Bagshaw envisions ‘bike boulevards’ in Seattle

Over the last few years the city of Portland has been adding what are called “bike boulevards” throughout the city. According to Seattle City Councilwoman Sally Bagshaw, Portland has about 50 miles of these pathways. “Their goal, and I love this,” Bagshaw told the Ballard District Council on Wednesday night, “Is that they would make a bike street or walking street so safe that you’d let your 8-year-old daughter be out riding her bike alone.”

An example of Portland’s bike boulevards

The bike boulevard is a tree-lined throughway that has traffic slowing infrastructure along the route. “People can still park their cars along in front of their houses, but then the street itself – every two or three blocks they’d put a large speed bump,” Bagshaw says of Portland’s bike boulevards. “It just slows down traffic so they’re not driving 30-35 miles per hours down the neighborhoods.” Stop signs are placed on cross streets, so the boulevard itself has the right-of-way.

“The neighbors love it because it slows down traffic so much. That again you can be outside, play in the street for the kids but you can ride many, many miles. And this is a street where you’re not competing with cars and trucks,” says Bagshaw.

Bagshaw says a group is forming in Seattle to explore bringing this idea to Seattle. The group will consist of the head of the Seattle Department of Transportation, public utilities, city light, Department of Planning and Development and Seattle Parks & Recreation. Their goal will be to look “at how and where we can take some advantage of these.” Bagshaw says she would like to see these boulevards connecting neighborhood parks together.

“It’s an exciting idea that’s not going to cost a lot of money but connect our parks and also provide safe places for school,” Bagshaw told the District Council. So far two neighborhoods have expressed interest in the park boulevards – Wallingford and Beacon Hill.

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49 thoughts to “Bagshaw envisions ‘bike boulevards’ in Seattle”

  1. Having moved from Ballard to Vancouver, BC for grad. school, I’ll give my 2 cents. I ride my bike much more here in Vancouver thanks to similar ‘bike boulevards’. Instead of speed bumps, cars in Vancouver are forced to turn off of the boulevard every 3 to 5 blocks, while bikes can continue on the same street using a too-narrow-for-cars pathway. Many of these bike boulevards parallel major thoroughfare streets located one or two blocks away, so cars are much more likely to take the major street and avoid the ‘bike boulevard’. I hope this catches on in Seattle.

  2. Several years ago when we wanted speed bumps on our street to slow cars down, we were told we couldn’t have them because they would impede the ability for emergency vehicles to get through.
    As to children playing by or near the streets – not a good idea because the bicyclist in our neighborhood seem to think that both the sidewalk and the street are a race track. They don’t stop for stop and/or yield signs much less people.

  3. This city spends enough time and money catering to cyclists (a very small segment of the population) already. Do we really have to do more?

  4. You would hope they fix the roads they have first , though that require common sense. You are probably not going to get the flame war you expect because everyone knows our local and state governments are unable to accomplish anything new ( good or bad ). McBeard will not be around long enough to see this or any other project complete so this article is pointless.

  5. I disagree – I think they would think this is a great idea since the underlying idea is that bike boulevards are not on heavily used areas in an industrial area. I heard Sally Bagshaw’s presentation last night and it sounds like a great idea.

  6. Bike boulevards, or neighborhood greenways as they are now called in Portland, are a win-win-win (with Adonis DNA and Tiger Blood).

    Relatively cheap, effective at attracting interested-but-cautious cyclists to try riding for transportation, convenient for people on bikes, my favorite bike infrastructure for families, reduces the number of bikes on arterials, and raise property values.

    Ballard, with it’s existing grid of often-traffic-calmed-already neighborhood streets and relative flatness (compared to other Seattle neighborhoods, at least), is perfect for them.

    Thus far, SDOT has done a poor job on the few Seattle has. They need big attractive paint and signage, and some work done on promoting though traffic for cycles while discouraging fast cut-through motorist traffic. Happy to see the Council get a bit of a fever for the boulevards, hope they do it right. If you’ve ridden at all around Portland you know how great they can be.

  7. Yes. If you look at percentages of transportation spending on ped/bike/transit/car, you’ll see that we’re not spending an equitable share on active transportation modes, relative to their share of how people get around. And yes, we all pay for the roads (through property taxes, owning cars even if we prefer to bike, etc) …

  8. I’m mixed on this and in the current economy would rather see the money spent on filling potholes which present a safety hazard for cyclists and motorists. For starters, I already think we have plenty of these streets in our neighborhoods. I’m always puzzled when I see cyclists riding down 24th or 15th when there is a just as fast and way more safe street one block away. Unlike cars, a cyclists maximum speed rarely exceeds the posted speed limit so you can go just as fast down a residential street as you can a major road. I ever ride down 28th which is much more pleasant and faster (no red lights) than 24th. Problem is most cyclists are also motorists so they ride their bikes along the same routes they would take in their cars.

  9. I think this is a great idea, Sally. Maybe the Woodland Park Zoo elephants could use these new bike boulevards to escape their confinement at the zoo and head east to The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee. But, alas, Sally has no compassion for the elephants. She has done nothing to help these long-suffering prisoners who suffer from crippling arthritis, chronic foot infections and colic caused by their living conditions at the zoo. Six-year old Hansa died from a deadly virus and the zoo continues to artificially inseminate her mom, Chai, even though another calf will likely die too. It seems that our City cares more for bike paths than living breathing sentient creatures like elephants.

  10. Without any snark … why? I’m genuinely curious.

    The experience of other cities is that after initial “we fear change” resistance, homeowners are happy to have these traffic-calmed streets that are still accessible for getting to your house, but less friendly to speeding cut-through traffic.

    If your answer is “scofflaw cyclists”, would you prefer speeding motorists?

  11. Reply got moderated due to links … I’ve vaguely heard 5% Seattle spending vs 10% bike/ped all-trips share, and much less spending at state/federal level on active transportation. But I do think there’s plenty of fuzzy in those numbers. And room to argue that the benefits of active transportation call for increased spending relative to current modal share.

  12. Nothing like an out of touch elected official. I don’t let my 9 year old daughter ride or walk alone because I’m concerned she will be hit by a car (OK I’ll give a little concern here), I’m concerned that some pedophile will snatch her off the street.

    Another unicorn riding, rainbow chasing, Portland loving council person.

  13. Another costly idea that does nothing to reduce congested streets. Current McBeard bike ways only narrow existing streets and create dangerous situations where trucks cross the center created by bike ways.
    Bicyclists seem to express a sense of entitlement by riding on sidewalks and streets oblivious to pedestrians and motorists by not obeying any traffic laws. I have seen bicyclists going the wrong way down one way streets in downtown Seattle oblivious to on coming cars that honking at them.

  14. If you build it, they will come (and ride their bikes) :)

    Anything to encourage people to get out of their cars and on their bikes!

  15. Well said.

    The problem with this proposal, like every proposal that comes from this idiot mayor and current council, is that EVERY proposal involves reducing traffic capacity. Traffic in the city is horrible. Yet there is never, EVER the slightest consideration given for maintaing the existing (already bad) traffic flow (never mind, god forbid, improving it). No, every pie-in-the-sky crackpot idea gets floated that will make driving WORSE,

    This city’s so-called “leaders” only make life worse for the poor serfs who have to suffer under their “vision”. There is zero regard for people’s lives and the impact that these proposals have on them.

    IF Seattle’s streets were efficiently handling the traffic that currently jams every residential street (because the arrogant morons running the city keep doing everything they can to destroy road capacity), then it would be fine to take some of the road capacity offline and dedicate it to bikes. But instead, the jackass mayor first wrecks the road capacity, and then – on top of that – proposes taking away even more roads. Oh, yeah – that’ll make everyone’s life so much better.

    Frigging moron. Worst. Mayor. Ever.

  16. Yes, by all means – lets do everything we can to make life as miserable as possible for anyone who dares to own a car. The war on drivers continues!

  17. Imagine 22nd Ave NW from 85th down to Market a bike boulevard. A small detour toward 20th Ave NW would connect Loyal Heights Park, Salmon Bay Park, and downtown Ballard. So much better than “sharrows” on 24th where bikes compete with arterial traffic.

  18. Pray tell, when was the last pedo-snatching? Did I miss that news flash? Depending on the street, I too must have missed the kid hit by vehicle story. Enlighten me so I too can crawl under a stone and keep my kid in a bubble.

  19. as i recall, nichols supported this craze. mcginn has just put it into hyperspeed. these problems have been around for quite a while. and i’m not a mcginn fan.

  20. Dun-dun-dun! NEWS FLASH!!! Dun-dun-dun!
    With more Seattle parents keeping their children in bubbles, we’ve discovered shocking news about the safety of these bubbles and how likely they are to burst. The results of our exclusive report will shock you. Tune in at 11 to find out what you can do to protect your children’s bubble.

  21. I think that’s pretty much the idea… take streets that aren’t supposed to be through streets and divert the bike traffic to them. This keeps the main drag moving without bikes and keeps more cars off the road if people choose to ride a bike instead of driving a car.
    As a car driver 90% of the time I’m all for it! Less cars in my way!

  22. March 1st.

    Ever hear of the Amber alert? Gee, I wonder why they have that? Thousands of kids this age are abducted every year. If they are lucky it’s by a family member. The life expectancy of a child abducted by a non-family member is 72 hours, 90% don’t survive.

    Welcome to the real world where bad shit happens. Ballard may be somewhat safe, are you really willing to bet your kids life?

    Keeping your kids safe has nothing to do with keeping them in a bubble. It’s called parenting. Try it sometimes.

    I would recommend waking up but it sounds like you can’t get out from under that rock.

  23. Right … because encouraging people to bike on side streets instead of driving their big car in front of you down arterials is making congestion worse!!!!

    For god’s sake why won’t these arrogant morons keep everyone driving all of the time! Because more car traffic is good for traffic!!

    How dare they tamper with the traffic flow through my quiet side street?!? I like it when people drive twice the speed limit in front of my house because of all the other people like me causing congestion on 24th!

    I didn’t even bother to read the original post because I just like to bitch about the current mayor whenever I see the word BIKE!!!! McSchwinn! Hah hah hah it’s funny because it has a bike in it! Jackass moron socialist! I’m elevating the discourse!

  24. Welcome to the real world where every type of major crime is down to 1960s levels and your child is more likely to be be hit by lightning than stranger-abducted.

  25. Speaking for myself, I ride down 24th occasionally because I’m visiting businesses on 24th. I live half a block off of 24th, so if I’m riding down to, say, O’Shan, it makes little sense to bike half a block away, bike down a small street, and then bike back to 24th.

    Not that I like the thought of getting doored on 24th, which I’ve seen happen, but cyclists are always making a calculation about safety vs. efficiency.

  26. Your 9 year old daughter is far, far more likely to be injured by a speeding motorist, drunk driver, or one of your neighbors changing the stationon the car radio than being snatched by a pedophyle.

  27. This project is not, per se, designed to reduce congestion. Getting a few people out of cars for short trips might do that, though. The roads in question here are residential streets, and should not have truck traffic in the first place.

  28. “benefits of active transportation call for increased spending relative to current modal share.”

    Ya vol, vee must make zee people sveat more!

  29. People in Portland really like them because it slows down traffic on neighborhood streets. They’ve found that people quickly get accustomed to the lower speed and keep their speed down driving on all residential streets, even the ones without speed bumps etc.

  30. I agree – many destinations on 24th along with access to Shilshole. As for doorings, I move to the left edge of the bike lane, or sometimes into the wide car lane (there is still room for cars to pass). Doorings are only likely to happen when you are already close to the speed of motor vehicle traffic.

  31. These are the daydreams “SeattleSucks” has from behind the windshield: “I hate beign behind a bus! I wish all the people on that bus were in their own cars.” “I wish I didn’t have to take 2 seconds to pass that bicyclist. It would be better if he were in a car and I were stuck behind him at every light!” Maybe if Seattle sucks so bad, “SeattleSucks” should leave Seattle.

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