Hearings examiner grants Cascade's motion to intervene

Today, the deputy hearings examiner granted Cascade's motion to intervene in the Westlake Stakeholder Group's appeal of the City of Seattle's "determination of non-significance" of the environmental impact of its update to the Bicycle Master Plan (BMP). 

That’s a litigious mouthful, but what does it mean?

The hearings examiner's decision is an important first step toward bringing a speedy resolution to the Stakeholder Group’s lawsuit and helps the city begin full implementation of the new Bicycle Master Plan.

The BMP establishes a network of protected bike lanes and neighborhood greenways that will connect neighbors with safe routes for bicyclists of all ages and abilities. In addition, the plan identifies seven neighborhoods that will receive extra attention to address an inequity in bike infrastructure.

In granting Cascade's motion, Examiner Anne Watanabe found that a delay in the implementation of the Bicycle Master Plan would potentially harm Cascade members who bicycle. This interest was sufficiently unique (and would not delay to the case) that the motion to intervene was granted.

The Westlake Stakeholder Group's appeal delays adoption of the BMP, but (ironically) not the design of the Westlake Protected Bike Lane that the group is concerned with, nor much of the bicycle infrastructure planned for 2014.

Why? The design and construction of the Westlake Protected Bike Lane is already fully funded as an upgrade to the Chesiahud Trail that "officially" loops around Lake Union. On top of that, (1) the 2007 Bicycle Master Plan establishes that bike lanes are to be designed based on the particular circumstances of the area (taking into consideration factors like traffic volume, traffic speed and composition, on-street parking, etc.) and (2) all relevant federal and state agencies have approved of the design and implementation of protected bike lanes.

While the litigation does not impede the Westlake Protected Bike Lane, it has put a cloud over the proposal and other bike projects across the city. Moving forward, the Seattle City Council cannot adopt the new master plan until the hearings examiner hears from the parties and makes a ruling. We expect the schedule for the remainder of the case to be established next week, and we are hopeful this litigation can be wrapped up in the next few months.

But litigation is just one of our tools for making Westlake safer for bicyclists. We're also building an activist team, rapid-response media team, holding a policy ride this Sunday, and even "cash mobbing" a skeptical yoga studio on Westlake tomorrow to show that bikes mean business. To learn more about how you can get involved, contact Brock Howell.

Read the examiner's order granting Cascade's intervention here.