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Committee calls for reinstatement of plans for Seattle bike lanes

A protected bike lane, with accompanying traffic signals, in downtown Seattle. (SDOT)

Members of the Move Seattle Levy Oversight Committee issued a letter to Mayor Jenny Durkan, SDOT head Sam Zimbabwe, and City Council, asking that they fulfill plans for bike lanes outlined in the original 2015 version of the levy.

RELATED: Why SDOT scaled back its plans for Seattle bike lanes
RELATED: SDOT puts brakes on controversial 35th Ave bike lane

In April, the latest draft of the Master Bike Plan — funded by the Move Seattle Levy — featured significant cuts to the city’s plans for bike lanes. The letter from committee co-chairs Ron Posthuma and Betty Spieth-Croll pointed to that draft delivering on “roughly 60 percent” of promised bike lane mileage, citing “a disproportionately large reduction.”

“We respectfully request the Mayor and City Council seek to deliver the bike facilities contained in the 2015 Levy by assigning additional, non-Levy funds to the bike safety program and giving higher priority to bicycle use of street space,” the letter, dated May 7, reads.

The oversight committee was initially assembled by voters when the Move Seattle Levy was approved.

The move to downsize plans for the city’s network of bike lanes outlined in the Move Seattle measure came largely as a result of rising costs. In terms of the total spending plan for the city’s bike lanes, bike racks, and greenways, the number remained the same between the 2017 and 2019 Master Bike Plans (roughly $76 million). What changed was the realization that the projects originally laid out by the city would far exceed that original figure.

To account for that, SDOT asked the Seattle Bike Advisory Board to list its highest and lowest priority projects, and subsequently removed those in the latter category. While some higher priority projects remained, others in that category weren’t listed in the new plan altogether.

“Some of the projects that were removed from the list were a SBAB priority project, but what we discovered is that … we didn’t have enough funding for all of those projects to make the final cut for this plan,” SDOT told MyNorthwest in April.

This all came shortly after SDOT put the brakes on a controversial bike lane project on 35th Avenue Northeast, after months of negative feedback from residents of the neighborhood. Additionally, roughly 70 percent of businesses along the 35th Avenue Northeast corridor wrote to complain about the proposed lanes.

That in turn led to outcries from local bike activists.

“A pattern has emerged in this administration of delaying and eliminating bike plans that prove challenging or controversial,” said Patrick Taylor, a member of SBAB speaking at a recent committee meeting.

We’ve reached out to SDOT regarding the recent letter from the oversight committee and are awaiting a response.

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