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Archive for 'Bikes'

Earth Day is Next Week! Do Your Part, Ride a Bike!

041614 Bike Lane RESIZEDid you know that using a bicycle has virtually no carbon footprint and is the most energy efficient form of transportation ever invented?  Riding a bike instead of driving a car reduces the amount of paved surfaces needed for travel lanes and parking lots; reduces energy consumption; and reduces air pollution. A 4-mile bicycle trip keeps about 15 pounds of pollutants out of the air we breathe.

There are other good reasons to use bicycling as a form of transportation. Since it’s easier and cheaper to park a bike, your commute could be the best part of your day instead of the worst part of your day. You could save on the membership to a health club by getting your exercise bicycling to work, school, shopping, etc. It’s a healthy family and friends activity, and, best of all, it’s just fun.

Did you know May is Bike to Work Month? With all these good reasons to ride a bike, you may want to think about taking the Cascade Commute Challenge. Cascade’s Commute Challenge is a friendly and free competition that is open to anyone who is willing to bike just 4 commute trips during the month of May.

141714 BMP familyRESIZEIf you’re a new bike commuter, Cascade offers free classes and weekly information on safe bicycling practices. Team captains and fellow bike commuters are a fantastic resource as well.

If you’re an experienced rider, sign up to be a captain. You can be that person who introduces someone to the simple joys (and practical benefits) of bike commuting.

If you’re a transit rider or carpooler, you can have the best of both worlds. The commute challenge counts one-way or partial trips. Take the bus to work and bike home – it counts (the bike miles, that is)! Bus or carpool part way and bike the rest – it counts!

If you’re an employer, you can increase bike commuting at your workplace by simply promoting the commute challenge to your employees. The team captains will take it from there. You can do more, though. Check out Cascade’s Employer Toolkit for suggestions on how to make the most of Bike Month.

041714 Sara and Allison RESIZESo, what are you waiting for? Join in the fun and join a Bike to Work Team today!  Visit the Commute Challenge website for more information.

Are you a City of Seattle Employee?  Stop in at the “Getting Started” City Bike Expo on Thursday, April 24, 2014, at the Seattle Municipal Tower and learn about the City Employees’ Bike Commute Program and facilities. You can also sign up for the Commute Challenge, practice loading a bike on a bus rack, learn about good routes and equipment choices from coworkers, take a Bike Commute 101 class, and learn how to fix a flat. For more information about the Bike Expo, Bike to Work Day on May 16 and the Bike to Work Month Challenge, go to your My Trips website or contact Eric Mamroth at (206) 684-5420 or

For references and more benefits of bicycling, visit



A Bike Plan for All Ages and Abilities

bmp_cover_blogPeople who live and work in Seattle want choices about how they get around the city.  They think about safety, convenience and cost when deciding how to travel.  Increasingly, people also look for forms of transportation which improve their health and let them see more, experience more, and appreciate the natural beauty of the city.  Biking is one tool to meet Seattleites’ travel needs.

For the last two years SDOT staff has been working with members of the community to update the City’s Bicycle Master Plan, with the overall theme of increasing the number and types of people who would be willing and interested in riding a bicycle in the city.  SDOT learned throughout the planning process that one of the main factors keeping more people from bicycling is a concern about safety; many people do not feel safe riding a bicycle on busy streets.  With that in mind, the updated plan was developed with a vision that riding a bicycle would be a comfortable and integral part of daily life in Seattle for people of all ages and abilities.  The updated plan focuses on bicycle facility types that would feel safe and comfortable for a larger number of people:  either neighborhood greenways, which are bike lane KevinO'N RESIZEsafer, calmer streets for people walking, biking and driving; and protected bike lanes (also called cycle tracks), which are on busier streets with a buffer between people driving.  Broadway’s Protected Bike Lane in Capitol Hill is opening in May. Be sure to check it out! The plan also includes expanding upon Seattle’s great system of off-street paths (such as the Burke-Gilman Trail).  In addition, the plan also identifies a number of other actions to make bicycling (and all travel) safer, including education on the rules of the road.

Earlier this week, the City Council unanimously adopted the updated Bicycle Master Plan, and indicated their strong support for achieving this vision over time.  The final plan can be found on our web site. SDOT is already taking action to turn lines on a map into projects. Planning, design and construction for several neighborhood greenway projects is underway. And SDOT is kids on bike traffic circle RESIZEpreparing a 3-5 year implementation plan which will be reviewed by City Council this summer.  This effort will inform all community stakeholders about what the priorities for implementation are in the near term.   For more information on bicycle projects that SDOT is working on now, and other actions that the City is doing to promote safe cycling, visit our bike program web page.


Burke-Gilman Trail Detour and Improvements Open House

Burke Gilman Trail detour map 041114Work has already begun on construction projects to improve the Burke-Gilman Trail and the surrounding areas, and more construction is on the way. This includes the Montlake Triangle and Rainier Vista, Maple and Terry halls, the new Sound Transit Link light rail stations and power upgrades by Seattle City Light.

Beginning this spring, University of Washington will close portions of the Burke-Gilman Trail between Brooklyn Avenue Northeast and Mason Road, just east of the Rainier Vista, to facilitate these projects and the construction of a new, wider Burke-Gilman Trail with separation for people who walk and people who ride bikes, dozens of new lights, more blue emergency phones, better trail intersections and ADA access, and improved sightlines. Construction on phases of these projects will begin at different times, but by Summer 2014 the full detour will be in place.

We want to help keep you safe and informed during this detour! Watching out for each other–whether walking, riding a bike, or driving a vehicle–is a shared responsibility. Take extra care during the construction. Look out for other road users and make eye contact or wave to others – the more awareness motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians have, the more we can better ensure everyone’s safety.

UW Transportation Services will have more information about the detour and improvements to the Burke-Gilman Trail at the Gould Hall Atrium on April 17, 2014 from 4:00pm to 6:00pm. For questions or comments please send them to Brian Ho,


Got a great idea fort a Safe Routes to School project?

We’re now taking applications for Safe Routes to School mini-grant projects

The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is now accepting applications for mini-grants of up to $1,000 to fund projects that educate students about pedestrian and bicycle safety and encourage walking and biking to school. Making the choice to walk and bike to school reduces pollution and congestion near schools and provides quality time for parents and kids to spend together. Programs funded by the SDOT mini-grant not only increase safety around schools, but also help kids learn earth-friendly ways of getting around their neighborhoods.

In a change from previous years, the mini grant program will now have two funding rounds each year: Fall and Spring. The new Spring funding round will provide funds to grantees in time for Fall school activities, such as the International Walk to School Month in October. Applicants are eligible to receive a grant once per year. Private and public schools, PTAs, neighborhood councils, local advocacy organizations, and other school-related 040714_ SRTS_Walking Bus_Photo4 2 RESIZEnonprofit groups may apply.

Mini-grants can fund a wide range of projects and programs at schools. The activities must support the overall goal of improving safety and encouraging more walking and bicycling to school, but otherwise, we are open to your creative ideas. Examples of past mini-grants have included helping schools and non-profits start student safety patrols; launching anti-idling campaigns; installing pedestrian crossing flags; developing and promoting school traffic circulation plans; hosting walk and bike to school month activities; leading walking school buses and bike trains; and educating kids on bike safety. The possibilities are nearly endless!

If you have an idea for a safety education or encouragement program, please visit our website for more information on how to apply for a mini-grant.  In addition to the application, a letter of support from the school principal must be e-mailed, mailed, or faxed by the application due date. For questions, contact Ashley Harris at Completed applications are due April 30, 2014 by 5pm and recipients will be announced by June 6, 2014. Funds will be distributed in July 2014.


A Greener City; A Greener Belltown

A recent view of Blanchard Street in Belltown looking west to the waterfront.

A recent view of Blanchard Street in Belltown looking west to the waterfront.

Fresh tulips at the Pike Place Market and the moments when our famous Seattle grey sky gives way to the sunshine are clear signs that spring is here. It’s the time you are reminded to start  planning for that garden in your backyard;  but you know you first have to figure out the prep work for all the work that is to be done and supplies need to be gathered.

The “garden prep-work” is exactly where the minds of the staff are for the Waterfront program. Since the Office of the Waterfront program is currently moving along the schematic design from 30 percent to 60 percent, we are trying to map out where the team can make needed improvements to reinvent the public spaces along the Waterfront.

A greener Belltown might look like this.

IN the future, a greener Belltown might look like this.

One of our main goals is to improve local public and green spaces for everyone in Seattle to enjoy.  One example of this work will be the transformation of the Belltown corridor.  The team has been developing a distinct planting area, which will bring back a mixture of native plants to the Belltown spaces and tell the story of the region’s diverse ecosystem.

The Belltown planting is inspired by the Puget Sound bluff ecosystem and will try to capture similar topography as it cascades down to meet the shoreline. The plantings along this area will likely be deciduous tree species along the bluff slopes; conifers along the top of the bluff where the ground is more level; and various shrub species that are typically found in the Pacific Northwest understory.

You can check out more of the Waterfront program planting layouts here.


Urban Planners and Traffic Engineers for a Day!


About 45 folks gathered last week to help a team of professionals design a Festival Street for the heart of Georgetown.  The design workshop was a four hour long engagement between those who hold Georgetown near and dear (mostly business owners, employees, artists and residents) and the professional team of designers and engineers who needed the community’s input on the project.

On this project the community is defining the scope and nature of what will be done – in part because what makes a great street for holding festivals depends on what the community wants.  Festival Streets are, after all, a non-arterial street that is “designated for recurring temporary closure to vehicular traffic use for the purpose of pedestrian-oriented special activities” – such as the Georgetown Carnival and Honkfest.

The Georgetown Community Council, the Georgetown Merchants Association and the United Artists of Georgetown are all involved in, and enthusiastic about, the project.  An eight member citizen advisory group, formed in February, will continue to meet with the project team to select an alternative and to refine the design over the next year.  The project is expected to be built in 2015.

The Georgetown Festival Street was one of just 12 projects selected by the Bridging the Gap Oversight Committee to receive Neighborhood Street Funds last year.  The project will also benefit from the One Percent for Art program, with the selection of Georgetown artist extraordinaire Chris McMullen in the project.


What are Your Commute Benefits?


Vanpool Pic RESIZED

This month we’re focusing on commute options for getting to and from work. Earlier in the month we talked about how Washington State’s Commute Trip Reduction law was yielding great results, with Seattleites taking transit in record numbers. This week we thought we’d tell you a little more about the types of benefits employers offer to help make your commute easier and cheaper. With so many different ways to get to work, there are a lot of options. So, what are some of the things that employers are doing? Read on.

ORCA Cards
Many employers pay part or the full cost of an ORCA card, making it more convenient to take transit. A monthly pass has a value of over $1000 a year, a pretty big benefit for you.

Bike Rooms
Employers are building or retrofitting existing space to store bikes, fix a flat, and change for work. Many bike rooms come equipped with tools and repair stands to make your commute as easy as possible.

Bike Fleets
Did you know your company may have its own bike fleet.  Employers are investing in bikes and helmets for off-site meetings or quick trips across town.

Carsharing  Memberships                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Your company may pay for your membership to Zipcar or car2go. Check and see if they have a promotional code, sign up, and try out the cars for the day or for a quick trip across town.

Cheap Parking. But only if you carpool or vanpool!
Many garages offer great parking discounts to employees who car or vanpool together. Sharing your trip can save you more than 50% on gas and parking costs. Check out to see if there’s someone near you looking for a commute partner.

Commute Counselling!
Employers are bringing in experts from places like Commute Seattle to help you find the quickest route to work, learn to commute by bike, or try out any of the great new apps to make your commute easier – OneBusAway, CycleTacks, Ridescout, TaxiMagic, etc. Contact Mark Melnyk at SDOT’s Commute Options program if you’d like more information on these types of services.

Ask your employer what commute benefits they offer – things may have changed since you first started.  And the next time you’re thinking about a new job, consider how commute benefits can add up. Seattle Magazine’s February 2014 article on the fastest growing employers  in the region also offers a good summary of which companies offer commute benefits.




The parklets are coming, the parklets are coming!

parklet map 2014r RESIZED

2014 Pilot Parklet Locations Selected

After reviewing applications from businesses and community groups throughout Seattle, we’ve selected 10 new parklet hosts to participate in an extension of the Pilot Parklet Program. These hosts will work with us over the next several months to design and permit parklets for their neighborhoods with the goal of opening early this summer. The new parklet hosts and locations include the following:

  • Hillman City — Tin Umbrella Coffee Roasters (5600 Rainier Ave S)
  • Madrona — Bottlehouse and Hi Spot Café (1416 34th Ave)
  • Central District — Cortona Café (2425 E Union St)
  • Capitol Hill — Lost Lake Lounge and Comet Tavern (10th Ave and Pike St)
  • Downtown — Urban Visions at the Chromer Building (1516 2nd Ave)
  • Denny Triangle — Seattle Children’s Research Institute (1915 Terry Ave)
  • Uptown — Uptown Alliance at SIFF Cinema (511 Queen Anne Ave N)
  • University District — U District Advocates (1316 NE 43rd St)
  • Wallingford — Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream (1622 N 45th St)
  • Ballard — Delancey (1415 NW 70th St)

In case you’ve forgotten, we launched the Pilot Parklet Program in summer 2013 to explore how well parklets serve our neighborhoods. Parklets convert a small number of on-street parking spaces into public open space and help to active our streets, promote economic vitality, and create more vibrant neighborhoods. They are privately funded and maintained but open for everyone to enjoy.

We decided to extend the pilot program through 2014 to allow us to evaluate parklets in diverse neighborhoods and conditions before making a recommendation on a permanent parklet program. We asked interested businesses and organizations to submit applications to join the second phase of the pilot, and we were excited by the parklet ideas and level of community support that was expressed in the applications.

Interested in learning more about the new parklets and the Pilot Parklet Program? Check out the program website for the most up-to-date information!


Seattle, Best Scene from a Bike!


Beautiful day on the Elliott Bay Trail. Photo by James D.

Attention Bicyclists:   Take your best shot and share it with us

The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is already gearing up for next year’s Bike Map!  The new map will have a very special new feature – favorite views on Seattle’s bike routes as seen by you!

We’re already accepting photos and will continue to do so indefinitely, but in order to be selected for the 2014 map, we need your best photo by November.  You may submit more than one photo. Since we can’t include all the top submissions given the limitations of the map, we may post the best of the best on our SDOT Flickr website.  We’ll keep you posted and you  will receive credit for the photo.

We expect to receive multiple photos of certain views, but we may not necessarily know the exact location and angle of the photo – so please let us know where the shot was taken, what direction you were facing, and any other perspective details.   We’d love for you to have fun with this and be creative!  Things to consider:  an aspect of biking – a bike part, people biking, a bike sign, etc. We hope to get photos that include Seattle icons – the mountains, space needle, the Ship Canal bridges – something that reminds people of Seattle. Your favorite bikeable destination – places that you can only see if you ride a bike would be awesome.  Your photo might also be a mix of natural and built environments.  You might add a comment such as “Great place to propose to your sweetie.” . . . “Not to miss – the sun coming up.” . . .  “My favorite thinking spot.”

Obviously, we need a photo with as high resolution as possible for reproduction, but it should fit within an email.  Please send your photos to  with the subject line “Best Scene from a Bike”.  We look forward to seeing Seattle through your eyes!


What Does the Green Mean?

Because it’s St. Patrick’s Day, we wanted to get in to the spirit of things and focus on something green. In this case, the green pavement markings near many of Seattle’s new bikeways. So what does the green mean?

Seattle, and cities throughout the country, use the green pavement markings to indicate that a space will be used by both people on bikes and people who are driving. The green pavement lets people know to watch out for each other.

For example, here’s a picture of a two-way protected bike lane (also known as a cycle track) where the green pavement let’s people on bikes know to expect cars coming out of the driveway. Similarly the green also alerts drivers to look both ways before crossing the bikeway.

pic 1 green boxRESIZED

You might also notice the green pavement near right turn lanes. In this case the green pavement is used because people driving will cross the bike lane when making a right turn. Drivers will need to check their right side mirrors for approaching bikes and people on bikes should watch for right signaling cars.

pic 2 green laneRESIZED

Finally one of the other places you might see the green is at a bike box. A bike box allows people on bikes to wait at the front of the intersection at a red light. This allows bikes to be more visible and predictable to drivers at the intersection. If you’re on a bike wait in the green until you have the signal and if you’re driving, remember that when waiting at the intersection stop behind the green to allow space for people on bikes.

pic 3 greenboxlane stopturnRESIZED

To learn more about bike facilities around the city, check out our website.  And remember, whether you’re walking, biking, or driving somewhere, look out for others and pay close attention when you see the green. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!