West Seattle community group responds to bike plan cuts + Cascade, SNG outline their priorities

Bike plan map modified by West Seattle Bike Connections.

Neighborhoods all over Seattle have been hit hard by Mayor Jenny Durkan’s proposed bike plan cuts. And as is depressingly typical, West Seattle got hit especially hard. They already had lackluster improvements in the previous version of the bike plan, but the latest version cuts the remaining big improvements, like vital Fauntleroy Way and Roxbury St bike lanes.

West Seattle Bike Connections, the same community group that did amazing work to help their neighbors get around by bike during the Viaduct shutdown earlier this year, is sounding the alarm about the cuts to improvements their neighborhood needs to keep people safe and encourage more people to get around by bike.

From WSBC:

We need safe bike routes on East Marginal, Avalon, Fauntleroy, Delridge, Sylvan/Orchard/Dumar and Roxbury.

Let’s tell SDOT to stop backpedaling. We voted for, we are paying for, and we all need safe streets now. Essential for safety, connectivity, equity, and for Seattle to meet it’s Climate Action Plan and Vision Zero goals.

Unable to attend a meeting? Send comments to CCBike@Seattle.gov by April 30, 2019.

The Mayor didn’t like what she heard from the Bicycle Advisory Board (“find funds and build it”) or what she heard from the Move Seattle Levy Oversight Committee (“find funds and build it”), so now she and SDOT are side-stepping the process mandated by City Council, hoping to get the answer they want from the rest of us. Please let them know how you feel.

You can attend an upcoming SDOT open house to push back against the proposed cuts: Continue reading

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Seattle’s bike share stands out as companies shift to scooters elsewhere

Map from the NACTO report “Shared Micromobility in the U.S.: 2018” (PDF)

Just 21 months ago, Seattle turned American bike share on its head by permitting companies to launch free-floating bikes all over town, an effort that dramatically increased the number of bike trips all over town, turned heads in city halls across the country and helped demonstrate the popularity of so-called “micromobilty” companies, some of which are now valued in the billions of dollars.

Since Spin and Lime (née LimeBike) launched in summer 2017 the industry has pivoted and changed many times over:

  • It started with pedal bikes from U.S.-based companies.
  • Then Beijing-based ofo arrived, charging only $1 per hour.
  • Then electric scooters arrived in other cities, with per-minute fees.
  • Then electric bikes arrived alongside pedal bikes, also with per-minute fees.
  • Then Uber bought JUMP and Lyft bought Motivate.
  • Then Lime added car share to its bike and scooter fleets.
  • Then ofo imploded.
  • Then pedal bikes were completely replaced by electric bikes and scooters.
  • Now, in most cities, bikes are disappearing altogether because scooters get so many more uses per day than bikes.

But Seattle is a notable exception to this final trend, due mostly to Mayor Jenny Durkan’s continued resistance to allowing scooters. An early free-floating bike success story, Lime and JUMP are still working to compete here for the bike share market. Lyft is supposed to join the fray at some point, too, though there has been little news about their efforts.

And according to a recent report by the National Association of City Transportation Officials (“NACTO”), of which Seattle is a member, Seattle now stands out as an oddball in the country, and report authors essentially had to create a separate category just for Seattle. While other cities have sort of stratified into scooter cities and cities with dock-based bike share, Seattle is the only city noted as having only dockless bikes. At this point, Seattle is home to a huge percentage of all trips taken on dockless bikes in the country.

The report notes that 84 million trips have been taken on “shared micromobility” services in the nation, with the bulk split between the small handful of large docked systems and new scooter services: Continue reading

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E Union Street is a chance for SDOT and the mayor to prove they care about connecting bike routes

All you have to do is disappear from existence for two blocks while biking and you’ll be fine.

Seattle is once again set to choose the convenience of car driving over the safety of people walking and biking and our city’s Vision Zero, Climate Action Plan and Bicycle Master Plan goals. This time, it’s on E Union Street in the Central District, where early designs for a planned protected bike lane on the street will fail to fully connect across the two busiest and most important intersections in the project area: 23rd Ave and MLK Way. The reason? Cars, of course.

The single clearest example of the city bailing on its goals is their plan to completely drop the bike lanes for the two blocks surrounding 23rd Avenue. And worse, SDOT spokesperson Ethan Bergerson told the Urbanist’s Ryan Packer that people could just bike on the sidewalk:

“People biking would have the option to get through the intersection by crossing in the marked shared lane or using the sidewalk. We understand that bikes using the sidewalk is not always optimal, however, developments on both sides of 23rd Ave are expanding the sidewalks providing some relief.”

SDOT just used their official megaphone to lean out their car window and yell at people biking to “get on the damn sidewalk!”

Biking on the sidewalk in a busy business district is not a solution, and SDOT damn well knows it. But just to illustrate the point, David Seater recently took SDOT’s advice. Here’s how that went: Continue reading

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Times: Seattle’s most decorated pro cyclist is living without a home

Rebecca Twigg has won six world track cycling championships, 16 U.S championships and two Olympic medals, likely making her Seattle’s most decorated bike racer. Today, she is one of the more than 12,000 people experiencing homelessness in the Seattle area.

Twigg spoke with the Seattle Times’ Scott Greenstone about how her life, her troubles holding a consistent desk job after more than a decade as a pro racer in the 80s and 90s, and her hesitancy to accept help when there are so many thousands of other people who need access to an affordable home, too.

Twigg’s story poses far more questions and issues than it resolves. For one, it highlights the dramatic inequity between men’s and women’s professional racing. A man with these kinds of championships would be a millionaire, but she needed to seek out a day job as soon as she stopped racing following the 1996 Olympics.

Twigg, though, said she hoped her story could help people understand that folks become homeless for all kinds of different reasons. And her message is really important now more than ever, as an ugly anti-homeless sentiment seems to be growing among Seattle residents that paints everyone on the streets with the same dehumanizing brush.

From the Times:

Twigg, 56, agreed to share her story to convince the public that not all homeless people are addicted to drugs or alcohol; that there are many like her, who have struggled with employment and are “confused,” as she said she is, about what to do next with their lives. She did not want to discuss mental health but feels it should be treated more seriously in Washington.

“Some of the hard days are really painful when you’re training for racing,” Twigg said, “but being homeless, when you have little hope or knowledge of where the finish line is going to be, is just as hard.”

Continue reading

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Some Bike Blog business: Planning an endorsement board + A family life update

Seattle’s more honest promotional photo: Our 1962 symbol of the city of the future next to our 2019 car tunnel smoke stacks.

Hello, wonderful Seattle Bike Blog readers. I’ve got some cool bits of blog and family news to share, so I figured I would write you all a letter keeping you in the loop.

First, my incredible spouse Kelli started work this week as Legislative Assistant to Councilmember Mike O’Brien. I’m letting you all know because A: I think that’s really cool news, and B: I figured I should explain how we plan to avoid conflicts of interest for the sake of transparency.

O’Brien is the Chair of the Transportation Committee, which I report about often. So Kelli and I have come up with some simple rules to both protect our relationship and avoid any conflicts of interest:

  1. I will never ask her for information she would have learned from her job. If I want info, I will pursue it through the usual channels.
  2. O’Brien’s office will have someone other than Kelli communicate with Seattle Bike Blog.

Seattle Bike Blog endorsements board

With 50 candidates running for City Council, some of whom I consider personal friends, there’s no way I can do blog endorsements myself this year. So I am in the planning stages of putting together an endorsements board to help with the workload and provide a wider perspective on candidates. A board will also allow our endorsements to be fair to all candidates in races where I have existing friendships.

The alternative to an endorsements board would be to not have endorsements this year. But that’s no fun.

There will likely be an open call-out for board members, so stay tuned for details (if anyone has relevant experience putting together something like this, I’d love advice). I’m hoping to make it both work and fun.

Dedication to independent news

Continue reading

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City announces bike plan update open houses, Barnett uncovers 11 missing projects

Draft map from the 2019 Bicycle Master Plan Implementation Plan (PDF)

SDOT has announced a series of four “café-style conversations” about the latest short-term bike plan, which includes significant cuts through the life of the Move Seattle Levy. The events, produced with help from the Department of Neighborhoods, will be a bit more informal than a typical open house. Staff will give a presentation and be there to answer questions and collect feedback.

Details from SDOT:

Café-style Conversations

6:00PM Doors open
6:15PM Short presentation
6:30PM Conversations

  • Tuesday, April 23
    Washington Hall
    153 14th Ave
  • Wednesday, April 24
    Youngstown Cultural Arts Center
    4408 Delridge Way SW
  • Monday, April 29
    Van Asselt Community Center
    2820 S Myrtle St
  • Tuesday, April 30
    Phinney Neighborhood Assoc.
    Community Hall
    6532 Phinney Ave N

Unable to attend a meeting? Send comments to CCBike@Seattle.gov by April 30, 2019.

Meanwhile, Erica C. Barnett at The C Is for Crank has tracked down the details of 11 missing (or partially missing) projects in the latest draft of the short term bike plan. She did this by comparing the latest and previous plans project-by-project. Some of the missing projects were gone by mistake and will be restored (yay!). Some were listed inaccurately in the previous plan or have been moved to become a part of other projects. Others were cut, but left off the list of removed projects.

“Those missing projects include protected bike lanes around the city—from the University District to SoDo to Beacon Hill to the Rainier Valley—as well as basic bike lanes and neighborhood greenways,” Barnett reports.

In all, thanks to Barnett’s work, we know that the total miles of bike facilities removed in the update is closer to 30 than the 25 SDOT previously reported. Check out her report for details on those projects and responses from SDOT.

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Community organizes to celebrate NE 65th St bike lanes, shows what’s possible when city builds the bike plan

Photos by Matt White (unless noted otherwise)

People gathered at the start of the ride. Photo by Seattle Bike Blog.

Unlike the $4.4 million advertising budget and public fanfare celebrating the new SR 99 car tunnel, no official celebration or encouragement campaign was planned for a major new set of protected bike lanes on NE 65th Street. So excited community members decided to plan their own.

Dozens of people of all ages got together Sunday at Third Place Books at 20th Ave NE and NE 65th Street, the eastern terminus of the newly-completed lanes that have been years in the making and the result of a very tough neighborhood debate.

After a very frustrating week, with people protesting Mayor Jenny Durkan’s decision to cut bike lanes on 35th Ave NE and release a near-term bike plan with even more big cuts, Sunday’s community ride was a much-welcome display of positivity and progress. It felt like a glimpse into an alternate reality in which the city had continued building planned bike lanes rather than delaying or cutting them. It was a happy and powerful demonstration of what a bold walk/bike/transit vision looks like in action.

Andres Salomon of NE Seattle Greenways with a bike full o’ kids.

Riders stopped halfway through the ride to pay their respects at 15th Ave NE, where Andy Hulslander was struck from behind and killed in 2015. A father of two, Hulslander’s death was one of several deaths on NE 65th Street that led the community to demand this safer street design. His death is also a reminder of why projects like this planned across the city are urgent public safety improvements. They prevent collisions that seriously injure or kill people.

Continue reading

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Sunday: Community celebration for opening of NE 65th St bike lanes

Details from the event listing:

Unlike the new downtown tunnel for cars, we don’t have an expensive ad campaign to encourage people to use the new bike lanes on NE 65th St, so let’s create our own!
Bike #Fix65th
Sunday, April 7
Noon to 1:00 p.m.

Meet at Third Place Books
Depart noon and bike to Roosevelt businesses (less than 1 mile)
Stop by your favorite business, buy a snack, a beverage, groceries, something for your home

. . .

Meet up again at the I-5 Park & Ride (south side of NE 65th St)
Depart at around 12:45/1:00 and bike back to Third Place Books

Promote the bike lane on social media using #Bike65th or #Walk65th or #65thPBL.

Along the way, we can stop to place flowers at the ghost bike on the corner of 65th and 15th Ave NE in remembrance of Andy Hulslander, who was killed at this intersection in 2015 when biking home from work.

This is an informal ride, with no formal program. It’s just meant to be an opportunity for those of us who support safer bike infrastructure to get together, become familiar with the new bike lanes, and encourage others to use them, even if they aren’t perfect.

Feel free to share this with anyone who may be interested in joining in. People who want to walk are welcome, too! I hope you can participate!

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Rashomon in Wedgwood: SDOT Director and Deputy Mayor grilled during Bike Board meeting

SDOT Director Sam Zimbabwe and Deputy Mayor Shefali Ranganathan sat down for a long talk with the Seattle Bicycle Advisory Board Wednesday to have a difficult and at times uncomfortable conversation about Mayor Jenny Durkan’s commitment to building the city’s Bicycle Master Plan.

But even if the talk ended with gulfs still between the Board and the Mayor’s Office, both sides offered some valuable insights that I hope will prove fruitful once the temperature in Room 370 cools back down to 72 degrees. And, importantly, the talk generated a path for regaining trust if the Mayor chooses to make the effort.

You can follow that play-by-play via Twitter from these folks:

Ranganathan said she asked to be added to the agenda late because she wanted to “share a little bit of the mayor’s vision” for biking and transportation projects.

She cited escalating construction costs, due in significant part to a competitive construction contract environment, saying “there was  a misalignment with what was promised to voters in terms of mileage .. across the board.”

This led to the Mayor’s Move Seattle “reset,” in which she said the mayor then gave these policy directions:

  • How can we prioritize the projects that connect to the most hubs?
  • How can we complete networks? Instead of focusing on mileage, what are the most impactful projects?

Continue reading

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Notes from the Seattle Bicycle Advisory Board: April, 2019

The Seattle Bicycle Advisory Board meets 6 p.m. the first Wednesday of every month at City Hall. Anyone can sit in on meetings and provide public comment at the beginning and (thanks to a recent change) end.

The volunteer board “advises the Mayor, City Council, and City Departments and Divisions on projects, policies, and programs that improve and/or affect bicycling conditions in Seattle,” and does so in a number of ways. In addition to their meetings, they host bike tours of areas under study, write letters and help prioritize the Bicycle Master Plan.

Below is the agenda for the April meeting. Stay tuned for updates.

 

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Must Watch: Seattle’s bike movement finds its footing again, fights mayor’s bike plan cuts

Seattle’s bicycle movement emerged from chrysalis Tuesday transformed into its newest state, and it put on a powerful display inside City Hall.

I highly recommend watching the testimony and the very interesting Committee conversation, during which Councilmembers Mike O’Brien, Rob Johnson and Kshama Sawant all had powerful things to say in support of the bike plan and safe streets. Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda is not a member of the Transportation Committee, but she was active during the rally before the meeting.

I’ve been covering the bike movement in this town long enough to observe how the popular, grassroots energy behind the idea of a safer and more bikeable city is always evolving to meet the needs of the day. New people get engaged and emerge as leaders, people who have been engaged for a while level up and become stronger advocates, and some people grow cynical, burn out or move away, leaving voids that are not always filled. But despite setbacks here and there, the movement continues to grow stronger and more intersectional, connecting safe streets, bike lanes and transit with housing, public health, environmental justice and social justice.

The bike movement in this town, like so many other movements, has been a very uneasy place in recent years. A lot of the volunteer energy behind it shifted after Donald Trump got elected, as it should have. In my experience, people who believe everyone has a right to safely move around on our streets also tend to believe that everyone has a right to safely live in our nation.

But that doesn’t mean people stopped caring about safe streets, as was clear Tuesday at City Hall.

And it feels like the movement finally found its footing after a few years of being unsure how best to advocate under Mayor Jenny Durkan, whose 35th Ave NE decision finally showed people her true intentions as executor of Seattle’s bike plan. Continue reading

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SDOT and Mayor Durkan release more transparent, less visionary bike plan

Draft map from the 2019 Bicycle Master Plan Implementation Plan (PDF)

26 miles of bike facilities are gone completely, and another 27 are at risk. That’s the harsh reality of the latest iteration of the Bicycle Master Plan Implementation Plan (the “Bike Plan Plan”).

The result is what could be a more transparent bike plan the city has put forth in the years since voters approved Move Seattle, but it’s not visionary. The latest plan officially abandons the goal of keeping the 20-year Bicycle Master Plan on track for completion and will leave massive gaps in the citywide bike network even if every project included is constructed on schedule. And given our recent experience with Mayor Jenny Durkan cancelling the 35th Ave NE bike lanes, that’s hardly a sure thing.

SDOT will present this plan to the City Council Transportation Committee 2 p.m. today (Tuesday). Stay tuned for updates from that meeting or watch via Seattle Channel.

By the end of 2016, the 20-year Bicycle Master Plan was 28% complete (it started at 22% in 2013). One year later, it was 29% complete. One percent per year is dismal progress. It’s hard to imagine how the project list in this latest update puts the city within 5 years of achieving Vision Zero or on track to fulfill its ambitious Climate Action Plan goals.

There is one measure, though, where Seattle is making huge progress: Ridership. And that’s the most important one. The city’s annual bike counts saw an incredible 12% increase in 2017-2018, almost certainly powered by the boom in private bike share services coupled with significant bike route improvements like the 2nd Ave bike lane extension and the Westlake Bikeway. This is amazing, and despite all the other frustrations in this update, let’s not lose sight of this success. Seattle’s efforts to help more people get around by bike are working. We need city leadership to build on this success, not fight it.

In addition to the big bike network cuts, the plan highlights another 27 miles “with known risks,” which could be due to partnership dependencies (such as project where Sound Transit also has a say), where Federal funding is unknown or where the politics could be sticky (car parking!).

But as easy as it is to get angry or discouraged when looking through the latest plan, at least advocates can now see what the city is actually planning rather than being repeatedly blindsided by disappointing setbacks and cuts. The new plan may also provide a much-needed solid step for bike and safe streets advocates to stand on after years of what has felt like free fall. Because this is now Mayor Durkan’s plan. Continue reading

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How did Mayor Durkan get the 35th Ave NE decision so wrong? + Councilmembers respond

Supporters donned green scarves to show their support for the Bicycle Master Plan during a 2013 public hearing.

Mayor Jenny Durkan’s decision this week to scrap planned, designed and contracted bike lanes on 35th Ave NE has drawn a major backlash as people are dismayed to hear that Seattle’s mayor is abandoning the Bicycle Master Plan in order to serve cars.

The Mayor’s Office and SDOT leadership dramatically misread Seattle’s true feelings about bike lanes, street safety and the need to take bold action to fight climate change. If they thought this was going to be the easier or “safer” move politically, then they don’t know Seattle at all.

It’s true that the anti-bike lane organizers around 35th Ave NE have been louder in the past year than those arguing in favor of the bike lanes (though the pro-bike lane side had some great actions, like last year’s moms ride in response to a sexist tweet from the anti-bike lane camp). But the critical error the mayor made here was to forget or ignore the larger picture of how we got here, which included years of organizing and thousands of hours of engaged public participation to create the plans and pass the levy to build these bike lanes. The Bicycle Master Plan was an enormous, multi-year project, and the Move Seattle Levy was an incredibly bold funding package that put biking, walking and transit first. Both sailed into law on a popular wave.

Perhaps the Mayor and her office made the mistake of conflating a localized opposition with citywide opinion, so they decided to serve a small group of neighbors at the expense of a citywide bike network vision. And perhaps because the mayor was not around for the years of Bicycle Master Plan development and missed the big public displays of support for it, she has made a big mistake by underestimating how many people in Seattle expect SDOT to actually build what the bike lanes the plan promises.

Continue reading

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Mayor Durkan chooses 35th Ave NE car convenience over street safety and the fight against climate change

Mayor Jenny Durkan’s vision for the future of Seattle streets is to reserve 100 percent of the street space for cars.

Mayor Jenny Durkan has officially abandoned the Bicycle Master Plan, which was approved unanimously by the City Council and funded through a vote of the people.

The Mayor has until recently only delayed Bike Master Plan projects, like essentially all downtown bike lanes. But the time for wishy-washy stances on bike lane projects is running out, and her office is finally admitting that they do not plan to build bike lanes, at least not bike lanes that have any opposition. Which is predictably almost all of them.

The 35th Ave NE bike lane saga will go down as one of the most unnecessarily frustrating  public debates about bike lanes this city has seen, and the worst part is that the Mayor has now given people a template for how to cancel Bicycle Master Plan projects they don’t like. Get loud, make signs, feel free to get loose with the facts, and she’ll have your back even if you don’t really have a solid policy basis for your bike lane hatred.

The 35th Ave NE bike lanes are noted in the city’s Bicycle Master Plan as part of the priority-focus “citywide network.” SDOT will not build the bike lanes that were planned, designed and even sent to the contractor for construction. And they will not be replaced by a nearby facility (SDOT’s announcement makes a vague mention of “enhancements” to the existing 39th Ave NE neighborhood greenway, which is a steep eight-block round trip from 35th that does not function as an “alternative” or “parallel” bike route). Instead, they are just cancelled, and people in the neighborhood will not have a protected and comfortable way to access local businesses and destinations by bike. And there will now be a gap in the citywide bike network, which hurts bikeability for significant stretches of Northeast Seattle and Lake City.

This not only works against the city’s Vision Zero street safety goals, which requires bold investment in the Bicycle Master Plan to reach zero traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2030. It also works against the city’s climate change goals, which rely in part on shifting a lot more car trips to bicycles in every part of the city.

The Mayor is simply wrong here. She is acting against the will of the people as represented though our elected City Council and the 2015 Move Seattle Levy vote. She is prioritizing car movement and gasoline burning over safety and car-free mobility options.

Deleting these bike lanes goes against our Council-approved transportation policies. Will the Council push back or cede this power to her? If they don’t, then what’s the point of crafting city policies and passing them through that arduous City Council process if the Mayor can just choose not to follow them? Unanimous City Council approval should mean something.

At the very least, Councilmembers and the Move Seattle Levy Oversight Committee should make sure that now that the bike lanes have been cancelled, all Bicycle Master Plan funding spent on this project is returned to the bike budget for use on bike projects, including the $14,000 spent on a failed mediation attempt. Otherwise, this sure seems like an improper use of voter-approved funds. Plus, using Bicycle Master Plan funds to cancel bike lanes is just cruel.

And now that the Mayor has officially revealed her bike lane opposition, how do safe streets supporters respond? It’s a tough spot because Seattle has the necessary plans, policies and funding already on the books, the city just has a Mayor who refuses to execute them. We don’t have the time to wait out her term because we need to make safety and climate progress now. People’s lives and our city’s future are at stake.

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City Light decides against car charger in path of Broadway Bikeway

Base image: SDOT’s Broadway bikeway and streetcar extension plans. As noted, the proposed car charger would be directly in the path of the bikeway.

After public pushback, including by many of you, Seattle City Light has dropped their plans for an electric car charging station on Broadway near Denny Way that would have been located in the path of a planned-but-delayed extension of the existing bike lane.

In an email to people who submitted feedback on the plan, the agency cited public concerns about the bike lane (and increased costs related to relocation) as primary reasons for the change. As Seattle Bike Blog and many others noted, the presence of a car charger would likely serve as an additional barrier to a sorely-needed bike lane extension on Broadway. Moving the charger if/when a bike lane is completed would also cost City Light unnecessary expenses.

Currently, the Broadway bikeway starts at Yesler Way and ends abruptly at Denny Way, spitting people biking into mixed traffic if they want to continue to the major business district at the north end of the street. The bike lane extension is still in the most recent implementation plans for near-term installation, but it has been delayed because an accompanying streetcar extension is also on hold. We have argued that the bike lane should be completed with or without the streetcar because it is noted as a major bike route in the city’s Bicycle Master Plan.

City Light’s car charger program already takes planned bus lanes into account, but not planned bike lanes. The agency has clearly listened to public feedback about this, which is great. Hopefully a policy update will include the Bicycle Master Plan for future siting decisions.

But the debate also raised more philosophical questions about the role of electric car chargers in the public right of way, the role of public entities in funding them, and whether locations with quality transit access is a smart place to locate them. And the answers are not exactly cut-and-dry. For example, the city wants encourage people, especially those without private garages, to use electric cars instead of gas-burning ones. But if you rely on street parking, how are you supposed to keep your car charged? So the city wants to jumpstart a solution. Obviously, the best option is, “Don’t have a car at all,” but that might not work for everyone. Electric cars are definitely not the solution, but they could be part of one. If nothing else, the local tailpipe pollution is better. Continue reading

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Bike News Roundup: National bikelash highlights

It’s time for the Bike News Roundup! I’m in St. Louis visiting family this week, so that’s why news here is a bit slow. But here’s a long list of interesting stuff to read. And if I missed anything, this is an open thread.

First up, I know you all have heard some baffling reasons why a bike lane can’t be installed. Well, you’re in good company. StreetFilms put together a video highlighting some baffling anti-bike lane excuses people have heard from all around the country:

Continue reading

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Will Mayor Durkan meet the City Council’s downtown bike lane 2019 deadline? – UPDATED

From a March 19 presentation to the City Council Transportation Committee (PDF).

SDOT will update the City Council Transportation and Sustainability Committee today on the progress (or lackthereof) on the downtown Basic Bike Network.

The City Council passed a resolution last summer calling on SDOT and Mayor Jenny Durkan to complete key sections of the downtown bike network by the end of 2019, including Pike/Pine, 8th and 9th Avenues, King Street, a south downtown connection and a segment of 12th Ave (see the resolution’s bike lanes in orange in the map above). The presentation notes that Pike/Pine and a south end connection are on target for December (so, as late as possible to meet the resolution), but does not include an update on the rest of the projects.

UPDATE: SDOT’s Jim Curtin told the committee Tuesday that the city had reached a “breakthrough” on 8th and 9th Avenues that will allow construction to start in the third quarter of this year. The biggest hangup for building the south downtown connection is Metro bus layover space, he said. And he noted that the stretch of 12th Ave between Yesler and King “will be very difficult.” You can watch the update via Seattle Channel (starts around the 34:20 mark).

The mayor and SDOT have nearly stopped building bike lanes, especially downtown. The only downtown bike lane to open under Mayor Durkan’s watch was already under construction before she took office. The City Council’s resolution last summer was essentially an attempt to remind her that the bike network is a Council and voter-approved priority. After years of bike network delays, SDOT would need to dramatically increase bike lane construction to catch up to the progress promised to voters who approved the Move Seattle levy.

The Mayor has already blown her chance to have a downtown bike network in operation before the city’s major transit and highway changes began earlier this year. The plans, funding, Council and voter support were all ready, but she chose to stop it. Even without a bike network, biking helped absorb a lot of trips during the initial Viaduct closure. This happened because neighbors got organized and people took it on themselves to bike despite her administration’s clear disinterest in helping people do so. And now that buses are due to be kicked out of the transit tunnel, another transportation crunch is about to begin. And once again, the mayor will have done essentially nothing to help more people shift to biking.

Has the number of people biking during these downtown transportation crunches inspired the Mayor’s Office to rethink their anti-biking stance? Will they rise to the challenge the City Council unanimously set last summer by building a connected skeleton of a downtown bike network by the end of 2019?

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Update on transportation bills in Olympia: What’s dead and what’s still got a chance

Non-budgetary bills in the Washington legislature had until yesterday to pass in at least one chamber in order to remain on track for passage into law. We wrote about a few transportation-related efforts Tuesday, so how did they do?

Well, it’s a mixed bag. Heidi Groover has a longer list over at the Seattle Times. Below are some highlights:

  • DEADHB 1793 – Bill to allow automated enforcement of illegal bus lane driving and “blocking the box.” Disability rights group Rooted in Rights has done a great job leading on this bill, including this fantastic video explaining the need. A combination of resistance to traffic cameras and worries about unequal enforcement did it in. Failure possibly shows the need for more intersectional organizing to promote automated enforcement as a better and more fair alternative to police enforcement. This felt very close, and it was very cool to see Rooted in Rights and Transportation Choices Coalition team up the way they did to promote it. It didn’t win this time, but they made a powerful team. Also, the next version should also look into including bike lane blockages along with bus lanes and “blocking the box.”
  • ALIVE: SB 5723/HB 1966 – Revising the Vulnerable Road User Law. We wrote about this bill in depth earlier this week. It is way ahead of schedule, with both the House and Senate already passing companion versions of the bill. One of these two bills still needs approval by the other chamber, but the Senate vote was unanimous and the House vote was 61–36. So this is looking very good.
  • DEAD: SB 5104 – Prohibit local jurisdictions from imposing tolls. This is essentially the state trying to make sure no community can experiment with congestion pricing.
  • DEAD: SB 5299 – A DUI could become a felony if the offender has had three or more DUIs within 15 years, five years longer than the current ten years.
  • ALIVE: HB 1772 – Update definitions and add regulation details for electric foot scooters. It is way ahead, having already passed the House 85–13. It still needs Senate approval.
  • ALIVE: SB 5971, SB 5972, SB 5970 – These bills make up the $16 billion transportation package Senator Hobbs has proposed. As the Urbanist has reported, this package is filled with highways, even leveling a carbon fee to pay for them. This is all backwards, since transportation and highways are a top cause of greenhouse gas emissions in our state. And don’t get me started on the proposed bicycle tax (that will need to be the subject of a longer post…). This package should die and come back in a future session in a form that invests in building a better future rather than the gas-powered highway vision of the last century. As a budgetary package, it operates on a difference schedule than the other bills. So even though it still has not passed either chamber, it is still alive.
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Mountains to Sound Greenway is now a National Heritage Area

The Mountains to Sound Greenway, a huge swath of land surrounding I-90 from Seattle to Ellensburg, has been designated a National Heritage Area.

This designation could qualify the area for National Park Service funding to the tune of $150,000 to $750,000 per year, the Seattle Times reports. As the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust wrote in a press release, this funding could help:

  • Amplify our rich history and natural heritage on a national stage
  • Increase visibility for the Greenway’s communities through an enhanced sense of place and importance
  • Encourage ecological restoration across multiple jurisdictions and watersheds
  • Grow funding opportunities through private and public partnerships
  • Promote regional tourism and attract new economic opportunities

OK, maybe we need to take a moment to clarify what’s what here, since the term “Mountains to Sound” is used in a lot of different ways and can be confusing. The Mountains to Sound Greenway is 1.5 million acres encompassing much of King and Kittias Counties including Seattle. The Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust is a non-profit organization that works to “conserve and enhance the landscape from Seattle across the Cascade Mountains to Central Washington, ensuring a long-term balance between people and nature,” according to their mission statement. The Trust was a leading partner in the campaign to have this area designated as a National Heritage Area. The Mountains to Sound Trail is the name of an incomplete trail that more or less follows the path of I-90, also commonly known in sections as the “I-90 Trail.” So while people in many parts of the country refer to such a “trail” as “greenway,” the Mountains to Sound Greenway is massively bigger in scope than just the Mountains to Sound Trail.

Here’s a map of the Greenway:

Map of the Mountains to Sound Greenway National Heritage Area, from the MTS Greenway Trust.

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A look at some transportation bills still working through the WA legislature

So Washington Democrats have both legislative chambers and the Governor’s Office for the first time in a while, so what does that mean for transportation?

Well, some great things are moving forward, but so are some pretty not-so-great things. As the session nears its vital halfway point, Heidi Groover at the Seattle Times put together a handy transportation bill tracker to see what’s still alive. Check out the Times story for the full rundown. I’ll highlight a few below.

Non-budgetary bills typically need to pass at least one chamber by 5 p.m. Wednesday in order to stay alive. After this deadline, the chambers shift to working on amending and passing bills that have already passed in the other chamber. So if you see something in the list you care about (either in favor or against) that has not yet been approved by the Senate or House, now’s the time to contact your legislators. The bill must say “Approved by House” or “Approved by Senate,” approval by a committee is not enough.

Here are a few highlights:

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