A rather interesting dynamic shaping up in Seattle: The strange thing about Ed Murray’s Second Ave. bike lane.
From the Seattle Times:
Mayor Ed Murray surprised the biking community – and some on the Seattle City Council – at Tuesday’s Cascade Bicycle Club annual Bike to Work breakfast with a sudden fix: a two-way cycle track (separated from traffic) on Second Avenue between Pike Place Market and Pioneer Square, to be constructed beginning in September. …
What’s curious about it is Murray’s method. During his campaign, he frequently pledged to build broad support, bottom-up, for transportation improvements that are not mode-specific. That approach is consistent with the Bike Master Plan just approved by City Council, which includes a prioritization process that still is under way.
But in this case, Murray announced a full-formed plan – the route, the basic design, and a sped-up time schedule – without the usual months of public engagement and meetings.
“That caught an awful lot of people by surprise,” said Seattle City Council member Tom Rasmussen, chair of the city transportation committee, who heard it first at the Tuesday breakfast. He’s spent a year building support for a downtown cycle track, on the belief that a neighborhood – in this case, businesses that may lose sidewalk parking – hate surprises. “When people feel like a plan has happened without consultation, that’s when opposition grows that can be avoided,” said Rasmussen. …
The Seattle City Council had already allotted $2.7 million for a downtown cycle track, but that project wasn’t expected to open until 2015 or 2016, after a community engagement period.
Seattle Department of Transportation spokesman Rick Sheridan said the Second Avenue path is a “pilot project,” of undetermined length. “We are very interested in getting public comment after it opens.”
Jon Scholes of the Downtown Seattle Association said the a pilot project can help determine “what works and what doesn’t as far as the design, location, signage, etc. We like the approach of trying this out and closely monitoring for a period of time to inform how other, more permanent cycle tracks are developed.”
So, does extensive pre-consultation before moving forward mean more likelihood of success, or does the try-it-out pilot project achieve a faster outcome with similar or better results?