The Climate Cavalry Is Us, Councilmember Pedersen

Last week, District 4 Councilmember Alex Pedersen’s office sent an email including highlights from his first year in office. It included a section titled “Transportation and Climate Change”. An excerpt:

Seattle is not about to let up on its efforts to reduce address climate change, which currently include reducing carbon emissions and increasing our resiliency (“adaptation”) in the face of the negative environmental changes already underway. But as Chair of the Council’s Transportation & Utilities Committee, I can tell you it’s a relief that a new federal administration is entering that clearly embraces the science, the national and international efforts required to reverse the global threat, and the environmental and economic benefits of transitioning to a more green economy. This includes President-Elect Biden’s appointment to the U.S. Dept of Transportation, the Dept of Energy, and a new cabinet-level climate advisor. I believe the climate calvary [sic] is coming.

While reaction to the news of former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg being named Biden’s Secretary of Transportation has been mixed among transportation advocates, there is little doubt that Biden is taking the issue of climate change more seriously than probably any other incoming President in history. There is an unprecedented amount of momentum behind the incoming administration to do climate-related work.

But with the recent news that Seattle’s overall emissions increased between 2016 and 2018, and  the fact that we are wildly off-course on reducing our transportation emissions compared to the goal passed by the city council in 2013, it’s dangerous for the chair of the transportation committee to be waiting for the federal government to get Seattle on track to reduce emissions. The climate cavalry is here, and it is us.

Most cities in the US do not have a publicly-owned power utility, much less one that has been carbon-neutral for fifteen years. Few cities have bucked a national trend of declining transit ridership due to decades of disinvestment. Even if you include industrial and air sector emissions, Seattle’s per capita emissions are already less than half of the nationwide per capita total. We have a huge advantage relative to the rest of the country, and we want the cavalry to come help us?

For the chair of the Transportation & Utilities Committee, it has been a very unusual year to conduct committee business, that’s for sure. But after the outgoing transportation chair, Mike O’Brien, made sure that the committee had a role in shepherding the progress of the modal master plans, this year the committee has spent no time reviewing the updates & impact to project completion from the mayor’s budget cuts. SDOT is far behind on its yearly goal for new sidewalk completion, as just one example, with the schedule to catch back up currently unclear. The 2013 Climate Action Plan, which the Durkan administration has only tacitly embraced, connects all of these existing plans together and recognizes that they further the city’s climate goals, but implementation requires leadership.

Earlier this year, Councilmember Pedersen chaired the committee to send the renewal of the Seattle Transportation Benefit District back to the voters. The Mayor’s proposal was smaller than the original STBD passed in 2014, due to the exclusion of a car-tab fee while the fate of I-976 was uncertain, which translates to fewer transit service hours being funded. A 50% increase was proposed in committee, from a 0.1% to a 0.15% sales tax, but Pedersen voted no on that amendment. Thankfully it passed anyway, and voters resoundingly said yes. Just last month, with a car-tab fee unlocked after I-976 was ruled unconstitutional, Pedersen teamed up with councilmembers Lewis and Herbold to propose using the money to fund bridge maintenance instead of transit, weeks after SDOT just cut the ribbon on a brand new $100 million bridge in SoDo.

Seattle scaling back transit investments, on the heels of the wildly successful transit benefit district providing very frequent transit service to 70% of city households in 2019, will absolutely lead to more car trips and increased emissions. The Biden administration can’t save us from making own-goals like that.

Transportation emissions are 60% of the city’s core emissions but Seattle still lacks a concrete roadmap to achieve reductions. The Transportation & Utilities committee did make sure to find time to pass Seattle City Light’s transportation electrification plan, which certainly needs to be a part of the solution, but electric vehicles cannot be the entire solution, and Seattle is in a relatively advantageous position to show the rest of the country how it is done. Seattle’s reputation as being on the cutting-edge of urban design & innovation is wearing thin as our leaders choose the easy way forward.

Transportation: 60% of core emissions

The Biden administration is not going to prevent Seattle from building a new cruise ship terminal. Nor is it likely to stop the building of another regional airport even as emissions at Sea-Tac and King County airports have shot up 40% since 2008.

Thinking of the incoming administration as the climate cavalry is backwards, and Seattle deserves better.

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14th Ave’s Stay Healthy Blocks in Capitol Hill May Not Return

2 street closure signs at opposite sides of an intersection

Street closure signs in place along 14th Ave in November.

Seattle’s network of Stay Healthy Streets, in place for most of this year on a portion of the city’s neighborhood greenway network, noticeably left out most of Seattle’s urban centers where a large proportion of the rental housing exists. Neighborhoods like the U District, Eastlake, First Hill, Northgate, South Lake Union, Uptown, and Capitol Hill either don’t have neighborhood greenways running through them or weren’t selected to be part of the Stay Healthy Street network.

The Stay Healthy Block program, similarly named but separate, was created by SDOT to allow “residents, community-based organizations, and non-profits” to close a neighborhood street to create more outdoor space. At the beginning of November, SDOT issued a permit to Capitol Hill resident Christopher Hoffman allowing “street closure” signs to be placed on a long stretch of 14th Avenue south of Volunteer Park. The area extended from Prospect Street to Olive Street, with a one-block gap in the middle to accommodate the Safeway parking lot.

Capitol Hill, pressed for open space in its densest segments, clearly had a pent-up demand for a space like this, and the street was an instant hit. All summer long, some residents had been daring enough to use the street to jog or stroll for a bit, but with the signs up the volume of pedestrians using the street skyrocketed even as temperatures outside went down.

The stretch of 14th Ave that was opened to walking, biking and rolling in November.

Unfortunately, the street signs also were instantly hit by cars, since their frames, provided by Seattle Neighborhood Greenways and not the city, were made of wood.  The signs were replaced multiple times, but not always right away, with broken signs often staying in the street for days. Some were clearly intentionally destroyed, with one “street closed” sign ripped to shreds.

This past Monday morning, under threat of fine, Hoffman removed all remaining signage from 14th Ave despite the recent announcement from the city that the Stay Healthy Block program would be extended until the end of February. SDOT has not officially extended the permit past the end of November, and it’s not clear that a new permit will ever be issued.

The primary issue with permit renewal is an odd provision of the Stay Healthy Block permit: SDOT’s rules only allow a street to be closed for twenty hours a week, though the times can vary but they can’t go past 9pm on any day. In other words, for the other 148 hours in a week, Seattle’s narrow sidewalks have to suffice if you like to use a Stay Healthy Block for exercise or transportation.

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Proposed Signal Policy Could Mean More Long Waits At Intersections

The Seattle Department of Transportation has finalized a traffic signals policy intended primarily to improve mobility for people walking and rolling at intersections. This policy comes out of a process that the agency convened with a group called the Policy and Operations Advisory Group, which consists of members of the different modal advisory boards, the transportation equity workgroup, the pedestrian access advisory committee and a few other groups with a stake in SDOT policy.

The policy update includes some benefits that will be seen citywide, but the policy falls short of the promise of revamping signal timing with the goal of moving people over vehicles. A major shortcoming is in the proposed signal lengths, aka the amount of time for a traffic signal to complete a full cycle if you just missed it. Within the middle of Seattle’s densest neighborhoods, a single length of two minutes would be standardized, with a length of even two and a half minutes permitted.

Cycle lengths would be lowest at intersections along streets downtown, with a target of 50-90 seconds, but a maximum signal length of a minute and a half is still very high for the highest volume streets for pedestrians. Urban village neighborhood streets and neighborhood corridors, which include streets like Broadway in the heart of Capitol Hill (which coincidentally has the highest pedestrian volumes of any street in Seattle in recent years), would be able to have longer signal lengths than in downtown. Streets with an urban village main or urban center connector designation (like Rainier Ave S or College Way N) would be able to have longer cycle lengths still. Industrial access streets like 15th Ave W able to have the longest cycle lengths, up to three minutes.

Chart showing the different signal lengths as described in the article

Signal lengths by street type as proposed by SDOT.

You can use the chart above to match street type designations with this this interactive map to see what the cycle lengths could be on any specific street.

One factor influencing these proposed cycle lengths is a big change that SDOT is proposing to make all every single intersection in Seattle: reducing the standard pedestrian speed used to calculate how much time is provided to cross from 3.5 feet per second to 3 feet per second. The policy will also include a secondary calculation to ensure that someone standing six feet back from the intersection would be able to cross the street using a speed of 2.5 feet per second and use this to adjust total time provided to cross. This should provide more time to cross most intersections that get revised under the policy.

Infographic laying out the change from 3.5 feet to 3 feet per second

This illustration lays out SDOT’s proposed changes to crossing time calculation.

SDOT says that implementing this policy “should reduce wait times and provide more frequent opportunities for pedestrians to cross the street”, while having the effect of “slight increase in delay and travel time” for transit and freight traffic.

But the proposed cycle lengths for urban villages and centers exceed the range noted as ideal by the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO), which says “longer signal cycles and corridor-based timing schemes make large avenues into barriers that separate neighborhoods rather than joining them”. NACTO notes that 60-90 seconds is ideal for urban areas. SDOT should reassess whether intersections outside downtown in most cases need to have a targeted signal length of more than a minute and a half, and at a minimum bring down the very high max cycle length.

Seattle Neighborhood Greenways has set up an action alert on the proposed signal policy’s shortcomings, which you can use to contact SDOT directly here.

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Segment of Lake Washington Blvd To Reopen December 18-January 4

SDOT has just announced that it will be closing a small segment of Lake Washington Boulevard between Mount Baker Beach and Stan Sayres Boat Launch (at 45th Ave S) starting this Friday December 18 and running through Sunday January 4. This is the same segment of Lake Washington that was closed over Thanksgiving weekend, and is a shortened segment of the 3-mile Keep Moving street that SDOT piloted over the summer that extended all the way down to Seward Park.

Another small segment of the street between the boat launch and 50th Ave S is designated “local access” with signage but will still allow vehicles.

Map showing closed Lake Washington Boulevard

The segment of Lake Washington Boulevard closed to cars.

These temporary closures are clearly intended to provide extra open space around holidays but they also serve a transportation need in a segment of town without a reasonable safe north-south bike route. The narrow pedestrian path along Lake Washington boulevard is also inadequate for people who want to maintain six feet from other around them. Many are calling for at least a portion of the street to be made permanently car-free.

The city continues to have a protracted conversation about the future of Lake Washington Boulevard as a place where people that aren’t in personal vehicles are prioritized. Last week the parks board, which technically controls the land that the street is on, discussed the issue, and the Twitter thread from Erica C. Barnett is worth your time.

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Seattleites Driving Fewer Miles Than Ever, City Report Suggests

The city of Seattle just released a new report on our citywide carbon footprint. The info in the report is slightly out-of-date, as it’s a snapshot of how we did in 2018, but is the most comprehensive picture we have of how the city is meeting, or rather failing to meet, its carbon reduction goals.

The report includes one significant piece of info that should be encouraging to transportation advocates: the number of miles of vehicle travel for each Seattle resident sunk to its lowest level in decades in 2018. Every single Seattle resident’s share of the miles travelled on city streets was just over 6,000 miles after a likely peak of 7,400 in 2005. This is clearly a result of transportation policy decisions, light rail and the success of the Seattle Transit Benefit District central among them, that drove drive-alone commute rates to record lows.

Chart showing dropping per capita VMT between 2005 and 2018, ending at just above 6000

Vehicle miles travelled per capita in Seattle since 2005

Now for the bad news: due to Seattle’s population increasing, total VMT in Seattle is still continuing to go up even as everyone’s individual share is going down. Per capita miles travelled has gone down 11% since 2008 but overall VMT is up 12%.

Seattle’s goal for miles travelled in the 2013 Climate Action Plan is a 20% drop in overall passenger VMT (separate from freight miles travelled) by 2030. In order to meet the 2030 target, there would need to be a drop of more than 200 million miles per year until 2030.

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RapidRide J Line Shortening Leaves Roosevelt Bike Connection Hanging

The recent news that one of the centerpiece transit upgrade projects of the Move Seattle levy, the RapidRide J line- formerly known as Roosevelt BRT- would see its route shortened was another big blow to the transit segment of the levy. Roosevelt BRT will not even reach the Roosevelt light rail station, instead terminating at the U District light rail station. That news comes on the heels of the city giving up entirely on turning 3 current bus routes into RapidRide lines in 2018, and news this year of the route 7’s upgrade being put on hold. The number of broken promises in the transit component of Seattle’s largest-ever transportation levy continues to grow.

But this is unfortunate news for the hopes of completing a critical bike connection between brand new light rail stations in north Seattle as well. Since 2016, Roosevelt Way NE has had a protected bike lane between NE 65th Street and the University Bridge, just waiting for the light rail station at Roosevelt. But Roosevelt is only a southbound bike lane, and RapidRide J was set to upgrade the paint bike lane on 11th Ave NE, finally completing the couplet. Now it’s not likely that will happen anytime soon.

The RapidRide J line, including the bike lane component, will not change south of the University Bridge, meaning that a full bike connection along Eastlake Ave is still planned. This will complete a hugely critical connection that will have massive citywide benefits, despite considerable opposition to parking removal along Eastlake. Earlier this year, Mayor Durkan herself voiced clear support for installing protected bike lanes on Eastlake, hopefully indicating that another downgrade isn’t likely.

Updated route map in the U District for RapidRide J

The RapidRide J line will terminate at U District Station instead of Roosevelt Station.

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SDOT Proposes Using Bike Budget to Make Stay Healthy Streets Permanent

Heavy duty street closed barricade on a Stay Healthy street

New barricade on the Central District’s Stay Healthy Street

The Seattle Department of Transportation generated national headlines back in May with an announcement that it would be taking steps to make twenty miles of “Stay Healthy Streets” permanent. This big announcement that a chunk of Seattle’s neighborhood greenway network would get upgrades that make them more enjoyable and safer to use was cheered by many, and for good reason.
Seattle’s neighborhood greenway network has suffered from inconsistent standards, with little physical infrastructure that prevents people driving cars from utilizing them as an arterial alternative, and little accompanying pedestrian improvements.

But when that announcement was made earlier this year, we didn’t have a great idea of what those permanent improvements might look like, or what city funding would be used to make them. Last week, a city oversight committee was asked to approve a funding source for permanent Stay Healthy Streets: the existing bike budget.

A memo written by Jim Curtin, SDOT’s Project Development Division Director, asks the Move Seattle levy’s oversight committee to approve use of levy dollars for the upgrade of Stay Healthy Street using “durable materials”. It states that these upgrades will “improve safety on Stay Healthy Streets and support a community driven process that was not possible during the initial COVID-19 emergency response”, citing a 357% increase in people walking and a 111% increase in people biking along the Stay Healthy Streets since they were implemented. (According to the same memo, regular neighborhood greenways only saw a 37% increase in people biking compared to a normal neighborhood street.)

In return, more than two and a half miles of new neighborhood greenway projects would lose construction funding. This would further reduce the amount of bike facilities installed over the life of the 9-year Move Seattle transportation levy. A recent report to the oversight committee listed fewer than 35 miles of either protected bike lanes or neighborhood greenways completed to date compared with the 110 miles that were promised to voters in 2015. The bike master plan program is expected to fall well short of its goal already.

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Welcome Temporary Editor Ryan Packer

Photo of Ryan Packer with a bicycle in a park.

Ryan Packer

I am very excited to announce that Ryan Packer will be Temporary Editor of Seattle Bike Blog now through the end of February.

As readers of The Urbanist know, Ryan is a very thorough reporter with a deep understanding of how transportation policy works (and fails to work) in Seattle. So I was very excited when they applied for the Editor job.

Ryan Packer (they/them) has lived in Seattle for about fifteen years, originally hailing from northern Illinois. Since 2015, they have reported on transportation, particularly on Vision Zero and pedestrian & bicycle infrastructure, at The Urbanist. In normal times, they spent a lot of free time going to see the work of Seattle’s amazing live theater artists and is looking forward to doing that again very soon. To get in touch, email [email protected] or follow @typewriteralley on Twitter.

As for me, I am taking a sabbatical from the blog after more than a decade. Site content has been very slow lately as I work to complete the first draft of a book about Seattle bike culture for UW Press. Hiring Ryan will be great for Seattle Bike Blog, bringing important news back to the site in a more timely manor. It will also give me more time and space to focus on this book.

Businesses can support this effort by advertising, and readers can support by signing up for the monthly Seattle Bike Blog Supporter program.

Thank you all for reading, and thanks Ryan for signing on!

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After nearly 10 years, Deb Salls steps down as Bike Works ED + Ed Ewing takes the helm

Deb Salls and Ed Ewing.

Deb Salls and Ed Ewing.

When I first met Deb Salls, it was an office crammed full of desks and staff members in the top floor (maybe attic?) of the iconic yellow Bike Works house in Columbia City. There was hardly an inch of open space up there. One floor down, the organization packed a full schedule of after-school programs into a single classroom space. One floor further down, a bustling community bike shop was squeezed into a tiny storefront. They had to hang the bikes they had for sale upside-down from the ceiling.

Salls has overseen big growth and changes at BikeWorks since then. Under her leadership, the organization finally burst out of that yellow house and into a nearby building with warehouse space for their bike reuse work, classrooms for their programs and office space for their staff. The yellow house is now dedicated to the community bike shop, which now has space to put bike on the floor. And they have continued expanding their programming and reaching more people.

So it’s bittersweet to hear that Salls will be leaving Bike Works to head back to Minnesota to be Executive Director of Social Venture Partners MN. It sounds like a good move for her, and Seattle Bike Blog wishes her the best. We’ll miss you, Deb! Thanks for all you’ve done for our city.

Ed Ewing, the founder of Cascade Bicycle Club’s Major Taylor Program and Bike Works’ current Deputy Director, will take over as Interim Executive Director before moving into the permanent Executive Director role, according to Board Chair Marcos Franco in a blog post:

I am confident with Ed at the helm, a brilliant staff behind him, a dedicated board, and a passionate network of supporters, we are heading in the right direction. Deb’s last day will be January 5th, and we will finalize Ed’s transition from Interim Executive Director to Executive Director by the end of that month.

Ewing is a great leader, and I can’t wait to see what he does with the Executive Director role in a local bike organization. And he’ll have some time to get situated before pandemic restrictions (hopefully) lift in 2021 and Bike Works can bring their programming back to full speed. That’s going to be a lot of work, I’m sure.

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Job Listing: Temporary Seattle Bike Blog Editor – Part-time for 3 months – CLOSED

UPDATE: Applications are closed.

After more than a decade writing Seattle Bike Blog, it is time for me to take a sabbatical. So I am looking for someone to work part time reporting bicycle and transportation news in the Seattle area and handling other editorial work like moderating comments, posting to social media and maintaining the events calendar.

The pay is $1,100 per month as a baseline for the contract, so that’s roughly 10 hours of work per week on your own schedule. The contract will last three months and starts as soon as is feasible.

Solid understanding of newswriting and reporting standards required. Photojournalists are also encouraged to apply. I will be available to offer advice, contacts and story ideas as needed, but you will need to be self-motivated. As a reporter and editor, you will be encouraged to pursue your own story ideas.

Proficiency in using WordPress a plus, but it’s not necessary. I can teach you. Ability to take usable photos is required, but proficiency in photography is a plus. Basic familiarity with any image editing software also a plus.

Please send your resume, cover letter and three clips to [email protected]. Position is open until filled. I will update this post when submissions are closed.

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Cranksgiving 2020 is now rolling. You have until Saturday to complete the scavenger hunt

The after-party is live! Watch:

Cranksgiving poster. Details in the body text.It’s on. Seattle’s 11th Annual Cranksgiving community-supporting bike adventure is rolling all week.

Find your online scavenger hunt manifest here. You have until 3 p.m. Saturday to complete as many of the tasks as possible. You are then invited to an online after-party starting at 3.

As with every Seattle Cranksgiving since 2010, the event primarily supports the important community work at Rainier Valley Food Bank. But due to rising COVID-19 cases and recent state restrictions limiting grocery store capacity, we fully reimagined the event with help from the great folks at Rainier Valley Food Bank, Swift Industries and the Seattle Pedaling Relief Project. We will not be asking riders to buy groceries to donate this year because we don’t want to add more grocery store visits. Instead, we are asking that you take whatever you would have spent on groceries for the event and donate it directly to Rainier Valley Food Bank.

The first item on your manifest is to donate online. Be sure to enter “cranksgiving” in the “Special notes for your gift” line so we can count it toward our goal. The Ellis Foundation has generously offered to match Cranksgiving donations up to $3,000. This means that even though we are not buying groceries this year, your dollars invested in the event will go further than any year prior. And I don’t think we need to tell you that the need for Rainier Valley Food Bank’s community-supporting services are more needed now than ever.

Together we donated a metric tonne of food in 2019 worth a minimum of $3,712.41. That smashed the previous record, both in terms of food delivered and the number of riders. So let’s raise at least that much money this year.

OK, but what about the bike ride? Well, as sad as we are to lose the food-hauling element of the ride, cutting out the grocery stops does open up opportunities to focus energy elsewhere. This year has been so hard, and I really miss all of you. I miss gathering together and experiencing your creativity and supportive community energy. So this year’s manifest is designed to spread love for your community and to capture and share your creativity. And, of course, you gotta do it all by bike.

The rules are simple. You can ride solo or as a team. You know the COVID safety guidelines. Please limit your team to people already in your pod and be extra safe. Your task will be to complete as many of the items on the online manifest as you can to earn more points. Everyone will have a chance to win a prize, though the top point earners will compete for the grand prize: A Sonora Daypack from Swift Industries.

Photo challenges are back this year of course, but for the first time ever we have a set of very short video challenges. I am very excited to get together online Saturday to view these photos and videos together.

So please reach out to your fb friends or your usual team and challenge them to join Cranksgiving 2020. Happy Cranksgiving!

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Seattle’s 11th Cranksgiving is happening all Thanksgiving week. Check-in starts Monday

Seattle Cranksgiving logo in the style of a Campbell's Soup logo.Seattle’s 11th Cranksgiving is going to be very different than the previous 10, but the goal is as important as ever. You will have multiple days Thanksgiving week to complete a scavenger hunt by bike that is more creative than any we’ve had before, and we will work together to support Rainier Valley Food Bank financially.

Cancelling Thanksgiving plans with people we love is very hard, but it’s the right thing to do to help prevent a truly devastating spread of COVID-19. In that spirit, we hope we can help fill some of the gap with some biking fun for a good cause.

A week ago, we scrapped our original plan for a socially distant food donation Cranksgiving event. We just did not feel comfortable adding extra trips to grocery stores at this time, which will be busy and operating at limited capacity due to new state rules. Instead, we have developed a new event focused on raising funds for Rainier Valley Food Bank directly and showcasing ways you can use your bike to be part of the Seattle Pedaling Relief Project’s ongoing community-supporting volunteer work, all while biking around town completing fun and creative scavenger hunt tasks.

We hope to showcase your smiles and capture some of that Cranksgiving good will during this tough year that just refuses to ease up. We are still here for each other even if we can’t get together like we used to.

In addition to buying groceries and necessities to stock their shelves, Rainier Valley Food Bank has many other costs that food donations alone can’t cover. This outbreak is stretching so many vital services thin. Donating may not feel the same as dropping off full panniers at their front door, but it’s just as needed. So if you can, we will be asking that you take whatever you would have spent at food sellers during Cranksgiving and donate it directly.

Together we donated a record metric tonne of food in 2019 worth a minimum of $3,712.41. So let’s raise at least that much this year.

The scavenger hunt manifest and donation page will go live Monday, so come back to Seattle Bike Blog then to start playing. We will also host an online after party with a fun twist. Stay tuned for details. And thank you all for all you do.

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Thursday: Join Seattle Neighborhood Greenways’ Streets For People celebration and fundraiser

Streets For People promo image. Line drawing of a person on a bike, a tree and people sitting at a table with a splash of color on the treetop.Our city is very lucky to have Seattle Neighborhood Greenways working to promote equitable, safe and fun streets. The organization’s paid staff and its many volunteers do an enormous amount of work, much of which the general public never sees. They are always going around town planting seeds and forming partnerships that turn into innovative ideas and strong coalitions.

You can be a part of their work by volunteering and by supporting them financially. Their second annual Streets for People celebration and fundraiser is Thursday. Register your virtual table to get access to the program and support their work.

Details from Seattle Neighborhood Greenways:

It’s our 2nd Annual Community Celebration and Fundraiser for Seattle Neighborhood Greenways  

Thursday, November 19th, 2020 from 6-7:15pm

And you’re invited!

Join us for an inspiring evening of community, celebration, and connection.

This year we’ll join together online, and celebrate the street spaces that have helped our families, communities, and local restaurants make it through a challenging year.

Help us pay tribute to the amazing grassroots activism that brought us Stay Healthy StreetsCafe Streets, and Whose Streets? Our Streets!, projects this year. We’ll feature community voices, fantastic videos, safe streets trivia prizes, opportunities to visit with friends and make new connections, and so much more.

We’ll celebrate the mission of Seattle Neighborhood Greenways that let’s us re-imagine our public spaces in a way that puts people first. All of our fundraising this night will go directly towards keeping this critical work moving forward.

TICKETS: Click here!

FACEBOOK: Share the word with your friends!

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Watch: Person driving injures a biking Real Change vendor, then SPD mocks and blames the victim

This video, posted by Real Change, is enraging. Using body cam footage, the newspaper and Black Fuji Studios pieced together key moments that reveal what appears to be an extremely biased March 2019 investigation by officers who responded to a call for help. I have not reviewed any extra footage, so I can’t report on anything beyond what’s in this Real Change video. But it’s pretty damning.

Witnesses, who happen to be Department of Corrections officers, tell responding SPD officers that the person driving was likely at fault and continued driving even after hitting the man biking on a Sodo street. It’s difficult to piece together the exact circumstances of the collision from the video, though witnesses say the man driving was going fast and should have seen the person on the bike.

But then SPD Officers Hagan, Pitzner and Gore mocked and laughed at the victim because he appeared homeless and tried to find reasons to give the injured man citations. The officers then let the man drive home without a citation. The injured man had to undergo knee surgery and had a fractured rib, injuries the responding officers seemed to find very funny.

“Is he gonna make it?” asked Officer Gore while the man was still in pain on the ground next to them. Gore and several other officers laughed. Is the joke that he’s in pain but not dying? How is that funny?

The officers then joke about wanting to see the video because “it was a good hit,” as one witness put it. This was also considered funny.

Officer Pitzner decided that the injured man needed to be cited for biking without a helmet. Helmet use is required in Seattle, but helmets never cause or prevent collisions. It is irrelevant to finding fault in a collision investigation.

Officer Pitzner then tried to pin a felony theft charge on the injured man by trying to figure out if he stole the Lime e-assist bike he was riding. The officer said the e-bike is worth $2,000, making it a felony if it is stolen. He asked another officer to search the injured man’s phone to see if he unlocked the bike legitimately. Investigating someone for theft based on how they look is a pretty clear case of baised policing. There seems to be no indication that the bike is stolen, and one of the other officers even notes that because the lights are on, it was unlocked properly. These Lime-E bikes must be switched on using the app before the lights and battery-powered motor will function. Simply cutting the lock will not switch them on. But even if it were stolen, theft of a bike is not a contributing factor to a collision.

But most of all, this video shows how stacked the deck is against people who appear to be experiencing homelessness. This person was injured while biking in a part of the city that is lacking safe bike infrastructure, then the responding officers did what they could to not only pin the whole thing on him, but also find more irrelevant charges to tack on.

What you see in this video isn’t justice, and it isn’t public safety.

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Yeah, there was no need to be worried about Seattle voting for transit

Screenshot of the Prop 1 results showing 80% yes.Transit is extremely popular in Seattle.

More than 80 percent of voters approved Prop 1, which would expand the sales tax to fund bus transit service hours, infrastructure improvements and access programs in Seattle. And considering 9 in 10 registered voters weighed in on this election, that’s a pretty epic mandate from the people of our city.

Congratulations to Transportation Choices Coalition and everyone who worked on the Yes For Transit campaign.

There should never again be any consternation about a transit improvement project or question about whether the public would support a significant change to a roadway in order to improve transit service and reliability.

The result is also frustrating in a way because it makes clear that a far more ambitious transit package would have easily passed. A King County measure would also have passed, but County leaders declined to run one.

But because the state legislature failed to legalize other taxing options for local transportation benefit districts and the WA Supreme Court had not yet ruled on the constitutionality of I-976 (it was ruled unconstitutional well after the deadline to submit a proposition to voters), Seattle had to go with a proposition that cut the vehicle license fee and relied on a regressive sales tax. And though the City Council could have sought a full 0.2% sales tax, they instead decided to raise the Mayor’s proposed 0.1% tax to 0.15%. Think about that for a second. Mayor Jenny Durkan wanted a smaller version of a transit measure that 80% of voters ended up approving, with her office calling her smaller proposal “fiscally prudent” in an SDOT Blog post back in July:

At a time of great economic challenge, the new Transportation Benefit District package proposed today aims to both right-size our transit investment to be fiscally prudent on our path to economic recovery, while doing our best to protect the all-day transit service that is essential to building back stronger than ever before.

“Right-size.” Cutting transit is not the “right size” for meeting our growing city’s climate, mobility and equity goals. Times got hard, so Mayor Durkan wanted to retreat. But the people of Seattle were like, “Hell no don’t run, let’s fix this problem.” Voters would have gone for much more if given the chance. Mayor Durkan is hopelessly out of touch with this city, and I’m glad the Council was there to increase her proposal. Continue reading

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Support the MASS Coalition’s efforts to ease the pain from the 2021-22 Seattle transportation budget

Both Cascade Bicycle Club and the larger MASS Coalition (including Seattle Neighborhood Greenways and Transporation Choices Coalition among others) they are part of have action alerts out right now asking supporters to call on city leaders to limit the huge cuts in walking, biking and transit funding Mayor Jenny Durkan proposed in her 2021-22 budget. (Correction: This post erroneously said TCC is a member of the MASS Coalition. While TCC has partnered with MASS and its members in the past, they are not a member.)

Specifically, the Move All Seattle Sustainably (“MASS”) Coalition is backing the “Solidarity Budget” led by a long list of community organizations and is specifically pushing for a list of transportation budget amendments (PDF):

  • Upgrade Rainier Avenue sidewalks in Southeast Seattle ($1 million)
  • Continue work on the Georgetown-to-South Park Trail ($1.8 million)
  • Cancel cuts to the Route 44 Multimodal Project connecting Ballard to the U-district via Phinney Ridge and Wallingford ($1 million)
  • Advance planning and early design for bike network connections in South Seattle, specifically a route through the Rainier Valley (along MLK Way) and a connection between Georgetown and Downtown, via SoDo ($400,000).

The mayor’s budget levies heavier cuts to walking, biking and transit than to car-centric budget lines. Perhaps the most egregious is an increase in the so-called “Intelligent Transportation System,” investments that do nothing to help people get around outside of a car and can even make conditions for walking and biking worse. Just look at the disaster that is Mercer Street.

Safe streets projects in Seattle have been huge successes. ITS projects have been either useless or actively bad. Why would we invest in repeating our failures while slashing the budgets for our successes?

Worse, when Seattle voters passed the Move Seattle Levy in 2015, they did so based on big promises about investing in walking, biking and transit. But the city front-loaded the car-centric projects, and now the walking, biking and transit projects are exposed to budget cuts. If they don’t get funded before the levy expires, projects will fall off the end of the list. The city needs to dedicate itself to the vision voters approved and deliver big improvements for walking, biking and transit.

So while the budget is certainly going to be tighter than in previous years, cuts should obviously come from car-centric programs that don’t help us meet our climate, traffic safety and equity goals. And pointless freeway-style electronic signs are a great and very easy place to start. Continue reading

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The Seattle Pedaling Relief Project will bike your ballot to a drop box

The Seattle Pedaling Relief Project has been organizing volunteer efforts to deliver food and necessities from food banks to community members for months. Now they want to help people get their ballots to the ballot box.

If you need assistance getting your ballot delivered for any reason, fill out this form online. If you want to help deliver, fill out this form. Delivery teams will consist of at least two volunteers.

Looking for voting advice? Check out these endorsements from local transportation organizations.

More details on the ballot delivery effort from the Seattle Pedaling Relief Project:

Do you know of any late voters who would like help transporting their ballot to a ballot box?

The Seattle Pedaling Relief Project is a group of volunteer bike riders who have been gathering since the beginning of the pandemic to deliver groceries from food banks to neighbors in need. With over 260 volunteers, we work with 5 food banks and multiple community gardens and little free pantries. We are grateful that in Washington we can mail in our ballots and we want to be a resource for those who want to be sure their ballots get counted in time for the election.

On Nov 1 and Nov 3 we will have groups of riders (at least 2 or more in each group) ready to pick up ballots anywhere in the Seattle/ King County area and deliver them to the nearest ballot box. Anyone who would like their ballot picked up can fill out this form. The riders who will be picking up the ballots will be coordinating with the ballot-givers directly for address details. We encourage folx to keep their ballot tab to track that their ballot has been counted.

If you are interested in volunteering to pick-up ballots from your friends, family, and neighbors and then bike them down to your local ballot box please fill out this form or visit the Bike the Ballot page on the Seattle Pedaling Relief Project website!

Thank you so much for your time and please promote this to anyone and everyone who could use this service.

Let’s go practice some democracy!

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Halloween Peace Peloton starts in Wallingford and includes fundraising costume contest

Event posterCelebrate Halloween in the Peace Peloton Saturday.

The ride stages at Wallingford Playfield at noon for some food from the excellent Pam’s Kitchen, then leaves at 2 p.m. for a 12-mile ride to Gas Works Park via Discovery Park.

The “Hunter’s Moon Halloweekend Fun-Raisier” ride ends with a fund-raising costume contest at Gas Works. For more details and info on how to donate, go to

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Endorsement: Vote Sherae Lascelles in the 43rd

Photo of Sherae Lascelles.

Photo from Sherae For State.

Seattle Bike Blog did not do endorsements this year for a number of reasons (mostly that I haven’t had the time it takes to do a full slate of endorsements). Instead, I rounded up endorsements from a handful of transportation-focused organizations in the area and posted them here. There was very little disagreement.

But there was one split endorsement that caught my eye, perhaps because it is my district. So I figured it may be helpful to weigh in on the race for House Legislative District 43, Position 2. The Transit Riders Union and the Urbanist endorsed Sherae Lascelles while Seattle Subway and the Sierra Club endorsed Frank Chopp. Washington Bikes did not endorse in this race.

Seattle Bike Blog says to vote for Lascelles.

This race ultimately comes down to what access to power should look like. Neither candidate says anything notably bad in their transportation policy sections. Chopp, who has been in the legislature since 1995, clearly has a very detailed understanding of how the legislature works. But is it working?

The Democrats have had control of WA State’s government for years, yet the state still has an extremely regressive tax structure, still funds new and expanded freeways while leaving transit funding to local communities, and still has not made meaningful progress on reducing our climate changing emissions. No matter what major local issue you are talking about, conversation nearly always gets to this exchange:

Person 1: Well, in order to do that, we’d need to change state law.
Person 2: Ugh, that’s not going to happen.

This dynamic needs to change. Lascelles brings a dramatically different philosophy to their campaign. Everything in their platform is about centering people most impacted by each policy. For example, here’s Lascelles’ campaign policy statement on free mass transit: Continue reading

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Who local transportation organizations endorsed in the 2020 general election

Photo of two adults and a child wearing bike helmets while putting ballots in a drop box.Your ballot is either in the mail or has already arrived. If you are in King County, you can check your ballot’s status online here. The tracker now indicates whether it has been mailed or has been delivered, which is very cool. The deadline to register online is October 26, but you can also register anytime up to and including the day of the election if you go in-person (online is encouraged during the pandemic, though). Ballots must be postmarked by November 3 or delivered to a ballot drop box before 8 p.m. November 3.

Here’s a look at endorsements and recommendations from local transportation organizations, including The Urbanist (“U”), Washington Bikes (“WB”), Seattle Subway (“SUB”) and the Transit Riders Union (“TRU”). Visit their sites to read more about their decisions. Note that these orgs sometimes cover different areas. So sometimes a non-endorsement means they couldn’t decide, but sometimes it means they just aren’t covering that race or issue.


Continue reading

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