Solid Gold! Seattle is Bike Friendly

Great news for the City, and its work on making bicycle riding a great travel option for all ages and abilities. Seattle’s designation as a Gold Level Bicycle Friendly Community was recently renewed by the League of American Bicyclists. Seattle is part of a select group of 335 communities in all 50 states (Washington ranks #1) that is committed to improving health, safety, and quality of life, by implementing projects and programs that support bicycling. Seattle is among 21 Gold communities nationwide, four cities nationally have reached Platinum designation (Davis, Boulder, Fort Collins and Portland). We’ll continue to work towards this goal.

 
“Visionary community leaders are recognizing the real-time and long term impact that a culture of bicycling can create,” said Andy Clarke, president of the League of American Bicyclists. “We applaud this new round of communities for investing in a more sustainable future for the country and a healthier future for their residents.”  More information about the program is available here.

 
The league was especially interested in Seattle’s commitment to equity, as reflected in the 2014 update of the Bicycle Master Plan. Seattle was asked to write a guest post for the News—the League blog— to share more about the importance of equity in our planning and project delivery processes, which you can find here.

Rainier Vista Traffic Safety Play Street - Oct.  2014

Rainier Vista Traffic Safety Play Street – Oct. 2014

Thanks to a mild winter, bicyclists are getting around without dealing with extreme wintry weather

“Oh, the weather outside is frightful”… Actually, the weather has been very favorable for biking here in the northwest this past fall and winter. Mother Nature has provided us with mostly decent conditions; the mild weather has also allowed Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) crews to complete work on the many Bridging the Gap (BTG) bike projects across the city. BTG is the nine-year, $365 million transportation initiative that was passed by Seattle voters in 2006. It provides key funding for many projects across the city including implementation of the Bicycle Master Plan.

Freshly restriped Bike Lane

Freshly restriped Bike Lane

2014 has been a solid year for BTG cycling projects across the city and SDOT crews have wrapped their work. This year four miles of neighborhood greenways were installed, 60 miles of bike lanes and sharrows were restriped, 25 miles of bicycle route signage and more than 500 bicycle parking spaces were installed at key locations across the city. In addition, SDOT crews inspected 40 miles of trail across the city was inspected and made improvements to 10 key locations. All this work helps make bicycling in Seattle easier and more accessible to everyone.

 

New Bike Route signs

New Bike Route signs

So get out, take advantage of this unseasonably nice weather we are seeing and enjoy the many new projects completed by SDOT this year. We look forward to enhancing mobility in the coming new year by continuing more Bridging the Gap projects.

urban treespeeps at Fremont BrdgRESIZE

BTG funding provides maintenance to Seattle’s roads, bridges, stairways, sidewalks and bike facilities with the goal of making it easier for all users to get around the city more easily and safely. For additional information on BTG and the work it does please visit the web page.

Getting around with help from the holiday construction moratorium in Seattle

Seattle Department of Transportation generally does not allow construction work during the winter holidays in streets or sidewalks located in the Downtown Retail Core and in Pioneer Square. This ban on construction helps Seattle businesses during the peak shopping season and reduces traffic congestion during this busy time of year. The moratorium period is from Thanksgiving Day through January 1. Exceptions are allowed for emergencies and for special conditions authorized by the Director of the Seattle Department of Transportation.

Blog Map for 12-5-14

 

The boundaries of the two areas are: Central Retail Shopping District: Seneca Street, 1-5 Freeway, Denny Way, Virginia Street and 1st Avenue; Pioneer Square District: Columbia Street, 2nd Avenue, 2nd Avenue South, South King Street and Elliott Bay.

 

For more information, call 684-ROAD (7623).

Completing Connections – New and improved SR 520 West Approach North Bridge Project Update

The new and improved SR 520 is coming to Seattle, with work continuing to the complete the anticipated connection.  WSDOT is building the West Approach Bridge North Project (WABN) that will be nearly as long as the new floating bridge itself. The Project addresses the vulnerability of the existing west approach bridge’s hollow columns which could fail during a significant earthquake. The  new West Approach North Bridge will be a seismically sound structure, built to modern earthquake standards.

The new, 1.2-mile-long replacement will carry three westbound lanes of traffic (including a new HOV lane) from the new floating bridge to Seattle’s Montlake Boulevard interchange. The new bridge section is expected to open to drivers in 2017, about a year after the new floating bridge is completed. The new bridge section will  have a 14-foot wide cross-lake path for pedestrians and bicyclists that will stretch from the Eastside to Montlake.

SR  520 Blog Pix 12-10-14

WABN will have wider, safer lanes, and shoulders that allow vehicles to pull off the road in the case of a breakdown.

SR 520 Blog Pix2 12-10-14

WABN will complete the bicycle/pedestrian connection across Lake Washington with a new, 14-foot-wide regional shared-use path.

SR 520 Blog Pix3 12-10-14

WABN will extend transit/HOV lanes from the Eastside across Lake Washington to Montlake.

SR 520 Blog Pix 4 12-10-14

WABN’s new shared-use path will include “belvederes,” or viewpoints, for resting and enjoying the views.

 

Trees & Sidewalks Operations Plan Ready for Comments

So you’re out for a stroll in your neighborhood and you come across a sidewalk that’s starting to buckle. As you take a closer look, it’s easy to tell that the roots of the large, beautiful tree next to the sidewalk are the cause of the problem.

Street trees and sidewalks both play vital roles in our public realm, helping to make Seattle more livable and sustain our quality of life. It’s not unusual to find examples of trees and sidewalks in conflict, especially in older neighborhoods with more mature trees.

But what to do? No one wants to lose a tree, but we need our sidewalks to be flat enough and wide enough for people to use. To help answer these tough questions, SDOT has developed a draft Trees & Sidewalks Operations Plan to help us better address common conflicts between trees and sidewalks.Plan Cover

The purpose of the operations plan is to be clear about our responsibilities and processes and to provide guidance on installation, repair, and maintenance of sidewalks and street trees in Seattle. The plan includes the following sections:

  • Best practices research from around the country that can inform the work we do in Seattle;
  • A transparent decision process that explains how we make choices about keeping or removing a tree;
  • A toolkit of solutions that we can use to plant and retain healthy trees and provide accessible sidewalks; and
  • Three case studies that put the decision process and tools to the test.

 

The operations plan is available for you to review on our website, at http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/treesandsidewalks.htm. All comments are welcome and must be received by Tuesday, January 20, 2015. Please take a minute to look through the plan and share your thoughts with us!

2014 Sidewalk Construction complete courtesy of Bridging the Gap!

How many miles of sidewalk can be found in the City of Seattle? More than 2,200 miles! That’s a lot of sidewalk; however, we have a ways to go before the network is complete. Sidewalks play an important role in our communities, they connect us and provide safe alternatives to get from home to work or school or play. Thanks to the Bridging the Gap (BTG) Transportation initiative, passed by Seattle voters in 2006. Since 2007, more than 100 blocks of new sidewalk have been constructed across the city and in 2014 seven blocks have been constructed making the 9-year goal of 117 now within reach.

 

A key part of BTG has been the development of a Pedestrian Master Plan (PMP). The PMP is a long-term action plan to that establishes the policies, programs, design criteria and projects that will further enhance pedestrian safety and access in all of Seattle’s neighborhoods.  The plan serves as a guide for SDOT as decisions are made regarding new sidewalk construction.

 

Sandpoint Way NE

Sandpoint Way NE

Completed 2014 BTG sidewalk projects:

 

New sidewalks provide the key connection within and between our neighborhoods. They make it easier to get to school, to work and to use transit. For more information on the completed 2014 projects please visit SDOT’s Sidewalk Development Program webpage. The list of projects for 2015 will be posted soon, so remember to check back!

For information on BTG and the other projects funded please visit their webpage.

Winter Weather Brochures Available Now

SDOT’s annual winter weather brochure is available now and has a large map of Seattle’s snow and ice routes, lists important telephone numbers and websites to use during winter storms, and offers preparedness tips.

We work closely with King County Metro Transit, the Seattle School District, local universities, and hospitals, to ensure our snow-fighting work maintains mobility for people and goods, and access to the region.

Winter Weather 2014 MapThe snow route map shows where we will focus our snow-fighting efforts. Those streets will be treated with de-icer and plowed when the storm hits. Now is a good time to plan routes to get to work, the grocery store, child care and medical appointments.

 

The brochures are free at Seattle Public Library branches, Neighborhood Service Centers, and available soon at Seattle Parks Community Centers.

 

They are available in 10 languages including: English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Tagalog, Somali, Oromo, Tigrinya, and Amharic.

 

We’ve distributed brochures to Seattle public elementary schools students to share with their parents and families, in addition to local hospitals and community organizations.

 

The Winter Weather and Snow Route Map for 2014/2015 are viewable and downloadable at the following link: http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/winterweather.htm

Bridging the Gap – Working to keep everyone safe!

Safety is one of the highest priorities for the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) and we give it a lot thought and are always working to make needed improvements to keep all roadway users safe. Guardrail and crash cushions are two items that we give little thought to until we need them. And hopefully, you will never need them.

 

Crash Cushion 12-2-14

Thanks to the Bridging the Gap (BTG) transportation initiative, SDOT crews are able keep the city’s crash cushions and guardrail upgraded and in good condition. Even though this program is one of the lesser-known items funded by BTG, it provides a vital safety net. In 2014, 820 linear feet of guardrail has been upgraded and installed and 12 new crash cushions have been replaced. SDOT will continue to make upgrades to these important pieces of transportation infrastructure.

 

BTG programs are working hard to make Seattle streets safer for all users! For more information on BTG please visit the web page.

Seattle’s First Bicycle Leaning Rails – Coming soon!

Hey bike riders – Looking for a place to rest an arm or foot when you’re stopped at a light? You’ll be able to soon. As part of the Seattle Bicycle Master Plan and upcoming safety improvements to the area, the City of Seattle is installing our first set of bicycle leaning rails at the intersection of the Burke-Gilman Trail and 25th Avenue NE next month.

LeaningRail

Already utilized in Copenhagen, Denmark, and recently installed in Chicago, leaning rails are convenient structures that allow bicyclists to rest their foot and have something to hold onto for balance while waiting at the traffic light rather than using traffic light posts or other poles around them.

In addition to the leaning rail, a push button will be installed directly in front of the hand rail for people on bikes to initiate the bicycle and pedestrian crossing phase. The new leaning rails on the Burke-Gilman Trail near 25th Avenue NE will also help align bike riders to one side of the trail so the sidewalk is kept clear for pedestrians, making it safer for all to cross the street.

As this the first project of its kind here in Seattle, the installation will be a testing ground for SDOT. We’ll be evaluating potential future sites, as appropriate. If you have questions or comments about the project, please email walkandbike@seattle.gov or call 206-684-7583.

Additional improvements to this intersection include:

  • Upgraded curb ramps to be compliant with current Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards.
  • Signal modifications for a new protected bicycle/pedestrian phase for the south crossing on the Burke-Gilman Trail with bicycle icon signal heads and push buttons.
  • Signal modifications to accommodate a new right-turn only pocket and protected turning phase on the west side of the intersection for eastbound motorists on NE Blakeley Street.

We will also be improving the intersection of 30th Avenue NE and the Burke-Gilman Trail by building a raised crosswalk to alert drivers of this crossing and slow vehicle speeds. Raised crosswalks also help improve visibility between motorists and pedestrians and help maintain a level crossing for people biking, walking or with disabilities. You can learn more about the project, construction timeline and impacts by visiting our project Web page: www.seattle.gov/transportation/UnionBlakeleyImprovements.htm.

Pedestrian access during construction

The Access Seattle Construction Hub Coordination Program is a new effort to limit mobility impacts from multiple simultaneous construction projects in close proximity–otherwise known as hubs. With unprecedented levels of development underway in Seattle maintaining access can be challenging. The hub team is making progress incrementally, across all travel modes. Site coordinators bring together leads from all public and private projects in a hub to encourage:

  • Pedestrian detours to the opposing sidewalk at the nearest crossing;
  • Advanced warning signs for closures and detour signs ; and
  • Walkthrough scaffolding, to provide overhead protection and full-time ped access
SidewalScaffoldHarrison

Walkthrough scaffolding newly installed along Harrison St. near 9th

 

The idea is to limit mobility impacts while helping the work get done safely and efficiently. Solutions like walkthrough scaffolding help contractors as well, providing overhead storage space. And detour signs showing specifically where to cross can improve safety and keep construction moving without interruption.

An example of recent hub work to coordinate pedestrian traffic is the newly installed walkthrough scaffolding along Harrison Street, in South Lake Union. The hub team worked with the contractor on construction at 400 9th Avenue to arrive at the solution. Development has created challenges in the area so more coordination is underway.

 
The Construction Hub Coordination Program is new this year from the Access Seattle Initiative, but it’s off to a running start (as pedestrian pathways allow…). Results from work by the small but nimble team can be seen in Capitol Hill and South Lake Union and West Seattle and in growing areas across the city. If you have questions about the program:

Email SDOTConstructionHub@seattle.gov or

Visit www.seattle.gov/transportation/hub.htm

 

P.S. For more on pedestrian access during construction and the Access Seattle Hub team effort, view the 11.26.2014 KING 5 TV “Solution to closed sidewalks? Open communication story.