Turn your content into something beautiful. Fast.
Concept image of the tube truss option. From SDOT.
So we’ve already established that the Northgate bike/walk bridge is a good idea from a neighborhood connectivity perspective. But another important benefit of the bridge is the chance to create a truly spectacular and maybe even iconic piece of infrastructure for Northgate.
In a neighborhood known best for its mall, one of the first post-war indoor malls built in the United States, increasing density and changing shopping trends set the stage for a future where Northgate Mall and the light rail station are more of a neighborhood center than merely a driving destination for people who live somewhere else.
The mall was built next to a freeway that cuts the neighborhood in half, and is surrounded by big surface parking lots. Even after recent remodeling projects, much of the mall area reflects 1950s thinking that does not fit in today’s Seattle.
Since indoor malls across the nation have been failing, Northgate could be an example of how a mall can stay vibrant and relevant in the 21st Century. Rather than seas of surface parking lots, people want culture and street life. And the bike/walk bridge could be one eye-catching example of the effort.
The city held an open house recently to show off some design ideas for the bridge and gather feedback. The project still needs to find $15 million, and the city and Sound Transit have applied for a competitive federal TIGER grant to fill the gap. But if they do not receive the grant, they should be developing a backup plan to make sure funding is found before the July 2015 deadline set by Sound Transit. You can let them know you support finding funding for the bridge and give your other thoughts by emailing art.brochet@Seattle.gov.
Below are some highlights from the city’s presentation on the bridge concepts.
Today, biking or walking from the upcoming Northgate Station site to College Way requires a 1.2-mile route.
And along those 1.2 miles, people have to traverse some very unfriendly and outdated roads, bridges and underpasses. These might as well have come straight from Smart Growth America’s Dangerous By Design report:
No matter which alignment option is chosen, the bike/walk bridge would turn that miserable 1.2 miles into 0.25 miles, and would create new safe and comfortable bike route options.
Because I-5 is somewhat elevated in this area and freeway standards require a lot of clearance, the bridge will require 45 feet of elevation gain from 1st Ave NE in front of the light rail station. It needs both access directly to the elevated station platform and access to the street level. On one hand, these are significant engineering challenges. But on the other hand, they are opportunities to create a stunning structure.
Indeed, the designers are going for stunning. Planners presented three span designs at the open house. Here is the awesome bike/walk bridge design porn they put together:
The city will pick their preferred design by this fall. If funding is found, construction could begin in 2016 and the bridge could be completed by the end of 2018, several years before the station begins operation in 2021. Here’s the timeline:
From a WA Bikes press release:
Bicycling in the nation’s #1 Bicycle Friendly State just got a boost: official designation of Washington’s first interstate bike route in the nationwide US Bicycle Route System. The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) has approved official recognition for USBR 10. It will be designated in future updates of the highway design manual followed by transportation planners and engineer at all levels of government, providing the basis for maintaining and improving the route over time.
The 407-mile route follows the northern, cross-state-highway corridor, State Route 20, from Newport, Washington, at the Idaho border to Anacortes, Washington’s international ferry terminal. The USBR 10 interstate route will eventually connect all the northern tier states, linking Washington state to Maine and running from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean.
Bike Travel a Booming Business
“This bike route designation is an example of what can be accomplished by working with partners like Washington Bikes and local communities,” said WSDOT Secretary Lynn Peterson. “It’s estimated by the Outdoor Industry Association that Washington could see as much as $650 million annually from bike travel statewide. These are benefits that will be shared throughout the route.”
When fully developed, the United States Bicycle Route System will contain more than 50,000 miles of interstate bicycle routes crisscrossing the country and providing route guidance to touring cyclists, commuters and recreational riders.
The USBRS effort in Washington state is being coordinated by Washington Bikes (formerly known as the Bicycle Alliance of Washington), in partnership with the Washington State Department of Transportation. The project depends on volunteers from Washington Bikes to collect and harmonize input from bicycle clubs, tour groups, cities, tribes, counties and regional transportation organizations.
Washington Bikes executive director Barb Chamberlain said, “Washington Bikes works to promote bike travel across the state, and the USBR mapping effort is helping us develop detailed information on a fantastic set of major connections. Identifying the best route provides value not just for those who go on bike tours of Washington state, but also for those seeking everyday bicycle connections town to town.”
Chamberlain also serves as co-chair of Gov. Inslee’s Blue Ribbon Task Force on Parks and Outdoor Recreation, which includes promotion of Washington’s outdoor economy as one of its focus areas.
Echoing Sec. Peterson’s emphasis on the economic value of bicycle travel, Chamberlain noted, “Bike travel is particularly good for small towns, since bike travelers are fueled by calories and stop many times along the way. We just helped publish a guide to multi-day bike tours in the state, Cycling Sojourner Washington; some of those tours make use of parts of USBR 10 and all of them identify great places to stop, stay, and spend. Bike-friendly towns that welcome visitors are good for the people who live and ride there every day, too.”
Along the route, local businesses and communities have recognized the opportunity, adding cyclist campsites and other services. North Cascades National Park has added two bike-in, no reservation campsites at Newhalem and Colonial Creek Campgrounds, and refurbished Bingham Park in Sedro Woolley will include bike-in campsites. Tonasket has long supported touring bicyclists with free wi-fi and showers at their information center, and Okanogan is rebuilding its riverfront Lyons Park to accommodate cycle-in touring. Transportation planners are integrating the new USBR 10 route into local planning to align and enhance bicycle touring in their individual jurisdictions. Washington Bikes will connect with local destination marketing organizations, businesses, and communities along the route to help them include USBR 10 in their promotional materials and reach out to welcome biking customers and visitors.
Mapping the Route
Washington Bikes board member and route coordinator John Pope noted that Washington started with what may be the most mountainous and scenic interstate bicycle route in the state through what some call the “North American Alps.”
The scenic alpine climb over Rainy and Washington Passes in North Cascade National Park will inspire and challenge cycling tourists. USBR 10 summits Loup Loup Pass near Twisp, scales the Okanogan Highlands at Wauconda, and crests the Kettle Range at the 5,575-foot Sherman Pass—the highest paved mountain pass in the state, and crosses the Selkirks at Little Pend Oreille Lakes. It follows the Skagit, Methow and Okanogan Rivers, crosses the Columbia River at Kettle Falls, and follows the beautiful Pend Oreille River from Ione to Newport.
Route suggestions from area bicycle clubs and the Adventure Cycling Association, along with input from city and county engineers, introduced many quiet and beautiful byways to this route. Staying within the SR 20 corridor but selecting quiet back roads when the highway becomes narrow or overly trafficked, the route offers miles of quiet pastoral cycling mixed with incredible views and scenic roads.
WSDOT Special Programs manager Paula Reeves coordinated the state effort. Washington Bikes’ former executive director Barb Culp, who still volunteers with the organization, worked to obtain route approvals from Okanogan cities. Pope did the route verification, drafted the nomination, and harmonized route options with road managers/engineers, bike clubs, and regional transportation organizations.
Plans are under way to start the mapping and nomination process for other significant route corridors in the state. Bicyclists interested in helping with the process may contact Louise McGrody, Washington Bikes, louise@WAbikes.org, 206-224-9252 ext 303.
The nomination by Washington has helped the Idaho Transportation Department further their efforts on USBR 10 across the panhandle and opened valuable links with route organizers in British Columbia, Idaho, Montana, Alaska and Oregon. Washington Bikes and WSDOT will continue to support this route with travel tips and information and work toward future signage.
Facts About USBR 10
· Total length of the primary route: 407 miles
· Length including all alternate and side routes: 579 miles
· Elevation climbed and coasted: Over 25,000 feet
· Washington counties along the route: Skagit, Okanogan, Ferry, Stevens, and Pend Oreille
· Cities and towns along the route, west to east: Sidney, BC, Anacortes, Burlington, Mount Vernon (by spur), Sedro Woolley, Lyman, Hamilton, Concrete, Rockport, Marblemount, Newhalem, Mazama, Winthrop, Twisp, Okanogan, Omak, Riverside, Tonasket, Wauconda, Republic, Kettle Falls, Colville, Park Rapids, Tiger, Ione (by spur), Usk, Newport and by juxtaposition, Oldtown, ID
· Mountain passes: Rainy Pass, Washington Pass, Loup Loup Pass, Wauconda Summit, Sherman Pass (5,575 feet—highest paved mountain pass in the state), Little Pend Oreille Summit
· Rivers along the route: Skagit, Methow, Okanogan, Columbia, Pend Oreille
· Scenic Byways: North Cascades Scenic Byway; Cascade Loop; Sherman Pass Scenic Byway; International Selkirk Loop
Pronto Cycle Share is on schedule to launch in September, bringing 500 public bikes into Seattle’s dense central neighborhoods and the U District. With its launch, Pronto could change the way people get around in Seattle and put city cycling within reach of far more people.
But this will not happen by accident. In this ongoing series, we will look at ways that Pronto, Seattle and King County can make sure bike share truly is a transportation tool for everyone. In part one, we’ll take a look at the bike commute gender gap.
While it’s hard to measure the exact gender gap in cycling, US Census surveys do provide a glimpse into commute data. Only looking at work trips (no errands, trips to a restaurant or park, etc), women represent only 28 percent of bike commuters in Seattle. This is a bit higher than the national average (24 percent), but is clearly not good enough.
In the Netherlands, more than half of bike trips are made by women. While it bothers me when people say women are an “indicator species” for a truly comfortable and safe cycling city (who wants to be described as a different “species”?), it is definitely true that if far more men bike in your city than women, something is wrong. After all, riding a bicycle to get around is not an inherently gendered activity, but local bike cultures can be.
Bike share may be one key part of the solution. As Josh Cohen reported recently for Crosscut, women use bike share systems in other US cities at a much higher rate than the Census survey’s commute rate. The national average is 43 percent (only counts registered pass holders, not daily users), and some cities have rates approaching 50 percent.
According to Carolyn Szczepanski, head of the League of American Bicyclists’s newly launched Women Bike program, some of the most common barriers are: perceptions of safety and comfort in traffic and issues of convenience of riding while juggling the brunt of household responsibilities, including child care. And, she says there is a lack of a sense of community, caused in part by “looking out on the streets and seeing mostly men, many of whom are athletic and wearing gear that may or may not be something women are inclined to wear.”
She added, “Bike share bikes are engineered to fit the lifestyle of people who are using them. You don’t have to don’t have to worry about your pants getting caught or dirty, because there’s already a chain guard on there, there are already fenders on there. It’s a bicycle built for folks coming into the city, possible for work or wearing attire not in line with what people think you need to be on a bike.”
Another factor will be marketing and the system’s image. Outreach efforts will need to focus on ease of access to everyone, and they will need to reach general audiences in hopes of attracting people of all ages, genders, races and income levels. As much as I’d love for Pronto to blow their whole marketing budget on Seattle Bike Blog ads, they need to make clear that the system is not about people who already bike everywhere. Pronto is for everyone.
Seattle is way ahead of the game in one very core and difficult-to-change way to make sure women are included in bicycling efforts: The leaders of nearly every big bike organization, including Pronto, are women.
What do you think Pronto can do to make sure it appeals to women as much as it does to men?
Images taken amid midday on Sunday, so don’t show all the completed work.
After five months in a state of partial completion, the city made substantial progress toward completing the temporary Burke-Gilman Missing Link improvements between Shilshole and Fred Meyer Sunday.
The two-way bikeway on NW 45th Street is an attempt to increase safety on a notoriously dangerous stretch of road that has resulted in a huge number of injuries over the years. Train tracks that can easily grab bike tires combined with high bike volumes have led to many broken bones and a lot of road rash.
Michael F. Marian owns Marian Built Fine Hardwoods and Furnishings, located near a particularly crash-prone area near the Ballard Bridge. At this point, people on bikes need to cross the tracks, and people who naturally head straight instead of making a sharp turn to cross perpendicular to the tracks unknowingly run a high risk of crashing.
After witnessing far too many injuries outside his business, Marian started documenting them. He sent a justifiably fiery email to the city and local media (including Seattle Bike Blog) that included his photos. It’s a reminder that while the trail remains held up in the courts, going through an endless number of studies (including a full Environmental Impact Study, happening now), people are getting hurt. It’s exciting to see any kind of improvement in the area, but this is far too high a price to pay for safe streets. It shouldn’t take this many injuries before something is finally done about them. And the Missing Link is still very far from complete.
Here’s what Marian sent:
To anyone at the Seattle Department of Transportation concerned with public safety,
Shilshole Ave NW under the Ballard bridge is a very dangerous place for bicycles. SDOT has made Shilshole a one way street in an attempt to make it safer. They have installed islands, re-paved, and re-painted existing traffic lines. But they have done nothing, NOTHING to direct bicycles across the tracks perpendicularly. I would think some cones glued to the roadway to direct this, while still letting the train through, would be sufficient. Whatever the solution is, it needs to happen today.
I will be actively using social media to get the word out about this, as well as taking as many pictures and getting as many statements as possible. I have cc’d various contacts in the local media. To them I would say ‘bring your cameras down, you WILL see people fall and get hurt’. I will also be more than willing to be a witness to any lawsuits brought forth against the city.
This is so bad I just can’t believe it’s going on.
Yesterday a young lady broke her wrist and her face gushed blood onto the roadway as she was taken away by ambulance. The day before a seven year old boy hit the ground, hard. And that’s just two of the 5 accidents I personally witnessed in those two days.
I CAN NOT WATCH PEOPLE GET HURT AND SIT QUIETLY WHILE NO ONE DOES ANYTHING ABOUT IT!
Get down there and install cones to direct bicycle traffic across the tracks perpendicularly. You are costing the city a lot of money as well as allowing people to be SEVERELY INJURED!
DO IT NOW!!!!!!!
WHAT EXCUSE COULD YOU POSSIBLY HAVE?!
Here is Seattle Traffic Engineer Dongho Chang’s response:
Thank you for your time yesterday talking with me. I definitely heard you loud and clear and am taking your concerns seriously. Safety is SDOT’s highest priority and we have a goal of zero fatality and serious injury by 2030. I sincerely understand your urgency and outrage about the bicycle riders who have difficulty and fall crossing the rail road tracks under the Ballard Bridge on NW 45th Street. I am directly accountable for addressing this situation and am committed to doing exactly that. I talked with our field crews and they confirmed that all riders were following the newly marked crossing that was completed yesterday afternoon. This section of the NW 45th Street has been one of the highest bicycle fall locations in our city. I am hoping that the interim changes that have been made will help our residents navigate this street safely and more easily as we continue to finalize the environmental review of the Burke Gilman Trail project.
A common question from readers is: Are they going to make the T-intersection of 46th and Shilshole into an all-way stop? It’s a difficult and dangerous to turn left from the new bikeway to access the central Ballard business district. Here’s Chang’s answer, via email:
There still needs to be some improvements along the Shilshole connection from the interim work. We did not have the all way stop at this intersection, as we initially focused on 45th street. Navigating this intersection easier and safer will be in our next steps.
Photo from SDOT
Seattle experimented with its first ever play street in Madrona as part of St. Therese Catholic Academy’s field day Friday.
What is a play street, you ask? Essentially, it’s a brilliantly simple way to temporarily expand or create park area: Close a nearby street to traffic. While this may not seem like a big deal, it can be revolutionary in neighborhoods with parks that are either too small, too crowded or too far away. As SDOT puts it on their website: “Think of a play street as an extension of all the front yards on your block.”
The Madrona Play Street is the very first in what the city hopes will be a series of pilot projects around town. If your community group interested in hosting a play street in your neighborhood? Here’s how to make it happen:
Safety is our first priority. To ensure that the street closure is safe for all, we carefully review all play streets requests to determine if the street meets a few simple criteria:
To get started, you’ll need to complete a simple (and free!) application to help us understand how often you want to host a play street and what types of activities you’re planning.
Oh, and did I mention IT’S FREE?! No city fees required, just a community that wants to play.
The project is inspired by Play Streets in New York City, like this awesome one in Queens:
More details on the Seattle Play Streets pilot, from SDOT:
Looking for something new to do with your street? Consider joining SDOT’s Pilot Play Streets Program!
So what is a “play street,” exactly? It’s just what it sounds like. With a free permit, you can temporarily close your street to traffic so that you and your neighbors can go out and play in the street. Maybe you want to have a block-long hopscotch game or a gigantic 4-square tournament…or maybe you just want extra space to bounce a ball, skate, scoot, walk, bike, or run. Play streets can be whatever you and your neighbors want them to be.
Most importantly, play streets provide more space for kids (and adults) to play and be physically active. How often a street is converted into a play street depends on the location, community needs, and your interests. A school might choose to have a play street once a month during the school year or a community group might host a play street twice a week throughout the summer. We’ve got a new website that gives you all the details you need: http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/playstreets.htm.
Seattle’s first play street is right around the corner. St. Therese Catholic Academy in Madrona is celebrating its annual field day on Friday, May 30. This year, in partnership with the Pilot Play Streets Program, St. Therese will close 35 Ave (between Spring and Marion streets) from 8:45 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. so that kids can safely play in the street during the field day. We’re excited to have St. Therese leading the way as the first school to participate in the Pilot Play Streets Program. Wouldn’t you like to be next?
Forget the traffic jams and expensive parking, this could be the summer biking to muti-day music festivals really takes off in the Seattle area.
The Timber! Outdoor Music Festival happens to be hosted in one of the area’s best bike camping destinations: Tolt McDonald Park in Carnation.
A group of people biked together for last year’s inaugural festival, but this year they are getting organized and inviting festival goers to meet up at Gas Works Park to bike the 42-miles to the park.
The best part is that ride organizers are hoping to draw in first-time bike campers. So if you love music and have been interested in the idea of bike camping, this seems like a great way to jump in and give it a shot. From ride organizer Eric Sullivan:
Timber! is “only” 42 miles from Seattle, and on a fairly straight-forward route, and being that it’s located at a well-run facility next to a town with amenities and supplies makes this something that hopefully lots of folks will see as an opportunity to try bike-camping for the first time. We just want more people to feel comfortable with the idea of traveling to a multiple-day music/camping festival via bicycle, so we’re doing everything we can to get folks who might be sitting on the fence to give it a shot.
How cool is that? If you’re interested in joining the ride, RSVP via Facebook so they have an idea of how many people to expect. The ride is free, but you should probably buy a festival ticket before they sell out.
The Gigantic Bicycle Festival is a music and arts festival that bills itself as the “Pacific Northwest Celebration of the Bicycle.”
So, obviously, you should bike there! It’s held in Snoqualmie, and there will be very organized rides leaving Magnuson Park August 23. You can choose between the 77-mile and Century routes.
The organized, supported rides cost $100, including a campground. Or you can get a weekend pass and campground for $30 and just bike the 23 miles or so from Seattle to the festival on your own.
Here’s how bikey this festival is: You can bike to the bike festival and see Cycle Pronto Executive Director Holly Houser’s band Gibraltar play a set.
For registration info and a look at the lineup, check out the festival website.
Five kinetic sculptures inspired by riding bikes were installed Thursday in Nord Alley. Or in the words on the New Mystics’ blog, the sculptures are “drawn directly from our oneiric experience of freedom — riding bikes. Cycling represents a slowing down of machine time, liberty from clocks and bus schedules, and a human powered traversal of terrain — it is also a metaphysical meditation.”
Some of you may remember the totally awesome 2012 “Diving Belles” installation in the same space by Artist Kyler Martz and UW Architecture student Jason Duckowitz. It was well-loved, but sadly short-lived due to vandalism. It’s great that more artists are giving the concept another try in the quirky and busy Pioneer Square alley.
Presented by New Mystics with support from Back Alley Bikes
New Mystics presents a new body of 5 kinetic sculptures drawn directly from our oneiric experience of freedom – riding bikes. Cycling represents a slowing down of machine time, liberty from clocks and bus schedules, and a human powered traversal of terrain – it is also a metaphysical meditation.
Designed by Colin Michael Northcraft, and engineered by Aubrey Birdwell, NM has created five new sculptures referencing the sacred geometry found in Buddhist sand painting and prayer practices. The “DREAM MACHINES” are four sculptures featuring human powered, painted mandalas mounted on scavenged bicycle wheels, connected through a series of bicycle based clockwork.
Give “PRAYER WHEEL” a spin next time you ride by and release the energy of the cyclist prayers inscribed on the wheel. Composed of discarded BMX wheels, “PRAYER WHEEL” references a traditional Buddhist prayer wheel and features poems written by the NM members, “PRAYER WHEEL” is an interactive missive sending an endless stream of good vibes into the universe.
“PRAYER WHEEL”, through the grace of Nord building owner Todd Vogel and the support Back Alley Bikes, will remain permanently installed in Nord alley to continue sending positive messages through the cyclesphere in Seattle. New Mystics is excited about making a lasting contribution to a community that has empowered and entertained us so long….
NM would like to thank Davis Sign Company for their support in engineering and constructing NATURAL MOVEMENT.
Image from WA Bikes
Photo by Taylor Kendall via Twitter. Used with permission
Nikolaj Lasbo is a duel Danish and American citizen who works for the Seattle Times. He recently wrote a column for the paper comparing the experience of biking in famously-cycle-friendly Copenhagen to biking in Seattle. Needless to say, it’s a lot easier:
Bicycle infrastructure is so well-established in Copenhagen that riding a bicycle feels nearly effortless. Most streets have a raised, separated cycle track — protected bicycle lanes — and around 40 percent of the population commutes daily by bicycle.
On the other hand, biking in Seattle often requires people biking and driving to share busy streets, leading to conflicts and sometimes moments of danger. Even some Danes who bike all the time at home will not bike when they visit Seattle due to safety fears.
But with the recently-approved Bike Master Plan, Lasbo thinks Seattle is on the right track:
Copenhagen offers a casual, safe riding experience; Seattle cycling might be better left to the hard-core. The master plan could close that gap.
Copenhagen may be leading the pack now, but there were speed bumps along the way. The first cycle track was created more than 100 years ago. In the subsequent age of the car and suburban growth, not a single new cycle track was built until the early 1980s. Then, large cyclist protests prompted the municipal government to support new infrastructure. Now there are around 250 miles of designated bike lanes.
Seattle now is where Copenhagen was 30 years ago, and this city can learn from Danish best infrastructure practices. The master plan seeks to add more than 100 miles of cycle tracks and nearly 240 miles of “greenways,” side streets with traffic-calming features, over the next 20 years, rivaling Copenhagen.
In fact, he says, the city has already done the hard part: Figuring out what needs to be done. Now all they have to do is find the funding to make it happen.
It’s true, Seattle has hills and Copenhagen is flat. And yes, hills can be an obstacle to biking. But as we’ve written in the past, they can also be the source of the greatest rewards.
And this is not just wishful thinking. The United States has many very flat major cities, yet two of the top five cities for commuting by bike are also two of the nation’s hilliest: San Francisco and Seattle. There are probably a great number of reasons for this. For example, hills also made it harder to build freeway-and-road-based sprawl the way flat US cities did in the 20th Century, which may have lead to more dense neighborhoods and a incentives to look for alternatives to driving.
No matter the reason, the result is clear: the number of people biking in Seattle continues to climb. May was the busiest month ever recorded by the Fremont bike counter, and there’s no reason to think that will be the last bike record the city breaks this year. With bike share and a downtown protected bike lane planned for September, Seattle is just getting started on this bike thing.
But Seattle is different than Copenhagen, of course. And a bike-friendly Seattle will look quite different than the Danish capitol. Hills do constrain the options for usable bike routes, for example, and the bike plan takes those constraints into consideration when recommending bike lanes and neighborhood greenways.
So don’t believe people when they say people can’t bike here. They are not looking out their windows and opening their eyes when they say such things. People do bike here. A lot. And the number of people doing so is growing with no end in sight.
Will we be Copenhagen in 30 years? Of course not. We’ll be Seattle, but with even more people finding it comfortable and convenient to get around by bike.
Big thanks to everyone who biked and ate ice cream with us for Bicycle Sundae! 46 people registered for the scavenger hunt bike ride, which toured some of the city’s many great ice cream, gelato and frozen yogurt shops.
Riders were given a list of clues and had to figure out which shop to go to and how to get there. Some shops had free ice cream for riders, which is basically the bike version of stopping at a fueling station. Mmmmm delicious fuel…
Big thanks to Bicycle Benefits, which helped organize and host the ride. Thanks to Verity Credit Union, which sponsored the event, and all the shops along the way for hosting riders: Full Tilt shops in Ballard, U District and Columbia City, Sirena Gelato, Old School Frozen Custard, Bluebird Ice Cream, Ben & Jerry’s, Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt and Six Strawberries. All the shops have everyday Bicycle Benefits deals. Here’s a map of all the Seattle businesses that offer deals.
Below are some of the riders’ photos posted via Facebook and Twitter. We’ll have to do this again some time! Stay tuned for more Seattle Bike Blog events coming up.
Here’s the manifest:
Police have arrested a man they say set fire to a staircase and structure where the Snoqualmie Valley Trail crosses the Snoqualmie River near SE Reinig Rd.
The fire started shortly before 5 p.m. Tuesday, and fire crews were able to put it out within about ten minutes, Living Snoqualmie reports (also includes photos). The bridge is owned by King County, which reports that it will be closed until further notice:
King County Parks has closed the Snoqualmie Valley Trail bridge near Reinig Rd in Snoqualmie due to damage from a fire … May 27. We’re still investigating the situation, please stay tuned for updates.
In the meantime, Biking Bis has this advice for getting around the closure:
Bicyclists can avoid the bridge by using a path through the Three Forks Off-Leash Dog Park or exiting the trail at the Mount Si Golf Course.
The county recently finished replacing a different bridge on the trail south of Tuesday’s fire. The damaged bridge is very cool, so here’s hoping there is no serious damage to the core structure.
Here’s the bridge via Google Maps:
People wanting to take the trail into North Bend have to carry their bikes up the stairs, which were set on fire:
Recently-received UW trail detour map looks more like a maze than a biking and walking route
During peak commute hours, the Burke-Gilman Trail through UW campus carries 1,200 or so people every hour. So it is more than a little bit crazy that the ever-changing detours are so confusing even regular trail users and people familiar with UW campus are getting lost along the way.
People have been frustrated by the confusing detours, but it’s not really the detour team’s fault. The problem stems from the core decision to avoid the obvious best detour option: A temporary trail on Montlake and Pacific.
Both major streets (Montlake is actually a state route) are very wide and follow the trail’s general path. And since biking and walking is vital to keep people moving through the congested area during construction work (we don’t want people ditching their bike and joining the congestion, right?), it only makes sense. Here’s the Seattle Bike Blog proposed detour trail.
But that’s not the only big problem facing trail users this summer. In order to take advantage of UW trail work, Seattle City Light is burying extra power lines along the trail right-of-way between the substation near I-5 and UW campus. Much of the work will coincide with already-planned trail closures on campus, which is smart. But they also need to work on the section of trail between campus and I-5, and that means more trail detours. The work will be done in phases starting soon on UW campus and continuing until the end of 2014.
City Light Spokesperson Scott Thomsen said the plans, already approved, would detour people on bikes onto Pacific and NE 40th Street without a temporary trail:
The next phases will start after about eight weeks and will last for about two to three weeks each. The detour will be along NE 40th St. City Light will install ADA ramps at the intersection of 6th Avenue NE and an asphalt pathway west of the 6th Ave NE for pedestrians. Bicycles will be on the street. The detour plans are already approved by SDOT.
Here’s a map of the planned detour (see all phases in this PDF):
I don’t know how this got approved, but this is not acceptable. You simply cannot send people — many of them children and people brand new to biking — from a major separated trail into mixed traffic on streets like Pacific and NE 40th without creating a temporary safe facility:
Pacific just west of NE 40th. The trail at right will be closed this summer. Image from Google Street View
I can only assume this was an oversight that will be corrected before the work begins this summer. I asked City Light and SDOT if they were totally sure they did not have plans for a temporary trail, but it appears they do not. It’s frustrating that I even need to write this post to point out that it is not OK to detour an extremely popular all-ages-and-abilities biking and walking trail into mixed traffic.
Perhaps this is the city’s chance to not only fix this detour plan, but also fix their processes so that such obviously inadequate and potentially dangerous detours are not approved in the future.
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