Move Seattle & the Seattle Bike Lanes

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Most Prominent Transportation Initiatives in Puget Sound

By William Hillis

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William Hillis

Broker & Research Editor, Realogics Sotheby's International Realty

"The drive to roll out a city network of bicycle paths is likely to proceed unhindered. 

 

By naming Shefali Ranganathan as her deputy mayor, Seattle Mayor-Elect Jenny Durkan has sent a signal that the initiatives promoted by the Transportation Choices Coalition will continue to have a voice in mayoral and City Council offices. The Coalition saw the success of Move Seattle under Mayor Murray, even though he, like Durkan, had not been endorsed by the Coalition. That success is expected to be sustained under Durkan as well.

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Mayor-Elect Durkan’s appointment of Ranganathan suggests that a consensus has been reached in favor of a less automobile-dependent Seattle, and it indicates that the drive to roll out a citywide network of bicycle paths is likely to proceed unhindered. This is good news for dockless bicycle companies like LimeBike and Spin that have invested to build their businesses here, as it will increase demand for their services. The same can be said for ride-sharing apps and companies such as Uber and Lyft, as well as home delivery services such as Amazon Key. Higher residential densities are called for, and this means that real estate development will be increasingly aligned with Sound Transit infrastructure plans, generating demand for those programs and facilities. A pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly Seattle means more high-rise condominiums, as well as apartment towers.

There will be costs and friction to this urban development scheme. Not all residents will benefit equally, and rather than becoming more diverse, some areas of Seattle may evolve into more of a monoculture for healthy singles and professionals. Affluent elders and young families may be able to hail a Uber for any trips desired; but without their own car, members of cost-conscious households will need to be fit enough to walk or pedal their way through Seattle’s hilly terrain, either directly to their destinations or to the nearest transit station. Not all are going to be up to this, and those that aren’t will be drawn to the suburbs.

Impact: Within the next five years, policies disfavoring the automobile portend that more high-rise condominium projects will get underway. Longer term, some areas of Seattle may evolve into more of a monoculture for healthy singles and professionals, which will impact both residential and retail offerings in the city.