Community along NE 65th St to gather and discuss Bicycle Master Plan concerns

Ahead of the Bicycle Master Plan Update public comment deadline of Friday, July 26, a group of business owners and residents near NE 65th Street are meeting to discuss the BMP’s proposed cycle track for the Ravenna thoroughfare.

Ravenna Bicycle Path Small Business Owners/Residents’ Work Group
Next Meeting Tuesday, July 23, 7 p.m.
Varsity Restaurant, 2300 N.E. 65th St.

Flyer about the meeting up just outside the Ravenna Varsity. Click the image to see the full version (6.4 MB file).

Flyer about the meeting up just outside the Ravenna Varsity Restaurant. Click the image to see the full version (6.4 MB file).

Concerns about NE 65th St and the BMP listed on the flyer include:

  • Loss of parking along NE 65th St, and cars being displaced to nearly residential streets;
  • Effects during special events (like University of Washington Football home games);
  • Emergency vehicle access to Ravenna Ida Culver;
  • Recommendation for a cycle track on NE 65th St was accompanied by “no empirical evidence to support it,” and no studies (environmental, traffic impact, or economic impact.

For more information about this meeting, residents are asked to contact Mark Briant at mcbriant@seanet.com.

Public comment on the City of Seattle’s 2013 Bicycle Master Plan Update can be sent to bmpupdate@seattle.gov. For a guide on making comments, you can use this form (Microsoft Word or PDF), supplied by the BMP Project Library page.

Comments

  1. AndrewN says

    I’m guessing it’ll be a fair and balanced discussion of the mobility and safety needs of the NE 65th Street corridor… especially with the straightforward logic (“no parking = no customers”) and unbiased language (using “bicycle proponent” to discribe councilmember). It makes sense that someone couldn’t figure out how to park around the corner or walk, bike, or bus it to a business. It also makes sense that the City only wants people to bike, all day, every day. And everyone knows that a master plan with a 20 year timeline is no different than a funded design for construction. /sarcasm

  2. says

    Serious question: The motor vehicle lane near Ida Culver won’t really be blocked by emergency vehicles because those vehicles will actually just block the cycletrack, right?

    • says

      And there’s one of the issues: The proposed cycle track has not been designed yet. Concerns like Ida Culver emergency vehicle access would be part of a later stage in the process.

      I draw analogies to the process happening on NE 75th St right now: Concerns about safety are raised to SDOT. SDOT holds community meetings to collect concerns from residents about the road, which are then used to come up with new roadway designs that address those concerns. Then we all get back together and give feedback about the designs.

    • david katz says

      The cycle track by definition is a barrier that blocks traffic from entering the bicycle lane, if the emergency vehicle could get to the ida culver house that has over 100 elderly residents, it would park in the street. The parking, bus loading, any car access to the ida culver will be taken away by the cycle track. the road is only 36 feet wide along that stretch, there is only room for a cycle track in front of ida culver that takes an entire lane and one lane of vehicle traffic each way. Ida Culver gets nine to ten 911 calls a week. some of those during the day will not get through.

      • says

        There’s no definition for a cycletrack in Seattle. Of the cycletracks implemented in Seattle to date I’ve yet to see one that works exactly any other (or frankly looks like any cycletrack implemented in Europe, New York, Chicago, etc.) I think before we panic about a cycletrack it would be best to understand which flavor of cycletrack is being considered by SDOT for this particular street.

        (The lack of definition isn’t a uniquely Seattle problem as even the USDOT-aligned traffic engineering manuals don’t define a cycletrack.)

  3. Per Johnson says

    No “Anonymous” Comment here. These are my personal thoughts.
    -It would have been nice to see this working group or ANY working group for that matter occur PRIOR to the Northeast District Council, a group representing neighborhood community associations in NE Seattle, taking a formal decision to oppose a generic cycle track proposed for NE 65th Street within a City-wide master plan identifying generic bike facilities and where they may be appropriate City-wide. -No designs or details on any cycle track proposal for NE 65th St has been provided by SDOT at all. There have only been assumptions of what it would look like and what it would mean to businesses by a few vocal opponents (e.g., blocking emergency lanes in front of Ida Culver, etc).
    -The author of the flyer states there’s no empirical evidence to support NE 65th Street as a primary bicycle arterial. However, they provide no empirical evidence to support that “no parking = no customers” Here is a study in New York suggesting bike lanes actually do increase business at locally-based businesses 49% (http://www.scribd.com/doc/155378663/2012-10-Measuring-the-Street).
    -I’m also curious to find out which “community relations professionals” will be assisting to help these voices be heard and who is funding these “professionals.”

    I wouldn’t consider myself an advocate of cycle tracks on 65th necessarily, but I’m in favor of rationale process. A master plan is a high level plan to achieve a goal, in this case increased and improved bicycle infrastructure and bicycle safety Citywide. When it comes time to discussing the specifics of the proposed cycle track on NE 65th Street, then would be an appropriate time to discuss the particulars about why or why not a cycle track and if not, what alternatives exist to achieve the same goals. But this meeting and this reaction, in my opinion, is a response entirely driven by fear of change.

    • Andres Salomon says

      I *am* an advocate for a cycle track on 65th, but the fear-mongering has been absolutely amazing to watch.

      Businesses on 65th near the light rail station need to come to terms with the fact that parking along 65th is going away. That’s all there is to it. It won’t be tomorrow, but it’s coming within the next 20 years. And there’s no need to fear it – there will be 10x as much business due to foot traffic. It’s a light rail station! Anyone who thinks that people are going to drive to the businesses along this corridor have clearly never set foot in another city with functional subways or light rail. The cycle track is almost a footnote in that respect.

      The Roosevelt Plan recently put together by the city (http://buildingconnections.seattle.gov/2013/07/01/roosevelt-neighborhood-streetscape-concept-plans/) talked about consolidating bus stops on 65th, and removing parking in order to make the buses and cars flow better. Sidewalks would also be widened. And that was without any discussion of biking on 65th, on a wider portion of the street (50′).

      More and more things are going to demand those parking spaces when the light rail goes in, as priorities in that neighborhood shift away from cars. Fighting against it is futile.

      • says

        My feeling is that folks along the corridor feel like there has been no process. Many feel like this thing is happening to their street whether they like it or not.

        The time for outreach and communication to *specific* neighborhoods potentially affected by BMP Update changes is probably later, after the plan is adopted. But if the affected folks don’t know what the process is in the first place — or miss the explanation because all they can see are the changes coming — I believe that’s when the fear sets in.

        If business owners and local residents don’t understand bicycle infrastructure and have been going the Way of the Car all their lives, they’re going to need some help getting there. So I think the issue now is: How do we exchange the fear for knowledge?

        I think we all want a vibrant AND safer NE 65th St business district, whatever the street looks like. But we need to get there together. And that’s going to take a lot more communication between all the interested parties, moving forward.

        Thoughts from the Editor’s Desk, if you will.

        • Andres Salomon says

          I can understand the fear, especially if this letter is the first you’re hearing about this. It’s just frustrating to watch people who should know better amplify the fear, and SDOT do nothing to quash it. The NEDC meeting was a perfect example. I’m not going to go into details here, but there were several times when the NEDC’s questions about process went unanswered by SDOT (but ended up being answered by a councilmember staff who was in the audience). That sort of thing really hasn’t helped.

          Exchanging fear for knowledge has to come from the top down, I’m afraid. We can talk about studies and benefits and types of infrastructure all we want, but we can’t answer the question of what SDOT will *actually* do. I suspect that’s what people actually care about. Using the Ida Culver concern, my assumption is that the cycletrack would become a buffered bike lane there, as we’ve seen on the Linden cycletrack. However, I can only guess. Likewise, I can’t tell people when this would be implemented, or even when they’d be able to see (and comment on) an actual design plan. I can’t even say that cycle tracks are guaranteed once other transit modes are taken into account along the corridor.

      • Per Johnson says

        Andres, I’m not coming out and saying that I’m an advocate for cycle tracks on NE 65th St because there’s no design yet and any infrastructure that would be installed would have to be designed to make sure it works for all users (Streets for All, right?). However, I am an advocate for cycle tracks conceptually and for SIGNIFICANTLY increased and improved bike/pedestrian infrastructure on NE 65th St in line with what the BMP suggests.

        I personally agree with your all of your sentiments as well. I will say this though (and this get’s to some of the Editor’s comments too), my personal frustration with the way that SDOT has handled this is not that it hasn’t educated everyone about the benefits of bicycle infrastructure necessarily, but that it’s done in a vacuum. The City has a goal of making streets safer for all. Yet, they’ve got a transportation master plan, a freight master plan, a pedestrian master plan, and a bike master plan (not to mention Metro’s planning for transit and any street car plans out there). How about some attempt to unify and reconcile these plans into an overarching plan that actually considers ALL modes of transportation in context with others. The reference you make to the Roosevelt Plan is a perfect example of perhaps great goals that don’t align. Roads are only so wide and can only accommodate so much. We need some overarching plan, in my opinion, that ties all of these together and attempts to define the slice of pie that each mode gets along each arterial and corridor.

  4. bryant says

    Living in the neighborhood, when I go to the shops on 65th I walk or bike and seldom drive my car. Truthfully though, I rarely head that way, many of the shops with the exception of Third Place books are tired out and in dire need of some updating. There are some current business that look like no one has walked in there for decades, I’ve often wondered if they are even in operation. Are these business owners really worried about cyclists or are they just looking for someone to blame for their own failing business and a generational shift in the neighborhood? If I were I business owner I would want more foot and bicycle traffic, it gets more people to go by slowly and stop on in to spend their $.

    • Matt says

      Our neighbors who have been in their house for decades were of the opinion that the current crop of businesses would have to fail and be replaced before we saw any revitalization on 65th. Sadly, my personal opinion is that, absent something to draw new businesses in, those store fronts would remain empty and yet another brewery would open in Ballard. No, I’m not in the least bit jealous.

    • Rob says

      I entirely agree with “bryant”. If I get in my car, I am going to drive right on by all those businesses to something else. And if I were motivated by easy parking, I never would consider that strip even with the current amount of parking. We do go to several of the restaurants on 65th but not that much. We would be much more likely to go if it were a pleasant bike ride or walk along 65th. I know that many others in the neighborhood are in the same boat.

      I really don’t understand how those business owners miss this. They have all these potential clients in their neigborhood. Instead of advocating for changes that will attract that business, they are doing the opposite. I can’t imagine them being successful much longer if they so completely misunderstand their market. Maybe we will have to wait for all those businesses to fail before we get a commercial district worth going to.

  5. david katz says

    When I read the first comments I get the feeling that some feel the older businesses do not deserve to be on ne65th, and should be replaced by bicycle friendly restaurants and ‘pretty’ store fronts. All of us who own stores on ne65th wake up unemployed every morning until a customer walks in and we make a sale. we serve our community and our customers and the marketplace decides our fate every day. A cycle track will damage the youngest and most fragile businesses by taking away the parking, the ability to even load and unload a delivery in front of their store, make it hard for the majority who arrive by car to find any parking. There are not enough cyclists to support those new businesses, they are one percent of the traffic on ne65th on any given day, in the winter even less.

    The BMP has had ne65th as a line on the map as a cycle track for over a year, and no one from SDOT ever contacted anyone in my neighborhood who owns a business to advise them of these major changes, I found out from a neighbor. When you do go to meetings SDOT only portrays the positive side of biking, no actual picture of the design, don’t you think they are being VAGUE on purpose, to make it easier to push this through with the least resistance? I agree with those who say the process is flawed. The bottom line is the whole community deserves this street for transportation, commerce, and emergency response, the neighbors on the side streets do not deserve a parking war from the car refugees of ne 65th and cars cutting through their neighborhoods. The cyclists are an extreme minority any way you paint this compared to the 14,000 cars a day on 65th near the freeway and 6 to 8000 a day near 25th NE., yet they want to take away ONE THIRD of the road and all the parking, FOREVER. At the meetings I have attended the number one concern I hear from bikers is about safety, and rightfully so. If you want to quote studies, those done in Europe show a ten percent increase in bike/car accidents on a cycle track because while a bike is safe next to the barrier, they have to cross busy arterials, (25ne, Roosevelt way, 12ne etc) and cars make right turns into them at those intersections. Why are we pushing these cars off the street when there is a better, less expensive compromise? NE68th is almost as straight as 65th, it can be developed as a greenway, with the side streets stopped to allow bikes the right of way. It is calmer, safer for bikes and does not push thousands of cars a day off a road, and kill a commercial district with gridlock, pretty stores or not. Please ask yourselves what is fair, should one percent be allowed a third of the road at everyone else’s expense because its politically popular now and a pet project of the mayor? I understand this is generational, and I need to hear that others don’t care about my business and care less if I am here, I respect that, we have faced more difficult challenges, it makes me fight harder for a fair compromise when I hear those other views. It seems to me that to many cyclists cars are an enemy, they tell me a little gridlock for them is good, other bikers understand that cycle tracks are not a safer answer and unfair to the majority of those who still need this road for transit. I ask everyone to work for a compromise that does not give one third of the road away to a small minority, thank you

    • Matt says

      “There are not enough cyclists to support those new businesses, they are one percent of the traffic on ne65th on any given day, in the winter even less.”

      That’s because it’s not currently safe to ride on NE 65th. In Ravenna, 8.63% of our residents commute by bike (http://blogs.seattletimes.com/fyi-guy/2013/02/22/is-your-neighborhood-one-of-seattles-cycling-hot-spots/), which is one of the higher rates in the city. This is well above the rate for NYC, where a newly installed cycle track boosted sales for local businesses by 49% (http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/downloads/pdf/2012-10-measuring-the-street.pdf). A more detailed study in Portland (http://otrec.us/project/411) found that, while it depends a bit on what you are selling, most businesses benefit to some degree or another from having the bike infrastructure.

      I’m sorry if you feel that we’re saying that you “don’t deserve to be on NE 65th”, I don’t personally believe that to be true. What I do believe is that most, if not all, of the businesses on NE 65th are not what I would call a ‘destination business’. That is, if I’m going to get in my car and go somewhere, it’s probably not a NE 65th business. I’m going to go to SLU, Ballard, Capitol Hill, the ID, etc. That’s not an indictment of the businesses but rather a reflection of more mature shopping districts within the city.

      What I would very much like is for NE 65th businesses to be pleasant walking destinations, which they now fail pretty spectacularly at due to the traffic configuration of the street. Let me be very clear about this: my wife and I go to ‘destination businesses’ very rarely, but we’re knocking around the neighborhood on foot ALL THE TIME. We spend a scary amount of money between us at Third Place, with its non-65th street entrance. We also occasionally will take our daughter to Zeek’s, with its clever placement right next to the R-E playground. What we do not do is wander up and down 65th, because it feels like we’re walking along a freeway.

      I personally feel that the businesses on 65th would do better by actively courting locals, but then I do not own a business on 65th and I don’t know the market aside from my own opinions and those I hear from my neighbors.

    • bryant says

      As a home owner in Bryant, the message I hope that business owners on 65th can hear is that we want a thriving business district in our neighborhood. We support local business. We spend money in our neighborhood shops. We moved to this neighborhood because we want to walk and bike to shops, we don’t want to always be in our car. If we did we would have moved to the ‘burbs. We are your local customers…. and we want bike infrastructure! We want to safely get around on bikes with our families to the shops and destinations we travel to.

  6. Ulysses Hillard says

    I am a civil engineer and I commute by bicycle from here to downtown every week of the year that there isn’t ice on the ground. It’s not a saving the world thing. I just do it that way and always have.
    I am not convinced that a protected bicycle lane (aka a “cycletrack”) is the 100% correct approach on NE 65th. I figure that five or ten years is enough time to figure out an overall approach that works much less relatively easy design features like allowing for emergency vehicles, though. I know that part. I have had a hand in accommodating similar design issues.
    The reactions from some of those opposed so far, though, have been so over-the-top, I am worried about the process going forward. I agree with Rebecca. The first step is addressing some of the fear. Given what happened in Roosevelt, I can certainly understand why people might enter into this with less than an open mind.
    One idea: The City just completed a protected bicycle lane (aka a “cycletrack”) on Linden up around N 130th Street. I suggest folks take a look at it if they haven’t yet. It’s not perfect but I suspect SDOT put the first one way up there for just this sort of reason. It won’t get much bike commute traffic but its design shortfalls won’t cause many problems and can be relatively easily corrected. Planners and engineers can learn what works here in Seattle and what doesn’t.

    • david katz says

      I will go up to the Linden location and take a look, have you seen what one style of proposed track would look like at the corner of NE 65th and sand point way ne?

      • Rob says

        I applaud David Katz for engaging in these discussions. Although I am 180 degrees opposed to him about the merits of a cycle track as a general concept, he deserves enormous credit for explaining his position and for being willing to think about the other side’s opinion. Reading his comments have made me do the same from the opposite side.

        I would agree that David and some others will lose customers due to any lose of parking. However, I am firmly convinced it would be more than offset by new customers who come across it on bike or walking because they are moving slowly. I didn’t even know there was a functioning carpet store in my neighborhood until the bike master plan came out. When I am on 65th, it is because I’m driving and it is hard to notice a particular shop when you are moving at 30 mph and paying attention to traffic.

        For all those who are writing to SDOT and city council to oppose the cycle track, I urge you to also present your positive vision for the neighborhood. If you support Greenways, please say so. There is a proposed Greenway on 68th Street, and there is another on 60th through Ravenna Park that would need two new bridges. I think that 60th Street Greenway would be awesome. I really don’t want the anti-cycle track folks to make our entire neighborhood look like anti-change haters. If that happens, we don’t get much bike infrastructure from the city at all. And are probably discredited on a number of future topics we will need to deal with such as the light rail station and increased housing density along 65th Street.

        • says

          And thank you, Rob, for saying that about Katz.

          And Katz:Thank you for joining the conversation here, and being open to going and checking out one of these cycle track things for yourself.

          Whether or not these road design changes come together, one way or the other, meeting in the middle to talk about it all is good for everybody.

          • Rob says

            I don’t think the Sand Point or Linden cycle tracks are good examples, and SDOT has quietly admitted they are still learning how to do cycle tracks. I think the best model would be to look at Dexter Avenue N and instead of the two foot wide striping between the travel and bike lanes, imagine a small, low strip of concrete similar to what exists at the bus platforms.

            In the case of Dexter, buses stop in the travel lane. I have not heard significant complaints about this nor have I seen large back-ups behind the buses. As far as I can tell, Dexter has been a huge success.

            The low strips of concrete are no match for a fire truck or ambulance. Emergency vehicles can go right over the concrete and block the bike lane when necessary, such as in front of Ida Culver House.

            The difference between Dexter and 65th is that Dexter is wide enough for a center turn lane and for parking on one side. It may be that the best option for 65th is a cycle track for most of the length of the street but then have a different set-up in the middle of the business district. These are the kinds of discussions we can have over the next 20 years… which is the length of the bike master plan. Just because the city has proposed a cycle track for 65th, that doesn’t mean it will happen (and surely it won’t) next year nor will it happen without significant input from all of us in the neighborhood.

            And if a cycle track really doesn’t work out for 65th, we will hopefully already have greenways in place and will know how well those work for the neighborhood.

        • david katz says

          thank you Ulysses,, rob and Rebecca for your thoughts and kind words, I also am getting an education regarding this issue and the needs of cyclists, I did not know we had over 8% of our neighbors biking to work. When my sister who grew up here visits, she lives in ballard and bikes everywhere, never renting a car. I firsthand from her it is not always easy getting around that way, especially east west in this city. I also support cyclists who keep fit with commutes and understand its a way for families to spend time together that is affordable.
          I believe in fitness and America in general is too fat and does way too little about it.

          Some here have said over time they should be able to engineer this and get it right. I wish we had that amount of time. From what I can tell public comment will close at the end of july and the city council will vote on the BMP as it is currently written by the end of September this year. Yes they will then have to do some kind of study and engineering to see if it can in fact be done on ne65th and we might see an actual design of the track. They do not have the money to implement all 200 miles of bike lanes in the BMP however they do have the funds for ne 65th . In my mind time is short. This is a pet project of the mayor and he is directing a lot of resources into seeing this happen. As was said earlier, there is a bike master plan, a freight master plan for the city, but a business master plan, not so much. all for now as I tend to ramble on. thanks again for listening

          • Matt says

            I know I’ve heard you say that there is money for the NE 65th track before, but I haven’t heard that from anywhere else. My understanding is that the hope is for the renewal of Bridging the Gap to fund some of this and to pull in funding from other sources as it becomes available.

            I have heard McGinn talk repeatedly about how he feels that downtown should be the priority for cycle tracks, which makes a lot of sense to me since that’s a much hairier part of the city and a big destination for all these bike commuters. If it were up to me, I would start with that and do mostly greenways in the neighborhoods. I do want to see a cycle track or some other traffic calming on 65th, but I don’t think it’s something that needs to get done right away or even all in one go (though I would love an easier route to Greenlake for my daughter’s swim lessons).

          • david katz says

            Matt I am putting this here because I don’t know where else to fit it in. Someone else correct me if I am wrong but I listened carefully to Kevin Oneil from SDOT at the last NEDC meeting and my memory is that he said they cannot implement all the 200 miles of BMP proposed due to money not available for the entire line, however money is available for the 5 miles on ne 65th from the bridging the gap funds

          • Matt says

            Oh wow, I wasn’t there so I had no idea. Everything I’ve been hearing has been about downtown.

  7. Anna Levitin says

    My husband gave me the update and I sent emails to all of the councel members. Today I recieved a response from a Nate Van Duzer on my email to councilmemeber Burgess. apparantly there has been quite a bit of feedback on to SDOT and they will not be submitting a formal proposal to the Council until later this year. “The Council’s Transportation Committee will consider what is submitted in December”. I am not sure if that means they will again make this proposal in December or that they have shelved it. So maybe we have to still remain vigilent.

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