The People Way

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A lot of #BikeNYC commuters, when you ask, will tell you that they first started cycling during large-scale disruptions to the city’s subway system – the transit strikes of 1980 and 2005, the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001, and in the days after Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

It’s not often cities get advance notice of such disruptions. Next year when the MTA shuts down the L-train for 15 months to repair damage inflicted by Hurricane Sandy, Brooklyn residents will lose a critical transit link to Lower Manhattan. New York City knows this is coming, and needs to do better than its currently woefully inadequate plans to make those 15 months bearable for transit riders – and for everyone else who lives or works along the affected sections of the route. So kudos to Transportation Alternatives for getting out in front of the #LTrain shutdown with its PeopleWay campaign.  Part of the campaign to pressure the city to improve its response to the shutdown includes running weekly biketrains – group bike commutes meant to be inviting for newer riders. I (Kimberly) might be biased — I co-founded  NYCBiketrain, from which TA’s #Biketrain effort draws some inspiration – but they are a great way to invite new folks who think biking might work for them, but could use a little support to get started.

Here in Seattle, transportation advocates are looking at our city’s plans  for when light rail nudges our buses out of the downtown transit tunnel and onto surface streets. And we are seeing signs of the same woefully inadequate response from city and regional agencies. The bus shift to the surface is just one reason we can’t wait for the #BasicBikeNetwork – are you listening, Seattle DOT, Metro, SoundTransit, Mayor Durkan? We need to prioritize moving people over moving cars, today and tomorrow. It doesn’t take a physicist or a transportation engineer to see that establishing dedicated space for people busing and biking that cars cannot easily impinge on is the most efficient way to do that.  It’s also the most fair. PeopleWay Seattle, anyone?

Let’s #ConnectSeattle!

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Lots of other people noticed the small section of truly physically protected bike lane south of downtown I recently pointed out on my Twitter. Even my little Twitter account got 65 ♥!

Here’s the deal, though, this section is still REALLY SCARY. Here’s the area just south of these Jersey Barriers (and hey, there’s even a few flex-posts left standing):

My Twitter post even got a response from Dongho Chang:

But what he linked to  hasn’t been updated since November of 2017.

Moreover, here is the fine print:

This is not acceptable. We already had one person killed on this key piece of bicycling infrastructure.

Let’s #ConnectSeattle and let’s do it BEFORE another person dies to motivate actual action.

Happy Monday After a Good Weekend of Bikecitement

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Washington Bike Law was the Title Sponsor of Bike Works‘ Annual Fundraising Dinner on Sunday.  I’m pretty sure that we weren’t the only ones who had a good time, but we did have a good time… and for a great cause.

If you don’t know about Bike Works, check it out!  And even if you do, check it out, it’s probably even more awesome than you thought.

Here is program director Tina Bechler who was “wheely” good in getting the crowd to realize how amazing Bike Work Programs are… along with the impressive youth who come through those programs:

If you have a couple minutes, you should watch this video about Bike Works. It’s hard to convey how amazing this organization is, but this video shows it pretty well.

To top off this off, on my ride into work this morning, I found the the non-protective spring-loaded plastic cones on a fairly scary bike lane on East Marginal Way had been replaced by big cement barriers… Nice!

This is particularly pleasing because I had no faith in those cones as I watched them regularly get mowed down.

Thanks Dongho! Now let’s protect the rest of this route… and other routes so that everyone can feel safe riding in Seattle.

TV is the Thing This Year… Handle With Care

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Let’s start this post with a soundtrack…

So, what does this song have to do with bikes?

What does this look like to you?

Apparently Tee Vee is STILL the thing here in the USA.

I learned from Bicycling Magazine (which basically lifted a CNN report) that Dutch bicycle manufacturer Vanmoof figured out how to solve a problem with damages in shipping.

More than 25 percent of its bikes were damaged in delivery. The problem was especially bad when shipping to the U.S.

The solution? Reconsider the packaging. “We asked ourselves, what do Americans really love? What would prompt couriers to be delicate with a parcel?” VanMoof co-founder Taco Carlier told CNN. Damages dropped by 80 percent since then, according to the company.
Inside this box…

Is actually this bike:

Nicely done VanMoof!

Focus on Driving

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This morning on my ride to work I noticed a smashed up car pushed off the road along Alki Avenue.

Someone had to be driving pretty fast to push a car off the road (or be pushed).

As my Nordic-American people say, it could have been worse.  In fact, here’s a sign to show how it could have been worse, probably caused in the same crash:

Meanwhile, rather than focusing on the carnage caused by inattentive and/or angry motor vehicle drivers, some people seem more concerned about this “obnoxious” “visual pollution.”

I think we should focus on driving, whether we are the drivers or we are just affected by them.  Cars kill. Tipped over bikes… not so much.

For instance, not much further along my commute, I came upon this car, rapidly backing down the bike path.

Let’s keep our eyes on the ball… or our eyes on the cars.

Eye in the Sky

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Washington Bike Law is helping a new company called Placemeter get accurate traffic counts that can not only specify bikes, people, cars, buses, but track their speeds and directions as well.  It can even count crashes and close-calls.

photo info

Today’s new technology post has a soundtrack… from 1982 (it sounds better than I remember and seems to be on-point here):

How is Washington Bike Law helping?  It’s not by coding I assure you!  Our office is merely a test location for one of the Placementer sensors… we’ve been monitoring the intersection of Second and Cherry for a few months now, including traffic on the Second Avenue Bike Lane.

data

This new technology is starting to get press.  Fortune magazine and Fast Company just did stories on it and… 15 Minutes of Fame… our view over Second and Cherry is in both articles.

2nd and cherry

What about privacy?  Is the “eye in the sky” “The Man“?  Not really.  According to the Fast Company article, Placemeter “won’t use facial recognition to pinpoint individuals, nor will any people watch the video feeds. It is purposefully staying away from any security-related applications or customers … and couldn’t, say, help with a police search even if it wanted to.”

Who cares then?  We do.  Bike people.  Fast Company quotes Placemeter’s CEO Alex Winters as saying that bike activists interested in making the case for bike lanes could find it useful. “Typically, that kind of data has been out of reach for most community groups”.

Now how might more data be helpful in Seattle, land of process and little action?  Consider this recent PI headline:

Superyacht marina ownerclaims Seattle cycle track may threaten environment

The Yachties assert that the Westlake Cycletrack “will create unsafe conflicts between pedestrians, cyclists and commercial business traffic.”

Having easy access to accurate data might help.  We don’t want more endless litigation like with the “Missing Link” stopping transportation improvements.

Perhaps it’s naive to think that facts could help resolve conflicts, but I am hopeful.  And, hey, right now “I am the eye in the sky…”

The Sound of Freedom… on a Bike

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In honor of MLK Day I planned to post this video illustrating what I think might be called “The Sound of Freedom”:

Some people in Washington think that this is the Sound of Freedom:

The purpose of this post is not to debate military issues.  Instead, as a different King once asked us, “can we all get along?”

The answer is yes… through BIKE-partisanship.  Dr. Martin Luther King was a great leader for civil rights… and he rode a bike:

MLK on a bike

Yesterday, as the Seattle Seahawks qualified for the Superbowl, what did Michael Bennett, Jr. do?

He rode a bike.  Riding a bike is a great way to celebrate.  Riding a bike makes the sound of freedom.  Riding a bike makes you King.  And we need more Kings!

Bikes, Skateboards and Ramps… Oh My!

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Recently, I noticed a cement ramp added overnight to a bridge support column for the West Seattle Bridge along the bicycle and pedestrian path.  I suspected that it might be a gorilla skate ramp and, when another skate park item was cemented into the path a week or two later, I was sure of it.

The ramp is on the top of this photo, it’s a bit hard to see, but that’s my concern… someone may hit the side of it and crash.

skate add

This expanding skate park is in the middle of a bike path intersection with limited visibility and bicyclists coming downhill from the right with a fair bit of speed.

I’m concerned that bicyclists and skaters could collide here.

skate bad

Now why would skaters do this?  Aren’t there safer places to skate… like this waterfront space (complete with anti-skating bars and NO SKATEBOARDING signs):

skate why

I suppose I’m willing to cut the skateboarders some slack, but I hope no one gets hurt.

I’ve also noticed some other new ramps in Pioneer Square  that I whole-heartily endorse.

good ramp

Seattle is so inconsistent with its curb cuts for wheelchairs and bicyclists.  Some intersections have them, some do not.  In Pioneer Square there are some very high curbs with no cuts.  At this intersection, the new ramps serve multiple purposes.  They help people on wheels cross the street and the slow traffic on the street making it a safer area for all users.  Well done SDOT!

New Infrastructure Protects Drivers Who Speed into Bike Lanes

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Yesterday I attended the Grand Opening of the new South Park Bridge.  South Park is a neighborhood in Seattle on the other side of the Duwamish River from Georgetown.  I lived there for almost 14 years and know how important this link is to the community.  I was happy to see the bridge finally open.

IMG_3853

Bicycle, pedestrian and transit advocates often criticize road projects for their focus on individual car travel.  The South Park Bridge will benefit trucks, buses, emergency services, as well as single occupancy motor vehicles, and has some significant improvements over the bridge it replaced.  The sidewalks are much safer and there are marked bike lanes on both sides of the bridge.

IMG_3850

But here is the thing that makes no sense to me.  To the right of the bike lane, the area that is supposed to be safe for bicyclists to ride, there is a giant impact absorber.

IMG_3854

This is a city street with, at this time, a 30 mph speed limit.  Someone decided that, just in case drivers veer out of their lane and drive through the bike lane, they should be protected from a high-impact, high speed collision by this impact absorbing device.  People inside steel cages with seat belts and air bags.

You on the bike… good luck.  And wear your helmet… is this the message our infrastructure should send?

There’s No War on Cars; Bicyclists Help Drivers!

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The tired rhetoric of a “war on cars” has yet to be retired.  Recently, an on-line commenter said this:

war on cars comment

to this sad new item:

news

Instead of using inflammatory rhetoric or vehicles as weapons, people who drive and people who ride should both try to actually help each other out.

How do we do that?  It’s easy.  Here’s one example.  Often, when I am at a stop light on my bike, a car will pull up behind me wanting to make a right turn on red.  I move over to the left and frequently get a “thank you” or a thumbs up.  Once, however, I almost got hit by a car sprinting out in the left lane as the light turned green, so be careful being nice…

Yesterday, at a dangerous intersection for bicyclists underneath the West Seattle Bridge, I prevented a head-on collision between two cars.  The area looks like this:

area

It’s frequently dicey for bicyclists in the crosswalk on the left, because cars come around the bend at a high speed and many drivers don’t expect a crosswalk or just don’t believe that they have a duty to yield to bicyclists in it.  I always slow down and stick my neck out to look left before crossing.

As I was doing this, I saw a rental car enter this one-way street from my right.  There is a sign that says do not enter:

problem

But there is also this, much larger, sign before it:

confusion

It can be confusing, especially for an out-of-towner.  “No No NO!” I yelled, “wrong way!”  The driver slowed, then stopped, and he began backing out just as another driver zipped around the corner.  One car on car (collateral damage in the War on Cars?) collision avoided, thanks to a bicyclist.

I know I’m not the only to help out people who happen to be driving rather than riding.  But fewer of us have made movies about it.

A few years ago, some friends and I made “Bike Man Versus the Fossil”, a two minute unedited Super-8 film.  It’s pretty awesome, if I do say so myself, and it’s got a great message: