Trail will remain open during weekend 520 Bridge construction

Overview map of the final design plan for the Montlake area, featuring a trail via a landbridge over 520 and a trail tunnel under Montlake Blvd.

The final design for Montlake once construction is finally complete in a few years. From WSDOT.

The trail on the 520 Bridge will remain open this weekend even as all lanes are closed to motor vehicle traffic. That motor vehicle closure is scheduled to extend from 11 p.m. Friday (today) until 5 a.m. Monday.

If you’ve never biked across the 520 Bridge when there is no car traffic, I highly recommend it. Stopping mid-span is so much more peaceful and quiet, the kind of mid-lake experience you can usually only get on a boat. So this weekend you can bike to Georgetown via the 1st Ave S temporary bike lanes, then head all the way up to a car-free 520 Bridge. Sounds like a pretty great set of weekend plans to me.

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SDOT’s emergency bike lanes are glorious

A truck passes a line of cones. Downtown Seattle is in the background.

I’m pecking this post out on my phone from beneath the West Seattle Bridge after biking SDOT’s temporary, emergency bike lanes on 1st Ave S and on W Marginal Way, and I’m just beaming. It’s so good. Everyone involved should be commended.

Like, I just biked through Georgetown to the start of the Alki Trail, and it felt comfortable, easy and fun. It’s such a powerful experience to have a part of the city you’ve lived in for so long suddenly become available to you. There are so many businesses along 1st Ave I have never even seen before. And Georgetown has never felt closer and more connected to the center of the city.

It’s wild to witness a sea of orange traffic cones on 1st Ave, but they are absolutely working. Crews were still out making adjustments Thursday, but it felt fully operational. And traffic was moving just fine. I didn’t notice any backups at all midday when industrial businesses rely on lots of truck movements. Aside from the glaring orange everywhere, it felt right.

I’ll update this post with more photos and a walkthrough later today, so stay tuned. But for now, I suggest heading down to SoDo to go for a bike ride, a sentence I’ve never written before.

UPDATE: Below is the updated detour map and some more photos and a walkthrough of some of the detour elements.

Continue reading

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20 year old charged with vehicular homicide and hit and run for killing Robb Mason

Claudia Mason holds a photo of Robb during a Critical Mass memorial.

Claudia Mason holds a photo of Robb during a July Critical Mass memorial ride.

Mohamed A Yusuf, a 20 year old living in West Seattle, faces counts of vehicular homicide and felony hit and run after allegedly striking and killing Robb Mason with his Hyundai Elantra while Mason was biking in a crosswalk just south of the Spokane Street Bridge in July.

Robb Mason, a massage therapist from West Seattle, was 63 when he was killed. Since the tragedy, there have been multiple memorial rides for Robb, and his wife Claudia has made powerful calls to improve safety. Our condolences to Claudia and all of Rob’s loved ones.

Prosecutors accuse Yusuf of driving more than 50 mph in a 25 mph zone and crossing the double yellow centerline before striking and killing Robb. He slowed briefly before fleeing the scene.

The charging and probable cause documents give a brief outline of how investigators found Yusuf and claim that he admitted to hit and run though posts on Snapchat. His vehicle was identified through “several road cameras and significantly a Metro bus’s forward-facing camera.” Investigators also used Ring camera video and audio to capture what prosecutors claim was Yusuf “telling someone he was driving ’55mph.'” They also obtained his phone and claim to have found searches for “hit and run death of cyclist” and evidence that he was reading news articles about the event including one in which Claudia pleaded for the person responsible to turn themselves in.

It is important to note that charging and probable cause documents are nearly always incomplete, so more information will likely come out as the case moves forward. Yusuf has not yet been arrested and has been summoned to appear at an arraignment January 9, West Seattle Blog reported. The Seattle Times posted the charging and probable cause documents (PDF).

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Transportation Chair Pedersen will not run for reelection + What this means for the next levy and for the rest of 2023

Councilmember Alex Pedersen will not run for reelection to represent Seattle’s District 4, he announced this week. He joins Lisa Herbold in District 1 and Debra Juarez in District 5, who have also stated publicly that they will not run for reelection this fall when the seven Council District seats will be up for election.

But it’s not just District 4 that will get a new leader. Pedersen is Chair of the Transportation Committee, and 2024 will be an enormously important year for that committee. The Move Seattle Levy expires at the end of 2024, and Mayor Bruce Harrell and the City Council Transportation Committee will need to replace that funding if they want to avoid an enormous cut to the transportation budget. This likely means sending a package to voters on the 2024 ballot. The next Transportation Committee Chair will have a lot of influence over the shape and scale of transportation investments in Seattle into the 2030s.

Seattle City Council committee assignments are two-year terms, so Pedersen is set to chair the Transportation Committee through the end of 2023. This year will also see a lot of very important work, including delivery of a backlog of safety projects that voters funded through the Move Seattle levy as well as major work to craft the Seattle Transportation Plan. The STP will form the basis for the next transportation funding package and will include a framework for prioritizing project selection such as where to install bike lanes. If 2024 is the year to sell a transportation vision to voters, 2023 is the year to craft the vision the city hopes to sell.

This is not the time to write a post-mortem on Alex Pedersen’s time on Council because his most important work is still ahead of him. The Seattle Transportation Plan could be his longest-lasting legacy from his time on Council. It currently scheduled for passage in summer 2023.

If someone else on Council has their eye on the Transportation Committee Chair, then they may want to make sure the STP includes the vision they want to present to the public in 2024.

Pedersen is also freed from the burden of reelection, which means he can help craft a transportation plan that he will not be tasked with selling. The Move Seattle levy was crafted under the guidance of Transportation Chair Tom Rasmussen, who chose not to seek reelection in 2015 but was in the chair position to see the funding package through both development and voter approval. The previous levy did see split leadership with Richard Conlin as chair of the Transportation Committee through 2005 but Jan Drago taking the chair in 2006 when the Bridging the Gap levy was passed. Conlin was still on Council in 2006, though, so it’s not exactly the same situation.

In the 2019 election, Pedersen defeated Shaun Scott by 1,386 votes or 4.25 percentage points. So he was not in a particularly comfortable position for reelection. He has also been largely quiet, doing very little to rally around his policy priorities and achieve big legislative wins. In contrast, he had spent years leading up to his successful 2019 election building community relationships through his newsletter and through knocking on doors to talk to people. He put in the real-life work and planning needed to win his seat. This is why he won when every other “business-backed” candidate in 2019 lost as the amount of PAC spending backfired and turned into a negative for candidates who received it. His path to the Council was different from any other candidate, and it is simplistic to try to put him in a box with anyone else. He is not out to blow up agendas or lead a counter-movement against the Council majority. He does not owe his seat to corporate interests.

I hope that Councilmember Pedersen uses his final year on Council to seek out a handful of achievable and genuinely good things that he can get passed. I think he could find friendly faces among people and groups that might otherwise be gearing up to support an opponent, and could work together with them to make our city better. I’m not suggesting Pedersen and progressive transportation orgs will suddenly be aligned on everything, but that no longer matters because he is not running for reelection. Instead, they can pick some issues they agree on and work together to make positive changes that will mean something for our city and its people.

As the then-new Councilmember told Seattle Bike Blog during a meeting at Irwin’s Cafe in Wallingford in January 2020, “I am really excited now as Councilmember to let my actions speak for themselves.”

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SDOT will begin installing ‘temporary protected bike lanes’ in SoDo this week

Map of the detour with a sidewalk connection on W Marginal Way to 1st Avenue S, then a temporary bike lane on 1st to Spokane Street, then a sidewalk connection on Spokane Street.

Map of the detour plan from SDOT.

SDOT will create temporary bike lanes to fill a gap in the Duwamish Trail and to improve safety on a significant stretch of 1st Avenue S in SoDo while crews work to repair the Spokane Street Bridge to West Seattle. Work will begin Wednesday.

As we wrote in a post last week, “Creating two miles of new bike lane is not a small feat, but these are the moments where SDOT and the city’s elected leaders can rise to the challenge and show the people they can do great things.” If the city nails the design here and creates a safe, connected and comfortable bike lane on a wide industrial street, it would be a triumph. I can’t think of another temporary bike route project of this scale in Seattle, especially one built in such a short timeline. The department will be observing the temporary lane to learn how to do it better during future closures, according to the post on the SDOT Blog: “Creating this temporary bike lane detour will help us to be more agile and able to consider similar detours during planned low bridge closures and at other locations.”

The Duwamish Trail connection on W Marginal Way just south of the Spokane Street Bridge has been in the works for years and has already gone through extensive public outreach.

The SDOT Blog post does not include a diagram of the planned bike lanes on 1st Avenue S, but there is a description that includes 1,700 traffic cones. I created an estimated graphic of what the street might look like once the lanes are in place:

Design sketch using Streetmix showing the existing layout with 16-foot lanes in parts of the road.

Design diagram for 1st Ave S with temporary bike lanes as described in the SDOT post.

Design diagram by Seattle Bike Blog based on SDOT’s description. The measurements and other details are estimated.

This lane represents a serious sense of urgency within SDOT to address a bike safety problem, and it is probably the single biggest project to date entirely overseen by Mayor Bruce Harrell’s new SDOT Director Greg Spotts. The details will be important to make these traffic cone bike lanes work, including the details of how intersections function and whether the cones get knocked over and moved. So stay tuned, because Seattle Bike Blog will definitely be out riding these lanes as soon as they are ready.

More details from the SDOT Blog: Continue reading

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Seattle Neighborhood Greenways reviews 2022 safe streets progress

Seattle Neighborhood Greenways recapped 2022 recently, and I think it’s a good reminder of the progress made while also setting the stage for the work needed ahead. It is difficult to celebrate wins when you’re talking about a transportation system that is increasingly deadly, but there were quite a few legitimate wins worth celebrating.

We will discuss the exciting, must-win challenges ahead of Seattle in a future post, so stay tuned. But first, a look at some of what we achieved as a safe streets movement in 2022. From SNG:

Vision Zero

We believe that everyone should be safe traveling on our streets — no matter how you get around. Sadly, last year was the deadliest year on Seattle streets since 2006, with 31 lives lost — and this year is proving tragic as well. These crashes disproportionately claim the lives of our Black, elderly and homeless neighbors and are geographically concentrated in SE Seattle. But together we are holding the city accountable to make progress:

North Seattle neighbors in the Aurora Reimagined Coalition successfully won $50 million to fix part of Aurora Ave, Seattle’s most dangerous street, from the state legislature as part of the Move Ahead WA transportation package.

Whose Streets? Our Streets!

This all-BIPOC workgroup of Seattle Neighborhood Greenways group is dedicated to organizing BIPOC communities to gain full and free use of our streets and public spaces with solutions that arise from and directly serve our communities. This year…

  • WSOS conducted extensive outreach and engagement this year, developed working relationships with groups and organizations led by and serving BIPOC communities, hosted community events, and participated in public events that engage Seattle’s BIPOC communities. WSOS conducted community outreach and engagement with  BIPOC community members at events around the city including Seattle’s MLK Day March; Honoring Black Wall Street; Umoja Fest; Summer of Solidarity; Juneteenth, Malcolm X Day; Back On the Block; Healthy Through Heat and Smoke, and the Garfield Centennial Celebration.
  • WSOS organized community safety listening sessions and town halls with BIPOC-led groups — including CID Coalition, Chu Mihn Tofu, Eggrolls, Black Prisoners Caucus, Surge Reproductive Justice, NAACP Youth Council and the Solidarity Budget Coalition —  to hear from Black youth, Queer/Trans community members, and BIPOC residents from the Rainier Valley and CID.
  • Through this deep community engagement and listening, WSOS crafted an extensive report of findings detailing how street safety is more than safety from vehicles and outlining a slate of BIPOC community recommendations. We submitted this report to SDOT to help the city advance more equitable policies and practices.
  • With partners in the Helmet Law Working Group, led by Central Seattle Greenways, WSOS won repeal of King County’s helmet law that was enforced as a harassment tool against BIPOC and unhoused communities.
  • Unfortunately, the city moved Parking Enforcement back from SDOT to SPD — for now. The City Council will be discussing where to permanently locate this division next spring, and we plan to make the case that housing it within SDOT will result in the best safety and equity outcomes.

UnGapTheMap

is our campaign to create safe bike routes for people of all ages and abilities that connect every neighborhood. This year we…

  • Celebrated the opening of the Green Lake Outer Loop envisioned by Green Lake Wallingford Safe Streets, bike lanes connecting to Climate Pledge Arena in Uptown advocated for by Queen Anne Greenways, and the 15th Ave NE protected bike lane connecting U District with Lake City Way.
  • Improved the design to close the downtown waterfront trail gap on Alaskan Way after Downtown Greenways hosted a ride to bring attention to the issue.
  • Eliminated a dangerous gap in the plans to build a bike lane on Eastlake Ave connecting the U District to South Lake Union.
  • Fought back against the decision to delay south end bike routes for MLK Way, 15th Ave on Beacon Hill, and the Georgetown To South Park Trail.
  • Envisioned and established SDOT’s new “Even Better Bike Lanes” to use concrete barriers, not floppy plastic posts, to protect bike lanes to make them safer and more comfortable.

Won funding for bike routes in South Seattle through the City Budget.

Café Streets

Thanks to your support, and letters from over 700 Seatteites, the City Council passed legislation to make cafe streets permanent! This legislation will:

  • Support the 300 small businesses have benefited from the cafe streets program since we advocated for its launch in 2020.
  • Bring cafe streets and food trucks to more communities by reducing fees and red tape.
  • Improve these spaces by requiring accessibility for people with disabilities, improving designs, and creating barriers from traffic.
  • Encourage more walking by creating interesting, vibrant, and welcoming streets.
  • Help us continue to build relationships with small businesses, which historically have been some of the most skeptical stakeholders in conversations about converting street space to uses other than moving and storing cars.
  • Advance the conversation to create pedestrian-only streets for Pike Place Market, Ballard Ave, The Ave in the U-District, Capitol Hill and more!

Healthy Streets

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic we pushed for open streets as one solution to emerging community needs. The city has experimented with over 25 miles of these streets that are closed to through-traffic, but OPEN to people walking, rolling, and biking in the street. We believe that Healthy Streets should be the new default standard for the city’s Neighborhood Greenways program, and that all communities should have access to these family friendly spaces.

  • This December, Mayor Harrell reaffirmed the city’s commitment to make 20 miles of healthy streets permanent (putting Seattle in the top 6% of American cities).
  • Working with Councilmember Morales, we won funding from the Seattle Parks District to make permanent improvements to the beloved Lake Washington Boulevard — South Seattle’s most popular park that is currently used as a speedway for cars.
  • West Seattle neighbors won permanent improvements for the Alki Point Healthy Street.
  • Green Lake Wallingford Safe Streets won permanent improvements to the Green Lake Healthy Street through the construction of the Green Lake Outer Loop.
  • Greenwood and Lake City neighbors won permanent improvements for their healthy streets.
  • We are advocating for robust additional traffic calming standards to ensure these spaces feel safe and welcoming for all.

This truly is a people-powered movement, and we wouldn’t have made this progress without you. Thank you! If you are looking for meaningful ways to make a difference in 2023, I encourage you to volunteer, donate, and spread the word about this work by following our social media accounts.

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The case for an emergency SoDo bike path in response to the Spokane Street Bridge closure

Map of the official bike detour route.The Spokane Street Bridge Connecting West Seattle to the mainland closed during the holiday ice storm and has been out of operation ever since. Repairs will take a minimum of two weeks, SDOT said earlier this week, pegging the earliest reopening date at January 10.

People in West Seattle have put up with a lot in recent years. When the Viaduct closed in January 2019, people listened to city leaders and hopped on their bikes to avoid adding to the traffic crunch. Thanks in large part to their efforts, the anticipated traffic problems never materialized. People took more bike trips in the middle of January 2019 than they did during warm summer days. People again took to bikes in big numbers when the Upper West Seattle Bridge closed suddenly in early 2020, again taking a load off the city’s strained streets. And they did all this without any significant bike infrastructure improvements. It’s time for the city to come through for people who bike to and from West Seattle by making sure they have a safe and connected bike route during the current closure. Safety is not too much to ask.

The official City of Seattle bike detour directs people down the Duwamish Trail to the 1st Avenue South Bridge, which is really the only option along the west side of the river. This route is almost great except for a short section of missing trail just south of the Spokane Street Bridge. SDOT under Mayor Jenny Durkan delayed a project to complete that trail, yet another poor decision by her administration that has come back to bite Seattle. The West Marginal Way SW Safety Corridor Project has already gone through years of outreach and study, so SDOT should consider putting a temporary version in place immediately that can be upgraded once the Spokane Street Bridge reopens: Continue reading

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Alert: The Spokane Street Bridge will be closed ‘at least two weeks’

Map of the closure between West Seattle and Harbor Island.

Note that the High Bridge is a freeway with no walking or biking access despite extensive recent investments.

SDOT posted an update Tuesday evening with terrible news for people who walk or bike between mainland Seattle and West Seattle: The Spokane Street Bridge, the lower swing bridge with the biking and walking path, will be out of commission for “at least two weeks,” according to the SDOT Blog.

The Alki Water Taxi was already scheduled to run seven days a week this winter, though it will be closed January 1–2 for the holiday. You can also put most bikes on a bus (except oversized and electric bikes), though there are only three bike spaces per bus.

Otherwise, detouring all the way to the 1st Avenue Bridge is the only option for people biking, an extra five miles that add up to about a half hour each way according to Google’s estimate. And, of course, detouring to the 1st Avenue Bridge means navigating SoDo’s wide and fast streets that do not have a complete and comfortable bike route.

Considering the major disruption this poses to people who rely on biking, it would be a huge help if SDOT and/or WSDOT fast-tracked an emergency bike route from Georgetown to downtown. E Marginal Way, 1st Ave, 4th Ave or Airport Way are all viable options. The 4th Avenue South bridge over the railyard already has a lane closed pending repairs. Perhaps they could just extend that to connect S River Street and S Lander Street?

More details from SDOT: Continue reading

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Alert: Spokane Street Bridge closed ‘all weekend’

The Spokane Street Bridge to West Seattle didn’t make it through the ice storm, and it will likely remain closed for the rest of the weekend.

SDOT Director Greg Spotts said on Twitter that the mechanical problem on the swing bridge “may have been caused by a power outage” during the ice storm. But regardless of the cause, it will be out of service “all weekend,” he said.

To stay updated on bridge progress, check the SDOT Traffic Twitter account. But if you need to cross between mainland Seattle and West Seattle tomorrow, consider an extended trip to the 1st Avenue Bridge as a little Xmas gift form the ice storm.

You can also check the city’s traffic camera feed to see if it is open:

live traffic camera image of the Spokane Street Bridge.

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It’s an ice rink out there

I spent the morning ice skating all around Wallingford and pushing cars that got stuck on the ice. I put a shoulder into a jackknifed pickup truck and body checked it halfway across the street and into perfect parallel parking position next to the curb. I felt pretty bad ass. But seriously, it’s an ice rink out there.

A friendly neighbor took this video:

Continue reading

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Yet another Eastlake Ave survey confirms: Build safe bike lanes!

SDOT released the results of autumn community outreach about Eastlake Avenue bike lane design options, and the results were once again very clear: People strongly favor safe bike lanes on this vital connection between the University Bridge and South Lake Union where there were 39 collisions involving people bikes between 2012 and 2017. According to the report summary, “Survey responses indicated strong support for protected bike lanes even if it meant removing parking and vehicle travel lanes.”

We reported about the survey and the various design options back in September, and the results are not very surprising. The most galvanizing question was whether the project should build skinny bike lanes or wider buffered bike lanes between Harvard and Fuhrman Avenues near the south end of the University Bridge. Here were the options presented:

Diagrams comparing the painted bike lane option 1 to the buffered bike lane option 2.The responses from 1,162 people were decisive with 91% preferring the wider bike lanes with buffer space:

chart showing 90% support for option 2.210 people wrote an additional comment requesting the addition of a bike lane barrier.

Speaking of bike lane barriers, there was overwhelming 90% support for some form of permanent concrete bike lane protection. Only 8% of respondents preferred paint and post style barriers. I suspect the “concrete guard” option got some extra votes in part because the photo they included in the survey showed an example that had been part of an art project. So hey, let’s not forget about art! Continue reading

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How bikeable are the roads and paths near you? – UPDATED

PM UPDATE: It sounds like a lot untreated surfaces have turned to smooth ice after sundown. Take care.

Photo of the author in a winter coat in front of a cargo bike with hockey sticks attached to it. There is snow all around.I biked to play hockey last night, and the roads between the U District and Kraken Community Iceplex in Northgate were in fairly good condition. As noted in our post yesterday, the city prioritizes arterial streets and bus routes for plowing and treating. So I followed my own advice and stuck to the roads that the city’s real-time slow plow map noted as being recently treated. And it worked! The sketchiest parts of the whole ride were the neighborhood streets near my house and the parking lot access roads at the rink.

But just be aware that the forecast says it will stay below freezing for the next couple days, so uncleared and untreated surfaces can easily turn to ice. Metal surfaces and bridges typically freeze first.

Bob Svercl shared this morning’s road conditions for folks biking from Beacon Hill to downtown. Remember that if a bike lane is not cleared, you can and should ride in the general traffic lanes. Take the space you need to be safe, and don’t feel the need to hug the side of the road. Your safety is paramount.

The status of trails across the region are mostly unknown. Many trails are likely untreated and might be icy. The Sumner Link Trail will be closed through the weekend due to flooding concerns: Continue reading

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How to check which Seattle streets have been plowed

If you’re heading out on a bike in the snow, you’ll quickly figure out that a lot of the slower streets and bike paths you typically ride have not been plowed. So unless you have a fully winterized bike with snow tires and everything, you may need to reroute to the priority snowplow streets until the side streets are rideable again. The priority snow plow routes are typically busier main arterials and bus routes. Even on the streets with bike lanes, do not expect them to be fully usable.

The two best real-time tools for roadway conditions are the SDOT Winter Weather Response Map and the city’s traffic cameras.

The Winter Weather Response Map notes which streets have been plowed and treated as well as how recently it happened. It also shows which streets have not yet been treated but that are on the to-do list. It’s a good idea to double-check road conditions by looking at the traffic camera feeds along your planed route if a camera exists.

Of course, none of this guarantees a smooth ride, and riding in mixed traffic on slick roads is not for everyone. Take it slow and don’t trust plows to get every single patch of ice. And definitely don’t trust drivers to take proper care.

Also, grab a shovel and clear the sidewalks. The city makes it each property owner’s responsibility to their sidewalks, which is kind of messed up when you consider that they don’t do the same for streets. But that’s the way it is, so get shoveling or hire a neighborhood kid to do it for you (is that still a thing?).

SDOT posted more winter resources in a recent blog post. Below is the winter 2022 snow plow priority routes map for reference, though the real-time map is more useful:

Map of Seattle snow plow routes updated October 2022.

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SDOT will upgrade part of the 8th Ave bike lane downtown

Map of the project area, showing a line from pike to westlake.SDOT will upgrade the 8th Ave bike lane between Pike Street to Westlake Avenue to replace the paint and plastic posts with concrete barriers.

Work will start in early January and continue for up to 3 months.

The project was funded thanks to a community-led effort to secure a variety of street improvements from the Washington State Convention Center expansion project. Because the center’s expansion required a lot of pubic space, including alleys and defunct bus tunnel infrastructure, the project was required to compensate the public for those losses. The Community Package Coalition, which included Seattle Neighborhood Greenways, helped put together an $83 million collection of investments that included the 8th Ave bike lanes as well as Pike/Pine bike lanes, a Lid I-5 study and $29 million in affordable housing.

Photo of the 8th Ave bike lane with green paint were it crosses a driveway. I tis protected with paint and some plastic posts.

The 8th Ave bike lane when it was new in 2019. A lot of those plastic posts have since been destroyed.

The upgraded design still includes the strange diagonal crossing through the intersection with Virginia Street. The design is safe so long as everyone obeys the rules, but it can feel a bit unsettling to use just because it’s so unusual. Continue reading

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Here’s why the new signal at 83rd and Greenwood still isn’t fully operational

The crosswalk signal at 83rd and Greenwood made some headlines a few months ago in large part because it was constructed in the same place as a community-made crosswalk that was painted in September 2021.

The crossing is part of the neighborhood greenway connection between Greenwood and Green Lake, and the improved crosswalk even garnered a community celebration when it opened in October. But it has since been somewhat unreliable. It turns out, the bike detection camera was faulty, and SDOT won’t be able to fix it until early 2023. Until then, you can push the button to activate the signal. From SDOT:

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Amber Weilert: ‘Nothing can change this reality, but we can change the future’

Amber Weilert’s 13-year-old son Mikey was killed in July while biking in a crosswalk on Pacific Avenue S in Parkland. Since then, she’s been sharing her devastating story in an effort to make changes.

She spoke during an event for World Day of Remembrance in November, and last week penned a heartbreaking and powerful piece for the News Tribune. And her efforts appear to be working. Governor Inslee’s proposed 2023-25 budget includes $3 million to build nine crosswalk signals along SR-7, which includes Pacific Ave.

But reading her piece in the Tribune, it’s clear that we need to do so much more:

I wake up some mornings, grab my cup of coffee, walk down the hall, and for a split second I put my hand out to knock on Michael’s door to say, “It’s time to get up for school.” But then reality hits. Michael is not in his room. Michael will never be in his room again.

I hope my son Michael’s story and its impact on the importance of transportation safety ensures your child’s story has a different ending.

Michael was an adventurous child. He loved climbing trees, laughing with his friends, trying to do the latest TikTok dance, running into the cold ocean waves at the beach and riding his bike. Michael finished building his own bike in July 2022, the summer before his eighth-grade year. He was so proud of it and enjoyed the independence that riding gave him. The same month, my 13-year-old son was riding that bike alongside his best friend when he was killed by a driver in a crosswalk on Pacific Avenue.

Read more…

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SDOT will try again to make rail crossing under the Ballard Bridge safer

Illustrated map showing the new gravel sections with bike channels for crossing the tracks.

From SDOT :”We will be replacing unused pavement with gravel to make the it more obvious how to follow the bike lanes and cross the train tracks at a safe angle.”

SDOT is set to start work as soon as Monday on another fix to hopefully prevent people from crashing while biking across the train tracks under the Ballard Bridge as they navigate the notorious Burke-Gilman Trail Missing Link.

Crews will tear out sections of the roadway and replace it with gravel in hopes that this will “add more visual and physical cues for bike riders to follow the correct path across the train tracks,” according an SDOT blog post.

The biggest issue here is that the train tracks cut across the roadway at an unusual and shallow angle, and the gaps between the road and the rails can easily grab bike wheels if riders do not cross at a 90-degree angle. The city has tried multiple times to use paint and plastic posts to encourage riders to cross at a sharp angle, but people continue to crash and get injured here.

SDOT says this fix is not part of the Missing Link project, which remains held up in court. That design would move the bike path to the south side of NW 45th Street, bypassing this crossing area entirely in favor of an easier crossing location to the west of the Ballard Bridge. But as legal delays keep delaying that work, people are still getting hurt.

Riders in the area will need to detour around the work zone via 14th Ave NW and NW 46th Street. The work is expected to last up to three days. A safer track crossing would be an incredible Christmas present.

SDOT also plans to return to the location in 2023 to make more improvements, including rerouting the bike lanes around the south side of the bridge supports. Here’s what that could look like:

Ilustrated map of the phase two design, with the same gravel areas but with the bike lanes and general traffic lane shifted south.More details from SDOT: Continue reading

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You can now preorder my book ‘Biking Uphill in the Rain: The Story of Seattle from behind the Handlebars’

Book cover for Biking Uphill in the Rain. At top is a close-up illustration of the lower part of a bicycle wheel. The lower part has a blue background and a distorted bike wheel illustration that resembles a reflection in a puddle.Biking Uphill in the Rain: The Story of Seattle from behind the Handlebars is officially available for preorder for $29.95 from the UW Press website.

I have been working on this book since 2019, and I cannot wait for you all to finally get a chance to read it. It is due out in May (though printing backlogs could end up pushing it back a little). There will be hardcover and e-book versions at launch, though only the hardcover version is available for preorder at the moment.

The book started as more of a bike culture book with a short history section, but in the course of researching I kept finding fascinating and often surprising stories buried in various archives about the different ways bicycling helped shape the city and its culture. That’s why the subtitle is “The Story of Seattle from behind the Handlebars.” It’s a book as much about the City of Seattle as it is about bicycling, but bicycling provides an atypical perspective for exploring the complicated history of this place.

The book uncovers some long-lost stories and names, and it may change the way you think about Seattle as you bike up and down (and up and up and down) around this beautiful place.

Some blurbs from a couple fantastic writers:

A journalist’s eye and personal enthusiasm make this look at the history, culture, and contemporary politics of bicycling in Seattle a fun, fascinating read that will make you want to get on your bike and explore the city—while organizing to keep making local transportation better, safer, and more equitable.

– Elly Blue, author of Bikenomics: How Bicycling Can Save the Economy

Weaving together history, personal anecdotes, politics, and a passion for the road, Tom Fucoloro opens our eyes to the incredible story of bicycling in Seattle, showing how everyone benefits from more bikes on the road and inspiring us to ride.

– David B. Williams, author of Seattle Walks: Discovering History and Nature in the City

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Governor Inslee’s proposed budget includes millions for safety efforts

Governor Jay Inslee in front of a battery electric bus with his arms wide.

Photo of Jay Inslee with a battery electric bus from the Budget Highlights document.

Governor Jay Inslee’s proposed 2023–25 budget responds to rising traffic deaths across the state by accelerating safety projects, creating a $5 million fund for responding to “emergent safety needs,” and $3 million specifically for SR-7 in Pierce County.

“Like other states throughout the nation, Washington is experiencing increased traffic accidents and incidents that often result in serious injuries and fatalities,” the Governor’s Office wrote in their Budget Highlights document (view the transportation section in this PDF). “There was a 17% increase in traffic fatalities from 2020 to 2021, reaching the highest level in a decade. Pedestrian fatalities increased by over 31%.”

To address safety, the proposed budget would begin work on $15 million worth of biking and walking projects within the 2015 Connecting Washington package that have not yet begun. The budget would also create a $5 million fund to “improve infrastructure as emergent safety needs arise,” according to the highlights document. “Currently, the department does not have flexible funds to provide infrastructure improvements that might immediately increase safety for active transportation users. The 2023-2025 budget includes funding for the department to better respond to community needs when emerging safety issues arise.”

Given WSDOT’s excellent traffic safety engineers, including former Seattle Traffic Engineer Dongho Chang, I am very excited to see such a fund in action. Chang showed in Seattle that a lot of good can be done with relatively little money through focused safety fixes. If anything, I with the $5 million fund were bigger, though it’s a start.

The proposed budget would also include $3 million to build nine crosswalk signals along SR-7, which includes Pacific Ave where young Mikey Weilert was killed earlier this year.

The recreation section of the proposed budget highlights also includes $3.9 million in bonds to “improve public safety by assessing, renovating, or replacing dilapidated bridges, trestles, culverts, and tunnels along the Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail,” according to the highlights document. The proposed budget would also fund “a new foundation and other improvements for the historic Kittitas railroad along the trail.”

The Governor’s Office will submit the full proposed budget to the state legislature, which will have an opportunity to make changes during the legislative session in early 2023. So stay tuned for opportunities to get involved and help influence that process.

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Kirkland approves $20 car tab for walking, biking and Safe Routes to School improvements

The Kirkland City Council voted 6–1 Tuesday to levy a $20 vehicle license fee to raise $1.3 million per year for walking, biking and Safe Routes to School projects. Collection will begin January 2024.

The vast majority of the projects listed for funding are new sidewalks and crosswalks. There are also a handful of neighborhood greenways and some bike lane enhancements, though biking projects clearly take a back seat to walking projects. But either way, it is a good list of projects.

“These revenues are proposed to support issuing debt to accelerate nearly $26 million dollars of pedestrian and bicycle safety priority projects from the Safer Routes to School Action Plans (SRTSAP) and the Active Transportation Plan (ATP),” city staff wrote in a memo to the Council. So even though they will only collect $1.3 million per year, the investments will come faster than that.

Kirkland passed its Safer Routes to School Action Plans in 2020 and Vision Zero and Active Transportation Plans in 2022, so the city has been ramping up to this moment for a while. The city is also preparing for a series of major openings along the Cross Kirkland Corridor Trail, their section of the EasTrail. In 2023, the Totem Lake Connector trail bridge is set to open, a connection to the 520 Trail should begin construction, and the trail should be extended further into Bellevue.

Kirkland initially established its Transportation Benefit District in 2014, but left it unfunded until now. Kirkland’s new fee is expected to raise $1.3 million per year, but the Council decided to delay collecting it until January 2024 due to “the unprecedented rate of inflation at the present time and other pressures on the cost of living.” The approved collection plan was already assumed in the city’s 2023-24 budget.

Below is the funding plan for the TBD (see the chart and read the city memo in this PDF). You can also watch a presentation to City Council and their votes. Continue reading

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