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Seattle City Councilmember Sally Bagshaw dropped into the 4-6-2011 Seattle Bike Advisory Board meeting to share her thoughts from a (then recent) visit to Portland, namely Portland’s effective implementation of Neighborhood Greenways. She explained how Neighborhood Greenways, another option in the toolbox of cycling facilities, provide a place for the “wary, but willing” to travel by bike. Of course it’s not all about cyclists. Neighborhood Greenways create a safer environment for pedestrians in various forms: joggers, dog walkers, children walking to school, etc. She closed by asking those in attendance to provide feedback as to what streets would be appropriate for Neighborhood Greenway-ing.
My mind started whirling as to what streets would be appropriate as a Neighborhood Greenway in my native Ballard. Local blog Totcycle has identified several Ballard streets for consideration. Seattle Bike Blog has excellent coverage on the topic and encouraged readers to use the comments section to get organized in their neighborhoods. I would like to promote 6th Ave NW for consideration.
The 8th Ave NW bike lane between NW 65th and Leary Way NW/Fred Meyer is hardly a candidate for the “wary, but willing” types. It’s a bike lane in the door zone, there’s a pavement seam in the bike lane waiting to trip your skinnier tires, it has moderate/high traffic volumes including large trucks, buses weave in and out of the bike lane, there is no shortage of drivers exceeding the speed limit, and it’s just loud.
Two blocks over sits 6th Ave NW, a perfect potential Neighborhood Greenway, particularly the section between NW 44th St and NW 65th St. It’s a quiet wide street with good sight lines, no bus routes, gentle uphill grade when traveling northbound, low speeds, and overwhelmingly courteous interactions between pedestrians/cyclists/drivers. It’s a street where you would take your out-of-town parent for a ride down to the Burke Gilman, where you would ride with your elementary school child attending West Woodland Elementary School, where you can slowly haul your grocery laden bicycle without concern, or where you would direct new commuters who are “wary, but willing”. Added special feature: use NW 56th St to pick up 5th Ave NW and you can cross NW Market Street within seconds of pushing the crosswalk signal.
6th Ave NW is but one option for Ballard and Ballard is but one neighborhood in Seattle. There are others to consider! This is an opportunity for community-centered bicycle advocacy. Get your thoughtful ideas for Neighborhood Greenways out there. Contact Councilmember Sally Bagshaw at Sally.Bagshaw@seattle.gov or use comment sections of related posts on Totcycle or Seattle Bike Blog to connect with interested people in your neighborhood. Be heard!
Well that was worth it.
Phase 1 of Dexter Ave N looks (and feels) great. The paint is bright, the road smooth, and the bike lane a little more roomy.
I was debating whether to post this entry or not, but since advocacy does involve interactions with other cyclists, whether they be new or or ride thousands of miles a year, this situation could be a learning experience (whether for me or the other rider is uncertain). While riding into work today I was following another rider who was riding a mountain bike, in street clothes, with no helmet, no lights and who was wearing headphones. I jumped to the conclusion that this was someone who doesn’t ride regularly. I also recognize most of the regular riders in the morning along my route and he was a new one. As the weather has improved I’ve been noticing more new riders this past week.
As we approach a construction area at which the bike lane ends and cyclists can choose to use the separated bike/pedestrian path or stay in the narrow two-lane roadway, one lane in each direction with no shoulders to speak of, the rider looks like he’s going to veer onto the path but instead starts to ride the wrong way, against traffic, on the other side of the road. A classic salmon. I watch this in horror and amazement as oncoming traffic swerves into my lane (I am riding with traffic, taking the lane on the other side of the street). I don’t say anything at this point thinking that it’s not worth it as we approach the second construction area. Here, the northbound lane ends (the one I am in) and cyclists must move to the bike/ped path since the southbound lane is at that point a narrow, clearly marked, one-way street. This rider enters the one-way street heading in the wrong direction, into oncoming traffic. At this point, I am yelling at him that he’s going the wrong way as I see traffic heading towards him. I’m pretty much freaked out that I’m going to witness a bad crash. He moves over to his right so the oncoming traffic can get by him. At the intersection where through and left-turning traffic have the green light, traffic has to either swerve or stop completely so they don’t hit him. He was lucky drivers were paying attention.
I catch up to him on the bike/pedestrian path and yell (due to headphones since he hadn’t seemed to have heard me previously), “Don’t ride the wrong way up those one-way streets!” And then received a barrage of such profanity and hatred of which I cannot ever remember experiencing in the recent past, even from a driver. I immediately sped up, saying, “Why are you so angry?” as he issued forth another torrent of hatred at me. I was astounded and said nothing as he caught up to me, tailgating me for a short time, and diverted to the street, running the next red light.
Normally I don’t say anything to other riders. Sometimes I will if I see someone do something very dangerous or if they are acting unsure about themselves. Usually it ends well in a good conversation or with someone thanking me or at least just ignoring me. This situation has made me re-think that. I know that people advise others to mind your own business but part of being on a bike is the ability to have that personal interaction with someone else. We don’t have a steel and glass box around us that reduces us to using horns that don’t communicate anything but noise. Do we keep trying to have conversations with other riders if they are doing something dangerous? Do we ignore the behavior even though doing so may risk giving someone a learning opportunity? For more experienced riders, what is our role in being advocates for cycling? Do we even have one?
As noted by King 5, SDOT, Seattle Bike Blog the street grinding portion of the Dexter Ave N construction began Monday 4-11-2011. Cyclists should expect grooved pavement and loose asphalt, raised utility casting and manholes, and single traffic lanes in each direction. Cyclists traveling downhill can also expect to be bounced around like a corn kernel in an air popper.
SDOT has identified Westlake Ave N (road) or Westlake Ave parking lot/sidewalk as reroute options. The sidewalks on Dexter are also an option.
Sights from Dexter Ave N as of today:
Construction on Dexter Ave N is packed with signs alerting cyclists to hazards, changing conditions, and … re-route suggestions! SDOT had not originally planned to suggest alternative routes for cyclists, so this change is welcomed.
How are the signs working for you?
Share your comments regarding the Dexter construction, including signs, by emailing the Construction Communications Officer, Josh Stepherson, at email@example.com.
A couple weeks ago, signage was installed just before the construction area on Alaskan Way S, between Royal Brougham and Atlantic Street. The signage states that “Bicycles must use signed path.” This seems to mandate that cyclists cannot use the roadway to pass through the construction zone; rather, they must use a separated bike/pedestrian path along the west side of the street. I have asked WADOT several times for more information about why cyclists must use the detour route rather than the much safer street – note the detour requires cyclists to cross Alaskan Way and several intersections that puts them into a more vulnerable position than they would be in if they had stayed on the street.
WADOT contact, Broch Bender, replied that cyclists heading northbound must either follow the bicycle detour or follow the motor vehicle detour that seems to direct traffic from Alaskan to 1st Ave S then to Royal Brougham, then to the bypass underneath the Alaskan Way Viaduct to re-join Alaskan Way. However, if cyclists stay on the street and ignore the detour signage, they end up joining the bike detour route at the Terminal 46 entrance. The reason to keep cyclists off the street northbound is unclear other than a mention that in the near future cyclists will have to use the detour route once Alaskan Way closes for motorized traffic.
Cyclists heading southbound on Alaskan Way also encounter signage that tells them they must use the signed bicycle detour route. But Mr. Bender stated to me that southbound cyclists can “choose” to either stay on the roadway or use the signed path. More after the jump…
Representative Eileen Cody updated me recently about the status of House Bill 1018 – discussed here, here and here: This bill was referred to the House Committee on Transportation. It did not receive a hearing or get voted out of committee before our House cutoff, so it will not be moving forward this year. However it will be automatically reintroduced next year so please continue to share your concerns.
Those who objected to the original HB 1018 version need to keep a watch for the introduction of the bill next year. Seattle Likes Bikes! will be commenting when it is introduced for discussion.
Update 3/30/11: The Bicycle Alliance of Washington has posted a status update and explanation of what’s coming regarding HB 1018.
Seattle Likes Bikes is proud to endorse Michael Snyder for a seat on the Cascade Bicycle Club (CBC) Board of Directors. Michael walks, err, rides the talk of cycling advocacy in all parts of his life. He has worn many helmets over the years including CBC ride leader, CBC volunteer ride referee, CBC advocacy volunteer, League of American Bicyclists Certified Instructor, daily bicycle commuter, CBC rider (STP, RSVP, Chilly Hilly), and SeattleLikesBikes co-founder. (His relationship to Seattle Likes Bikes will change should he be elected to the Board – see the comments section for me.)
Michael Snyder’s vision for the CBC Board aligns with what Seattle Likes Bikes requested in October 2010. Michael “envision[s] that the Cascade board’s role is to discern and promote the club’s direction and mission in response to the membership“ and feels the board should be “visible and transparent”. What we appreciate the most is Michael’s belief that “Board members should be active participants and volunteers in many aspects of the club and should promote the same in the membership.” Board members that ride the talk? We vote yes! Read more about Michael, including how he incorporated cycling into his wedding, in his candidate profile. Michael Snyder has the vision, experience, and dedication to ensure Cascade Bicycle Club stays member focused while successfully guiding the Club’s growth. Vote Michael Snyder for Cascade Bicycle Club Board of Directors!
HOW TO VOTE
The CBC Board elections will close one week from today on Tuesday March 22. All current CBC members may vote and the ballot is available here as a printable PDF. Voters choosing to mail their completed ballot must ensure the envelope is postmarked on or before March 22. The mailing address is 7400 Sand Point Way NE, Suite 101S, Seattle WA 98115. Voters wishing to drop off their completed ballot can do so at the CBC offices located at 7400 Sand Point Way, Bldg 138. CBC offices are housed within Magnuson Park and you’ll see on this map that Bldg 138 is just off of the Sand Point Way NE & NE 74st St intersection.
14 candidates are running for 9 available CBC Board positions. A complete list of candidate profiles are available online through the Cascade Bicycle Club website. A Candidate Forum is being held on March 22nd at Magnuson Park’s the Brig/Bldg 406 from 6:30-9pm. Note the Brig/Bldg 406 is just west of the Community Garden & Amphitheater. Completed ballots will be accepted by CBC staff in attendance until approximately 15 minutes after the close of the Forum.
WHAT’S MY MEMBERSHIP NUMBER?
Your membership number is on each edition of the Cascade Courier and on your membership card. If you don’t have either of those, contact the CBC office – the sooner the better! You’ll need the number for the ballot.
The CBC Board of Directors election will be certified on or before 3/31/2011 and newly elected board members will be seated shortly thereafter. A certification announcement will be made on the CBC website with a link to election results. Results will also be announced through other Club communications.
The March 2, 2011 Seattle Bike Advisory Board (SBAB) meeting included a 45 minute presentation by Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) about the Dexter Ave N project beginning on Monday March 7th. The project will both resurface and complete base repair to approximately 1.5 miles of Dexter Ave N starting at Fremont Ave N and ending at Roy Street. The project will take place on weekdays between 7am and 4pm, and implemented in three phases over the course of 8 months.
In accordance with Seattle’s Complete Streets ordinance, the transportation improvements for this project have been planned, designed and constructed to encourage walking, bicycling and transit use while promoting safe operations for all users. The transportation improvements on Dexter Ave N will include bringing curb ramps up to code, create in-land bus stops (bus islands), sidewalk repairs, and the creation of a 6 foot wide bike lane with a 2 foot wide painted buffer. Drainage improvements will be implemented at Dexter Way N (at the top of the hill if you are headed south) and around the area bus stop closest to Westlake where water constantly runs-off from the hill. In addition Seattle City Light will also be improving lighting along Dexter Ave N during construction including installation of more poles and adjusting lamp arms. In short, the end result is gonna be awesome.
WHAT TO EXPECT DURING CONSTRUCTION
Dexter Ave N is one of the most heavily traveled and crucial North-South connections for cyclists in Seattle. The first week of construction beginning on March 7th will bring small changes including the placement of signage and presence of survey teams. After that week cyclists need to be prepared for a changing environment that will present a variety of hazards including:
- Elimination of the bike lane
Bikes, cars, and transit will share a lane of traffic at least 11 feet wide
- Grinding out the asphalt layer
Loose gravel and asphalt will be present
- Presence of grooved pavement that reults from removing the surface asphalt layer
- Non-skid metal plates on the roadway
- Presence of “shimmed” manhole covers, drains, etc.
Shimmed means there will be asphalt “ramps” at a grade of 1-12 degrees around these exposed items
- Peak commute hours will have two lanes of travel – one in each direction
- Non-peak commute hours (9am – 3pm) can have one lane of travel with a flagger controlling traffic flow
- Sections of sidewalk closures
- Presence of construction equipment and personnel
SDOT presenters noted several times that they are aware of the importance of Dexter Ave N to the cycling community and have repeatedly informed the contractor and construction management teams on this issue. For example, roadways will be swept more frequently to reduce loose gravel, non-skid metal plates are being used, and the timeline from grinding out the asphalt to completing the paving must be less than 25 working days. Construction will take place between Mondays and Fridays. Additionally each phase of construction must be completed before work on the next phase begins.
Cyclists should be very alert and aware when traveling Dexter Ave N during construction. SDOT anticipates a decrease in traffic numbers due to the construction and expects speeds to decrease as a result of the more narrow travel lanes. Signage will be posted to indicate the bike lanes are closed and that bikes will be in the roadway/share the road.
Road construction projects involving resurfacing require dry weather. This is a particular challenge in Seattle as many cyclists prefer to bike in dry weather. Cyclists wanting to avoid the Dexter Ave N phased construction have the following alternative options, each with its own challenge(s):
- Ride on the Dexter Ave N sidewalks
Sections will be closed, sightlines at intersections and driveways can be a problem, leaves/sticks/grass debris on sidewalk, unlevel sidewalks, sidewalk grades may be steeper than roadway, presence of pedestrians/joggers/dog walkers
- Ride in the lane on Westlake Ave
High speed, high volume roadway
- Ride in the parking lot alongside Westlake Ave
Drivers don’t look for/expect cyclists, yield patterns aren’t clear, extra morning traffic from drive thru Starbucks
- Ride on the sidewalks by the businesses along Westlake Ave
Presence of pedestrians, some of whom are not aware that cycling on the sidewalk is legal in Seattle
Note that this suggestion is for the sidewalk directly infront of the businesses. The sidewalk on Westlake Ave N is incomplete. On the east side it only has concrete sections of sidewalk near the bus stops and on the west side stops across the street from China Harbor. Sidewalk fail!
- Ride on the Cheshiahud Lake Union Loop
Didn’t know what that was? I didn’t either! It’s essentially riding on the sidewalk or in the parking lot along Westlake. Hardly a trail, but it is being touted as the parking lot or sidewalk option … under a different name.
COMMUNICATING CONCERNS ABOUT DEXTER AVE N PROJECT
There are two people to contact directly regarding the project.
1. Josh Stepherson is the Construction Communications Officer for the Dexter Ave N project and will be on-site regularly and in daily communication with the construction foreperson for the project. He was in attendance at the meeting and encouraged cyclists to contact him about any problems they experience while riding Dexter Ave N so he can addresses those situations. He can be reached at 206-321-4205 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. George Frost is the Project Communications lead for SDOT and can be contacted at 206-615-0786 or George.email@example.com. George was not at the meeting, so maybe emails that go to Josh should also include George? Your call.
Let us know if alert Josh or George to concerns and if/how they are addressed. SDOT, the contractor, and the construction management crew want to do this correctly, but they aren’t, in most cases, daily commuters. Your input helps fill an information gap.
- Via the SDOT Dexter Ave N website
Website includes an informational flyer with a map detailing the construction phasing
- Social media updates via Twitter
The use of Twitter for this project is a possibility that needs your input to become a reality. The idea was suggested by a SBAB member and SDOT seemed on the fence. I encourage you to contact SDOT and express your support for Twitter updates on the construction. Maybe tweet SDOT as well? 3/15 edit: Josh Stepherson has explained that SDOT doesn’t have many followers on Twitter or Facebook and instead will send information to the Cascade Bicycle Club and Bicycle Alliance of Washington to disperse over their more established social networks.
There reached a point in the meeting where the glow of a wonderful finished product on Dexter Ave N gave way to the realization that we have 7-8 months of ugly to get there. The nods to cyclists of phasing the work, increased sweeping, shims, non-skid plates, etc. don’t adjust the fact that Dexter Ave N is a hill and navigating both inclines and declines in traffic while dodging changing hazards can be dangerous for cyclists of any level and deterrents to those wishing to start commuting by bike.
The SDOT prepared Dexter Ave N website and accompanying flyer don’t suggest any alternative routes. SDOT stated repeatedly that cyclists will make their own route decision based on their individual comfort and ability. SBAB responded by pointing out that cyclists need education to make decisions, regardless of their comfort or ability. There are no plans for detour signage on Dexter Ave N approach routes and no alternative route information on the website or flyer. This will be particularly relevant during warm weather months that encourage a greater variety of cyclists to take to the streets. With SBABs persistence SDOT agreed to update the website and flyer to include alternative route information. It wasn’t clear to me that SDOT agreed to additional signage on the approach routes, although it’s possible I missed some of the nuance there.
Despite the efforts by SDOT, there were big conceptual gaps regarding the project. SDOT, as a matter of policy, doesn’t provide detour signage unless a route is closed. During construction is Dexter Ave N effectively closed to cyclists? Even if we can agree on the what is/is not a closure, there is the issue of what is a safe alternative route. SDOT, as a matter of policy, is not in the business of determining what route is/is not safe. One wonders if the initial omission of alternative routes is itself implicit acknowledgement that the alternative Westlake cycling facilities are subpar. Either way, having a stated understand and series of expectations of what is safe for cycling needs to be bridged between SDOT and the cycling community.
Dexter Ave N is the first major construction project to impact a highly traveled bike facility and is a learning opportunity for how to improve the execution of future projects. For future projects both SDOT and SBAB agreed there should be more dialogue on the implementation of construction to identify and address issues early in the process.
3/15 edits: content clarifications regarding grooved pavement, 25 working days, construction occuring btwn Mon-Fri, SDOT Twitter status
Monday, January 24, 2011, the Bicycle Alliance of Washington (BAW) included in the “Bike Bites E-Newsletter” that the BAW decided to not pursue HB 1018 and that the sponsors of the bill have agreed to table it. Congratulations to all who agreed with the attempt to offer more protection to cyclists on the roadway but who disagreed with the concessions this bill would have required of more vulnerable road users and exposed the fallacy of “mutual responsibility” as proposed. And thank you to the BAW who listened to their constituents. The full language is here:
Mutual Responsibilities Bill Tabled – HB 1018. The Mutual Responsibilities bill was an ambitious undertaking by the Bicycle Alliance of Washington and its Legislative Committee to better define what is expected and required of bicyclists and motorists to safely share the road. There were many good elements to the bill, including a definition for safe passing and providing bicyclists the same protections as pedestrians when they were in trail crossings, crosswalks and sidewalks.
While we conducted outreach with clubs across Washington, attorneys within the bicycling community, and solicited extensive input from within our own organization, we received extensive comments from cyclists both in favor and in opposition. In light of this, the Bicycle Alliance has chosen not to pursue the bill and the sponsors have agreed to table it.