It was also revealed that in March 2018, the same person at SDOT who has done mitigation outreach to the 35th Ave. NE small business community was sharing information with Councilman Johnson's Safe 35th group, including Cascade Bike Club leaders. SDOT has never informally shared any information with our coalition. SDOT's alliance with Councilman Johnson/Safe 35th and Cascade Bicycle Club, as shown in the linked email, underscores the appearance of unfairness, conflicts of interests, and special interests that surround the City’s entire “paving plan” process.
“As representatives of our fellow Windermere neighbors, we want to voice our support of the ‘Save 35th Ave N.E. Coalition,’” the Board wrote Mayor Jenny Durkan and the Seattle City Council last week.
“We have many of the same concerns they do regarding the elimination of on-street parking spaces in favor of bike lanes. As residents of the area, many of us travel daily along 35th Ave NE either to frequent the businesses, deliver children to schools and preschools or to utilize the public services available.”
City Hall has been embroiled in the 35th Ave NE bike lane dispute—a dispute that more broadly calls into question the leadership dynamics and conflicts of interest in City Hall surrounding transportation initiatives.
“The decision-making process did not feel open,” the Windermere Board continued. That is because of the concerted influence of the Cascade Bike Club and District 4 Councilman Rob Johnson, as corroborated by public records obtained by the Save 35th coalition.
“Neighborhood surveys indicated a majority of the residents opposed locating the bike lanes along 35th Ave NE,” the Windermere Board further explained. Despite that strong opposition—68% as of December 2016—Councilman Johnson then directed SDOT to proceed with the bike lanes anyway.
Today he and Deputy Mayor Shefali Ranganathan—who both led Transportation Choices prior to their stints in City Hall—refuse to consider the community’s concerns regarding the proposed 35th Ave NE bike lanes.
"Seattle’s bike lobby needs to check its privilege"
An opinion piece published in Crosscut magazine late last week has caused quite a furor. The author, Nina Martinez of the Latino Civic Alliance, writes:
"What is missing from Seattle’s governance and infrastructure planning is honest discourse about these difficult issues — about our checkered racial and socioeconomic history, and about how past and recent development decisions in City Hall have displaced and still displace historically marginalized communities and small businesses. Instead, city planning officials too frequently pay homage to the special interests of the privileged, like the small but loud bicycle lobby."
Reality Check: Neighbors with Disabilities and Bike Lanes
Imagine you live on the west side of 35th Ave NE where SDOT proposes removing all parking for a bike lane. (Some of you do.) Now imagine that you are disabled. How will you get to your adaptive vehicle? Is it now parked across the street in limited on-street parking bounded by a bike lane you must cross? Or around the corner on a side street?
For one resident who lives on 35th Ave NE, this is not an exercise of the imagination, it is likely to become her reality if SDOT, the Mayor and District 4 representative Rob Johnson insist upon adding bike lanes on 35th.
Judith Wallak is a retired, 30-year resident of Wedgwood. She is also partially handicapped. Currently, she has a temporary permit allowing her to freely park near her home. “I need to park within a couple doors of my own home,” she said, “Right now, I can manage to walk short distances.”
But a recent total reconstructive foot surgery may leave her fully disabled.
A few blocks away, outside Congregation Beth Shalom, street parking is critical for congregant access. The synagogue has two disabled parking spaces set aside in its small parking lot. For 68-year-old Linda Gebaroff, ease of access is the difference between her being able to participate in her faith community or not. Her grandfather purchased land in the area in the early 1900’s and her entire family grew up here. “I no longer live in the neighborhood, but I come to Beth Shalom to attend services,” she said. Linda suffers from severe rheumatoid arthritis which limits her walking to short distances.
“Without parking on the street, those parking spots in the back will get taken up fast. As it is, we have to expand disabled parking for the holidays and they fill up quickly. Last year the only parking spot I could find was three blocks away, so I didn't go because it was too far for me to walk.”
North of Congregation Beth Shalom, you’ll find the only on-street, permitted disabled parking spot on 35th. The space is reserved for Metro Access vans dropping off and picking up handicapped members of Messiah Lutheran Church. Like Beth Shalom, disabled parking in their parking lot is limited. The future of this official ADA space is unclear.
“To my knowledge there will be loading zones on 35th but no ADA parking,” says Amy Stephson, an advocate for Save 35th. “I think you can safely say that the city has not indicated that it will reserve any spots on 35th for disability parking.”
The city does make exceptions. Residents like Judith can request ADA parking in front of their residence. “A handicap sign across the bike lane is doable so long as I don't have any "available off-street parking,” she said. Currently, the city considers her inaccessible 30 percent grade driveway as available off-street parking. “It’s completely unusable but my guess is the city doesn’t give a damn about that.”
Our Voice is Local, Our Voice is Loud
More than 1,400 of you have sent letters to the Mayor’s office, City Council and SDOT using our Action Network tool. Congratulations and thank you! If you have not done so, please send a letter – it only takes ten seconds of your time to send a written, pre-addressed letter using this link.
Our petition now has over 4,100 signatures and we've updated our goal to 6,000. If you helped obtain two additional signatures on our petition, we could easily double our number. Share this link!
Paving Project Update
There is a LOT of construction activity along 35th Ave NE. This work is overdue utility and curb-cut upgrades that must be completed before 35th is repaved. Despite all this activity, we need to keep up the pressure on the Mayor’s Office, City Council and SDOT—all summer long.