In its first week of operations the new protected bike lane on 2nd Avenue has seen dramatically increased ridership levels. Was this a fluke from all the people trying it out who would normally never need to use this road? Only time will tell, but what is clear is that left-turning drivers have done an excellent job of following the no-turn signs and traffic speed has barely been affected despite huge sporting events. I expect these trends to continue, if not improve. Learn more in the Seattle Bike Blog’s article.
In the wake of the tragic death of Sher Kung two weeks ago, Seattle’s cyclists have anxiously awaited the opening of the newly renovated 2nd Ave from Pike to Yesler. With the promise of bike signals, protected lanes, and more visibility by turning motorists the redesign makes us hope this is the last time we must gather together and solemnly ride down 2nd Ave. Well, the new two-way cycle track opened yesterday with the help of volunteers from Cascade Bicycle Club who were on-hand to help orient bicyclists, pedestrians, and drivers to the new set-up. Unfortunately I could not make it yesterday, but tonight I put the track to a good test: night riding. I must say, I am satisfied. As you’ll see, I prepared myself for several cars to cut me off with left-hand turns but each and every one stopped. I felt safe…finally.
The new infrastructure has me feeling so much safer! It also facilitates traffic flow by separating turning vehicles from the regular flow and allowing them a separate turning signal to ensure cars are not blocked by pedestrians and bikes.
It’s a great system – all that is left is to make sure everyone behaves responsibly. The end result should increase safety and travel speed for all users.
On Friday Cascade Bicycle Club organized a memorial ride for Sher Kung, the woman who was killed last week while riding on 2nd Ave in Seattle. After an odd start with riders broken into groups of 10 everyone stopped at the plaza adjacent to the crash scene. Speakers from Cascade, the mayor, and a friend of Sher recalled her intelligence, passion, and commitment. I already shed tears for a woman I never knew when I first visited the ghost bikes – this time it was the sight of her friends and family in tears that struck a chord.
It is easy to think about this as “just another tragedy” when thinking about it in the larger picture of urban planning and transportation but to the people who knew Sher this is life changing. I pray I never know what it feels to lose a loved one in this way. Still, my presence was important. A number of people asked me what the demonstration was for as we prepared in Westlake Center and, after hearing my explanation, naturally asked if I knew Sher.
No, but she’s one of us.
Cyclists must unite. We must stand together. We are a diverse group and we hardly agree on appropriate cycling clothing, let alone urban cycling etiquette and the best bike infrastructure. But we all agree on one thing: we need to make cycling safer for everyone.
Thankfully, after the speakers and a moment of silence the Seattle Police Department agreed to escort us for the remained of our ride to Occidental Park. Hundreds strong, we rode solemnly down 2nd Ave. The irony of our privilege and safety on such a monstrous road was not lost on us. As wonderful as it was to own the road we can only hope tomorrow’s opening of a two-way protected bike lane will signal the end of these vigils…
Here are some photos from the event. In my opinion Komo News had the best video coverage: check it out here or look for footage from other local stations.
EDIT (9/9/14 @ 23:40):
I forgot I took this video. While there was no remembrance song, which would have been so beautiful, there was a very soft, almost serene chiming of bike bells. Perhaps in some ways this was the best…
In April a handful of locals calling themselves the “Reasonably Polite Seattleites” took action to demonstrate the ease and affordability of increasing safety for cyclists using an unprotected bicycle lane on Cherry St. in Seattle. These folks gathered together $350 and installed reflective pylons along the lane separating cyclists and drivers.
Based on my experience commuting in such lanes in other cities, 1) they slow speeding traffic by making the lane appear narrower (without actually reducing its size); and 2) it’s essentially a warning system for a drunk or distracted driver; once he hits one, he’s more likely to slow down, lessening the chance of hitting a cyclist or pedestrian down the road. This string cost about $350 in materials and required literally 10 minutes to install …
As expected, SDOT soon removed the pylons because they were not approved and because they were too tall:
Cherry Street is under the freeway and is owned by the State, so we do have to get their permission for reconfiguring the street. If we had more lane width to work with, we could installed shorter posts. Unfortunately, this is not the case here.
Unfortunately, this is the state of developing sustainable transportation under the current political and bureaucratic regimes. Strict regulations and jurisdictional concerns institutionalize the status quo and create barriers to citizen action and common-sense solutions. Their demonstration may have been removed, but this “guerrilla” action speaks to citizens’ desire for more action and less burdensome regulation. May more people follow with similar polite, respectful civil disobedience.