Thursday, December 13, 2018

Share Your Feedback On Pike/Pine Protected Bike Lanes

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Using a new online survey, community input will be collected until the end of the year.

In October Central Seattle Greenways, Seattle Neighborhood Greenways, and the Capitol Hill EcoDistrict held a community design workshop that brought 150 people together to discuss their potential design ideas for the protected bike lanes coming to Pike and Pine Street on Capitol Hill in 2019.

The protected bike lanes will operate in separate directions on Pike and Pine between I-5 and 1st Avenue downtown; however, on Capitol Hill the City has determined the bike lane will need to run on Pike Street only until it connects with the existing protected bike lane on Broadway. As a result, big decisions will need to made about several important design features such as:

  • On which street cyclists will transition from Pine Street to the protected bike lanes on Pike Street. Current options being explored include Minor, Melrose, and Bellevue Avenue. 
  • Whether to have separate one-way lanes on opposite sides of the street or a single bike lane with two way traffic on one side of the street. 
  • How much space to dedicate to on-street parking, loading zones, and community features such as parklets. 

Concerned that not all community needs were represented at the workshop, the organizers have decided to extend the conversation using an online survey that will be open until the end of the year.

“We particularly want to hear from blind, deaf, and mobility challenged communities, communities of color, nightlife businesses, Seattle Central College students, delivery drivers, and ride-for-hire drivers,” said Brie Gyncild of Central Greenways, one of the event organizers. 

Seattle City Council Expected to Approve Mayor’s Budget Today

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While calls for affordable housing dominated the packed public comment period before the Seattle City Council’s final budget committee session last Thursday, it appears that the budget voted on today will not contain significant new provisions for affordable housing or transportation. None of the affordable housing amendments proposed by Councilmember Kshama Sawant gained enough support to advance in the budget process, and no additional amendments dedicated to expansion of affordable housing or transportation were sponsored by other councilmembers.

While introducing her $480 million housing bond amendment, Councilmember Sawant called for action. “It’s reasonable if councilmembers want to oppose one or another option, but I feel it is not responsible to not do anything. It’s unacceptable to just have the minimum possible funding in this budget for affordable housing given the scale of the crisis,” Sawant said.

Before joining with majority of the Council to vote against the amendment, Councilmember Lisa Herbold made a statement in defense of the Council’s decision.

“On the legislation we voted on… there’s $10 million dollars for low-income housing, I’m not going to pretend that that compares at all to $480 million dollars, but there is a housing bond that we are looking at next year,” Herbold said.

Fixing the Dangerous Woodland Park Ave and Bridge Way Intersection

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The intersection of Bridge Way and Woodland Park Ave N needs some TLC. (Photo by author)

Neighborhood Street Fund applications are due today (Monday, November 19th), so there’s still time to get yours in and potentially win a grant for your street improvement project.

The City’s website lists the following guidelines for proposals:

  • “Any transportation-related improvement in the city’s public right-of-way with an anticipated cost between $100,000 and $1 million is eligible for consideration.
  • Projects can fall into various categories such as: artcommunity placemaking, and safety improvements.
  • Past projects have included sidewalk repair, pedestrian lighting, bike safety improvements, or festival streets and can all be reviewed on our Past Projects page.”

Here’s my idea to improve safety in my neck of the woods: turn the intersection of Bridge Way and Woodland Park Ave N into a four-way stop with bump outs to shorten crossing distances for people walking.

It’s an increasingly busy intersection with hundreds of apartments added within a few blocks and hundreds more on the way. Nonetheless, the intersection does nothing for people and walking besides wish them good luck with five lanes of traffic. At the very least, crosswalks would be nice, but the skewed geometry of the intersection and unnecessary second Bridge Way lanes in each direction invite further intervention in the form of bumps outs. The two downhill Bridge Way lanes especially aren’t really wide enough to fit. It’s a tight squeeze with the parked cars. The intersection should clarify that there’s only one lane in each direction there (plus a turn lane) rather than the four implied (and five with the turn lane). That means striping farther up the hill to merge the two downhill lanes into one.

A four way stop would be make the crossing much safer and easier for people walking. (Graphic by author)

Woodland Park Avenue used to host a streetcar line back in the day, which is why it’s wider than neighboring streets. The right-of-way is 66 feet (according to City zoning maps) instead of a standard 60 feet and more of that right-of-way is road space rather than sidewalks.

Sunday Video: How Do Cities Grow?

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Dave Amos of City Beautiful explains how American cities have come to grow over the past several eras.

Kindness In the Days of After

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We knew each other once, intimately. The trim figure, the vivacious brown eyes and half-smile that just about screams vitality, even when silent. Many people merely repeat the headlines they’ve read; she was different. She could give a reason for every word she blurted, no matter how unconsidered they appeared. She had complete ownership of her thoughts.

I’ll refrain from describing her appearance further except to say the boys always had a word and a glance for her, and she knew exactly what to say to every last one. Street smart and book smart, spirit strong with a lot left over.

Here she is tonight, wrapping up her swing shift, a figure in the dark ready to go home. I tilt my head in a smile. Am I glad to see her? Of course. We’ve drifted apart in the intervening years, sure, but it’s been amiable. That takes two, and I’m thankful for her graciousness. You take care of the people who were dear to you, never mind that they’re no longer part of your life; they were once, and they’re still kind, and that is enough. You give them a safe space, put in a good word; you let them down gently, because they are softer than before you came.

Open House Showcases Future Possibilities for 15th Avenue E

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The “quiet side” of Capitol Hill will undergo big changes in the near future. Come out tonight to see design concepts aimed at putting people and public life first.

With their history of activism and community engagement, it’s not a surprise that nonprofit architectural firm Environmental Works has taken a proactive stance in response to the proposed development coming to their longtime home neighborhood in Capitol Hill. After all, the firm was founded on the Earth Day in 1970, and their first act as an organization was to take up residence in Fire Station 7 on 15th Avenue E in order to save the building from being razed.

Environmental Works founders in front of their Fire Station 7 headquarters. Photo credit: Environmental Works

In partnership with fellow architects, 15th Avenue residents, and Board & Vellum, Environmental Works has sponsored a community design initiative aimed at engaging local residents in a conversation about the community’s hopes and dreams for 15th ahead of the changes slated for the neighborhood. Kaiser Permanente is moving forward with a redesign of their Capitol Hill campus and developer Hunters Capital is planning to replace the QFC block with a new mixed use development. Substantial changes are coming to 15th Avenue E.

Bike Facilities on N 40th Street Get a “Step Back”

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The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) has been planning a set of repaving projects in the Green Lake area for around two years now. We first wrote about them in April of last year, when the department released initial plans that added bicycle facilities to a few key routes as a part of the repaving process–this saves money in a bike budget that is currently strapped for cash.

2019 Repaving Projects around Green Lake (City of Seattle)

N 40th St is a high-speed 30 mph arterial with few pedestrian crossings and street parking on both sides of the street, obscuring sight lines. Low bicycle traffic currently on the street is not surprising given these factors, but the street could provide a direct connection across Wallingford over I-5 where one does not exist currently.
 
As part of repaving, SDOT proposed eliminating street parking on one side of the street and adding a protected bike lane in the uphill direction only. People on bikes riding downhill would continue to need to ride in traffic. Wallingford Ave N would be the point at which the bike lane switches to the other side of the street.

Amazon Splits the HQ2 Baby, Rich-Get-Richer Style

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Long Island City is across the Queensboro Bridge from Midtown Manhattan. (Photo by King of Hearts)

The suspense is over as Amazon made it official yesterday that its headquarters expansion will be to Arlington, Virginia and to New York City. Twenty cities made Amazon’s finalist list, but surprise, surprise the company chose the two cities where CEO Jeff Bezos already own homes.

Some had hoped Amazon would pick a Rust Belt city to help revitalize the region, but the company’s approach was to select two of the wealthiest cities in America. The contest did succeed in getting cities to compete one upping each other on tax breaks and perks. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo went so far as to say he’d rename himself Amazon to secure the deal. I don’t think Bezos will take him up on that, but the message–albeit tongue in cheek–was received loud and clear.

As Amazon’s suitors bid up each on tax incentives, it turns out the prize has been halved. Amazon had promised 50,000 jobs averaging at least $100,000 to the winner. Now it seems more like the two winners will split that prize. New York is handing over $2.4 billion in incentives including the on-the-nose-named REAP (relocation and employment assistance program) tax credits. Meanwhile the Commonwealth of Virginia is offering up just shy of $600 million while Virginia Tech is throwing in a billion-dollar “innovation” campus for good measure.

For New York, that works out to paying $96,000 per job for Amazon’s promised 25,000 jobs. Even with economists estimating a multiplier effect of about 2.5 for each Amazon corporate job, that’s still a lot of corporate handouts to cover in economic growth and still come out ahead–especially considering the 25,000 Amazonians and their families certainly will increase the strain on infrastructure and public services, which those waived taxes were designed to cover.

The high public cost per job led anti-monopoly scholar Matt Stoller to opine that Cuomo’s grift was every bit as bad as Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s ridiculous $3 billion giveaway to Tiawanese manufacturer Foxconn. Unlike Walker, Governor Cuomo’s had the foresight to wait until after coasting to victory for his third term (with 59% of the vote) before disclosing the full extent of the corporate giveaway he had engineered. Or maybe Empire State voters are cool with corporate handouts, anyway.