Bike Month is Climate Month: It's a Wrap!
“Bike Month is Climate Month” showed how biking is a vital part of climate action.
It recognized that transportation is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Washington state and our communities.
This May, we shined a light on the intersections of bikes and climate. We invited individuals to take the Pledge to Pedal, made space for conversations about the policy intersections of bikes and climate (from land use to habitat restoration) and explored the changes needed to make biking safer and more accessible for all.
To keep the climate action going, take the next steps and sign up for more details on the Seattle Transportation Plan, or contact Seattle city planners now and tell them to create a safe, simple, and direct route on the Alaskan Way Waterfront Trail.
Read on for more details about our exciting Bike Month is Climate Month actions and what we learned!
Bike more: Pledge to Pedal
The Pledge to Pedal campaign challenged new and existing riders to swap out one car trip a week for a bike trip as an exercise in building a habit of using climate-friendly transportation. Hundreds of people joined from all across Washington!
We heard from people who took the pledge that this gave them the opportunity to ride to the grocery store, do errands, visit friends, and go to work. For most people, they reported this experience will encourage them to ride as much, if not more, now that they’ve completed the Pledge! Still, challenges remain. Participants cited the need for more safe and direct bike routes, more abundant and secure bike parking at their destinations (especially racks for e-bikes), and difficulties knowing how to carry items such as groceries home with them.
Cascade’s Rachel Schaeffer bikes with Laura Loe for a practice trip to the grocery store. People who bike regularly often take for granted the logistics of route finding, and carrying cargo.
Safer biking: Connecting Seattle to South King County by Trail
It’s just 1.4 miles from Seattle's Georgetown neighborhood to the current northern terminus of the Green River Trail. With it comes access to nature as well as opportunities to restore the shores and wetlands of the Duwamish and Green River to their natural beauty and habitat.
One sunny Saturday in early May, we joined community advocates and agency partners to explore the gap and learn about projects underway to make a safe, connected route from Georgetown to Cecil Moses Park in Tukwila.
Soon, the Georgetown to Southpark Trail project will create a safe walking and biking connection between the two neighborhoods. For now, taking the lane on Airport Way feels the safest for our large group. Sharrows have been shown to have no measurable positive safety impact for people on bikes, yet they are still prevalent in Georgetown and South Park. Sharrows are an indicator that bike infrastructure in Southeast Seattle lags compared to the upgrades seen in downtown and north Seattle in recent years.
East Marginal Way is fast moving with heavy traffic, and the debris-filled striped bike lane feels unsafe. We stuck to the skinny pathway across the railroad tracks that starts up a few hundred feet before we turn off East Marginal to ensure safety.
A circuitous neighborhood greenway route through South Park is the designated bike route in lieu of a safe, and more direct, bike lane along the two blocks of 14th Ave S. Protected bike lanes along 14th Ave S. would provide a clear connection from the South Park bridge to the Seattle city limits and future terminus of the Green River North Trail extension project.
The striped bike lane on the South Park Bridge was substandard from a safety perspective from the day it opened.
Across the Seattle city limits and into Tukwila, riders feel the need to hug the white line on West Marginal Place South, where the occasional vehicle zips by and the noise is deafening from Highway 99. King County, in collaboration with WSDOT and the city of Tukwila, plans to one-way this street and create a separated trail via the vacated vehicle lane. The trail will extend all the way to Cecil Moses Park, where the Green River Trail currently terminates.
Taking a break at Cecil Moses Park, riders learn about the habitat restoration efforts along the nearby Duwamish River. In coordination with the Duwamish Tribe, the city of Tukwila is turning over sections of land along the waterfront to bring back native bird and plant life species, while offering people in Tukwila and surrounding neighborhoods increased access to green space along the Green River trail. We saw an osprey and an egret fly nearby during our break!
Just separated by two miles, but worlds apart from the highway noise and mixed traffic streets, we traversed to arrive at the Green River trail. The trail crosses the Duwamish River and the route breaks into lush trees and bird song.
The ride group poses for a quick celebratory photo. We hosted this ride in collaboration with King County Parks, Leafline Trails Coalition, and Duwamish Valley Safe Streets.
Find out more:
Is land use the crux between bikes and climate?
With representatives from Futurewise, Share the Cities, and the Duwamish River Community Coalition, we hosted a panel conversation about the intersections of land use, climate and transportation policy. Why? Because one of the biggest determinants of the mode of travel you’ll take is the location of your everyday needs in relation to where you live. Bike lanes are great if your destination is a few miles away, but the farther you have to travel, the less likely you are to be able to safely and conveniently bike to reach those destinations.
Our discussion started to pull apart the threads of why land use is central to making our communities more climate resilient, accessible, and affordable for everybody. We encourage you to Check out the Panel Video.
City and county comprehensive plans shape what our communities look like, and Puget Sound communities are starting to update those plans now. These updates only happen every 8 years, so the time is now to incorporate climate goals!
Climate goals would require cities to have a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions – including providing more options for people to get around on foot, by bike, or on transit.
A bill (HB1099) almost passed the state Legislature this year that would have required communities to include climate resilience and greenhouse gas emissions reduction policies in comprehensive plans. Even though it didn’t pass, many cities and counties, including Pierce and Whatcom Counties, Bothell, Redmond, and Kenmore are adopting the guidelines anyway. Contact your local representatives to ask that they adopt HB1099 provisions, too.
Dense neighborhoods, where people have all their daily needs accessible, is at the heart of the “15 minute city concept.” But it’s worth taking a critical look at who benefits. .
Just looking at “land use” and making it possible to create more dense, walkable neighborhoods creates winners and losers. Displacement is a real threat when changing what density or type of buildings are possible to be built in a neighborhood. South Park is a prime example of a community where increasing density meant displacement of existing residents due to redevelopment of existing houses. Density must be coupled with anti-displacement strategies.
Racial justice matters for our climate, too. The location of affordable housing, transit options, and safe infrastructure makes a HUGE difference in who can get around by bike in our communities.
Find out more:
In Seattle, speak up for how you want your neighborhood to look and grow by providing your input into the One Seattle Plan: https://engage.oneseattleplan.com/en/
Seattle City Council member Tammy Morales hosts a monthly webinar on land use, transportation, and housing topics through her Seattle Within Reach series.
The Rails to Trails Conservancy also has a series on how trail networks affect housing availability and affordability. Parts 1 and 2 are online and you can register for Part 3 here: https://www.railstotrails.org/build-trails/housing/
Celebrating People who Bike: Bike Everywhere Day!
Cascade’s Fremont Bike Everywhere Day Celebration Station is an annual tradition. This year we were delighted to be back in Fremont with pastries, coffee and good cheer! Hundreds of people on bikes stopped to chat, or whizzed by with a wave!
Thank you to everyone who participated in our events. Remember: just because Bike Month is over, doesn’t mean our work towards building climate-resilient communities stops!