The city of Seattle has approved one of the nation's most aggressive attempts to raise the popularity of bicycles.
The 10-year Bicycle Master Plan calls for 118 miles of new bike lanes and 19 miles of trails, as well as lane markings and signs to create awareness of cycling across the city.
After three years of discussions, City Council members passed the plan unanimously Monday, adding momentum to the cycling movement. Mayor Greg Nickels has said he hopes commuter cycling will triple. Census figures showed that about 2 percent of workers traveled on bikes in 2000, and advocates think that's increased to 2 ½ percent now. A new city report said 2,273 cyclists entered downtown on Sept. 19 -- nearly one-third more than a daily total in 2000.
While the master plan was being written, the city went ahead with some of the most obvious improvements. The new Chief Sealth Trail was recently finished on Beacon Hill, and construction is under way on a new mile of the Burke-Gilman Trail in Ballard, near Golden Gardens Park. Also, pavement is being marked with so-called "sharrows" -- icons of a bicycle, reminding motorists to share the streets.
The article is quite lengthy and contains maps and figures about annual cyclists commuting into the city and the factors that play into people's decision to commute by bike. As for the list of improvements the city plans on making in the next ten years (and beyond), here it is...
Under way or planned in the next three years:
Ship Canal Trail: Build a link from Interbay to Seattle Pacific University, going under south end of Ballard Bridge.
Golden Gardens Park: Finish the last mile of Burke-Gilman Trail from Ballard to the beach park.
Street markings: A total of 64 miles of bike lanes by 2009, and 54 miles of "sharrows," icons that remind drivers to share the streets with cyclists.
Education campaign: Safety messages and stepped-up enforcement, in collaboration with Cascade Bicycle Club.
Queen Anne bridge: To be built in 2009-10 from Myrtle Edwards Park to West Thomas Street, reaching Lower Queen Anne and Seattle Center.
"Bike boulevards": Eight miles of side streets marked for bike travel as an alternative to riding on heavily used arterials.
Long-term or unfunded projects:
Northgate overpass: Potential bike overpass crossing Interstate 5 to North Seattle Community College, in conjunction with proposed Sound Transit light-rail station.
Beacon Hill bike bridge: Chief Sealth Trail extension over I-5 from Beacon Hill to Sodo.
More trails: 16 miles of new trails by 2016.
Highway 520 bridge: State's proposed new span would have bike lanes, connecting to new city trails or bike lanes near Washington Park Arboretum.