Activists cancel on mayor after ‘duping’ them to promote bike lane
A coalition of thousands of Seattle business owners and residents slammed Mayor Jenny Durkan’s office for “duping” them into thinking she’d hear their concerns before moving forward with an expensive, onerous, and unpopular bike lane.
They were so mad they canceled a planned neighborhood walk-through with the mayor’s office and held a rally instead.
“It concerns us now that the mayor basically duped us,” activist and attorney Gabe Galanda told me. “Her deputy mayor told us they would work with us to our faces on a Friday afternoon in city hall the other week. Then they decided to move forward anyway without even having the conversation they promised us.”
Save 35th Ave NE Coalition was set to meet with the mayor’s office to do a walking tour of 35th Ave NE before they install bike lanes that will decimate parking for legacy businesses that require them to thrive, like a dry cleaner, bakery, and dance studio. Originally cited to them as a “paving plan,” they learned the project would install the bike lane few in the neighborhood asked for or wanted.
“When we met with you in early May, you asked us to calm the public rhetoric about the city’s so-called ‘paving plan’ in order to allow the city to better communicate and collaborate with us. We obliged,” Galanda wrote to the Mayor. “Given word from SDOT late last Friday afternoon that the city ‘remain[s] committed’ to installing bike facilities along 35th Ave. NE, despite constant, overwhelming community and small business opposition to that plan dating back to late 2016, our coalition of nearly 50 small businesses and 3,200 concerned citizens is canceling the walkthrough we had scheduled…”
This is not the first time the mayor’s word has been undermined by one of her agencies. For weeks, the Department of Neighborhoods and Human Services Department denied the plans to turn a parking lot in South Lake Union into a Tiny Home Village.
On May 30, Mayor Durkan confirmed the encampment was part of her plans.
“You can see the headlines, right?,” Gallanda explained on the show. “$12 million headlines about bike lanes and an $18 million missing link. The city has grown tired of the bike lobby and the bullies that are the Cascade Bicycle Club.”
Indeed, the tapestry of familiar Twitter trolls are criticizing the neighborhood group.
“Don’t focus on this. Fact is nobody gets to veto safety for a neighborhood even if 100% of these old white angry people waving signs live right on 35th. Nobody gets to veto my safety or safety of my kids or safety of the other people I love care about in #Seattle,” tweeted Glen Buhlman, not understanding the irony of his comments because he is an old, white angry man.
Galanda plans to “…take on those special interests that are corrupting city hall and SDOT and we intend to take them on with honor and decorum like we did yesterday when a couple hundred people showed up along 35th to rally in support of the neighborhood’s concerns.”
Indeed, they’re not giving up. They held a rally this week to bring more attention to their efforts and they say they’ll target Councilmember Rob Johnson for not doing enough to represent their voices in this fight.
What should be more alarming to Mayor Durkan is how often her message of her commitment to transparency and appreciation of community feedback is being overshadowed by her departments that continually throw her under the bus. If she’s truly committed to hearing what our communities have to say, at some point, she’ll have to start listening to them, instead of fringe bike activists who are loud on Twitter.
Listen to the entire conversation below.