The government says (Capitol Hill’s) rainbow crosswalks (spreading to Iowa) could be unsafe. Are they really? (No. No they are not.)

The New York Times got the media buzzing about something that has been making the rounds since last month when the federal government told the good people of Ames, Iowa to remove the city’s “inclusive” multi-colored crosswalks citing safety concerns.

The Ames City Council voted unanimously to ignore the request, the NYT reports. Continue reading

Seattle City Council won’t back second Montlake Bridge

A 10-year-old rendering of what a second Montlake Bridge could look like — via Madison Park Blogger

The state has the funds to build it but the Seattle City Council won’t — yet — back a resolution supporting a second bascule bridge connecting through the transit chokepoint between Montlake and light rail at Husky Stadium.

Tuesday afternoon, the council’s planning and land use committee took up the resolution brought by interim City Council member Abel Pacheco representing the University District and District 4 but no vote was cast. Chair Mike O’Brien wouldn’t second the vote, saying he “adamantly” opposed the resolution and disagreed with Pacheco that adding the bridge would help address the city’s climate goals.

Pacheco’s resolution calls for the city to reverse a previous resolution against a second drawbridge as part of WSDOT’s 520 replacement project: Continue reading

Durkan’s 2020 budget proposal tips $6.5B with big boost from the Megablock and smaller items like Convention Center cash for Lambert House

(Image: City of Seattle)

There were small bits of good news for Capitol Hill and the Central District sprinkled into larger chunks of progress in Mayor Jenny Durkan’s $6.5 billion 2020 Seattle budget proposal unveiled Monday.

“We must do more to lift each other up. We must build more housing, especially housing near transit, so that the nurse assistants, restaurant workers, and the teachers right in this building can live in the city they make great,” Durkan said in her speech on the 2020 proposal given Monday morning at Franklin High School.

Some of the big gains — and small, too — in the proposal come from “one-time” revenue infusions. “For example, the sale of the Mercer Megablock properties and payments to the City associated with the expansion of the Washington State Convention Center have provided significant resources for both housing and transportation investments,” the budget proposal’s executive summary reads.

A good example easily lost in the $6.5 billion worth of line items is $500,000 earmarked for Capitol Hill’s Lambert House. CHS reported last year on the queer youth nonprofit’s efforts to purchase the 15th Ave house it calls home. The 2020 budget will put proceeds from street vacations associated with expansion of the Washington State Convention Center to boost the effort: Continue reading

Mayor’s ‘Fare Share’ plan would add minimum wage for drivers and 51 cent fee to every Uber and Lyft ride in Seattle to pay for streetcar, housing, and industry regulation

(Image: CHS)

Seattle is preparing to target one of the most lucrative — and easily the most traffic-bloating — corners of the city’s “app” economy to raise more money for public transit, affordable housing, and, yes, further regulating and monitoring the industry.

Mayor Jenny Durkan has rolled out a 2020 “Fare Start” budget proposal calling for new legislation that would add 51 cents to the cost of every Uber and Lyft ride in the city and set new minimum wage requirements for the industry’s freelance drivers.

“Economic models really vary from app to app,” Mayor Durkan said Wednesday in a media briefing outlining the new proposal and explaining why the “transportation network company” industry tax and regulation ended up in Seattle’s fast lane. Continue reading

‘Superilles’ for Seattle? Council member Mosqueda has her eye on 6-block pedestrian-and cyclist-first ‘superblock’ for Capitol Hill

Seattle knows a thing or two about dramatically changing neighborhoods. But Sant Antoni, a paper-plane shaped neighborhood in Barcelona, Spain, has seen a different kind of radical transformation.

After an extensive renovation, the art nouveau market anchoring the neighborhood returned to its original 19th-century splendor last year. In the area around it, parking was moved underground, newly planted trees and shrubs dot the streets and public plazas, children romp in new play areas, and bicyclists and pedestrians now have ample space to move around freely. In short, public space has increased by thousands of square meters — all because car traffic was deprioritized.

The urban design concept, in this case designed in tandem with local residents, businesses and others, is called a “superblock” or “superille” — and if you ask citywide City Council member Teresa Mosqueda, Seattle should get one.

Mosqueda has her eye on a 6-block area on Capitol Hill, between Pine and Union between 12th and Broadway.

“This could be a really great place to test what this model may need to be successful,” Mosqueda said. “This is an opportunity to look at what other cities like Barcelona have done to change street design elements to reduce traffic and improve pedestrian access to public spaces.”  Continue reading

23rd Ave Vision Zero work ready to move into fifth year of construction — including 23rd and John overhaul

We’re still almost a year away from the start of construction on the northern segment of 23rd Ave. When it’s done, expect some big changes to the intersection at John Street, and lots of other little upgrades scattered about.

If it feels like some kind of construction has been happening on 23rd Ave for a long time, that’s because it has. Major roadwork began on 23rd back in 2015, with the section between Madison and Jackson streets. That phase wrapped up in 2017, and then work started on the stretch between Jackson and Rainier. While the work is largely done there, there are still some bits left such as intersections and sidewalk ramps.

The stretch from John to Roanoke is next in line for a series of upgrades. In 2018, the city put that stretch of 23rd (which is actually 24th for most of its length) on a road diet, leaving two southbound lanes, but changing one of the northbound lanes into a turn lane.

But the project is far from over. In the next couple of weeks, the city plans to install High Friction Surface Treatments at Lousia, Lynn and Helen streets. The treatments, a layer of a rough, granular coating, should provide some extra grip to help cars navigate the road without skidding. The hope is that crews will be able to install the treatments over a weekend, probably the weekend after Labor Day, if the weather cooperates. Continue reading

What candidates have to say about safe streets and transportation investments around District 3

(Image: SDOT

If Monday morning’s CHS post on collisions around Capitol Hill, the Central District, and First Hill and the city’s difficulty in making headway on Vision Zero goals got you worked up about street safety — and you still haven’t cast your August Primary ballot which is due Tuesday, August 6th by 8 PM! — here’s a quick look at the District 3 candidates’ answers about safe streets and car dependence from our CHS Reader D3 Candidate Survey.

We asked each candidate for an overview of their plan to support safe streets and also which areas of D3 transportation infrastructure they feel is most in need of investment. You can also check out the full candidate survey answers on a variety of Central Seattle-focused topics.

Meanwhile, readers who responded to our CHS D3 Primary Poll who indicated they considered “transportation” as a “very important” factor in choosing their candidate, were mostly likely to have said they were supporting Sawant or Orion — also the top vote getters among the full group of respondents. What candidate gains the most support when focusing just on Transportation? That would be Bowers who ranks third after Sawant and Orion among the “very important” transportation respondents. The small percentage of voters who considered transportation to be less than “important” in their decision? They also support Orion and his competitor Murakami.

More survey results here. Answers from the candidates on transit and transportation issues, below.

What is your plan to support safe streets and continue to reduce car dependence in our district? Continue reading

Driver reportedly runs over man sleeping at First Hill parking entrance — UPDATE

A man reportedly sleeping along the sidewalk at a Terry Ave parking garage entrance was treated by medics after being hit by a driver early Monday morning, according to emergency radio dispatches.

Seattle Police says it responded to the incident and may have more information soon and we have not yet heard back from Seattle Fire on specifics regarding the man’s non-life threatening injuries. UPDATE: SFD reports the victim, a 57-year-old male, was transported to Harborview in serious condition. Continue reading

Serious crashes on major arterials in Capitol Hill, Central District and First Hill area up from 2018, long road to Vision Zero, SDOT data shows

In April, a car seriously injured a bicyclist at the intersection of 24th Ave E and E Madison. A few months later, a driver was severely hurt in a crash just a couple of hundred feet up the street, on the intersection of 23rd Ave E and E John St.

The locations of these two crashes don’t just point to the places where lives were wrecked. They also offer a first glimpse into the traffic pain points on Capitol Hill, which have clustered on and near Madison in the first six months of 2019, data from the Seattle Department of Transportation show. The Seattle Times first reported on the data.

The two crashes are among the 98 serious or fatal collisions that happened in the first half of 2019. Ten people were killed in traffic. 88 were seriously injured, of which six on Capitol Hill, four on First Hill and eight in the Central District (including a sliver south of I-90). The dataset showed no fatalities in these neighborhoods in the first half of this year.

One important caveat, per SDOT: The data the department provided are preliminary. Usually, there’s a “pretty rigorous auditing process” in which SDOT works with officials from the Seattle Police Department, Washington State Department of Transportation, Washington State Patrol and hospitals to review and filter out discrepancies for a report that comes out at year-end, SDOT said.

Still, the data provides a glimpse into Seattle’s long road to Vision Zero, its plan to end traffic deaths and serious injuries on city streets by 2030, and problem zones for Capitol Hill, the Central District and First Hill, particularly on or near arterials.

Continue reading

Why it’s now even harder to find a car share vehicle on Capitol Hill

The number of floating car share vehicles flowing onto Capitol Hill at night and flowing right back off in the morning has dropped this summer. BMW abruptly pulled the plug on ReachNow last week.

Following a splashy Capitol Hill launch party in spring of 2016, the Mini Coopers and BMWs became part of the weird, wild, and somewhat reliable transportation options provided by the smartphone-driven era of car, bike, scooter, etc. sharing in Seattle.

The service’s abrupt cancelation leaves drivers in the Pacific Northwest turning to the remaining providers including Daimler’s Car2go. In February, CHS reported on bike share company Lime expanding into the car business in Seattle to join the traffic jam of options. Other car share options in Seattle include the old school, fixed-space Zipcar and Getaround, a startup that sounds like the “Airbnb” of motor vehicles.

The numbers show that share services are hugely popular in Seattle and are also contributing to the city’s clogged streets with around 40,000 motor vehicle rides a day starting in downtown, Belltown, South Lake Union, and  on Capitol Hill.