Open Space Seattle:2100

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Round-up: Bicycle Master Plan Meeting

Biking from downtown over to the University of Washington's Gould Hall, there was little doubt that tonight's first bicycle master plan meeting would be well attended. The scene at Gould did not disappoint with well over 400 people in attendance. Bicycles were literally hanging from the rails and everyone was excited and eager to vent/share/point/write and tell the folks from Toole Design Group exactly what they wanted to know about bicycling in the city.

After about an hour of milling, sign-ins, etc. the official presentation began. The Mayor has set an agenda of being the number one bicycle city in the country. A headline grabbing goal, to be sure, but a few questions:

First, is that it? If we are to achieve all of the goals of the Mayor's Climate Protection Agreement, we need to do a lot more than increase Seattle's bicycling population a few tenths of a percent. Right now, only 1.8% of commuters bicycle to work. We need to change that number by tens, not tenths, if cycling is to actually add up to an impact on Seattle's contribution to carbon emissions and thus global warming/killing the Puget Sound/stopping the obesity epidemic/etc. Why aren't we trying to be the best in the world? What about Copenhagen? Or traditional Asian cities?

Second, will restriping really accomplish the Mayor's goals? Yes, it is important to educate, advocate and make physical improvements to our streets to make Seattle a more bike friendly city, but there seem to be MUCH larger policy decisions that need to be made. Tough decisions, but ones that really point us toward a new urban vision of bicycle commuting in Seattle. Part of this, is, we believe, what the long-range green infrastructure plan will get us.

Other things to note:

  • Pete Lagerway from SDOT, noted that they have a bike rack program (hear that Dan Savage?) If you call SDOT and request a bike rack, and there is space available to make that happen, they will install one.
  • The Seattle Bicycle Gude Map can be obtained for free, and is distributed at the rate of 15,000 maps per year.
  • The goals of the current planning effort is not about trails (Burke-Gilman, Chief Sealth, etc) but rather is about creating a better street system for cyclist and also to get cyclist to those existing dedicated trails.
  • No Mayor, no Councilmembers attended the meeting that I saw. Please correct me if I am wrong on this . . . but if it is true, what does it say about real support for moving people out of cars?
  • The next meeting will be in December or January and will have Toole Design Group presenting their preliminary recs.
  • Seattle's audience was the largest that the consultants (who do work nationally) had ever seen.
  • When Tammy from Toole asked who had crashed on their bike, a full 70% of the room raised their hands. Shocking. (though the PI says 1/3rd of the room)
Other impressions from the meeting?

Local bike advocacy groups include:
Cascade Bicycle Club
Bicycle Alliance of Washington
Critical Mass Seattle

Seattle P-I article here
Seattle Times article here


  • What I would like to know, which wasn't covered in the meeting, and which I did not think to ask--is whether there is any funding set aside already for the implementation of this plan.

    If not, I am skeptical. I have emailed the proper city official and have received no response as of yet.

    30 years ago the city paid for a similar plan and all that was created was the BG Trail and the bike lane on Ravenna. These are achievements, but in comparison to the progress made by Portland after their original bike master plan (1970), they actually managed to make impressive gains--Portland has 150+ miles of bike trails and paths while we in Seattle have fewer than 50 miles. Visiting Portland with bicycle will easily illustrate the huge gap between the two cities in terms of safety and general pleasantness of riding. Being flat doesn't hurt either.

    Now, being that the next meeting isn't until December at the soonest, and seeming as though the meeting was largely a one-way top-down matter, besides the data gathering, I would guess the next meeting would be no different. If we as citizens find ourselves concerned about the quality of outcome of this plan I believe it might be wise to organize and be active outside of the structure proposed by the city and Toole.

    As far as I know the people who will decide how much money to put towards to plan implementation would be the City Council and the Mayor. These are the people who will need to be pressured to create the best possible outcome of the master plan.

    By Anonymous Sam Hill, at 9:26 PM  

  • Right on Sam. The City Council and the Mayor to be sure, but I think that it also would be good to get messages to the folks on the Master Plan advisory council. I only remember a few from the meeting: Dave Rogers of SvR Design and Barbara Culp of the Bicycle Alliance of Washington. Probably Pete Lagerway from SDOT should be on there too.

    There are many, many things that could be done both from a policy and funding standpoint (check out the Copenhagen link in the original post to get an idea), but having a physical plan is a good step in the right direction. Hopefully the members of the bicycle community will make the elected officials step up and take the right policy steps to making this real.

    If you want, shoot me your email and I will put you on our email distribution list.
    Thanks for the comment.

    By Blogger open2100, at 8:57 PM  

  • Good Job! :)

    By Anonymous tom, at 1:37 PM  

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