Sound Transit settlement could help fund safe Mercer Island bike/walk station access

Mercer Island Station is adjacent to the I-90 Trail, and could be one of the region’s most bikeable stations. From a Sound Transit station design PDF.

Mercer Island’s decision to sue Sound Transit and WSDOT in large part over HOV lane access on I-90 did not make the island a lot friends among people across the region who worried the lawsuit could delay and add costs to East Link light rail service.

But after dropping some serious city cash on the legal action, the agencies reached a settlement with the island totaling $10 million, more than half of which is earmarked for street safety and projects to make it easier for island residents to bike and walk to the station. The other half is for building a parking garage “for the exclusive use of resident commuters,” which is just … ugh.

I’m not here to justify the city’s lawsuit or the settlement details. But assuming the Sound Transit Board approves it, it is what it is. So people who live, work, play or travel across Mercer Island should focus on making sure Mercer Island to invest the funds wisely to help make their light rail station the incredible asset it should be for the community.

The train is expected to take ten minutes to get to either downtown Seattle or Bellevue.

The city is hosting a meeting 7 – 8:30 p.m. tomorrow (June 22) in the West Mercer Elementary Gym to discuss how the city can invest these new funds: Continue reading

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Missing Link mega study exhausts the debate + Why the Labor Council still opposes the trail

The compromise route.

Councilmember Mike O’Brien, a longtime trail supporter, and Warren Aakervik, the owner of Ballard Oil and a trail appellant, shook hands during a February press conference.

The smile on Councilmember Mike O’Brien’s face somehow grew even bigger than usual while listening to longtime trail opponents and advocacy staff at Cascade Bicycle Club praise each other for finally hammering out a Ballard Missing Link compromise after decades of arguments, expensive court battles and painful bike crash hospital visits.

“I’m kinda all smiles,” said O’Brien during the February press conference. O’Brien is a longtime trail supporter and the councilmember representing the district containing the missing 1.4 miles of trail near Ballard’s Salmon Bay waterfront.

“When designed properly, [the city] will create a safe facility next to a major truck street,” said Warren Aakervik, the owner of Ballard Oil and one of the longtime trail opponents who sued to delay the project to this point. “Hopefully we can move forward and make something safe.”

In addition to announcing a compromise route that includes parts of the South Shilshole Ave route trail advocates preferred and parts of the industry-preferred Market/Leary Way route, Mayor Ed Murray also announced the creation of a design advisory group much like the group that guided the Westlake Bikeway. This group includes business owners, bicycle advocates and neighborhood representatives who are sitting down together to go detail-by-detail to hash out details to make sure the trail design works as best as it can for everyone.

“Today’s major announcement ends 20 years of lawsuits, studies and counter studies,” Murray said.

So it was somewhat bewildering (though sadly expected) to read a Seattle Times editorial recently saying, “The city has stuck for too long with a route loved by Seattle’s biking lobby but potentially disastrous for its historic maritime sector. It is well past time to compromise and finally build the missing link on the alternative path.”

It’s pretty embarrassing that the Times didn’t even look at the city’s preferred route long enough to notice that it is practically the definition of “compromise.” About a third of the route follows Market Street, skipping the tight section between Shilshole and the Locks where the trail planners and businesses would have the hardest time working out solutions. That section would not have been impossible to solve, but Market is likely much easier to build. Moving the trail over to Market will make it slightly longer and includes a small extra hill to climb, but these changes are workable. And it is the key change that finally got parties together at the table.

This is what compromise looks like. Continue reading

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Thursday forum will test mayor/Council hopefuls on transportation and housing in a growing Seattle

The forum is free, but you should RSVP online soon as space is limited.

Though transportation is always an important issue in local elections, Seattle has passed a lot of major funding initiatives on the city, regional and statewide levels in recent years. With such major votes finally in the rearview mirror, other issues are likely to get more attention this time around.

But while it’s unlikely the next Seattle mayor and City Council member will be tasked with drafting and passing a major transportation investment bill in the near future, it will be their jobs to make sure the city delivers what the voters were promised.

The top mayoral and City Council Position 8 candidates will debate transportation and housing Thursday during the Growing Seattle Forum on Transportation and Housing organized by Seattle Neighborhood Greenways and a long list of supporting organizations (including Seattle Bike Blog, though I have not done much more than attend an organizing meeting). The forum starts at 5 p.m. at the Impact HUB in Pioneer Square. Erica C. Barnett of The C Is for Crank will moderate. It’s free, but you have to RSVP online to reserve a spot since it will likely fill up.  Continue reading

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520 Bridge Trail on for autumn opening + WSDOT will not fix jarring expansion plates

A trail over the 520 Bridge will revolutionize biking in the region. Bicycle travel times between many parts of Seattle and major Eastside communities will be slashed. Biking from UW to downtown Kirkland, for example, will be cut in half. Instead of an hour and a half (including some serious hills), the 520 Bridge Trail will allow people to casually make the trip in just 45 relatively flat minutes.

Not everyone has three hours a day to spend commuting. But an hour and a half? That’s comparable to taking the bus or driving on a bad traffic day. But it will be more reliable, much cheaper and a hell of a lot more fun to bike.

But you’ll have to keep being patient, since WSDOT has not yet announced an opening date for the trail.

“We’re still anticipating a bike path opening date sometime in the fall,” said project spokesperson Emily Durante. “We should have a better understanding of that timeline as we get closer to switching westbound vehicles onto the new structure later this summer.”

Continue reading

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Advice for biking in the 2017 Fremont Solstice Painted Bike Ride

Photo by John Cornicello (used with permission)

Well, the hours of daylight can’t get much longer than this, so it must be time to get naked, paint your body and bike through Fremont with more than a thousand other people.

The 2017 Fremont Solstice Parade and Painted Bike Ride (AKA the “Fremont Naked Bike Ride”) is Saturday. People biking will crash the start of the official parade 12:30 – 1 p.m., entering the parade route at the corner of 3rd Ave NW and NW 36th St.

After 1, you won’t be able to enter the route because the totally awesome, human-powered Fremont Solstice Parade will be starting. The parade is powered by volunteers and donations from the public, and it’s one of the few parades that does not allow the use of any motor vehicles.

Many people host their own painting parties in homes across town, then show up at the start line between 12:30 and 1. But there is also a big, organized painting party at CSR Marine in Ballard. That party will be open 8 – 11:30 a.m., but don’t show up at the last minute. It takes longer than you’d think to get painted up, and the volunteers running the party want to have time to shut it down and join the ride. Bring $10 to donate. There are some communal paints, but bring your own if you need specific colors.

CSR Marine paint party participants usually bike around Ballard a bit before joining the parade route. So people who want to maximize their naked biking should either join the big paint party or arrive at CSR Marine by 11:30 to join. Learn more about the official paint party and get all kinds of paint advice at the Solstice Cyclists website.

Some advice for first timers

Continue reading

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9th Ave bike lanes carve out a real transportation option in South Lake Union

GIF showing SDOT’s planned bike lane improvement phases on 9th Ave, Roy Street and Dexter Ave.

People using the Westlake Bikeway can now, finally, get to and through South Lake Union via a mostly uninterrupted route of bike lanes.

It’s not the most direct route, and the connection into downtown is still incomplete. But for an interim solution, wow, it’s a lot better. And as a video by Seattle Neighborhood Greenways’ Tim Fliss shows, the bike lanes are getting a lot of use even though they aren’t fully complete yet:

Continue reading

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Help fund Big Bike, Washington Bike PAC fundraiser Thursday on Capitol Hill

Everyone knows that the Big Bike lobby runs this town. Just read the comments on any Seattle Times story about bikes. On second thought, don’t do that.

Well, Thursday is your chance to be part of the shadowy, bicycling cabal pulling the puppet strings of Washington State government, and it will only cost you $50! Bonesmen and secret enforcers of UN Agenda 21 get in free, of course.

The fundraiser party is 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. at Optimism Brewing at Broadway and Union.

In all seriousness, the Washington Bike PAC is the political action committee of Washington Bikes, and funds raised Thursday will go directly to efforts to help elect bike-friendly candidates across the state. Little about it is secretive. The organization openly endorses candidates each election, and the PAC helps fund efforts to elect those endorsed candidates.

WA Bikes is the politically-active complement to Cascade Bicycle Club, which has had a long history of direct political action around the Seattle region. After merging with WA Bikes in 2016, the organization turned its gaze statewide. Continue reading

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City releases draft bike share pilot permit + List of interested companies grows to ten

Spin, one of at least ten companies interested in launching in Seattle, recently held a test ride event at City Hall.

Seattle took a major step closer to becoming the hub of private bike share innovation in North America today by releasing a draft version of its bike share pilot rules.

This is our first look at the playing field SDOT is trying to create for a pilot program that will allow private bike share companies to operate on city streets through December 31.

The city’s experience with the pilot will help guide the creation of more permanent rules. Assuming the experience isn’t a total nightmare (it’s hard to imagine lots of bicycles being too terrible), the permanent rules could be created later this year to allow companies that comply to continue operating without interruption. The pilot could also be extended if permanent rules aren’t ready or if more experimentation is needed.

Companies and interested parties have until June 19 to comment on the draft rules. You can view them in these PDFs: Permit RequirementsInsurance Requirements and Indemnity Agreement.

SDOT plans to then issue the final version, and companies can start applying. The city will review each application, which could take weeks. So if a company submits quickly and gets approved, they could have bikes on Seattle streets in July.

Though not all companies will be ready to launch in July, we know of at least ten companies who have expressed interest: Continue reading

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Seattle Neighborhood Greenways letter opposes deportations due to traffic violations

Traffic enforcement is often cited as one of a community’s strategies for achieving Vision Zero. But a traffic violation should not lead to someone being deported.

That’s the message of a letter signed by a coalition of groups working with Seattle Neighborhood Greenways. This doesn’t mean the city should give up on Vision Zero, of course. It means the city should focus on other tactics, like designing safer streets and using automated enforcement. Seattle Bike Blog agrees.

Here’s the full text:

The undersigned members of the Seattle Neighborhood Greenways Coalition release the following statement in response to the Trump Administration’s announcement on 2/21/17 that a forthcoming executive order may expand deportable offenses to include traffic violations.

Advocates for safe streets have tired of hearing the trivialization of traffic violence as “just a traffic violation” or “no more important than a speeding ticket.” Traffic violations can lead to death and serious injury, especially for vulnerable users of our streets. People walking and biking are frequently the victims of such injuries, and seniors, children, and people with disabilities are disproportionately at risk.

However, as one of the coalition of groups that make up Seattle Neighborhood Greenways, we forcefully reject the Trump administration’s plan to pursue deportation for undocumented immigrants who have committed minor traffic offenses. Individuals in low-income communities and communities of color are disproportionately killed and injured by traffic violence on our streets. Now, the primary victims of this violence may also be unfairly targeted by biased and punitive enforcement.

We refuse to allow Vision Zero — Seattle’s goal to eliminate all serious and fatal traffic injuries by 2030 — to be perverted into an excuse to round up and deport our undocumented neighbors and friends, just as we have previously denounced racial profiling committed in the name of traffic safety. Continue reading

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Bike News Roundup: The opposite of Mercer’s new traffic signal timing system

It’s time for the Bike News Roundup! Here’s a list of stuff we’ve been reading lately. This is also an open thread. Is there something bikey on your mind you want to discuss? Start a conversation in the comments below.

First up, this Dutch traffic signal timing system is basically the exact opposite of the cars-first signal system recently launched on Mercer Street:

Continue reading

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Girls of Summer All-Girl Alleycat is Saturday + More women/trans/femme bike events this week

For the seventh year, the folks behind the monthly Menstrual Monday rides will host the Girls of Summer All-Girl Alleycat Saturday.

The women/trans/femme ride will have all new stops this year and boasts a serious list of prize sponsors. It’s the kind of race that attracts fast riders as well as people just in it for a fun afternoon biking around town. So invite your friends.

Registration starts at 2 p.m. at Dr. Jose Rizal Park. Race starts at 3. $10.

Details from the event page:

The 7th Annual All-Women’s, Trans, Femme Alley Cat is back and better than ever!! Join 100+ of the most badass women on bikes in Seattle on Saturday, June 10th for a day of fun, prizes, and bike racing.

Registration starts at 2, race is at 3pm. $10 gets you in and a drink ticket*. Bring a helmet, pen, map, and lock.

Continue reading

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Using machine learning to predict traffic collisions in Bellevue (and how you can help)

Screenshot shows what the user-submission screen looks like. You draw boxes around each “object” and track their movements through the scene. This will help the system learn to do it on its own.

The City of Bellevue, the UW and Microsoft just launched a fascinating machine-learning effort to analyze traffic danger and identify collision locations and conditions before they happen.

But they need your help marking-up segments of video to identify people walking, biking and driving so the Video Analytics Towards Vision Zero program can better determine the conditions where close calls occur.

And that’s the potential brilliance of this project. Rather than simply chasing collision locations after someone has already been injured or killed, this analysis can look at roadway conditions that lead to lots of near misses and use that data to predict the spots where the next injury or death is most likely to occur.

The system uses footage from existing traffic cameras to track “objects,” the word the system uses to refer to people biking, walking or driving. It also tracks each mode’s common paths and gets an accurate count of trips by each. This data alone is potentially valuable, especially if the automated system makes it more affordable to gather more accurate biking and walking counts than the limited data that exists today: Continue reading

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Weekend Guide: Peddler Brewing’s End of Bike Month Party, Lake to Lake Bike Ride + more

All you need for summer fun is your bicycle and the Seattle Bike Blog Events Calendar. Below are a couple items on the list for this weekend. If you know of an event that isn’t listed on the calendar, add it!

End of Bike Month Party at Peddler Brewing — Friday

An annual tradition in Ballard. Details from the event page:

May is officially Bike Month, and now that you’ve gotten back on your bike in all the nice weather, let’s celebrate! Join us at Peddler in our Beer Garden and celebrate the best way to get around: by bike!

Friday 6/2, 4:00-8:00pm
Location: Peddler Brewing Company
Bike-related Vendors & Food Truck on site
Raffle – 1 ticket per pint, drawing at 7:30pm, must be present to win, tons of prizes

Washington Bikes
Cascade Bicycle Club
Washington Bike Law
Electric and Folding Bikes Northwest
Telaio Wool Bicycling Clothing
Greenwood-Phinney Greenways

With plenty of bike parking, we encourage riders of all ages, abilities and styles to come out to this celebration of biking in Seattle. And Peddler is all ages!

Lake to Lake Bike Ride in Bellevue — Saturday

Continue reading

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Trail Alert 5/31 – 6/14: Plan for delays getting to the Alaskan Way Trail at King St

Just in from Seattle City Light:

Construction for Transmission Line Relocation Project (TLR) Phase 2 – South King Street west of Alaskan Way closed to vehicles for up to two weeks

Location: Intersection at South King Street and Alaskan Way

South King Street west of Alaskan Way scheduled closed to vehicles for up to two weeks

On Tuesday, May 30, crews began work at South King Street as part of Phase 2 for construction of the Transmission Line Relocation Project (TLR). As part of this work, South King Street west of Alaskan Way will be closed to vehicles for up to two weeks. Bicyclists and pedestrians will still be able to access the Elliott Bay Trail from South King Street – flaggers will be onsite to direct bicycle and pedestrian traffic. Please follow all posted signs and expect temporary, short-term delays accessing the trail. Work includes excavating and installing conduits and concrete encasement for the transmission lines. Vehicles accessing the Port of Seattle Terminal 46 work zone will be directed to South Jackson Street.

Night work at Yesler Way is scheduled to continue through early June. Crews will be working on Saturdays throughout the month of June during daytime hours, 7 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.

What to expect at South King Street: Continue reading

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Spring Street bike lane is a big improvement, but it ends just short of First Hill

Looking east on Spring Street from 1st Ave.

Downtown just got a new bike lane on Spring Street.

It’s not the kind of bike route addition that’s going to start any biking revolutions, but it’s a major improvement over what was there before. And with just a few adjustments and a three-block extension, it could have a big impact on bike access to First Hill.

The new lane is not the final design for Spring Street. It is a decently wide, paint-only bike lane up a steep hill placed in the door zone of parked cars. So why, you may ask, am I excited about it?

Because it is a major improvement over what existed previously, it is coupled with an improvement for Metro’s excruciatingly slow Route 2 bus, and it wasn’t supposed to happen at all until 2019 when the Madison BRT project is constructed. It’s a quick and inexpensive way to make a signifiant improvement for biking immediately. When (if) the Madison project is constructed in a few years, that’s when the city can invest to make it a proper protected bike lane. Continue reading

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This unfortunate Seattle Times front page showcases the toxic windshield perspective

If I didn’t take the screenshot myself, I would assume this was a clever photoshop joke. But it’s real, as Washington Bike Law (a SBB sponsor) pointed out on Facebook.

The top of Saturday’s Seattle Times teased a story about how it is dangerous for people to wear dark-colored clothing when they walk or bike right next to a wire story about some mounts you can buy to “make it safer to use your phone while driving.”

This is the toxic windshield perspective in a nutshell. People who decided to throw on a black shirt in the morning are asking to be hit by cars, but it is totally safe to use your phone while driving so long an you buy a mount for it.

Together, these stories try to justify a dangerous behavior (the wire story never even mentions that you could *gasp* not use your phone at all while driving) and put the blame for traffic injuries and deaths on the victim (the “fashion” story never bothers to mention that fucking everybody wears black because, like, a shit load of clothes in the world are black because it is the combination of all colors and looks fucking cool).

It’s weird that this needs to be said, but: Seattle, wear whatever you want to wear.

Sometimes people wear black shirts. Sometimes people wear yellow shirts. Sometimes people wear no shirts at all. No matter what they are wearing, the person driving is responsible for not hitting them. Period.

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Scenes from the 2017 Emerald Bike Ride

I had a great time biking on freeways Sunday with more than 7,000 smiling, happy people.

Freeways are rarely joyful places, which is what makes Cascade’s second annual Emerald Bike Ride so great. For a few hours a year, the region’s most enormous pieces of infrastructure become bike-only, giving people a chance to experience what it is like to bike around the region on billions of dollars worth of public investment.

It’s pretty damn fast and easy.

Here are some photos from the ride: Continue reading

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Salomon: Finally fixing NE 65th Street (Part Two)

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is Part Two of a two-part series by Andres Salomon looking at NE 65th Street safety improvements. Part One describes the urgent need for safety improvements along the part of 65th where five people have been killed and seriously injured in the past two years. Part Two looks at possible solutions.

We need to determine what kind of street we want 65th to be. Photo from SDOT’s online survey.

NE 65th Street has proven to be dangerous to people walking, biking and driving. The city urgently needs to make safety improvements, as I’ve outlined in Part One. Not only are any significant safety improvements being delayed until 2019, but the improvements proposed by SDOT do not go far enough.

The NE 65th corridor will see explosive growth in the numbers of people walking, biking, waiting for the bus and taking light rail in coming years.  The current proposals from the city short-change people walking, biking, and riding mass transit in order to prioritize the flow of cars. The city needs to do better.

An SDOT survey is live now through June 1, so be sure to fill it out and let the project team know that we urgently need real improvements to NE 65th. You can also contact city officials directly:

Continue reading

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Padelford named next Director of Seattle Neighborhood Greenways, now hiring 2 staffers

Padelford, right, with Phyllis Porter of Rainier Valley Greenways advocating for a safer Rainier Ave. Photo from Padelford.

With Founder and Executive Director Cathy Tuttle retiring, Seattle Neighborhood Greenways staffer Gordon Padelford is getting ready to take the organization’s helm. He will be the first ED of the organization other than Tuttle, who founded it in 2011 and led its formation into a 501(c)(3) non-profit the next year.

“I’m incredibly grateful to have her as the leader of Seattle Neighborhood Greenways, and I’m sad to see her go,” said Padelford.

The change in leadership will happen “as soon as we hire the two staff,” he said. That’s right, SNG is hiring a Communications/Development Coordinator (PDF) and a Community Organizer (PDF) right now. Applications are due June 8.

From its start, SNG has been a volunteer, grassroots-fueled coalition of neighborhood groups focused on making their local streets safer, more multimodal and more fun. The coalition list now includes nearly 20 groups throughout Seattle. Localizing groups has been the key to its success, since people are extra motivated when it’s the streets their family members and neighbors use that are at stake.  Continue reading

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Investors are putting big money into private bike share companies + Spin’s community project donates to Bike Works

Promo photo from Spin.

Spin, one of at least three companies hoping to launch a stationless bike share service on the streets of Seattle this summer, just landed $8 million in venture funding, according to a company press release.

This funding news highlights what is perhaps an overlooked aspect of Seattle’s private bike share story: There is an enormous amount of money behind this emerging business model. And many of these companies are hoping that Seattle will be the premiere city to showcase their services.

As Techcrunch reports, a handful of companies with similar business models have been building investment capital:

Spin’s competition includes several other funded startups here. Social Bicycles, the first to offer kiosk-free bike sharing in the U.S., has raised $7 million, and has already reached profitability. Another early bike-share player, Zagster, closed a $10 million Series B round that it announced in January. And earlier this spring, LimeBike closed a $12 million Series A round led by Andreessen Horowitz.

But these companies pale in comparison to the funding behind some international companies like China-based Bluegogo, which reportedly closed a $58 million investment deal in February (we took a Bluegogo for a test ride around downtown). Mobike and ofo, the two biggest stationless bike share companies based in China, measure their investments in the hundreds of millions. Seattle Bike Blog has not yet received word whether Mobike or ofo are interested in the Seattle market. Continue reading

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