Open letter: City/developer spinning wheels on promised bicycle parking in The Junction?

June 27, 2014 at 11:56 am | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 26 Comments

Bicycle parking along California is supposed to be part of the plan for the two-building Equity Residential project in the heart of The Junction. But supporters of a bicycle “corral” believe the developer is responsible for wheel-spinning that’s delaying installation, and have just sent open letters to the City Council Transportation Committee and Mayor Ed Murray (as well as media). This one is from West Seattle Bike Connections:

Dear Transportation Committee Councilmembers and Mayor Murray,

I am writing on behalf of West Seattle Bike Connections (WSBC) to find out what it takes to get a bike corral installed in West Seattle, more specifically in Alaska Junction at the southeast corner of SW Alaska St and California Ave SW. This letter and a timeline are attached with the efforts we’ve taken to date, beginning in late 2012. We have one simple request: please provide support to have a bike corral installed in Alaska Junction by mid-August of this year.

WSBC has worked with three different SDOT contacts over the last 18 months, where the process began anew with each different representative. SDOT has been asked by the property developer at the location (Equity Residential) to delay installation until construction is complete in 2015. We do not want to wait any longer or go through this process again with new SDOT personnel. We are upset that SDOT is succumbing to a developer for authority over the public right-of-way. We have support from several organizations and businesses who want to see this bike corral installed as soon as possible:

West Seattle Junction Association (WSJA)
West Seattle Transportation Coalition (WSTC)
Junction Neighborhood Organization (JuNO)
The Junction Church
West Seattle merchants including Bin 41, Husky Deli, Elliott Bay Brewing, Curious Kidstuff, Mashiko

We have agreement that the location on the southeast corner of SW Alaska St and California Ave SW is the best spot for a bike corral. Here’s why we want a bike corral and why we recommend this spot:

This intersection is West Seattle’s busiest retail business location. A bike corral will provide parking for 8 to 12 customers in the same space that provides parking for only one or two customers arriving by car.
-There are over 600 car parking spots within one block of the intersection. Most of them are free.
-There are only 40 bike racks within one block of the same intersection. These racks can hold 2 to 4 bikes, but are all located on the sidewalks where they block pedestrian space when multiple bikes are locked up.
-The year-round Farmers’ Market is one block away from the intersection. Many people arrive by bike and lock them up in random locations throughout the alley, on signs, and anywhere else nearby.
-There is a transit hub at this intersection with most West Seattle bus routes serving this location. The bike corral will assist customers who bring their bikes on a bus for multimodal trips.
-The southeast corner location is in a no-parking zone. Car parking would not be affected for this bike corral.
-The intersection is an all-way crossing for pedestrians and is very visible. We feel it is a safe location.

We know that more people bike during summer months. Delaying the installation may lead to perceived failure and backlash if it’s not being immediately used. We want this to be a success for all involved.

We understand that construction is taking place in Alaska Junction and will propose several options:

-Install the bike corral in the agreed upon location, disregarding the request by Equity to delay until 2015.
-Install the bike corral in a temporary location in front of Husky Deli (4721 California Ave SW). When construction is winding down with Equity, move the corral to the agreed upon location. We have support of neighboring merchants and WSJA to temporarily install a bike corral in front of Husky Deli.
-Other feasible locations would be at either side of the block adjacent to Easy Street Records (4559 California Ave SW) or Bin 41 (4707 California Ave SW).

All we want is one simple bike corral in West Seattle. Dozens of these have been installed in other neighborhoods. We would like this project to be recognized by SDOT as an official project with an assigned workflow number. Please let us know how we can get a bike corral installed in West Seattle by mid-August this year.

Thank you for your consideration, and for all you are doing to improve transportation, mobility and sustainability in Seattle. We look forward to working with the City of Seattle to improve bicycle accessibility within the West Seattle community.

Sincerely,
Jeff Hallman
Vice President
West Seattle Bike Connections
westseattlebikeconnections.org

The West Seattle Transportation Coalition also has sent a letter of support, on which we were CC’d as well. Since receiving this, we have spoken to WS Junction Association director Susan Melrose, who confirms that WSJA supports the corral, preferably the west side of the aforementioned southeast corner. Melrose pointed out that no auto parking would be lost because that spot already is a no-parking zone, and that it would improve pedestrian safety by hindering those who attempt to make illegal right turns against the “walk-all-ways” red light. She voiced optimism for the latest round of talks with SDOT, but not so much from the developer, from whom we’re seeking comment next.

26 Comments

  1. It’s a no-parking zone to facilitate cars turning right onto Alaska – what a dumb spot for a bike corral. In front of Husky Deli or Easy Street is a much better location. I’ll be sending a letter to SDOT opposing this particular placement – why give the war on cars meme any further fuel by needlessly jamming up traffic?

    Comment by 980XX — 12:41 pm June 27, 2014 #

  2. The location is a no parking zone so it will not reduce car parking. It is not in the turn lane. It will actually help prevent car conflicts which happen now when some drivers attempt to sneak past right-turning drivers who are in the proper lane. Drivers can see through parked bikes. The merchants and SDOT traffic engineers agree that it is a good location.

    This corral will increases customer parking and improve pedestrian traffic without slowing through vehicle traffic.

    Comment by Don Brubeck — 1:11 pm June 27, 2014 #

  3. “There are only 40 bike racks within one block of the same intersection.”
    .
    If they were regularly full, I could see “only” being an argument. But they’re underused. And at that corner? It’s almost a no-brainer to NOT put something there.
    .
    We seem to be becoming a city of bike showmanship, not a city of bikers (which we will likely never be, because hills and rain).
    .
    I think it’s great that the few regular bikers in the city are so dedicated to biking that it consumes them like this, but we’d be better off saving the tax dollars for pedestrians and separated-grade transit.

    Comment by Mel — 1:22 pm June 27, 2014 #

  4. Agree with 980XX – thats an awful place for bikes to be pulling in/out, it’ll definitely jam up car AND pedestrian traffic there. There are much better places, what about in with the parking on the other side of the tunnel by Puerto? That seems like it could accomodate way more bikes and be a lot easier on everyone.

    Comment by zark — 1:40 pm June 27, 2014 #

  5. You know what feels better than sitting behind your keyboard griping about bikes?
    .
    Riding a bike.
    .
    See you out there.

    Comment by Jane — 2:02 pm June 27, 2014 #

  6. The bike corral would be a fantastic enhancement to the area. My family often pedals to the Junction. It’s really quite inconvenient to park/lock our bikes to existing racks on the sidewalk because the sidewalk isn’t very wide and it is full of pedestrians. I applaud this plan and enthusiastically support it. Many families will enjoy using the new corral.

    Comment by skeeter — 2:06 pm June 27, 2014 #

  7. We need more car parking than bike parking. I will agree to the corral only and only if All bikes get registered. That way we can pay for the reduction of the Metro bus routes.

    Comment by RegBikes — 2:22 pm June 27, 2014 #

  8. yes for a bike corral! These are fabulous additions to any business center. They remove bikes from sidewalk parking (a problem especially in West Seattle with our narrow sidewalks), locate bike parking in an easily accessible area (every really try to find all the racks available in the Junction, designed to just hold two bikes each?), increase the likelihood that someone may choose to ride a bike instead of drive, it’s cheap! More bike parking! Yay!

    Comment by AJL — 2:23 pm June 27, 2014 #

  9. Honestly the inner 2 block area of the Junction should be blocked off no cars and lined on the inside partially with bike racks.

    Comment by cj — 2:28 pm June 27, 2014 #

  10. Reg Bikes, as has been pointed out in our stories and comments many a time, bicyclists actually already pay more than their share of taxes for roads. Most road money does NOT come from fees directly related to cars (such as tab and gas taxes); that’s part of the WSBC “myths about bicycling” roundup here. Meantime, The Junction is actually already getting a LOT more car parking along with the new residents on the way, who will certainly have more bicycles too. The buildings right there next to the proposed bike-corral site will have more than 260 spaces. Spruce at Fauntleroy/Alaska will have more than 400 spaces. The Whittaker will have almost 600 spaces. – TR

    Comment by WSB — 2:41 pm June 27, 2014 #

  11. As stated in the story, parking your bike on the Junction sidewalks is not good at all, it blocks pedestrian traffic and it has many times prevented me from using the current bike racks. Adding this bike corral would go a long way towards cleaning up the cluttered sidewalks and adding potential customers for Junction merchants.

    Comment by JN — 3:00 pm June 27, 2014 #

  12. Sacrificing one parking space to accommodate parking multiple bikes makes sense to me. It’s a small loss for what could be a reasonable gain in parking. I am supportive of almost any change that will make the Junction a more pedestrian and family friendly place. Now, if we could just put in wider sidewalks and reduce the traffic in that area!

    It would be nice to have the bike corral closer to the farmer’s market. The proposed location is close, but I think on the west side of the street would be ideal.

    @Mel – I once thought along these lines…
    “We seem to be becoming a city of bike showmanship, not a city of bikers (which we will likely never be, because hills and rain).”

    However, after reading up on the topic I discovered cycling in Seattle is increasing rapidly despite the rain and the hills. It turns out Seattle has one of the highest rates of bicycle commuting in the country among major cities. This is good for drivers as well as cyclists.

    Comment by CW — 3:41 pm June 27, 2014 #

  13. It’s great to see there’s some folks in West Seattle trying to help us get as modernized as other neighborhoods. When I get over to capitol hill / first hill, I see these bicycle racks absolutely jammed full and the businesses thriving over there. I don’t understand the often faulty misconceptions that something as simple as a bike rack will take anything away from what we already have in West Seattle. Quite the opposite, it will act as more a magnet for people to gravitate to the junction ( wish there was at least one rack for each of the 3 junctions) and spend dollars. to answer some of the other commenters about this town has hills and therefore no one willing to ride bicycles up those hills, obviously these folks are not exposed to the hundreds ( and thousands) that belong to the bicycle clubs in this region. Cascade Bicycle club for starters is one of the largest bicycle groups in the country. They are right here in Seattle. We have some of the strongest athletes in the country here. In contrast, my neighbors behind me have been retired for many years, they still ride bicycles long distances and, shock, horror, up hills.

    Anyone can ride a bicycle, and making West Seattle more bicycle friendly with facilities like bike corrals allow us to be as cool and smart about getting people to the businesses as other neighborhoods.

    This isn’t rocket science folks, it’s making the community work.

    Comment by themightyrabbit — 3:49 pm June 27, 2014 #

  14. On street bicycle parking (bike corrals) create a more inviting appeal to our community. The visibility of the bikes in one area will help bring people who are thinking about riding out on their bikes. There are more than enough car parking on California Ave. and this corral will not take up any of the spaces but will only create more spaces for new customers. Bring it on!

    Comment by Gurlonabike — 3:57 pm June 27, 2014 #

  15. This selected locale is the best spot for a bike corral in the Junction AND it will not displace any existing car parking AND adds to the safety of pedestrians waiting on the southeast corner.

    Legally, right turns can only be made from the from the RIGHT HAND LANE, the proposed bike corral site will do nothing to imped traffic in this lane, it will however help to stop those cars who illegally pass to the right of the cars in the right hand lane (to drive along the curb) to make a turn at that corner, thus (potentially) putting pedestrians at a greater risk.

    As to the thought that Seattle is too hilly or rainy to become a city of bikers; BULL~~The right gearing, gear and attitude will easily poo-poo that line of thinking. I’m 55 years old, was born with only one lung and have been a year-around daily bike commuter for the past 9 years, over 13 miles a day round-trip. About 15 miles round-trip to the 20 some-odd Mariners games I attend each season, and countless other miles to the various festivals and fun times this (mostly) great city has every year.

    If I was to subtract the miles driven to go skiing, each year I put more (combined) miles on my two bikes than on my Subaru.

    As to using the low A-frame style bike racks on the sidewalks in the Junction, I generally try to avoid them anymore. A couple years ago I came out of a restaurant to see a guy kicking in the spokes of my bike, as the cop (who happened to be driving by and stopped when I ran in front of his car to report the incident to) was getting the guys information he asked the ‘gentleman’ why he had done it, and he replied…”their bikes are always parked to close to the car and it makes it hard for me to get in and out, and I’m tired of those things always being in my way”.

    So even using the already provided structures are finding ways to irritate some people.

    I for one support this and will most assuredly be using it on my many, many trips to the Junction from our Admiral area home.

    Comment by two-wheeled wonder — 6:45 pm June 27, 2014 #

  16. Do you realize who’s parking spot that is???
    The Seattle police dept. that’s who…you wonder why you don’t have your rack??!!

    Think they still have a sign posted stating “emergency vehicles only” lunchtime warrants an a emergency!!

    Comment by cãrlãinthebãrrã — 7:16 pm June 27, 2014 #

  17. Let them put in a bike parking area, who cares. The vast majority of residents will always drive (because of weather, hills, etc), but the dedicated tiny percent who bike deserve to have some place to park their pikes. The Junction has VASTLY more and free parking than any other neighborhood in the city, the endless whining about how hard it is to park cracks me up. Try parking on Capital Hill, Ballard, downtown, etc…for free. We have 3 totally free lots, several pay lots, garages, etc, PLUS NO FEE PARKING…no parking meters. So relax, we have the best/cheapest parking in the city…we can give up one or two spaces for some bikes.

    Comment by David — 7:41 pm June 27, 2014 #

  18. Carla – unless there’s been a change, the police parking space is on the other side of California from there, in front of Key Bank and Bin 41.

    Comment by WSB — 7:45 pm June 27, 2014 #

  19. Bring the bike corral, and soon. The time is long overdue to show the world that West Seattle is not just about cars. And before we hop in our cars to drive a few miles to run errands, why don’t we be creative and first consider if we can’t get ourselves, our kids and our stuff around that short distance in a more cost and space efficient way (walk or bus and shopping cart, bike and panniers or trailer, bus + bike up the hills and ride home). That would certainly help solve our car parking problems.

    Comment by Kathy — 8:27 pm June 27, 2014 #

  20. @themightyrabbit…you said “anyone can ride a bike”. No they can’t. Me, for instance. I’m 67, am considered disabled, walk with a cane. Let me point out to you that nowhere along California Ave. SW..NOWHERE..is the any parking for disabled people. Not in Morgan Junction, not in Alaska Junction, not in Admiral Junction. There are a few spots behind Huskies or behind where Lee’s Asian is located (the free lots (and a long way to walk from them to some of the businesses…I’ve done it. Maybe 6 spots total. So..I quite get where you are complaining. Having said that, I think a bicycle corral is a great idea. Keep them all in one spot. I do believe, however, that location is another story. Maybe as part of one of the free lots, so as not to confuse drivers at that right turn lane on Calif. Ave. Yeah, some will be confused, and get grumpy. Too bad for them. Timing is also something to pay attention to. During construction of that huge building may not be the best time. But I understand that it’s hard to wait. Hope y’all get your wish…I’m with David a few comments above…

    Now maybe I need to get fellow disabled together to lobby for a few disabledparking spaces right on the Ave., in addition to the free lots, so it’s easier for those of us who cannot walk very far from car to businesses – hmmmmmm….

    Comment by JanS — 8:30 pm June 27, 2014 #

  21. Belated word on bike corrals, I happened onto a tweeted pic of one in Fremont just now, and looked up SDOT’s official page. scroll down a ways and you’ll see. http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/bikeparking.htm

    Comment by WSB — 11:33 pm June 27, 2014 #

  22. I agree that there should be ADA accessible parking on California. HOwever, the requirements (adjacent clear aisle width, path to ramp and sidewalk) seems to make it impossible? I mean, I know that a resident can request an ADA sign for parking at the front of their house, but in a public area like the junction, i think it would have to comply with ALL the requirements which would make it impossible. regarding parking in the junction. maybe I go at all the wrong times but the only time we have to park far away is during summer fest. I went on a Saturday evening for the first time in a while, recently. I thought I might have a hard time finding parking at 7pm. nope, there were about 6 open spaces in one of the free lots. I don’t know when it is that people can’t find parking.

    I think the bike corral should go in a parking spot in the free lots. that corner seems risky. there are some non-west seattle-ites that probably don’t pay attention to the signs. I’ve seen people turn right on red there even if you aren’t supposed to, skirting around other cars that are waiting properly. but, maybe if there were a corral and it had bollards, safety wouldn’t be a problem.

    Comment by sam-c — 8:10 am June 28, 2014 #

  23. Still seems shortsighted to put in small, restricted, on-street bike parking when you could put it in a an open area with the free parking.

    If it’s with the other parking it can be a much nicer facility, and can be expanded as car parking wanes and bike parking grows.

    One rack on a street isn’t going to much for anyone. Real outdoor bike parking should look more like this:http://www.utilitycycling.org/wp-content/uploads/bike-parking1-germany-cf-resize.jpg

    The bike corrals are really ugly too but that’s just personal opinion, couldn’t they paint them or something? gray metal bars – fun.

    I suspect this is the easy route – the business owner can just petition to change a car space to a bike corral. Changing part of the free parking area to a real bike parking facility would probably be much harder. There’s a lot of extra space back in those lots – some clever repainting and you could get the same number of car spots and huge spot for hundreds of bikes potentially – the bank would lose some landscaping I guess.

    Comment by zark — 10:37 am June 30, 2014 #

  24. Except that the “free” parking isn’t free – the merchants in the Junction pay to give us those free parking lots, don’t they? Why make them give up valuable parking, when there is a perfect spot that doesn’t?

    As its been pointed out, the proposed location IS NOT an existing parking spot, and since right turns aren’t allowed on the red light there is no need for right-turn shoulder.

    This should be a non-issue, but a vocal minority in this community likes to complain about change.

    Comment by mtnfreak — 8:47 pm July 2, 2014 #

  25. Hi Allie here from SDOT. We’ve been working with the developer at this corner on a system for requesting temporary closure or removal of the corral should construction require access to the entire frontage curb space. In the meantime, we are planning to move forward with the installation of the corral on the east side of California Ave SW, immediately south of Alaska St, and expect this to happen later this month.

    Comment by Allie — 4:15 pm July 8, 2014 #

  26. Thank you Allie. What a wonderful development – thank you to West Seattle Bike Connections and SDOT for making this happen.

    I can’t wait to lock our family’s bikes up there when we ride to the farmer’s market. Our four bikes + trailer have been in the way on crowded sidewalks every weekend this summer.

    The fact that the selected location of bike corral will stop aggressive drivers from making an illegal, dangerous turn is the icing on the cake. It’s a great place for a wonderful improvement, and our community will be better for it.

    It’s a great day for a ride!

    Comment by manonabike — 7:20 am July 9, 2014 #

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