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May 2013 - Issue No. 39
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Hello, welcome to my latest newsletter! 

Whether people bicycle regularly or not, there is strong public interest in the City's work to improve its bicycle system. I am focusing this May, 2013 newsletter on Seattle's progress in fulfilling its bicycle plan and the work underway to update the plan.  In addition, I have provided a link to an article I wrote earlier this year on floating homes or "liveaboards".  Special thanks to Bill LaBorde for his research for the bike article and to Rose Smith for preparing the newsletter for distribution.

 



Tom Rasmussen
Seattle City Councilmember
Chair, Transportation Committee
http://www.seattle.gov/council/rasmussen


Building Seattle's Bicycle Network: Where We've been; Where We're Going  

Bicycle mapCities boast about their accomplishments in building bicycle facilities. Seattle residents (me included) visit those cities. It is not unusual for people in Seattle to question how much progress we are making and if we are falling behind cities such as Chicago, Vancouver, BC or Portland, Oregon.

I'll admit that I sometimes question how well we are doing.  Those feelings are especially sharp because I want Seattle to have a high quality complete bicycle network and I have made it a priority to improve our bicycle system.

Since becoming the Chair of the City Council's Transportation Committee I have consistently recommended more funding for bicycle facilities and improvements than has been recommended by the Mayor. My colleagues have been supportive and have approved additional funding.

A BIT OF BICYCLE PLANNING HISTORY
In the early 1970s, when Seattle started investing in bicycle improvements, the emphasis was on off-street trails, along with some mapping and signing of on-street bike routes.  This was when much of the Burke-Gilman http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burke-Gilman_Trail  and other off-street trails such as the Alki Trail http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/alkitrail.htm  were built. 

On-street bike lanes started to appear on a few arterials in the early-to-mid 1980s.  As the bicycling movement grew, an emphasis was placed on the shared use of arterials. Seattle recognized a need for a comprehensive approach to our bicycle investments.  This was the context for development of the 2007 Bicycle Master Plan (BMP) http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/bikemaster07.htm which emphasized in-street networks (painted bike lanes and the evolving use of sharrows). 

THE 2007 BICYCLE MASTER PLAN.
The original Bicycle Master Plan is a 10-year framework to achieve two primary goals by 2017: (1) increase bicycling for all kinds of trips by three times; and (2) improve safety by reducing the rate of bicycle crashes by one third. 

These goals are to be achieved, both programmatically (i.e., education and enforcement) and with investments in more than 450 miles of safe, connected bicycling facilities including in-street bike lanes, sharrows, climbing lanes, bicycle boulevards (neighborhood greenways), multi-use trails, as well as safer intersections and crossings. 

Accomplishments to Date
To understand what has been accomplished I requested the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) to summarize what they have completed since 2007. The following table summarizes SDOT'S progress in creating the facilities called for in the 2007 BMP and the 2012 costs for the facilities.

Bicycle Master Plan Network Implementation 2007 – 2012

 

Total Network Miles Recommended in 2007 BMP

Pre-2007 Network

Implemented 2007-2012

Current Miles in Network

% of BMP Network Complete

Bike lanes

143

26

53

78

55%

Sharrows

111

0

91

92

83%

Greenways

18

0

6

6

35%

Trails

58

39

8

47

81%

Other On-Street

46

2

0

2

5%

Other Off-Street

3

0

0

0.2

8%

Total Network

379

68

158

226

60%

 

Signed Bicycle Route Implementation 2007 – 2012
Signed routes are listed separately because some (but not all) overlap with other facility types such as bike lanes, sharrows and greenways. 

 

Total Network Miles Recommended in 2007 BMP

Pre-2007 Network

Implemented 2007-2012

Current Miles in Network

% of BMP Network Complete

Signed Routes

234

0

128

128

55%

 

Here is the list of Bicycle Master Plan projects completed in 2012:

 

On-Street Facilities (bike lanes and sharrows) - 2012 spending =  $1,229,700

Corridor

Limits

Length

34 Ave/E Denny Way/Madrona Dr

E Cherry to Lake Washington Blvd

1.34

10th Ave S/S Weller St

10th Ave S from S Jackson St to S Weller St; S Weller St from 10th Ave S to 20th Ave S

0.73

Boyer Ave E

E Lynn St - 24 Ave E

0.49

Lake Washington Blvd

24 Ave E - E Harrison St

1.99

Cherry St

4 Ave - 7 Ave

0.16

Delridge Way SW

SW Andover St - SW Oregon St

0.43

S Genessee St

Rainier Ave S - Lake Washington Blvd S

0.97

Latona Ave NE

NE 50 St - E Greenlake Way N

0.94

Ravenna Ave NE

NE 80 St - NE 85 St

0.26

Thackeray Pl NE

NE 50 St - NE 45 St

0.27

50 Ave S

S Genesee St - Lake Washington Blvd

0.24

NW 65 St

8 Ave NE - 32 Ave NW

1.5

SW Andover St

26 Ave SW - Delridge Way

0.09

Seneca St 

Hubbel Pl - Broadway

0.55

Spring St

Hubbel Pl - Boylston

0.43

SW Avalon Way

SW Spokane St - 35 Ave SW

0.67

SW Alaska St

36 Ave SW - 42 Ave SW

0.33

36 Ave SW

SW Avalon Way - SW Alaska St

0.2

S Myrtle St / S Othello St

Beacon Ave S - Seward Park Ave S

1.39

13 Ave S/S Hardy St/Stanley Ave S

Airport Way S - S Albro Pl

0.4

Fairview Ave N

Eastlake Ave E - Fairview Ave E (+)

0.04

Greenwood Ave N

N 83 St - N 85 St

0.11

Meridian Ave N

N 128 St - N 145 St

0.84

Montlake Cut Connector

16 Ave, E McGraw St, 18 Ave,  E Calhoun St

0.23

Roosevelt Way N 

N 135 St - N 145 St

0.84

 

Total

15.44



Neighborhood Greenways - 2012 spending =  $436,600

Project

Length

Wallingford Greenway - completed construction - NPSF funded

 

0.9

Beacon Hill Greenway - completed outreach, began construction

 

2.8

Ballard Greenway - began outreach and conceptual design

2.14

Delridge 26th Ave SW - began outreach and conceptual design

1.25

 

The 39th Ave NE Greenway, funded by Children,s Hospital, is not included in this list or cost total.

Signed Routes and Bicycle Maps - 2012 spending = $202,900

 

Installed 32 miles of bicycle route way finding signs.

Distributed nearly 22,000 bicycle maps



Bike Racks/Spaces - 2012 spending = $173,300

 

Installed 608 bicycle parking spaces. 



Maintenance Improvements - 2012 spending = $1,242,900 

 

Restriped 40 miles of on-street bicycle facilities

Inspected 35 miles of trail and completed 10 spot trail improvements

Asphalt Repair for on-street Bicycle Facilities at six locations


The City is on track to fulfill the 2007 Bicycle Master Plan for most of the in-street network of bike lanes, sharrows and signed routes.

The City is behind on some of the more complicated or expensive projects.  For example, key intersections or off-street trail projects are very expensive and require state and federal funds to complete or, as with the Burke-Gilman Trail "Missing Link," there is significant permitting or legal hurdles to overcome.

GREENWAYS AND THE UPDATE TO THE BICYCLE MASTER PLAN
Even as the 2007 BMP was being developed, concerns about safety and public health issues such as the obesity epidemic led to evolving attitudes about balancing the needs of recreational riders and bicycle commuters.  There was increasing interest in providing facilities for children and others who would like to ride bikes but who were fearful of riding on roads with motor vehicles. These more cautious prospective bike riders are sometimes referred to as the "willing but wary."

In 2007 the models and engineering standards for more separated facilities such as greenways and cycle tracks were not well developed in the US.  Cities like Portland http://www.pdx.edu/ibpi/sites/www.pdx.edu.ibpi/files/portlandbikestory_1.pdf , and New York City http://www.thirteen.org/metrofocus/2012/09/25-years-after-ed-kochs-proposed-bicycle-ban-cyclists-have-gained-much-ground/ , had started to experiment with such facilities without national engineering standards to rely on.  The only engineering manual for bicycle facilities was better suited to bicycle trails along highways and bike lanes on wide suburban streets with relatively low traffic counts. 
Our SDOT engineers were monitoring development of the new facilities and began to plan for similar ones here.  Seattle joined with Portland, New York and other cities to form the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) http://nacto.org/ , which in March 2011, published its first Urban Bikeway Design Guide http://nacto.org/cities-for-cycling/design-guide/, establishing engineering standards for urban bikeways.

At the same time residents in Wallingford http://seattlegreenways.org/ , Beacon Hill http://www.beaconwalksbikes.org/uploads/2/8/7/8/2878541
/beacon_bikes_family_pedestrian_and_bicycle_circulation_plan.pdf
and others neighborhoods began organizing to fund and design greenways like those they saw in Portland. Local projects like the Dexter Avenue North http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/dexter.htm and the Linden Avenue North http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/linden.htm  "complete streets" projects served as prototypes for cycle tracks and other separated in-street facilities here.
The interest in greenways and general dissatisfaction and unease of more casual bicyclists with the in-street sharrows and bike lanes provide the Council's rationale for developing an update to the Bicycle Master Plan.  SDOT's work on the Update http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/bikemaster_materials.htm began last year and should be completed and adopted by the City Council this fall.

The 2007 Plan emphasized development of an in-street network largely made up of bike lanes and sharrows and bike boxes to point through tight intersections and narrower streets.  The updated Bicycle Master Plan will put a strong emphasis on greenways and cycle tracks http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/docs/bmp/nov12
/BMP%20policy%20framework_%20facility%20designations_FINAL.pdf
 and buffered bike lanes in arterials. 

The network that has been developed under the 2007 plan is still relevant and critical to complete and maintain.  This network provides connections to the primary corridors that will be served by greenways and cycle tracks as the updated Bicycle Master Plan is implemented over the next 20 years.  The new network of protected facilities may double the number of people in Seattle who regularly bike for short trips or who bike to work and school as happened in Portland, New York, Vancouver and Montreal http://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/article/370893 after they developed such systems.

Yellow Bike

WHAT'S ON TAP FOR 2013?

The following is a summary of bicycle projects planned by SDOT for 2013:

Arterial Corridors:

NOTE: As designs are developed, some projects may be delayed or substituted for other locations

Street

Limits

Length (miles)

SW Admiral Way

SW Cityview St to SW Olga St

0.48

SW Avalon Way

35 Ave SW to 36 Ave SW

0.06

Boyer Ave E

24th Ave E to Lake Washington Blvd E

0.21

Brooklyn Ave NE

BGT to NE Campus Parkway

0.14

College Way N

N 92nd St to N 103rd St

0.52

Delridge Way SW

SW Myrtle St to SW Roxbury St

1.58

W Emerson St

21st Ave W to Gilman Ave W

0.16

Green Lake Way N

N 50th St to E Green Lake Way N

0.30

Lake Washington Blvd S

Lakeside Av to Lakeside Av S

1.80

Latona Ave NE

NE 45th St to NE 50 St

0.25

Phinney Ave N/ N 43 St

Phinney: N 43rd St to N 50 St, N 43rd St from Fremont Ave N to Phinney Ave N

0.63

Rainier Ave S

Seward Park Ave S to Ithaca Pl S

0.10

Ravenna Ave NE

NE 85th St to Lake City Way NE (NE 92 St)

0.43

Renton Ave S

S Cloverdale St to S Othello St via 43rd Ave S

0.77

Roosevelt Way NE

NE 75th St to NE 85th St

0.50

Swift Av S/S Myrtle St

S Albro Pl to Beacon Av S

1.01

N 34 St

Fremont Ave N to Phinney Ave N

0.23

NE 40th St

7th Av NE to 15th Av NE

0.41

63rd Av SW

Alki Av SW to Beach Dr SW

0.39

NE 65th St

Magnuson Park to Burke Gilman Trail

0.14

NE 115th St

Roosevelt Wy NE to 5th Av NE

0.25

S Spokane St

16th Ave S to Beacon Ave S (rechannelization for greenway crossing)

N/A

Total miles: 9.88


Neighborhood Greenways:

Name

Streets / Limits

Length (miles)

Delridge

26th Ave SW / SW Andover St to SW Graham St

1.50

Ballard

NW 58th St / Seaview Ave NW to 4th Ave NW

2.14

Beacon Hill

18th Ave S + others / I-90 Trail to S Lucile St

2.80

Interurban North

Fremont Ave N / N 77th St to N 110th St

1.40

Total miles:7.84

 

Other 2013 SDOT Bicycle "Deliverables"

  1. Maintain existing facilities: the outside line of all existing bike lanes installed to date will be remarked (includes pre-BMP lanes) - total of 70 miles.
  2. Inspect 40 miles of trails
  3. Implement 10 trail spot improvements
  4. Install 20 miles of bike route signs
  5. Add 400 bicycle parking spaces
  6. West Seattle Bridge Trail Planning Charrette


This article was written for the purpose of providing information on what policies and plans have guided Seattle's development of its bicycle system, the investments made recently and the results to date.

I would like to receive your comments on this article and if you would like other information or have questions please contact me at tom.rasmussen@seattle.gov.

Return to Index


 

Plans to Improve Bicycle Route from West Seattle to Downtown

Last week’s fatal collision between a bicyclist and a truck resulted in an outpouring of grief for the death of Lance David and sympathy for his family.  While we are not certain what led to the collision, I am determined to improve conditions on this route that will benefit bicyclists and motorists.    

This week I held a work session with SDOT staff.  We poured over a large map of the route to identify options for improvements.   I know this route, and I bicycle along this route to and from work when my meeting schedule permits.  It is very challenging because of the heavy traffic and the many and sometimes confusing crossings.  There are long stretches where the streets have been pulverized by the mammoth trucks going to and from the Port.  The conditions require extra caution on everyone’s part whether they bicycle or drive this route.

Please know that it did not take this heartbreaking fatality to bring attention for the need to improve this route.  Last fall the City Council increased the 2013 SDOT budget for bicycle improvements city-wide.  We specifically funded planning for improvements to portions of the West Seattle route to downtown.

During the next several weeks I will continue to work with SDOT and members of the community to develop a plan for improvements to the West Seattle - East Marginal Way bike corridor.  I am determined to implement those plans as soon as possible.  
If you have suggestions for improvement please write me at tom.rasmussen@seattle.gov

Return to Index


 

Losing Sleep in Seattle or the Plight of the Liveaboards
Please click on the link to read about the "Liveaboard" legislation we passed earlier this year.

 

Return to Index

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