As SF debates street design, Seattle’s story is that bikes drive business – Streetsblog San Francisco


Meanwhile, there’s someone else the mayor should meet, and he’s only a two-hour flight away: Sean Kuhlmeyer, a bicycle attorney in Seattle. It’s Kuhlmeyer’s self-proclaimed title — he’s got the T-shirts and signage to prove it — but he’s got darker artifacts, too.

In his small Seattle office, half a dozen bikes or parts hang from the ceiling. None are more roadworthy. “This guy got rammed by a Harley,” Kuhlmeyer says, pointing to a bent rim that was once on a blue bike.

It’s not just the décor that makes Kuhlmeyer’s cabinet unique. He also hangs his shingle – a white sandwich board – on the busiest bike path in Emerald City. His office door opens to the 20-mile Burke-Gilman Trailand – along with other businesses like a cafe and tune-up shop and a brewery with ample bike parking – sends a message that San Francisco should heed: build the infrastructure, make people feel safe, and an alternative to self-centered cities could emerge – even in a city where the weather is downright lousy for cycling several months a year.

Kuhlmeyer does family law, but he earns most of his living from two-wheeled affairs, a reminder that life on the bike will never be 100% injury-free.

“Too young and stupid”

The Burke-Gilman Trail begins in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle, runs roughly east to west through the main campus of the University of Washington, then heads north toward the suburbs. Kuhlmeyer moved his practice 10 years ago to Ballard, along the trail; his first bicycle-related case was a cyclist who crashed into a metal bollard the city left in the middle of a trail. She hit the ground headfirst and lost 15 IQ points permanently, Kuhlmeyer says.

In many of his cases depicting injured cyclists, Sean Kuhlmeyer says drivers explain the accident with a variation of “they came out of nowhere”.

They met in a ukulele lesson and she said two other lawyers told her she didn’t have a case. Kuhlmeyer took it. “Seattle was immune to those types of combinations, and I was too young and stupid not to know that,” Kuhlmeyer said. Frisco.

He still won.

Seattle has made 80% of its COVID slow streets permanent, adding 20 miles of car-free space to its 73 miles of protected bike lanes. The city also has 163 miles of painted bike lanes.

More is on the way. from Seattle four-year cycling master plan has funds to add 100 miles of protected bike lanes and push educational campaigns to get people out of cars.

It hasn’t all been linear progress, notes Kuhlmeyer, who is still battling with the city for bollards in unsafe locations — there’s still a pair on the Burke-Gilman Trail near his office, for example. And although the trail follows an abandoned railway line, where bikes don’t compete with cars, there are still intersections with roads. Kuhlmeyer, who has cycled in Europe but also drives his car around Seattle, says part of the civic education campaign needs to focus on raising driver awareness. In many of his cases, drivers who injure cyclists explain the accident with a variation of “they came out of nowhere”.

Tune and fill your cup in Seattle.

Bikes are synonymous with business

While San Francisco merchants love these nightclub owners fear bike lanes will block deliveries and hurt their businessSeattle officials are trying to spread the opposite message: “There are many ways to look at the economic benefits of increasing levels of cycling, including major employers – and talented employees – seeing places with good opportunities for active lifestyles,” the Seattle Department of Transportation said. said on his bicycle master plan website.

A growth a body of research builds an economic argument for cycling infrastructure.

Near Kuhlmeyer’s office is PIM Bikes and Coffee, which has retained a passing lane for cars while adding bike parking for pedalers needing a cappuccino break. PIM also offers bike repairs, tune-ups while you sip, and accessories. About a 30-minute ride along the trail is the Burke-Gilman Brewing Company, with bike parking and loaner locks for cyclists who forget to bring one.

Seattle isn’t the only city with suspicious weather pushing hard for pedalers. Montreal, where freezing winters have modified pedestrian life, has over 600 miles of bike paths and paths. A third of its cycle lanes are separated from cars and many allow two-way cycle traffic. It also deployed its own non-profit bike sharing system and aeextensive bicycle parking, including spaces where bicycles can be parked in a stackable manner.

Granted, San Francisco is better than many American cities. The Municipal transport agency says he has built hundreds of kilometers of cycle paths. Of these, 42 are protected from cars, all established within the last seven years. A new 20 MPH speed limit for cars is also the rule on several of the the most dangerous streets in the city. But there is still a significant gap between what the city has and what it promised. Fifty years ago it was a commit to being “transit first”. More recently, the city has set goals for road safety and greenhouse gas emissions.

As SF redesigns its streets, it must also rethink road surfaces. Just add speed bumps (or bumps) to slow down cars might not be enough, because this cautionary tale on Clay Street shows.

The heavily used Wiggle Bike Path through the Lower Haight now has Wiggle Bikes (not to mention his own clink), but it’s not car-free, and there’s still nothing quite like Burke-Gilman in San Francisco. Anecdotally, the slow streets have encouraged a few businesses, like the outdoor sprawl of Noe Cafe at Sanchez and 26th Streets, and a pop-up outdoor gym on Page Street that asks regulars for sliding-scale contributions.

A bicycle parking station with double-deck racks in Montreal, Canada, is part of the city's commitment to a robust bicycle network.
Bicycle parking in the north: the racks are installed on two floors in Montreal.

However, to change its mindset and its cityscape, San Francisco must also emulate the leadership of mayors Anne Hidalgo of Paris and Valerie LaPlante from Montrealwho were both re-elected after promising more for two wheels, and other European politicians pedal hard in that direction.

In July, Mayor Breed posted a “what’s next for slow streets” manifest. But in practice, it has sent mixed signals on these streets, and the door was left open for a pro-car backlash. Until his team rolls out the details of his future vision, it’s unclear what momentum bikers, pedestrians and others ready to get out of their cars will have in the near future.

Kristi Coale is an editor for Friscocovering public transport, streets, etc.

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Rozella J. Cook