The excellent news is that SDOT is redesigning one of many worst stretches of roadway within the metropolis: Rainier Avenue S between Columbia Metropolis and I-90. The dangerous information is that their design nonetheless prioritizes automobile motion above transit mobility and security, particularly for folks strolling and biking.
This design is solely not ok. We’re within the midst of a critical street security disaster, particularly in South Seattle. This roadway may be very extensive and is the one direct route between Rainier Valley and the town middle. It should be protected and accessible for everybody. As Councilmember Tammy Morales mentioned this week, “There is no such thing as a excuse for not growing the protection of our streets and sidewalks for the folks of Seattle.”
On the backside of SDOT’s mission web page for the Rainier mission, workers responded to the constant and protracted request from residents that the roadway ought to have protected bike lanes. As first famous by Ryan Packer, the response reveals a frankly terrifying lack of information of each the regulation and the town’s present plans and insurance policies regarding bicycling. It sadly wants a line-by-line evaluation:
We’ve heard that Rainier Ave S is a crucial road for folks biking as a result of it’s usually the flattest and most direct route.
Yep! In order that they know that bike lanes are wanted.
Rainier Ave S can be an vital and often used route for transit, freight, and different autos. We should stability these wants and priorities when making choices about adjustments to the road and the restricted right-of-way house.
“Stability these wants.” On this metaphorical scale, how a lot does an individual’s life weigh?
Up to now, we’ve heard that the neighborhood’s prime two priorities for Rainier Ave S are to scale back crashes and maintain buses shifting.
“Cut back crashes.” Discover how that is truly a unique objective than “security.” Folks strolling and biking are concerned in about 7% of Seattle visitors collisions, however they account for 66% of visitors deaths. We aren’t asking for a basic discount in crashes, we’re asking for particular security enhancements.
Folks biking are allowed to journey in curb-side bus-only lanes in accordance with Washington State regulation. The bus-only lanes on Rainier Ave S might be curb lanes, that means that individuals biking are allowed to journey in these lanes.
That is correct.
Folks biking in curb-side bus lanes ought to keep in mind that transit has the precedence and buses will usually make in-lane stops.
That is extraordinarily fallacious and a bit troubling. Buses should not have precedence over folks biking even in a bus lane. The common guidelines of the street apply. If an individual is biking within the bus lane, then the bus driver must observe RCW 46.61.110 like another car driver. Which means they have to “transfer utterly right into a lane to the left of the suitable lane when it’s protected to take action.” If the town doesn’t need somebody on a motorbike to be in the best way of buses, then they should construct a motorbike lane.
Folks biking in bus-only lanes additionally must observe the foundations of Washington State regulation, together with using as close to to the suitable aspect of the lane as doable if touring at a slower velocity than the remainder of visitors.
That is additionally extraordinarily fallacious and a bit troubling. The regulation completely and really deliberately doesn’t say an individual biking should journey “as close to to the suitable aspect of the lane as doable.” (emphasis mine). It says they “shall journey as close to to the suitable aspect of the suitable by way of lane as is protected.” Folks biking are allowed to journey within the lane place that greatest retains them protected due to course they’re. It’s merely unsafe to squeeze subsequent to the curb to permit a automobile or an enormous bus to cross you, and no person ought to do that. Your life and security is crucial precedence always.
Whereas bike lanes usually are not at present deliberate for Rainier Ave S, nor are they included within the Bike Grasp Plan, we’re making different adjustments to Rainier Ave S that may enhance situations for folks strolling, biking, and rolling.
Rainier Ave S is, the truth is, included within the Bike Grasp Plan. It was included as part of the plan’s top-priority “Citywide Community,” which is why it acquired a thick blue line representing “protected bike lane.” The mission crew linked to the plan, however they apparently by no means bothered to have a look at it. I don’t perceive how this occurred, however it’s an indication that they want to return and redo their work.
Seattle should do higher, and we want our metropolis leaders to demand as a lot from SDOT. This mission will do nearly nothing to make our metropolis higher. For the busiest stretch of the street, it is going to add a bus lane in just one route. The excuse for not constructing a deliberate and often requested (maybe the most-requested) bike lane is that they should “stability the wants” of all street customers. However then they current a design with 4 lanes for automobiles, one lane for buses and 0 lanes for bike security. Even within the stretch with two bus lanes, they’ve three lanes for driving automobiles and one lane for parking automobiles with zero lanes for biking. This isn’t “balanced.” SDOT is prioritizing automobile customers above everybody else, then giving buses the primary chunk because the desk scraps.
Right here’s the plan:
Our metropolis just isn’t going to make any progress towards Imaginative and prescient Zero till we begin making precise, actual adjustments to how our streets perform. Folks ought to be capable to safely bike alongside this flat and direct route, and they need to be capable to stroll throughout the road. This isn’t an excessive amount of for the folks to ask of their metropolis.
The deliberate design will permit the road’s visitors carnage to proceed unimpeded. It additionally goes in opposition to our metropolis’s present insurance policies for protected streets. The road is included within the Bicycle Grasp Plan and is famous within the Imaginative and prescient Zero Program’s map of “Excessive Harm Streets.” Town’s 2020 Site visitors Report (utilizing 2019 knowledge, the newest non-pandemic yr) reveals that this stretch of Rainier may be very harmful for folks strolling. There is no such thing as a motive the town ought to permit these collisions to proceed to occur yr after yr after yr.
Seven years in the past this week, then-Councilmember Bruce Harrell stood in entrance of a gaggle of neighbors protesting the harmful situations on Rainier Avenue S and mentioned, “What I’ve in again of me is principally a freeway.” Then, after outlining the town’s deliberate security mission there, he mentioned, “That is the start of what we’re gonna do with Rainier Avenue. We’re gonna take our road again.”
Harrell is now the Mayor, and he has the ability to ship directives by way of the SDOT chain of management to make his 2015 phrases actuality. This can be a nice alternative for his administration to indicate how the town will observe by way of with its transportation guarantees and make our streets higher and safer for everybody.