David Hiller – Bike Intelligencer http://bikeintelligencer.com All bike, all the time Wed, 11 Nov 2015 18:11:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Update: Elections May Change Bike Legislation Strategy in Washington State http://bikeintelligencer.com/2010/11/bike-friendly-candidates-do-well-in-washington-state/ http://bikeintelligencer.com/2010/11/bike-friendly-candidates-do-well-in-washington-state/#comments Thu, 04 Nov 2010 00:48:03 +0000 http://bikeintelligencer.com/?p=4783 Bike advocacy in Olympia may turn more defensive given Tuesday's election results.

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Seattle’s Cascade Bicycle Club’s endorsed list of bike-friendly candidates fared well in Tuesday’s election, a preliminary rundown indicates. Despite the fact that most were Democrats in a supposedly Republican sweep, the majority won by healthy margins well above 50 percent.

But some key losses, plus Republican gains and the tenor of the election overall, may put bike advocates in a more defensive position.

“We’ll be in the position of defending good state laws as opposed to advocating new legislation,” said David Hiller, Cascade’s advocacy director and cycling’s key point person in the Olympia legislature. Cascade will still work to persuade the State Legislature to adopt vulnerable-user legislation — which made considerable progress while falling short of approval the past two years — in the new legislative session, Hiller said. But “it’ll be more of an uphill battle,” he admitted.

The state senate, always more of a roadblock, particularly “presents a difficult picture,” Hiller said. “We will really miss Senators Randy Gordon and Eric Oemig.” Other key supporters in the loss column included Reps. Roger Goodman (45th District) and Geoff Simpson (47th). Goodman “was a big fan of vulnerable-user legislation.”

In the meantime, our incomplete (and early) tabulation showed 35 Cascade-endorsed candidates winning and just six coming up short. (Cascade endorsed 50 candidates overall; some returns have not been reported as of this writing.)

Hiller said Cascade is waiting on 10 races still too close to call, with six trending favorably.

Big winners included Joe McDermott for King County Council (68 percent), Rep. Jay Inslee (not on Cascade’s list but a big club booster), at 56 percent, State Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles (82 percent), Rep. Eileen Cody (79 percent) and Representatives Bob Hasegawa, Sam Hunt and Maralyn Chase, among others.

Other supporters cited by Hiller included Senator Adam Kline, an overwhelming victor at 87 percent in the 37th District, and Reps. Joe Fitzgibbon (34th) and Marko Liias (21st).

Additional Cascade-backed candidates who appeared to be turned away included Rep. Tom Campbell (2nd District), Sumner Schoenike (26th District), Jake Fey (27th District) and Senator Chris Marr (6th District).

Further reading: Around the nation, cycling candidates faced varied success.

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Cascade Bicycle Club Leadership Still Unsettled http://bikeintelligencer.com/2010/10/cascade-bicycle-club-leadership-still-unsettled/ http://bikeintelligencer.com/2010/10/cascade-bicycle-club-leadership-still-unsettled/#comments Sat, 23 Oct 2010 21:48:56 +0000 http://bikeintelligencer.com/?p=4663 A fumbled chance to calm down the membership.

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Cascade Bicycle Club’s tumultuous annual meeting on Thursday did little to further the club’s progress in soothing the Chuck Ayers-David Hiller imbroglio.

The board of directors fumbled a golden opportunity to calm the waters by getting the membership fully aired and drawing some talking points from the gathering for moving forward. (We’d suggested breaking into small groups and having leaders report back to the plenary). Instead, heated exchanges prevailed.

So what next? There’s a movement afoot to bust the board. A few good candidates — notably SeattleLikesBikes’ Michael Snyder — have emerged, but it will take some persistent organizing between now and the board election to clear the air and set a solid agenda for the club.

In the meantime, here’s a sampler of recent coverage:

Seattle Bike Blog covered the meeting.

Publicola’s Twitter feed.

Cascade’s message board reflects little confidence in the board of directors.

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Just How Bad Are Things At Cascade? http://bikeintelligencer.com/2010/10/just-how-bad-are-things-at-cascade/ http://bikeintelligencer.com/2010/10/just-how-bad-are-things-at-cascade/#comments Mon, 11 Oct 2010 07:00:42 +0000 http://bikeintelligencer.com/?p=4643 The nation's largest bike club faces a fork in the path — with no Yogi Berra to lead it.

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Cascade, the nation’s largest bicycle club, is in disarray. Chuck Ayers’ firing by the board is just the scab on a festering sore. Staff members “are looking over their shoulders,” as one put it, having little unified guidance and not knowing how secure their jobs will be under a new executive director. There is talk among veteran members of recalling the board. Infrastructurally, Cascade’s rickety data base and chaotic Web site badly need refreshing.

Then there’s the thorny issue of the future of David Hiller, Cascade’s singular advocacy voice. Although no one inside the club, including Hiller, will say anything publicly, the clear message is that the David Hiller of old does not fit the Cascade blueprint moving forward.

The good news is that just about everyone from junior staff to senior board members understands the challenges, which one called “opportunities.” The bad news is how much has to remain on hold till a new ED arrives.

To be sure, bike clubs the world over would love to have problems brought on by more than 30 percent growth over the past two years, to 13,000-plus members. The salary Cascade is offering for the executive director — $80,000 to $100,000 — is bigger than the entire budget of many cycling organizations.

By the same token, pushing the reset button is going to take time at a juncture where the club’s community presence is more vital than ever. It will turn the board into the equivalent of club management working full-time non-profit jobs, something board members understandably have mixed feelings about.

The turmoil makes recruiting a new executive director a hugely taller order. At the same time, the club must prepare for its signature winter-spring events, including the annual Seattle Bike Expo, bike swap meet and Chilly Hilly recreational ride.

It all creates an explosive backdrop for the club’s annual meeting 6:30 p.m. Oct. 21 at REI. While typically only a few dozen members attend, with most itching to dispense with official business so things can move to the ever-popular slide-show portion, this year’s event could draw several hundred — well beyond the capacity of REI’s meeting room.

A Different Kind of Advocacy?

Cascade is enjoying unprecedented clout among local officials, lawmakers and business leaders. “We have politicians coming to us, asking what they can do to earn Cascade’s endorsement,” said board member Tim Hennings. Last fall’s elections solidified the club’s influence, with bike-friendly candidates Mike O’Brien (city council), Mike McGinn (Seattle mayor) and Dow Constantine (King County executive) all buoyed by Cascade’s endorsement and active support.

With Ayers’ support, the club’s advocacy vision and implementation has largely been shaped by Hiller, a tireless lobbyist and politically savvy in-fighter. Much of the credit for infrastructural progress in Seattle — bike lanes, road diets, completion of the Burke-Gilman and Interurban Trails — redounds to Hiller’s brilliant vision and dogged spade work.

“I’m deeply humbled by and greatly appreciate the outpouring of community support,” Hiller said by phone. “But I’m not authorized to speak for the club at this time.” The latter itself is quite a departure — for several years Hiller has been the most quoted and visible club official.

“David is tremendously effective and has accomplished incredible things — but I couldn’t stand working with the guy,” said a former Cascade executive who, like many interviewed for this piece, requested anonymity because of ongoing relationships with the club.

Descriptions of Hiller’s style tend toward “direct” and “confrontational” more than “genial” and “diplomatic.” He does not suffer fools, and he refuses to sugar-coat.

Case in point: Renton’s recent decision to impose a 10 mile-an-hour speed limit on cyclists on the Cedar River Trail — a restriction that for a commuter or veteran cyclist is like forcing a marathoner to walk. The change was rationalized by the death of an elderly pedestrian after colliding with a cyclist on the trail — but it also seemed more punitive than reasonable or necessary.

“We find Renton’s response to be unsound and grossly disproportionate,” Hiller told the bike blog BikingBis. The comment may have aptly verbalized the dismay the cycling community felt, but was problematic from the standpoint of professional PR and an eye toward future rescinding of the 10-mile limit.

“It could have been handled differently and better,” said a Cascade insider, who cited the Renton case as “indicative of how we need to alter our advocacy process.”

But a “different” style of advocacy is seen by many members as “PC” and ineffectual. Longtime cyclists know the only way to get change is to fight hard and stand up to political pressure from the highway lobby and car culture. Doing so may not always require the hard-nosed approach of a David Hiller — but when it does, only a David Hiller will succeed.

Consider what board members seem convinced is a “backlash” against cyclists manifested in debate over road diets (Nickerson and 125th Streets), bike boxes, cycle tracks and other progressive measures. Longtime cyclists have heard the same complaints for years. “There’s no backlash,” one asserted. “Cyclists just happen to be gaining ground and finally getting their due, so the opposition is getting bent out of shape.”

For Cascade, Hiller may be a case of can’t live with, can’t live without. A new executive director “may look at David and say, I don’t want any part of that,” a board member told us. But a former Cascade executive said, “I wouldn’t be surprised if a new ED said we’ll give David a chance to change, do peer reviews and after three months assess how things are going.” That’s if he stays with Cascade — Hiller was rumored headed for Mayor McGinn’s staff earlier this year and has been mentioned as a potential legislative staffer.

Anyone with any history at Cascade would hate to see Hiller go. As Seattle City Council member Mike O’Brien put it, “A Cascade without David Hiller is a far less effective organization than a Cascade with David Hiller.”

For better or worse, it’s fair to expect a gentler, less hard-edged advocacy from Cascade — with “the same goals we’ve always had, but a professional approach,” Hennings said.

A New Transparency?

The handling of Ayers’ departure — announced without notice or dexterity — points to another source of membership frustration: organizational transparency. Members complain that, after taking their annual fee, club leadership offers little in the way of communication or explanation of its actions.

Some members blame the board for control-freakism. On the club’s message board (online forum), a thread erupted in support of recalls, which would require a petition from 5 percent of the membership (650 to 700 members) and vote at a specially convened meeting with a minimum of just 25 members present. From dialog on the forum, however, there seems little consensus on the wisdom of such a move.

Another tack would be write-in votes on two current ballots for board members. One widely mentioned candidate, Michael Snyder, founder of the closely read bike blog SeattleLikesBikes.org, said he’s not sure a recall of the board would be advisable or that he would want to serve. “I’d consider it,” he said, but only if it became apparent “there is an urgent need to get a different style voice on the board.”

According to Hennings, who has emerged as the on–the-record spokesperson for the board, “none of us wants to be running Cascade Bicycle Club.” But till a new ED arrives, Hennings said, “we’re committed to doing what it takes to keep the club on track.”

Transparency is high on the board’s agenda. First up: Winning the trust of the membership. Hennings said the board wants to “channel negative feelings into positive energy” at the annual meeting “and build from there.”

Facing similar membership disillusionment, Cascade’s off–road cousin, the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance, held an all-factions-invited powwow at Duthie Hill Mountain Bike Park last fall. Breaking the gathering into small groups, with each naming a leader to take notes and report back to the plenary, Evergreen managed to turn potential mutiny into a feel-good brainstorming session. Many of the ideas were subsequently implemented, with resulting membership increase and engagement (although notably Evergreen still lacks a permanent executive director as well).

About that Web site

Like many non-profits, Cascade has long had “Web update” on its to-do list. The club site bristles with information that often is nigh impossible to find even with an internal search. The message board is clunky and antiquated in the era of Facebook and Twitter. The home page looks mostly like a calendar listing.

According to Hennings, president and founder of ObjectPublisher Web Services, which produces custom PDF brochures and catalogs, a sweeping makeover has been in the offing for more than two years and will be implemented within the next six months. It will run on a Drupal-CiviCRM open-source platform popular with membership organizations, the issue being ongoing support once the changeover is made. Drupal is sophisticated but complex, and maintaining it requires a certain amount of programming chops.

While improving the Web site is one goal, interfacing with Cascade’s booming membership also is driving the change. Large organizations necessarily need repeated tech “touches” with members to ensure they re-up and engage with club activities. Strong database management can automate things like sending emails about rides a member has been on before, logging member participation in events and rides on an annual basis (info that’s golden during re-up time), having vital statistics of club members for political campaigns, PR and corporate sponsorship purposes, and simply gaining new blood.

Database feedback also is vital for planning purposes. Cascade watchers say the club is in danger of ossifying — its demographic is heavily weighted toward the forties and older.

Cascade’s technological needs are such that it plans to scour the tech sector for a potential ED. Certainly locally, the Puget Sound region is surfeit with cycling techies, most notably evinced in F5 Networks’ sponsorship of Bike to Work day last May.

What next?

Cascade’s immediate future looks like the proverbial stack of dominoes, with Hiller being the lead chip. Whether he stays or leaves will have a huge impact on subsequent steps, starting with the annual meeting. If he stays, the club will have to decide whether to unmuzzle him or find a different strong voice to lead. In its absence, a palace revolt could well gather momentum.

The next few days promise to be crucial.

UPDATE: Cascade’s annual membership meeting did little to quell dissension.

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Cascade Bicycle Club Issues Elaboration on Chuck Ayers’ Firing http://bikeintelligencer.com/2010/10/cascade-bicycle-club-issues-elaboration-on-chuck-ayers-firing/ http://bikeintelligencer.com/2010/10/cascade-bicycle-club-issues-elaboration-on-chuck-ayers-firing/#respond Fri, 08 Oct 2010 22:59:10 +0000 http://bikeintelligencer.com/?p=4639 More explication on the upheaval at the nation's largest bike club.

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In a long letter to its membership, Seattle’s Cascade Bicycle Club confirms our earlier analysis while shedding little light on the future of other officials, including advocacy director David Hiller. More later, but here’s the letter as posted on the club’s blog:

The following is a message from Chris Weiss, President and Chair, Board of Directors of Cascade Bicycle Club:

Dear members,

First, let me thank you for your ongoing support and your commitment to the Club. Since we announced the Board of Directors’ decision on Monday to make a change in our Executive Director, some of you have asked for more information about why we made the decision. On behalf of the Board, I want to share a few more details with you.

On Monday, Oct. 4, we met with Chuck Ayers to summarize management issues we had discussed with him for many months, to explain our need for a smooth transition in leadership and to request his resignation. After a long and respectful discussion, Chuck declined our request and the Board terminated his employment.

This decision was very difficult for the Board. All of us are avid cyclists. Chuck personally recruited most of us to serve as volunteer Board members. He’s our friend. Chuck is a person of the highest integrity and we deeply appreciate his contributions to the Club over the years. We considered our decision very carefully, over time and always through the lens of what was in the best interest of the Club now and for years to come. Difficult as it was, it is the right decision.

Cascade Bicycle Club was founded 40 years ago as a grassroots membership organization. The Board is charged with overseeing the Club’s financial viability, charting its strategic direction and supervising the Executive Director, including, if necessary, deciding whether the ED should continue to lead our Club. These core governance responsibilities are essential to the long-term viability and effective function of Cascade Bicycle Club.

Over the past few years, the Board consistently has supported Chuck and the Club staff. In addition to being responsible stewards of the Club’s finances, we evaluate and approve electoral endorsements recommended by the staff and authorize Cascade’s legal challenges, such as our successful battle with Lake Forest Park to protect the Burke Gilman Trail, the ongoing BGT Missing Link litigation, and our current challenge to the legality of the Transportation 2040 Plan.

The Board fully supports the public policy positions and strong advocacy voice of the Cascade Bicycle Club. We are 100% committed to Cascade’s continuing role as an unwavering and consistent grassroots voice to demand safe and accessible streets and trails for cycling and cyclists.

So, why the change?

As Cascade’s membership has grown – now to more than 13,000 members – so did the staff (now 23 employees), our programs and the complexity of our operations, demanding different management skills than in our earlier years.

The Club’s public voice now helps to shape our region’s transportation policies. We are one of the most potent political forces in the region and one of the strongest and most influential advocates in the nation for cyclists and cycling. To continue to be a successful advocate – in fact, in order to strengthen our advocacy while also enhancing our rides, programs and activities – we must become more strategic and focused. When tough tactics are called for, we will not shy away. But we also must build coalitions and back up our beliefs with reason and with dignity. Cascade Bicycle Club is its members, and we must always be mindful that when we speak, we represent each of you.

Chuck’s leadership helped build our advocacy position. However, increasingly, his leadership style resulted in actions and public statements that periodically were counterproductive to the image we wanted for our Club and jeopardized our lobbying to secure passage of the Vulnerable User Bill and many other advocacy initiatives. The Board grew more and more concerned that this underlying management philosophy would limit the Club’s effectiveness in serving members as well as its appeal to donors and sponsors. Critical comments of Cascade began to arise not just in the media, but among the grassroots cyclists and citizen advocates who are the lifeblood of our Club, risking the polarization of the community against cycling as Seattle moves forward with many pro-cycling reforms.

These issues are only part of a larger assessment of the Club’s leadership needs. Over the past few years, the Board has worked with and consistently supported Chuck in his efforts to promote growth and to position the Club for the future. More recently, our views have increasingly diverged regarding how the Executive Director should best execute his duties to ensure the efficient and effective management of the Club. To go into further detail about this personnel issue, and the specifics of how the Board worked with Chuck to address the Board’s concerns, would be inappropriate and inconsistent with our desire to respect Chuck’s privacy. Ultimately, only after a long process and after many careful discussions with Chuck, did the Board reach its conclusion that a change was necessary in order for the Club to realize its potential.

A change in leadership is not unusual in the business world or the nonprofit world. Many organizations find themselves at a crossroads where the successes of existing leadership cause the organization to evolve to the point where continued success requires a different style of leadership, fresh perspectives and new ideas. This is where Cascade is today.

The Board is deeply appreciative of Chuck and of the many accomplishments Cascade made under Chuck’s leadership. During his 13-year tenure, Chuck, staff, volunteers and our sponsors helped grow Cascade into the nation’s largest cycling organization. Cascade runs thousands of rides and manages dozens of events and educational programs each year. And, as noted earlier, we are influential advocates for policies to benefit cycling, cyclists and communities. Now that the Club has reached this level of success, we need an executive director who can build upon these accomplishments and expand our potential over the next decade.

This growth demands that Cascade remain a powerful voice in advocacy. Again, I want to emphasize that the Board is 100% committed to Cascade’s existing policy positions and to our identity as a grassroots organization. We endorse our local governments’ continuing strong actions to improve and extend bike trails and make bold changes to improve cycling on our roads.

To ensure a smooth transition and the ongoing operations of all our programs and activities, Board Vice-Chair Peter Morgan has taken on daily management duties for the next several weeks. A veteran cyclist, Peter is on leave from the Board and is serving Cascade pro bono. Through 2009, Peter was the Executive Vice President at Group Health. He brings extensive management experience to the role and has worked closely with Cascade staff this year in framing Cascade’s almost-completed strategic plan. The Board will immediately begin recruiting an interim executive director who will likely serve for three to six months before we hire a permanent executive director.

We will post the Executive Director job description soon. With the involvement of the Club’s staff, the Board will look for a visionary and dynamic organizational leader with experience in inspiring members, staff and communities. We’ll be looking for an ED with experience managing a large organization so that we can drive and manage continued growth.

In closing, it is important to remember that all of us are the Cascade Bicycle Club – not just a single individual – and, together, we are the voice of cyclists and cycling.

Please contact us if you would like to discuss the transition further. The Annual Meeting of the Cascade Bicycle Club is on Thursday, October 21, at 6:30 p.m. at REI. We encourage you to come. Again, thank you for your continued support.

Chris Weiss
President and Chair, Board of Directors
Cascade Bicycle Club
chris.weiss@cascadebicycleclub.com

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Rasmussen’s Indigestion: New Seattle walks, bikes, rides. Old Seattle has gas. http://bikeintelligencer.com/2010/06/rasmussens-indigestion-new-seattle-walks-bikes-and-rides-old-seattle-has-gas/ http://bikeintelligencer.com/2010/06/rasmussens-indigestion-new-seattle-walks-bikes-and-rides-old-seattle-has-gas/#respond Tue, 01 Jun 2010 14:55:05 +0000 http://bikeintelligencer.com/?p=3282 A grass-roots campaign to slow down a major thoroughfare is gaining steam.

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[UPDATE: In a comment posted on Cascade Bicycle Club’s blog, Rasmussen says he has “not come out in opposition” to the Nickerson road diet. This still leaves open the possible he may choose to do so, but for now he characterizes himself as in feedback-gathering mode.]

At the recent Bike to Work Day rally in front of City Hall, Seattle City Council member Tom Rasmussen was a featured speaker on the joys of cycling in Seattle.

Rasmussen, who serves on the Council’s bicycle caucus, is a bike commuter and known as a cycling supporter. Who better to rally the troops on the biggest bike day of the year than the chair of the Council’s Transportation Committee?

So why, then, did Rasmussen subsequently show up in a Seattle Times article complaining of “indigestion” over a proposed “road diet” for Nickerson? Why did he suggest he might support waiting till 2016, which seems like a long way off for a modest and affordable project?

Why oppose a road diet at all, when a just-released SeattleStoneWayTrafficComparison indicates that a similar project on Stone Way N., another crucial bike-commuter route, showed fewer accidents, more bike trips, and traffic volumes comparable to pre-diet levels? (Translation: no discernible negative impacts on commerce.)

Why, in short, was a cycling proponent taking such an anti-cycling position?

Interpreting Rasmussen’s position requires a bit of decoding. What he told Publicola is that he has heard from both Democratic and Republican 36th district representatives on the Nickerson proposal. Ordinarily that might mean a broad-based bipartisan position, but in this case it simply refers to business interests which still harbor 20th Century misconceptions that bike and pedestrian improvements get in the way of commerce.

The constituency Rasmussen did not mention having heard from was the bike community. In Nickerson, cyclists have a golden opportunity to make their case for improved cycling access and safety — something they talk about all the time. But they had yet to make an impression on Rasmussen.

Tom Rasmussen (far right) at Bike to Work Day rally: Does the City Council have McGinn envy?

Another subtext here is the Council’s growing McGinn envy. Despite a few stumbles out of the gate, Mayor Mike is winning over the public with his genial nature and open-systems populism. Sensing an opportunity, his opponents are turning to Council members who may be feeling left out in the cold as McGinn moves ahead — even if his policies may mesh with their own.

Most notable in this regard is Richard Conlin, who came from a strong sustainability background, was the city’s biggest bike-boosting official before McGinn, and still promotes green, progressive policies like making Seattle the nation’s first Gross National Happiness city. As his Seattle.gov Web site puts it, “My goal as a Councilmember is to work with you and for you to strengthen neighborhoods, foster economic recovery from the current crisis, and make Seattle a leader in sustainability by envisioning, creating, and implementing new and innovative solutions.”

After playing a prominent role in last year’s Bike to Work Day, Conlin was noticeably missing this year — vacationing in Greece. Given his quarreling with the mayor over the Deep Bore Tunnel, though, it’s probably just as well he was out of town.

Longtime supporters of Conlin and Seattle’s sustainability community are scratching their heads at the standoff between the Council president and the mayor. One problem is that Conlin has not chosen — yet, anyway — to reconcile apparent inconsistencies between his long-held philosophies — “making Seattle a more sustainable city, reducing waste, strengthening neighborhoods, improving pedestrian mobility and transportation infrastructure, and making government more transparent,” as his Web page puts it — and his recently adopted positions.

Rasmussen as well traced his concerns to the viaduct. As he told Publicola, he’s concerned that vehicular traffic will face a hard time of it during the viaduct replacement if Nickerson has to “diet.”

For cyclists, the complex nature of City Hall politicking presents both challenges and opportunities.

With thousands of cyclists commuting on its streets every day, and a No. 4 ranking among the most bike-friendly cities in the nation, Seattle is a recognized cycling hotbed. Besides McGinn, Rasmussen and Conlin, numerous other elected officials support bike agendas. Perhaps the cycling community, then, can be forgiven for assuming its leaders will automatically embrace bike initiatives. In this light, Rasmussen’s stance can be viewed as testing the mettle of the cycling lobby.

To its credit, Cascade Bicycle Club, the nation’s largest, is rolling into action. In response to Rasmussen’s equivocation, club advocacy director David Hiller posted a piece on the Cascade site’s blog that skillfully deconstructs erroneous claims opposing the road diet. Cascade has suggested cyclists send “Tums to Tom” to settle his stomach.

The blog SeattleLikesBikes and supporters have launched Google and Facebook groups as well as a Twitter feed in support of the Nickerson plan.

To fully persuade Rasmussen, though, cyclists will need to get their voices heard in less receptive quarters, including the constituencies that Rasmussen said were making him ill.

Seattle is facing a wrenching transition from expensive, conventional car-dominated agendas to new, localized, sustainable, “green” and forward-looking policies. It’s a battle between Fading Seattle and Emerging Seattle — Old Seattle vs. New Seattle.

The former jumps into action any time a cycling initiative threatens to impact truck and commercial traffic — Ballard’s “Missing Link,” Stone Way’s bike lanes, the Nickerson road diet. It doesn’t matter that bike and pedestrian improvements (they typically go hand in glove) consistently improve commerce in communities where they’re adopted by putting more people and patrons on the streets. Nor does it seem to make a difference that small businesses, especially the growing numbers of eco-friendly ones, actually support biking and walking and understand the need for people-first policies. Any time street uses other than cars and trucks are on the agenda, the old guard is going to oppose them.

Representing New Seattle are groups like SCALLOPS — Sustainable Communities All Over Puget Sound — Feet First, Cascade (the nation’s largest bike club), People for Puget Sound, Seattle Transition, the People’s Waterfront Coalition and the newly formed Streets for All Seattle, which signed up more than 50 supporters to help back the mayor’s Walk Bike Ride campaign (BikeIntelligencer is one).

The results of last November’s election, which swept into office streets-friendly candidates from Obama on down to Seattle municipal races, were a clear sign of Seattle’s changing politics — and New Seattle’s growing influence. But Old Seattle, which still has financial clout and the Old Boys Network on its side, is not going to roll over and die.

Cyclists are a key part of New Seattle. To follow through on the agenda they used to get candidates elected, they will have to work the community councils, precinct monthlies and civic and business groups like Chambers of Commerce and Rotaries.

Cascade’s recently formed Bike Business Forum is a step in this direction; the club also is helping generate turnout for a review of the project at Rasmussen’s committee on June 8.

It will take time and elbow grease — and maybe a few bouts of indigestion — to move Seattle from old to new.

But to make their tummies feel better, cyclists only have to use their heads and feet.

More links:

Seattle Times: Road diet gives Rasmussen indigestion.

Seattle Transit Blog: Stone Way Road Diet Improved Safety, City says.

Publicola: Cascade says send Tums to Tom.

Cascade Bicycle Club’s David Hiller: Here we go again.

SeattleLikesBikes: Support the Road Diet!

Paris bike plan moving forward.

San Francisco bike plan may move forward.

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The Real Missing Link Is Cooperation http://bikeintelligencer.com/2010/04/the-real-missing-link-is-cooperation/ http://bikeintelligencer.com/2010/04/the-real-missing-link-is-cooperation/#respond Sat, 17 Apr 2010 06:37:36 +0000 http://bikeintelligencer.com/?p=2803 Judge Jim Rogers is no cable guy, but his decision has "git 'er done" all over it ...

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The good news in King County Superior Court Judge Jim Rogers’ decision earlier today on the Burke-Gilman Trail’s “Missing Link” is quite simply this:

The link is going to go through. It may be sooner, it may be later. But the project essentially has been sanctioned.

In requiring an environmental review — and not, as several news reports mistakenly stated, a far more onerous environmental-impact statement — the judge basically told the city to get all the pipes clean before the water gets turned on. He wants the project to be airtight if the plaintiffs — a selfish collection of Ballard businesses and the unaccountably arbitrary Chamber of Commerce — decide to move ahead with an appeal.

The fact that no appeal was announced immediately, despite their losing on 8 of 9 (actually 9 of 9, the 9th just being postponed a bit) “counts,” indicates that the Chamber and small faction of the Ballard business community opposing the Link are getting the message. Their less-than-triumphant comments suggest they may finally be open to negotiation and compromise, should the City and Cascade Bicycle Club decide to pursue that path.

But first, it would help for Cascade to make its position clear on the Judge’s ruling. News reports had the Club both “feeling good” (Jeff Eustis, attorney for Cascade) and “really disappointed” (David Hiller, advocacy director for Cascade). Hey, this isn’t Rashomon. It’s either one or the other — or, from a practical standpoint, really neither. For cyclists, the decision doesn’t say victory or defeat — just OK, let’s push on.

Most of the “Link” can go ahead now, as Michael Snyder points out at SeattleLikesBikes. Let’s do it while the environmental assessment — which could take only a few weeks under an accelerated review process — is completed. The momentum of having all but a third of a mile done would increase pressure on the fringe business group in Ballard still opposed to the Link (far more businesses in Ballard support than oppose the project).

We’d argue that the decision actually does not change much (if the businesses appeal, they would have done so even if the Judge had given a complete green light; Cascade would have appealed an adverse ruling as well), and that all along what’s been needed is a greater sense of cooperation.

Why can’t Seattle ever get anything done? Why, when we leave town for six months and then return, are the pressing issues of the day exactly the same (viaduct, 520, Missing Link) as they were when we left, as are each and every one of the talking points?

It’s simply because there is no sense of higher purpose in Seattle, no real engagement in dialogue, and no willingness to budge on a position for the greater good of the public. There’s no roundtable. No real “town hall” (despite the city having a very nice building by that name).

Officials make decisions without consulting or reflecting constituencies, who then protest and sue. And so delays go on forever.

The Judge’s ruling is 8/9ths two-thumbs-up. While that last 1/9th gets ironed out, it’s time to git ‘er done.

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Police arrest cyclist: A double standard? http://bikeintelligencer.com/2009/11/police-arrest-cyclist-a-double-standard/ http://bikeintelligencer.com/2009/11/police-arrest-cyclist-a-double-standard/#comments Fri, 20 Nov 2009 17:49:58 +0000 http://bikeintelligencer.wordpress.com/?p=1399 Seattle Times: “A 32-year-old bicyclist accused of running over a 6-year-old boy near Pike Place Market on Friday, leaving the child hospitalized with serious facial injuries, was charged today with vehicular assault and hit and run.” Re this incident, where a man on a bike apparently hit a 6-year-old boy in a crosswalk, we are […]

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Seattle Times: “A 32-year-old bicyclist accused of running over a 6-year-old boy near Pike Place Market on Friday, leaving the child hospitalized with serious facial injuries, was charged today with vehicular assault and hit and run.”

Re this incident, where a man on a bike apparently hit a 6-year-old boy in a crosswalk, we are impressed with the alacrity that police exercised in tracking down and arresting a suspect.

We can’t help but make some observations, though:

If a car had hit the boy, it would not have made the news. The boy was injured, but if you don’t die in a car-pedestrian accident, you don’t get a headline.

If a car had hit the boy, it’s doubtful an arrest would have been made so quickly.

If a car had hit a cyclist in similar circumstances, no way would an arrest have been made so quickly — if ever. Cars can kill cyclists with no arrest being made. It’s already happened 4 times this year in Seattle, the most notorious being Kevin Black, run over by a van. The investigation took months, and the judicial system wound up declaring it could take no action. (Black’s distraught family subsequently filed a wrongful death suit.)

We think the case with the 6-year-old is the way traffic justice should work. If the police report is correct, this is indeed a case of vehicular assault and hit-and-run. Neither should be tolerated in Seattle.

Our concern is that this is the first indication we’ve seen of any change to a status quo that generally ignores or minimizes such incidents, and it happens to involve a cyclist hitting a small child.

In other words, the cyclist is being made an example of. I’m no psychologist, and in any case it’s difficult to impute motive. But in making a big deal out of this, police seem to be sending a message that, as usual, cyclists need to watch their back. This is particularly pertinent given that the new mayor of Seattle, the new county executive and at least three City Council members are big bike supporters.

This apparent double standard already has resulted in a request from Cascade Bicycle Club’s advocacy director, David Hiller, for a meeting with County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg. Hiller notes “an issue of perceived bias in the prosecution of motor vehicle offenses,” relating that “of 81 collisions in King County in 2007 that seem to meet the same standard of intent that Mr. Araneta (cyclist defendant who ran into boy) is being held to, none were prosecuted.”

We await with intense interest the response of police and media to the next car-bicycle or car-pedestrian accident in Seattle — the typical one, where the cyclist or walker is the obvious victim. If there’s a new wind blowing through law enforcement, it should show up summarily.

See Cascade Bicycle Club forum comments queue for additional observations.

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Can Elected Bike Riders Impel Change We Can Believe In? http://bikeintelligencer.com/2009/11/can-elected-bike-riders-impel-change-we-can-believe-in/ http://bikeintelligencer.com/2009/11/can-elected-bike-riders-impel-change-we-can-believe-in/#comments Wed, 11 Nov 2009 09:55:17 +0000 http://bikeintelligencer.wordpress.com/?p=1367 With the election of Mike McGinn as mayor of Seattle and re-election of Council president Richard Conlin, it now looks as though the two most powerful office-holders in the city are, of all things, bike commuters. The third most powerful, newly elected County Executive Dow Constantine, is a bike lover, as is another newcomer, Council […]

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With the election of Mike McGinn as mayor of Seattle and re-election of Council president Richard Conlin, it now looks as though the two most powerful office-holders in the city are, of all things, bike commuters. The third most powerful, newly elected County Executive Dow Constantine, is a bike lover, as is another newcomer, Council member Mike O’Brien, Together they comprise a two-wheeled coalition atop local government unlike any other municipality of Seattle’s size and prominence.

Will it make a difference? And if so, how much?

Conlin’s 12-year tenure, crossover popularity and political capital gained from a resounding victory in last Tuesday’s election have led some to designate him Seattle’s “interim” mayor while McGinn learns the ropes. There may be some truth in the appellation, but we think McGinn’s dedication to civic causes over the years gives him considerable momentum going into the job. And as anyone who has worked with Mike knows, he typically has a pretty good idea going in what he wants to do on any given issue.

We think McGinn’s infamous “flip-flop”— more like a soft-pedal (given his avocation) — actually won the election for him. It didn’t lose him any votes; what were tunnel haters going to do, vote for build-baby-build Mallahan? Instead it won crucial votes from the rule-book set, traditionalist Seattleites who needed a sign from McGinn that he could put aside personal conviction when due process dictated a different track. That said, we still hope Mike finds a way out of the geologic insanity and bottomless money pit of the Deep Bore.

If the tunnel does proceed, cyclists hopefully will benefit from increased surface options in the city. But the big imprint that cycling leadership can leave on the city will involve long-sought integration of bikes into Seattle’s traffic grid and transportation infrastructure. With downtown bike counts continuing to escalate exponentially — the Seattle Bicycle Master Plan calls for tripling the amount of bicycling in Seattle by 2017 — such integration is not only prudent but necessary.

Seattle’s Cascade Bicycle Club and the City will spend much of 2010 developing a 5-year update of the Master Plan. It will be fascinating to watch a transportation blueprint put together with cyclists as equal participants rather than afterthoughts. What might cyclists hope for in a McGinn administration?

Our wish list includes:

Completing Ballard’s “missing link” on the Burke-Gilman Trail. This is under litigation, but there are pressures and bargainings that a McGinn administration can bring to bear to “ameliorate” the process. Let’s git ‘er done guys.

More bike lanes. A recent study showed that bike lanes are safer for cyclists than is competing with cars on streets and highways, and with pedestrians, dogs and strollers on bike paths (although bike-only paths are safer). Yet the city has in crucial corridors moved away from lanes in favor of “sharrows,” or on-pavement arrows indicating that vehicles need to “share” the pavement with bikes.

Sharrows hold some symbolic persuasion. But we feel they’re more a sop than solution. The painted arrows soon wear off. “Shared” lanes invite “dooring” from parked cars. And we all know when push comes to shove who gets shoved out of the right-of-way.

True bike lanes on North 45th Street and on Stone Way should be a high priority. And while you’re at it, on Broadway, Queen Anne Avenue, Rainier and Columbia Way. I’m missing some, I know. North 80th or 85th (McGinn lives up there!). And more. (Check out Page yll of the Master Plan for a graphic of what the ideal bike grid should look like.)

North-south bike corridors are in pretty good shape; east-west needs to be beefed up. Cyclists shouldn’t have to fear for their lives just getting between the city’s main districts. It will mean pinching already heavy car flow on major arterials, but that’s an inconvenient truth of reducing car dependence.

More bike racks. It sounds screwy, but Seattle is running out of places to lock up bikes, particularly downtown. Especially at festivals, conferences and conventions, or grocery and department stores — anywhere large numbers of people converge — not only are existing racks woefully inadequate, even light pole availability becomes scarce. New construction still fails to take increased cycling traffic into account, an example being Trader Joe’s in Ballard. As we’ve noted on several occasions as well, bike racks should not be put in the nether regions of underground or covered parking garages, where theft is easier and the “door-to-door” time advantage and convenience of riding a bike is lost.

Better law enforcement. Cascade will resume its valiant efforts to pass legislation at the state level to improve traffic justice for riders and walkers. Although the state Supreme Court ruled that state law overrides local jurisdictions, police can still give out tickets and otherwise make their presence known when drivers endanger cyclists. There needs to be heightened awareness that cyclists truly do belong on city corridors and do not relinquish the legal system’s protections for street users simply because they are not sitting behind the wheel of a car.

Setting an example. McGinn drew attention during the campaign for commenting how he would change the go-everywhere-by-car policy of gas-guzzling Mayor Greg Nickels. Now’s his chance to show exactly how, and to provide a model for dignitaries everywhere about what it means to reduce four-wheel transport to two.

Bicycle advocacy in city government. We’re no fan of bureaucratic featherbedding, but cyclists have been under-represented in City Hall for so long (even though Nickels improved somewhat) that enhancing their presence at the planning table with a few good administrators would be well worth the salary allocations. Any McGinn/Constantine vision of transportation in Puget Sound that moves commuters out of cars needs to contain huge incentives to go by bike. Mass transit especially should give discounts or other benefits to velo travelers. We need fertile thinking to enter the post-carbon society, and there are a lot of creative bike minds in Seattle that can be tapped by City Hall.

At Cascade, advocacy director David Hiller says the club is looking forward to blue-skying about the future, and to being a driver (so to speak) of policy rather than a check-box constituency to be informed after decisions have been made. Cascade’s tireless efforts to broaden its own identity as well as McGinn’s appeal throughout Seattle, especially among Asian and minority communities, were undoubtedly the difference in the narrow election. The payoff will come with a local political clout rivaled only by the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition among urban cycling organizations.

“We’re dreaming the big dreams, all of us, right now,” Hiller said.

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Let There Be Justice http://bikeintelligencer.com/2009/10/let-there-be-justice/ http://bikeintelligencer.com/2009/10/let-there-be-justice/#comments Wed, 28 Oct 2009 17:01:20 +0000 http://bikeintelligencer.wordpress.com/?p=1346 I was out of town and unable to attend the Traffic Justice Summit at Seattle’s City Hall a couple of weeks ago, but thanks to great work by the folks at Seattle Channel, a video has been posted on the Web. The presentation also will broadcast on TV via Seattle Channel (21 on Comcast cable) […]

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I was out of town and unable to attend the Traffic Justice Summit at Seattle’s City Hall a couple of weeks ago, but thanks to great work by the folks at Seattle Channel, a video has been posted on the Web. The presentation also will broadcast on TV via Seattle Channel (21 on Comcast cable) over the next few days (link and showtimes below).

This show is well worth watching, for a penetrating look not only at how the judicial process marginalizes cyclists and pedestrians, the second-class citizens of our transportation network, but at the crushing impact that senseless, careless, negligent actions behind the wheel of a vehicle have on friends and families of those struck down.

The key word here is “justice.” Without a socio-judicial response equivalent to the severe injury or death suffered in a bike or pedestrian accident, there can be no sense of closure from loved ones, and — most significantly — no disincentive for others or even the same perpetrator to repeat the offense.

A horrific case in point was offered at the Summit. A bike rider, Ilsa Govan, told how she had been struck by a car driving on the wrong side of the road. She subsequently discovered that the driver, Rabbi Ephraim Schwartz, had a history of poor driving, and yet had been permitted back behind the wheel of a car time and again.

Eighteen months after her accident, the same driver killed Tatsuo Nakata, a City Council aide, while he was walking across a street in a crosswalk. As Govan put it, the rabbi “is not a bad person. He’s just a bad driver.”

Under current law, about all traffic enforcement officers can do in a case lacking clear intent to harm is issue a traffic ticket, even in the case of death where the victim clearly had right of way. Efforts in Olympia to address the legal discrepancy with “vehicular assault” legislation have stumbled in the past. At the Summit, Seattle city attorney Tom Carr and state senator Adam Kline brought us up to date on renewed efforts spearheaded by Cascade Bicycle Club and its tireless advocacy director, David Hiller, who emceed the event.

If any one segment encapsulated the shame, outrage and agony of the current situation, it was the moving testimony of Michele Black, widow of Ballard cyclist Kevin Black, who was killed by a van driver last February making a u-turn on 24th Avenue Northwest.

The driver was “in such a hurry to get to where she wanted to go,” Michele noted, that she not only ignored common sense and broke the law, she killed a human being. Or, as one of Kevin’s daughters put it in a card “to Daddy” posted at a memorial at the intersection where he died, “ran you over like a speed bump.”

“I want justice for Kevin, and I want justice for every person who has been killed,” said Michele, who had the added horror of coming onto the scene of her husband’s death shortly after the accident without knowing what had happened. “I don’t want another family to feel that pain.”

After Michele spoke, Hiller noted in a choking voice that last year’s legislation “got dropped on the day Kevin was hit. The day sticks in my head as well.”

Numerous other testimonials were offered, including from survivors of car collisions. Congratulations to Cascade and Hiller for putting together a session that was not only informative but struck a human chord as well and was not afraid to confront the pathos and tragedy of loss. As daunting as accident statistics are — and they’re going up as more bike commuters hit the streets and bicycling in general increases as an alternative transportation method and recreational activity — it’s people’s stories like those at the Summit which ultimately drive change.

We’ll keep you posted on legislative efforts in the upcoming session. The Seattle Channel link and showings:

Web link

TV (Channel 21):

Tomorrow, October 29, 2009  5:00 p.m.
 
Saturday, October 31, 2009  2:30 a.m.

Saturday, October 31, 2009  2:00 p.m.

Sunday, November 01, 2009  11:00 a.m.

Sunday, November 01, 2009 10:00 p.m.

Monday, November 02, 2009 3:00 a.m.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009 9:00 p.m.

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Velocide: Death on a bike, even as loved ones testify http://bikeintelligencer.com/2009/10/velocide-death-on-a-bike-even-as-loved-ones-testify/ http://bikeintelligencer.com/2009/10/velocide-death-on-a-bike-even-as-loved-ones-testify/#respond Thu, 15 Oct 2009 09:24:32 +0000 http://bikeintelligencer.wordpress.com/?p=1315 While loved ones of cyclists killed in car collisions testified at Seattle City Hall yesterday… With a sobering reminder posted outside … Cyclists were mourning the death of Mary Yonkers by hit-and-run trailer truck in San Mateo CA. Far away geographically, perhaps, but united in cause. Best of luck to Seattle’s Cascade Bicycle Club and […]

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While loved ones of cyclists killed in car collisions testified at Seattle City Hall yesterday…

A heartbreaking story at Traffic Justice Summit in Seattle

A heartbreaking story at Traffic Justice Summit in Seattle

With a sobering reminder posted outside …

Killed on bikes by careless drivers

Killed on bikes by careless drivers

Cyclists were mourning the death of Mary Yonkers by hit-and-run trailer truck in San Mateo CA. Far away geographically, perhaps, but united in cause. Best of luck to Seattle’s Cascade Bicycle Club and advocacy director David Hiller as they work in the Washington State legislature to pass a “vulnerable user” law.

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