Friday Jolt: Westlake Bike Lane Back on Track
The day's winners and losers.
"This is fantastic," Cascade Bicycle Club policy director Brock Howell said this afternoon after the city announced a settlement agreement with the Westlake Stakeholder's Group—a group of businesses and houseboat owners, and maritime interests on Westlake Ave. N. who had filed an appeal to the city's plans to build a protected bike lane starting at South Lake Union Park and heading north along Westlake Ave N. toward Nickerson and the Fremont Bridge.
Today's Jolt: Me. I was thrown for a loop by Howell's positive response.
I had expected bike advoacte Howell to condemn the agreement as a sop to the cranky businesses who opposed the $3.6 million project. I had just gotten off the phone with a spokesperson for the Westlake group, Sierra Hansen, who was hailing the settlement, which creates a 13-member task force to be appointed by Mayor Ed Murray that will help the city design the bike lane.
When I told her I needed to call the Bike Club to get their take (I didn't quite trust her NIMBY-sounding rap about losing parking spaces, nor her press release's giveaway snide dig at former pro-bike Mayor Mike McGinn, who had supposedly "failed to adequately consider community, environmental, economic and safety concerns"), she warned me that CBC had given her group the cold shoulder, and in fact, had filed as interveners against the Westlake group. "It's been a contentious relationship," she said.
But when I talked to Howell, he told the same story she did: The council had approved the bike lane, the Westlake group appealed the city's decision to move ahead without doing more impact studies about parking, Cascade had filed as interveners (with the city and against the Westlake group) and the bike master plan was on hold.
But now, with the legal battle settled, the plan is in play again. And, he concluded: "This is fantastic."
So, that brings us to the real Jolt: Today's winner is the Bike Master Plan.
Howell credits two people with resolving the conflict and getting the plan out of court and back on track: Kevin O'Neill, who's been heading up the Bike Master Plan for years at the Seattle Department of Transportation and Andrew Glass Hastings, Mayor Ed Murray's transportation policy advisor. (So, Friday Jolt winners to those two as well.)
In a statement, Mayor Ed Murray said:
“I am pleased we have reached a settlement that allows the withdrawal of the Bicycle Master Plan appeal,” The creation of a design advisory committee for the Westlake Cycle Track Project provides assurance to the surrounding community that their concerns about the facility’s design will be addressed without holding up a city-wide bicycle safety improvement plan. With the appeal now behind us, I look forward to working with the City Council as it moves to adopt the Bicycle Master Plan in the near future.”