mcginndoingshot.jpg
Road diets, as an acquaintance of mine who works at the Seattle Department of Transportation recently put it, are among those transit prescriptions the public

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McGinn's 125th Street Road Diet a Dud With Bikers

mcginndoingshot.jpg
Road diets, as an acquaintance of mine who works at the Seattle Department of Transportation recently put it, are among those transit prescriptions the public doesn't like until after they're implemented. They are also, as SDOT spokesperson Rick Sheridan notes, "about safety, not bikes."

But, more often than not, road diets (or "rechannelizations")--at their simplest, a reduction of the amount of lanes open to motor vehicles on a given arterial--include new bike lanes. So they're at least sort of about bikes. And given that no single dieted road caused more of a ruckus than April's tummy tuck of Northeast 125th Street in Lake City, we recently sent summer intern Kate Barker out during early-evening rush hour to take stock of how many cyclists were taking advantage of the newly dedicated bike lanes delivered to them by embattled Mayor Mike "The Bike" McGinn, whose political fortunes cratered like a pothole with last week's overwhelming affirmation of a tunnel to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct.

Barker made her pilgrimage to Lake City in the middle of a work week earlier this month. Stationed at 125th and 27th Avenue Northeast, Barker observed two bikes headed westbound and three eastbound between 4 and 5 p.m., six westbound and one eastbound between 5 and 6, and five westbound and one eastbound between 6 and 7. Suffice it to say, more than 18 cars traversed the same terrain over the course of those three hours.

In the interest of monitoring a McGinn-backed road diet that seems sensible, Barker observed Dexter Avenue North under identical conditions. During the same three weekday hours, a total of 457 bicycles whizzed by Galer Street between Fremont and South Lake Union in either direction.

Barker also sought out a South Seattle east-west corridor that boasted characteristics similar to the 125th Street diet, and thus ventured to South Columbian Way between MLK Way and Beacon Ave S. Stationed at Angeline Street, she observed a total of 19 bicycle commuters between the hours of 4-7 p.m.

Does three bikes per lane per hour during prime-time drive-time amount to wise public policy? Voters will have their say in November, when they're asked to approve a $60 car tab fee that will direct a significant amount of funding toward--what else?--accommodating cyclists.

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