After more than a year of contentious wrangling over proposed safety improvements to 35th Avenue NE, mediation between two local groups is now over and two alternatives have been sent to Mayor Jenny Durkan.
As previously reported, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) had slated 35th Avenue NE for safety improvements that include adding bike lanes, enhancing sidewalks and crosswalks, and restriping the arterial based on community input and compromises to the Bicycle Master Plan. However, late last year, local businesses finally began paying attention and since the improvements include removing parking from one side of the road, they launched a campaign, melodramatically called “Save 35th,” to retain their parking and not allow the implementation of bike lanes.
In response, several neighbors formed Safe 35th–a local, community-based organization intent on seeing the safety improvements implemented as they were designed (I am a founding member).
Despite three parking studies indicating the neighborhood only uses 40% of its parking during peak times, the fact that every business (except one) has a parking lot, a lengthy history of community involvement, the sabotaging of measurement equipment for a fourth study and life-threatening vandalism of construction equipment, as well as a lack of any engineering or design to support any of their arguments, Mayor Durkan capitulated to the demands of the Save 35th group and scheduled mediation to try to bring the two sides into agreement.
This process was begun by John Howell of Cedar River Group in September 2018. Each side was scheduled two meetings with Mr. Howell, with the suggestion that if they could come together, a final meeting would include both sides. Earlier this month, the final one-on-one meetings were completed, and two alternatives have been sent to the Mayor.
The original design includes protected or striped bike lanes where feasible and sharrows in other places, and parking consolidated to the east side of 35th. This design is a modified version of the Bicycle Master Plan (after compromises with the community) and was prepared by SDOT and several design consultants.