Tag Archives: traffic

Look Both Ways

Tip of the day: crossing busy streets with kids

I see a blue oneCrossing a busy arterial with two young riders is sure to rattle any normally calm, cool and collected parent. Many parents simply won’t do it: “Too many busy roads to cross where I live” is one of the most common reasons I hear from parents for why they don’t get around town on bikes with kids.

How do you get everyone across safely and keep what’s left of your sanity? Like everything else in life, it takes lots of practice. And you have to cross many intersections with kids before it becomes second nature.

We cross several of these intersections on a daily basis and have come up with a system that works for all of us and allows for safe crossing. Continue reading

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Dear SDOT: A little Sand on the Univ. Bridge, please

The only stretch of ice on the whole commute

Day: The only stretch of ice on the whole commute

Glare Ice on the Bike Path

Night: University Bridge: Glare Ice on the Bike Path

To my friends at Seattle DOT,

If, by chance, you happen to read this little blog before heading out Tuesday morning,  I’d first like to mention how much me and my bike commuting buddies appreciate the great job you did clearing the University Bridge deck Monday morning. It was cold but you were out there working it.

Thanks!

With that out of the way, do you mind if I ask a small favor? Is there any chance that you could pretty-please finish the North and South approaches to the deck? It’s very slippery, especially at night.

I know it may not seem like there are many riders out right now, but you’d be surprised: I think more than a few of us would benefit from such an effort.

Keep up the good work!

-Tim

PS: I used your online contact form to report this issue, but it said I’d hear a response in 10 days. I figure it will be 55 F and raining by then, so this venue will have to do.

Fixing our Roads? Check out this Sightline Video

This Sightline video is worth a 44 second watch. Continue reading

Seattle Green Lanes: Laying it on Thick

Green Lanes going in on the South end of Fremont Bridge

A fine SDOT crew was hard at work this morning as I headed into work. Yep, it’s one of the green lanes we blogged about last February. I’m still thinking the green is a bit of “Emerald City” gimick, but it sure looks nifty on a sunny day. Overall, I’m on the fence about their effectiveness, but this individual spot is probably going to get the thumbs up from me.

This lane helps in an odd spot where cyclists are forced off the Fremont Bridge deck/sidewalk and onto the street right where motorists—often feeling rushed and frustrated because they just waited for the drawbridge—need to make an immediate right. Unlike the new Dexter and Green Lake locations, I can imagine this effectively warning motorists that they are crossing a bike lane.

I’m still waiting to hear if the city is going to bother doing anything with the deadly Fuhrman/Bryce Lewis intersection at the University Bridge. I’ve already speculated that fears of admitting liability will keep city officials from acting there. I still hope I’m wrong, because this one needs attention!

Have you ridden any of these “lanes” yet? Lemme know what you think.

edit: added Green Lane Flickr set here

New Bike Lane on 9th: Safety (or is it mail?) First

New Bike Lane on 9th Seattle -- supposedly _much_ safer than Westlake.

You know that new bike lane on 9th? The one the mayor scrambled to say they had been planning all along but didn’t mention until cyclists started protesting the SLUT? The one that is supposed to be way safer than riding near the trolley tracks? Yeah, that one.

Um, apparently not everyone got the safety memo. This was just one of three vehicles I saw blocking the less-than-Nichol’s-sized lane in a mere three blocks. Lots wackiness along this stretch of bike lane—cars parked over the line, doors flying without a care in the world and people swerving in and out of parking places. Finally, Lance’s old team colors put me over the top. I grabbed a photo and bailed.

As one might imagine, I’m not a bit impressed with the engineering or enforcement for this project. Judging from the still impressive volume of bike traffic on Westlake, I think most in-city riders have voted. 9th isn’t going to be worth the trip until such time the city can bother to enforce parking regulations more seriously around bike paths. From what I’ve seen lately, I’m not hopeful.

I met some Cascade Bike Club advocacy guys at trolley talk at REI in March. They say when 9th is done it will be really cool. But they admit it could take a while. For now I think I’m going to take my chances with Westlake. At least I know where the tracks are and I’m unlikey to get doored.

-Tim

Pacific NW Per-Capita Gas Use Down to 1966 Levels

Gas Consumption is DownAccording to the Sightline institute, gas consumption is down in the Pacific Northwest (Oregon, Washington and Idaho. For more stats and details, read the full report.)  In terms of weekly gasoline consumption per person, Oregon and Washington are in the top 10 least consuming states (Washington D.C. actually leads the pack.)

This is good news–way to go northwesterners, but don’t go celebrating just yet.

Our total consumption, keeping pace with population growth, has not dropped. Per-captia we still consume more gas than a handful of states including New York, Hawaii, Rhode Island, Alaska, Utah, Illinois and Pennsylvania. And compared against the world, the report reminds us we still have a long way to go:

Despite recent reductions, northwesterners still consume prodigious amounts of gasoline. Daily consumption in the Northwest states remains nearly twice as high as the global average for high-income countries. 

Continue reading

Life Lessons from a Preschooler

Ghost Bike at Eastlake and Fuhrman
The four-year-old and I journeyed over the University Bridge to pick up some ski helmets we scored on Craigslist. We pulled into the Red Robin parking lot a few minutes early and waited for our helmet connection to show. While we were waiting, the little guy noticed the Bryce Lewis ghost bike memorial on the corner of Fuhrman and Eastlake. Continue reading

Candy Will Keep Them Awake

We went to dinner at my sister and brother-in-law’s house on Saturday night. They live about five miles from us. In the “old days” we would have driven over there. Although I never considered driving this time, the decision to ride did give me pause: it’s a little farther than we normally go with the kids after dark. I wondered how they would do on the back of the bike on the way home. Darkness and kids with full tummies at bedtime is a recipe for some nodding off. But it wasn’t enough to make me take the car.

As we hit the section of the Burke Gilman that passes the dreaded Montlake traffic, we were feeling smug about our decision to ride. We breezed by on our bikes passing all of the cars sitting in traffic. Right on.

Montlake Traffic

We had a lovely time at dinner. And as I predicted, we stayed a little past the kids bedtime. It’s hard to get us out the door when we’re having a good time. To to keep the kids from falling asleep, we fed them sour patch kids all the way home. It turns out candy does serve a purpose.sour-patch-kids-blog.jpg Since the four year old isn’t as skilled as his sister at riding no handed, he and Tim worked out a candy-eating-system. Tim gave the little guy some warning, then he opened his mouth like a baby bird and received his sugar bomb. The seven year old, ever so grown up and composed, casually sat behind me no-handed and fed herself. It worked like a charm – they got just enough of a sugar rush to keep them awake but not too much to keep them from going to sleep once we got home.

We really enjoyed the ride home – there’s something about riding at night that makes me feel extra free. Plus the kids get really excited when they are out after dark, they think they are getting away with something. We even saw a few raccoons peeking out from some shrubs: no big deal to us, but thrilling to kids who usually go to bed soon after the sun goes down. Ah the little things!

– Anne

Bike SLUT Issues Overblown, Says Non-Riding Mayor

I meant to post this before the Portland bike show but ran out of time. I was just going to let it go, but then I came _this_ close_ to crashing on the South Lake Union Trolley (SLUT) tracks on my way home tonight. So…

Old Tracks Make the New SLUT tracks even more dangerous

The Seattle Times is on a roll with cycling-as-transportation articles these days. I normally prefer the PI (mostly because the Times-owning Blethens are idiots obsessed with the estate tax), but these cycling articles in the Seattle Times are nice because they lack the PIs pathetic “Sound Off” public forums—normally a magnet for bike haters.

The article “New streetcar lines should be in center of road, council member says” reports that Jan Drago (and other council members) calling for bike-friendly future trolley development. Overall, good points were made. I must cross SLUT (south lake union trolley) tracks about four times on each way of my commute. It’s horrible. So far I’ve experienced no mishaps (knock on wood) but I have come close. Though the Xtracycles’ long wheelbase has saved my ass so far, I know it’s only a matter of time.

It’s quite obvious to anyone who has attempted to ride in SLU, that the city erred on the side of development (sidewalk boarding, even in the face of known bicycle hazards, was called for by Mr. Allen’s team and other property owners and approved by Mayor Nichols). As a result, bike advocates and now the council think the pendulum should swing the other way on future trolley development.

That’s a good start but it brings me to my beef with our beefy mayor. The article resurfaces a comment made by the Mayor in December where he said bike-trolley safety issues weren’t important. To me, this is the real story and calls into doubt the weight of this weighty mayors commitment to the Bike Master Plan.

In December, Mayor Greg Nickels complained in casual conversation that the bike issue was overblown. -P.I. article

Interim Route ON SIDEWALK?!?In case you haven’t been paying attention, Mayor Nichols has, shall we say, “put on a few pounds” while in office. As someone who is always fighting against weight-gain, I normally wouldn’t say a word about this. However, in this case I think his growing chin count illustrates how the mayor isn’t qualified to speak on the cycling-safety issue. Those puffy cheeks and straining Dockers make it painfully obvious the mayor hasn’t been piloting a bike around the Seattle traffic infrastructure on a regular basis.

So Mr. Mayor, please do me a favor — when you feel the need to talk about how something is not a cycling safety issue just SHUT THE HELL UP.

You have at least one expert on staff. Let them fill you in on the safety angle. If you can’t trust your staff, consider these other options:

  • Give voice to regular bike commuters to discuss their traffic experiences
  • Seek opinion from the Cascade Bicycle Club
  • Copy what they are doing in Portland (everyone else is)
  • Even lean on the folks who are in the trenches.

Yield to PedsPlease, Mr. Mayor, just do whatever it takes to keep your feet out of your mouth. Because until you make an effort to ride your talk and actually try cycling our pathetic infrastructure again, your opinion on cycling safety is worthless.

-Tim

More commute photos in the Car Free Days commute photostream at Flickr

Green Lanes Mean What?

Is this what a green lane will look like?

The Seattle Times this morning published an article on Seattle’s effort to increase cycling safety by installing green lanes — we’re the Emerald City, get it –on four dangerous intersections: Dexter at Denny Way, both ends of the Fremont Bridge, and North 145th where the new Shoreline Interurban Trail meets the city limits.

The article goes on at surprising length about the dangers of the “right hook” accident, about Mayor Nichols’ plan to triple cycling trips, and of course, about how we’re keeping up with Portland on the bike safety front (we’re not) by painting these lines. Continue reading