Archive for 'Bikes'
Ever wish you could temporarily close the street in front of your house so kids (and adults!) in your neighborhood could play freely and safely? Now you can!
On May 30 of this year, Seattle’s first Play Street took place as part of the new Pilot Play Streets program. Since then, Play Streets have been popping up all over Seattle, giving communities more room to play, exercise, have fun and get to know their neighbors.
So what exactly is a Play Street? In short, it’s whatever you want it to be.
Play Streets are neighborhood streets that are temporarily closed to traffic and opened up for a wide variety of activities. What you and your neighbors do in your Play Street is up to you! Possible activities include dance parties, hopscotch, jump rope, basketball, chalk art projects, potlucks, yoga, street hockey, unstructured playtime — you get the idea.
Ballard residents made the sign shown here to raise awareness of their recurring Play Street…
Want to make YOUR street a Play Street?
The first thing to do is to make sure the street you have in mind will have clear visibility from intersections at each end.
Play Streets can only be one block long and must be on a non-arterial (see this map to determine if your street is a non-arterial).
Next, talk to all of your neighbors and see if they want to join you in setting up a Play Street. Then, if everyone is on board, fill out your free application here!
Play Streets can be set up as a one-time event (i.e. street dance) or can be recurring (see photo above). So, meet your neighbors, break out the soccer balls and squirt guns, and set up your very own Play Street!
One essential element of making it easier to move around in Seattle is the installation and maintenance of the bicycle and pedestrian trail system across the city. Thanks to the Bridging the Gap transportation initiative approved by Seattle voters in 2006, more than four miles of new trail have been constructed and annual trail maintenance performed by the Seattle Department of Transportation.
Trail segments constructed include: the Burke Gilman Extension along Shilshole, the Duwamish Trail in West Seattle, the Lake Union Ship Canal Trail on the south side of the canal, the Bradford Street Connector in the Mount Baker neighborhood, and the Burke Gilman-Magnuson Park Spur. These segments help make connections to the larger network of trails in the city and across the region providing key links between neighborhoods.
While building the trail system is the first step, maintaining it is the second step! Bridging the Gap provides funding to help inspect the trails and make necessary spot improvements to keep them in working order. Since 2007, SDOT has inspected more than 176 miles of trail and made more than 173 spot improvements. Spot improvements include things like patching broken pavement, restoring missing signs, trimming trees, landscaping and general trail repair. In 2014, SDOT crews will inspect 40 miles of trail and make 10 spot improvements to keep us moving along smoothly!
Bridging the Gap is making Seattle a more vibrant city through improvements to roads, sidewalks, bike facilities and key improvements to key transit routes, all of which make it easier to navigate from one place to another using a variety of modes. For more information on Bridging the Gap, please visit SDOT’s Bridging the Gap Web page.
As Seattle’s Pilot Parklet Program heats up, pedestrians around Seattle are finding new places to cool off, relax and take in the city around them.
In case you aren’t familiar with Seattle’s new Parklet Program, parklets are a way for people to transform underutilized parking spaces into dynamic park spaces that can be used by the public in a variety of ways.
Right now, there are just two completed parklets in Seattle, one outside Montana Bar in Capitol Hill and the other outside Oasis Tea Zone in the International District. But this is soon to change as these two pioneering parklets have inspired a number of other businesses and organizations to dream up designs for parklets in their own neighborhoods. Of the many submissions, 13 parklet proposals have been selected to move forward as part of this year’s pilot program – three of these will likely be completed by the end of this month! We expect the remaining 10 will be soon to follow.
The next three parklets to be completed are the Cortona Café parklet in the Central District (2425 E Union St), the City Hostel Seattle parklet in Belltown (2327 2nd Ave), and the Chromer Building parklet in Downtown (1516 2nd Ave). Check out the plans for each of these parklets below, and get ready for their unveilings over the next several weeks! To see if there is a parklet planned for your neighborhood, check out this map.
Below: CORTONA CAFÉ PARKLET DESIGN
Below: CITY HOSTEL PARKLET DESIGN (image courtesy of Boxwood)
Below: CHROMER BUILDING PARKLET DESIGN
At the end of this year, after Seattleites have had some time to get acquainted with their new spaces, the Pilot Parklet Program will conduct an evaluation to determine how effectively the program compliments and enhances the public’s enjoyment of Seattle’s streets. If the program seems to be a good fit, parklets will likely become a permanent part of Seattle’s public space programming, and more of Seattle’s businesses and neighborhood groups will have the chance to build parklets for their own communities.
Given the success of the city’s first two parklets, we expect that the Parklets Program will continue to grow, and that Seattle will soon be home to an even wider network of new, innovative and inspiring public spaces. If you visit a parklet in the next few months, and feel so inclined, send us a photo or a few words to tell us what you think about your city’s new parklets!
Don’t forget PhinneyWood Summer Streets is this Saturday! In previous years it was always on Friday so don’t miss it! This year, among many other fun things, SDOT will be demonstrating a Pop-up Protected Bike Lane so folks can get a hands-on feel for protected bike lanes. Pretty cool innovation for Seattle! But watch this video and you’ll see how far we still have to go if we really want to be a super-bike-friendly city.
Copenhagen (or course!) is building six new bridges exclusively for biking and walking and they’ve started adding garbage baskets angled for cyclists and LED lights that indicate whether riders have to speed up to catch the green wave AND the Snake! (Just watch the video). Of course only 12% of people in Copenhagen are driving their cars (lots of construction is tying things up even more than usual) so they have the determination and the motivation to facilitate lots of cycling and cycling improvements.
For a related but different perspective, check out this from Treehugger:
Are you familiar with The Bike Design Project? You should be, because the Seattle team just won it! Their innovative bike, Denny, just might revolutionize biking in Seattle and elsewhere. Check it out!
Five Teams. Five Cities.
The Ultimate Urban Utility Bike.
The Bike Design Project is an independent innovation platform for the urban utility bike. We’ve partnered high-level design firms with American bicycle craftsmen to collaboratively develop the next-wave urban bike. Five teams from five cycling-centric cities are competing to concept, create and champion their unique vision of tomorrow’s bicycle for the everyday rider.
This competition isn’t on paper. Each team is developing a fully functional, road-tested prototype. High design and deep craft combine to create a very real and viable end product.
Here’s the Denny in all its glory:
Why is it great for Seattle? The Weekly sums it up nicely for us:
- The handlebars (aka bike lock)
- The electric motor
- The lights
Seattle-based Teague and Sizemore Bicycle, in partnership with Fuji Bikes, will now move to the manufacturing phase and The Denny should be available to purchase next year. (Pro Tip! Start saving your cash now because early estimates say the price will be in the $3000.00 range.) And here’s a fun fact! On the current prototype of “The Denny” the frame is made of 3D printed metal.
Lastly, I’d like to wish a very Happy Belated Birthday to the World’s First Patented Electric Traffic Light. It just turned 100 years old on August 5th. Well, red and green did. Yellow is about 6 years younger. Enjoy these few shots from across the years. Looking good! (Dates are approximate)
Photo taken 1999. Light clearly older.
2014 (Note new bike signal)
Haven’t heard of PARK(ing) Day? It’s an international event on the third Friday in September that helps to raise awareness about creating a walkable, livable, and healthy city. This marks the eighth year that Seattle has participated. Last year we had more than 40 pop-up parks around the city…let’s go for 100 this year.
PARK(ing) Day is your opportunity to turn an on-street parking space into something different for a few hours. Get your friends, neighbors, co-workers, or family together and start planning now. What will you do in your parking space park between 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. on Friday, September 19?
We’ve included a gallery of 2013 PARK(ing) Day installations on our updated website, so take a peek and get inspired. There’s also a new application form—don’t worry, it’s still free to participate—to make it even easier for you to reserve your space.
You can plan your park for either an arterial street (at least two spaces) or a residential street (one space is fine) most anywhere in Seattle. More information about the dos and don’ts for PARK(ing) Day parks is available on our website, and we’re here to help you find a space that works and guide you through the process.
The simple application is due by August 29, but the sooner you apply, the better. Don’t risk someone else reserving your favorite space! Send your completed form to Joshua.Saitelbach@seattle.gov or call 206-733-9970 with questions.
For more information about Seattle’s PARK(ing) Day please visit www.Seattle.gov/transportation/seattleparkingday.htm.
Whether it is the summer weather, bike riders becoming familiar with its presence, or a combination of the two, ridership on the two-way Broadway Protected Bike Lane (PBL) is growing at an encouraging pace.
The first protected bike lane in the central city seeks to separate bicycle traffic from vehicular traffic and runs for 1.2 miles along the east side of Broadway from Denny Way to Yesler. A new road surface, bike friendly drainage grates, and painted green bike lanes enhance bicycle safety and mobility. The PBL opened to bicyclists in early May, although a short four-block section (Denny to Union) opened last October.
SDOT started counting the number of cyclists using the PBL in January, when its weekday average use was only 270 bicycles, no doubt a reflection of winter weather and that only a short segment had been opened at that point. By May, when its full length was open, the weekday average had grown to 464 bicycles, and then in June the figure shot up to 562. (The highest single day count was 660 bicycles on Monday, June 30.) The count, tabulated by the hour, shows that the heaviest use occurs during the afternoon commute (5PM-6PM), which is also seen at the other bike counters around the city. The Fremont Bridge is a long established and heavily used bike route, which is demonstrated by its count of an astounding 4,000 daily bicycle trips on an average summer weekday.
The City has not established any ridership targets for the Broadway PBL, although the count will help to evaluate the biking goals listed in the Seattle Master Bike Plan.
The PBL was included with the construction of the First Hill Streetcar at the request of the Capitol Hill community. When opened for passenger service this coming fall, it will operate along a 2.5 route from Pioneer Square to Capitol Hill, with ten stations and six streetcars. Service will run at 10 minutes intervals during peak hours (Monday through Friday, 6-9 AM and 3-6 PM), 12 minutes midday and on Saturdays, and approximately 15 minutes at other times.
Would you like to know more about progress made by the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) on developing a Freight Master Plan? How about a review of the Bridging the Gap (BTG) finances and an update on the 2014 BTG work plan implementation? Would you like to meet new folks and find out how you can get engaged? If you answered yes to any of the above questions, you are in luck!
The BTG Levy Oversight Committee has a meeting scheduled for July 29, 2014, 6 – 8 p.m., Seattle City Hall Room 370. The committee is a dedicated group of 15 community members who meet quarterly to review and track the progress of the BTG transportation initiative that was passed by Seattle voters in 2006. They are charged with ensuring SDOT is delivering on the promises made to voters.
Committee members come from all across the city and from all walks of life. They take their oversight and accountability role seriously and they work closely with SDOT to ensure that BTG is not only meeting its goals, but that it is being integrated into the overall goals of the department and the City.
The committee members include:
- Ann Martin, Co-chair
- Kristen Lohse, Co-chair
- Ref Lindmark
- Betty Seith-Croll
- Allegra Calder
- John Coney
- Jeremy Valenta
- Barbara Wright
- Chisula Chambers
- Jessica Szelag, Bicycle Advisory Board member
- Lydia Heard, Pedestrian Advisory Board member
- David Mendoza, Freight Advisory Board member
- Ben Noble, City Budget Director
- Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, Transportation Committee Chair
All committee meetings are open to the public and residents are encouraged to attend and share their views on BTG during public comment. If you are interested in how your tax dollars are allocated, why not mark your calendar and join us July 29th.
For more information, please visit BTG Levy Oversight Committee website.
Please join us next week for drop-in sessions for the Central Area Neighborhood Greenway. Since our last public meeting in February, we have refined options for the greenway route on the north and south ends of the project area.
This greenway is being developed in close coordination with the 23rd Avenue Corridor Improvements Project and will provide a bicycle and pedestrian facility off of 23rd Avenue. The modified 23rd Avenue is being designed to improve mobility through the corridor, but it will not include a protected bike lane (or “cycle track”). People on foot and riding bikes may prefer a calmer route. For those reasons, and to help achieve Seattle’s goal of zero traffic fatalities and serious injuries by 2030, SDOT is installing the Central Area Neighborhood Greenway near this busy arterial.
Neighborhood greenways are safer, calm residential streets that provide a more comfortable environment for people to walk, run and bike. Starting with a good foundation (a street with already low car volumes and speeds), small improvements are made that add up to a big difference. Improvements can include adding speed humps, signage, and pavement markings, reducing the speed limit, and making crossings easier by adding curb extensions, rapid flashing beacons, crosswalks, medians, or traffic signals at busy intersections.
The project is separated into three phases.
- Phase 1 (E John Street to S Jackson Street)
- Phase 2 (S Jackson Street to Rainier Avenue S)
- Phase 3 (E Roanoke Street to E John Street)
Previous outreach efforts focused primarily on Phase 1 of the project. We are completing final design for Phase 1 now and anticipate that its construction will begin this fall.
The drop-in sessions next week will review in greater detail the elements and route options for Phases 2 and 3.
Drop-in Session Details
Phase 2: South Jackson Street to Rainier Avenue South
Tuesday, July 15, 4:30 – 7 PM
St. Mary’s Church School House (611 20th Avenue South)
Phase 3: East John Street to East Roanoke Street.
Thursday, July 17, 4 – 6:30 PM
Miller Community Center (330 19th Avenue East)
Please feel free to come to either session, as we will have knowledgeable staff available to answer your questions and hear your feedback about all details of the project.
For more information about this project, please visit our project website:
If you have questions or comments about the project or drop-in sessions, please contact: Maribel Cruz, Communications Lead (206) 684-7963 • firstname.lastname@example.org
Many in Seattle have been swept up in the excitement of the World Cup. The Seattle Times even ran a front page picture of several hundred soccer fans watching one of the first World Cup games in Nord Alley down in Pioneer Square several weeks ago.
The non-profit International Sustainability Institute (ISI), working in collaboration with the Alliance for Pioneer Square, expects to show 22 of the World Cup matches in Nord Alley this year. This is just the latest example of the alley activation effort that began in Pioneer Square back in 2008 when ISI’s Executive Director moved the organization into the adjoining Nord Building. The City had just removed dumpsters from Pioneer Square alleys in an effort to improve the aesthetics and safety of the alleys, and he envisioned taking it further with a more active use of the alley adjacent to the building.
The group’s efforts led to the first public Nord Alley event in October 2008, when several hundred people enjoyed an evening of food, art, and music. In 2010, the group received a grant to install metal art panels onto which other artists could then install their art. A bicycle repair shop opened in the alley, providing yet another way to activate Nord Alley.
A 2009 contest, cosponsored with SDOT, asked people what they would like to see in Nord Alley, which in turn led to the showing of a number of the 2010 World Cup soccer matches. Showings of the Tour de France followed, along with numerous musical performances and artist displays (many in conjunction with Pioneer Square’s First Thursday Art Walks).
The alley activation success in Pioneer Square attracted the interest of the Seattle Chinatown International District Public Development Authority (SCIpda), who had a similar vision for their own Canton Alley. While SCIpda was the main driver, the Chinatown Historic Alley Partnership (CHAP), a group of community stakeholders, was formed to guide the effort and broaden community support and involvement.
Historically, Canton Alley has served as a hub of commercial, residential, and community based activities. As part of the recent alley reactivation effort, CHAP worked closely with local property and business owners and the Business Improvement Area to implement the City’s Clear Alley Program, removing dumpsters from the right of ways.
For Canton Alley, located right next to the Wing Luke Museum, CHAP envisions street pavers running down the middle of alley, with lanterns hanging from the adjacent buildings. The community’s long term goal is to bring businesses back into the currently vacant storefronts to help draw in more foot traffic. Like its Pioneer Square neighbor, Canton Alley serves as an ideal location for established popular International District outdoor events, and has hosted numerous community events in the last three years, including Dragon Fest, Jam Fest, and alley parties.
SDOT stepped up its own support for alley activation with the 2011 SDOT Director’s Rule creating the designation of “festival streets” that permits the use of a single year-long street use permit for multiple pedestrian friendly events. Nord and Canton alleys are two of the three streets to have obtained the designation.
For only $800,000-$900,000 (including both design and construction) it is expected that both alleys will be repaved in the second quarter of 2015. By this time next year, both are expected to be alive with activity, and serving as examples of how alleys can be valuable community resources and how neighborhood groups can work with SDOT and other City departments to create a more livable and vibrant community.
This summer SDOT is installing speed humps in school zones at four schools in Seattle. (What’s a speed hump, you say? See our previous blog posting for the technical explanation). Lowering vehicle speed is one of the ways SDOT improves safety on the walking and biking routes to school. National studies show that a relatively small reduction in speed can make a big difference in safety for pedestrians. In Europe, speed humps are sometimes called “sleeping policemen” because they reinforce slower speeds and good behavior even at times when school is not in session, making schools and playgrounds more accessible to neighbors at all times of the day, throughout the year.
Research shows that speed humps are an effective tool not only at reducing speed but also at improving safety. The Institute of Traffic Engineers found a 13 percent reduction in collisions at locations where speed humps were installed. After SDOT installed speed humps near Graham Hill and Highland Park Elementary Schools, the percentage of drivers exceeding the speed limit by more than 10 miles per hour decreased by 80 percent at each school.
Speed humps will be constructed on NE 130th Street near Olympic Hills School; on NE 80th Street near Thornton Creek School; on 30th Avenue NE near Eckstein Middle School; and on 30th Avenue SW near Roxhill School and Explorer Middle School. Construction is expected to be completed by the end of August, ready to serve school safety on the first day of school in September.
For more information about SDOT’s Safe Routes to School program, please visit our website: http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/saferoutes.htm
If you have questions or comments Safe Routes to School, please contact: Brian Dougherty, SDOT’s Safe Routes to School Coordinator by phone at 206-684-5124 or email at email@example.com