Bellevue needs feedback on ambitious ‘rapid implementation’ bike plan

PBII_BN-2_106thAveNE_20160313_P-1-main4thBellevue is developing a bold plan to build 57 miles of bike routes in the next five years, including 23 miles of protected bike lanes, 13 miles of painted bike lanes and two miles of off-street trail.

If this plan is funded and constructed, Bellevue would open much of even the densest parts of the city to people who want to bike, but do not want to mix with busy traffic.

The plan includes a completed and almost-fully-protected bike route from the 520 Trail to downtown, for example. It also includes bike connections to parts of Bellevue that currently have zero or very few options for getting around by bike at all.

You can provide feedback and enthusiasm for the plan during an open house 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday at Bellevue City Hall (Cascade has a sign-up page if you want to plug in with their efforts). You can also view and comment on specific project concepts via their wikimap.

As we reported previously, rather than creating entirely new master plans for biking and walking, Bellevue chose to instead create an initiative to speed up and target implementation of their existing plans. The City Council also endorsed Vision Zero in December, with an emphasis on designing safer streets for all road users.

The city has reached an important step in the process, releasing a high-level draft concept for an implementation plan. After transportation staff lead by Franz Loewenherz gather public feedback and make final adjustments to the plan, it will be up to the Bellevue City Council to fund it.

Below is a draft map of the bike lanes, trails and sharrows included in the plan. Note that this map does not list existing facilities, only proposed new or upgraded ones. So some of the gaps in the map are actually connections to existing bike routes that abruptly end (a big problem in Bellevue today).

PBII_RIP_20160317-map PBII_RIP_20160317-tableSure, not every project is perfect. There are plans for only sharrows in some busy parts of the city, for example. But if Bellevue can pull all this off in five years, wow.

More details from the City of Bellevue:

If you’re interested in improving the city’s bicycling network, an upcoming open house offers a chance to shape project ideas to create a safer, better-connected system.

The open house will take place from 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 23, at City Hall, 450 110th Ave. NE. A short presentation followed by an instant-feedback polling exercise will run from 5:30 to 6 p.m. Other open house resources will include display boards, project maps, and Transportation Department staff available to answer questions. Light refreshments will be served.

Transportation Commission members will use feedback from the open house, as well as from an online, interactive wikimap, to make budget recommendations for citywide investments in bicycling infrastructure. Officials want the public’s help to evaluate and prioritize the project ideas.

Residents and others can use the wikimap, available now through April 30, to comment on specific project ideas and understand the tradeoffs that sometimes are needed to improve the bicycle system. Examples of possible improvements include conventional bike lanes, separated bike lanes and off-street paths.

The wikimap builds on a similar effort last fall when more than 700 participants identified locations where they have noticed conditions making it uncomfortable for people walking and bicycling. Ideas presented in the current round of outreach respond to the feedback.

In all, 52 projects ideas covering 57 miles citywide, will be available for review at the open house, and via the wikimap. The project ideas, if implemented, would help connect bicyclists to where they want to go. All are designed to be completed over the next five years, pending funding.

The open house and wikimap are part of a wider effort called the Pedestrian and Bicycle Implementation Initiative.

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13 Responses to Bellevue needs feedback on ambitious ‘rapid implementation’ bike plan

  1. MikeG says:

    All bike lanes lead to Bellevue. Seriously though, there are a number of important east-west and north-south bike routes that end at or near the edge of Bellevue, like the 520 trail, Lake Washington trail, and others that would greatly benefit by having safe, quality bike network connections. If it can be safe and easy to ride in and through Bellevue (especially downtown), then biking on the Eastside will grow.
    It would be awesome to see Bellevue with bike facilities on most of their streets, like there are Redmond.

  2. Al Dimond says:

    It looks like this map omits bike lanes that will exist shortly, in addition to ones that exist already. Those would be 116th and 120th Avenues and the Northup Way portion of the 520 route.

    The worst news in it is that, even in Bellevue’s wildest and most ambitious dreams, there’s nothing for Bellevue Way. Bellevue Way is a lot flatter than 108th or the zig-zag route west of it. I’ve probably rode every reasonable variation of the zig-zag route, and it’s sort of analogous to the Rainier Valley and Central District greenways. A lot of it is actually on minor arterials, but they really don’t get much traffic; the part that’s analogous is that there are a lot of short, steep blocks on your way, and a practical rider might reasonably want to bypass some of the hills by using the major arterial, either in traffic or on the sidewalk.

    • AW says:

      The Northup way part of the 520 trail is indeed missing from the map. From what I understand it will not be done anytime soon (at least not until 2017). Why would it be missing from the map then ? Is it because it isn’t going to be funded by the city ? Do you have any more information about it ? As you know, riding on that stretch of Northup is incredibly unsafe.

      If a connected bike network is Bellevue’s priority then I would think this would be towards the top of the list.

      • Al Dimond says:

        I don’t have any information about it — I paid more attention back when I traveled to Kirkland more regularly, and the project has been delayed a couple times since then. So I’ve been thinking of it as something that’s about to happen despite the delays. I think it’s off the map because there’s already a definite plan to implement it, and the map is just stuff covered in Bellevue’s new plan.

    • Al Dimond says:

      The best news is probably the cluster southeast of downtown: a protected lane from Main to SE 8th along the Lake Washington Loop route, lanes under 405 on SE 8th, and the Lake Hills DividerConnector!

      The second-worst news is that the Lake Washington Loop will still dump you out in major traffic between NE 6th and NE 12th, a cowardly capitulation to the Worst Interchange In Greater Puget Sound (405/NE 8th). It’s sad that neither of the 405 crossings at NE 4th or Main is getting any love, but not surprising.

    • JAT says:

      I am okay with no bike facility on Bellevue Way. I ride 108th about half of all work days and yes there are steep hills, but it’s a nice out of the way but very direct route into the heart of downtown Bellevue. I’m not sure it’s reasonable to want a bike facility on every road as long as the roads that are well suited to us are safe and the infrastructure that is in place is adequately implemented (see today’s story on the hit and run at the intersection of the I-90 trail and 118th).

      Bellevue Way? let em have it! However the motorists using 108th as a bypass to avoid the congestion on Bellevue way, literally buzzing the cyclists and speeding through multiple school zones? run them out of town on a rail!

  3. Michelle says:

    There’s another map somewhere that has the current/in progress facilities overlaid with the proposed facilities to show the complete proposed network. I saw it at a transportation commission meeting, and found it later in the slide deck from the meeting.

    ah, page 21 here:

    http://www.bellevuewa.gov/pdf/Transportation/012816_PedBikePres.pdf

  4. Gordon says:

    Impressive if they actually adopt this. Wish Seattle had the word rapid in their vocabulary.

    Looks like Bellevue is catching onto the idea that their citizens want to be able to get around without a car without that “I’m about to die any moment now…” feeling.

    Or perhaps they recognize the new economy companies are decamping from suburban campuses for walkable/bikeable cities?

  5. Josh says:

    Looks like a lot of door zone bike lanes, including some that could easily be made safer.

    For example, Project Idea BN-2, 106th Ave NE, proposes a 5-foot bike lane next to an 8-foot parking lane, making essentially the entire bike lane within the door zone. (NCHRP 766, door zone of standard passenger vehicles extends 11 feet from the curb, infrastructure should keep bicycles out of this zone.) But the design also has a 1.5 foot left-side buffer.

    Moving that buffer to the proper side for a bike lane next to parked cars would get most of the bike lane out of the door zone for no additional cost, and would be a clear safety improvement since dooring is a much larger hazard than overtaking vehicles mid-block.

    • Al Dimond says:

      Huh. It’s weird that they’d call a buffered bike lane a “separated” facility when all parallel parking movements cross it (i.e. I can buy a “paint-protected” lane counting as a “separated” facility when no typical motor-vehicle movement would cross it, as on NE 40th under the U Bridge; I wouldn’t apply that designation to Dexter north of Aloha, which is a similar layout to what Bellevue has proposed for 106th). But there aren’t really specific definitions for “separated” or “protected” facilities, so I guess this is what we get…

      • Josh says:

        Doesn’t Seattle BMP call that “in street/minor separation” or something like that — it’s visually separated, but not in any way protective.

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