Seattle lauded for leading edge transportation policies

The first installment of The Atlantic’s new CityLab Insights series hails Seattle as “the most successful transit city in the country.” Leading with the news that Seattle became home to America’s 2nd largest fleet of dockless bicycles after replacing 500 bike-sharing stations with close to 9,000 of the free-range variety, the article points to recent success in 3 areas:

  • Increasing the supply of transit by: (a) approving $53.8 billion to double our region’s light rail system; and (b) adding 700,000 rides to the city’s bus network.
  • Reforming parking and land/road use policies to release developers from the obligation to build off-street parking in new, densely populated “urban villages” that have frequent transit service.
  • Breaking new ground in “transportation demand management” (TMD), which works with local employers “to manage their supply of parking and other benefits, and to shape demand through incentives, rewards, and games.”

To accommodate increased demand for safe and convenient bike-parking and support the city’s goal of quadrupling bicycle ridership by 2030, the Seattle City Council has significantly upgraded bicycle parking requirements.  Highlights of the new legislation include:

  • Increasing the amount of required bicycle parking.
  • Requiring office buildings with more than 100,000 square feet to provide shower facilities for both genders (shower facilities are exempted from new buildings’ size limits).
  • Allowing developers to trade 1 car stall for 2 bicycle parking spaces, allowing removal of up to 20% of required car parking.
  • Requiring access to bike parking without the use of stairs.
  • Requiring that bike rooms accommodate family, cargo, and electric bikes.
  • Adding a bike valet provision for major even venues.

To look at commute trends by mode of transportation in King County, go to Communities Count’s Trend by Mode of Transportation,  click “Mode of Transport Trends,” click the mode of interest (drove alone, carpooled, public transportation, walked, biked, or worked at home), then click the cities for which you would like to see trends.  Not surprisingly, densely populated Seattle has shown the greatest increases in biking and walking to work.  Click here to see the effect of light rail on commuter choices in Tukwila.

(Although it’s flattering to be called out as a model for other cities, we have a long way to go before we come close to the “deserted freeway” image depicted by CityLab Insights.)