I was upset to learn about the two bicycle-car accidents in District 4 last week – one along NE 65th Street and the other along 20th Ave NE. First and foremost, I wish a quick and healthy recovery to the bike riders who were both transported to Harborview as a result of their respective accidents. It is clear that critical road safety improvements need to be made quickly across our city to ensure street safety for all – no matter your age, ability, or mode of transportation.
This is now the second serious bike collision on NE 65th Street within one year; with last year’s death and the two current bike riders in critical condition, it serves as a terrible reminder that safety improvements along this arterial are far past due. As I stated last year on the campaign trail after Andy Hulslander’s death, even my young daughters know that this street is fast and dangerous: they argue over who gets to hold my hand as we walk along NE 65th everyday so they can stay as far away from the street as possible. I also mentioned then that we need to fix NE 65th Street before someone else is killed or seriously injured; we have unfortunately missed that mark and simply can’t continue to have tragedy dictate our neighborhood’s safety improvement investments.
My vision to address these safety concerns is to install a fully protected bike lane on 65th Street, along the entire length from Magnuson to Greenlake, connecting projects that already exist or are in development, such as Ravenna Boulevard, Roosevelt Way, the 39th Ave NE Neighborhood Greenway, and Burke Gilman Trail. At the very least, we should install Protected Bike Lanes, from Ravenna to 20th Ave NE along NE 65th Street (as well as the two planned Neighborhood Greenways adjacent to 25th Ave NE that run on 24th Ave NE north of NE 65th Street and on 27th Ave NE south of 65th Street).
Each of these improvements – which could have been a factor in preventing these accidents – can be found in the city’s Bicycle Mater Plan Northeast Sector Map (pdf), but have yet to make it into any revenue dedicated plans such as the “2016 – 2020 Implementation Plan” or the Move Seattle Levy. We need to begin making concrete steps towards Seattle’s vision for a fully connected, safe cycle network and I will work to ensure that we find the funds to move these improvements up the list of priorities.
At this Tuesday’s Sustainability and Transportation Committee meeting, SDOT will be coming in to talk about the Bike Master Plan. I plan on vocalizing my own concerns that were highlighted by the two accidents last week – and would encourage residents from District 4 and across the city to do the same through public testimony.
These incidents bring to the fore the necessary urgency of our actions to make our city streets safer for all users, and we must emphasize investments in critical road safety projects to prevent the next tragedy from occurring.