The U-District light rail station at 43rd and Brooklyn will be finished in 2021. In the next 9 years, 45th through Wallingford will be redeveloped with 40 and 65 foot condos with bike-only parking, and the U-District is already springing up with bike-centered towers as part of the light rail rezone.

Despite this, the Move Levy makes no effort at all to help people biking or walking between Wallingford and the U-District. The plan gets locked in 1 month, then commits us to that decision for the next 9 years. Want to bike to the new light rail station just across I-5? You’ll be using sharrows on 45th street. Want to walk over there? You’re be walking on a narrow curb while I-5 howls at you from below. The “plan” is that over the next decade nothing will change from how things are today:

An I-5 crossing near 45th is the top priority for Seattle Greenways for all of Seattle City Council District 4. East / West transportation alternatives are the worst transportation problem Wallingford suffers from, and 45th is a top location in the city for accidents between cyclists and drivers. After a few weeks of pressing Hannah McIntosh on this issue, the sole person processing levy feedback, she offered this:

I do want to be clear that right now the funding for major new construction for bicycles and pedestrians over I-5 in Wallingford is not included in the levy proposal.  If this is a priority for your readers, please encourage them to complete our survey and come to the many events happening in the next two weeks to let us know.  A current list of events is on our website at: http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/ltms_involved.htm

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Bike sharrow dead ending into bus bulb on 45th

Consider yourself encouraged! Since there’s only a couple weeks left to impact the next decade of bike and pedestrian investments in Wallingford, I took a walking tour of the area with U-District greenways folks. Hannah is too busy to reply to most emails, much less look at things on the ground, so it’s sadly up to neighbors to do this kind of walk through on our own.

When you walk through the area it’s evident why 45th has so many bike / car collisions. The sharrows on 45th never made sense due to heavy vehicle traffic, lack of space, and hills to climb when going West. The major investments for buses over the last few years have further compromised them by adding curb bulbs on 45th that don’t let cars or buses go around bikes.

The Bike Master Plan says that an East / West route should be done via a 47th street greenway and then a bridge over I-5. This is labeled catalyst project #7 on the map below. This makes a ton of sense, and if this levy funded the 47th street greenway and I-5 crossing that would be the best solution for the neighborhoods. It does neither:

Bike Master Plan

When walking through the neighborhood with U-District greenways we came up with a cheaper alternative to a new bridge. It’s not as good as the 47th street bridge option, but at least it might get done in the next decade.

The cheaper alternative would be to put cyclists on 45th for the I-5 crossing, then move them to greenways on either side of I-5. Improvements to the bridge could be made that would benefit both cyclists and pedestrians crossing the bridge. The “X” nature of the plan would also help people get from light rail to a range of destinations:

I-5 and 45th

The numbered circles on the map above correspond to these changes:

  1. Complete the regional greenway in the Bicycle Master Plan on 46th and 47th except for the new I-5 bridge, with a gap between 4th and 8th. The greenway will connect to other regional greenways at Woodland Park Ave, Sunnyside, 12th, and 17th. It also connects to bike lanes on Latona / Thackery, cycle tracks on 15th, and the protected bike lanes on 11th and Roosevelt.
  2. Add a new greenway on 4th to bring bikes down to 45th for the I-5 crossing, add a signal at 45th, then connect down to the existing greenway on 44th. Bike lanes on Latona / Thackery could also be used, but then bikes stay on 45th longer.
  3. Sound Barrier

    Plexiglass sound and safety barrier retrofit to a bridge

    Add shared pedestrian and bike crossing improvements to 45th between 4th Ave and 8th Ave. This will be expensive to do correctly, but less expensive than a new bridge. One option is a new sound and safety barrier on the sides of the bridge, then extending the curbs inward to enable cyclists and pedestrians to share them. Measurements show there is room to extend curbs inward by a fair bit while still maintaining existing traffic flow.

  4. Add a connecting greenway to 8th and a signal at 45th, similar to the one at 4th.
  5. Build the connecting greenway from the Bike Master Plan to connect to light rail in the U-District as shown.

A push will be required to get any changes to the levy at this point, but we can’t let SDOT completely ignore the needs of our neighborhood. The only way to get noticed is to stand up and yell. Northgate did, and they are promised this if the Move Levy passes:

Northgate

So, please take the time to release your work week frustrations on SDOT for screwing our neighborhood. If enough people write in and show up to meetings they will listen, but you only have about a week to do so. Everything gets locked for the next decade when this goes to city council in 1 month. Please tell SDOT that sharrows on 45th and over I-5 are not an acceptable long term transportation solution for Wallingford. Please tell SDOT to connect Wallingford cyclists and pedestrians to the U-District and the light rail station.

http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/ltms_involved.htm

Thank you!

The Move Levy locks in all bike and pedestrian spending for the next 9 years after a 2 month public comment period that is already half over. For a place like Northgate that has been in planning for years that’s great as SDOT will throw 10’s of millions their way to implement their gold plated plans, but for a neighborhood like Wallingford without a transportation plan it means we only get a few cheap, half baked ideas. When plans were released 1 month ago they included a map that wasn’t even correct, so it has taken me a lot of time just to learn what SDOT is proposing for Wallingford. Today: Cycle tracks and Lower Woodland Park.

The levy currently includes a cycle track on 50th between Phinney and Green Lake Way, and another cycle track on Green Lake Way between 50th and up past the Green Lake Community Center. The cycle tracks are in the levy because they are in the bike master plan, and because those roads need to be paved. The current mantra at SDOT is to implement the bike master plan while doing maintenance, and hence we get these cycle tracks:

Cycle Track

A cycle track requires moving all bike traffic to one side of the road, then erecting a barrier with traffic. It is often used for dangerous streets where there are few alternatives for cyclists, but it typically requires separate signals and turning movements for cyclists. It is also difficult to transition between cycle tracks and bike lanes, as some bikes must cross all lanes of traffic.

As anyone in the neighborhood knows, bikes on 50th and Green Lake Way are principally connecting to the bike lanes on Stone Way. This means the intersection of 50th and Green Lake Way will become much worse if these cycle tracks are implemented. Here is a simple cycle track crossing, now imagine this at the 5 way intersection of 50th, Stone Way, and Green Lake Way, with the addition of transitioning between cycle tracks and bike lanes (warning: your head may explode):

Cycle Track Picture

The reason those cycle tracks are in the bike master plan is that there was also a plan at the time to connect them to a cycle track on Stone Way. Right before the bike master plan was locked down the cycle track on Stone Way was removed due to neighborhood push back, in particular fear about the throughput impact it would have on the intersection of 50th, Green Lake Way, and Stone Way.

The neighborhood idea was to favor Woodland Park Ave as a greenway instead, connecting to bike paths through Woodland Park, up through the Zoo to Phinney, and down through Woodland Park to the bike lane that already goes around Green Lake. The idea was to leave Green Lake Way, Stone, and 50th as roads with bike lanes that favor faster commuters. I bike this route almost every day, so I know it very well. These greenway routes are already very workable, but some investment would greatly help them along:

Green Way

Unfortunately, the bike master plan got locked before the rest of those fixes could be made to it. The result is a bike master plan that is broken for the Woodland Park area, but that was adopted by city council and is now all that SDOT looks at when coming up with plans for our neighborhood. In fact, SDOT has not had a transportation planning meeting in Wallingford since 1998, when our neighborhood plan was drawn up.

The cycle tracks on 50th and Green Lake Way are being prioritized simply because they are in the bike master plan and those roads are being paved, and SDOT wants to hit their numbers for implementing the bike master plan on the cheap. They are not being put in because existing bike lanes are unsafe, they are not being put in as a result of neighborhood wishes, and they are not being put in as part of a thought through design.

Do you think we need to further throttle and complicate the intersection at 50th and Green Lake Way? If you’re a biker, do you think Green Lake Way should be a top priority for Wallingford? Do you look forward to switching back and forth across the roadway to get on and off the cycle track? You have 1 month left to let SDOT know if you care:

http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/LevytoMoveSeattle.htm

Addendum: I understand you may not trust me after the April 1st post. To add to that, if you look at the map for our neighborhood in the levy, it is wrong. Below is the map (roads are unlabeled, but are in the levy text). See how the blue line on 50th stops before the intersection of 50th and Green Lake Way? See how it doesn’t go up to the top of the map?

Move Levy Cycle Track

Well, it took 2 weeks of asking around at SDOT before someone replied to why those blue lines stop where they do. Hannah McIntosh, who seems to be handling all feedback on the entire levy, finally found a minute to reply after I asked several times. Here is what Hannah says:

As you know, we’re collecting public feedback, and you identify some excellent points about the exact projects proposed in Wallingford.  The changes below will be reflected when the map is updated.

  • The blue line on NE 50th St should extend east to E Green Lake Way N, in coordination with the limits of the potential paving project.
  • Likewise, the blue line on E Green Lake Way N should mirror the extents of the potential paving project.

When I then raised the concerns about the cycle tracks impacting the intersection with 50th (effectively this entire post), Hannah wrote this back:

You make some good points about the cycle tracks and they are exactly the type of thing to look at as we get closer to implementation.

In other words, the Move Levy funds these cycle tracks and that’s all there is to it. If the Move Levy is not changed, over the next decade the cycle tracks will be built, and nearby greenways will not be built. So, if you care, you must fill out the SDOT survey or go to a meeting to let them know.

A few years ago I was devastated to learn that The Gypsy Cafe at N 35th St and Stone Way N was closing. My family and I were fond of listening to folk music there and attending the square dance every now and again. The place was a little worn around the edges, but it was still good. Then it became The Tiny Ninja Cafe, and I went once to an afternoon concert. It had been remodeled a bit — mostly the exterior was painted black, but it was still very much the same in look and feel if not in music.

But probably like many people in Wallingford and Fremont, I felt that there was a lot of potential for this spot that was being wasted. With Joule and The Whale Wins opening up next door, there is definitely a demand for a place that you can go to get a beer while you wait for a table at the restaurant. Or a place where you can go when you can’t get a table at the restaurant. A place that’s a little higher end than The Pacific Inn, a well loved dive bar across the street, but less up-market than the bar at Joule. And maybe a place you can take your family.

How does Stone Way Cafe stack up to these high aspirations? Pretty well. First of all the space has been remodeled considerably. There is gorgeous wood throughout, the kitchen is now exposed and the outdoor seating has been improved. Owner Mark Cramer writes:

Our goal with the Cafe is to create a space that reflects the charm and character of the old building and neighborhood while embracing the vibrant change and many new faces the area is currently seeing.  We love the old timbers and fixtures of the warehouse building.  It’s has great “old bones” and a character that we wanted to preserve and refresh.  We’ve focused on natural and reclaimed wood, iron and stone and see the space as an ongoing work of art that will continue to evolve.

The food? I had a breakfast burrito with veggies instead of bacon. It was delightful and attractive. The coffee is from Cafe Vita and it is good. The staff are friendly, and the place was hopping on a Saturday morning at 9:00.

IMG_2114What about the price of an Americano? A while back a Yelper reviewed Tiny Ninja complaining that the Americano was priced $2.50, $3.00 and $3.50 for an 8 ounce, 12 ounce and 16 ounce respectively. I checked. You now don’t have to pay 50 extra cents for a little bit more water. All sizes are $2.75.

In January I went to the Gypsy Squares Square Dance. It was every bit as busy as its previous incarnation, and I saw kids as well as adults enjoying the music and dancing. It was also packed. The square dance is always on the last Saturday of the month and the next one is April 25th.

Probably the most exciting thing about the cafe is the new selection of beer which you can see here. That’s a lot of beer on tap and more than I would anticipate with a name that includes “Cafe.” Unless there is a band, their summer opening hours are until 8:30 pm (7:00 pm on Sunday). It seems that they could be missing out on some business coming from people wanting to enjoy their great beer selection in the evening after 8:30. However, owner Mark says “we’ve had a great response from local artists wanting to play at the cafe, so our calendar is filling rapidly so many of our summer evenings will have later hours.”

They also sell growlers. $25 includes the growler. If you bring your own it’s $15. I probably won’t take advantage of that since I can get a growler at Fremont Brewing for only $9.

All in all I’m very glad for the addition in the neighborhood. I think if they pushed the beer angle more and maybe improved their evening opening hours it would be a good thing. Stone Way is only going to get busier with all the new development in the neighborhood.

 

Tonight the Meaningful Movies covers industrial hemp with the movie Bringing it Home. The movie dates to 2013 though, and apparently in 2014 the farm bill made it so industrial hemp is now somewhat legalized too. If I remember correctly from college, hemp is the hippie farmer wonder material, kind of like what carbon nanotubes are to the tech world.

Beyond that, Andrew Lee is performing piano on Friday at 8 PM and Saturday at 7 PM for the Wayward Music Series in Good Shepherd Center Chapel. Andrew will be performing the work of composer Randy Gibson, see if the cut below tickles you:

Finally, there’s chickens to consider! At 10 AM on Saturday Tilth is having a class to teach you how to raise chicks and hopefully keep them safe from raccoons and each other. Or you can go to the Portage Bay Grange down in the U-District and check out all the stuff for fun, including fresh chicks every week, ducks, coops, and all the trappings.

Our chicks start in a 20 gallon fish tank for 2 weeks, then graduate to our shower for 2 months, then graduate to the coop out back when summer is in full swing. An electric fence outside is great for keeping away the raccoons. We’ve been getting a fresh batch of chicks every 2 years for the past 14 years now, so we think it’s worth it, although we could probably rent out the coop now adays for $1,000 a month.

Here are the chicks we have now, one week ago when they were 8 days old:

Chicks 2015

Mr Gyros is open and it is everything you’d hope for- economical, super tasty, and friendly. I asked why they chose the spot they did and they said it was small and they didn’t want the overhead of a place with a lot of tables since that doesn’t help them. The pita bread is really nice and they offer to make the food spicy, yet my kids both liked the offerings too. They don’t mess around, offering the same basic menu for lunch or dinner.

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The block is really fun now and sort of anchors East Wallingford- you have roller derby stuff at Fast Girl, then Mr Gyros, then the Hawaiian General Store + travel agent, coffee at A Muddy Cup, Djan’s Thai, and then a block away is Comics Dungeon. Bedrooms and More looks slated to become some sort of bedroom palace according to DPD plans. It’s too bad it’s all right next to the car-centric places like the gas station, the burger place, and Jiffy Lube, but I guess otherwise rents would go up and the offerings might be less interesting.

IMG_20150414_075530706

Monday Tuesday morning while driving my kids to daycare, I saw the remnants of yet another accident. Wallyhood reader Stephanie also witnessed the aftermath. She writes:

I was hoping you could do a story on the accident that happened this morning (around 8am) on the corner of 39th and Wallingford.  Looked like one person was going to the hospital and another car actually ended up on the sidewalk (thankfully it didn’t look like anyone was on the sidewalk at the time).  Would love to know what happened because I feel like there are always horns blowing on that corner (and I swear 5 cars do a u-turn daily)  and it seems pretty dangerous (especially given the other intersections on Wallingford that seem to be having similar issues per prior posts).

Kyle Moore, Public Information Officer for the Seattle Fire Department, only had limited information about this collision: “Ladder 9 responded this morning at 7:51 a.m. for a report of an auto accident with a patient who is bleeding. We arrived on scene.  The dispatch report does not indicate if we treated or transported a patient.” I have a call in to Seattle Police Department, but I haven’t heard back at this time. I will update the post if I get anything else.

I wonder if the commenters on the previous post were on to something when they said that visibility is poor when turning onto Wallingford Ave N from a side street because of the many cars parked on Wallingford. That and an increase in traffic should give us all the more reason to drive safely in our neighborhood. Let’s hope we don’t have to post about another accident soon.

Photo by Wallyhood reader Stephanie

Update: Kyle Moore talked to the fire crew and says the following: “My crew called me back. It was a 4 car accident with one 24 year old male driver with a head wound. Firefighter backboarded and collared the patient and AMR ambulance transported him to the hospital in stable condition.”

I’ll see if I can get more details from SPD. A four car accident seems pretty bad for a neighborhood street.

Pam’s Kitchen May be Breaking The Curse

I ate at Guadalajara when it was a dive bar and got the only vegetarian thing on the menu- refried beans that, when served, still had the can ripples on the side. The place was converted into a family Mexican restaurant with glass and wood carved tables, giving birth soon after to Selena’s Guadalajara. Selena’s had some staying power and the transgender waitress was phenomenal, but it wasn’t great food and towards the end it got empty and sad. I kept hoping it would be taken over by Rosita’s.

Casa Azul stepped in and seemed to have good food but I think the idea of a Mexican restaurant in that space had been tarnished by the versions of Guadalajara that preceded it. No foodie was going to venture in there. Patty’s Eggnest never seemed to get traction either, plus they suffered from mixed reviews.

IMG_0269We’ve been 3 times to Pam’s Kitchen since it opened, even though as vegetarians that’s meant getting the same thing each time. I still can’t decide if the place is worth going to, yet I keep going back. It’s a happy place that is comfortably full, has good music, and has addictive spice. The food is like Ethiopian but with Indian style breads. For a fun outing it naturally pops up. On the flip side, the food and drinks are overpriced, so if you want a great ginger beer with rum you need to reconcile yourself with paying $9 for a tiny glass of it.

In other restaurant news, Mr Gyros was supposed to open on Monday of this week but was closed as of noon on Monday, so I couldn’t check it out. I’ve been missing falafel sandwiches ever since the Golden Olive left.

Also, a few local restaurants are taking part in “Seattle Restaurant Week” over the next 2 weeks, Monday through Thursday. They serve 3 course dinners for $30: KisakuMiyabi, Tilth, and Yoroshiku, with Miyabi and Yoroshiku also offering $15 2 course lunches.

Finally, Wallyhood could really use a restaurant critic with a tart tongue, please let me know if you’re interested. While I could write up a whole book on the ethics of different food choices (fun!), when it comes to how things taste I just want to say “good” or “not good”. Maybe you can do better?

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