Rainier Ave Protected Bike lane on the MOST DANGEROUS STREET in Seattle: In 3 easy steps!



First, you have to be really angry and feel trapped. It takes me about 6 miles to get to any kind of bike infrastructure. I am mostly talking about the Beacon Hill Greenway. I LOVE that route.  In order to get there you have to traverse the most dangerous street in Seattle RAINIER AVE. and bike monster hills (Remember my post about the Rainier Valley East-West Greenway?).

You also have to know, I don't just bike down to the street to get a bag of apples and bike home. I bike ALL over the city. I get tired and annoyed when people say they bike in their fancy north end bike infrastructure and then say they bike EVERYWHERE. You know what, none of you north end people ever bike down here to visit us. It was a miracle when I walked on Shabbos to watch your sweaty faces during the Disaster Relief Trials. I loved that race.

It has come to a point that the south end folks have banded together and are now working together. Some of us are biking together so people see us and some of us are becoming more active in the different bike advocacy meetings. We are not going away and we are going to be constantly poking at SDOT for our infrastructure because we need it NOW.

...BACK TO THE EASY STEPS...

Step 1: Frantically write a proposal to win a contest. If you win, you get to have Seattle Greenways help you make your dreams come true. In order to do this you need beer. Aww, beer. You need 3 beers to make a street design, just saying.
Beer makes it right!

This is kinda where I was starting to sink deep into this plan. So begins my PARK(ing) Day Design contest entry.

First, I had to make myself official. What am I suppose to do? Hi, I'm No Spandex Required. I have a blog, nobody reads it. It's not sexy or stylish. I represent the many who are angry because we are ignored. We have nothing down in the south end of Seattle. Stop whining about the fact you can't get to some infrastructure within 2 blocks of your house. I can't even!! I use the blog as a placeholder for myself. So, what's this team? As of now, it's a group of people who want change.  We need a more official name. I want to reclaim the street! If you want to drive faster than 25mph go on Martin Luther King. It is a street suited for this. Then again, you can't make your messed up u-turns, stop in the middle of the street to chat with friends, or just crash your car into the choo choo. Why am I making drivers life so difficult? Wars on Cars!

Let's take a look at the war on cars! The choo choo "accident". He swore the light was green for him to make a left. I bet the driver of the train got a tear drop car tattoo for that one. One dead car. Don't worry, the person who was held hostage inside and has no free will of what happens, was unharmed.


I have no training in the art of transportation planing. Nobody in the house does either. I live with a taxonomist, not to get confused with a taxidermist, and two children. If you asked us to make mock ups they would include toy train tracks and Duplo Lego. 

Back to my BIKEY lane!

Purpose: By choosing this segment of Rainier Ave. our design team can demonstration that by adding the protected bike lane feature the corridor becomes much safer for drivers and pedestrians by adding a dedicated space for bicycles to use...blah blah blah GIMME MY BIKE LANE!! The current bike conditions are garbage, require that bicyclist use the sidewalk or impede traffic to occupy Rainier Ave  blah blah blah GIMME MY BIKE LANE!!  With the inception of the Road Diet, Rainier Ave. has a lot of “wasted” space. This “space” becomes A HELL HOLE TO WALK OR BIKE.  dangerous as drivers have used it to make unsafe passes or make illegal u-turns. By reclaiming this space for a bicycle lane we make the road safer and help to maintain the speed limit and traffic flow. Our small demonstration will provide SDOT with the opportunity TO PROVE ONCE AND FOR ALL THE MAYOR OFFICE CARES ABOUT OUR LIVES BECAUSE I DON'T WANT TO DIE! to do a one day case study to show that protected bike lanes are needed and used by a wide variety of residents in the Rainier Valley.  GIMME MY BIKE LANE!!


What's a Bollard? It's a protective barrier. Businesses use it so cars don't accidentally jump the curb and crash. Cities use them on the protective bike lanes. They scream, "don't kill me". I wish that bollards would have some kind of beacon or flames shoot out when drivers decided that rules don't apply to them. Blamo! In your head you're thinking, "she hates cars SO much!". Actually, I like driving, it's an activity I engage in 4-5 times a year and I have skills. I can drive a stick-shift. So, if your tractor is ever stuck, call me. 

CONES, I mean protected bike lane.
This was taken when the Rainier Ave. road changes were being made. Yellow cones were placed on the road and TADA, bike lane!. I was euphoric for a week. Want to see what it looked like in motion? Here you go: 



This was the day I was towing another bike so as much as I could have zipped down the street I was trying not to ruin the other bike. As you can see, protected bike lane. SI SE PUEDE. GIMME MY BIKE LANE!

Examples of effective uses of the cones in Seattle:


Here are cones taking it to the next level, idol worship. All hail the mighty pillar protecting PCC from certain car death.
I'm not impressed with the bike treatment but I had to show examples how Seattle deals with stuff.

What happens when you are biking and then suddenly you encounter a cross street? So, my professional advice is to manically look in all directions because a mindless car will suddenly jump out and attack you. My version requires I look left, right, left, right, go! I have watched videos from my helmet camera and the amount of movement is so much to make you barf. 
If I had magical resources I would make sure spikes come up on the outter park of the area ready to scratch people's cars. Nothing works better than having something that might harm or damage your metal pony.  

Conclusion: Our team would like to show the city that these simple treatments can help maintain the road diet. As of now, conditions are still too dangerous for us to bike down this corridor alone or with our children on our bicycles. If people claim they see nobody biking on Rainier Ave. it is because we have to use many roads away from Rainier Ave. to feel safe. We deserve to use the flattest more direct route.  I would like to be able to allow my child the freedom that she enjoys biking on the 2nd Ave protected Bike Lane and the Broadway protected bike lane. We are only asking for one day and the opportunity.

Win the contest after going to meetings like the Seattle Bike Advisory Board meeting. 

This is my kinda final design. I know, church, church, pot shop, pot shop, bus stop. Basically that sums up a lot of the Rainier Ave. corridor. I had to outline where businesses were located. Take a drive down our most dangerous road and you will notice so many green pot shop signs. Your eyes are not deceiving you.





Step 1 ends with me winning the contest and gaining an important ally, the Seattle Greenways Organization. This group has some powerhouse people who know how to diplomatically talk to people. I am specifically talking about Cathy Tuttle. I LOVE her! She is like 50 people rolled into one.

STEP 2

While you are simmering, make more projects for yourself. Start the first EVER Jewish Girls Bicycle Club. By ride 4 the girls were so competitive and interested in a destination. So we biked from Seward Park to Mercer Island and back. They did a great job! These girls are ready to out race anyone in spandex, which they did on the I-90 bridge. Who said you can't bike in a skirt? This whole club deserves a separate blog post but now you know why I didn't write anything before. I am busy!

Recruit people you don't know, invite them to your house to help you. They may be serial killers or not. Take that chance. By far, the most threatening person, the baby!


This was part of putting up the No Parking signs. I had never met Adam or Travis before. I needed help badly. I met Chelsea before and we have ridden together. What most people didn't know, while I was doing all this stuff, my husband was away. He is my support for everything and this year I sent him to Uman (I know, the Ukraine),<---see link for what that's about, for Rosh Hashanan.  In honor of my efforts here, they shut down the road to cars.

They did close off the road but not in my honor. If you ever get a chance to know me IRL I can tell you all about this one.

SDOT approved the plan and blamo you better start practiving how you will make .4 miles of a protected bike lane.

I call this, "Yoga Mat Technique". Looks pretty but a lot of work.

I also got to do something really beneficial to me. I got to talk to Jim Curtin. I didn't have to wade in line with other people. We sat at a table with a map of Rainier Ave. to look at my proposal and he suggested changes that would make the route safer. How often do you get an SDOT person all to yourself? THANK YOU JIM CURTIN!! I arrived early at that meeting and got to go to a City of Seattle meeting to drink my fair share of free coffee and bonus, watch the Seattle Greenways folk receive very nice awards.

STEP 3
Now to the real work. I met Adam D. in real life the first time when I asked him to come to my house while I was making food for Shabbos so I could explain to him all about the protected bike lane. Turns out he is a really great guy and motivated for change. So, on PARK(ing) Day we met at 6am to draw lines. I figured I had zero time to go home and pick up the table and everything else so I mindlessly loaded everything on to the bike a table, broom, mini cupcakes and a whole arsenal of stuff.

When my bike is fully loaded like this nobody messes with me nor do people try to steal the bike. I mean, who wants to bike a table and all that junk away? Nobody! 



Once Adam and I got our plan of attack ready we started chalking. In the interest of safety we did everything facing traffic. Let me tell you, it was (expletive) scary. I dare you to try it. At 6am police enforcement is nowhere and people are driving 40mph. I am not making it up because when we looked at the blinking speedometer sign it had crazy speeds that were well about the 25mph speed limit.  Here we are trying not die. I put the camera out so you can get a "feel". Since the road diet, this space I am in has been parking, which is not really utilized. I did have some great discussions with Susan at the Rainier Valley Chamber of Commerce to help give me some perspective on who parks here. I valued having her to talk to.


We used whatever we had to designate the space we were working in. We used the No Parking signs and at some point used our bikes. I tried parking a Car2Go behind us but someone took it immediately after I parked it. In the morning people were using the corridor to drive fast and use the open space to cut across traffic. By putting up the NO PARKING signs we were able to minimize the risk of some impatient driver coming straight at us.

I honestly want to know, why do you need to drive this way? If your goal is to get further down Rainier near the Highway entrance or to downtown, why not use Martin Luther King Way? It is so perplexing why people still choose to use Rainier Ave as a "fast" route when it can't because of the curving nature of the road. Habits are hard to change and your complaints go nowhere when you don't send them to the city. Keep doing nothing and complaining on Facebook!



What did our technique look like? It was a mix between string, chalk and a yoga mat. In the interest of safety I didn't have time to take ground pictures so you can see how I experimented on my street. My neighbors found the temporary colored bike lanes fun. As much as I wanted to make the inner chalk marks that thick I was really worried about safety so the lines were not as thick. When you get to the video you will see that some of it was white tape. I did not have 2000 ft of white tape so the "buffer" had to be a combination

By the time we were officially opened we were not done. I kinda threw everything in a spot and mish moshed all my literature on a table. The best part was that Jesiah of Cafe Red was already set up in our spot ready to distribute yummy coffee goodness. I like my coffee black and it was a very tasty cup of coffee. He is stationed early at 6am right by the Columbia City light rail every morning. Go get coffee from him. He stays in the Rainier Valley but after he tried my Edgerunner with assist I might have converted him to another bike so his brother can help him schlep. 

I was so happy to have Kristi (yes, the Seattle Bicycle Advisory Board Co-Chair) and her husband Eldon finish the rest of the lane. Thank you! 

By far they were the most prepared with their bright reflective jackets. I love Kristi's shoes. Next to them is Adam Dodge.

So, I stood here and Adam did loops to bring bicyclist into the lane and show some awareness of the space. I read a recent comment on our lane:





Last time I looked, I am brown, dark brown. So, my guess is this person just saw the first picture in the SeattleMet article and figured the guy and kids were white liberals. We had so many people talk to us and engage in conversation that I never met this mysterious comentator. I was too busy talking to the migrant worker, in Spanish,  who was riding on the sidewalk because he is afraid of the way people drive on Rainier Ave. So, let's not build infrastructure for him or the guy with the trailer towing his belongings.

Tammy Morales came out to help us. Yeah!! She stood here at the corner of 42nd/ Rainier where drivers make illegal u-turns rather. I had someone admit to me that they would make a wacky u-turn here too, in the interest of time. Tammy tried hard to get one of those crazy speeds people still do despite the road diet. We could have really used enforcement that day. 


I found it thrilling when people came on the lane on their own. Notice how drivers were moving more towards the middle turn lane. They were still going fast but you get an idea of how much space is left on this street for drivers. 




Here is Serena Lehman. Thank you for your help managing the table while I ran back and forth trying to finish up the lanes with chalk. She brought her baby and he got to sit on my bike. He was pretty adorable. 

Here comes Ryan from Beacon BIKES. If you like the Beacon Hill Greenway, thank them. I asked him to stand at another trouble spot to help direct bicyclist. 

Some people just rolled by, like this person. Hello there. 

I lent my bike out to some people so they could get an idea. Unfortunately, I scared his wife a bit. They came to look a our lane and were unaware of the road diet and the collisions but he wanted to bike anyway. Telling him that our road is the most dangerous road in Seattle did add a bit of excitement. 


Again, this guy just rolled by, hello there! I know, you can't wave because you are about to merge where you have zero infrastructure so I won't be offended. 

Merlin Rainwater came to our rescue and stayed with us until the end. I love her. We even looked united with our Seattle Greenways t-shirts. 


This man and his adorable 4 year old made several loops with kids. I met him in the morning and he helped me chalk the west side of the protected bike lane. 

Hi Cathy from Seattle Greenways! She is to the left. She came to see if we needed anything. She brought her son and husband it was nice to chat with her. Mark was hoping our project was a guerrilla bike lane. He asked me about 5 times if he was and I had to explain that I had a permit. He told us that his daughter had a smoothie bike. I am going to have to call her to ask. He also gave some input about the East-West Rainier Valley Greenway. In no way did I prompt him but he said, that those hills are crazy!


This is Olie. He was called last minute to volunteer with us. He brought his really cool BMX bike and was a very energetic volunteer in one of my worry spots along the lane. I loved that he brought his bike. Thank Deb @BikeWorks for sending him our way. 

Families felt safe enough to try our lanes. This was the important part. In general, adults who felt safe were confident that their kids could bike easily.

It was so hard to do everything so when it came down to it but I had two people who were my partners.

Travis is an awesome person and really great a making chalk bikes. This should be your new profession, just kidding. Although much of his handy work remained up on Sunday. Since he had several meetings he sent his wife to help with the most adorable baby. I can't wait to squoosh the baby some more.
My other partner was Adam Dodge. Here he is demonstrating the protected bike lane. Take a good look at the road because it looks real.

Adam was out there tweeting, videoing, chalking, biking and all around there to help promote real infrastructure which was like a dream. Did it happen? I guess it did! In any case, I have so many things to say which can make this post longer.

The saddest part was that my daughter got some weird eye issue and I did not feel safe letting her bike the lane or anywhere because her vision was not clear that day. So, she stayed at home and was pretty bummed. She didn't even want to walk over with my mother to check it out. I didn't build the lane just for me. I also built it so she could ride it too. My husband was jet lagged from just returning from his trip and the baby clung to him.

I hope @SDOT takes a good look at our videos/pictures of the whole thing and puts up a protected bike lane from Rainier Beach north to this point. If you do that, you at least connect to the northern greenway, right! I will keep riding, videoing, blogging. Look who I met, my new friend!

A BIG BIG Thank you to Cathy Tuttle and everyone at Seattle Greenways for helping me make this happen.

Comments

  1. Awesome - how inspiring! I look forward to seeing this lead to a real PBL! If you build it, they will bike it.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow, thanks so much! This is my stretch of Rainier and I've always ridden on the sidewalk because, survival -- but since the road diet went in I've ventured into that empty lane a couple of times... A protected lane would be AWESOME. What can I do to help make it permanent?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, so if you liked it then email jim.curtin@seattle.gov
      Please tell him what fixes our current road diet needs. I won't put words in your mouth but we need "enforcement, the road diet to extend longer, and we have to have a protected bike lane". Having been out there the whole day looking at the road I noticed so much more than what I posted here. The only way we can get change is if we tell the city. Thanks for noticing the empty lane, keep riding it like the rest of us!

      Delete
  3. Me quede sin aliento, tienes un potencial, cuenta con mi apoyo incondicional si ha hacer mas proyectos o materializar el que iniciaste.
    Love, Mom

    ReplyDelete
  4. This is an encouraging initiative. I do hope it bears fruit in the near future, as cyclists should also be granted the right to PBLs, unless they find a way to have those cones can protect us from speeding cars. GIMME MY BIKE LANE!

    Recreation Space

    ReplyDelete

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