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Dear Mayor Durkan,
The fate of the 35th Ave. NE section of the Basic Bike Network has been up in the air since November, and I hope your thoughts of spring, like mine, turn to safe and carbon-free transportation on a fully connected Basic Bike Network. If you haven’t yet decided to build the 35th Ave. NE section, I ask that you carefully read the rest of this email — there are really good reasons for doing the right thing:
This 2018 City of Seattle climate report states that transportation counts for nearly half of Seattle’s greenhouse gas emissions. For Seattle to make meaningful progress toward its climate commitments, safe, affordable, carbon-free transit is essential. A few will be able to quickly switch to electric vehicles, but most people can’t afford an electric car, and continuing to privilege single-occupancy vehicles means far too much precious city space is taken up by car use and storage. I urge you to support the City’s plan for safe, affordable, and carbon-free transportation — the Basic Bike Network.
As you are aware, a goal of the Bicycle Master Plan is to create a connected grid, so that Seattleites can cycle safely anywhere in the city. Each portion of the grid is essential to this goal, and therefore essential to making biking safe and attractive. The contracted design of 35th Ave NE would not only connect residential with commercial areas locally, but also connect Wedgwood to the rest of the city (and vice versa).
We know that quickly creating a connected grid has immediate results – the city of Seville built a connected grid and saw an 11-fold increase in cycling in just a few years. We need this kind of speedy, transformational change in Seattle, and we desperately need leaders with the political courage to make it happen.
The biggest barrier to biking is safety. In three years of surveys on biking, SDOT has found again and again that, among those with access to a bike, the top reason for not using it was a concern for safety. The alternative plan offered by mediation provides no designated space for bikes, and would do nothing to improve safety. Studies in multiple US cities and abroad have shown that as cities add more bike lanes, more people bike, and the combination of those two things makes cycling much safer.
All of this becomes doubly important as we approach the Period of Maximum Constraint. As you know, your own office is encouraging people to get out of single occupancy vehicles and opt for other modes of transportation. Adding safe bike lanes to 35th Ave NE would allow more people to make walking and biking their modes of choice, which will continue to pay off as Seattle continues to grow. By contrast, the mediated plan is simply incompatible with the needs of a growing, climate-friendly city.
The decision rests with you. Safe non-single-occupancy-vehicle (SOV) mobility infrastructure is key for Seattle to become a sustainable, low-carbon city. We urge you to move forward with the Bicycle Master Plan and contracted design for 35th Ave NE. Show us that your talk of “local-to-global efforts to fight climate change” is more than just talk.
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