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!”
The real transportation planning starts when they’re in office, and they go on the field trip to Amsterdam to see the famous bicycle infrastructure. Cycle tracks, whee! From there on out, they know the score – they’ve been to Amsterdam, and you haven’t, so your narrow minded provincial atavism is just something you’ll hopefully get over when you see how great it is.
As for Tangletown residents getting to the University District … is that a question? Pedestrians should take 50th, cyclists should go around the north via Ravenna Blvd for cycle paths and easier grade. Am I close?
Donn- Speaking as a Tangletown resident, when I went to school at UW I biked for 1 month and all the options were so horrible that I reverted to driving there and back. 65th is a huge detour from where I live, and 50th / 45th are not safe.
On the flip side, I currently bike every day to Ballard, going up through the zoo and then down around the lake. My kid also bikes to school by going around the lake. It works great, no major improvements are needed (some cheap tweaks would help a lot though).
Improving the overpass should be a top priority. It is not efficient at all and it seems like adding capacity into the side wouldn’t cost too much. If we make it easy enough to get everyone moving, perhaps we can lift and move away the whole building that houses that sh*thole taco time!
It is nice to see O’Brien come up with his own answers to these leading questions. Speaking as a Tangletown resident who commutes to Ballard 50% by car and 50% by bike, I commute through this intersection and look forward to the cycle track going in. They are not obsolete and I appreciate SDOT efficiently installing them while paving these areas.
I really wish the questions were more open-ended. Do you not understand how to ask a question without imposing your own opinion as if it is fact?
McGinn was correct to push back, and I agree that pushing commuting traffic onto the Green lake trail is a recipe for disaster.
@frankie: lol we could repurpose all the i-beams and glass to build a really nice covered pedestrian/bike overpass.
oops! i meant O’Brien! 🙂
Recreation cycling and bike commuting are not the same. Mike O’Brien is the only 6th District candidate that knows this, evidenced by this quote:
“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.”
Cyclists are on a spectrum, not just 2 types. As a bike commuter, I use both paths- when it’s rainy and nobody is on the trail around Green Lake then I use that, when it’s a sunny day and the path is filled I’ll take the bike lanes. Having both options is great. What bugs me the most about the cycle track is that it’s the only major bike investment that’s going to happen in our area over the next decade if the Integrated Transportation Plan isn’t fixed before the levy goes to votes. Even if I had a magic wand and the cycle track were free I’d have to think about it, but it’s extremely expensive and we have other much more serious needs.
I wanted some precise questions to get the candidates addressing specific issues in Tangletown, not general philosophical stuff where they’d all sound the same. This question helped draw distinctions between the candidates on an important local issue so I think it went well. The open ended question comes at the end of this sequence (priorities for Tangletown, on Thursday).
I spent a few minutes playing around with google maps, and by their reckoning it’s less than 3 miles / 20 minutes from anywhere in what I understand to be Tangletown to the University station, by bicycle via Ravenna Blvd. Routes were usually “mostly flat” from the west side, 164 feet climbing on the return from the east side of Tangletown. (That’s a lot better than the route they chose by default, via Pacific to 15th NE!) Most routes did not go on Green Lake Way, they like Woodlawn if you’re that far west. For me, anyway, an easy 3 mile ride seems pretty sweet, and the average was more like 2½. Less than 20 minutes, and no parking. It is “going out of your way”, compared to the direct route down 50th that’s half as long but perilous. It would be more “urbane”?, to get 45th/50th fixed up so everyone could use them, but for practical purposes from here it looks like the real issues with those streets have a lot more to do with motor vehicle throughput.
Most routes from farther west, Phinney etc., went around the north side of Green Lake, or down to the Burke-Gilman. I couldn’t see any area that clearly would benefit from improvements along the south side of Green Lake, in terms of getting to the University station.
I am interested in bikes as a form of commuter transit. I am curious to learn who will pay for all the improvements for commuter cyclists. I think this is a good thing. I think Licensing bukes would help so that the bike owner over the age of sisteen can feel like they are contributing to the development and maintenance of the sprcial interest facilities