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Biking Bis: King County installs trail-connecting protected bike lane + other trail alerts

Image from King County Parks.
Image from King County Parks.

King County has installed a protected bike lane on SE High Point Way to connect the Issaquah-Preston and Preston-Snoqualmie Trails. The 0.7-mile two-way protected bike lane may be the first modern protected bike lane in unincorporated King County, Biking Bis reports:

The cycle track, which is the first I can recall in unincorporated King County, runs for 0.7 mile along south side of SE High Point  Way. It’s a two directional cycle track, and is separated from the road by a series of bollards and a double white line.

It’s the second safety feature installed along that stretch of the Mountains-to-Sound Corridor in recent years.

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In 2011, the state completed a $4.7 million project to build a 1.2-mile-long gravel trail as an eastward continuation of what used to be called the Issaquah-High Point Trail. It started at the High Point Way parking lot near I-90 and continued east to a point where it connected to High Point Way. It was built to avoid a curvy, hilly section of High Point Way near the parking lot.

King County trail construction alerts

There are a handful of county trail alerts this month you should be aware of as the county makes various repairs.

Details from King County:

From August 4 – 25, King County will be repairing scour damage around the southern pier and southern bank of Gold Creek, near the Sammamish River Trail at the bridge south of the NE 124th Street and east of the Sammamish River. The trail will remain open but the area near the bridge will be impacted by construction and the presence of heavy machinery.

From August 7 – 13, King County Parks will be repairing portions of the trail along a one-mile stretch of the Soos Creek Trail between SE 240th St to SE 256th St in Kent. The work won’t require a complete closure of the trail, and flaggers will direct trail traffic around active construction zones.

King County Parks will close a short stretch of the Cedar River Trail for one day on August 20 to perform routine maintenance on a bridge near Fred V Habenicht Rotary Park near the intersection of Witte Road SE and SE 221st St in Maple Valley. There will be no detour route.

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19 responses to “Biking Bis: King County installs trail-connecting protected bike lane + other trail alerts”

  1. Zach Shaner

    Nice! This brings some tantalizing possibilities that much closer. All that separates us from a continuous, 78-mile protected path all the way from Lake Union Park to Snoqualmie Pass? A Westlake Cycletrack and a connection from the Preston-Snoqualmie Trail to the Snoqualmie Valley Trail. Less than 5 miles to go out of 78!

    1. Zach Shaner

      Er, 82 miles.

    2. LWC

      Add-in the expected waterfront trail, and then an Elliott Bay/ship canal connection through Magnolia, and you’ve connected the downtown waterfront to Snoqualmie Pass by trail as well.

      If you really want to get carried away, imagine a connection from the waterfront south to the SODO trail, and then some short connection from SODO to the I90 Mountain-to-sound trail, and you almost have a complete loop!

      1. Leif Espelund

        Finish the missing link and we’ve got a Sound to Sky entirely separated bicycle facility.

      2. Leif Espelund

        Errr, I forgot we already have that. Well, this would be another, longer version of the Mountain-to-sound trail. Since Golden Gardens has a beach maybe we could call it the Sand to Sky Bikeway.

  2. Josh

    Great location for this sort of treatment — two-way sidepaths are only really safe where intersection density is low, and this segment has only a few driveways along its entire length.

    One concern, I don’t see any “No Parking” signs for the sidepath… not that it’s a high-parking area, but if it isn’t actually posted “No Parking,” what stops drivers from using the shoulder for parking?

    King County Code requires “No Parking” signs every block to have enforceable no-parking areas. (KCC 46.04.060)

    The RCW prohibits parking “upon the roadway” (RCW 46.61.560), but a shoulder or path isn’t part of “the roadway.”

    Not likely to be an issue for this particular facility, but something King County should be sure to address in its standard specs if it plans to install more sidepaths like this.

    1. This is about the weirdest concern anyone could have about this sort of thing. Parking would be prohibited because it’s not a shoulder anymore, it’s a path. Is parking generally allowed on sidewalks if there isn’t a sign every f’ing block?

      1. Josh

        It’s a practical concern, just as parking is legally allowed in bike lanes in unincorporated areas unless the bike lanes are actually posted with “no parking” signs.

  3. Oh man! I think I could have used that when I rode from Issaquah to Snoqualmie Falls Brewing!

  4. Aaron

    A week or two back I found myself on this accidentally and was quite pleased with it. I was wondering why I didn’t see any mention of it on SBB. Glad to see you got around to writing about it.

  5. Leif Espelund

    I do wish we all could use proper terminology. That is a separated bike lane. A small buffer and some plastic bollards don’t make it protected.

    1. MK

      Would you care to direct me to the official Worldwide Society of Transportation Terminology™ rules on bike path definitions that you are referencing? I’d like to see these “proper terminology” rules myself.

      Snarkiness aside, isn’t it simply an issue of semantics? One could just as easily argue that a small buffer and some plastic bollards don’t make it separated, either.

      In reality, it is more separated/protected than a typical on-street bike lane or sharrows, but less separated/protected than a grade-separated (now there’s a descriptive term!) or independent bike lane.

      1. Josh

        As for “just a matter of semantics,” there are practical legal differences between a “lane” (part of the street) and a “path” (separate from the street).

        If you’re riding in a bike *lane*, you’re on the street, already part of traffic when you come to a driveway or intersection.

        If you’re riding on a bike *path*, you’re off of the street, like riding on the sidewalk; when you cross a driveway or intersection you’re an off-road user entering traffic.

        You have different obligations when entering traffic than when you’re already in traffic, and motorists have different obligations towards you. It’s not just semantic.

    2. Josh

      Legally, “separated bike lane” may not be correct, either.

      If it’s dedicated to nonmotorized use only, and it’s separated from the roadway, it’s not a “lane” of any sort, it’s a path.

      Washington law isn’t as clear as some on how much separation makes it not be a lane, but in Seattle, for example, Broadway’s sidepath is clearly posted as a path, not a lane of the street, both where it’s separated by the blue smurf turds and where it’s on the sidewalk.

      The “lane” distinction is more important in segregated states where bicycles are restricted to using bike lanes. California law, for example, is explicit that this sort of facility is not a lane.

      1. MK

        So judging by the pictures, I presume this will count as a bike path, right?

      2. Josh

        (1) I am not a lawyer, and (2) I haven’t been able to find any cases dealing with current cycletracks that would give definitive guidance on whether this is a “lane” or a “path.”

        But SDOT has decided to sign cycletracks as “paths” rather than “lanes,” and the lawyers I’ve asked have agreed that this is the most likely interpretation under Washington law, given the State Supreme Court’s logic in its Pudmaroff decision.

        (Interesting discussion by the State Supreme Court in Pudmaroff on the Legislature’s inconsistent approach and vague definitions of bicycles:

        Bicyclists enjoy an anomalous place in the traffic safety laws of Washington.   Bicyclists are generally not pedestrians.   RCW 46.04.400, 47.04.010(22).   Nor are bicycles always considered vehicles;  see RCW 46.04.670, 47.04.010(40).   For example, bicycles may be operated on both sidewalks and roadways.   WAC 308-330-555(2).   Unfortunately, the Legislature has not clarified the status of bicycles under Washington’s traffic safety laws.Statutes variously treat bicycles and bike paths in a recreational context, and at other times the statutes treat them as part of the transportation system.   Cf. RCW 46.04.670 (both including and excluding bicycles in its definition of vehicle), 47.04.010(40) (defining “vehicle” in a manner which would exclude bicycles), 47.06.100 (noting bicycle and pedestrian pathways are to be integrated with other transportation modes into a statewide multimodal transportation plan).   See also RCW 47.30.005 (defining “trail” or “path” as “a public way constructed primarily for and open to pedestrians, equestrians, or bicyclists, or any combination thereof, other than a sidewalk ․”);  47.30.010(2) (providing “[w]here a highway other than a limited access highway crosses a recreational trail of substantial usage for pedestrians, equestrians, or bicyclists, signing sufficient to insure safety shall be provided”);  and 36.69.010 (authorizing the formation of park and recreation districts for the purpose of providing leisure time activities and recreational facilities as a public service, and defining recreational facilities to include bicycle paths);  47.30.070 (deeming bicycle, equestrian or pedestrian paths as public highways for purposes of 43 U.S.C. § 912, and thereby saving them from reversion under the federal statute addressing reversion of abandoned railroad rights of way).   These statutes indicate the Legislature has viewed bicycles and paths on a case by case basis, and without any continuity.   Plainly, the Legislature could usefully consider and clarify the State’s traffic safety policy for bicycles and bicycle paths.

      3. Josh

        Pulling from that Pudmaroff discussion, the code relevant to High Point Way would appear to be:

        For the purposes of this chapter, “trail” or “path” means a public way constructed primarily for and open to pedestrians, equestrians, or bicyclists, or any combination thereof, other than a sidewalk constructed as a part of a city street or county road for the exclusive use of pedestrians. The term “trail” or “path” also includes a widened shoulder of a highway, street, or road when the extra shoulder width is constructed to accommodate bicyclists consistent with a comprehensive plan or master plan for bicycle trails or paths adopted by a state or local governmental authority either prior to such construction or prior to January 1, 1980.

  6. Doug

    Nice, sure, but it’s not like that road was particularly challenging to ride in the first place. Very low traffic.

    1. asdf2

      I was thinking the same thing. With wide shoulders and extremely low traffic volumes, I felt pretty safe riding on it before, but I’ll still take it.

      What I would really like to see, though, is for the Preston-Snoqualmie Trail to cross over Preston-Snoqualmie road with a bridge, rather than steep switchbacks down, followed by a dangerous crossing of a busy road near a blind curve, only to be followed by steep switchbacks back up again.

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