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Seattle Bicycle Master Plan

Last updated: April 29, 2014

Available now – Adopted Bicycle Master Plan

2007 Bike Master Plan

Bike Master Plan Update Project Library

Seattle Bicycle Master Plan

A bikeable city is one where people ride bicycles because it is a convenient, fun, safe, and healthy choice. It is a city in which people of all ages and abilities bicycle for any trip purpose. The Seattle Bicycle Master Plan (BMP) aspires to encourage and accommodate more people to ride a bicycle. The BMP provides a blueprint to make it easier to decide to ride a bicycle. The vision of the BMP, which signifies an important shift in the way Seattle will accommodate people riding a bicycle, is:

“Riding a bicycle is a comfortable and integral part of daily life in Seattle for people of all ages and abilities.”

There are several important themes embedded in the vision statement. First, the idea that bicycling is “comfortable” suggests it is safe, convenient, and an attractive travel option for a large number of people. “Integral to daily life in Seattle” means that bicycling is not a niche activity only for the fast and fearless riders, but is desirable for a wide variety of people and trip purposes, especially shorter trips. Finally, “people of all ages and abilities” is a key theme for the entire plan, meaning that the emphasis is on planning, designing, and building bicycle facilities that will be used by a wide range of people throughout the city. A central focus of this plan is to design and implement bicycle facilities that are safe and appropriate for riders of all ages and abilities.

Background:

Over the next 20 years, Seattle will add 120,00 new people and 115,000 jobs within city limits. That is more growth than Seattle experienced over the last 20 years. Part of the strategy for accommodating this growth and its associated mobility needs will be bicycle investments and nurturing of the Seattle’s bicycle culture in a manner that purposefully benefits the city’s livability, affordability, public health, economic competitiveness, and natural environment.

There are many reasons for making the case for investing in bicycling. Examples of the reasons range from:

  • Safe streets for all users: Studies suggest that the risk of injury or death in a collision with motor vehicles declines as more people walk or bicycle. Policies that increase the number of people walking and biking appear to be an effective route to improving the safety of all roadway users. Greater safety for all road users may result from reaching a threshold of bicyclist volumes that compels motorists to drive more carefully. (refer to page 4 and 37 in the BMP more information)

  • Health benefits: Physical activity is indisputably effective in the primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and other related chronic diseases. Public health professionals support active transportation as a means of improving these and other health outcomes related to the obesity epidemic. Bicycling can also curb health care costs. Mental health and academic achievement are also improved by walking and bicycling. One particular study of over 20,000 school-aged children found that by walking or biking to school advanced children’s mental alertness by half a school year. (refer to page 5 in the BMP for more information)



  • Economic benefits: There are many ways to consider the economic benefits of increased levels of bicycling. An example as major employers – and talented employees – seek locations with good opportunities for active lifestyles and attractive urban amenities. Intercept surveys in Portland, OR sound that people arriving to retails stores on foot or by bicycle visit more frequently than those who drive and spend more money over the course of a month. Findings from New York City protected bicycle lane implementation have shown an increase in retail sales of up to 49% from locally-based businesses on 9th Ave , compared to 3% borough-wide. (refer to page 6 in the BMP for more information)

  • Environmental benefits: Transportation, within the City of Seattle, is a significant source of air, water, and carbon pollution. Roadway transportation makes up 40% of greenhouse gas emissions in Seattle. By reducing vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in fossil fuel burning vehicles will improve and protect Seattle’s natural environment. Expanding and enhancing active transportation opportunities are a highly cost-effective approach for meeting the goals of Seattle’s Climate Action Plan. (refer to page 6 in the BMP for more information)



  • Space efficiency: There is simply very little space to add traffic lanes to meet increasing travel demands or reduce congestion in a growing population. Both vehicles and bicycles usually carry a single person, but bicycles take up much less space. Planning for bicycling and increasing the number of people riding bicycles will help optimize the use of limited urban space and create safer streets for all. Also, 41% of all trips (national average of personal trip lengths) are 0-3 miles in distance. There is great potential to increase the number of trips made by bicycle for these shorter trips. (refer to page 3 and 7 in the BMP for more information)



  • Equity: 16% of Seattle households do not have a motor vehicle for their use. Providing transportation options for these people may include walking, riding a bike, taking transit or carpooling. Providing all ages and abilities bicycle infrastructure in parts of the city with lower car ownership will provide better transportation choice for people. (refer to page 7 and 8 in the BMP for more information)

BMP Goals:

The plan’s bold vision is supported by five goals which articulate the plan’s future achievements. The goals set the basis for the plan’s performance measures and frame the prioritization criteria that help define which projects should be built first:

  • Ridership – Increase amount and mode share of bicycle riding in Seattle for all trip purposes.
  • Safety – Improve safety for bicycle riders in Seattle.
  • Connectivity – Create a high-quality bicycle network that connects to places people want to go and provides a time-competitive travel option.
  • Equity – Improve bicycle riding for all through equity in public engagement, program delivery, and capital investments.
  • Livability – Build vibrant communities by creating a welcoming environment for bicycle riding.

Bicycle Network:

The bicycle network recommends a location and facility type of bicycle improvements throughout the city. A clearly defined “all ages and abilities” network, the Citywide Network, was proposed to help achieve the goals of the plan, especially as it relates to safety and connectivity, therefore increasing ridership. The Citywide network consists of bicycle facilities with comfortable separation from motor vehicles and focuses on intersection safety. These bicycle facilities are:

The secondary network, Local Connectors, provide access to the Citywide Network, parallels the Citywide Network for those riders who are comfortable riding in or near traffic, and serves destinations.

The plan recommends that 473.5 new or upgraded facilities are to be built. See the table below for a breakdown of the facility types.

As lines on the map become projects and get prioritized, then the project delivery and design process will begin and SDOT will work with surrounding community stakeholders (residents and businesses) and partner agencies to understand priorities for each mode using the corridor(s), review data collection and technical analysis, prepare conceptual design alternatives and, ultimately, a preferred design. A project may be implemented differently than originally envisioned and recommended by the BMP planning process. (refer to Chapter 7: Implementation Approach for more information)

Other Important Plan Elements:

Programs – Education, encouragement, enforcement, and promotional programs will help people of all ages and abilities realize the full potential of Seattle’s new and proposed bicycle infrastructure. The types of programs help people know how to use our roads safely, no matter what mode you choose to get around. The ideas in the plan will increase the visibility of people who ride bicycles, communicate that all road users are expected to look out for each other, create safer streets, and develop a common understanding of traffic safety.

End-of-trip facilities – Part of making it easier to decide to bicycle is the reassurance that there is someplace safe, convenient, and accessible to leave your bike at the end of a trip. The plan outlines strategies to support development of a range of bicycle parking accommodations for short- and long-term use. Better aligning bicycle parking with the types of destination, trip purpose, and length of stay at destinations is an important component of the plan.

Implementation approach – Creating a bicycle project delivery process ensures that SDOT will be consistent to provide the public with an understanding of how a project will be developed, designed, and implemented. This process includes extensive public engagement, data collection, technical analysis, identification and analysis of alternatives and a preferred design. The process also consists of education about and promotion of the bicycle improvements, ongoing maintenance, and further evaluation of the project and potential evolution of design. A prioritization framework was created to assist SDOT and elected officials with a data-driven process for selecting an equitable and realistic set of prioritized projects to be completed over time. SDOT will be producing a 3-5 year implementation plan so that the community knows when a project may enter into the project delivery process in the near-term in their neighborhood. A planning-level cost estimate was developed based on bicycle facility type – the cost of full build-out of the bicycle facility projects ranges from $390 - $524 million. Performance measures were also created to assess whether the implementation of the plan is meeting its goals over time. See the performance measure target and trends below.


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