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Monday, October 29, 2007

Bike Master Plan Moves Forward

posted by on October 29 at 15:24 PM

This morning, members of the Bicycle Master Plan Advisory Group briefed the City Council the latest draft of the Bike Master Plan, which will go before the full council on Monday.

I’ve written before about some of the problems with the (generally impressive) bike plan—notably the fact that it neglects the South End, for example. I’ve also written about concerns that the city is abandoning its commitment to implement the master plan—replacing planned bike lanes with “sharrows,” in which bikers share the same space as cars.

During this morning’s briefing, Pete Lagerwey, a transportation planner with the city’s Department of Transportation (SDOT), sang the praises of sharrows, saying they signal to cyclists that “this is a good place to ride.”

When council president Nick Licata asked him whether there was any enforcement mechanism to ensure that cars would share the road, Lagerwey responded that there was not. “The intent of the sharrow is to reinforce the existing lane.”

Because those non-enforceable, out-in-traffic sharrows are working so well now.

(Incidentally, Jean Godden asked the bike planners about the controversial sharrow on Stone Way, which replaced a planned bike lane. “A lot of people have been calling my office” about the sharrow, she said. “Is there something we can tell them—that it looks likely that we may change it—or is that it?” In response, SDOT traffic management director Wayne Wentz told Godden the city eliminated the bike lane because of a “major capacity problem” on Stone Way—a very different story than the one they were telling back in August, when the city’s decision to cut the lane at the request of a single property owner, Suzie Burke, led to a massive two-wheeled protest.)

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Sharrows are not inherently bad or good, Pete Lagerway. They need to be used correctly to work. The current uphill sharrow, no center turn-lane configuration of Stone Way from 35th to 41st is an example of improper usage. Cars are in conflict with bikes. Someone's gonna get hurt.

Posted by DOUG. | October 29, 2007 3:40 PM

i just ate two hoagies, and a very large rice bowl with general tsao's chicken.

damn it if that general doesnt make some fine fine chicken.

Posted by derrickito | October 29, 2007 3:51 PM

@ECB, is there a link you can post to the details of the master plan (map would be great too)


Posted by Just Me | October 29, 2007 3:55 PM

The last three bike fatalities in Seattle and Portland all involved bikes in bike lanes. The incident in Fremont really had only to do about a very angry driver.

Posted by whatever | October 29, 2007 3:55 PM
Posted by ECB | October 29, 2007 3:59 PM

If you follow the SLOG, the real issue is: Pitbulls on Fixed-Gears Bicycles who oppose Gay Marriage!

Posted by Bicycle Jihad | October 29, 2007 4:01 PM

I was at the meeting this morning and took a few notes. My notes of what Wayne Wentz's response to Jean Godden (to paraphrase) are:

Our initial analysis found that there was a major capacity problem on Stone Way and that we couldn't remove the traffic lane to make room for the bicycle climbing lane south of 40th. This was a temporary action and we are in the middle of a 6 month study of the traffic situation and doing monthly traffic counts. If the capacity issue does not appear in this study, we will return the lane configuration to the original plan of a climbing lane.

...that was from my notes which could be flawed.

I also know from helping Cascade Bicycle Club count traffic on that road that the current traffic levels are not anywhere near where SDOT's initial analysis predicted. There is no capacity problem on Stone Way.

Posted by Michael in Ballard | October 29, 2007 4:11 PM

I'm thinking that after Erica finishes planning the viaduct replacement for the state, she can take over as bike planner for the city.

Unless she's too busy trying to stop light rail. Or is it promoting mass transit? I can never remember which it is.

Posted by daytrpr | October 29, 2007 4:35 PM

Has anybody here seen the bike lanes in Munich? They're up on the level of the sidewalk, on the street side of the walking path, and they're paved with big, smooth pavers that set them apart from both the sidewalk and the road. They're excellent for riding on, according to my brother, and they look pretty darn safe. To me, they make a hell of a lot more sense than sharrows.

Posted by Greg | October 29, 2007 4:39 PM

SDOT & WSDOT run this city & state.

don't let anyone tell you different.

Nickels & Gregoire quake in their boots when the DOT comes calling. and they OVERENGINEER EVERY ROAD - its what engineers do.

Posted by maxsolomon | October 29, 2007 4:40 PM

Broadway is one lane in either direction with a center turn lane and parking on both sides. It also has more traffic than Stoneway.

Seems like we should bulldoze the sidewalks to make the road wider and have everyone enter businesses from the alley.

Posted by Anon | October 29, 2007 4:42 PM

If WSDOT ran the state, wouldn't it have a bigger budget? And fixing or replacing all the bridges that 'bridge czar' Jugesh Kapur wants fixed or replaced?

Posted by Greg | October 29, 2007 4:44 PM

*'be fixing,' sorry.

Posted by Greg | October 29, 2007 4:45 PM

As a daily bicycle commuter, I have to say that exclusive focus on bike lanes is misguided. Bike lanes have to be well designed to avoid being dangerous. It is often much safer to ride in traffic with no special facilities at all. Sharrows done right acknowledge this fact while emphasizing to drivers that bicycles are also present. But sharrows can also be done poorly.

The real issue is well-planned facilities vs. poorly-planned facilities. Bike lanes need to avoid door zones, debris gutters, and storm drains, and they should move bicycles to the main lane of traffic at intersections to discourage the dangerous practice of riding a bike lane to the right of cars that might be turning right. If that's not possible on a particular road, you're better off with sharrows.

We also need more education both for cyclists and drivers. Cyclists need to learn when to take the lane for safety and other techniques to safely navigate intersections, and cars need to learn that bikes are vehicles and treat them accordingly.

Posted by Cascadian | October 29, 2007 4:50 PM

major capacity problems my ass. all you have to do is drive down stone a few times to realize it doesn't warrant its 4 lane status. 3 lanes with bike lanes wouldnt change anything except make it safer for bikes.

Posted by Cale | October 29, 2007 4:54 PM



Anything that makes you feel like you own the space, makes you more dangerous, unless you act like it's an illusion. Sharrows acknowledge the fact that it is. Bike lanes or wide shoulders are useful in some instances, but shouldn't be universally favored over sharrows (or nothing). There's a reaction to sharrows on slog that is satisfyingly irrational.

As 15 was alluding to, folks who are going to commute should spends some time learning how to ride defensively on streets. Riding on the far right of traffic in many instances puts you in much more danger. elementary school had a little bike rodeo day to teach us that. No more?

Posted by smiles | October 29, 2007 5:06 PM

The big question is will cops on bikes be enforcing the restrictions.

Or will cops in cars be doing it?

Posted by Will in Seattle | October 29, 2007 5:18 PM

@7, @14 - no, there is. What they're trying to tell you is they run really large trucks along that route.

And they're NOT joking.

You'd know this if you went any time of day other than peak commute time (which is when most trucks avoid the route).

Posted by Will in Seattle | October 29, 2007 5:21 PM

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