Safe, Connected Bike Routes
Having safe bike routes enables people to substitute trips that they might otherwise do in a car to a bike, which has numerous benefits. Bikes take up less space than cars, so a person biking instead of driving is reducing traffic congestion. Biking is more healthy, so as people bike more, it reduces our overall health costs. Lastly and most importantly, biking is zero carbon and does not pollute. To have a good transportation system, we need to also feel safe and comfortable while cycling. The 2018 King County Metro Rider and Non-Rider Survey shows that 6% get around by biking.
Seattle has a Vision Zero program with a goal of ending all traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2030. Seattle has committed to do safer street design, better enforcement of traffic rules, and public engagement. As part of this plan, the City has reduced speed limits to 25 mph on most arterials.
Seattle has a Bicycle Master Plan that covers 2019-2024, and has a vision "to create a bicycle network that is an integral part of daily life for people of all ages and abilities". The plan calls for the city to add protected bike lanes on major streets, establish neighborhood greenways on smaller streets, and maintain a trail network. Many of the projects for 2020 are currently on pause due to SDOT budget cuts in response to Covid-19.
The Bicycle Master Plan, while it has resulted in some good new bike paths, has never been close to fully funded. It is now expected to be replaced in the new Seattle Transportation Plan with a single plan for all modes of transportation (transit, bike, walking, and vehicles).
SDOT has established some Stay Healthy streets closed to thru traffic in response to Covid-19, to give people more space to walk and cycle while social distancing. SDOT has gradually enlarged the scope of the program, and plans to keep some of the streets closed permanently.
One thing that has changed in this area over the last few years is the popularity of electric bikes. Not only are there plenty of bike share bikes, but also many people now have electric bikes and electric cargo bikes. Electric bikes open up biking for people who might otherwise not be able to bike, as well as making it more practical to use bikes for trips that involve transporting children or groceries. Rebates for electric bikes, as part of the Transportation Electrification Blueprint, would help.