Over eighty bicyclists participated in a Cascade Bicycle Club Policy Ride on Sunday. Participants were joined by City Councilmembers Tom Rasmussen and Mike O’Brien for the ride from Fremont to South Lake Union along Westlake Avenue North. Led by Cascade Bicycle Club ride leaders, cyclists were briefed on safety and etiquette before heading out from the Fremont PCC. The primary route taken was the multi-use trail of the promenade sidewalk fronting the businesses from Diamond Marina (2450 Westlake Avenue N) to Kenmore Air (950 Westlake Ave N) where the single sidewalk gives way to assorted paved paths through South Lake Union Park. Riders stopped along the way to pose questions and give feedback to Cascade Bicycle Club staffers Thomas Goldstein, Policy Director, and Brock Howell, Policy & Government Affairs Manager.
The ride was in response to Westlake business owners and residents along the corridor filing a law suit which has stalled not just the protected bike lane along Westlake, but Seattle’s Master Bicycle Plan. Bicycle advocates were particularly taken aback when they learned that the Westlake Stakeholders meeting was closed to the public. When questioned, those present responded that they weren’t informed of the plan and received no notices regarding the public hearings. Further, they assert that they haven’t been listened to.
Some of the “stakeholder” members were present along the route holding signs, “Westlake Community Safety for All,“ a slogan most support. However, as many policies, not everyone agrees on how that is accomplished. A couple of residents asked, “With the bike lanes on Dexter, one block away, why does SDOT and bicyclists insist on a cycle track for Westlake Avenue N?” The simple answer is bicyclists use Westlake because it is the most direct route for many bicyclists commuting to mid downtown for work, its direct connection to South Lake Union Park, and many bicyclists are patrons of businesses along the corridor.
It is worthwhile to consider the Dexter question. First, it should be clarified that the length of Dexter is not just a block away, but rather veers away from Westlake as it climbs the hill. By Wheeler, it is three blocks away increasing to four. By Roy St., Dexter is very much out of the way. Dexter presents additional challenges not posed by Westlake, the most noticeable, the hill climb. Some riders expressed their discomfort with riding Dexter due to cars from Lake Union, crossing into the bike lanes when cresting the hills of the cross streets. Add to that, “doorings” and cars parking in bike lanes. Dexter Avenue serves some cyclists, but it will not be a solution for all.
Regardless of mode of getting from place to place, people are people and want to take the most direct route. The question for all becomes, “Is Seattle going to be a world class city or continue to lag behind?”