Slog News & Arts

Line Out

Music & Nightlife

« Infernal Spoilers of the Sunsh... | Manray on Fire? »

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Bike Plan, Unravelled

posted by on July 31 at 16:50 PM

Seattle’s Bicycle Master Plan, touted by Mayor Greg Nickels as the centerpiece of his plan to make Seattle “the most bike-friendly city in America,” is being eroded piece by piece, with only two-thirds of the bike facilities planned for this year still in the works. A highly anticipated “sharrow” on California Avenue SW, which would have at least given bikers a bit of breathing room on the busy West Seattle thoroughfare, has been put off until at least next year so that city planners can “spend some quality time with the businesses on California before the sharrows show up,” according to an e-mail written by Seattle traffic director Wayne Wentz in response to questions by City Attorney (and West Seattle resident) Tom Carr.

The sharrows were supposed to be added as part of a project to repave California under the “Complete Streets” plan adopted by the City Council earlier this year; that policy was supposed to ensure that whenever streets get upgraded or repaired, the repairs would include facilities for pedestrians and bikers as well as cars. At
the time, Nickels had this to say about the goal of Complete Streets: “This legislation will ensure that we donít just fix our streets, but we look at how to make them better for all users. It will make our streets safer for pedestrians and give cyclists, transit users and motorists more choices when traveling our roadways.Ē

So when the city’s transportation department went forward with the paving without including the sharrows, they did so in complete defiance of the Complete Streets policy. Moreover, they did it without any good reason. “The merchants have known that the city was going to be repaving California for about five years,” Carr says. “The merchants are going to say ‘no’ because they think for some reason that anything that helps bicycles hurts their business.” (See also: Suzie Burke, who got a bike lane killed in Fremont by raising concerns that it would hurt businesses along Stone Way.)

Currently, West Seattle does not have a single mile of bike lane. A planned bike lane along part of busy Fauntleroy is rumored to be the next on the chopping block; meanwhile, the rest of Fauntleroy and all of 35th Avenue SW are slated for “additional study,” often shorthand for “we don’t want to deal with it.” (See also: South Rainier.) The e-mail also reveals that the city plans to stripe just 20 miles of bike lanes and other facilities in 2007—a 33 percent reduction from the 30 miles included in the bike plan.

Moreover, the more closely I look at the bike plan, the more I wonder whether the people who plan bike facilities at the city have ever actually ridden a bike. The bike plan suggests bikers ride up some of the steepest hills in the city—in at least two cases, quite literally. Queen Anne Avenue N has an 18 percent grade; on SW Charlestown Street, it’s 20 percent. Both are among the city’s 20 steepest hills; both are slated for new bike facilities (sharrows and bike lanes) in the master plan. As Carr puts it, “Nobody in their right mind would go up that hill” on Charlestown. Other steep hills bike planners suggest you use include South Orcas Street in Seward Park (the “alternative route” for people trying to get to the Rainier Valley from the north); North 67th Street on Phinney Ridge; James Street from downtown to First Hill; and Florentia Street up Queen Anne Hill off Dexter.

As for Stone Way: Cascade Bicycle Club policy director David Hiller understandably questioned the city’s traffic projections for Stone Way, which predicted that traffic levels would double, quadruple, and in some cases even grow tenfold over 2001 levels at various points around the intersection of 35th and Stone by 2010. The mayor and transportation department have used those projections to justify eliminating the bike lane on Stone Way, arguing in essence that that pavement is needed to accommodate new traffic.

But that claim doesn’t hold up under scrutiny. For one thing, Hiller noticed, traffic on Stone Way just didn’t seem that bad. So, in addition to commissioning his own study by a reputable traffic consultant (which, not surprisingly, predicted much lower traffic levels), Hiller and a crew of Cascade activists went out and actually counted traffic moving through the intersection at the evening rush hour. Not surprisingly (if you’ve driven or biked down there) traffic at 35th and Stone was steady but not significantly higher than it was six years ago, the last time traffic figures were counted: 1,548 vehicles during the 5 to 6 p.m. peak, compared to 1,505 in 2001. The “growth” in traffic, in other words, didn’t happen. (Just 8 percent of those 1,500 vehicles, by the way, were trucks—and that included nearly a dozen “ducks,” those obnoxious amphibious vehicles that ferry kazoo-wielding tourists around the city.

Bikers will be protesting the removal of the bike lane tomorrow, August 1, starting at 4:30 at Gas Works Park; more information available here.

RSS icon Comments

1

Please put bike lanes on Airport Way. We want them!

Posted by SP | July 31, 2007 4:54 PM
2

Time to clean-up the Wikipedia entry for sharrows which includes this nugget:

"The city of Seattle included extensive use of shared lane markings in its Bicycle Master Plan of early 2007."

Posted by cs | July 31, 2007 5:01 PM
3

I want to elect Erica. When is Mayor Gridlock up for re-election?

Posted by Anon | July 31, 2007 5:11 PM
4

The Bike Master Plan sure made the mayor look good when it was announced!! Thank you Erica for helping call the city out on this crap.


Posted by Henry | July 31, 2007 5:13 PM
5

The city clearly lacks the courage to sacrifice car capacity for bike lanes on arterials (see Portland and Paris for what's required). Even when we can get them, sharrows are a weak compromise because they don't give bikes any legal rights we don't already have. Plans aside , we need to get out there and fill space on our own defacto bike routes.

Posted by 10speed | July 31, 2007 5:22 PM
6

I'm sure more than one person is going "shit, she's right, those are really steep hills". So in addition to the HOLD on Fremont/Wallingford and Alki/West Seattle, Upper/Lower Queene Anne will soon be subtracted from the remaining two-thirds? Some cans of paint to touch-up the lanes there already are?

Posted by Phenics | July 31, 2007 5:29 PM
7

At least going down that hill will be fun.

Posted by ky | July 31, 2007 5:48 PM
8

So how many bikes did they count at that location where there were 1500 cars per hour - my guess would be no more than 100 on a pleasant day (which is considerably higher than one would expect elsewhere, but this location is close to Fremont, which does have more bikers than many other neighborhoods), and a whole lot fewer on a rainy one.

Cost/benefit analysis, people. Oh, and traffic on the stretch of Stone Way where they removed a traffic lane is now NOTICABLY worse, even if the vehicle count is similar.

Posted by Mr. X | July 31, 2007 5:54 PM
9

I'm so done with Nickels.

Posted by monkey | July 31, 2007 6:10 PM
10

@9

Word, they're too big and clunky for only being worth $.05

Posted by Henry | July 31, 2007 6:17 PM
11

Nice reporting, Erica.

@8: I just spent 45 minutes at the corner of Stone & 45th handing out handbills to cyclists. I handed out 100. At least 100 more cyclists already had flyers or did not want one. Probably 50 more whizzed by me because the light was green. An equal number of cyclists were going the opposite direction.

That's at least 500 bikes in 45 minutes at one intersection.

Posted by DOUG. | July 31, 2007 7:05 PM
12

As long as you take a combative 'fight the power' approach to promote bicycling, you're never going to get the necessary parties on your side.

Pussyfoot agreements don't help either, obviously, as the Mayor simple says 'yeah, sure' and then allows the city to dance around them, but snotty protests and combative stances do just as little to shed the cyclists' reputation as a bunch of insecure hippie-activist ninnies, which is a strike against the mainstream populace whose support you will need to expand the bicycle network.

Have you made any neutral, non-combative effort to find out what makes the BMP's biggest opponents click, what their axe to grind is with cyclists? I mean, maybe the bad attitudes of the worst of you has something to do with it, but their hatred appears to be a common one. Maybe instead of grabbing your battle axes and trying to chop down the wall, you should try and dig up some dirt on Suzie Burke, Greg Nickels and others to see what exactly motivates them to have it out for cyclists.

Then, maybe, we can gain some ground, undermine their efforts and put a stop to this civic chicanery on their part.

Posted by Gomez | July 31, 2007 7:12 PM
13

my guess would be no more than 100 on a pleasant day

100 bikes total, or per hour? Because if you mean total, there were more than that at the footbridge across the Ravenna ravine on bike to work day, and I'm willing to bet that Stone gets a lot more bike traffic than 20th. On that same day, they counted 1370 cyclists at the Fremont bridge. Both of those counts were for between 6 and 9am.

Posted by Josh | July 31, 2007 7:15 PM
14

Gomez, how about you walk your talk? You don't think the protest ride is appropriate? Great, so noted. Multiple times. So do something different. You've got Suzie Burke's phone number. Call her and try to find out what her problem is. Let us know how that goes.

Posted by Josh | July 31, 2007 7:20 PM
15

You hate the Mayor? Go talk to him and find out what his problem is, and let us know how that goes.

You know for a fact, Josh (and which LJer are you? This bile of your's comes across as if you and I have history), that if I directly call and confront her about her opposition, she's gonna know what's up, cut me off and quickly hang up on me. People evade direct confrontation. Your comeback is dumb simply because you also know such a retarded approach won't work. You have to be a little more subtle.

Someone neutral and very good at Q&A would have to approach her formally and very carefully extract an explanation.

I admit I'm not the guy for the job.

Posted by Gomez | July 31, 2007 8:16 PM
16

As a youngster, growing up on Charleston, I used to ride up that hill all the time. Now, during my post-college tour of duty at my parents, the very thought horrifies me. SW California could use some "Sharrows", but I'm not sure what scares the buisnesses about them, they have no "big trucks" excuse and us WS bikers are out there on the street anyway, sharrow or no.

Posted by Mac | July 31, 2007 8:26 PM
17

@12: Right, protests on their own do not bring about change, as a rule. Nor, as a rule, do nice folks who follow political process and file lawsuits. Nor, as a rule, do reporters who dig up dirt.

What does bring about change, however, is a combination of all these (as well as a few other ingredients). As someone who works at the UW, I've seen gobs of causes come and go. There are always the people sitting on the sidelines who say the direct action people are too snotty, or too liberal, or too off-putting, or too whatever. They are wrong. Without the direct action, there's no political pressure to get the powers that be to talk to the nice folks.

I don't care whether a bike ran over Suzie's toes when she was 3, or a bad group of BMX kids taunted Nickels when he was in short pants. Political pressure will work on both of them; if it does not, they will become irrelevant.

Posted by Greg Barnes | July 31, 2007 8:41 PM
18

Gomez, dude, you are a famous internet contrarian. Maybe even a crank.

Posted by Charity | July 31, 2007 8:41 PM
19

We don't have a history, Gomez, aside from today. Any bile you're sensing from me is just a general low-grade contempt for people who would rather crap on someone else's idea than contribute one of their own. Your big contribution, as far as I can tell, has been to point out that doing anything that might upset drivers could be bad for cyclists, and that if only we knew what motivates our opponents, we'd know how to defeat them. That's about as helpful as offering "buy low, sell high, and don't pick bad investments" as advice to a novice investor.

You know for a fact that Burke would hang up on you if you called her? Why not test that? What's the worst that could happen? If nothing else, you'd be able to honestly say that you tried to engage her in a reasonable dialog, and she hung up on you.

Or you could follow the advice you gave me on LJ, and, I dunno, think of something new.

Posted by Josh | July 31, 2007 8:51 PM
20

@2:

No, see, when you see anything you don't like on Wikipedia, you don't need to notify the management or go hunting for someone else to take care of it for you. Just click edit and start editing.

I'm not saying whether your right or wrong about the sharrows page -- I'm only saying that the fact that you think you're right is entirely sufficient reason to edit the thing. I didn't invent it, that's just how it works. Go figure.

Posted by elenchos | July 31, 2007 9:11 PM
21

California Ave. SW is fairly benign, anyway. What cyclists in West Seattle really need are protections on the through routes like Fauntleroy Way, Avalon Way, the entire section of the Spokane Street low-bridge/causeway - and way better signage (there's effectively none now). We need a way to be able to use Holden and Thistle and Roxbury without being creamed by faster-than-the-law-allows cars and failure-to-yield drivers. Real marked lanes with enforcement for encroachment will work. There's lots of driver education which needs to be done. But, California Avenue SW is about as bike-friendly, pedestrian-friendly, car-friendly, bus-friendly, motorcycle-friendly a street as we've got here. Why - the very first road diet was on California Ave. SW. That was in the '70s - people have become accustomed to all manner and mode of transportation and have adapted - guess what, it's also a really great street.

Posted by chas Redmond | July 31, 2007 9:18 PM
22

18. Ad hominem always fails.

19. Okay, just checking.

You and other cyclists, including those who write for this paper, have approached the issue and those who oppose your plans all along with prejudice. Both sides have constantly danced around each other. The common argument is that they don't want to negotiate care what you think, but it's likely they don't try to negotiate with you because they know that YOU don't care what they think, that you've already decided that they're evil, car-loving bike-haters and will not humor any sort of philosophical compromise. It's sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy.

And you ignored the last part of my last comment, where I freely admit that I'm not qualified to try and extract useful answers from Frau Burke, and that someone neutral and more adept at this sort of thing ought to give it a shot. To try another analogy, this is like asking a kid with no formal engineering experience to make you a house, because he's had some engineering classes, done some research and sees that the house you have planned isn't structurally consistent and will fall over if you build it that way.

Posted by Gomez | July 31, 2007 9:22 PM
23

This:

The common argument is that they don't want to negotiate care what you think

should read

The common argument is that they don't want to negotiate and don't care what you think

Posted by Gomez | July 31, 2007 9:24 PM
24

@22: Wait, I thought we didn't have a history. How do you know how I've approached this issue in the past?

And I didn't ignore the second part of that comment--I said it wasn't helpful. Unless you've got some sort of activism credentials I'm not aware of, you're no more qualified to say this tactic will or will not work than I am. The fact that this ride is being endorsed by activists who I know do have experience and qualifications says more to me than your assertions do. Your kid with the engineering classes telling me the building isn't safe? Yeah, I think I'm gonna go with the design review committee at the architecture firm, thanks. If the building falls down, you're on record as having opposed it. Maybe they'll hire you.

Posted by Josh | July 31, 2007 9:40 PM
25

I was referring to bike activists in general, rather than yourself specifically. I gather you're somewhat new to this whole activism thing.

It is helpful to point out when something probably will not work. Gauge the opinions of citizens at large about cyclists, about Critical Mass, about cyclists who take up an entire lane at 5 mph, and it doesn't take a sociological survey to determine that the opinion isn't favorable, and that performing an exaggerated demonstration of cyclists' most negative traits probably isn't going to improve citizens' opinion of cyclists.

This is not to stop you guys from rolling around Fremont tomorrow, so you all have fun (hopefully no one in a large vehicle road rages and plows all over you), and be sure to note the reactions you get, not just from passing motorists, but from whoever you're trying to sway either way after the fact, since in the end this public opinion is what's gonna matter most in getting what you want.

Posted by Gomez | July 31, 2007 9:59 PM
26

Oh, somehow I imagined that you'd said "You and other cyclists", not "bike activists in general". You can see how that might have been confusing. I really must get my vision checked.

And, yes, it's helpful to point out that something probably won't work, if you know what you're talking about. I haven't seen anything to indicate that you do. Greg@17, on the other hand, seems to.

Posted by Josh | July 31, 2007 10:26 PM
27

@12 I read the comment that the worst of the bike community ruins it for the rest of us. Turned around, what about the worst of the vehicular community that in the same case should be "ruining it" for the rest of the drivers? Apparently not as the bike lane specifically referenced in this conversation has been condemned.

And to conflate two different communities sharing a common goal, you could also say the worst of that local business community (in the eyes of those in favor of a bike plan) has screwed the plan ratified by the voters.

The motorists and the business in common ground have inertia and more collective financial bargaining chips...the bikers don't so are left scraping together best they can.

And say we took your advice, start digging up some dirt. In the here and now, these lanes are being striped; dirt evolves over time and by the time that hallowed ground is raised, the paint will have been applied. What beneift does "money" provide for the holder seeking a good that's been sold? Besides, isn't that more weilding a different tool than abandoning the battle axe?

Tangential but correlary, I do a bike commute from Seattle to Bellevue, and believe it or not there's not many that I see fitting the "hippie...ninnie" mold. Oddly enough, there is a fairly decent route available for us patrons. I consider myselft lucky, but shouldn't.

Posted by dp | July 31, 2007 10:54 PM
28

Josh at this point is inferring that I know absolutely nothing about anything and was born yesterday. At this point, he's being derisive in the name of debate, and that's about as productive as this protest will be.

What Greg said earlier is certainly true, but I don't see how this disruptive protest makes a positive statement to motorists and others that then would contribute to success in those other regards.

You're actively getting in the way of motorists during rush hour. How do you expect that to develop support for your cause?

Posted by Gomez | July 31, 2007 11:26 PM
29

Erica,

The tough part of implementing Complete Streets or the several priority networks in the SDOT Transportation Strategic Plan is that rather large set of arterials that are in several of the priority networks.

SDOT can only provide true priority to one mode on each arterial at a time. Compromises must be made.

The comp plan and the TSP both call for a bike-friendly Seattle AND for transit ridership to increase.

Transit coaches and trucks are large and must use the arterials with wide turning radii. Bikes and cars can use any street.

If transit ridership is to increase, both SDOT and Metro need to take several steps to improve its flow. Metro needs to buy only low floor coaches to ease access and egress; speed up fare collection and use all doors; close many stops, as they are too close. SDOT needs to restripe transit arterials to provide in-lane stops.

Bikes should be given priority on those arterials that are not too important for transit and freight. Where there are key arterials where bikes cannot be given priority, then they should be provided priority on a nearby parallel one.

The fight should not be between bikes and transit and frieght movement. The high priority provided to left-turning traffic and to car storage (parallel parking) must be reduced. Car storage is supposed to be among the lowest priority uses for curb space, but SDOT has a tough time taking any parallel parking away, so they choke transit and truck flow instead.

Consider Stone Way North. There are four transit trips per hour in both directions between North 35th and 40th streets on routes 31 and 74. They connect Fremont (the center of the universe) with the U District (the second best transit market in the region). How about having four lanes and paralllel parking on only one side of the arterial with a bike lane on the uphill (northbound) side? Bikes going downhill can better keep up with flow. Slow cyclists could be given priority on Woodland Park Avenue North two blocks west. Wallingford Avenue North also connects the Burke-Gilman with Greenlake.

California Avenue SW was reduced to three lanes decades ago. It once had streetcars and had electric trolleybuses between 1940 and 1963. Why have so much of the scarce arterial width devoted to left turning vehicles and car storage. Instead, give more priority to both bikes and transit.

There is another slog entry on Route 48 today. Would it really be a sound concept to impose a three-lane profile on 23rd Avenue, used by routes 43 and 48, and further slow those routes?

SDOT and the Stranger need to consider multiple modes at the same time.

Posted by eddiew | July 31, 2007 11:45 PM
30

I'm so sick of hearing people like Gomez try to place blame on arrogant or combative cyclists for lack of progress on bike infrastructure in Seattle. You people remind me of my grandmother when she used to complain about the gays being uppity. So here's why you are all full of shit: Portland. Is Portland's cycling community any less arrogant or "insecure hippie-activist ninnie" than Seattle's? As far as I can tell, there is zero difference between the behavior of cyclists in either city. So how can it be that Portland has managed to get so much more cycling infrastructure built? The main reason, of course, is strong progressive leadership, i.e. not Nickels.

The obvious truth to anyone who understands sustainability and the future of cities, is that building bicycle infrastructure is what Seattle should be doing. The attitude of cyclists, good or bad, is irrelevant. Oh, but how pathetic (and typical) it would be to see Seattle throw a hissy fit over a rowdy Critical Mass ride or whatever, and basically shoot itself in the foot by not building bike infrastructure.

Posted by Henry Miller Lite | July 31, 2007 11:48 PM
31

Josh at 13-

Per hour.

BTW - your stat for Bike to Work Day is not a realistic or statistically valid measure of how many bike trips occur on a given day - as bikes currently comprise a paltry 2.3% of work commute trips among Seattle residents. Your figure for the Fremont Bridge has similar problems - to wit - of 32,300 daily trips across that bridge, under 2000 are made by bike on a summer day with good weather - about 6% of trips on what Pacific Magazine cited as one of the most popular bike routes in the entire State on a good day.

The bike lane proponents who did their own survey on Stone Way (designed to show not that traffic was unimpeded, but merely that it hadn't grown) would impress me more if they could show that a significant number of bikers were using this route, but their silence in providing an actual count of bicycles speaks volumes. I won't even go into the potential problems with their methodology (was this done when that whole area was torn up? was it done during the same part of the year as the 2001 study, etc etc etc).

So pardon me if I think that maybe it isn't worth it to spend a passel of dough in a manner that will inconvenience that EVIL 97% (or - if everything goes the way City planners hope - 94%) of street users - a slam-dunk majority - just to make bikers and Stranger writers feel morally superior.

And don't kid yourself about the potential for new riders, either, Even City planners - in their most optimistic projections - think the best they can do is double bike ridership (a rather wishful projection that so far has not been borne out by data over time, by the way), which gets you up to a whopping 5 or 6% of work commute trips if we're lucky - and are willing to divert substantial funds to shrinking our overtaxed street grid (which, by the way, buses will continue to use too) rather than maintaining it.

So pardon me if I choose not to delude myself that inconveniencing the vast majority of Seattle residents who still have to get from point A to point B in this city and throughtout this region is gonna save the world, solve sprawl, or make a dent in global warming. It won't. Sorry.

Posted by Mr. X | August 1, 2007 1:10 AM
32

Regarding West Seattle, in a letter dated July 19 from SDOT and circulated to the Alki community, "sharrows" will be installed on Beach Drive from 63rd SW to 48th SW, extending up to Lincoln Park Way to the intersection of 47th and Fauntleroy, within the next two to four weeks.

Posted by paccom | August 1, 2007 2:18 AM
33

why put the bike routes on arterials where bikes must contend with parked cars, opening doors, turning vehicles, pedestrians crossing, and lots of lights and stops?

Instead create new "bike arterials" a few blocks over such as on Woodlawn Park Avenue instead of Stone Way.

Or a couple of blocks west of 35th SW.
Use those side streets, they are perfect for bike arterials.

Safer and faster and more pleasant for the cyclists, helping to increase cycling.

Of course bikes can still go on any road.

Posted by unPC | August 1, 2007 5:16 AM
34

eddiew: I think your analysis of Stone Way is good re: transit needs and bike needs. Unfortunately the striping option that SDOT has now completed is just about the worst possible outcome for everyone.

The elimination of the center turn lane will bottleneck traffic south of 40th and put bikes, buses and cars in direct conflict with one another. The road diet isn't perfect, but it's better than what we're now stuck with (hopefully for only six months).

Posted by DOUG. | August 1, 2007 7:21 AM
35

As I recall the dog park people used the protest technique by releasing hundreds of dogs on downtown streets at rush hour to make the point that they needed dog parks. No, that's not right they got a champion at the SCC (Drago) and worked the rest of the council. Now of course they make up far more of the city than serious bikers and many (most?) dog owners pay a license fee (read city revenue). In that the vast majority of the current population gets around without biking, the politics of this is tough.

If the bikers would push for bike licenses that would include proof of proper equipment and perhaps knowledge of rules of the road - you know stuff like riding as far to right as is safely possible, having a rear reflector and headlight at night, stopping at lights and stop signs, yielding to pedestrians - and then lobbying the SCC to use the money for street improvements for bikes that would be a positive step.

The bikers could also lobby for changes in the laws - not just ones that bikers might love like riding the wrong way on a one way street but ones that would make traveling safer for all - one suggestion I would put forward would be requiring bikes to stop before crossing a street when riding on the sidewalk because a bike's speed makes it hard when taking a right in car to see them coming.

If bikers think that they have a majority of people on their side, they should write the bike plan up that they want, put it in the form of a law and do an initiative. If this path is followed, I would suggest that protests intended to irritate be curtailed.

Posted by whatever | August 1, 2007 8:22 AM
36

"Currently, West Seattle does not have a single mile of bike lane. "

...well, except that entire stretch of Harbor Ave/Alki along the water.

Posted by werst seattle bike-her | August 1, 2007 8:34 AM
37

Stone Way is a lousy route, as anyone who's ever biked in Wallingford and Fremont could tell you if you actually researched it.

But, hey, don't let reality wake you up on that one. Most of the people I work with bike to work (I walk). In Wallingford.

I walk past there or drive there every day. I see the cyclists and where they go and where it's dangerous.

Posted by Will in Seattle | August 1, 2007 10:46 AM
38

30. And there's zero difference in the street grid, the layout and the traffic patterns between Seattle and Portland that makes putting bike lanes wherever you want absolutely seamless. Right.

Tell me now how bike lanes are infallible because Amsterdam has them.

Posted by Gomez | August 1, 2007 10:52 AM
39

Erica re: "Other steep hills bike planners suggest you use include ... North 67th Street on Phinney Ridge"

You should have seen what the Bike Master Plan was suggesting before the Greater Greenwood Bi/Ped Safety Coalition and the Greenwood Community Council reviewed earlier versions of the Plan and reminded the city that their preferred route was not only steep, but narrow with limited visibility and deeply dangerous: N 65th Street over Phinney Ridge.

The fact that hills exist in Seattle doesn't mean that bicyclists can't go over them. You just have to make sure those bicyclists are safe when climbing (or descending) those hills. Yes, N 67th Street over Phinney Ridge is steep, especially on the east side of the ridge, but it's not busy and it has a pedestrian signal light very near the crossing of Phinney Ave N.

If bicyclists need to get over Phinney Ridge and don't want to climb a steep hill to do it, they have to go all the way up to N 77th Street or N 83rd Street. They can also climb Woodland Place N through the zoo parking lot and its tunnel under Phinney Ave N. Some may do just that. For others who don't want to go a mile or more out of their way to climb two blocks of hill, another route is necessary. And N 67th Street is it.

John C. Todd, Jr.
Greater Greenwood Bi/Ped Safety Coalition

Posted by JohnCToddJr | August 1, 2007 11:23 AM
40

And N 77th Street, as well as Woodland Place to the zoo, alternatives I just suggested, are still pretty darned steep.

Posted by JohnCToddJr | August 1, 2007 11:25 AM
41

I was one of the 12 volunteers counting traffic on Stone Way. We did it last Thursday, after the re-paving. We counted from 4:30 to 6:30 in 15 minute increments.

When SDOT does a measurement, they pay a contractor to only count for 15 minutes. We didn't just measure, we got enough measurements to find out how statistically good our samples were.

You are right, there weren't many biycles on Stone way and 35th when we counted. I didn't keep a copy of the numbers but it was a few bicycles in each direction every 15 minutes.
That is right now, before safe bicycle lanes are added. About a quarter of the bicycles were riding on the sidewalk and risking hitting people exiting local businesses because the road isn't safe.

What you don't seem to get is that the bicycles climbing uphill are doing 4-8mph in a mixed traffic lane with cars that are trying to do 25-35mph. How many people do you want to kill with your car because we are in your way and you are in a hurry?

The local neighborhood residents want a road diet here too. SDOT removed some of their crosswalks after finding that crossing a 4 lane road without a stoplight is dangerous. They want their crosswalks back too!

Posted by Michael in Ballard | August 1, 2007 11:35 AM
42

At least one poster was curious as to the number of bicycles we at Cascade Bicycle Club counted during our survey.

We counted 72 cyclists passing through the intersection of 35th and Stone Way during the PM peak hour of 5 - 6 PM. Of the movement with the highest number of vehicles -- northbound through -- bicycles were 5.7% of all traffic (47 of 476). During the entire count from 4:30 to 6:30 we counted 121 bicyclists.

We will be repeating this count on the last Thursday of every month to enhance the data and strengthen the case for a safer Stone Way. If you are interested in helping, email me at patrick -at- cascadebicycleclub.org.

Posted by Patrick | August 1, 2007 11:43 AM
43

Sorry, that's patrick.mcgrath -at- cascadebicycleclub.org

Posted by Patrick | August 1, 2007 11:45 AM
44

Suzie (or Suzanne) Burke (President of Fremont Dock Co. that owns at least 40 acres in the Fremont area, including History House, the Adobe Systems site and the Red Door Alehouse) made the call on this. It was the Fremont Chamber of Commerce's decision which she happens to be treasurer of.

Here's the culprit:
http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/photos/photo.asp?PhotoID=25494

And here's an interesting history of her campaign contributions:
http://www.newsmeat.com/fec/bystate_detail.php?st=&zip=98103&last=Burke&first=Suzanne

Enjoy,

Dennis

Posted by Dennis | August 1, 2007 12:05 PM
45

I wonder why Suzie's August 2006 $500 donation to Rick Santorum doesn't show up on that Newsmeat link?

Posted by DOUG. | August 1, 2007 12:20 PM
46

@37 -

I don't recall anyone saying that Stone is a great route as is.

IMHO...The southbound merge (post-diet) near 50th needs to be improved. The southbound right turn/intersection at Bridge Way/40th is currently more confusing than it should be (pre and post diet) and probaly a hazard from both motorists and bikes.../IMHO

I'm not sure what your post was trying to tell me.

Posted by Jack Bunda | August 1, 2007 12:47 PM
47

One comment about hills, with 24 gears and a little work, anything is climbable.

I climb up 71st Ave from Greenlake to Phinney once a week. Sure it is steep, but it is quieter and has better visibility than some of the alternatives. Besides, it gets my heart rate up and helps me build my leg muscles so that I can keep up with cars on flat streets.

Having a diversity of routes is a good thing.

Posted by Michael in Ballard | August 1, 2007 1:11 PM
48

42. As long as cyclists aren't being recruited to use the route during those times to inflate your data, that's totally cool. And no, Patrick, I am not saying that just to snark: that's probably going to be one of the first arguments you get from opposition once you present your data.

Everyone carry on, and let reality speak for itself.

Posted by Gomez | August 1, 2007 2:22 PM
49

Good point Gomez. They need to mix up the days counts are taken.

Posted by whatever | August 1, 2007 2:45 PM
50

Patrick -

Thanks for providing the numbers (and, to be snarky, proving my posts to be pretty much 100% correct)

Posted by Mr. X | August 1, 2007 4:12 PM
51

49. Absolutely... so long as it's reasonably feasible, mix it up.

Posted by Gomez | August 1, 2007 7:43 PM
52

Mr X:
I disagree that the numbers prove your point. Your main point is that the motoring majority would be inconvenienced by a road diet. That is incorrect. They would in fact be safer than before with little to no effect on vehicle throughput. Road diets are a win-win. And the fact that bicyclists were 5.7% of traffic even in the absence of any infrastructural accomodation? I take that as great news.

Posted by Patrick | August 1, 2007 8:57 PM
53

38. That's right Gomez, I guess if it isn't the bad attitude of Seattle bikers, it must be that Seattle is just well, different from all those cities out there that have better bike infrastructure. OK, so Seattle has bigger hills and longer blocks than Portland. So let's use our brains and figure out what works here and do it, and stop the whining about how this isn't Amsterdam. There's no shortage of solutions. Look here for a good review of what cities that are serious about bike infrastructure are doing.

Posted by Henry Miller Lite | August 1, 2007 11:09 PM
54

Quote

-------------------------------------------------
Patrick McGrath of CBC Advocacy wrote regarding Stone Way:
What we're asking for is that the City reinstate its original rechannelization plan, which calls for a road dieted configuration (two lanes with a two-way center turn lane) along with a bicycle lane in the uphill direction (climbing lane) and sharrows on the downhill direction. It is correct that there is not enough space to have standard bike lanes on both sides, but that's not a bad thing in this case. The current thinking is that sharrows on downhill segments where there's parking can help keep cyclists out of the door zone.

-------------------------------------------------


This is a configuration that I can fully support! Downhill bike lanes are dangerous! When riding at speeds 20mph or faster downhill thru intersections cyclists should position themselves near the center of the lane for greater visibility to turning and crossing traffic and to avoid door zone danger.

Yesterday I noticed that 'sharrows' were installed on Beach Drive. For all the reasons that bike lanes are dangerous a) create the expectation that the cyclists are only allowed to ride in a bike lane, b) direct thru cyclists into conflict with right-turning motorists, c) diminish visibility of cyclists as they approach and continue thru intersections, and d) door zone danger, sharrows are not! Sharrows encourage shared use of our roadways and do not prohibit cyclists from practicing the 2 most important principles of vehicular travel and cycling 1) destination lane positioning and 2) speed positioning.

The thing that aggravates me about sharrows is that they are even necessary! We have to place a treatment on our streets and signage to instruct motorists to share the road safely with cyclists?! Anyone who as earned the privilege to operate a motor vehicle should already know how to do this! And these sharrows are being placed on benign streets like Beach Drive (yes I have been intimidated on Beach Dr) and deleted from California Ave. Is it OK to run down or intimidate a cyclist on a road that is not marked with a sharrow?

If SDOT wants to make Beach Drive safer for cycling here is a suggestion - spend some of our Prop 1 tax dollars and RESURFACE it. Repairing our streets is the #1 thing that will make non-motorized and motorized travel in Seattle safer.

-------------------------
Ride On!

Dennis Grace

Posted by coupdegrace | August 6, 2007 10:27 AM

Comments Closed

In order to combat spam, we are no longer accepting comments on this post (or any post more than 14 days old).