New protected bike lane triples bike riding on Second Avenue; nearly 1,100 cyclists daily using new facility

2nd Avenue Bike LaneThe Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) today released data for the new Second Avenue Protected Bike Lane that shows bicycle ridership has tripled due to the new facility. With the conversion of the former one-way bike lane to a two-way, protected bike lane, an average of 1,099 bicyclists a day used the new lane on September 9, 10 and 11 according to electronic counters. This is three times the daily number of cyclists that had previously used the former one-way bike lane.

“I am pleased that the new Second Avenue bike lane is addressing Seattle’s need for a safer, more predictable route through downtown,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “These changes help enhance safety for everyone and make Seattle better prepared for the launch of Pronto! Cycle Share in October.”

Installed by SDOT, the facility opened Monday, September 8 with new pavement markings for two-way bike traffic, green pavement markings where turning cars cross the bike lane, separate traffic signals for bicyclists and motorists turning left, and plastic posts separating the bike lane from the left turn/parking lane.

SDOT and the Cascade Bicycle Club teamed up for an education/outreach campaign, and staff was positioned at left turn locations to remind motorists and bicyclists to observe the signals. Based upon feedback obtained during the initial few days, SDOT made additional changes on September 11 to reduce confusion.  “No turn on red” signs replaced “turn on green arrow only” signs and a green straight arrow replaced the solid green circle light. After these changes, an observation of 52 vehicles on Second Avenue at Spring Street revealed that only two drivers made an illegal left turn when their left turn arrow was red, a 96.2 percent compliance rate.

“A better organized Second Avenue means a more predictable roadway for cyclists, drivers and pedestrians, and makes it safer for all users,” said SDOT Direct Scott Kubly. “Signals and signs make the rules of the road more clear.”

Since the bicycle lanes opened, travel times for drivers on Second Avenue have been better than originally forecasted. On the first day of the bike lane’s operation, it took drivers approximately one minute longer to travel the 0.71 miles on Second Avenue than before the conversion. With numerous events occurring that first week, to include opening day of the National Football League season at CenturyLink Field, engineers expect travel times to decrease further as drivers become accustomed to the new roadway configuration.

Mayor Murray applauds vote on Metro transit funding in Seattle

Mayor Murray issued the following statement in response to the Seattle Transportation Benefit District Board’s vote to place a proposal to fund Metro Transit service in Seattle on the November 4 ballot:

“I was very disappointed with the failure of King County’s Proposition 1 in April, especially because of the overwhelming – two-thirds – support from Seattle residents. It’s clear that Seattle voters value transit service as a way of life and, for many, it is a lifeline we cannot afford to cut. Preserving transit service is the most progressive act we can take, but we must ensure our low-income residents are not overly burdened by the increased taxes. The proposal includes a low-income vehicle fee rebate and increased access to King County’s planned low-income fare.

I want to thank the Board members for sending the proposal to preserve Metro Transit service in Seattle to the ballot. I especially want to thank Board Chair Tom Rasmussen for his leadership in moving this through the Transportation Benefit District.

My colleagues on the Council and I are committed to a long-term, regional funding solution for transit. While this measure will help preserve service in the short-term, I am also committed to working with the King County Executive, coalition partners and our legislative leaders toward achieving a balanced comprehensive statewide package as quickly as we can.”

Mayor Ed Murray commends Council on passage of for-hire legislation

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray issued the following statement, in response to Seattle City Council action in favor of for-hire transportation in Seattle:

“Today’s Council vote was one for the history books. I want to thank the Seattle City Council for repealing the initial for-hire legislation last week and today voting in favor of maintaining the principles of the legislation I recently transmitted: balancing the legitimate interests of all sides, protecting public safety, and promoting access to a broad array transportation options in Seattle. Cities throughout the United States will be looking to our innovative work on this issue to bring similar approaches to their cities that focus on public safety and consumer protection while balancing innovation.

“I am also grateful to all parties across the transportation industry who participated in creating this framework. Your hard work and spirit of compromise led to the agreement we developed together which will enable all parties in the industry to compete fairly to serve the needs of the public. We could not have done this without your participation.”

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Mayor Murray names new SDOT Director

Mayor Murray announces Scott Kubly as new SDOT Director

Mayor Murray today named former deputy commissioner of the City of Chicago Department of Transportation and former associate director of the District of Columbia Department of Transportation Scott Kubly as his appointment for director of the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT).

“Scott is a transportation visionary,” said Murray. “He has a proven track record in Chicago and Washington, D.C. of advancing innovative solutions that address the full range of transportation needs of residents and businesses. He’s also a transportation renaissance man who’s virtually done it all: he’s worked on bikes issues, car share programs, traffic management and pedestrian safety strategies, rapid transit and street cars; he’s done long-range budgeting, strategic planning, cost reduction, major capital project development, and performance measurement and accountability. Scott is the transportation leader this city needs to take us to the next level in creating more livable, walking communities.”

“Seattle is growing incredibly fast,” said Kubly. “To accommodate that growth and preserve the city’s great quality of life, we need a transportation system that doesn’t just get the basics right like freight mobility and safety, but that also invests in new, high quality transit, bikeshare, new bike lanes for Seattleites from 8 to 80 to ride in, and improving the pedestrian experience throughout the city. It also means creating an environment in which the private sector can provide transportation services that complement the public transportation network.  This means creating an environment that allows transportation network companies and taxis to thrive, carsharing to expand, or for new types of transportation services to evolve. The fact is, people aren’t tied to individual transportation modes, they’re tied to outcomes – and we must continue bringing forward options that will deliver the positive outcomes they need and expect.”

Murray said Kubly will lead his administration’s efforts to merge the city’s many various transportation modal planning efforts into a single comprehensive, multi-modal transportation system for Seattle.

“Scott is the right person with the right temperament and the right talent-set to move us beyond picking winners and losers between pedestrians, bikes, transit, roads and freight, and instead lead the integration and prioritization of our many planning needs into one comprehensive Move Seattle plan,” Murray said.

Kubly is currently the acting president at Alta Bicycle Share, the largest bikeshare operator in North America. His previous roles include deputy commissioner of the City of Chicago Department of Transportation, associate director of the District of Columbia Department of Transportation, and planning manager roles at the Office of the Mayor in Washington, D.C. and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. Kubly is a graduate of the University of Missouri. He holds an MS in Community and Regional Planning from the University of Texas and a MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

“Seattle needs a transportation director who recognizes the importance of a balanced transportation system and can help guide our city’s transition from auto-dependence,” said City Council Transportation Committee Chair Tom Rasmussen. “Mr. Kubly’s experience in Chicago and Washington, D.C. shows a commitment to accomplishing just that. I look forward to our discussions with Mr. Kubly over the next several weeks. I also encourage the public to participate in the confirmation process.”

“Scott’s experience and values matches up very well with the themes we heard from over 30 community advisory committee members representing over 30 stakeholder groups, 350 comments received from the community through our on-line outreach, and input received from a citywide neighborhood summit,” said John Okamoto, co-chair of the Search Committee that conducted the search process for the next SDOT director. “The selection committee was impressed with his innovation and creativity, transportation integration, and mix of project experiences.”

“Scott and I have worked together in Washington, D.C. and Chicago and he was one of the best hires I made,” said Gabe Klein former transportation commissioner of Chicago. “From innovative finance to transit planning, and making active transportation a primary focus and mode of transportation, Scott has a deep understanding of the challenges, the solutions, and has the ability to execute and get the job done which is the key.”

“I have worked with Scott in various capacities over the past 10 years,” said Leah Treat, director of the Portland Bureau of Transportation. “Most recently, in Chicago, Scott and I served side by side as deputies to Commissioner Gabe Klein. Scott will be a strong visionary leader for Seattle, bringing a unique blend of project management, financial acumen and innovative thinking developed over the years in both transit and transportation agencies. Scott will take calculated risks and pilot new techniques in an effort to deliver high quality services and maximize resources. Seattle is lucky to have attracted his talent to the Pacific Northwest.”

“When he was leading our city’s efforts to create a streetcar program, Scott Kubly fully engaged the business community so that we became willing partners in both helping to plan and implement a new system of public transportation for DC,” said Richard Bradley, president and CEO of the Downtown D.C. Business Improvement District. “He understood the needs and concerns of the business community, as he did other communities of interest in our city, and was responsive to these issues. I think he has the potential to deliver both outstanding leadership as well as dedicated professional management to Seattle’s Department of Transportation.”

“Scott has a real passion for multimodal transportation solutions,” said Rob Johnson, executive director for Transportation Choices Coalition. “I look forward to working with him to make Seattle’s transportation system the innovative, world class, system I know we’re striving to become.”

The Seattle Department of Transportation’s mission is “to create and maintain for Seattle a safe and reliable transportation system which enhances neighborhoods, the environment and the economy.” Everything the department does is aimed at enhancing mobility within the city; this department has as its vision “to be the most innovative and responsive transportation agency in the region.” The viability of Seattle’s neighborhoods and the health of our region’s economy are dependent upon access and mobility.

The Director of Transportation reports to the Mayor and has management oversight of more than 750 employees and an annual operating budget of more than $400 million.

Kubly will start on July 28 and will earn an annual salary of $180,000. This position is subject to Council confirmation.

Mayor Murray, for-hire transportation representatives reach historic agreement

Mayor Murray announces historic agreement with for-hire transportation companies

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray was joined today by for-hire transportation industry representatives to announce a historic agreement that provides a framework to enable all parties in the for-hire industry to compete fairly to serve the needs of the public.

“The agreement honors the taxi industry’s historic role in Seattle as a key component of the city’s transportation infrastructure and as a vital source of jobs, particularly for Seattle’s immigrant communities. It also embraces this rapidly transforming industry and recognizes that Seattle must stand at the forefront of innovation and not impede new ideas or add the burden of unnecessary regulations,” said Murray. “I am grateful for the willingness of all of the parties to come together in the spirit of compromise and consensus in order to find common ground.”

On April 16, Murray convened a mediation group that included representatives of taxi owners, dispatch companies, taxi drivers, for-hire owners and drivers, and transportation network companies. Over 55 days and more than 12 meetings, this group made steady progress toward balancing the legitimate interests of all sides, protecting public safety, and promoting access to a broad array transportation options in Seattle.

“The taxi industry is pleased that we can now compete and will soon offer mobile app technology. We will soon be the only service that the public can get with smart phone, phone, taxi stand and traditional hail without discrimination,” said Amin Shifow, wheelchair-accessible taxi operator.

“The For Hire drivers and owners thank Mayor Murray for bringing all parts of our industry together in order to reform city regulations to create a fair and competitive market for our services,” said Abdul Yusuf, Owner CNG For Hire and member of the For Hire Drivers and Owners Association.

“Uber is committed to providing the safest and most convenient rides in Seattle while also offering consumer choice for riders and economic opportunity for drivers.  Today’s announcement recognizes that the innovation economy is critical to Seattle’s future and we thank Mayor Murray for his leadership in reaching a compromise that benefits both riders and drivers,” said Brooke Steger, General Manager, Uber Seattle.

“Seattle is a city that supports innovation and understands the transformative potential of technology. This is a city that is embracing ridesharing, and that’s why Lyft intends to be here for the long haul helping to facilitate a new era of transportation choices for Seattle residents. This agreement is a step in the right direction, and we look forward to working with the City Council to get it enacted into law,” said Katie Kincaid, an executive with Lyft.

Key terms of the deal:

  • Transportation network companies and their drivers will be licensed and required to meet specific insurance requirements.
  • The City will work with the industry to clarify or change state insurance law to account for recent changes in the industry, similar to recent actions in Colorado.
  • There will be no cap on the number of transportation network company drivers.
  • The City will provide 200 new taxi licenses over the next four years.
  • Taxi and for-hire licenses will transition to a property right that is similar to a medallion in other cities.
  • For-hire drivers will have hailing rights.
  • An accessibility fund will be created through a $0.10 per ride surcharge for drivers and owners to offset higher trip and vehicle costs for riders who require accessibility services.

“Earlier this year I called for an agreement that would remove burdensome caps on transportation network companies and also continue the Council’s goal of reasonably regulating the industry to ensure that passengers and drivers are safe on our City streets,” said Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, chair of the Transportation Committee. “I applaud the Mayor for bringing all of the interested parties together to reach a compromise agreement which addresses this important issue, and for his work to ensure that innovative companies in this industry will be able to continue to thrive in Seattle.”

“I praise the inclusive process that ultimately led to this agreement.  I fully support the growing industry of alternative transportation, while assuring the public is safe, well served, and fares are fair. This agreement takes a giant step in that direction,” said Councilmember Sally Bagshaw.

Murray will work with the Council to repeal the suspended ordinance. New legislation will be transmitted in the coming weeks.

Video from today’s press conference:

SDOT nears completion Belltown-Uptown trolley electrification for more bus service on Denny Way

SDOT is nearing completion of the construction of the Belltown-Uptown Trolley Electrification project. This project extends trolley wires and related infrastructure on eastbound Denny Way between First and Third Avenues, and a short segment of Third Avenue between Denny and Broad. When the project is finished, Metro routes 1, 2 and 13 will be able to operate on Denny Way and travel times will be reduced by up to two minutes per trip.

Westlake Cycle Track Update: Open house on Wednesday, May 21

You’re invited to the Westlake Cycle Track open house on May 21. Join us to learn more about the project goal and objectives; talk with project staff; see traffic circulation and parking utilization data; and provide input about this unique corridor and what should be considered as a bike route within the parking area is selected. We want to hear from you so we can design a bike facility that adds predictability, improves safety for all users, and supports economic vitality.

When: Wednesday, May 21, 5:30 – 8:00 PM

Where: Fremont Studios, 155 N 35th Street

Presentation:  6:15 PM

Murray unveils Seattle transit financing plan

Mayor Murray announces transit proposal to preserve Metro bus service

Standing with members of the Seattle City Council, King County elected officials, members of the Seattle legislative delegation and community leaders, Mayor Murray today announced his proposal for funding bus service in Seattle after the failure of King County’s Proposition 1.

“When so many people in this city rely on transit for their livelihood, especially those with lower incomes, we cannot delay,” said Murray. “We must act to preserve bus service in the city and on key intercity routes. And we know that this is what Seattle wants: two-thirds of voters in last month’s election said so loud and clear.”

Murray said his city-wide proposal would mirror the elements of the county-wide Prop. 1, which received 66 percent support within Seattle city limits. He said a $60 vehicle license fee for Seattle residents and a 0.1 percent sales tax increase within city limits would generate $45 million annually for transit service, which would mitigate more than 90 percent of projected impacts to riders caused by the proposed cuts.

“I will work with any city or cities to keep people moving within their borders and across the region, and I look forward to working with the City of Seattle as one of our key partners and customers in the provision of region-wide transit,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine.

Murray said that he and members of the City Council will work with Constantine and members of the County Council to ensure that Metro service hours purchased by Seattle taxpayers will be provided as efficiently as possible.

“I am very concerned about reductions in bus service affecting people’s ability to get to work, including my neighbors who travel from West Seattle to Downtown every day,” said Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, who also serves as Chair of the Transportation Committee.  “With more than 66 percent passage of Prop 1 in Seattle, area residents and riders have shown that they are gravely concerned about impending cuts to Metro bus service, too,” concluded Rasmussen.

Of the $45 million generated by Murray’s plan, up to $3 million would be used as matching dollars in a Regional Partnership Fund, designed to attract financing from other jurisdictions for transit service on shared, peak-period commuter routes. Murray said he would soon be convening city leaders throughout Puget Sound to discuss partnership opportunities.

“This is a thoughtful proposal that will keep Seattle moving and keep our economy strong,” said Kate Joncas, President and CEO of the Downtown Seattle Association. “The Mayor’s approach recognizes that bus routes don’t end at the city limits. Forty-three percent of downtown workers get to their job by transit, we can’t afford a major service disruption.”

Murray also announced that he would use existing resources within the Seattle Department of Transportation budget to stave of the first phase of scheduled cuts to transit service in Seattle, targeted for night-owl service this September.

“I am so glad that there is appetite among our city’s leaders to find ways to keep our buses rolling.  Transit is too vital a public service for us not to take action,” said Alison Eisenger, Executive Director of the Seattle-King County Coalition on Homelessness. “We need solutions that are both fair and practical for Seattle and King County. I want to note in particular that Mayor Murray’s proposal would preserve night owl bus service, which is essential for people working swing shifts, and others, who would literally be left stranded without those late night routes.”

Additionally, Murray said approximately $2 million in his proposal would be designated to offset impacts on lower-income residents, including a vehicle license rebate for low-income car owners and a reduced fare for low-income riders.

“Transit is a critical community asset that we can’t afford to cut back on right now,” said Rob Johnson, Executive Director of Transportation Choices Coalition. “Transportation Choices Coalition is determined to work with the Mayor and other elected officials in the region to save every possible hour of Metro bus service we can.”

Murray said that all money sent to Metro from the City of Seattle will be specifically designated for service within the city and on regional partnership routes. At the same time, he emphasized his commitment to a long-term, regional funding solution for transit. Funding for Metro from the City of Seattle would not be a Seattle takeover of Metro, Murray said, and would represent only 8 percent of the total system. He said it could be phased-out in two years if new regional revenue is approved by King County or the Legislature.

“I plan to work with the City Council, the Executive, the coalition partners and our legislative leaders toward achieving a balanced comprehensive statewide package as quickly as we can,” said Murray. “It’s time to act.”

Murray’s proposal will be sent to the Seattle Transportation Benefit District (TBD) Board in the coming weeks. The TBD Board has until August 5 to refer the proposal to voters for their action at the ballot in November.

Full press conference:

Murray: ‘Failure of Prop 1 creates an urgent need to act, Seattle must move forward now’

Mayor Murray today provided the following statement regarding his plans to offer a temporary proposal for funding transit the wake of the failure of King County’s Proposition 1:

Seattle has always worked best when it works with the region. While there is no question that the region has failed Seattle on transit funding in recent years, it is equally true that transit is a regional issue that requires a regional solution.

We must be careful in our approach here: Seattle as the Lone Ranger on transit risks the Balkanization of Metro and, to some extent, the isolation of our city from the surrounding region.

I appreciate the good efforts already under way in the community on this critical issue after the unfortunate failure of Prop 1. Next week I will offer my own proposal for how we can best keep transit funded, with the following key principles in mind:

A solution to our immediate needs should support a solution to our long-term needs: The failure of Prop 1 creates an urgent need to act, and Seattle must move forward now. We can and should offer a temporary financing plan while we remain committed to a conversation with the Legislature and King County about a long-term, solution to funding transit region-wide.

Regionalism must be an element of any transit plan: Any transit financing plan – either short-term or long-term – must reflect the reality that Seattle’s economy depends on people coming into the city from throughout the Puget Sound region.

We have to get the funding source right: A property tax is one financing tool, but it’s not the only one available. We must consider how our solution today affects our ability to finance other commitments using the property tax, including housing, libraries, parks, transportation infrastructure, preschool, education and other important city priorities. We should explore all options for how we best and most appropriately fund transit without overlooking the broader context.”