After WA won #1 for a decade, Bike League changes its state-by-state report cards

From the League of American Bicyclists’ 2018 WA State Report Card (PDF).

Perhaps tired of handing the top honors to a barely-deserving Washington State year after year, the League of American Bicyclists changed its annual state-by-state rankings into a set of 50 individual report cards that track each state’s progress. And by this new measure, Washington State isn’t doing so hot.

Washington had won the top spot in the League’s rankings an absurd ten years in a row. On one hand, this was an impressive feat by our state. But after years of winning the honor even without any tangible progress, it also started to feel a bit sad. Were other states even trying? Was Washington winning “best” or “least bad?”

So while it might take a positive headline away from Washington, it probably makes sense to stop ranking our state number one every year. Instead, the League is issuing each state a report card that tracks its own progress compared to the previous year. And their report isn’t as rosy:

Washington state, the only state to be ranked #1 in the ten years of our Bicycle Friendly State ranking, shows some weakness in its federal data indicators.

While the state’s federal data indicators are consistently above the national average and each one is in the top 10 over the last decade, both the rate of bicycling to work and the rate of bicyclist traffic fatalities are headed in the wrong direction.

The state certainly has the tools to reverse these trends in both
its advocacy organizations and the Washington Department of Transportation & Public Facilities, but the state is in danger of losing its long-time #1 ranking.

Continue reading

Posted in news | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Under Mayor Durkan, Seattle has only built about 4% of its 2018 bike lane goal

Even many of the claimed mileage is misleading, since they are delayed from 2017. From an update to the Move Seattle Levy Oversight Committee (PDF).

Under Mayor Jenny Durkan, Seattle has nearly stopped building bike lanes. With the need to build more than ten miles of protected bike lanes in order to reach the Move Seattle Levy’s bike lane goals, SDOT says it will have constructed 1.88 miles in 2018. That is a pitiful 18 percent.

But the truth is even worse. That 18 percent is an inflated number. 1.49 of those 1.88 miles of bike lane were actually delayed 2017 projects that opened at the start of the year. They were accounted for in last year’s Move Seattle performance update as the excuse for why SDOT would miss its 2017 bike lane goals. So if you subtract those projects, SDOT has so far only constructed 0.39 of the 10.43 miles of protected bike lanes needed to meet the 2018 goal set by Seattle voters. That’s 3.7 percent.

There is no term for this other than failure.

But rather than apologizing for so wildly underdelivering on a goal set by the voters, Mayor Durkan had the gall to highlight it as though it were some kind of success. As though we can’t see that 1.4 or 1.88 or 0.39 are all numbers far lower than the goal of 10.43. In her self-congratulating document “One Year of Urgent Action (PDF),” she lists building bike lanes as an example that she is “delivering essential services and meeting the needs of our growing city”:

Continue reading

Posted in news | Tagged , , , | 46 Comments

2018’s one millionth Fremont Bridge bike trip is about to cross, smashing the record

Whoever bikes across the Fremont Bridge as number 1,582 today will tip the 2018 bike counter into seven digits, clobbering all previous records by a wide margin.

Bike trips across the iconic bridge, which forms a pinch point for many north and northwest Seattle regional bike routes, have been smashing monthly bike records ever since bike share companies launched in summer 2017. But the counts really started taking off in 2018, when the number of bikes in service ramped up to nearly 10,000 across Lime, Spin and ofo. And the biggest increases were in winter and spring, with the first five months of the year each increasing by an astounding 17 to 32 percent (though winter 2017 was extremely rainy).

Good work, everyone! Somebody should probably throw a party, because it feels like it has been too long since we had a good bike celebration in this town. One million bike trips across a single bridge is an awesome accomplishment, and we still have all of December to run up the score. You all contributed to this one bike ride at a time.

Of course, there is still a lot of work to do. The city needs to get back on track because 2018 successes came from 2017 work. And due in large part to a leadership vacuum that Mayor Jenny Durkan has created at SDOT, Seattle has done very little in 2018 to ensure an equally exciting 2019.  Continue reading

Posted in news | Tagged , , , | 23 Comments

After mediation fails, 35th Ave NE bike lanes head to Mayor Durkan’s desk

Comparison of the options for 35th Ave NE, from Safe 35th Ave NE.

Remember the $10,000 of bicycle safety funds Councilmember Rob Johnson and Mayor Jenny Durkan spent on a confidential mediation effort to see if there was any way for bike lane opponents and supporters to agree on a plan for the street? That didn’t really work.

The result of those meetings is a new street design option that would remove the bike lanes from the street. But it would also remove the on-street car parking that bike lane opponents have been saying they want to protect. Instead, there would be a new center turn lane. The decision is in Mayor Durkan’s hands now.

“The Mayor’s Office will make a final decision on 35th Avenue NE’s new street configuration by the end of the year – choosing between the current “contracted design” and a new “alternative” that closely resembles a suggestion made by Save35th leadership last fall,” the pro-bike lane group Safe 35th Ave NE wrote in an update to their online petition. “We hold firm that the contracted design already represents a compromise, and that the alternative would  be less safe, and would not serve the needs of the community.”

Let’s get one thing perfectly straight: Removing an already designed and contracted plan for bike lanes that were designed in accordance with Seattle’s unanimously-approved Bicycle Master Plan is not a compromise just because they are also removing parking. Without bike lanes, people biking on 35th will be less safe, and the city will be less able to meet its biking goals.

Mayor Durkan should reject this new design option and stick with the contracted design that meets our city’s established and Council-approved transportation policies. Continue reading

Posted in news | Tagged , , , | 21 Comments

The Eastside Rail Corridor needs a new name

It may be the most exciting opportunity for biking and walking (and some transit) in the whole region, but the name “Eastside Rail Corridor” sure sounds boring. It describes what the corridor used to be rather than what it could become.

For years, Seattle Bike Blog has been referring to the whole trail element of the entire corridor by the unofficial name “Eastside Trail.” We have used this name to encompass both county-owned and locally-owned segments and to shorthand the laborious “Eastside Rail Corridor Trail.”

But there may be a better name for this incredible Eastside-spanning trail, utility and transit corridor. And the Eastside Rail Corridor Regional Advisory Committee wants your ideas. Complete this online survey to throw in your two cents. And, of course, discuss your ideas in the comments below.

If you are really into what this thing is called, the advisory committee is holding a meeting 1 p.m. Thursday at Kirkland City Hall (more details in this PDF).

The Eastside Trail (or whatever it will be called) could be largely open, at least in bikeable hardpack gravel form, by the end of 2021 if all the funding and construction details come together as planned. That’s pretty much light speed for a trail project of this length. But, of course, there are a lot of “ifs.”

In addition to the transportation and recreation opportunities, the project will also rehab and reuse historic and stunning bits of rail infrastructure, such as the Wilburton Trestle in Bellevue.

The Eastside Trail will also connect many Eastside neighborhoods and city centers to light rail, the I-90 Trail, the 520 Trail, the Burke-Gilman Trail, the Cedar River Trail and more. It has the potential to be the more impactful and important regional trail since the Burke-Gilman opened in the 70s.

Posted in news | Tagged , | 15 Comments

Take this Pike/Pine bike lane survey + Rethinking Pine St downtown

Few bike improvements in the city could have a bigger impact than a safe, comfortable and fully connected bike route from the Pike Place Market to Broadway. And due to the grade of First and Capitol Hills as well as I-5 cutting off many streets, Pike and/or Pine are the only options to make this connection.

These streets are already very popular for people on bikes despite their insufficient or lacking bike lanes because they are the only real choices for people living in large swaths of Capitol Hill, First Hill and the Central District. Being packed with destinations helps, too. Since most people have no interest in biking mixed with car traffic, connecting 2nd Ave’s protected bike lanes to the Broadway bikeway has enormous potential to connect a lot of homes, businesses and destinations.

More than 150 people attended a late October community workshop organized by Seattle Neighborhood Greenways, Capitol Hill Housing and the Capitol Hill EcoDistrict. They provided a lot of feedback on the city’s effort to complete this connection by the end of next year. But the organizers want to make sure the opinions of folks who couldn’t attend are also included, so they put together an online survey.

After considering the realistic options, organizers determined that the lanes will most likely go both ways on Pike Street from Broadway to around Melrose, then switch to westbound on Pine and eastbound on Pike through downtown as outlined in the Pike Pine Renaissance plan.

The first major question is about the basic design of bike lanes on Pike from Broadway to the street curve near Minor. Should they be one-way bike lanes on each side of the street or a two-way bike lane on the north side of the street?

Continue reading

Posted in news | Tagged , , , , , | 16 Comments

Scenes from Cranksgiving 2018: A new donation record

Miguel Jimenez from Rainier Valley Food Bank addresses Cranksgiving riders at the start of the event.

Seattle’s Cranksgiving 2018 hit a new record Saturday, with 150 riders donating an astounding 1,713 pounds of food to Rainier Valley Food Bank.

For the ninth year, Seattle Bike Blog hosted this food drive scavenger hunt by bike on RVFB’s final distribution day before Thanksgiving. It’s a very low-budget event that is free to join. Participants are given a list of items to buy and a list of local grocery stores and stands around town to buy them from. So participants’ money and effort goes directly into donating food and having fun biking around our beautiful city. There are also some photo challenges for extra points, and you can see some of the results below.

New this year, Swift Industries hosted a gear donation drive for Facing Homelessness, and people brought boxes worth of tents, tarps, hats, socks, rain jackets, coats and more. Swift also hosted the after party and donated prizes.

Thanks to Swift Industries, G&O Family Cyclery, Cascade Designs and Olympia Beer for your prize and party donations. And big thanks to my wonderful spouse Kelli for helping to procure prizes, donating a few copies of her book Pedal, Stretch, Breathe, and for taking on extra baby-watching duty so I could organize the event.

And finally, thanks to everyone who joined us Saturday. You were all so positive, lovely and generous. I’m thankful for all of you.

Now I just need to figure out what we are going to do next year to celebrate the tenth annual Seattle Cranksgiving…

Here are a few scenes from #CranksgivingSEA: Continue reading

Posted in news | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Uber’s JUMP launches their lock-to, slightly cheaper e-bikes in central Seattle

JUMP bikes staged downtown over the weekend. Unlike with Lime, JUMP bikes need to be locked to a rack or pole.

After months of delays getting the new bike share permit in place and through environmental review, Uber’s JUMP launched in Seattle this morning. They join Lime, which has had a temporary monopoly on bike share in town since early summer when Spin and ofo left.

The company is launching 300 bikes initially with plans to ramp up “over the coming weeks and months,” according to a press release (see the full release below). During this initial phase, the service area is limited to 65th Street in the north and McClellan Street in the south (basically, the north end of Green Lake to Mount Baker Station). But the service area will expand as they add more bikes, the company said.

JUMP’s red bikes are a bit different than Lime’s e-bikes. They have gears, for one. They also have a keypad and RFID reader for app-less unlocking. So, for example, you could tie your ORCA card to your JUMP account, letting you unlock their bikes with the same card you use to board transit (though you still need to set up a JUMP or Uber account and pay through the company). Both the JUMP and Uber apps should give you access to the bikes. As a promo, your first five trips up to 30 minutes are free every day through December 12.

JUMP’s initial service area, from their Seattle webpage.

Continue reading

Posted in news | Tagged , | 28 Comments

After deep review, SDOT reaffirms plans for Eastlake bike lanes

From a project presentation.

There may be no bike project north of downtown Seattle more important than Eastlake Ave. Connecting to the University Bridge today and the 520 Trail in the future, Eastlake is an already well-used bike route with huge promise for growth. The problem is that today, biking on the street is very stressful because there are no bike lanes.

But SDOT’s Roosevelt RapidRide project has the potential to transform the street into the multimodal neighborhood commercial street it should be, prioritizing walking, biking and transit. And plans, developed over years of study, public outreach and dedicated people-powered advocacy, have included protected bike lanes on Eastlake Ave because they are vital to achieving that vision and connecting the citywide bike network.

But due to pushback from folks worried about losing on-street parking, the city went back to the drawing board this year to take another, deeper look at every option they could think of to see if there was any way to create a quality bike route through the area that provides access to Eastlake destinations and a direct route between the University Bridge and South Lake Union. And that effort only further supported what we already knew: Building protected bike lanes on Eastlake Ave is by far the best option.

So in a project update email this week, the team announced that the bike lanes are staying in the plans. Continue reading

Posted in news | Tagged , | 21 Comments

Sunday: World Day of Remembrance will be a healing space for those impacted by traffic violence

People gather in City Hall for World Day of Remembrance 2016 surrounded by silhouettes representing people who died in traffic in recent years.

Every year, about 20 people die in traffic collisions in Seattle. Another 150 people are seriously injured, often resulting in life-changing health issues. And for every one of these victims and survivors, there is a community of loved ones whose lives are changed, too.

That’s why Seattle Neighborhood Greenways is hosting Seattle’s memorial for World Day of Remembrance Sunday at the Impact Hub in Pioneer Square.

The organization wants the event this year to focus on creating a healing space for people impacted by injury or death on our streets, said Executive Director Gordon Padelford. Considering the scale of how many lives are impacted by traffic collisions, there is a lot of healing to be done.

Our society tells people that traffic collisions are just “accidents,” like they or a loved one simply won some kind of terrible lottery. But this is just a story we tell ourselves so it is easier to continue with our destructive car culture. Because truly changing how people and goods move around our city just seems like too heavy a lift.

But ask any room of people for a show of hands if they or someone they love has been killed or seriously injured in a traffic collision, and nearly every hand will go up. This is not OK.

More details from SNG: Continue reading

Posted in news | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Sunday: World Day of Remembrance will be a healing space for those impacted by traffic violence

ALERT: West Seattle swing bridge will be out from 7-9 Tuesday night, shuttles available

Attention folks who bike across the lower West Seattle Bridge: SDOT just announced a closure from 7 to 9 p.m. tonight (Tuesday). As with the previous closure, there will be a shuttle to help folks walking and biking get across, but this will add significant delay. So leave early or late if you can. Otherwise, be ready for delays waiting for the shuttle or add extra time to bike the long way via the 1st Ave Bridge.

From SDOT:

For 2 hours tonight, starting at 7 PM, the Spokane St Bridge (West Seattle Lower Bridge) and the bike trail will be closed, so crews can replace a power control cable. A shuttle van will be available both directions, to take interested travelers over the high bridge.

What you can expect:

During this project, barrels and barricades as well as message boards, will direct traffic. After cable replacement and successful bridge testing, the bridge will reopen to traffic.

November 13 | 7 – 9 PM

Impacts | 

  • Spokane St Bridge (aka Lower W Seattle Bridge) closed.
  • W Seattle Bridge Trail closed.

Assistance | A shuttle van will travel back and forth over W Seattle High Bridge, in 15-minute intervals, with the following stops:

  • East Side11th Ave SW & SW Spokane St.
  • West side SW Spokane St and Port of Seattle Terminal 5 Entrance.

Shuttle service is scheduled to run during the duration of the outage. Should this maintenance work experience unexpected challenges, the shuttle will run all night, as needed.

Questions?

Email paul.jackson@seattle.gov to learn more.

Posted in news | Tagged , , | Comments Off on ALERT: West Seattle swing bridge will be out from 7-9 Tuesday night, shuttles available

Huge fire burns lumber warehouses near SPU, expect Ship Canal Trail delays – UPDATED

Photo from the Seattle Fire Dept. As you can see, the Ship Canal Trail is in the middle of it all.

A huge fire destroyed lumber warehouses owned by Gascoigne Lumber Company and Northwest Millworks Saturday night, but luckily there are no reports of injuries at this time. We hope it stays that way.

Regular users of the Ship Canal Trail should recognize the building in the photo to the right, because the trail runs closely behind the building near Seattle Pacific University campus. Buildings were destroyed on both sides of the trail. I have asked Seattle Fire if they have an estimate for when the trail might reopen and will update this post when I hear back. But I think it’s safe to assume that it will be closed for a while, so give yourself a little extra time to get through the area. UPDATE: Seattle Fire spokesperson Kristin Tinsley confirmed that they have not yet assessed damage to the trail and do not yet have a timeline for reopening it: “Due to the amount of debris on the Ship Canal Trail, the trail is still closed for the time being until clean-up is complete. No damage estimate on the trail yet or ETA on reopening.”

Reader Rob Huntress said firefighters were still working as of Sunday evening, and Nickerson Street was the nearest detour option between 3rd and 6th Avenues W. Nickerson has a paint-only bike lane westbound, but no bike lane eastbound. There is also a sidewalk for folks who are not comfortable biking in busy traffic, but remember to yield to people walking. If the closure will be for an extended period of time and no other detour is possible, a temporary trail on Nickerson might be a good idea. Continue reading

Posted in news | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

Tell the City Council to protect red light camera funds for safe streets near schools

A huge bike train to Bryant Elementary on Bike-to-School Day 2013

In an attempt to balance the City Council’s 2019-20 budget, Councilmember Sally Bagshaw has eyed nearly $2.7 million in red light camera funds that currently go to the School Safety Traffic and Pedestrian Improvement Fund (see the budget green sheet PDF).

The city has the goal of making street safety improvements at every public school in the city, which also means safety improvements in every neighborhood. But it is going to take a lot more work and funding to build all the missing sidewalks, safe crosswalks and neighborhood traffic calming needed to provide all our city’s young students a safe way to walk or bike to class. We need more funding for safe streets near schools, not less.

Additionally, red light cameras are already a somewhat controversial, though effective, tool for enforcing traffic safety without requiring a police officer interaction. But perhaps knowing that your ticket funds are going to help make streets near schools safer will take some of the sting out of that ticket. If the money just goes into the general fund, that takes away one good argument in favor of the cameras: They can do double-duty by enforcing traffic laws and funding street safety improvements at the same time.

Seattle Neighborhood Greenways has created a handy online tool you can use to contact the City Council and tell them to reject this funding change. More details from SNG: Continue reading

Posted in news | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Bainbridge Island voters reject $15M safe streets levy

Planned spending for the failed SAFE Mobility Levy, from the City of Bainbridge.

Buried in the election results this week was a somewhat disappointing result over on Bainbridge Island. The city’s modest SAFE Mobility Levy lost, with the ongoing result sitting at 45–55 as of Thursday morning.

The levy would have raised $15 million over seven years to fund sidewalks, Safe Routes to School and wider shoulders, which serve as walking and biking space on the island’s roads.

The failure came as a surprise to Demi Allen, a Bainbridge resident who worked to develop and support the levy effort.

“I continue to believe that a high percentage of residents on the island want better facilities for walking and biking,” he said. But clearly more needed to be done to gather support for the levy vote.

“In retrospect, it seems more needed to be done to get out to people where they were and make sure they understood what was proposed and what was possible to achieve through the levy.”

The Bainbridge Mobility Alliance conducted a survey in the spring that showed a high level of support for a ballot measure like the one that ended up on the ballot, Allen said. Ten percent of island adults responded with 70 percent in favor. But respondents self-selected, so it was not a scientific random survey (those can be expensive to conduct).

One concern they heard often was that the levy was too open-ended, with the specific projects to be selected later.

As for now, supporters are taking some time to figure out what happened, who they didn’t reach and how they could make a levy more people would support.

“We want to make sure that the next time we go to voters that we have a package that’s really on-target,” said Allen.

Posted in news | Tagged , | 7 Comments

Bike News Roundup: Biking to protect Seattle beaches

It’s time for the Bike News Roundup! Here’s a look at some stuff going around lately that caught our eye.

First up, it may not be a carbon tax, but Seattle’s Jen Strongin was recently featured in a Lime promo video talking about her work to photograph Seattle beaches and why she rides a bike to get around as a way to protect the small creatures she finds:

Continue reading

Posted in news | Tagged | Comments Off on Bike News Roundup: Biking to protect Seattle beaches

Seattle’s Cranksgiving 2018 is November 17

Download the poster PDF and print it out to help spread the word.

A food drive scavenger hunt by bike, Cranksgiving riders bike to a secret list of unique food sellers around Seattle buying food to donate to Rainier Valley Food Bank. For the ninth year, Seattle’s Cranksgiving is hosted by Seattle Bike Blog.

The 2018 ride is Saturday, November 17, starting on Occidental Ave near the CenturyLink Field north parking lot. Register at 10:30 a.m. Hunt starts at 11 and ends back at the start by 2.

Invite all your friends via Facebook! The more the merrier.

You will get a list of needed food items and places to shop. You can go solo or as a small team (four adults max per team). The more you buy and the more places you buy from, the more points you get. There are also photo challenges and more.

New this year, Swift Industries is hosting a camping gear drive for neighbors experiencing housing instability through Just Say Hello. Donations at the start line will earn bonus points. Items accepted include: New adult socks, hats and gloves, and new or gently used (clean and undamaged) tents, tarps, backpacks, coats and rain jackets.

All skill levels welcome! Anyone can win a prize!

Free to enter, but expect to spend at least $20 buying groceries (more is welcome, of course). Bring a pen and a way to carry groceries.

Party at Swift Industries after the ride. Thanks to Olympia for sponsoring the party with some beer.

Last year, 125 people hauled an incredible 1,631 pounds of food to Rainier Valley Food Bank. Come have fun and spread the love.

Posted in news | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Obligatory end of Daylight Saving Time bike lights post

Sunset is at 4:45 today. 4:45! That means the typical evening commute will happen in the dark and twilight hours for the next several months. So lets talk about bike lights.

Longtime readers may remember previous posts about bike lights like this one, and my advice remains largely unchanged: Buy a headlight bright enough to see bumps in the road, don’t put it on flashing mode and don’t point it in people’s eyes.

Biking at night is wonderful. But shopping for bike lights can be overwhelming because there are so many different options at a wide range of prices. Most people don’t want to spend any time thinking about their bike lights. But unfortunately, you need to. So here’s my advice as someone who has gone through a lot of bike lights in my time: Continue reading

Posted in news | Tagged , | 19 Comments

Missing Link design nearly complete, construction to begin this winter (unless the court intervenes)

Barring a court order, construction on the Ballard Missing Link of the Burke-Gilman Trail is scheduled to begin this winter. So while an appeal is still working its way through the courts, the city is moving forward with a construction plan that would have the trail fully open by the end of 2020. That’s 18 years after the Seattle City Council first voted to build this segment.

The work has beed divided into two phases that will overlap. The first section, from the Locks to 24th and Market, is scheduled to begin construction in just a few months. If all goes as planned, it would be open in about a year. Construction on the second phase, from Market St. to Fred Meyer, is set to begin in the summer and would open in autumn of 2020.

The biggest sticking point of the whole route is the industrial driveway crossings along Shilshole. The latest design includes green paint and flashing LED signs warning trail users about trucks.

Many crosswalks have been significantly improved, as well. And there is now a biking and walking path to the 20th Ave NW Street End Park on Salmon Bay, which I did not even know existed. So that’s very cool. Here are the latest designs moving from east to west: Continue reading

Posted in news | Tagged , , | 19 Comments

Vote YES on Bainbridge Island’s SAFE Mobility Levy

As you may have noticed, Seattle Bike Blog does not have a voter’s guide this year. This is partly due to the limited number of local races and partly due to having a baby at home who occupies a lot of my time by being super cute and having a preference for sleeping in my arms.

We previously published a guest op-ed by Chris Covert-Bowlds in favor of I-1631. I just realized that Seattle Bike Blog never officially said we endorse this campaign, so here that is: Vote YES on I-1631!

But across Elliott Bay, Bainbridge Island voters have a very cool levy on their ballots that would invest $15 million over seven years into safe streets, walking and biking projects on the island. Proposition 1, or the SAFE (“Safe Access For Everyone”) Mobility Levy, would focus on improving roadway shoulders, trails, Safe Routes to School and sidewalks. From the City of Bainbridge Island:

Continue reading

Posted in news | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

In a return to its 1907 roots, UPS will deliver by cargo bike in downtown Seattle

Promo photo from UPS.

111 years ago, UPS began making deliveries by foot and bike out of Seattle’s Pioneer Square. Today, the company is returning to bikes, at least for some downtown deliveries.

The global delivery giant announced the pilot today along with Mayor Jenny Durkan.

“As Seattle grows and public and private megaprojects limit capacity on our downtown streets, this pilot will help us better understand how we can ensure the delivery of goods while making space on our streets for transit, bikes, and pedestrians,” said Durkan in the UPS press release. “We are eager to learn how pilots like these can help build a city of the future with fewer cars, more transit and less carbon pollution.”

The company has been experimenting with cargo bike deliveries in a handful of cities, mostly in Europe. The UPS bikes are electric-assisted cargo trikes with a rain cover for the operator and an enclosed box for the cargo. Continue reading

Posted in news | Tagged , | 7 Comments