The Full Draft of the Seattle Master Bicycle Plan was released last week. It’s deliciously chockfull of purple squares, blue triangles, and orange lines, which add up to new bicycle lanes and boulevards. Just as enticing are the plan’s goals of tripling the number of bicycle trips by 2017, while reducing by one-third the rate of crashes.But the full plan—the $240 million, 10-year version—lacks at least two critical elements to become reality: 1) the weight of law; and 2) $213 million dollars.

That’s right: so far, only $27 million has been dedicated to the bike plan (though this seems to have escaped some less perceptive commentators and headline writers).

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  • Still, having a plan is the first step to securing more funding and generating more attention from both lawmakers and citizens.And with more attention and more money, the Master Plan can take the necessary steps to achieve more and safer bicycle riders, such as: creating a connected network of bike lanes on roads ($35.7 million), and separated path facilities ($63.7 million), as well as improving parking and education ($5.9 million), and a few additional mega-projects ($80.6 million).

    If approved and fully funded, the Plan outlines projects that within three years would more than double existing arterial bicycle lanes; create 7.6 miles of boulevards on residential streets; and mark 54 miles with “sharrow” markings. (A “sharrow” is a street-painted icon of a little bicycle guy inside an arrow, or some similar marking.) And the plan goes beyond paint too, seeking retrofits of key bridges, new agreements to clear debris from bike lanes, and ordinances to require more office building’s to provide showers. The plan’s performance measures also include bicycle counts and crash rate updates every two years, with a comprehensive review of the plan every five.Sounds dreamy to me, a guy from Seattle.

    The unfortunate reality, however, is that so far this plan is just a recommendation. And even if it were fully built, by 2017 Seattle would still have fewer miles of bicyles lanes, path, and boulevards, than Portland does today. (Both cities maintain about 4,000 lane-miles of roads, though Portland’s city limits encompass 60 percent more land than do Seattle’s.) And while Seattle’s bike plan is certainly equipped with the latest North American thinking on bicycles in big cities, I wonder if we couldn’t climb even higher peaks, using, say… a bicycle lift for all those crummy hills.