The Question: The Move Seattle Levy includes adding cycle tracks on N 50th and Green Lake Way N. Those cycle tracks are in the Move Levy according to SDOT director Scott Kubly because we are paving those roads, and the bike master plan has cycle tracks on those roads. Unfortunately, those cycle tracks are already obsolete, having been designed to connect to a planned cycle track on Stone Way N that was removed from the Bike Master Plan at the last minute due to neighborhood push back. As is, the cycle tracks on Green Lake Way N and N 50th will awkwardly dead end into what is already the worst intersection in our area, the clogged 5 way intersection of Stone Way N, N 50th, and Green Lake Way N.
On top of that, safety data does not argue for adding cycle tracks to those roads, particularly since Wallingford and Green Lake community councils worked with SDOT a couple years ago to add dedicated bike lanes to Green Lake Way N alongside Woodland Park. People that aren’t comfortable with the bike lanes also already have good options to use fully separated paths that run parallel to the roadways in Green Lake Park and in Lower Woodland Park. Cycle tracks are very expensive and these cycle tracks would require new signals and tearing up cement islands from the center of Green Lake Way N, money that could be spent improving paths in the adjacent parks or on connecting Tangletown cyclists and pedestrians to UW and U-District light rail.
Do you believe cycle tracks on Green Lake Way N and N 50th St should be removed from the levy? On the flip side, do you believe money should be set aside in the levy for connecting Tangletown cyclists and pedestrians to U-District light rail and UW? How do you think the Move Seattle Levy must be changed before you will support it?
Mike O’Brien‘s Answer: The bicycle master plan was developed with significant input from people throughout our communities and it is the document that I will look to to guide our work plan. As with any plan intended to last many years, conditions will change and we will need to be nimble to adapt to those changes. As we move forward with implementing the plan, I will work to make sure there are more opportunities for ongoing input from community members to ensure that we understand as many perspectives as possible before we commit to a project.
I disagree that cycle tracks are not needed on Green Lake Way N. I know many people who are not comfortable biking in a bike lane and that extra level of safety provided from a protected bike lane can make the difference between someone choosing to bike or not. While the separated paths around Green Lake are amazing, they are crowded and I don’t want to push commuting bike traffic on to those paths. I am open to reconsidering if a Green Lake Way protected bike lane is a top priority or not when it comes time to make that investment, understanding that significant savings can be had in coordinating bicycle infrastructure with other planned road work and when it makes sense we should be taking advantage of that savings.
I fully support making investments to improve the I-5 crossing from Wallingford to the University District to improve safety for both pedestrians and bicyclists, and to coordinate that with the opening of the light rail station.
Catherine Weatbrook‘s Answer: Neighborhoods should be very involved with the actual placement and approach of any transportation projects like cycle tracks and greenways in their community. With our rapidly changing city, long range plans are outdated nearly as soon as they are published. As a City Council member, I would meet regularly with those who know the area best before placing specific project locations and solutions into a budget or levy. I see no reason to include dead-end cycle tracks on Green Lake Way N and N 50th.
East-west connections throughout Seattle are a challenge. The budget amount for the “dead-end” routes should instead be used to better connect the neighborhoods west of the freeway to the U-District light rail and the University of Washington – in the short term by improving the existing overpass. I think there should be a budget amount in the regular budget, not the levy, to begin the evaluation and planning process for another freeway crossing in the area of 47th and that this study should be done along with a good look at the current uses in the area. I see this as neighborhood planning as it should be.
I think the current levy plan is too large, too long a time frame, and contains maintenance items that should be in the regular budget (like signal timing and crosswalk painting), and doesn’t require smart signals to be used in all future projects.
Jon Lisbin‘s Answer: During my candidacy I will support the Move Seattle Levy and advocate for common sense modifications. However, the Levy will be voted on in the General elections in November by the time I or any one of my opponents reaches office.
Based on the above statement it makes sense that the cycle tracks should be removed from the Levy and that the funds should be utilized for helping pedestrians and cyclists connect to light rail. The devil is in the details however because the options for that connection vary greatly in cost and scope, depending on whether a separate bridge is built or improvements are made to the 45th street I-5 overpass. A $3,000,000 pedestrian bridge is not a drop in the bucket in a $930,000 Levy, with all the other projects scoped out at this time.
With the exception of some major flaws, the Levy itself has some excellent projects for the long term. It’s the short term I am most concerned about;
- Pedestrians, cars and bicyclists intersecting at unsafe street crossings and bike paths.
- Commuters stuck in traffic trying to get downtown and cross town.
- Bridges and infrastructure crumbling.
We cannot wait another five or ten years to address these issues. The city needs to prove that it can utilize funds efficiently and start showing results immediately. What NYC has done over the past 7 years is a shining example, starting out with cost effective solutions to get the ball rolling and gain public support for more substantial permanent improvements. You know what they say, “if you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere!”