Here we go on Westlake: Same dog, different fight

Everyday hundreds of bicyclists ride through the Westlake parking lot navigating a mix of sidewalks, planter strips, pedestrians and cars. Westlake is not safe and comfortable for anyone.

Lots of people agree: Seattle needs a safe route for bicyclists of all ages and abilities along Westlake connecting Fremont to South Lake Union and downtown. During the Bicycle Master Plan update process, a protected bike lane along Westlake was voted the second most supported project in Seattle. And during the packed Westlake design open house, more than 80% of attendees said that safety of bicyclists should be a priority.

After years of hard work, we're so close to building a protected bike lane in the Westlake corridor. Just this fall, the City of Seattle secured a regional grant, the city council fully funded the design work in their 2014 budget and the city's department of transportation began the design process.

The design process is now underway and several design alternatives of the proposed Westlake Protected Bike Lane are being considered. Take a moment to imagine one alternative: a two-way protected bike lane is aligned along eastern edge of the parking lot and paired with the existing sidewalk, preserving most car parking and minimizing conflicts between cars, pedestrians, and bicyclists. Wouldn't that be great?

But some dogs don't learn new tricks.  The same attorney who tied up the Burke-Gilman Trail’s Missing Link in the courts for a decade is now trying to do the same to the Westlake Protected Bike Lane. He has filed a lawsuit against the entire Bicycle Master Plan update currently pending before the city council in order to gain leverage over the design process for the Westlake Protected Bike Lane project.

The pre-hearing conference is tomorrow and the hearing before the environmental hearings board examiner is currently scheduled for March 5. Until the case is resolved, the Seattle City Council cannot adopt the new bicycle master plan and more than two-years of effort to connect Seattle with safe routes for all people to ride their bicycles remains in limbo.

So here’s what we’re going to do about it.

  • Stop the Litigation: We’ll secure an attorney to intervene into the Westlake lawsuit and hopefully get the case speedily resolved.
  • Make Sure City Hall Prioritizes Westlake: We’ll continue to meet with the Murray Administration and city council to make sure they keep the Westlake Protected Bike Lane as a high priority.
  • Learn from the Westlake Neighbors: We’ll conduct a survey of the neighbors and business on Westlake to learn about their hopes and concerns.
  • Media Rapid-Response: Not only will we meet with the TV and newspaper reporters and editorial boards to secure positive media coverage --- we’ll create a rapid-response team of spokespeople for when important developments in the campaign happen.
  • Change the Narrative by Having Some Fun: We’ll hold a “policy ride” for our members, the public, and public officials on Jan. 26, 3 p.m. (details TBA), to show the challenges and need for a protected bike lane on Westlake.
  • Build an Westlake Action Team and Mobilize Our Supporters: We’ll build a team of activists, collect 2,000 petitions in support of the Westlake Protected Bike Lane, and turn out hundreds of people to the public meetings.

We’ve done the math. We need to raise $5,000 from online supporters to implement our plan. You can help by donating $250, $100, or $50. Even the smallest contribution will help.