Seattle Bike Blog

Syndicate content Seattle Bike Blog
Updated: 6 hours 22 min ago

We have just proven that Seattle doesn’t need a highway tunnel or massive waterfront road

Wed, 01/16/2019 - 14:26

Do we really need all this?

So it turns out that when people across the Seattle region plan ahead and change their transportation habits, we can prove to ourselves that we don’t need SR 99 to go through downtown after all. After months of news stories about how terrible traffic would be once the Viaduct closed for good, traffic during the first couple commutes was not much worse than it was before.

We should be celebrating this accomplishment, because people all across the region had to work together to make this happen. It is empowering to know that we don’t need a new car tunnel or a nine-lane waterfront road, that we can change our habits to reduce our dependence on cars and burning oil. Cars are a major cause of preventable death and serious injury in our region, and transportation is our biggest source of greenhouse gasses. But it’s so easy to feel defeated because reducing driving just seems like an impossible lift.

These demonstrations are important because we have far too little faith in our collective ability to change, and that’s holding us back from addressing the massive challenges ahead of us. This pessimism led state Democrats to invest billions in a too-good-to-be-true car tunnel solution to the Alaskan Way Viaduct rather than investing in non-driving methods to move people and goods through the region. The same pessimism led Seattle voters to back that tunnel (well, the lack of a cohesive vision for an alternative didn’t help). A lot of people who care about addressing climate change still supported the tunnel because they just couldn’t imagine that our region could survive without two north-south freeways through downtown.

Worse, leaders were so pessimistic about our ability to change that they allowed the Viaduct to remain in heavy use for 18 years knowing full well that it would collapse in an earthquake. We got lucky, but that was not a gamble worth taking.

So it’s not just important that traffic wasn’t so bad Monday and Tuesday, it’s important that the people of our region take time to recognize and celebrate what this accomplishment represents.

And this is not the first time we’ve done this. In fact, Seattle has proven this point several times before during extended Viaduct closures. The problem is that as time goes on, people tend to slip back into old driving habits, especially if the method they chose to replace their car trip proved not all that great. So if the past repeats itself, you should expect traffic to creep up over the next week or so.

But it didn’t need to be this way. Imagine how different things would be if we had fully invested in transit and a connected bike network rather than digging a massive car tunnel. Today, as people look for ways to avoid driving their typical SR 99 routes, they could have had light rail to West Seattle and Ballard, more express bus routes to more neighborhoods across the region and bike lanes to and through downtown that are separated from car traffic most or all the way. Basically, people across the region could have had so many more tools to work with when piecing together a new way to get around.

Instead, we chose the car tunnel. And we’re about to make another point cities across the world have proven many times before: Traffic will still suck once the tunnel opens. Because you can’t just bury car dependency in the ground. You need to rise above it with modes that actually fit in densely-packed areas: Transit, biking and walking. You also need to build affordable housing oriented around transit access rather than highways so lower-income folks aren’t simply pushed into the places with the worst traffic to bear the burden of dysfunctional car-oriented planning.

We don’t have a time machine to go back and change the tunnel decision. But we can learn from it and from this week’s demonstration that people can change their driving habits. The next generation of leadership in our city and state need to have faith in the people they represent and should ditch the pessimism of previous leaders. There are a lot of great land use and housing bills hitting desks in Olympia right now, and they could be a very good start. Seattle’s City Council is debating big city rezone plans right now, and they have a chance to believe in the people and push for the boldest options to create the most housing that is affordable for everyone. This is no time to water things down to appease people afraid of change. We know we can change when we need to.

Last year, Mayor Jenny Durkan and SDOT snoozed on a lot of opportunities to make sure bus and bike lanes were all connected and in place before the SR 99 shutdown began. But they can still take action this year to catch up. People this week have shown their eagerness for biking, walking and transit options to get around. Now it is on the mayor to deliver. She can’t go back and change major past decisions to invest in the tunnel or build light rail to West Seattle and Ballard more quickly, but she can paint key sections of the Basic Bike Network to help folks get from SE Seattle to downtown or from the Elliott Bay Trail to Pier 66 or from the Westlake Bikeway to 2nd Ave, to name a couple examples. And she can paint more bus lanes to make sure transit can get around major traffic pinch points.

The need for these improvements won’t go away when the tunnel opens. The shift away from driving is a longterm need for our region and the world. The supposed downsides to building better biking, walking and transit infrastructure is all in our heads. If we don’t need the Alaskan Way Viaduct flying cars over downtown, surely we can also get by without a lane here and some parking spots there.

Bike counts were way up on first day of SR 99 closure, and West Seattle neighbors deserve a ton of credit

Tue, 01/15/2019 - 15:33

Data from Seattle Traffic Engineer Dongho Chang via Twitter.

The bike counter at the foot of the Spokane Street Bridge to West Seattle measured a 327 percent more trips Monday than seen at this time of year previously. The counter has only measured more trips in a single day a few times before: August 11, when charity bike ride Obliteride used the bridge, and a couple days in May 2016 when a similar Viaduct closure left folks looking for other ways to get around.

OK, sure, the weather Monday was great. But that alone can’t explain the jump. More people biked across the lower West Seattle Bridge Monday than any June, July or August day ever recorded other than Obliteride. That’s incredible, and neighborhood group West Seattle Bike Connections deserves a lot of credit for all their work to help their neighbors learn how to navigate their way around the Viaduct closure even in the winter.

WSBC has not only distributed information to neighbors looking for help getting on a bike, they also lead a couple SurviveRealign99 weekend rides where they invited interested neighbors on a slow group ride from the Junction to downtown and back. This allowed people to learn the route in the comfort of a group and get their questions answered by folks who are familiar with navigating the industrial streets and trails that separate West Seattle and Duwamish Valley from the city center.

So, other neighborhoods, are you taking notes? It’s not too late to get organized like WSBC and help your neighbors get around in winter by bike.

Though the West Seattle increase really stands out, bike counts across town were way up Monday. As Seattle Traffic Engineer Dongho Chang posted, counts were up 191 percent on the Elliott Bay Trail and 176 percent on the Fremont Bridge compared to January Mondays in recent years:

Monday's bicycle counts show increases in people riding yesterday from prior two years. Elliot Bay Trail: 191% increase from 2017, 44% from 2018. Fremont Bridge: 176% from 2017 and 79% from 2018. Spokane St Bridge: 327% from 2017 and 164% from 2018. Thanks for riding everyone!! pic.twitter.com/B0ehL9APWF

— Dongho Chang (@dongho_chang) January 15, 2019

So good work, everyone. Now let’s keep it going.

Aside from some untreated ice patches, biking was a great way around Day 1 without SR 99

Mon, 01/14/2019 - 16:26

Bike train headed down Jackson (a major gap in the downtown bike network)

Biking around the city this morning was amazing. Sure, the weather helped a lot, with clear skies and a jaw-dropping sunrise fueling my ride to join the SE Seattle Bike Train. No matter how many times I experience it, the beauty of this place always inspires me while biking around town. But it was also amazing to see so many other people out biking and experiencing it with me.

We won’t know for sure until tomorrow when the bike counter data rolls in, but anecdotally it sure seemed like more people biking than on a typical January weekday.

I caught a ride on the inaugural run of the SE Seattle Bike Train 7:30 Local via Beacon Hill. Going into Monday, West Seattle and Green Lake also had community-organized efforts to teach people how to bike downtown and give them an opportunity to try it with a group. More of this, please!

Not everyone can easily bike to work, so there’s a fine line between spreading the word about how great it is to bike and gloating. It sucks if you are truly stuck driving in traffic, and it’s not worthwhile to rub that in. But there are a ton of people driving who could bike if they gave it a shot. And the closure of a highway is a great time to make the leap.

SDOT needs a better ice plan

It wasn’t all smooth riding, unfortunately. I have received multiple reports of unsalted ice patches in known problem areas, including the turn at the north end of the Westlake Bikeway, a section of the Beacon Hill Neighborhood Greenway, parts of the Ship Canal Trail, the Alki Trail, the Missing Link and the sharp rail crossing on the Burke-Gilman Trail near 6th Ave NW, where a true hero was out warning folks:

There was a very enthusiastic man standing at the bend this morning warning cyclists to slow down. I think he might be an employee of the bike shop that's right there. Thanks, enthusiastic man!

— Free Cascadia… (@freecascadia) January 14, 2019

Viaduct closure or not, SDOT should have protocols that kick in whenever overnight lows drop into the 30s to make sure known problem spots are properly treated. Though any stretch with ice can be a problem, the worst spots are curves that are shaded from morning sun.

Deicer and cones were added to this turn at the north end of the Westlake Bikeway, a spot that gets notoriously slick when temperatures drop overnight.

The north end of Alaskan Way needs bike lanes.

I also took a ride along Alaskan Way downtown and was pleasantly surprised to find it not only much quieter (thanks to the lack of traffic on the Viaduct above) but also not particularly busy. I thought that the road would be packed with people trying to get around the highway closure, which I was worried might make an already incomplete and stressful bike route even worse. But if anything it seemed lighter than usual. Again, I don’t have official data to back up my hunch, though.

One improvement that could really help a lot more people bike downtown is a bike lane from the Elliott Bay Trail to at least Pier 66 if not the Seattle Aquarium. From there, the existing substandard waterfront trail picks up and is at least usable, though many prefer to remain in the street rather than navigate around people walking in the trail. If the city really wants to shift Viaduct trips to bike trips, this connection is vital and can’t come soon enough.

Now, here are a few scenes from the morning’s commute:

One of the things I love about walking and biking is that you get to spontaneously see your friends more often! This morning I randomly got to bike to work with @blitzurbanism.

It was also a beautiful morning, and took the same amount of time as last week. #MyCommuteWasAwesome pic.twitter.com/twDyKKuza5

— Gordon Padelford (@GordonOfSeattle) January 14, 2019

Brisk but beautiful morning for a bike ride! Feeling the #Viadoom and Gloom? Try biking to work: you might get views like this of Rainier… #MyCommuteWasAwesome @sngreenways @WSeaBikeConnect pic.twitter.com/XQugKWZpqm

— Nick Halden (@hicknalden) January 14, 2019

#SeattleSqueeze means #Homelessness as well as #transportation.

While #MyCommuteWasAwesome, and I have a nice place to live, others are stuck in traffic or living in tents.

Let’s #DoSomething. #RideBikes. Create #SupportedHousing. #People>#Cars @SNGreenways pic.twitter.com/jNf1lZrKOv

— Bob Anderton (@BobAnderton) January 14, 2019

My morning walk commute was lovely! Some good kiddo time on the way to preschool, then down the hill. The cold and clear days are so invigorating! #MyCommuteWasAwesome @SNGreenways https://t.co/NGYfpb6doGhttps://t.co/X0UukNaj9O

— Rachael (@raludwick) January 14, 2019

Today was the first business day of the #JennyJam, but since I commute primarily by bike, #MyCommuteWasAwesome pic.twitter.com/aErvOxN6l9

— Andrew Koved (@Andrew_Koved) January 14, 2019

I led a Bike Train into downtown from Othello (okay technically the train started in Columbia City) to Downtown and I'm glad I could help other commuters by leaving my space on transit for someone else to use who needs it!#MyCommuteWasAwesome

Want some company biking downtown? Join these welcoming West and SE Seattle rides or start your own

Thu, 01/10/2019 - 15:31

SE Seattle Bike Train. Exact route subject to change.

Biking on city streets can be more fun and less intimidating when you are with a group. And riding with a group can be a great way to become familiar with a route and learn some tips before trying it on your own.

So as a lot of people are looking for other ways to get around during the upcoming closure of SR 99, this is the perfect time for people to get together and ride downtown as a group.

West Seattle Bike Connections is leading the way. The group already held one ride for neighbors last weekend, helping 28 adults and 4 kids learn how to navigate the industrial streets and paths on the way downtown.

The group is hosting another SurviveRealign99 ride 9:30 a.m. Sunday. Meet at the Starbucks at 4100 SW Alaska St.

The SE Seattle Bike Train, which Seattle Bike Blog has helped get started, will host an inaugural ride 7 a.m. Monday and a weekend orientation ride January 20 for those who want to try the route outside of rush hour. The plan is to host weekly rides every Friday, at least. The route will go from Columbia City to Beacon Hill Station to Pioneer Square to Westlake Station.

So if you live in West of SE Seattle, you should get involved with these efforts. The more energy and volunteer power, the more (and longer) rides will be possible.

And if you live anywhere else, what are you doing just sitting there reading this post? Grab a couple neighbors and get organized. Kimberly Kinchen, who was previously an organizer of NYC Biketrain, is helping to organize the Seattle Bike Train effort. She has put together a handy FAQ you can use to help get started.

Rides should be for people of all experience levels, but the focus is on helping people new to city biking. It should move slow enough that everyone can comfortably stay together, and there should be at least a few experienced volunteers to bring up the rear and help folks along the way as needed. So while regular riders should be welcome, they should know that the ride will likely move a lot more slowly than they are used to.

Pick a route that won’t be too intimidating for folks to try on their own and that will work well for a group, choose a good meet-up spot in your neighborhood (a coffee shop is not a bad idea, though a covered area in a park could work well, too), then pick a time and day to give it a try. Hosting a weekend ride might also be a good idea.

If you are organizing (or want to help organize) a bike train in your neighborhood, let us know in the comments below. Seattle Bike Blog can help spread the word, but you should also spread the word locally.

Here’s a video from West Seattle’s weekend ride:

Waterfront bike routes will remain open during upcoming SR 99 closure

Wed, 01/09/2019 - 17:20

Work zone maps from WSDOT.

Waterfront bike routes, including the path under the Viaduct along Alaskan Way downtown, will remain open during the upcoming SR 99 closure, SDOT confirmed today.

We have received a lot of questions in the past week from folks wondering is the Viaduct closure would also close their bike route, and it was difficult to find info about bike route closures in the information released. So it’s great to hear that the current routes — including the Portside Trail (connecting E Marginal to Alaskan Way between Atlantic St and King St) and the pathway under the Viaduct — won’t be disrupted, at least not anymore than they are normally.

Unfortunately, WSDOT and SDOT will not be providing any temporary bike route improvements to help people travel through gaps in the bike lane network, however. Such improvements were not expected, but it’s still disappointing that the city is not lifting a finger to help more people get around by bike during this closure. And SDOT’s Heather Marx gave Mike Lindblom at the Seattle Times an even more disappointing reason for the lack of temporary bike lanes:

January is not a comfortable month for biking or walking,” said Heather Marx, city downtown mobility director. “It hasn’t been a big part of our message, because it’s just a hard sell that time of the year.

While certainly fewer people bike during the winter than in the summer, there are still a ton of year-round bike riders in Seattle. The Fremont Bridge recorded 58,591 trips in January 2018, and that’s just one bridge. Sure, that’s a little less than half the trips in July, but it’s still a lot of people who are probably saying to themselves, “What? Am I invisible?” And a highway closure event like this could have been a great opportunity to help more people become year-round bike riders.

Bike advocate Merlin Rainwater wrote a letter to the editor in response to Marx’s statement pointing to recent bike network improvements like the Belltown extension of the 2nd Ave bike lane as an opportunity to help more people bike:

Shouldn’t the city be encouraging people to take advantage of those improvements and try biking? I’m a 72-year-old woman, and I bike year-round. It’s not that hard to sell.

At least bike share is stepping up to try to help more people make more trips by bike during the highway closure. JUMP is waiving the $1 unlocking fee through February 15 (you still pay 10¢ per minute) and bringing thousands more of their red bikes in coming weeks. Between the two companies, there could be 8,000 bikes in service during the closure, Lindblom reported.

The city also says it is working to limit closures from construction work “by temporarily revoking and reissuing permits for work in the right of way until after the closure, and increasing the number of inspectors monitoring projects on the street.” This will hopefully help cut down on the constant bike lane and sidewalk closures downtown.

Perhaps the best improvement for biking is that the Coast Guard will allow the city to restrict Ship Canal bridge openings for more hours around commute times. And since all the bike routes across the canal use draw bridges, this could prevent some bridge delays for folks. That’s not exactly a game changer, but I guess it’s at least something.

But even if the city isn’t going to take action to help more people bike, that doesn’t mean you all can’t. This is a great time to offer to help coworkers or friends get biking. West Seattle Bike Connections was ahead of the game by hosting a test ride last weekend for folks in West Seattle interested in learning how to bike downtown. Neighbors from more parts of town should follow their lead and organize efforts to help folks navigate the city by bike. And be sure to let Seattle Bike Blog know about your efforts by commenting below or emailing tom@seattlebikeblog.com.

Bellevue is creating a Vision Zero ‘action plan,’ take their survey

Tue, 01/08/2019 - 16:13

Click here to take Bellevue’s Vision Zero survey.

The Bellevue City Council unanimously endorsed Vision Zero in 2015, and now they are putting together an action plan to help eliminate deaths and serious injuries on city streets by 2030.

City staff have put together an online survey to gather perceptions of traffic danger and stories of how traffic collisions have affected people’s lives. The survey walks through some of the basic tenets of Vision Zero, including questions that don’t get asked enough such as whether “it is unacceptable for anyone to be killed or seriously injured while traveling on Bellevue streets” and whether “human life should always take priority over moving vehicles faster.” The survey is probably as much about getting the respondents to think about traffic collisions in a different way as it is about gathering useful data.

But the sad reality is that our culture has thoroughly embraced death and injury on our roads as simply the cost of getting around, and it will take a lot of work to change that. The questions in this survey can’t be asked enough.

So if you live, work or spend time in Bellevue, take the survey and pass it around. Because Bellevue has a lot of work to do to reach this goal, and as with any city it’s going to take both infrastructure and cultural changes to get there.

City map of deaths and serious injuries on Bellevue streets 2008-2017.

JUMP expands service to SE and West Seattle following criticism, announces 2K new bikes

Mon, 01/07/2019 - 13:38

Phase 2 service area map is outlined in red. The initial launch area was within the blue dashed line. Image from JUMP.

Following a Seattle Times story critical of the company’s limited service area, JUMP has expanded to include all of Southeast and West Seattle.

Though the Times story headline says that JUMP has been charging people $25 for parking outside the service area, the company says it has not actually charged the fee to anyone yet. Instead they have issued warnings.

As we reported when the bright red bikes launched in November, their initial service area was limited because they only had 300 bikes. But as they grew they would expand the area. Their permit allows up to 6,666 bikes, though the company has not yet launched the bulk of them.

They will expand again in coming months to include the entire city limits, the Uber-owned company said in a statement today. They also announced that 2,000 bikes are on the way in coming weeks to shore up supply in the newly expanded service area. And they are bringing their newly redesigned bikes, which will have a much less bulky lock compared to the current square metal locks. Users will also be able to unlock them by scanning a QR code, similar to Lime’s bikes.

JUMP promo image of their new bike design.

And to encourage ridership during the upcoming traffic crunch downtown, JUMP is waiving the $1 unlock fees through February 15. So you just pay 10¢ per minute.

Seattle Bike Blog readers were immediately critical of the limited service area in the company’s initial launch. Even though I understand the desire not to have a limited number of bikes spread to far apart, it was problematic to include neighborhoods all the way to Green Lake in the north but stop at Mount Baker Station in the south. Columbia City is closer to downtown than Green Lake, for example.

One lesson learned from the July 2017 launch of Spin and Lime was that it was so much simpler to just include the entire city limits in the service area, even if initial bike distribution was focused downtown. Many of the city’s pilot permit rules were based around trying to encourage companies to serve more of the city because the permit authors assumed companies would want to focus service in dense and often wealthier areas. But from day one both companies served the whole city, which was something of a surprise at the time. Allowing the whole city made it much easier for users to understand and immediately allowed any city resident to access their neighborhood using the bikes. And they did.

Limiting the service area feels a bit like overthinking one problem (bike density) and creating another bigger one in the process. It doesn’t feel good for a potential user to download the app only to find out that their home is excluded. And, of course, serving Green Lake before Columbia City sends the message that whiter and wealthier north Seattle neighborhoods are more important.

So it’s good to see the service area expand, and more bikes in service will help them compete with Lime’s ubiquitous green bikes.

Here’s the statement from JUMP:

Uber today announced the expansion of its JUMP bike service area in Seattle and an increase in the number of JUMP bikes in its Seattle network. Seattle is one of the first cities to receive JUMP’s next generation bikes, which feature integrated cable locks and a QR code unlocking mechanism. Roughly 2,000 new bikes will be phased into the Seattle network in the coming weeks.

“The initial reception of our bikes in Seattle has been very positive among riders, so we’re excited to expand access. It’s something we’ve been pushing hard to do since launching in November,” said Nathan Hambley, a spokesperson for Uber in Seattle. “We hope the expanded service area and additional bikes, along with the promotions we’re currently running, help people get around Seattle during the Squeeze.”

In December, Uber announced it would offer $2.75 off Uber trips to and from select transit hubs through Feb. 15 along with waving the $1 unlock fees on JUMP bikes to help people avoid driving downtown alone while SR 99 is closed along the waterfront.

Seattle’s initial JUMP service area was limited to a zone near the downtown core due to bike supply limitations, although it was drawn to include the entire Central District Equity Area as defined in the Seattle Department of Transportation’s 2018-2019 Free Floating Bike Share Program Permit Requirements (see Appendix D).

“We have met the bike availability targets in the Equity Focus Area boundaries defined in the permit requirements even in our initial service area since launch, and we will of course continue to adhere to those requirements in our expanded service area,” added Hambley. “As we wrote in our permit application, we believe bike sharing can help make cities smaller by connecting neighborhoods and making it easier for residents to travel, no matter where they live or where we have to go.”

In the coming months, JUMP will expand its service area again to include the entire City of Seattle.

In order to encourage riders to leave bikes inside the service area, JUMP provides notice in-app and on its website of a $25 fee for locking the bike outside the system area or bike zone. Although JUMP has issued warnings, no Seattle customers have been charged the $25 fee for ending trips outside the initial service area.

Would you bike on the ‘E?’ How about the ‘Eastway?’

Fri, 01/04/2019 - 13:37

As we reported previously, King County is trying to come up with a better name for the Eastside Rail Corridor, and they have narrowed it down to four finalists: The E, The Eastrail, The 425 and the Eastway.

You can let them know what you think of these names via their online survey.

First off, I’m glad the names are short. “Eastside Rail Corridor” is a mouthful, and it doesn’t do a good job of describing a corridor that no longer has very much rail since Kirkland and King County have removed most of it (though Sound Transit is adding some for a stretch in Bellevue).

I can’t say any of these names immediately jumps out, and part of the problem might be that they are trying to rename a corridor without pigeonholing it to a single use. So while Seattle Bike Blog has for years been referring to the trail portion of the corridor as the “Eastside Trail,” that name does not include potential transit uses alongside the trail. “Eastrail” is the only name the contains the word “trail,”  but it does so in a way that could also be read as “EastRail.”

Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter what they name it. The people will decide in time what it will be called. If the official name is good, then it will stick. If not, people will find their own term.

Want to make your case for any of the four names here? Do so in the comments below.

2018 bike counts up 32 percent on 2nd Ave downtown after bike lane, bike share expansion

Thu, 01/03/2019 - 11:55

Bike counter totals (2nd Ave at Marion St)

The final counts are in, and 2018 is officially a new high water mark for biking in Seattle.

Looking at the real-time bike counter data from around town, biking was up significantly in Fremont and across the lower West Seattle Bridge. But the real eye-catcher was 2nd Ave downtown, which saw a 32 percent jump over 2017.

The 2nd Ave numbers are particularly exciting because they demonstrate how bike share and an expanded network of protected bike lanes can work together to seriously increase bike use in a very short period of time. The Belltown extension of the 2nd Ave bike lane opened in January 2018, around the same time that bike share companies ofo, Spin and Lime increased the number of bikes on Seattle streets to a couple thousand each.

It’s all but impossible to say which had a bigger effect on the increase, but it’s clear that the combination of bike share availability and safe, comfortable bike lanes works.

But bike trips weren’t just up on 2nd Ave. Both the Fremont and lower West Seattle Bridge saw significant increases.

Fremont shattered the previous record, reaching 1,051,893 trips. That’s a nine percent increase over 2017. Since so many north end Seattle and regional bike routes funnel to the Fremont Bridge, this is probably the single best point to get a snapshot of biking in the city. And because it is so busy, it takes a huge number of trips to move the needle. Since 2014, year-over-year changes have been within two percent of each other. So a nine percent increase is massive.

The West Seattle figures are little more tricky to figure out. Looking at raw numbers, the 2018 count was a modest three percent increase over 2017. But emergency work on the swing bridge closed the route for several days in June and the counter was down for several days in November. I tried to fill in the missing data using counts from days before and after the gaps and determined that maybe 7,000 trips were either missed or displaced. So the bridge was actually on pace for a five or six percent increase over 2017.

I’m sure there are people out there who are confused because this data seems to suggest the opposite of recently-reported Census data, which showed bike commuting declining or stagnating in Seattle. A recent USA Today story even highlighted Seattle as part of what appears to be a national trend away bike commuting. We wrote about the Census survey results previously, but I feel the need to address it again here.

I don’t believe the Census data is wrong. I just think the question they are asking (and the way they ask it) is not complete enough to give an accurate picture of transportation use in increasingly multimodal cities. Recent expansions of bike share and express transit service both encourage people to mix trips by biking to transit, for example. The Census survey only allows a single mode as a respondent’s primary mode of travel to work. So someone who bikes to UW Station then takes light rail the rest of the way is likely counted as a transit rider, for example. Someone who takes transit downtown, but then grabs a bike share to get the rest of the way to work is also likely counted as a transit rider. Transit ridership has grown significantly in recent Census surveys, and it’s quite likely that a lot of those new riders got to their stations or bus stops by bike.

People who bike some days — but not always — are likely not counted as bike commuters, either. The question also does not account for non-work trips, which make up the majority of all trips.

So it’s entirely possible for the Census bike commute rate to go down or stagnate while the total counted bike trips go up. And bike trips are the more important measure, since it really does not matter why someone is biking. We just do not have a quality dataset that accounts for all trips regardless of purpose or mode mixing, so people focus on the Census commute figures.

It’s also worth noting that the most recent Census data is for 2017, so it will be interesting to see how/if things change in the 2018 data. But that won’t be out until September.

This is a long-winded way of saying that more people are biking more trips in Seattle. And expanding the bike network and growing bike share both help people make more bike trips. And making big bike network improvements, especially downtown, can yield big results in a very short period of time. At a time when the city is bracing for years of traffic headache, an expanded and connected bike network could be an effective pressure release valve to keep people moving. Seattle leaders should celebrate this success and build on it.

People in Seattle have taken more than 2M Lime trips + ofo appears to be imploding

Mon, 12/31/2018 - 15:38

From the Lime 2018 Annual Report (PDF)

People in Seattle have taken more than 2,050,000 trips on Lime bikes since the company launched in summer 2017, according their annual report. That’s a pace of about 1.5 million trips per year for just one of the companies serving the city with shared bikes.

There are few precedents for an urban mobility service that has so quickly served so many trips. Transit services often take years or decades to plan and launch. So especially for a city that is facing a very near-term traffic crunch, a non-car service that can carry so many trips is a huge deal.

And we still have not seen the city’s bike share permit reach its true ambition. Motivate/Lyft is supposed to join Lime and JUMP/Uber, combining to reach as many as 20,000 bikes. And as other cities have shown, adding shared electric scooters to the mix could carry even more trips than the bikes. The city has so far been resistant to adding scooters. Ensuring and demonstrating that the devices will be safe on steep hills will be vital for companies trying to ease concerns at City Hall.

Meanwhile, Lime has expanded into car share with the launch of Lime Pods in Seattle. While this blog does not typically cheer on car services, I actually like car share. As someone who grew up in a car-depended suburb in Missouri, I know how scary it can be to make the leap and sell your car. When you’re used to having it, it’s hard to imagine life without it. Well, car share services can work like Nicotine gum. Knowing you have a car around if you really need it can make selling your car a bit easier.

Seriously, I cannot recommend selling your car highly enough. I have rarely ever felt such a sense of relief and personal freedom as I did watching the new owner drive that 1995 Nissan Maxima away. And you get a fat stack of cash.

The more people use car share, the less reason there is to build and reserve space for car parking.

ofo appears on the verge of collapse

Remember when ofo abruptly pulled out of the United States? Many wondered if their departure was related to Seattle’s big increase in permit fees, but others speculated that the sudden departure was a sign of trouble back in China where the bulk of their business is.

Well, the enormous bike share company appears to be on the verge of collapse as their user base rushes to get their deposits back. ofo is the biggest bike share company in the world, so their demise could be the most dramatic example of China’s bike share bubble bursting. It might seem like there are a lot of bike share bikes on the streets in Seattle, but the recent boom in bike share in China is on a massively larger scale. Seattle counts bikes by the thousand. ofo has launched millions of bikes. When I interviewed an ofo spokesperson back in early 2017, they said the company’s goal was to “unlock every corner of the world.”

Some day, I bet ofo will have a paragraph or two in a lot of economics text books.

Bike News Roundup: SDOT Baby

Thu, 12/27/2018 - 11:35

It’s time for the Bike News Roundup! Here’s some stuff floating around the web recently that caught our eye.

First up, a Seattle transportation wishlist in holiday song form by Laura Goodfellow:

Pacific Northwest News

Halftime show! Steve Carrell recently told Ellen about a time when a fan hit him with her car while he was biking:

National & Global News

This is an open thread.

Seattle and Bellevue both make it on America’s Best New Bikeways of 2018

Thu, 12/20/2018 - 14:21

The 2nd Ave bike lane in Belltown, named America’s Best New Bikeway in 2018.

Seattle and Bellevue both turned heads nationally with protected bike lanes that opened this year, making People For Bikes’ list of “America’s 10 Best New Bikeways of 2018.”

Seattle’s entry, the fantastic 2nd Ave bike lane extension in Belltown, made the 2018 list on a technicality: It was a 2017 project that ran overtime and didn’t open until January 2018. But it is really great and worthy of the top spot on the list it won. It shows what the city is capable of when given a serious budget. Every new bike lane does not need to be as fully-featured as this stretch on day one, which comes with both financial and construction time premiums. But it should be the ultimate goal for our bike network to be as functional and complete as this bike lane someday, even if a lower-cost version makes more sense in the near-term.

Congratulations to the SDOT team that made this incredible addition to the downtown bike network happen. You never really got the victory lap and praise you deserved for it. So here it is, a year late. From People For Bikes:

The new bikeway includes three new signals in Belltown, which help people cross 2nd Avenue. There were also upgrades to 11 other signals, concrete planters with foot rests, and raised driveway crossings. All of this made for record ridership in the area this year, with a 34% increase from 2017, and a 380% increase from 2014.

Our top slot was awarded for having full concrete separation in addition to numerous innovative bike-specific structures. We liked that it was built off a successful demonstration project that debuted in 2014, and that lessons learned from the 2014 demonstration led to design revisions and more advanced separation techniques. The success of the demonstration also directly led to the permanent installation, doubling the length of the original project. The corridor provides network connections to three other protected bike lane projects feeding into downtown. This project is an example of progress toward a truly complete network.

Bellevue’s 108th Ave downtown bike lane demonstration earned an honorable mention on the list. Passing through the heart of downtown and connecting directly to Bellevue Transit Center, the bike lane launched in conjunction with bike share.

A lot of work is still needed to connect Bellevue neighborhoods and homes across the region to the new bike lane, but Bellevue deserves a lot of credit for going after the most difficult part first. It’s a bold and effective test that will hopefully form the backbone of a bike network in coming years.

It’s also worth noting that while Seattle’s mayor has all but failed to build new bike lanes in 2018 (that weren’t scheduled for 2017 like 2nd Ave), Bellevue is putting its westside neighbor to shame. From People For Bikes:

Fifteen miles of bike network was installed citywide in 2018, and the 108th Avenue (Downtown Demonstration Bikeway) was the marquee project. It opened in July, concurrent with the launch of the bikeshare, and closed a 0.8-mile gap through Downtown Bellevue, connecting the I-90 and SR-520 Regional Trails.

With support from the downtown association, the project repurposed travel lanes to implement quick-build bike lanes. Featuring painted buffers, planter boxes, plastic curbs and posts, green paint, and a modular bus/bike platform, the project improves access to the city center and transit center.

Preliminary results show that there’s been an increase of 65% in use of bikeway, with 87% of those surveyed feeling safer and more comfortable. They’ve also measured that auto travel time remains the same.

Mayor nominates Sam Zimbabwe to be next SDOT Director

Wed, 12/19/2018 - 11:45

Mayor Jenny Durkan and SDOT Director Nominee Sam Zimbabwe. Screenshot from Seattle Channel.

Mayor Jenny Durkan has nominated Washington DC’s Sam Zimbabwe to be the next Director of SDOT, emphasizing his experience in project delivery and multimodal urban planning during a Tuesday press conference.

If the City Council confirms him quickly, Zimbabwe could be on the job in the middle of January. That means he will get the keys to his office just as the city tries to adjust to the permanent closure of the Alaskan Way Viaduct and its downtown freeway exits.

Zimbabwe is currently the Chief Project Delivery Officer at DDOT, the same agency where Seattle’s previous permanent SDOT Director Scott Kubly cut his teeth.

“I’m a multimodal kind of guy,” he said, noting that in DC he mostly takes the train to work but sometimes bikes or drives. He has previously worked on transit oriented development and DC’s streetcar, which had troubles of its own. And, of course, DC has been a national leader in building protected bike lanes and growing bike and scooter share.

“As more people feel like they feel safe and comfortable taking care of some of their daily needs with a bike, the less divisive the bike questions have become,” he said.

Zimbabwe is stepping into a pretty tough spot. SDOT has had a terrible year. Staff morale is low, and the department has been massively underdelivering on promised and planned projects. As we reported earlier this month, the department has nearly stopped building bike lanes, managing to complete just a tiny percentage of the bike lane miles they had planned in 2018.

Being leaderless for the past year has been hard on the Department, which has gone through two interim Directors and has seen a lot of changes at the Deputy Director level. So having a Director should hopefully help SDOT get back on its feet.

But having a good Director in place is only part of the solution. Mayor Durkan also needs to empower the Director to make bold decisions even if there might be political pushback. The SDOT Director answers to the Mayor, so they can only be as bold as the Mayor will allow. Any urban transportation project that challenges the status quo is going to get pushback. But the status quo is not working now and definitely will not work in the future are the region grows.

There are also a lot of people in Seattle eager for change and ready to support bold action. So while making the right choices to prioritize walking, biking and transit will receive pushback, the mayor and SDOT Director should know that there are also people ready to celebrate those choices. Sometimes it seems like fear of angry pushback makes leaders forget that many other people are ready to support them.

Because of all the delays in 2018, there is a huge backlog of planned and funded projects waiting to get the green light. That’s a challenge, but it’s also great opportunity for a new Director to really make an entrance and get a lot done quickly. Many of those projects are bike lane connections to and through downtown, which has enormous potential for unlocking new bike trips for a lot more people.

2019 is set up to be a big year for transportation in Seattle. It’s going to be messy. Traffic patterns are going to shift, and a lot people’s habits are going to change. This is an opportunity to invest in the city we want to be and make big steps in that direction in a short period of time.

Watch the press conference announcing the nomination:

Google Maps now suggests Lime bikes in its transit directions

Mon, 12/17/2018 - 13:53

Lime’s bikes and scooters now show up as a transit option in Google Maps in a select number of cities. The app takes into account both the time to walk to the nearest bike and the bike ride to give you time and price comparisons with real-time transit data and app taxi services.

This might seem like a simple little change, but it’s a hugely powerful addition to the most popular mapping app. Calculating all the steps to completing a bike share trip in real time and comparing it to other options also empowers people who are agnostic about how they get around to easily choose the fastest and cheapest option. And that will often be a bike.

Including bike share also puts these services in front of a lot more people who might not seek them out otherwise. And it makes the transit tab of Google Maps that much more competitive with the driving tab. That may sound a little silly, but most people are just looking for the best way to get where they’re going. So having bikes in the mix is huge.

Only Lime appears in the results, at least for now. JUMP’s parent company Uber shows up as an app taxi service, but their bikes are not listed. Google’s venture capital arm is a major investor in Lime, along with Uber. Google is also an investor in Uber, but Google is also currently suing Uber. I know, it’s confusing.

More details from Google:

You just got off your train and you have seven minutes to get to your first meeting on time—but it’ll take you 15 minutes to walk the rest of the way. You don’t have time to walk, your bus is delayed and the next ridesharing vehicle isn’t set to arrive for another 10 minutes. So close, yet so far.

Today, we’re teaming up with Lime to help you find a better way to travel these short distances. In 13 cities around the world, you’ll now be able to see nearby Lime scooters, pedal bikes and e-bikes as a transportation option right from Google Maps. Simply navigate to your destination and tap on the transit icon to see your nearby options. If a Lime vehicle is available, you’ll see how long it’ll take to walk to the vehicle, an estimate of how much your ride could cost, and your total journey time and ETA. Tapping on the Lime card will take you right to the Lime app, where you can see the exact location of the vehicle and easily unlock it. If you don’t have the Lime app installed, you’ll be taken to the App or Play store.

You can now see Lime scooters and bikes on Google Maps on Android and iOS in Auckland, Austin, Baltimore, Brisbane (AU), Dallas, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, San Diego, Oakland, San Antonio, San Jose, Scottsdale and Seattle with more cities coming soon—so you can get to that meeting right on Lime.

Judge decides Missing Link megastudy did not adequately address economic concerns

Fri, 12/14/2018 - 13:13

In yet another partial court defeat, the Ballard Missing Link of the Burke-Gilman Trail has once again been thrown into question this week after King County Superior Court Judge Samuel Chung sided with the city on two out of three of the major challenges to its environmental megastudy of the trail route. But that isn’t enough.

We are still trying to learn what exactly this means for the project, which is currently scheduled to begin construction early next year. So stay tuned. UPDATE: The City Attorney’s Office told the Seattle Times they disagree with the decision and plan to appeal it.

Previous court decisions required the city to conduct a massive environmental impact statement (“EIS”), the kind of study typically required of megaprojects on a much larger scale than a short stretch of biking and walking trail. The 829-page study took years to complete at significant cost. It’s safe to say that this is the most-studied section of trail in state history. Maybe in the nation?

Because the city conducted the EIS, trail opponents’ only legal path was to argue that the city’s study, which the Seattle Hearing Examiner approved, was legally inadequate. This should have been a pretty tough bar to clear, but they did it. Appellant attorney Josh Brower continues to surprise with his ability to win just enough to block or delay this project. This is the second time he has won small pieces of his cases against the trail in King County Superior Court.

On questions of safety and parking, the judge found the study adequate. So that’s the good news. But on the question of economic impact, the judge found the study inadequate. Specifically, the judge “identified the potential for increased costs of insurance” as the basis for the ruling, according to a Cascade Bicycle Club statement. Cascade has been involved in the legal fight for many years, intervening on the city’s behalf.

“We believe this can be resolved and that the City can move forward with getting construction back on track,” the statement says.

The question of increased insurance costs has been floated for many years as a reason to block the trail. It’s always been a somewhat baffling argument because the trail is safety project designed to provide folks biking and walking with a separated and protected space to do so. It also feels strange that the whims of a private insurance company could decide whether the city can build a trail on public right of way. But here we are. It has been an argument against the trail for so long that it is discouraging that the city did not address it well enough in its massive study to satisfy the court.

The case is moving to King County Superior Court Judge Roger Rogoff starting in January.

I have a question into the city about what it would take to satisfy the judge’s concern and what the timeline for that could be. I will update when I hear back.

In the meantime, here’s the full statement from Cascade:

While the members, leadership and staff of Cascade Bicycle Club are disappointed in the overall outcome of the ruling today in King County Superior Court, it is clear that Judge Samuel Chung agreed that the bulk of the Missing Link Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was sufficient. Specifically, he ruled that the EIS was sufficient in the areas of traffic analysis and safety as well as the review of any loss of parking. Conversely, Judge Chung identified the analysis of economic impacts—specifically the potential for increased costs of insurance—as the single basis for ruling the EIS deficient. We believe this can be resolved and that the City can move forward with getting construction back on track.

“Unfortunately the real cost of this obstruction campaign is borne by the over 300 people a year who suffer injuries on the Missing Link,” says Richard Smith, Executive Director of Cascade Bicycle Club. “For over 20 years, a few deep-pocketed individuals have delayed while the community of Ballard has waited for their preferred route.”

Since the Environmental Impact Statement was completed in 2013, thousands of residents and businesses have weighed in on the EIS and subsequent design process saying they want to ‘Complete the Missing Link!’ During the EIS comment process alone, 77 percent of the 4,500 respondents indicated a preference to locate along the preferred alternative, which runs along NW 45th St., Shilshole Ave. NW and NW Market St.

WSDOT is testing out a less bumpy gap cover on the 520 Bridge trail

Thu, 12/13/2018 - 12:25

Base photos from WSDOT.

The trail on the 520 Bridge is amazing, except for one annoying and possibly dangerous detail: The metal plates that cover the floating bridge’s expansion gaps are jarringly bumpy. It’s a frustrating detail in what is otherwise a wonderful experience (well, as wonderful as being next to a freeway can be).

Well, great news! WSDOT installed a demonstration gap cover yesterday to test a design that is hopefully less jarring and meets all their engineering criteria (the plates need to handle heavy loads in case the trail is used for maintenance vehicles). It is located near the east end of the bridge, and WSDOT is hoping to gather feedback from folks about whether it addresses the issue. Text (206) 200-9484 to submit feedback.

  • This is an improvement, upgrade all similar plates: text “A
  • I didn’t notice a difference/the old plates are fine: text “B

You can also post to social media using the hashtag #RateThePlate.

We noted these bumps before the bridge opened and argued that the state should smooth them out so they are not so jarring. When biking, you hit a bump every few seconds. This is annoying, for sure, and diminished the otherwise pleasant experience of biking across Lake Washington. But my main concern is that someone will not be expecting such a bump on a brand new trail and will crash.

I have not yet heard any reports of crashes caused by these gap covers, which is a good thing. But it is still worth fixing the issue to be sure.

From the photos, it certainly appears to be a much less jarring bump, though Seattle Bike Blog has not yet had a chance to try it out. Have you biked across the 520 Bridge since the new plate was installed? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

More details from WSDOT:

State Route 520’s new trail across Lake Washington has garnered high praise from more than 300,000 users since its December 2017 opening. Bike riders, runners, dog walkers and folks out for a relaxing stroll tell us they’re delighted to have a new, foot-powered trail with scenic lake and mountain views. And many pedal-pushing commuters say the new trail, as an alternative to I-90’s cross-lake connection, is cutting significant time off their daily treks between the Eastside and Seattle.

There’s one aspect of the path that’s not getting rave reviews: the narrow steel plates covering the trail’s expansion joints on the bridge. Some bike riders tell us the plates are jolting, especially for road bikes with skinny, highly inflated tires. I’ve ridden the trail myself, several times, and experienced the thump of each joint cover.

I’m glad to report that we’re working on a remedy. Our engineers developed and installed a prototype plate designed to ease the bumps cyclists experience while crossing the floating bridge. The new cover plate design won’t completely eliminate the bumps – but it should produce a marked improvement.

That’s where you come in. Now that the prototype cover plate is installed, we’re asking riders to #RateThePlate. After biking over the replacement plate (located near the east end of the bridge) we’re asking riders to text us at (206) 200-9484 to rate their experience with two options:

  • This is an improvement, upgrade all similar plates: text “A”
  • I didn’t notice a difference/the old plates are fine: text “B”

We’ll solicit feedback through the end of the year. If we hear that the plate provides a better ride, we’ll manufacture and install replacements for all 27 existing narrow cover plates.

Why the path has cover plates
The roadway on the new, 1.5-mile-long floating bridge has expansion joints on each end of the 23 massive, concrete pontoons supporting the structure. The joints allow the bridge to expand (or contract) horizontally as air and water temperatures change. They also allow the bridge to flex vertically as the lake’s water level rises or falls. On the shared-use trail, there’s an open gap at each joint that varies in width from about 2 to 4 inches. Left exposed, a gap of that size could be hazardous to someone with a cane, a skateboarder, or other trail users. So we added cover plates over each joint to address the safety risk that open gaps would pose.

The trail’s existing steel cover plates are a half-inch thick, with a flat top, beveled edges and a rough, nonskid surface. When designing the bridge, we used federal guidelines to ensure the plates’ compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The plates also play a role in the integrity of the bridge itself. The roadway and shared-use path are elevated 20 feet or more above the lake’s surface. This design feature keeps vehicles, bike riders and pedestrians wave-free during windstorms. It also gives our crews ample room for inspection and maintenance of the pontoons below.

Because the bridge deck is elevated – up to 70 feet on the east high-rise near Medina – we use a special truck, equipped with an extendable, hinged arm and crew basket, for inspecting the underside of the bridge. This 3-ton vehicle travels along the trail for these inspections, so the cover plates must be strong enough to support its weight. Moreover, emergency vehicles, including fire trucks, might have to use the trail if a major incident blocked the roadway.

A tale of two trails
A few bicyclists have asked us why the older, narrower shared-use trail on the I-90 floating bridge is smoother than the new SR 520 Trail – without the expansion-joint bumps. The answer, once again, relates to SR 520’s elevated roadway.

In the same way traffic moved on the old SR 520 floating bridge, all I-90 traffic crossing Lake Washington – including bicycles – travels directly on the pontoons’ concrete surface. That means there are no heavy trucks making under-bridge inspections from I-90’s shared-use path – and no need for sturdy cover plates on that path’s expansion joints.

The new SR 520 Trail is a wonderful addition to the region’s expanding network of trails, and we want your experience of riding the trail to be fabulous as well. Be sure to #RateThePlate after your next ride!

Photo from WSDOT

Mayor’s last-minute ousting of Bike Advisory Board Chair was an awful way to treat a volunteer

Wed, 12/12/2018 - 15:20

Casey Gifford speaks to a crowd gathered for the Bike to Work Day 2018 rally at City Hall.

Just hours before the November meeting of the Seattle Bicycle Advisory Board, Co-Chair Casey Gifford received a call from the Mayor’s Office informing her she was headed to her last meeting on the volunteer board.

The decision stunned Board members and surprised Gifford because this has never happened before, at least in recent memory. And it certainly has not happened to the Chair of the Board with no time to plan for a leadership transition. There are so many new members on the Board that only Amanda Barnett has completed a full term, Erica Barnett reports.

“I wanted to step down as chair, but I didn’t feel it was the right time with how many new people we had,” Gifford told Seattle Bike Blog.

Typically, if a Board member wants to stay on for a second term, they can. Members are limited to two two-year terms, which prevents the Board from becoming stagnant and creates space for new leaders and new voices. This system works, which is why the statement the Mayor’s Office sent Seattle Bike Blog doesn’t add up:

It’s the Mayor’s priority to continue to bring in new voices on her boards and commissions. We’re grateful for Casey Gifford’s service and look forward to welcoming a new chair in the coming weeks. The Bike Advisory Chair will be a critical role as we advance the Mayor’s commitment to multimodal transportation in the City of Seattle.

In just two years, had proven herself to be a very valuable and dedicated leader. That’s why it’s so surprising not only that the Mayor’s Office would choose not keep her on for another term, but that they would dismiss her so abruptly.

Perhaps this is a good time to remind everyone that the Bike Board is a volunteer gig that has no actual decision-making power. The city won’t even put in the effort to record their meetings for the Seattle Channel website, so the only records are the meeting minutes and any letters they choose to write. It requires a lot of time and energy, especially for the Chair, and the personal gains are minimal beyond fulfilling a basic desire to help make the city better for biking. I guess it could also look good on a résumé.

Half the members are appointed by the Mayor and half are appointed by the Council. They are tasked with “advis[ing] the City Council, the Mayor, and all departments and offices of the City on matters related to bicycling, and the impact which actions by the City may have upon bicycling; and shall have the opportunity to contribute to all aspects of the City’s planning processes insofar as they may relate to bicycling,” according to the 1977 resolution that created it (PDF). Basically, they can ask questions and write letters. They can be effective in influencing decisions if city leaders choose to listen, but they don’t have any direct authority.

In Gifford’s place, Erica Barnett reports that the Mayor has appointed Selina Urena. Urena formerly worked in development at Bike Works and now works at Transportation Choices Coalition. This gripe has nothing to do with Urena, who should be a great addition to the Board.

My concern about Gifford’s ousting is that it is such an insult to someone who has volunteered so much to the city. She didn’t deserve to be treated this way by the Mayor of our city. This also sends a terrible message to other community members which might be interested in volunteering their time to help Seattle. There are plenty of other community organizations that will appreciate the gift of your time.

I am also concerned that at a time when the Mayor cannot even manage to hire an SDOT Director or even attempt to accomplish the Department’s voter-approved work, she is instead micro-managing the leadership of a powerless volunteer advisory board.

Seattle Bike Blog thanks Casey for her work on the Board. Your ousting is the city’s loss. Barnett reports that Councilmember Mike O’Brien is considering appointing Gifford, which would be great for the Board. But I wouldn’t blame her if she said, “No thank you.”

Ahead of January’s traffic crunch downtown, here’s some advice for first-time winter bike commuters

Tue, 12/11/2018 - 16:42

Is it the Period of Maximum Constraint or the Seattle Squeeze or the Jenny Jam? Doesn’t really matter what you call it (well, Mayor Jenny Durkan would really like you to call it the Seattle Squeeze), you should be figuring out right now how you are going to avoid driving to or through downtown Seattle.

Biking is a great option, but Councilmember Mike O’Brien made a good point earlier this week:

O'Brien: if you're not a bike commuter, being asked to try out bike commuting for the first time in January is "a pretty heavy lift."

— SCC Insight (@SCC_Insight) December 10, 2018

There’s a reason most bike commute programs start in Spring. It’s just easier to convince people to start biking to work when it’s sunnier. But with the Viaduct closing January 11, we don’t have that luxury.

But with all the doom and gloom talk about the Period of Maximum Car Squeeze, I agree with today’s Seattle Transit Blog Editorial: This is an opportunity. And as the Move All Seattle Sustainably (“MASS”) coalition said in a press release today, “This multi-year traffic crunch should be a catalyst to move rapidly towards the carbon-neutral, multimodal transportation system Seattle needs.

Under Mayor Durkan’s leadership, SDOT squandered its chance to have a fully-functional Basic Bike Network operational by the time the Viaduct comes down January 11. Sure, I can dream that she will boldly direct SDOT to make the nearly impossible happen and build a pilot bike network in just one month. But as Donald Rumsfeld once maybe said, “You Maximum Squeeze with the bike routes you have, not the bike routes you might want.”

So in that spirit, Seattle Bike Blog asked readers for their advice to someone commuting by bike for the first time in the dead of winter:

One thing I did several years ago was to aim for biking at least once a week to work through winter. Helped make sure my bike was kept in working order, avoided terrible weather and kept my bike clothes some place where I'd actually find them. Now I bike most everyday yr round

— Scott Amick (@ScottA_SEA) December 10, 2018

Protected bike lanes along their routes. I biked all winter in pouring rain, pitch dark, and even snow when I worked adjacent to the Burke Gilman Trail.

— Garland (@garlandmcq) December 10, 2018

Do a low cost “experimental” bike lane on 4th Ave using the current far left travel lane? Do the same on all center city BBN routes? Surely we could site some concrete barriers and planters before Jan 11!

— Rachael (@raludwick) December 10, 2018

Also, bike sharing seems like an obvious way to help new people! Someone giving free credits on those?

— Becky (@beckedm) December 10, 2018

One idea (credit someone else for this) – just bike the days it’s not actively raining – it’ll end up being more often than you think!

— Becky (@beckedm) December 10, 2018

Make a little hype embrace-the-rain how to / survival kit video … “Rain Riders: Live Where You Live”

— Paige (@ravinekid) December 10, 2018

Also, everyone who rides in the winter should have a good set of lights for their bike. Can there be a program to give those away to folks who take some kind of pledge to ride in January?

— Becky (@beckedm) December 10, 2018

I just replaced my bike that was stolen in December of ‘16 last week. I was a daily commuter and turned into a daily driver. I’m currently transitioning back to bike commuting. I’ve found that having your gear out and in sight helps, that and not paying for gas helps too.

Man recovering from Harvard Ave E hit and run Friday seeking folks on bikes who stopped to help

Mon, 12/10/2018 - 12:15

Approximate location of the hit and run, via Google Maps.

Did you see or stop to help a man injured while biking on Harvard Ave E at E Allison St Friday morning around 9 a.m.? Ariel and his wife Roï are trying to get in touch with the people who helped him and may have seen the person driving, who fled the scene.

Ariel is recovering from serious injuries to his shoulder, ribs and lungs. Several people on bikes stopped and stayed with him until help arrived. Roï reached out to Seattle Bike Blog to help get the word out. If you are one of those who stopped, please email tom@seattlebikeblog.com and I will forward your email to them.

More details from Roï:

My husband, Ariel, is a regular bike rider and uses his bikes for his day to day commute. [Friday] around 9am he was hit by a car – it was a hit and run…Ariel was riding downhill on Harvard Ave E towards University Bridge (alongside the I-5 to Ariel’s left), and the car was coming uphill in the opposite direction, and has taken a turn left at Harvard Ave E and E Allison St (which is where it ran over Ariel).

Ariel is hospitalized in Harborview and suffers shoulder and ribs fractures, and pneumothorax injury.

When Ariel was hit, a group of bicyclists was there and they talked to him to make sure he’s OK and stayed until help arrived. Some of them took pictures – we are hoping they captured the car that hit Ariel, because the driver stayed at the scene for a minute or two before he took off – while the bicyclists were already there. I was wondering if perhaps there’s a way to reach out to bicyclists who were there to contact us? Any help is appreciated!

Cascade: Support the Missing Link at a Friday court hearing

Thu, 12/06/2018 - 14:55

From 2015.

The Ballard Missing Link of the Burke-Gilman Trail has (hopefully) one last legal hurdle to clear. Opponents have appealed the trail’s massive environmental study even after the Seattle Hearing Examiner said it was sufficient. Now the case is in the hands of King County Superior Court, which is holding a hearing tomorrow (Friday) morning.

If you have the morning clear, Cascade is inviting supporters to attend. Sounds like you’ll even get a pro-trail t-shirt out of it.

Final design for the trail is just about complete, 18 years after the Seattle City Council first approved this basic route. If this final court decision goes the city’s way, the city could begin construction next year.

Details from Cascade:

You know the story. The community has fought hard to complete the Missing Link of the Burke-Gilman Trail for decades. Now, on December 7th, Cascade and the Seattle City Attorney are defending an appeal from a few Ballard businesses seeking to block to completion of the Burke Gilman “Missing Link.”

When:  8:30 a.m. on Friday, December 7
Where:  King County Courthouse, 516 3rd Ave, Seattle, WA 98104

Come and show your support for completing the Burke Gilman Trail.  The proceedings will last 1 hour at the King County Superior Court, Courtroom W-1060.

We expect the opposition to turn out, so we need everyone. Invite your friends, co-workers, and family!

  • The hearing starts at 9am, but since seating is limited and we anticipate the hall will fill, we recommend arriving at 8:30am.
  • We will have t-shirts to help you show your support.