Moments ago, Mayor McGinn released his much-anticipated “Walk. Bike. Ride” initiative.  Contrary to some earlier speculation, it is not a ballot measure, but a set of planning steps and some expenditures within the existing budget “to focus aggressively on early implementation of projects that will improve walking, biking, and neighborhoods.”

It’s not clear at the moment where the money in the budget is coming from, or the extent that these are new projects. [UPDATE: These are all being funded through existing Bridging the Gap or general fund appropriations.] The full press packet is here.  We hope to get those answers soon, though I’m pretty sure the instant transit projects are ones already underway.

Key elements of the plan:

  • an update to the Transit Master Plan, analyzing corridors, modes, and developing an implementation strategy.  It also includes a feasibility study “of expanding light rail to Ballard and West Seattle.”  We’d heard inklings of this before.
  • For transit in 2010, bus bulbs and signal upgrades to 3rd Ave downtown and the Rainier/Jackson corridor; additional trolley wire to allow more 36s to be electric; and First Hill Streetcar route selection.
  • 2010 pedestrian improvements in the Westlake Hub, Bell St. boulevard, summer streets, Aurora corridor transit plaza murals, and all-way walks at 1st & Cherry and 1st & University.
  • 2010 bicycle lanes on Columbian Way, 125th St in Lake City, Roosevelt Way in Roosevelt, 7th Ave downtown, Nickerson St, and Greenwood Ave;  a bicycle signal at Fremont & 105th.
  • An update to the Bicycle Master Plan in 2011.
  • A 2011-12 budget with more focus on city street maintenance and the bike/ped master plans.

This would appear to be one of those things where you really have to see what the new plans and the new budget are before you can evaluate their impact.  Still, the general direction appears to be positive.

56 Replies to “Walk. Bike. Ride.”

  1. Bike lanes on Columbian Way? That’s awesome! Does anyone have any more information on this? I would like to know if there will also be “street calming” done to this street? I would think they have to reduce the lanes to one each way, a center median and the bike lanes on both sides. I’m hoping they do this…from the 15th Ave turn all the way to Alaska where it turns into one lane both ways.

    Many of you might remember the accident that occurred on Columbian Way across from the VA Hospital last December when a drunk driver plowed into the Wong family who were in their front yard. My friend Jason Wong lost his leg in the accident. The rate of speed that drivers are going both ways on Columbian Way is too fast and they need to be slowed down. This sure would do the trick!

  2. “The speed limit on Nickerson is 30 mph, but average speeds are significantly higher.”

    Also true of many other arterial streets in Seattle!

  3. Is there anything in what he released stating his support for the Aloha Extension? Anything about possibly providing some funding for the study phase?

    1. He didn’t mention it, but he has shown support in the past. He did mention that the Transit Master Plan will identify the best type of transit for each major corridor–hopefully the extension will make it into that plan. He was vague on funding, but hopefully that will come up as the budget takes shape. We need more revenue to really be able to implement these bike, ped, and transit plans.

  4. I smell a blue-ribbon commission! Quick alert the neighborhood groups! Public Hearings away!

    1. I kind of tend to agree. It seams like the mayor just wants to double count projects that have already been in the works for years. When they start talking about more funding then I’ll be more interested.

      1. Here’s a question, how much does SDOT currently spend on expanding roads in the city? If so, could the Mayor being moving funds from autocentric projects to alternative?

  5. Meh. I was at least hoping for a small ballot initiative to fund parts of the BMP and PMP. Guess we’ll have to wait and see the numbers behind a “2011-2012 budget with more focus on…the bike/ped master plans,” but given the current fiscal situation I’m not sure you can do too terrible much without going to the voters for a new funding source.

    1. More money is great, but re-orienting our existing SDOT budget is more important for the long term.

      Many of the items in “walk, bike, ride” – bike lanes, sidewalks, road diets, bus bulbs, traffic signal priority – can be rolled into standard arterial maintenance/rehab projects. Seattle should never again simply repave or rebuild a road and leave it as it was before. If every road project incorporates “walk, bike, ride” features, then the whole SDOT budget is used to fulfill the pedestrian, bicycle and transit master plans. And that is where we need to go.

      1. “More money is great, but re-orienting our existing SDOT budget is more important for the long term.”

        That’s what the complete streets ordinance already does. SDOT cannot touch a street without considering improvements for all users. There is nothing in WBR that SDOT wasn’t planning to do before the mayor came into office—although the consultant for the Transit Master Plan wasn’t funded.

      2. I recall Madison being repaved as is. Would have liked to see this initiative applied to that awful street.

      3. How about maintenance of roads that are currently high-traffic cycle corridors today? Lake Washington Blvd. , Dexter, Marginal Way, etc. Its one thing to paint a sharrows on the road, but if that road is a hazard to traverse…

      4. 15th NE between Pacific and 45th needs repaving. The potholes are getting really big.

      5. They’ve got concrete pads in spots along there, but considering how many buses use that section of street, hopefully if/when they do repave it, they’ll go with concrete for the whole thing. That road is just going to keep crumbling if they redo it with asphalt.

  6. How about the 2011 thing that was going to be a light rail ballot measure be light rail SODO to West Seattle Junction plus full funding of the streetcar network, the upcoming transit master plan, and the bicycle and pedestrian master plans. That would be awesome.
    And I like the sound of bike lanes on Roosevelt although I’m not sure if they mean the two-way part of Roosevelt north of 75th or the one-way Roosevelt-12th/11th couplet south of there. If it’s south of there, that would be very useful for me.

      1. Still not following. How would this allow more 36’s to be electric? There’s already a passing wire in Lenora – the buses don’t have to do a counterclockwise turnaround at Virginia at all – they can do what the 36 trolleys do now – turn left on Lenora, turn left on Virginia then back south on 3rd. Not an inch of new wire required.

    1. My guess is that the layover area for the 36 trolley on Lenora between 2nd & 3rd couldn’t handle additional buses (especially if artic tolleys end up getting assigned to the 36).

  7. Oh boy… sounds like some minor adjustments to Nickel’s era policies. Keep trying Mike.

    1. If he wasn’t doing what Nickles was, you’d be criticizing him for that, if he keeps any of Nickle’s ideas, you’ll criticize he for that.

      This blog loves Nickles. Understand, it took him decades to get light rail here, he did a horrible job of campaigning for the streetcar, he sidelined and alienated many possible supporters, and did next to nothing regarding the 520 bridge. He wasn’t that great a mayor.

      1. [b]he did a horrible job of campaigning for the streetcar, he sidelined and alienated many possible supporters, and did next to nothing regarding the 520 bridge[/b]

        Sorry guys – but sounds suspiciously like McGinn is Nickels II.

      2. Nickels worked extraordinarily hard to get light rail to the Puget Sound region, and actually succeeded in getting it approved and funded in 1996 with Sound Move, then helped keep it alive in the early 2000s when it seemed like everyone was out to stop the project. He has been its biggest supporter since Day One. Not only did he do a fine job campaigning for the streetcar, but he got our first line built in the span of just a couple years and got a plan created for a citywide streetcar network. He didn’t sideline and alienate possible supporters; the people whom he “alienated” were frequently anti-any-density NIMBYs. He didn’t do much about the 520 bridge because it was a state project, not a city one, and it was a while before they would make the final decisions on it. He was a great mayor, and I sincerely wish we still had him.

      3. Nickels downfall were 2 major things: the December 2008 snowstorm response and the lose of the Sonics. Wasn’t for those two things, I think he might still be mayor.

      4. That and the “top two” primary system we have which squeezed him out in round one.

      5. Gary,
        How else would you propose doing the primaries for non-partisan offices? City of Seattle offices have been elected this way since they became non-partisan.

        If an incumbent is so unpopular that he or she can’t come in #1 or #2 in a primary election then it is probably times for them to go.

      6. Nickels had a reputation of being cozy with developers and doing whatever they wanted. He did spearhead Link but I don’t think many people realized that until it was too late for him. The SLUT also lost him a lot of political capital. He made the first streetcar go to Paul Allen’s properties rather than to the highest transit needs (45th, 1st Avenue, Broadway).

        Many people thought Nickels was OK but not great. They voted for McGinn or Mallahan thinking Nickels was sure to get the other slot on the ballot and they could reconsider him later, but it didn’t work out that way.

      7. Nickels was good, but I’m not blind to the issues he ignored or didn’t do such a great job on.

        He was good on his “new” streetcar network, but he didn’t do anything for the Waterfront Streetcar and may have actively sabotaged it behind the scenes since he saw it as competition for the Central Line.

        As Mayor of Seattle he should have been at the table for the 520 discussions, the Eastside communities were involved from early on. If you shrug your shoulders and say “it’s a state project” then you get whatever WSDOT decides to give you.

        He also was AWOL on the South Park bridge (though every Executive, Mayor and member of both the county and city councils for the past 20 years is guilty of this). The bridge has been a known problem for a long time. There is a reason neither Seattle nor Tukwilla annexed the land around the bridge.

        I don’t doubt that if he thought it would help get his streetcar network built he’d be helping to kill the trolleybuses too.

        Nickels didn’t exactly play well with the legislature or the state, but I can’t think of a mayor that has.

        Don’t get me wrong, the 25 years of hard work he put in for light rail were greatly appreciated. The work he did on the SLUT and the streetcar plan were good too. He did a pretty good job of raising the bar for city funded pedestrian and bike improvements too.

  8. These are great short term plans and long term goals. I’m glad to see new investment in the trolley bus network. I imagine many if not all of the short term projects are already funded. (Anyone know this?)

    WSDOT’s new SR 520 plan does have a number of great ped/bike elements that should be integrated with the City’s planning efforts. In particular I am pleased by the grade-separation and trail connections in the UW triangle area, up by Roanoke and in the the proposed Montlake interchange area, in various directions, well-connected to the local street network.

    A few other ideas:

    — A pedestrian crossing of I-5 at Republican or Harrison, with elevator assist (of 60-80 feet?), possibly integrated with new development there using a zoning bonus or some other tool, would connect the densest neighborhood in the NW (west slope of Capitol Hill) with very fast-growing South Lake Union as well as Seattle Center. It was once considered as a part of Link alignment that had a station at this location. The only other crossings are Denny (steep grade, sidewalk only on south side) and the very circuitous Lakeview Blvd. connector. that winds way north of Mercer.

    — Safer crossings of Lake Washington Blvd. in the Arboretum. (At grade would be fine.) Regional trail connections at the north and south end of Arboretum Drive.

    — Integrate much ped/bike access into whatever plan takes shape between Ballard and downtown Seattle.

    1. In the Link alignment that had a station there they had a pedestrian bridge over I-5 with a funicular up from the east end of it to Capitol Hill. Wouldn’t that just be awesome? Although a pedestrian bridge with an elevator might get pretty sketchy.

  9. How about a real grocery store (Safeway, QFC, etc.) for Belltown and SLU? Being car-free is easy if you can walk for groceries, but it is nearly impossible when you cannot, especially if you have to shop for a family.

    My crude Google Earth analysis using Westlake & Denny as the center shows 5 grocery stores in a 1 mile radius (Whole Foods, 3 QFCs, and the Kress IGA downtown). However, Whole Foods is crazy expensive, 2 QFCs are across I-5, the other is across Aurora, and the Kress is nearly 1 mile away even if you could fly.

    Likewise, using 2nd & Wall as a proxy for Belltown: 1 Safeway, 1 QFC, Whole Foods, and the Kress IGA. However, each is at least 1/2 mile away.

    The city could provide some sort of incentive zoning for a mixed-use project that would be structured to include a grocery store. NYC has a very interesting study on the importance of accessible grocery stores for healthy communities:

    1. Yes, a Trader Joes would also be nice though it’s not a full service grocery. There are a lot of little groceries around with a few vegetables, and of course Pike Place Market.

      Also, if you look at the top national grocery brands I’m amazed that neither Albertsons nor Target has any stores in urban Seattle (though no Wal-Mart makes sense). I believe Target has stores in DC, New York, and Chicago.

      1. …and there’s a Target in downtown Minneapolis. There was discussion of a SODO Target a couple years back, but that hasn’t happened, and it still wouldn’t be too convenient to the residential areas.

      2. Albertson’s has been slowly closing most of its more urban stores in the Seattle area and has even closed a few suburban stores. The big chains like Kroger, Safeway and Albertson’s tend to partially or completely pull out of markets where they aren’t the #1 or #2 grocery chain.

        Off the top of my head I know Albertson’s has closed their Sand Point, Greenlake, Jackson Park and Crossroads stores in recent years. The remaining stores in the area are pretty run down and sad.

        As for Target they have a store at Northgate. I’m not sure how interested in opening further stores in Seattle they are. IF they do open another store I suspect it will be as part of a big-box retail center like the proposed Goodwill site development was.

      3. Albertson’s closed the Kirkland Rose Hill store several years ago. I’m pretty sure the one in Woodinville is still there but you’re right that it’s pretty old, small and a bit run down. They can’t compete on price with Top Food and they lose the quality war to QFC across the street. The Albertson’s over in Kingston however is a large relatively new store that’s always packed. They pretty much own that market since I think the next big chain grocer would be in Polsbo.

        Pike Place Market is great and a big tourist draw but it’s rather wanting when compared to the English Market in Cork.

      4. There is a decent Albertsons at 130th & Aurora next to the nasty K-Mart. Pedestrian access could be better, though, since if you’re coming from the increased-density-area of Broadview, you have to cross Aurora on that pedestrian overpass (or cross 130th, then Aurora, then back over 130th if you need a wheelchair-accessible route) and then walk past the large parking lot to get to the store. That complex was designed for cars, not walking, as was most of the retail in that area. There’s also a Grocery Outlet across the street from the Albertsons complex (so, on the recently-developed density side of Aurora), by the Ross and the Rite-Aid, but the sketchy clientel hanging around there makes me too scared to go in.

        When I went to college in DC (Foggy Bottom) everyone had one of those grocery carts like old ladies used to use to go to the grocery store. Those things are incredibly convenient when you’re grocery shopping without a car–so much nicer than those plastic or paper bags cutting into your hands as you walk home. Can’t say that I’ve seen anyone using one in Seattle, seems like most folks drive to grocery stores even if they live pretty close.

  10. Seattle’s transportation future sounds a lot like the problems health care is having in this country.
    It’s not that we’re spending too little, it’s just that too little gets done with what’s spent.
    Look at the situation with Seattle, KCMetro, and Sound Transit. Bus service is feeling the pinch of reduced budgets, and capital replacement funds being drawn down to buy some time(the trolley debate is a good example).
    A new Mayor is trying to be progressive, yet lacks the support of the council or hopes of major funding increases to support his vision.
    Sound Transit has it’s own problems delivering on promises made for ST1 and 2, as being on-time and on-budget are the marching orders from above.
    Uncoordinated transportation spending leaves each agency to their own agendas, and it seems that “circling the wagons” is the choosen policy at this time for each.
    Coordinated spending stratagies look good on paper (PSRC) but seem a long way off when looking at a number of local issues (AWV, 520, bus/rail integration).
    Just my opinion.

  11. I still don’t know why County Council Member Larry Phillips was invited to be there. He hasn’t been a leader on transit issues, and most recently asked the mayor to allow carpools back in the bus lanes on 15th Ave NW, only to take criticism for the request from lots of constituents.

    He talked about the need to get the legislature to fund more transit. I look forward to him doing that.

    But even with little funding, there are things we can do in the here and now, such as re-stripe the future BRT lanes to start letting the buses run faster, raise parking rates (especially downtown), and dedicate a big chunk of the airport parking lot to Link riders. Go for some of that low-hanging fruit!

    The Sound Transit Board can also find $3 million of capital spending to put off in other zones to provide the $3 million needed to make 200th St Station “shovel ready” and eligible for TIGER grants.

  12. I’d like to offer some South-Park-specific comments on Walk-Bike-Riding out of my own neighborhood. Pedestrian and bicycle improvement plans for the neighborhood are coming out soon. The bike plan lists five major corridors without safe bike access out of the neighborhood. The pedestrian plan lists a number of places inside the neighborhood where sidewalks would be very helpful, mostly for people getting to bus stops.

    Unfortunately, the divergent approaches are creating their own safety risk: That sidewalks will only be built within the neighborhood, and bike paths will be built to get out of the neighborhood, only to have those bike paths clogged with pedestrians who have no sidewalks.

    I’d like the city council and the mayor to move South Park to the front of the list for sidewalk and bike path improvements. It is the least the city can do after sitting on its hands all these years regarding replacement of the South Park Bridge (which mostly serves Seattleites). When the bridge is removed, there will be *zero* safe pedestrian paths to get out of South Park. For non-car-drivers, the neighborhood will literally be a prison.

    The foot path on the 1st Ave Bridge drops into a junkyard on the north end. You can’t find that path from Georgetown without already having been on it to know which junkyard to enter.

    Walking up the hill to Highland Park is a bad idea if it isn’t perfectly bright and perfectly dry. Be prepared to step into the ditch to let cars pass.

    Walking up the hill to White Center is even more perilous. Sidewalks do start up around the Olsen-Meyer Park&Ride and continue up the hill, but do not continue down the hill to Cloverdale. It is an exercise in staying on the shoulder where that exists and staying close to a ditch otherwise.

    Every time I cross the 14th Ave S bridge to Boulevard Park, I keep expecting to be pulled over (if there were an “over” to pull over into) and given a ticket for walking on a no-pedestrian bridge. There is a stretch where I make sure no cars will be coming for a while, and then sprint across the bridge to the next ditch.

    Yes, I understand that the 14th Ave S bridge isn’t properly in Seattle. But those other paths are. City of Seattle: Since you have done zilch to save the last remaining sidewalk out of South Park (on the South Park Bridge), give us some other sidewalks out of the neighborhood as remediation.

    Seattle’s contribution to replacing the South Park Bridge can come, in part, by financing redesign of the new bridge to have outer HOV lanes (to ensure dependably timely bus passage), and inner SOV toll lanes. Since nobody is stepping up with funding sources, I’m afraid tolling is the only realistic option on the table. But Seattle is also going to have to come up with some up-front money, or the feds will see Seattle as not really supporting the TIGER grant application.

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