maps also gives OK bicycling directions. They are almost never the routes I would choose, but at least they usually work. Both services offer information on elevation changes and give a couple different routes to choose from.

Apple does offer a couple interesting features that Google lacks, like options to avoid hills and busy streets, but they seem to be a bit confused by Seattle’s complicated geography. For example, if you select either “avoid hills” or “avoid busy roads,” it will suggest taking 3rd Avenue downtown rather than the 2nd Avenue protected bike lane.

screenshot showing Apple Maps suggesting 3rd Avenue downtown. Continue reading

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WA Bikes: Some significant wins during the 2021 session, but the work is not done

washington bikes logoThe 2021 state legislative session is closing with some wins for biking, progress on other priorities and a lot of uncertainty about the future of transportation funding in Washington.

A massive transportation funding bill loomed over the 2021 legislative session, but in the end did not move forward. With a pricetag as high as $26 billion over 16 years in the House version, the transportation bill took a lot of the oxygen out of the room throughout the session. But the House and Senate couldn’t put together something that could get enough votes in each chamber to pass.

The legislature did pass a two-year transportation budget that includes a “$10 million increase to active transportation grant programs,” according to Alex Alston at Washington Bikes. The Senate version of the budget did not initially have this increase, so this was a significant win for Safe Routes to School and the state’s bicycle and pedestrian grant programs.

The state also passed a law change that will allow regional transit authorities (like Sound Transit) to “establish an alternative fare enforcement system,” according to WA Bikes. Fare enforcement is extremely inequitable. As the Times’ Heidi Groover reported in 2019, 9% of Sound Transit riders were Black but 43% of fare evasion citations and 57% of misdemeanor allegations (cases sent to the county for review, but not necessarily charged) went to Black people.

The legislature also directed the Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Department of Natural Resources to conduct a public review of “e-bike use on natural surface trails and roads that are limited to non-motorized use to determine where e-bikes can ride and which classes of e-bikes are acceptable,” according to WA Bikes. This process could become controversial among mountain bikers and other trail users, but it’s a conversation we need to have. E-assist mountain bikes have boomed in popularity, and the technology has the potential to greatly expand access to mountain and gravel biking to more people. However, there is a legitimate fear of allowing high-power electric bikes on trails, especially as the line between e-assist bicycle and electric dirt bike gets blurred. Perhaps there’s a middle ground? Would Class 1 and 2 e-assist bikes (capped at 20 mph) be acceptable as they are in city bike lanes and trails? Should e-bikes be OK on gravel trails and roads but not singletrack? These are questions folks will need to discuss.

The legislature also sort of passed a cap and trade bill modeled on California’s system (and supported by British Petroleum and some other major polluters). BP spent nearly $13 million to defeat I-1631 a couple years ago. I say “sort of” because the bill will only go into effect in 2023 if the legislature can pass a transportation package by then. The bill has divided environmental groups, as KUOW reported. Continue reading

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Following Healthy Street success, Bellevue will trial its first neighborhood greenway this summer

Project map.Bellevue is getting ready to rollout its first take at a neighborhood greenway this summer, a north-south route running along side streets to the east of 164th Ave NE between Nothrup Way and SE 14th St, where it will meet up with the Lake to Lake Trail.

The 2-mile project is very low-cost, coming in at just $200,000. The project team will add wayfinding, which is very useful since so few side streets go through in this area. They will also install new paint-and-post traffic circles at some intersections and turn stop signs to face cross-traffic instead of greenway traffic. And they will drop the speed limit to 20 mph.

The nearby 164th Ave NE is more direct and already has some stretches of painted bike lanes, though they are very incomplete and are definitely not welcoming to people of all ages and abilities.

The proposed route was trialed as a Healthy Street in 2020, and the number of people biking on the route increased 160% after the project opened, according to the city’s Healthy Streets Pilot Evaluation Report (PDF).

Charts from the report.

Neighborhood greenway options are more limited in suburban communities because so many developments have cul-de-sac designs that purposefully prevent through-traffic. It makes sense to take advantage of the greenway opportunities like this when they are available, but the bulk of the bike network is going to require bike lanes on major streets and trails. For example, the northern terminus of this route is Northrup Way, which has a skinny painted bike lane in only one direction. A lot more work is going to be needed to connect this route with other major bike routes, like the 520 Trail, or to connect to and through major business districts like Overlake Village.

But hey, do you have an opinion on how the traffic circles are painted? Well, you’re in luck. Bellevue wants you to let them know via this online survey. They’ve narrowed it down to these four concepts: Continue reading

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Seattleite Lindsay Caron seriously injured while biking in San Diego

Seattle resident Lindsay Caron was seriously injured while biking in San Diego last week when someone struck her from behind and drove away.

She is in the hospital in San Diego, where doctors have kept her in a medically-induced coma. Caron’s friends reached out to share a GoFundMe set up to help with her likely long recovery:

Our sweet Lindsay was seriously injured in a hit and run incident while bicycling in San Diego on Monday, April 19th. For the week since the accident, doctors have kept Lindsay in a medically induced coma to rest and protect her brain. She has undergone extensive surgeries on her brain, skull, face, and pelvis. We won’t know the extent of her condition until they wake her up and run tests, which could be days away.  There are many unknowns, but one thing is certain, the road to recovery will be long and difficult no matter the outcome.

Many of us know Lindsay for her generous friendship and her love of bicycling, skiing, acro-yoga, music, and dance. She’s a thoughtful and creative entrepreneur dedicated to improving lives. The sparkle in her eye and her mischievous laugh brightens every room (or mountain summit).

Please send her your love, and we’ll post updates on her condition as we learn more. Lindsay has touched so many lives, in circles across the country and around the globe. Let’s share gratitude for the joy she’s brought to our world and hope for good news in the coming days. I can’t encapsulate all that Lindsay means to her many communities in this intro, so please feel free to leave comments about the ways that Lindsay has brought joy to your world.

This initial fundraiser is a landing page for our collective support. We don’t know yet what the need will be or what insurance will cover, but all funds will be used for medical expenses and to support Lindsay and her family with the expenses related to this event and related to her recovery. We anticipate that the fundraiser amount may be revised as we learn more, and we will continue to update you about how funds will be used here.

Hang in there Lindsay! Much love❤️

Before moving to Seattle, Caron was active in the Portland bike scene, Bike Portland reports.

Sending our best wishes to Lindsay as well as her friends and family.

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City considering car-free(ish) Lake Washington Blvd all summer + More Keep Moving Streets updates and a survey

Maps comparing the 1-mile and 3-mile options for Lake Washington Boulevard.

Well this is an easy choice. Take the survey before May 10!

The city may close a three-mile section of Lake Washington Boulevard to most motor vehicles (people accessing homes and parking lots allowed) from Memorial Day to Labor Day. This would be like making every day Bicycle Sunday.

You can support this idea by taking SDOT’s online survey before May 10.

Seattle already has more than 50 years of experience with Bicycle Sunday on this stretch of the roadway, and the city’s experiments making it a Keep Moving Street in the past year have been popular. Seattle Neighborhood Greenways launched a campaign and petition in early April calling on the city to come up with a permanent concept for the street.

The survey has four options, but the permanent 3-mile options is obviously the best. Other options include a 1-mile option between Mount Baker Beach and Genesee Park, the 1-mile option plus the 3-mile option on weekends only and a weekends-only 3-mile option without any full-time routes.

Green Lake Keep Moving Street will allow parking access

Continue reading

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Action Alert: Tell City Council to protect $80M in walking, biking and transit funds

Pie charts comparing the SDOT proposal to the Council proposal.

The SDOT funding breakdown (left) vs the City Council’s proposed funding breakdown.

A City Council proposal would redirect $80 million over 20 years away from walking, biking and transit projects to finance a $100 million bond for roads and bridges.

With the West Seattle Bridge still closed and other bridges around the city in need to repair, replacement or removal, it is understandable that Council is seeking major funding for bridge work. However, the Vehicle License Fee is the wrong source because it is among the few transportation funding sources the city can invest in walking, biking and transit projects.

Seattle Neighborhood Greenways put out an action alert so people can contact City Council leaders and ask them to protect these funds:

Please support SDOT’s proposal for VLF funding.

Seattle is not making progress on Vision Zero, the city’s goal to reduce the number of road-traffic deaths and serious injuries to zero by 2030, which has been brought into sharp relief by three tragedies in the last month in Georgetown, Lake City, and Seward Park.

The proposal from SDOT for VLF funding doubles the level of progress on Vision Zero, fixes hundreds of inaccessible sidewalks, repairs bike routes, and plans for a bright transit future.

Unfortunately, Councilmember Pedersen is proposing a dramatic re-allocation of these funds: redirecting a full 75% of the available VLF funding for bridge repair and leaving a mere 25% for “other transportation infrastructure.”While we are all supportive of increased funding for bridge repair, we should seek state and federal funding for those projects and allocate local dollars to walk/bike/transit projects.

Please support SDOT’s proposal for VLF funding. SDOT’s plan would move Seattle towards our climate goals, our equity goals, and keep Seattleites safe as we get where we need to go.

The Council amendment currently appears to have enough support to pass with Alex Pedersen, Lisa Herbold and Debora Juarez listed as sponsors, and Andrew Lewis and Teresa Mosqueda listed as authors. I’m hoping at least some of them are open to changing their minds.

The vast majority of transportation funds in our state and country go to roads, and there are more sources of funding for such projects than there are for walking, biking and transit. For example, Washington State law requires that gas tax revenue be spent only on “highway purposes,” which is often interpreted to exclude transit service. But vehicle license fees do not have this limitation, providing an ongoing source of revenue for the walking, biking and transit investments Seattle residents consistently and overwhelmingly support.

Despite voters approving the Move Seattle Levy by a landslide in 2015, the walking, biking and transit promises of the levy plan have fallen far short. The city prioritized an overbuilt and very expensive Lander Street bridge in Sodo, and then ran out of money to complete the walking, biking and transit promises. As Seattle Neighborhood Greenways notes, we are falling behind on our Vision Zero goals.

As you may have heard, Seattle is not making progress on Vision Zero, the city’s goal to reduce the number of road-traffic deaths and serious injuries to zero by 2030, which has been brought into sharp relief by three tragedies in the last month in Georgetown, Lake City, and Seward Park. SDOT just released data finding that the burden of traffic fatalities falls disproportionately on Black Seattle residents, and over the last five years SE Seattle’s District 2 has had double the number of fatalities as any other council district. The Vision Zero team at SDOT knows what/where the main issues are, but they have been chronically underfunded to achieve their mandate. This funding would double the Vision Zero budget, allowing SDOT to redesign more of our dangerous streets like Rainier Ave S, MLK Jr Way, Aurora Ave, Lake City Way, and others.

None of the projects listed in the Council’s news release (West Seattle High Bridge, Spokane Street Bridge, Magnolia Bridge, Ballard Bridge, Fremont Bridge and University Bridge) are in Southeast Seattle. Continue reading

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After cancelling most 2020 events, Cascade’s ready to roll again (but no STP, Emerald Ride or RSVP)

screenshot of the event listing page

From the Cascade 2021 event registration page (as of 4/22, check link for updated info)

As a major event producer, the COVID-19 pandemic hit Cascade Bicycle Club hard along with so many other organizations and businesses. After Chilly Hilly in February 2020, nearly all of Cascade’s annual events were cancelled.

But after more than a year, the club is finally ready to start hosting events again. The lineup includes many long-standing events mixed with a lot of new ones, all designed around pandemic safety.

“We are trying to make our events as safe as jogging outdoors,” Events and Rides Director Dave Douglas said in a Cascade blog post. So, for example, the club has limits on how many people can start in each wave and how many people can start per hour.

Unfortunately, that means the club’s biggest events are still not possible. The Emerald City Ride, the Seattle to Portland Classic and the Ride Seattle to Vancouver and Party have all been cancelled. The club’s biggest rides can draw 8,000 to 10,000 people in a typical year, far beyond the scope of an event during the pandemic.

But the limitations have led the club to get creative, launching a new hub-and-spoke style of multi-day touring that starts and ends each day at the same place. They are calling these “Tour Lite” events, and the first one kicks of near Lake Chelan April 30 (registration is closed). They also have a Gig Harbor Tour Lite May 14–16 (registration open through May 7, as advertised on Seattle Bike Blog) and two tours in the fall. For the Gig Harbor tour, people will book rooms at the same inn, and Cascade will handle mid-ride food and support.

The lineup also includes a couple Bike-N-Brews rides, a DIY Wine Ride and classics like Flying Wheels, High Pass Challenge, Ride for Major Taylor and the Kitsap Color Classic, though many of the details are still TBD.

See updated lineup and event registration info on the Cascade website.

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Video: SPD officer hits person biking next to East Precinct wall

A Seattle Police officer driving a police cruiser turned in front of and struck a person biking near the East Precinct Tuesday evening.

The 31-year-old man was checked out by Seattle Fire Department medics, but was not transported to the hospital, according to SPD. Hopefully this means his injuries were not serious.

The incident was caught on camera and posted to Twitter by @MarcusKulik (it happens at the 0.09 mark in the upper left corner):

In the video, the officer appears to pass the victim near the Pine Street intersection, and both of them continue southbound on 12th Avenue. Then the officer makes a right turn mid-block directly in front of the man on the bike, who does not have enough time to stop and collides with the cruiser. It is the responsibility of the person turning to check for people biking and yield.

To make matters worse, there is technically a bike lane on 12th Ave, but the city constructed a wall out of concrete blocks that infringes on the usable bike lane space in addition to closing the sidewalk and decreasing visibility of the precinct garage entrance. Central Seattle Greenways has been trying to get the city to remove the wall, writing in November:

it was shocking to see SDOT fabricate this concrete and steel wall around the East Precinct, blocking sidewalks, crosswalks, and bike lanes, seemingly overnight, with not a single word of outreach or advance notice.

SPD told Capitol Hill Seattle in early April that the department would remove the wall, but has not yet done so.

I have questions out to SPD to see if the officer was cited and to learn more details. I will update if I get more information.

But in the meantime, tear down this wall, Mayor Durkan. And send these concrete blocks to Stay Healthy Streets and bike lanes that need them for safety.

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The Ballard Locks crossing will reopen April 28

Aerial photo of the Locks.

Aerial view of Hiram M. Chittenden Locks (Photo Courtesy of Civil Air Patrol)

After more than a year closed due to the pandemic, the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks will reopen its walking path connecting Ballard to Magnolia April 28. Gates will be open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Because crossing the Ballard Bridge is such an awful experience on foot or bike, the walkways across the Locks have long been a popular and useful option for people trying to get to the other side of the Ship Canal without going all the way to Fremont.

The Locks are far from a perfect option, since people are required to walk their bikes from the park entrance to the park exit and the pathways can be filled with tourists during warm weather. But it feels much safer than the Ballard Bridge, and you get to check for salmon in the fish ladder (though that area is currently closed for maintenance).

The park near the Locks will open April 23, but the walkways will remain closed until April 28.

More details from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers: Continue reading

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In May, the EasTrail will replace the Lake Washington Loop Trail near Coal Creek + Full closure May 4-5

Map of the 2.5 mile section2.5 miles of the Eastrail will be fully paved and opened next month between Ripley Lane N in Renton and Coal Creek Pkwy in Bellevue.

Sections of the EasTrail route between Gene Coulon Park and Coal Creek Pkwy have been opened on and off in recent years as King County works to transform the old Eastside Rail Corridor into a biking and walking trail that could some day rival the Burke-Gilman. Much of the trail will first be opened as a bikeable gravel trail before eventually being paved.

The 2.5-mile section opening in May is funded by WSDOT as mitigation for its massive $705 million I-405 freeway widening project. That widening project will swallow up the old Lake Washington Loop Trail that runs just west of the freeway, so the state is funding completion of the nearby EasTrail to replace it. The paved section will be 12-feet wide with an additional 2 feet of gravel on one side and 6 feet of gravel on the other.

Before it opens, the access point at Coal Creek Pkwy needs to be reconstructed. Thanks to a reader tip, Seattle Bike Blog reached out to the project team to ask about detour plans during the work, which was initially scheduled for ten days in late April. The project’s outreach team initially said there would be no trail access and no detour because “the surrounding area does not offer a safe alternative for bike and pedestrian traffic.” But a few days later, they reached out and said they had reworked the plan and would now only close trail access for two days in the middle of the week: May 4 and 5. From April 26 to May 3, a temporary path will provide access to the old trail.

Map of the project area.I don’t know if this change is because of Seattle Bike Blog’s question, but it’s welcome news (thanks Nick van den Heuvel!). It’s also a reminder to you all that you can email questions and tips to [email protected]. (UPDATE: Apparently Bellevue’s permit for construction work limited trail closures to 2 days, a fact the project team realized late.)

May 4 and 5 are going to be rough for anyone who relies on this trail connection. From what I can tell, there is no pathway between Newcastle Beach Park and Cascade Key, which would sure be nice. My best guess at a detour is to stay east of I 405 between Coal Creek Pkwy and NE 44th Street. Instead of the trail, take (heading south) 119th Ave SE, SE 60th Street and Lake Washington Blvd, crossing the freeway at NE 44th Street. This route is very far out of the way, adds about 330 feet of climbing, and the bike infrastructure comes and goes along the way. Or you could add some backtracking distance (but cut out some street riding) by crossing I-405 at the Newport Hills Park and Ride. Neither option is comparable to the trail, but they’re something.

Let us know in the comments below if I missed an option or if you have any additional advice.

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Watch: Touring the refreshed S Kenyon St neighborhood greenway with bobco85

SDOT recently refreshed the S Kenyon Street neighborhood greenway, adding proper wayfinding and making other improvements to the 1.1-mile route.

The greenway runs from Beacon Ave S to Seward Park Ave S, connecting to the Chief Sealth Trail, Renton Ave S bike lanes and the Rainier Valley neighborhood greenway at 46the Ave S along the way. It also includes improved crossings at Renton, MLK and Rainier.

Bob Svercl (bobco85 on YouTube) recently made a very informative video showing the route and the various useful connections it makes (transcript). Check it out above.

Project map.

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Man killed near Seward Park was Boeing Field deputy director. RIP Mike Colmant

UPDATE: A GoFundMe has been set up to support his family. “Mike is and always will be an incredible and supportive dad, loving grandpa, best friend, and so much more,” the memorial says. “Mike always put his family first and would give the shirt off his back to anyone in need.”

UPDATE (4/20): Seattle Neighborhood Greenways is organizing a memorial walk and bike ride for Mike May 15.

The man killed while biking near Seward Park Sunday evening has been identified as Mike Colmant. He was 63.

Our condolences to his friends and family.

Colmant was Deputy Director of Boeing Field, and his employer posted a sad memorial note on their website.

“Mike was a true professional who dedicated the last 20-plus years to making King County International Airport-Boeing Field better,” Airport Director John Parrott said. “He was a great colleague and a dear friend. He will be sorely missed.”

Colmant was a triathlete and marathon runner who moved to the area from Canada to work at Boeing Field. He was also a mentor to people looking to get into aviation.

He was biking northbound (downhill) on Seward Park Ave S just east of the intersection with Wilson Ave S when someone driving on the wrong side of the road struck him head-on and killed him. The suspect fled the scene. Police are searching for “a silver, older model compact sedan with a shattered windshield.” The license plate may start with something like “BKU 053.” Anyone with a tip is encouraged to call SPD’s Violent Crimes Tip Line at 206.233.5000.

A memorial has formed near the site of the hit and run, and someone etched “We love you Mike” into a nearby telephone pole.

From King County International Airport: Continue reading

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