The first thing I’ve learned is that it’s a full time job!

I live in Ravenna and am a member of a group that is organizing our community to try to stop the City from adding dedicated bicycle lanes to 35th Ave NE – a modest neighborhood arterial that serves 13,000 vehicles a day. It is lined with numerous small and large businesses, residences, religious organizations, schools, and a branch library. It’s a type of neighborhood arterial that has become an endangered species.

To fit the bike lanes, the City’s plan eliminates about 60 percent of the parking along 35th. The parking that remains  is seven feet away from the curb, with a protected bike lane inside – the most disruptive type of lane.

There is a City-built well-used bicycle greenway on 39th, only four blocks away. Many cyclists say they do not ride on arterials because they are unsafe. An NIH study confirms this.

The plan will also mean gridlock, pollution, slowed emergency vehicles, and less safety. It’s a waste of taxpayer dollars.

In working to save our neighborhood, I’ve learned a lot:

The Seattle Bicycle Master Plan, last updated in 2014 (and thus not subject to legal challenge now – one has to be alert years ahead of a project), underlies all City bike lane construction. It is a lovely marketing document – created by and for cyclists – that does not consider specific neighborhood needs.

The bicycle lobby in Seattle is powerful – and has some members who do not hesitate to engage in dirty tricks. Our group, Save 35th Ave NE, created an online petition and printed up red and white posters and door hangers. In response, one or more people anonymously created Safe 35th Ave NE, with similar-looking signs in green. One person created a mock petition with nearly the same URL as ours. Another put numerous fake signatures and comments on our petition.

The Seattle Department of Transportation, in response to community concerns, provides non-answers and more marketing.

I have also learned, however, that organizing works. Outrage is growing. Our petition has over 1,400 signatures and over 500 comments. People are contacting government officials. We are meeting with our City Councilmember and plan to meet with the Mayor. We just might save our neighborhood.

Amy Stephson is a Ravenna resident, employment attorney and member of the steering committee for Save 35th Ave NE