Janette Sadik-Khan is coming to town to plug her new book, Street-Fight: Handbook for a Urban Revolution, and interview Mayor Ed Murray at an event at Townhall 7:30 p.m. Monday March 21st. Sadik-Khan became a hero to the multi-modal activist community after she shepherded through unprecedented bicycle and pedestrian upgrades during her tenure as New York City transportation commissioner from 2007 to 2013.
Some are hoping Sadik-Khan can roust our contemplative mayor from his slumber on rolling out major bicycle infrastructure improvements. Glen Buhlmann started a Facebook event called “Janette Sadik-Khan grills Mayor Murray on slow roll out of SEA Bike Plan” which did not mince words about the purpose of the event:
Come listen as JSK sits down with Mayor Ed Murray and says: What the F[sic]?!
In the past two years Mayor Murray has done… well… next to nothing. Seattle has a small stretch of 2nd Ave with a protected bike lane that is connected to… well… absolutely nothing else.
What’s Mayor Murray’s problem? Why is he not moving forward and creating a dense network of connected bikeways within the city? JSK will be asking these exact questions.
Last time Sadik-Khan was in town she had no trouble calling out King County for its paternalistic mandatory helmet law which she said was limiting the growth potential of the bicycling mode. “
Mayor Murray swept into office on January 1, 2014 buoyed by strong support from the bicyclist and pedestrian activist community. Murray earned that support with a vision to improve bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure in the city and tolerate no traffic deaths as part of the Vision Zero campaign. Despite a grand vision, action has been slow. As Buhlmann pointed out, bike infrastructure has seemed to progress at a snail’s pace. To his credit, Murray helped ferry the Move Seattle levy ballot initiative through the 2015 election, supplementing the transportation budget with an extra $930 million over the next decade. That will be a huge boon for bicyclists and pedestrians in the long term.
In the short term, bicyclists are wondering what the Murray administration has to show for itself. We can make all the plans in the world, but meanwhile people put their bodies on the line every day on substandard bicycle facilities and streets. Others are dissuaded from bicycling by the many gaps in the bike network and the frequent unsafe motorist behavior that is so easily tolerated.
Speaking of plans, we’ve spent the first two years plus of Murray’s term and more vacillating over the Bicycle Master Plan, which is still going to be delayed yet again (the excuse this time: we need to wait for the Center City Mobility Plan first) despite wide consensus that a bold plan calling for many more miles of protected bike lanes is needed. As early as August of 2014 SDOT was getting a tongue lashing for missing the city council’s deadline for creating the Bicycle Master Plan. Here we are going on two full years later.
So Sadik-Khan certainly has fodder. Hopefully, she is able to goad Seattle’s overly deliberative policymakers to action rather then yet another year of visioneering and procrastination.
The event costs $32 plus tax, but a ticket admits two people and comes with a copy of the book. Reserve tickets here.
Doug Trumm is the executive director of The Urbanist. An Urbanist writer since 2015, he dreams of pedestrianizing streets, blanketing the city in bus lanes, and unleashing a mass timber building spree to end the affordable housing shortage and avert our coming climate catastrophe. He graduated from the Evans School of Public Policy and Governance at the University of Washington. He lives in East Fremont and loves to explore the city on his bike.