If you’re like me and haven’t been able to attend one of the Bicycle Master Plan (BMP) public meetings or you’re just a procrastinator, July 3rd is your deadline to submit a comment for the initial round of public outreach. SDOT has built a very handy online mapping tool which allows you to show them exactly where and what kind of bicycle infrastructure you would like to see. You can also take a survey and submit written comments here. A few of my comments or questions that immediately come to mind:

  • Report bike lanes mileage and sharrows mileage separately in progress reports. Do not group together.
  • Clearly define the appropriate roles which all bicycle facility types play in the larger bicycle network.
  • Set explicit restrictions on when sharrows can be used. Develop a process and tool set to work around tough locations and corridors.  Sharrows are not a replacement for bike lanes or other higher quality facilities.
  • Clarify the role of neighborhood greenways with relation to local circulation vs citywide travel.
  • Define how the grassroots neighborhood greenways groups will be involved in planning into the future.
  • Increase emphasis on the “8-80” network, focusing not just on neighborhood greenways but also cycle tracks and buffered bike lanes.
  • Increase emphasis on center city bicycle facilities, especially cycle tracks, along the most heavily used corridors. Pike/Pine for example.
  • Prioritize investment in bicycle facilities in areas where demand is highest.
  • Increase emphasis on access to RapidRide and Link stations. More closely tie bicycle and transit planning especially in areas with terrain challenges.
  • Review signal timing on arterials heavily use by cyclists and see if revisions can be made to improve transit and bicycle speeds. I’m thinking specifically of 7th Ave in the Denny Triangle.

33 Replies to “BMP Comment Deadline is July 3rd”

  1. * Stop putting sharrows or bike lanes in wildly inappropriate places, e.g. six lane monster arterials like 2nd Ave south of Lenora.
    * Stop building bike lanes in the door zone on massive downhills, like Fremont Ave near 40th St. Paint sharrows on the downhill and use the extra space for a buffer on the uphill.
    * Make 3rd Ave part of the bike network. The current bike maps direct riders to other streets like 2nd, 4th and 1st. 3rd Ave certainly isn’t my dream bikeway, but I’d take it over any other street downtown during the day.
    * Ensure that whatever new trail is built on the waterfront is continuously connected via high quality, separated trails to the West Seattle bike trails that begin at Spokane Street. The current rider experience in that area is of riding through a bombed-out industrial wasteland. NO MORE MISSING LINKS!

    1. Yep. All of this still comes down to Vehicular Cycling (except for the greenways).

      But there is nothing said about segregated cycletracks, the one thing that makes accessible utilitarian cycling available to the common citizen, much as in Copenhagen and Holland.

    2. Is there room on 3rd Ave for a 2-way cycletrack? The sidewalks are pretty wide on 3rd, but they’re also very well used (especially between Seneca and Stewart). Has anyone done any conceptual design work on integrating a cycle track? If there’s room for 2 sidewalks, 4 bus lanes, and a cycle track, it’d be a dream. We could decommission both the 2nd Ave Suicide Wish AND the 4th & Spring Death Weave, and have a decently flat, much safer route from Prefontaine all the way to Denny.

      1. I don’t think their is room. I think 2nd/4th are much more likely to have a cycle track.

      2. I thoroughly agree…there’s already a commitment to transit on 3rd, why not add bike lanes and make it completely carfree…a pedestrian mall that’s the length of the city!

    3. I disagree about 3rd. I don’t think we should be encouraging bicyclist to ride on our transit spine.

      1. Perhaps it’s not ideal from a transit operations perpective, but (IMO) it’s the safest street in downtown to ride a bike on a busy weekday, and until there’s something better and safer in the downtown core, it should be mapped at least on a par with 2nd and 4th.

      2. @Bruce I think the solution really is to provide a safe route on 2nd and 4th, not settle for 3rd. Most people probably don’t feel all the much safer around all the buses.

      3. On the contrary, I actually do feel safer riding around buses than cars because the buses, I at least know are being driven by a competent driver.

      4. Agreed with asdf as the buses are very predictable, running the length of third AV through downtown with predictable stops and not turning at intersections. In general it feels safer in bus traffic along most streets because they are predictable while non transit traffic is not.
        One big issue with third AV is the bus tunnel ventilation system and its grates. Like riding in travel lanes across our bridges, you need decent tires and self confidence to ride over those, many cyclists skirt them, bringing themselves close to either the curb or oncoming traffic.

    4. No! Please! No more intentionally creating bike/bus conflicts!

      It’s bad enough to be hop-scotching all the way down 15th Ave W, or otherwise allowing one bicycle to set the pace for all riders on that major transit spine. Delegating transit pacing on 3rd to cycles would be disastrous.

      As for funneling bikers onto the already-compromised RapidRide, I’m going to invoke Jarrett Walker and remind everyone that bikes on the front of buses is an approach that simply *cannot scale*. If we ever succeed in replacing our fractured transit with a network of high-quality, high-frequency routes, then it will be all about bike parking + bike sharing, with no more bikes on buses at all.

      1. Western is the way to get downtown/Pioneer Square, but its grade separation doesn’t help for the blocks from the Market until is it Cherry where a cyclist can head up to 1st and such. 3rd is nice to ride, but I totally understand how bikes get in the way of buses and vice versa. Buses need the ROW on 3rd. 2nd is so-so, and 1st outright sucks.

        Sorry, but this repeated saying of bikes on buses “cannot scale” is deeply troubling to me, and I can’t believe that it’s even espoused. Bikes on buses do work, but not in every situation. Since I come to Ballard everyday from Coupeville, it’s a necessity for me, and many other people. I try to use the bus as little as possible, because the point of the bike is to be on it as much as one can w/o major time obstructions. Bike sharing absolutely sucks in some respects, I’m not putting my fat ass with a gazillion screws and rods holding me together on some junker that doesn’t fit me. We’re talking “bike fit” issues here, something daily cyclists understand, and the reason for bringing our own bikes.

        My dream? Widen the Ballard Bridge so I can bring my Mexican three-wheeler to town and ride it all the way to the waterfront.

      2. Anthony:


        There’s room for three bicycles per bus, 4-8 per train. You can’t count on getting one of those spots unless only the tiniest percentage of transit patrons exercise their bikes-on-transit option.

        It’s the very definition of “not scalable.”

        This is Amsterdam:

        Can you imagine what would happen if people felt the desire/need/right to bring all those onto other forms of transportation?

      3. I had to look up where Coupeville is, BTW.

        Imagine there were a nice, secure bike parking facility at the ferry dock. You leave your bike, you don’t need to think twice about it the whole rest of your day.

        Now imagine Seattle had a full-fledged bike-share program like all of these: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bixi#Bixi_around_the_world
        For $70 per year, you’ve got access to a bicycle pretty much anywhere within a 7-mile radius of downtown Seattle.

        You take the train to Seattle, followed by the bus to Ballard. If your destination is far from the major bus spines, you grab a bike on 15th and head to a docking station just a couple blocks from your workplace. Or perhaps you grab a bike right off the train and bike all the way to the docking station near work.

        All of this can scale. Bringing one bike on every vehicle you use all day cannot.

      4. I don’t think bikeshare where some members take out a bike from downtown and have it parked in Ballard all day scales either. If the transit system and the bike network (and the quality bike-parking network) are built out successfully it doesn’t matter so much that the bike-bus combo doesn’t scale. The bike-bus combo will be left for seriously exceptional commutes like Anthony’s. Which is good, because it seriously doesn’t scale.

        I think most of the places where bike capacity on buses is pushed to its limits have easy solutions. When the 520 bike path opens up a lot of those cyclists will forget the bus entirely. The I-5 corridor at least between the U District and Lynnwood has minor bike capacity issues in the summer, which could be helped with a deadheading commuter bus program like we have on 520. This is a little different because it’s CommTrans territory, but I think CommTrans could operate a useful service here. Were I the czar of CommTrans I’d set it up between 45th and Mountlake Terrace and charge for it — most of the users would not be SnohoCo residents.

      5. That’s not how bike-share works, Al.

        Someone takes a bike from downtown and drops it at a docking station in Ballard. Someone else grabs that same bike and rides it to a docking station in Fremont. A third person takes from the Fremont station and rides the bike to SLU.

        And so on and so on.

        Yes, it scales:
        Tiny: http://www.greenbike.wsu.edu/
        Small: https://capital.bixi.com/
        Medium: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hubway
        Large: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bixi_Montreal
        Larger: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barclays_Cycle_Hire
        Largest: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citi_Bike
        Holy shit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Velib

      6. And then when poor Anthony needs to embark on his hellish commute back to Coupeville he has to hunt all over Ballard for a bike to ride back downtown? If his job is located such that it’s more effective for him to bike to Ballard than take transit the odds that a well-utilized bikeshare station will be right by his office are slim.

        I’m not denying that bikeshare scales generally. But a bikeshare that would conveniently serve Anthony’s commute is a pretty tall order. As I understand Anthony’s commute (which I may not precisely) he may just be an exceptional case. Exceptional cases requiring bikes on the bus are OK as long as they’re really exceptional.

        (The fact that Anthony has to backtrack out to Ballard is sort of evil. It’s always nice when downtown-bound express services can find ways to make quick stops in key peripheral areas.)

      7. I guess what I’m saying is that we should do a great bikeshare, we should have great bike parking at major transit nodes and make it the path of least resistance (if quality public bike parking was available by the Montlake Flyer Stop a lot of people would use it, myself included). And then for the oddball commutes that are left over, let people put their bikes on the front of the bus.

      8. I don’t agree that his commute would be out of the question. The ferry docks are perfect places for large parking facilities for personal bikes.

        And part of the point of bike-share is that you can have a lot of stations, including in places that it you’d never afford to run ultra-frequent transit. So there’s not just one Ballard docking station, but 5 or 8 or 10.

        So let’s say his office is in one of the buildings along Seaview Ave (almost entirely unserved by transit, but only a mile from central Ballard and 1.5 miles from RapidRide). Seaview would absolutely have a docking station (and likely 2 or 3).

      9. I saw a Shark Folding Bike last Monday at the Bellevue TC. Chatted with the owner for a minute. Not a bike Friday or Moulton but for $125 on eBay a pretty slick solution for the last mile thing. Folds up not much bigger than an umbrella and because of the wheel size the bike helmet law doesn’t apply. Maybe not as efficient as a skateboard but they’re legal on sidewalks (except Redmond… the Bike Capital that has the only sidewalk ban).

      10. I have no idea how the China bike-shares eluded me.

        It is interesting to note that the other massive systems in megacities (London and Paris) have suffered theft and vandalism on a very large scale, while in all of the medium-large cities (Lyon, Montreal, Boston, even D.C.) those problems have been negligible-to-nonexistent.

        Which leaves me a bit skeptical of this Wikipedia text on Hangzhou: “During their first year operation, no bikes were stolen and very few were damaged or vandalized compared to the half that were stolen or damaged in Paris.” Somehow, I have trouble trusting the State source on this little utopian tidbit.

        Regardless, I expect that as more megacities join in and bike-sharing becomes ubiquitous, they’ll figure out strategies to thwart organized theft and diffuse class-hostility-based vandalism.

        Unsettling footnote: the only bike-share systems that have flatlined have been those in Australia, notable for its draconian helmet laws… which are identical to those in some rainy northwestern-American city I might mention…

      11. Australia is also full of sprawly new cities like those of the American west.

        Given the spelling on their sign, maybe Redmond is not claiming to be the capitol of cycling; instead the sign was initially sponsored by an investment firm that caters to bike manufacturers.

        Alternately: suburban town claims to be bicycle capitol, knows neither how to encourage cycling nor how to spell “capitol”.

      12. Also: I’ve never been to China, but my impression is that their cities are cleaner and safer than most other cities of similar size. There’s not much random vandalism, really, and the crime is largely state-affiliated. Perhaps all the bike theft is managed the official in charge of the bike share program!

      13. Bike-share is working just fine in Minneapolis, which is plenty sprawling and has infinitely crappier weather than Sydney or Melbourne.

        It is well-established that the Australian cities’ failures are tied to their helmet laws.

  2. * Rotate the baffling blinking stop signs on Burke-Gilman 90 degrees to face motor vehicle traffic. (Quiz! A bicycle, car, and pedestrian all show up at the intersection. Do the bicycle (for the car) and car (for the pedestrian) both need to stop, or will the car be like “well they have a stop sign so I must have right of way” or does the bicycle cross with the pedestrian, ignoring the thus pointless stop sign?)
    * Remove the bone jarring reflective white “rumble strips” across the Burke-Gilman. Replace with speed bumps facing you-know-who at all crossings.
    * Complete the Ballard missing link before 2020? Stretch goal, I know, I know.

    1. I wholeheartedly agree with the abysmal cross-communication at intersections along the BG trail. On the other hand, how can the Master plan help those cyclists who think they’re in a race regardless of where they are going? Too many of these people ride the trail and do not ride in a responsible manner when in mixed traffic (ped, bike, car) which is often in or near intersections. The intersections from UW all the way to Magnuson Park are places where everyone needs to slow down to speeds that are safe and this includes the cyclists. I try to ride as responsibly as I try to drive, I dare say there are cyclists who are doing just the opposite.

      1. There will always be people, regardless of mode, that are reckless. The goal for these crossings should be to create an intersection that is safe and discourages/compensates for reckless behavior of all mode.

        I think the trail directed treatments are generally appropriate but I do think that SDOT needs to do more to slow cars down approaching the crossings, especially on the downhill side. Making the trail crossing level through use of a speed table is a common design that slows cars and improves yielding behavior of vehicles.

      2. As a rather fast cyclist that rides through the U District all the time, I think the Burke through the U District is reasonably well signed and designed. It’s a congested part of the trail with lots of pedestrians that crosses lots of real streets with sidewalks and real traffic volumes. At such crossings cyclists should yield to all sidewalk users and road users unless those road users clearly let them through. This is obvious, basic stuff. The Burke through the U District is not a speedway.

        Where the signs need to be turned 90 degrees is farther north. When the Burke crosses private driveways and roads that are little more than that, roads with miniscule traffic volumes, users of those roads should stop and yield at the bike path, which has much higher traffic volumes.

  3. I was riding my bike downtown Friday, and I was reminded just how bike-unfriendly our downtown is. It was rush hour and traffic was bumper-to-bumper on virtually every street, except for 3rd Ave. Most of the streets did not have bike lanes to escape the traffic, so even with my bike, it took a whopping 17 minutes to get from Stewart St. and Denny Way to Pioneer Square, an average of less than 5 mph. On the bus, it would have been longer still.

    Some specific suggestions I have for improving the bike environment downtown include:

    1) We need bike lanes on the east/west approaches into downtown, not just the center of downtown itself. Specifically, Pine St. and Stewart St.

    2) Lots of streets downtown are one way, and it’s not easy to remember which streets run in which direction, especially if you don’t commute to downtown every day for work. Last Friday, I found myself caught several times where I needed to go a couple blocks west, but the street was one way going East, leaving me the choice of either going around the block or navigating a sidewalk crowded with pedestrians (I chose the latter).

    Solution: Every east/west street downtown should have a bike lane going both directions, not just the direction of car travel. The contraflow bike lane works wonderfully next to the Fremont PCC, and I think it would work great downtown also.

    3) Some bike lanes abruptly turn into sharrows or disappear altogether. In particular, I’m talking about 4th Ave. heading north. This should be fixed.

    4) In general, downtown bike lanes should be on the right side of the street, rather than the left side of the street, in keeping with the principle of cars passing on the left.

    5) (An exception to #4, above) Olive Way heading east needs clear signage telling bikers to get on the left if they way to get to Howell – by the time you can see the fork coming, it’s too late to get over in heavy traffic. The existing sharrows are not sufficient. A marked bike lane of the left side of Olive/Howell would be good (along Howell, putting bikes on the left is also good, as it gets them out of the way of the I-t express lane on-ramp).

    And +1 to Bruce’s suggestions of making 3rd Ave officially part of the bike network. During my rush hour trek to Pioneer Square last Friday, 3rd Ave. was the only street that was moving.

    1. Great idea about contraflow bike lanes downtown. If conflicts with parking could be figured out, I think this would work very well.

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