Gone Bikin’: At long last, E Lake Sammamish Trail clears legal hurdles (probably)

IMG_2882.JPGSeattle Bike Blog Editor Tom Fucoloro has Gone Bikin’ until Labor Day. In the meantime, we will be periodically posting short news bits and excerpts from good reads floating around the web.

OK, we totally missed posting about this huge story from the Eastside back when it broke in April. I don’t really know how it fell through the cracks. Probably due to my terrible organizational skills. So if you haven’t seen this news yet, pretend it says “August” and not “April.”

But seriously, this is (was) huge news for a long, long effort to get this wonderful trail completed. For background, see our coverage of the county’s fight to keep the trail safe and high quality. Details on the legal win from King County:

On April 20, Federal District Court Judge Marsha J.Pechman ruled in King County’s favor on property ownership and use issues within the East Lake Sammamish Trail (ELST) corridor. The ruling recognizes that King County possesses all property rights in the ELST corridor that were previously owned by BNSF.  Along substantial portions of the ELST, King County owns the corridor in fee.  Where the railroad acquired corridor property by “adverse possession” over 100 years ago, King County currently owns a “railroad easement” that is 100’ wide (subject to prior legal settlements or BNSF property sales).  Even where King County’s ownership is limited to a railroad easement, this robust form of ownership allows for “the exclusive use and possession of the area on, above, and below the surface of the corridor.”  The federal court’s recognition of King County’s property rights in the ELST corridor is important because it allows the County to move forward with completing the last section of the ELST, known as South Sammamish B. Once constructed, this “golden-spike” segment will complete the 44-mile regional trail corridor from Ballard to Issaquah for public use and enjoyment.

From a King County mailer

From a King County mailer

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Gone Bikin’: ‘Why Bicycle Justice Isn’t a White Guy in Spandex’

IMG_2882.JPGSeattle Bike Blog Editor Tom Fucoloro has Gone Bikin’ until Labor Day. In the meantime, we will be periodically posting short news bits and excerpts from good reads floating around the web.

Today’s good read comes from Elly Blue writing for Yes! Magazine:

Jenna Burton moved to Oakland, California, in 2007. She was tired of the cost and hassle of driving, and the thriving bicycle culture in the Bay Area inspired her to get on a bicycle for the first time since she was 9. She loved it and took to it in part because in Oakland, and especially in her activist circle, it was a normal way to get around.

But her friends from back home thought it was a strange choice to make. And she noticed one thing right away—there weren’t that many other people on bikes who looked like her. Even though 28 percent of the city’s population was of African descent, the few other Black people she did see on bikes were mostly using them as a last resort, a far cry from her own exuberant choice.

It was up to her, she decided, to create a space for more Black folks to try out bikes and develop a bicycling culture. She invited her friends to join her on a weekend ride. The response was enthusiastic, but only two showed up. They had a great time on the ride, and she decided to try to build more momentum.

In 2010, Burton and a core group of organizers officially launched Red, Bike, and Green. “It’s bigger than bikes” is one of the group’s slogans. The three points of their mission make this clear: They promote and use bicycles as a tool to help Black people be healthier and more active, to save money and support Black-owned businesses, and work to reduce pollution and other environmental factors that disproportionately affect Black folks.

RBG began in earnest with a monthly ride that coincided with the city’s First Fridays arts walk. In diverse Oakland, the art event was predominantly White, and Burton’s group of dozens of young riders took delight in riding through it with their Black Critical Mass. The group soon established a second monthly ride, held on a weekend and paced for families. Over the winter, they held indoor events to socialize with each other and prospective new cyclists. A main focus from the start was to create art around RBG, developing a strong visual identity for the growing community.

Read more…

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Gone Bikin’: We must stop Seattle’s ‘highway on top of a highway’

IMG_2882.JPGSeattle Bike Blog Editor Tom Fucoloro has Gone Bikin’ until Labor Day. In the meantime, we will be periodically posting short news bits and excerpts from good reads floating around the web.

We have been fully against the state’s horrendous plans for a surface highway on the reconstructed downtown Seattle waterfront ever since the agency dropped its first looks.

It is still horrible. There are simply too many lanes of traffic, leading to very long crossing distances and creating dangerous and likely deadly conditions for people moving between the downtown core and the newly-rebuilt waterfront.

The state needs to drop one of the general purpose lanes in each direction. They are already digging a highway tunnel at immense (and growing) cost. We don’t need or want a surface highway to complement it.

Josh Cohen dives into the issue in a recent story for Next City:

“When you get to south of Columbia you still have an eight-lane highway,” says Quinn. “The waterfront is a transportation hub for people walking. We’re the most vulnerable. But we’re not being prioritized, we’re being compromised.”

Part of the problem stems from the many, many competing needs of the major north-south corridor. As Quinn says, there is significant foot traffic from tourists, ferry riders, bus riders and residents. There is bike traffic. There will be heavy car traffic from drivers getting off the ferry and people heading into downtown since the highway tunnel will bypass downtown. Alaskan is an important route for freight traffic coming out of the port. And the ferry uses space on the road to queue its car traffic.

“There’s so much trying to happen in a constrained space it does have a very practical challenge in terms of the width of that road,” says Marshall Foster, director of Seattle’s Office of the Waterfront. “We’re trying to strike this very, very hard balance. But without throwing someone off the island — transit or ferries or something else — this is the optimized solution that’s going to make everybody be able to do what they have to do.”

Compelled by feedback from constituents (including a set of strongly worded letters co-signed by Feet First, Transportation Choices Coalition and Cascade Bicycle Club), the city looked at alternative designs that could narrow the road width. But Foster says freight capacity and ferry queuing lanes weren’t up for negotiation, and projected traffic volumes will require two general travel lanes in each direction. So dedicated transit lanes were the only thing on the chopping block, an outcome nobody wanted.

But the plan does “throw someone off the island.” That’s what we’re saying. The plan is not safe or comfortable for people on the ground. Or to phrase that another way: “Projected safety and public comfort needs will require fewer lanes in each direction.”

Vision Zero says that deaths and serious injuries are preventable, buy only if cities and states make safety the top priority in their street designs. If you compromise safety, then you are contributing to death and injury. Stop.

It seems the bureaucratic, public feedback route isn’t working here. They aren’t listening. Is it time to start planning protests?

waterfront

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Gone Bikin’: Community-led Melrose Promenade project gets $3 million from Feds

IMG_2882.JPGSeattle Bike Blog Editor Tom Fucoloro has Gone Bikin’ until Labor Day. In the meantime, we will be periodically posting short news bits and excerpts from good reads floating around the web.

My favorite description of the Melrose Promenade concept is “Capitol Hill’s front porch.” Because the underutilized street with incredible views should be both a major non-motorized route and a great place for people in the city’s densest neighborhood to hang out.

Back when I was active in Central Seattle Greenways, the group helped project volunteers (like dedicated visionary Mike Kent) win some city grant funding for planning and community outreach. So though I have not been personally involved in the project since then, it’s amazing to see all that work come to fruition with $3 million in funding for construction. I can’t wait to see it in action.

More on the grant funding from Scott Bonjukian at the Urbanist:

Today the street is bombarded with the roar of freeway traffic and has a narrow sidewalk on only one side, offering not so much as a street tree or bench in this high density neighborhood. But the street also offers stunning views of the city skyline and the Olympic Mountains beyond. Urban planner and local resident Mike Kent saw a disconnect between Melrose Avenue’s poor conditions and its views of the city. Six years ago he started recruiting friends, neighbors, local organizations, and business owners to advocate for safety changes and public space improvements.

In 2012, a $20,000 grant from the City of Seattle enabled the Melrose Promenade Advisory Committee to hire design consultants and host several public workshops. These helped shape the community’s vision for what Melrose Avenue could become. The work led to an 88 page concept plan (PDF) which includes site analyses, public feedback, and schematic renderings.

Billing itself as “the front porch to Seattle’s Capitol Hill”, the concept plan has a variety of elements that support a mix of street users:

  • Part of the “active urban” south of Denny Way is envisioned as a curbless festival street with adaptable furniture and lighting elements. The area between Pike Street and Olive Way has a number of retail establishments that draw foot traffic day and night.
  • The “overlook” north of Denny Way may have elements like curb bulbs, seating, and translucent panels on the edge of the freeway to make Melrose more inviting for people walking and to enhance the skyline views. The hill climb at Harrison Street, which consists of a narrow stairway today, is widened into a larger gathering and viewing space (see the next image below for a comparison).
  • The “park” section would enhance the multi-use trail running through Bellevue Place Park and potentially create new retaining walls and terraces to make the park more useable and attractive as a gathering space.

Read more…

Overlook concept from the excellent and extensive Visioning Project (PDF)

Overlook concept from the excellent and extensive Visioning Project (PDF)

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Bike News Roundup: Gone Bikin’ addition

IMG_2882.JPGSeattle Bike Blog Editor Tom Fucoloro has Gone Bikin’ until Labor Day. In the meantime, we will be periodically posting short news bits and excerpts from good reads floating around the web.

It’s time for the Bike News Roundup!

First up, some ways to create a more equitable bike share system:

Pacific Northwest News Continue reading

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Gone Bikin’: A short tour of UW’s remade stretch of the Burke-Gilman Trail

IMG_2882.JPGSeattle Bike Blog Editor Tom Fucoloro has Gone Bikin’ until Labor Day. In the meantime, we will be periodically posting short news bits and excerpts from good reads floating around the web.

As we reported last week, the UW has opened its remade section of the Burke-Gilman Trail between 15th Ave NE and the bridge to UW Station.

In case you haven’t been there to try it yet, here’s what to expect. One reader described it as “glorious.” I think that’s about right.

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Fixing Seattle’s Most Dangerous Street

Seattle Bike Blog Editor Tom Fucoloro has Gone Bikin’ until Labor Day. In the meantime, here’s a post from Phyllis Porter and Gordon Padelford. Phyllis Porter is an educator, advocate for criminal justice reform, and leader with safe streets community group Rainier Valley Greenways. Gordon Padelford is the Policy Director for Seattle Neighborhood Greenways.

Join the safe streets celebration and rally this Wednesday to thank the city for making part of Rainier Ave S safer and asking them to complete the project.

Rainier Ave S was infamous for being Seattle’s most dangerous street. With a crash every day on average, 7 businesses hit in the past year, and 630 injuries over the last three years, something had to be done. Business, community groups, and residents had had enough.

Last year the community came together to demand Rainier Ave S be made safer. For instance, a group calling themselves the Rainier Road Diet Supporters held a number of crosswalk protests.

The community group Rainier Valley Greenways rallied around a campaign called Safety Over Speeding to bring more attention to the problem. We collected signatures and photo petitions, created a Get Well Soon Rainier Ave Card for people to sign, posted flyers with the number of crashes next to dangerous intersections, and hosted a big crosswalk protest and rally.

Feet First provided a well loved chicken costume

Continue reading

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