Seattle’s big picture plan for the growth of bicycling in the city — including a change in philosophy from a compromised combination of driver and cyclist priorities to an emphasis on separate, protected bikeways and greenways — will face its first scrutiny from the general, not-yet-biking public this week. Seattle Bike Blog reports that after a lengthy process in the biking community and with reams of Seattle Department of Transportation research (PDF) behind it, the Seattle Master Bike Plan has been updated from its 2007 version and will be taken up by the City Council this week:
The plan dramatically improves on the important-but-flawed 2007 Bike Master Plan.
“Probably for its time, it was just fine,” said outgoing SDOT Director Peter Hahn. The 2007 plan has been widely criticized for focusing on encouraging people on bikes to share lanes with car traffic on busy streets (thus, the reason so many busy streets have “sharrows” painted on them). “Due to compromises at the time, sharing lanes lead to some friction.”
The new plan focuses on protected bike lanes and neighborhood greenways to create a connected network of bike routes that will be comfortable to people of all ages and abilities while also improving neighborhood safety in general and reducing all types of traffic collisions. Hahn hopes this focus on reaching out to all Seattle residents — not just those brave enough to bike mixed with heavy traffic — will garner the plan “tremendous support across the community.”
The plan, part of outgoing Mayor Mike McGinn’s legacy of planned progressive urbanism and likely to be part of Mayor-elect Ed Murray’s major challenges as he inherits a full plate of civic needs in the city, is a framework for the kinds of projects that eventually come to light as elements like sharrows and the Broadway bikeway. The bikeway and the 23rd Ave greenway exemplify many of the concepts around encouraging more casual bike usage in the city found in the new master plan. You can view the plan update project files here — Seattle Bicycle Master Plan Update — Project Library
There is also space beyond the potentially $400-to-$500 million master plan for thinking really, really big. In the plan update’s “catalysts” projects appendix — a kind of wish list for potentially amazing and amazingly expensive projects outside the scope of the bike plan — line item 16 is worthy of note:
Would you ride the Capitol Hill gondola? Someday, given Seattle’s appetite for peculiar public transit, you may have a chance.
In the meantime, if you like a bike plan that leans more toward the Broadway bikeway and the 23rd Ave greenway and away from things like sharrows, let the City Council know.
- SDOT presentation and discussion with the Seattle Bicycle Advisory Board (SBAB) on Wednesday, December 4
- SDOT presentation to City Council Transportation Committee on Tuesday, December 10
- Special meeting of the City Council Transportation Committee on Wednesday, December 11 to take public input on the recommended plan
- Additional deliberations by City Council on the recommended plan will occur in early 2014; dates of subsequent meeting will be posted on the project website.