Mike O’Brien (seattle.gov)

Pro-transit, pro-bike, pro-density voters might be forgiven for thinking their vote and their input don’t really matter. We vote like-minded candidates into office, we pass taxes to fund forward-thinking transportation projects, and we participate in developing master plans. And then, when it’s time to actually take the road space for buses or bikes, a few neighbors complain, or sue, and SDOT chickens out. A handful of well-resourced reactionaries hold a veto on progress.

One of the more egregious instances of this was the demise of the 35th Avenue NE bike lane. Inspired by this debacle, outgoing Councilmember Mike O’Brien is trying to pass legislation this fall to give these plans force of law. Anytime SDOT spends $1m or more on a street with a bike lane in the master plan, it has to build the bike lane or write a letter to the Council explaining why they didn’t. This is pretty much what our own David Lawson proposed back in March.

Lester Black reports that Mayor Durkan, often blamed for what happened on 35th, supports the rule. So here’s hoping that there’s one less veto point for safe and rapid transportation. What Seattle needs is not more great plans, but reform of the institutions that block progress.

Abel Pacheco (seattle.gov)

Mr. O’Brien and fellow outgoing Councilmember Abel Pacheco are also tackling the perverse use of the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) to attack transit, bike, and upzone proposals that would be quite good for the environment. This dovetails with E2SHB 1923, which quietly became state law last session.

The law, which your humble correspondent totally missed when it was happening, exempts a broad range of gentle zoning increases from SEPA or Growth Management Act appeals (e.g. allowing duplexes on corner lots, or increasing density to 6 units/acre anywhere and up to 50 units/acre by train stations). This aims to reduce nuisance process-oriented lawsuits by an intransigent and affluent minority.

E2SHB 1923 also curtails minimum parking requirements in some affordable housing projects (often used to deter such housing). It blocks SEPA appeals on the basis of transportation impact fees if, among other things, the city imposes parking or traffic impact fees.

Representatives Fitzgibbon (West Seattle), Macri (Capitol Hill), Appleton (Poulsbo), Doglio (Olympia), Dolan (Olympia), Santos (Rainier Valley), and Frame (Ballard/Magnolia) originally sponsored this bill, and if you live in one of their districts you owe them belated thanks. The law took effect on July 28th.

The Seattle legislation would align the city code with these changes, while also imposing time limits on SEPA appeals. With luck, there will be no more Missing Link sagas or multi-year delays to ADU legislation as the lawyers exhaust themselves.

For both of these items, it is always worth it to contact your City Council representatives (Lorena Gonzalez, Teresa Mosqueda, and whomever represents your district) to let them know that these boring procedural tweaks are very important to you.

44 Replies to “O’Brien, Pacheco want to improve the Seattle process”

  1. these plans force of law. Anytime SDOT spends $1m or more on a street with a bike lane in the master plan, it has to build the bike lane or write a letter to the Council explaining why they didn’t.

    Dear Council,
    Bugger off!

    Sounds a lot like another useless layer of bureaucracy to me. What’s next, if they don’t build the bike lane they have to write 5 times on the black board?

    1. Ha, yeah, I was thinking the same thing. This seems pointless. With 35th, they could have written a letter — signed by many shop keepers — that stated that it was in the interest of the local community. They could even claim it was better for transit. They could write about alternative bike routes, and all of that. Yet it wouldn’t get the bike trail built. All it would do is force the mayor (or more likely, an underling) to spend a little bit more time writing the political case for the decision.

      Ultimately, we live in a republic. Decisions change, and they should change. It is easy for folks to defend the bike master plan as if it was written in stone, but there are obvious conflicts with transit, along with other interests. I’m not saying I agree with the decision on 35th — quite the opposite — I think it was the wrong choice for several reasons. But blindly adhering to something that was approved years ago, with limited input by the public is a bad idea. Making any change to that plan require a letter just seems silly.

      1. Instead of a letter, how about a decision by the mayor, supported by a majority vote from the council, to exempt a stretch of road from the requirement to follow the master plans? Flip the veto script so it is hard, rather than easy, to not follow the master plans, or more directly, to remove said stretch of road from a master plan.

        If there is a legitimate reason, such as conflicts between the master plans, then the mayor and council majority will act reasonably. But putting the onus on SDOT to take the fall for the mayor is really bad for the democratic process and not fair to the SDOT officials who did not sign up to be policy deciders.

      2. Was there limited input? I’ve heard the same comment concerning the missing link yet, I’ve attended countless public meetings hosted by SDOT. I’ve come to the conclusion that people who oppose SDOT projects love to say they didn’t have input when they don’t support the project and didn’t bother to show up to public meetings or get involved. In a republic citizens have a responsibility to keep informed.

        In the case of the missing link, we have an oligarchy (Salmon Bay Sand & Gravel and MLK Labor) making SDOT submit to their wishes and opposing residents who need safe infrastructure to safely navigate their neighborhood. Completing the multi-use trail makes even more sense now then it did years ago. Times have changed. There are many more residents who need the ability to navigate their neighborhood. Business and the trail can and should coexist.

      3. The missing link has been discussed for years. The Seattle Times, the P. I (back when it was a real newspaper) and the The Stranger all wrote stories about it. Even people who have no interest in biking, or even visiting Ballard know about it. Mayoral candidates routinely talk about it. There is a good reason for this — the Burke Gilman is a major bike thoroughfare and it should include Ballard. The route is obvious as well (it should go where the old railroad tracks went). Everything else is a compromise with groups that oppose it (and every time they try to compromise, those groups screw over the city in the same way that the U. S. broke treaties with the indigenous people of America (although with a lot less bloodshed)).

        In contrast, my guess is very few people even heard of the bike master plan until recently. Even those that do know about it probably have no idea where it is supposed to go. I certainly don’t remember any debate in terms of where it should go.

        It is also outdated. The approach is flawed. Again, in the case of 35th, it makes sense to have a bike path. There is no good way to go over Wedgwood without it. But it being part of the master plan is irrelevant. I can think of several master plan routes that would be a big mistake in the future, because things have changed. Here are a couple examples:

        1) The master plan suggests bike lanes on NE 130th. That is all good and well, but that street is going to become a major transit corridor. It will be the best way for Lake City and Bitter Lake to connect to Link and the rest of the city. It probably needs bus lanes, not bike lanes. Of course we should improve bike paths in the area, including those to the station. But adhering to a plan that ignores the existence of a light rail station is simply outdated.

        2) Adding bike lanes on Fourth Avenue downtown would be fine, but not if they are built like those on Second. We should be running buses on Third and Fourth, with two contraflow lanes each direction. That would dramatically increase throughput, speed and consistency of most of our fleet. But doing that with bike lanes on the outside (conflicting with bus stops) wouldn’t work.

        3) Building bike lanes on Rainier Avenue again sounds nice, but not if it means that buses lack bus lanes. We should instead add bike lanes on MLK, where there are very few buses.

        The point is, we should be flexible when it comes to building bike infrastructure. The bike master plan should be considered a sketch, not something that is set in stone.

      4. Master plans should be updated regularly to incorporate changes in the environment and new land-use plans. Ignoring the plan is not a great substitute. Part of the city’s problem is it didn’t have a transit plan or bike plan for many years so they just coasted on the status quo (meaning they were neglected except when a RapidRide restructure forced the issue). The transit master plan was published in 2012 and the bike master plan was probably after that, so that’s not very long ago.

        RossB’s points #1 and 2 should be looked at but not taken as an absolute until the issue is studied. Is there room on 130th for transit priority and bike lanes? There is on Dexter. Where else would east-west bike lanes go; I don’t know. The 130th urban village was just proposed a few days ago and the land uses and travel patterns aren’t solidified yet. #3 is more clearly yes, but still there are only two arterials through the valley and all the other streets require you to zigzag, and there are tradeoffs regarding what modes to distribute where. I see preserving GP lanes as a greater threat to Rainier’s transit priority than bike lanes.

      5. The city website seattle.gov has lots of information. The oldest bicycle plan listed on that site is dated 2014. Anyone looking at those plans can see they mention the planning process and public meetings. It also acknowledges that the plans are a work in progress and should be updated.

        The city can only do so much outreach. Citizens really need to step up and take responsibility to inform themselves of what’s happening with local government. These days it’s quite easy to stay informed using the internet. So, I’d say it’s a BS excuse when residents say they’ve had no chance for input.

        I remember hearing about BMP when the Seattle Move Levy was being promoted and also at Missing Link meetings. Also, It’s not the only Master Plan there are four (Bicycle, Freight, Pedestrian and Transit).

      6. RossB’s points #1 and 2 should be looked at but not taken as an absolute until the issue is studied.

        That is my point. Why should we assume that the bike master plan (or transit master plan, or any other master plan) is the way to go, when they don’t even include the transit station in the middle of it? That is like saying that we should follow the industrial plan for South Lake Union, circa 1980, since it is mostly warehouses down there.

        Things change. The master plan should be a rough blueprint — nothing more, nothing less. When it comes time to actually change the street then folks should get together and see if they can come up with ideas that are better for everyone. If not, they should weigh the effects that the change will have on the community and then make the right choice for that time. The problem with 35th was not the process, it was the decision. This was not good for transit, it was terrible for bikes, and not even that great for local businesses.

        Meanwhile, ignoring the adverse effect that bike lanes can have on transit is just hoping that progressives all agree on every issue. When the Roosevelt BRT is stuck in traffic, but bikes have a safe route on the east side of Lake Union, it should be obvious that there are going to be conflicts. I’m not saying the city made the wrong choice in that case — for that corridor it makes sense to go with bikes over transit — but transit got shortchanged in the process. The same thing will happen if they add bike lanes to Rainier Avenue, but in that case, transit is more important. There simply isn’t enough room to add bus lanes and bike lanes, unless you want to get rid of general purpose lanes, and that would be a real stretch for that corridor. It makes way more sense to have bike lanes on MLK — where there is very little bus traffic (and likely even less in the future as ST adds stations that should have been added in the first place).

      7. Suppose Metro just does what’s in the city’s Transit Master Plan. Will the city then say, “Wait, that isn’t what we want.” Well, why didn’t you say what you wanted. The master plan is the statement about what it wants. Parts of it can be reconsidered when a project goes through, but you run the risk of losing the neighborhood connectivity the plan was trying to establish. Without a master plan you end up with individual ad hoc decisions that don’t provide the overall benefit — the same problem Seattle had that the plans are an attempt to counteract. It’s easier to stand up to status quo activists when you can point to a plan and show all the benefits it has, not just for the immediate neighborhood but for the surrounding neighborhoods. Otherwise it’s just “I want this at this moment just because I do.”

      8. Haha – agreed – the letter requirement is silly.

        Serious question though: How many of you do what @multimodal does below? How often do you here bug your City Council? Have you applied to join any appointed boards and commissions? https://www.seattle.gov/boards-and-commissions?

        There are so many articulate ideas and solutions presented in these pages. I’ve resorted to cutting and pasting STB comments into my email and sending them onto my elected reps.

    2. It sounds like the requirement ST has, that if it deviates from the representative alignment it has to write a statement explaining why. This came up with 145th Station, what it would take to move it to 130th or 155th or delete it. It makes ST reluctant to do so unless it feels a compelling reason. It might have a similar effect on SDOT. It might not, but we can’t just assume SDOT will blow it off. I guess I’d add a stipulation that the letter should come early enough in the decision process that the council would have enough time to override it before construction starts.

  2. This is a profoundly silly idea.

    Every street has design issues. Compromises will almost certainly be needed. Sight distance, on-street handicapped parking, tree preservation, bus stop layout, truck maneuvering, signal placement and street slopes are just a few to name. Let’s not even mention how some design changes increase the danger of accidents for drivers and their passengers, pedestrians, and buses — or that many of these projects slow down buses; are protected bicycle lanes more important than Vision Zero?

    The notion that it has to be a protected bike lane is even further specificity, complexity and cost.

    I would venture to guess that the advocate-driven bike plan — with no neighborhood meetings inviting general public input on how it affects nearby streets — does not deserve to be forced down everyone’s throat.

    Meanwhile, Seattle has thousands of unmarked intersections that are unsafe and no Council person cares. No yield or stop signs. Terrible parking rule signs. We are expected to ignore basic intersection safety affecting even pedestrians/ bicyclists to save less than $100 bucks per sign — but support expensive protected bicycle lanes or make an engineer write a long list of exceptions?

    Let’s not even mention the badly needed funds to add sidewalks! I don’t get why we should prioritize bicyclists getting a wider bicycle lane (going from a regular bicycle lane to a protected one) before getting pedestrians a safe path so they aren’t walking in streets!

    This is Mr O’Brien’s attempt to preserve his legacy just weeks before he leaves. Sorry, but electing a successor has already begun. This is not the time to introduce this.

    1. What’s the purpose of a master plan if it’s never built and if major projects in the area spend all their money on other things? We’ll never get to a compete bike network or complete transit network that way. Cities that do have these things are running circles around us. This is not about preventing judgment calls needed in complex situation, it’s about preventing bike and transit concerns from being persisently watered down to oblivion because loud older car-driving single-family homeowners are influential. Seattle voters have said they want these things and levied a lot of money for them since 2000, yet they keep getting watered down and the money is wasted and we have to wait till next time again and again.

      1. As I said above, it should be treated like a sketch. It not really different than what I routinely write up in terms of a bus restructure map. It is absurd to assume that it is the ideal transit network — perfectly mixing the needs of riders and traffic as well as fiscal realities. It is simply an attempt to address unmet needs within our transit system. How exactly we do that is up to debate, and that debate should change over time. Ideas that make sense before Lynnwood Link become a bad idea after. The same is true for bike lanes.

        The problem with 35th is that no one from the city came up with a good alternative to bike lanes on that street. Forcing them to write a letter probably wouldn’t result in one, either. They would probably just make empty statements about safety, and community input, and other meaningless excuses.

      2. “It is absurd to assume that it is the ideal transit network”

        That’s what it’s supposed to be: the city’s best estimate of the optimal transit network, and a guide to SDOT of how it should channel projects and resources.

        “perfectly mixing the needs of riders and traffic as well as fiscal realities.”

        Balancing it with non-transit needs is the job of a comprehensive plan. The city didn’t focus enough on that in the early 2010s; it drew single-mode plans in silos. That was one of Murray’s priorities, to integrate the plans together and articulate what the tradeoffs should be. As far as I know that went OK; I haven’t heard much about it.

        Fiscal realities come in when the implementation is scheduled. The plans are unfunded and don’t come with a schedule or ordering, just a hierarchy saying “the RapidRide lines are the most important”. Right now we’re depending on the council and SDOT and the levies to make the right decisions ad the right time. Perhaps we need a longer-term scheduled and budgeted plan so that people will have more certainty what will be built when. (That was one of ST’s goals in making ST3 so big, to tell communities when they would get light rail and BRT so they could plan for them and know they were coming. ST didn’t do that in 1 and 2, leaving many communities in the dark about when/whether they’d ever get high-capacity transit.) But another major issue is preventing status-quo advocates from blocking improvements that are already identified in the plans or that we’ve even voted levy money for. That’s where this proposal comes in, however effective it might be. At least it’s something.

      3. The problem is not with a Master Plan; the problem is with a modal Master Plan for a public facility (a street) that has multiple public purposes that a modal Master Plan ignores or trivializes. Modal plans generally are advocacy plans for a specific mode and their development has participatory mechanisms and alternatives designed to only prioritize that mode.

        Rather than have a modal Master Plan, each sector of the City should have a multi-modal Sector Plan. I bet few in West Seattle has much interest in NE Seattle and vice-versa. They aren’t living with daily life there. A consensus plan focused on sectors will go much further towards establishing consensus.

      4. “It is absurd to assume that it is the ideal transit network”

        That’s what it’s supposed to be: the city’s best estimate of the optimal transit network, and a guide to SDOT of how it should channel projects and resources.

        The key word being “estimate”. It is an estimate — nothing more, nothing less. Here, let me give you an example. This is a plan that David Lawson came up with about six years ago: https://seattletransitblog.wpcomstaging.com/2013/08/19/your-bus-much-more-often-no-more-money-really/. It is brilliant. It is wonderful. Folks who are not prone to compliments stood up and applauded. There was universal excitement for such a plan. Should we implement it, in say, five years, when Link gets to Lynnwood?

        Hell no! It needlessly changes the 45 and 62 so that there is a crosstown route. The 65 — one of the most frequent buses in the north end — is replaced by something radically different. Holy cow, it doesn’t even have a bus across 130th!

        The important thing is that it is an idea. Yes, it would be a huge improvement over the routes we’ve endured for years, but it is by no means the best we can do. The important thing is to adhere to the idea, not the particulars. In this case, the ideas are fairly simple: make a grid, avoid turns, don’t worry too much about giving everyone a one seat ride or a very short walk to the bus stop. These are all trade-offs, but important ones that are worth fighting for. If you can achieve *those same goals* via different, cheaper, faster routes, than it would be silly to adhere to the old plan.

        Likewise, from a political standpoint, simply requiring a written letter after deviating from the master plan is pointless. In the case of 35th, that wasn’t the problem. The problem is that there is no good alternative for bikes other than 35th. Bikes will use 35th (making life dangerous for them as well as cars) even when there is no bike lane. Unfortunately, that was lost, while many of the bike proponents simply yelled “you are supposed to follow the plan”.

        Sometimes you should follow the plan, sometimes you shouldn’t. Adhering to the plan in every case is just as bad an idea as ignoring it even when it is the best option.

      5. This is not one person’s sketch! This is the result of the city deciding what are all the corridors we need in a months-long process gathering input from people, measuring the options against several factors, and a team of professional planners’ judgment. If this is not what the city ultimately wants, then when will the city decide what it wants?

      6. And why are we talking about 130th? It’s one street, and the village and the station won’t be there for several years. You seem to be discounting the entire plan and its process because it may have gotten one street wrong. If you can change it willy-nilly for a good reason, others can change it willy-nilly for a bad reason, as we’ve seen on 35th Ave NE. If there’s a lot of changes then it becomes hard to distinguish who caused which ones and why and to prevent bad changes from getting in because all changes look the same. If there’s something wrong with the plan then the thing to do is update it, and that means a real process, not one person deciding what they want.

      7. A complete but less-than-ideal bike network is still superior to a perfect plan than goes unfinished.

      8. If this is not what the city ultimately wants, then when will the city decide what it wants?

        When it is actually time to build it. That’s my point. This idea that years in the past the elders came up with the perfect plan is ridiculous. Many of the issues that we now confront were considered. Many of the people who know have something to say about the issue didn’t even live here. A lot of people don’t pay attention until something is proposed for their neighborhood.

        And why are we talking about 130th?

        Because it is just one example of how the map is out of date. I don’t fault the original map makers — things change. But it isn’t the only change. It is obvious that Seattle is willing to spend a lot more on transit. They are willing to build transit lanes, and invest in corridors that previously were considered minor. Traffic is much worse, which means the need for bus lanes is much bigger. Again, I mentioned downtown as well as Rainier Valley. That is three examples, and I’m sure I could come up with more if I studied the map (those are only the ones that are on the top of my head). It is quite possible that they never really thought about building contraflow bus lanes downtown. It is also quite possible that they didn’t consider bus lanes on Rainier Avenue, or bike lanes on MLK.

        Of course we can always change things back. We can put bike lanes on 130th, then take them away and replace them with bus lanes. We can add bike lanes on Fourth Avenue downtown, then move it in a few years, so that we can actually have a real, 24 hour transit mall downtown. But doing so is expensive, and is confusing to bikers as well drivers.

        The point is, the city is now discussing bike lanes around the 130th and 145th stations. There have been several meetings to discuss *both* bus and bike access. They are considering creating pathways to ensure easy and safe bicycle access to the station, and through the region in general. This is as it should be, since the station(s) are only a few years away. This is much better than if they just said “well, the master plan says this, let’s do that — it really doesn’t matter if the buses are stuck in traffic”.

    2. Completing the missing link would provide a multi-use trail for everyone. If you support safe infrastructure for pedestrians then it’s a no brainer to support completing the trail.

  3. Al S.

    It would be good to have an over arching plan with consensus. Would that be possible?

    The Missing Link is a public facility yet one business pours money into making sure it doesn’t get improved. It shouldn’t be that way. We all pay for it and should have an opportunity to use it safely. Yes, I’d love to have consensus on it but public facilities should not be hijacked by individuals and small groups for their personal gain. Despite their myoptic view, South Shilshole needs to be improved for everyone’s use because it is a public facility. All stakeholders can coexist there.

    The real problem is people with autos who are use to having all their transportation desires centered around them and do not want to find consensus with others. That means pedestrians and cyclists usually have to fight to get any useful and safe infrastructure built at all. Automobile culture does not want consensus when automobiles are not given absolute priority. They haven’t woken up to the fact that this city can only support so many autos. The grief over infrastructure really stems from too many autos and dismal alternatives because of selfish drivers and their need to take nearly all public transportation facilities.

    1. I was an avid cyclist until I was taken out by a distracted driver and I’m also someone who has driven down 35th my share of times, so I know the view from both sides. Personally, I have to side with the auto folk. It’s just to restricted of a business corridor to limit cars any further then they currently are. However, I think cars can make a sacrifice during certain times of day, similar to how car traffic grants buses exclusivity to lanes. Maybe one hour in the morning and one hour in the afternoon bikes get an off limits to some sort of universal lane?

      1. There is plenty of room on 35th for both bike movement and car movement. The problem is the mayor decided to repurpose the bike space into wider car lanes. Whose sole effect on traffic flow is to encourage speeding when the roads are empty.

        People who drive down 35th didn’t gain anything from the mayor’s intervention, except for those that like driving 50 mph in a 30 mph zone. This was a question of basic safety, and the mayor caved.

      2. We all know how well drivers respect bus only lanes. They’re not going to respect bicycle lanes.

      3. It’s still better to have the lanes than not have them. Some drivers respect them; not all of them don’t. And it’s one step toward a complete solution. The one step makes it easier to get the next step approved later; otherwise you’re always trying to get the first step approved and failing. The best solution is a city council, mayor, and SDOT leadership with the right priorities. We may get that someday when we convince enough people to vote for it or they change their minds on their own.

      4. Having spent my share of time trying to find parking near some of the businesses on 35th I have to strongly disagree that “There is plenty of room on 35th for both bike movement and car movement”. Isn’t the need for parking the gist of the issue?

      5. “We all know how well drivers respect bus only lanes. They’re not going to respect bicycle lanes.”
        It’s a lot easier to ticket a car parked then one in motion and long gone.

      6. You can’t drive in a bicycle lane that’s too narrow for a car to fit in.

        Some people do use bike lanes for short-term parking or pick-up/drop-off, but that’s infrequent enough that going around isn’t too much of a nuisance.

      7. There are currently two “general purpose” lanes — not four. Having two car lanes and two bike lanes would not “limit cars any further.” Some cars may have to use the ample off street parking or side streets instead of parking in the street on the main road, though. Or eliminate the left turn lane (perhaps just have no left turns in the business zone to keep traffic flowing) and keep the parking on one side if it’s that important.

        Compromise that *works around* the plan that has been planned for and studied for many years is possible. You don’t have to throw away the PLAN and pull out “Generic Road Design, Exhibit B” to come to a compromise. This is the kind of “compromise” that literally KILLS one of the parties of interest. Very Orwellian if you ask me.

    2. The Missing Link issue is one where the details of the design and a number of alternatives are discussed and refined by all affected.

      The Bicycle Master Plan includes a list of projects that affect other modes and other people without making that clear. That list was put together by a citywide committee and staff who don’t live in many of the affected neighborhoods.

      There is no comparison. To say one is like the other is pretty naive.

      1. Who else is going to write the BMC, TMC, FMC and PMC? You have a chance to give your input directly to the people involved. Did you visit the website? The city has one where they list all of the plans and what they’re doing. There are public meetings. Did you write your council member or the people involved with these plans?

      2. I think you miss my point. The City shouldn’t be doing individual modal plans. Streets are multi-modal by definition. That’s why I keep saying that we should plan street systems by sectors of the city and not by modes

        Individual modal plans do many distasteful things because they don’t disclose the effects on other things.

        It would be like having a Math Plan, a Science Plan, a PE Plan and a Geography Plan rather than have a School Facilities Plan — with each subject Plan negatively impacting the other subjects.

      3. Multimodal sector plans may be ideal but we’ve got to go with the city leadership and plans we have, not the ones we wish we had. The single-mode plans are a step in the right direction. And when the city adopted them, it wasn’t saying, “This is one nice idea but there are better ideas”, it was saying, “This is what we need and we’re committing to building it.” Of course it doesn’t always follow through with such commitments, but it’s saying what it intends to do. Knowing that these are high-level plans and will be refined as the projects are designed.

    3. The bicycle master plan is a list of corridors facilitating movement from one neighborhood to another. The issue is not just whether those corridors have too many negative impacts on cars, buses, peds, and businesses; it’s whether not building that corridor hinders bicycle ciculation in that area. If you say we can’t have that bike lane or it can’t be a full cycletrack, you also have to look at whether there’s a neighboring street that can fulfill that function just as well or better. Because bicycles are one of the primary forms of transportation the city should be facilitating, along with transit and walking. (But not choice SOV trips because that doesn’t scale and has externalities that dwarf any of the other alternatives.)

  4. Unpopular take: Master Plans absolutely meed to be more inflexible. Simply put, it is our right and our responsibility to know what to expect from our elected leaders in terms of infrastructure.

    This is a rather severe issue in Seattle in particular due to “The Seattle Process”. As a result, everything from finalized legislation to parking enforcement cannot be relied on.

    I want Master Plans that are recognizable on street level within ten years. Tangible goals that politicians can be held to and held accountable for achieving. Cost estimates that are held to, and the ends of the political careers of those who cause cost overruns.

    By the time a lane of traffic is promised in a Master Plan, it needs to practically be a done deal. Otherwise the entire process, and the Plan itself, is a ditterent word that starts with master-.

    It amazes me that so many people go out of their way to defend Seattle not honoring its word. Knowing what your government is actually up to is such basic civics this should be a no brainer. But here we like to pretend that politics is arcane and inscrutable. We need to realize that politics is mundane and simple.

    We need and should want mundane, simple, and reliable Master Plans. Politics should never be “more what you’d call “guidelines” than actual rules.”. Politicians are not pirates. They shouldn’t get to act like them.

    1. A master plan with protected bike lanes, versus a roadway with ZERO bike facilities, explicitly designed for speeding and dangerously passing anyone on a bike? Sure, “flexibility.” If it was a highway plan, no one would say “let’s just eliminate the highway entirely and make it a bike path, and call it master plan flexibility.”

  5. Oh the bike Lanes. How about asking the merchants along Roosevelt how the bike lanes destroyed their businesses because the street parking their customers used was swept away for the bikes. The majority of them have either closed or are on the verge of insolvency. The merchants in the Eastlake neighborhood are next. Bike lanes sound so nice and reasonable. The fact is they are frightfully under used. I have sat on 3rd Ave on sunny afternoons and wet ones. Each time I have counted less than 100 bikes in an hour. Is that with the 12 million dollars per block we are paying? Don’t forget….the city council said it was 2 million per block…who got that money I wonder. A healthy city needs small businesses that are allowed to flourish. They pay valuable taxes to the city and the state…as well as employing a whole lot of people…not everyone is a programmer for a tech company. Someone has to make your latte and scrambled eggs! If bike lanes are the answer then get serious. License and tax bike riders. We have the infrastructure through the department of licensing. I see a lot of bike riders that need to learn and follow the traffic law. Let the bikers pay for their own lanes..stop stripping us of valuable small businesses. Hell, let’s dig bike tunnels and toll them!!!

  6. Martin, suppose the bike master plan network was designed in a silo without sufficient consideration of other modes (e.g., pedestrians, freight, and yes, transit). suppose the Murray-Kubly plan for 35th Avenue NE would have degraded Route 65 and had 10-foot lanes? Suppose the Murray-Kubly plan for 4th Avenue would have taken travel lanes on 4th Avenue after the premature end of joint operations and before Northgate Link, leading to worse gridlock than present. The BMP has a desire lines on many transit arterials. The RossB comments seem sound; all the modal plans should be subject to intermodal analysis and the constraints of budget and rights of way.


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