As you may know, the Seattle Department of Transportation is in the process of updating its Bicycle Master Plan (BMP). Since its adoption in 2007, the BMP has served as the blueprint for making improvements to Seattle’s bicycle network. And while the BMP has been an effective start to improve the City’s bicycle system over the past five years, an update to the plan is necessary to revisit goals, and to include fast-evolving best practices and new thinking in bicycle infrastructure, safety, and design that will result in an even more connected bicycle network for all Seattle residents wishing to bicycle as a viable form of transportation.
Planner Kevin O’Neill and his team are currently working on a draft plan, and attended the Seattle Transportation Committee last week to provide the committee with a briefing on the BMP updating process.
Slated for City Council adoption in early 2013, the BMP update will include updated goals, objectives, and visions.
O’Neill revealed that the updated BMP will include five goals versus the current two major goals of increasing ridership and reducing collisions. The additional goals will address connectivity, equity, livability.
And while the current BMP does not state an explicit vision or mission statement, O’Neill presented the Committee with a proposed vision statement that reads, “Riding a bicycle is a comfortable and integral part of daily life in Seattle for people of all ages and abilities”.
“A vision statement captures the desired future outcome of the plan,” O’Neill explained.
Recognizing perhaps that Seattle is being outpaced by other cities in terms of developing and maintaining a safe, connected bicycle network for riders of all ages and abilities, the draft objectives of the BMP update call for a “high-quality bicycle network” with “outstanding leading-edge bicycle facilities”, including on-street protected bikeways.
Taking a step toward such “leading-edge” bicycle infrastructure is Amazon with their proposed 7th Avenue cycle track — a physically separated and dedicated bike lane — as part of their public benefits package. As revealed in their updated benefits package on Friday, Sept. 21, Amazon will design and fund a new cycle track along 7th avenue which will separate people on bikes from vehicles and pedestrians, and have bicycle-friendly furnishing and wayfinding signage. Amazon’s public benefit package also includes safety improvements and infrastructure for people on foot.
In his presentation, O’Neill stated that public comments have requested aggressive implementation targets and the plan will provide a (new) framework for tracking progress in achieving BMP goals.
O’Neill stated that it is up to the City Council members to decide just how aspirational and aggressive the performance measures should be in terms of network and project completion, noting that performance measures are dependent on data availability and aggressive performance measures will have financial implications.
Meanwhile, SDOT reached out to the public via an online and phone survey as well as a mapping tool, asking the public for its input in the BMP updating process. Well over 3,500 Seattleites responded, expressing concerns regarding safety, and expressing a need for bicycle infrastructure that separates bicycles from arterial vehicle traffic and car doors.
Seattleites also expressed safety concerns due to a lack in road maintenance and a need for increased education.
SDOT continues to work on the BMP update with interested parties, and reach out to the public in fall 2012. The final update should be ready for City Council adoption in early 2013.