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Bellevue plans to pilot game-changing downtown bike lane (or two)

Downtown Bellevue could be biking laps around downtown Seattle if it wanted to. Not only is downtown Bellevue much flatter than Seattle, the Eastside city’s streets are very wide, which makes them primed and ready to host a network of protected bike lanes.

With the 520 Bridge Trail nearly open (WSDOT will only say “after Thanksgiving”), there is no better time for Bellevue to rethink some downtown streets to take advantage of this major regional connection.

But downtown Bellevue bike lanes are not just about regional travel or the bridge or even people biking, for that matter. Bellevue is growing, and there is a bigger and bigger focus on its downtown as a place for people to live and play. And protected bike lanes are among the most effective ways to make a street more comfortable for everyone, including people walking or eating at a sidewalk café or window shopping. They improve safety for all road users, but they also make streets more lively and comfortable.

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That’s why the city’s plans for a pilot protected bike lane are so exciting. Using low-cost materials, city staff will install at least one stretch of mostly-protected bike lane that they can learn from and easily modify. If it goes well, the city can easily make the lane (or lanes) permanent.

Oh, and they want to have it open by May 2018.

This is a very smart approach. Get something in place quickly so people can experience it for themselves.

Staff are already out on the streets gathering feedback on the idea. There will also be an open house 5–7 p.m. November 30 at Bellevue City Hall.

You can learn more and voice your support for the idea (and your favorite option) via an online survey.

Possible routes

First off, any of these routes would be awesome. And building one north-south and one east-west route would create connectivity to help make the pilot that much more successful. Building two lanes that connect would also avoid a pitfall Seattle feel into when the city opened the 2nd Ave bike lane in 2014 without building any connections. A bike lane without connections can only be so useful.

Cascade Bicycle Club, which is very excited about Bellevue’s pilot bike lane plans, likes 108th Ave NE best. Of the routes in consideration, that’s definitely the most useful connection (though if the Main St lane also crossed I-405, that would be a strong contender, too).

Here’s a comparison of the options:

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10 responses to “Bellevue plans to pilot game-changing downtown bike lane (or two)”

  1. Curious George

    What do BBL, SBL and SLM mean in your diagrams above?

    1. Vicky Clarke

      Buffered Bike Lane; Striped Bike Lane; Shared Lane Markings

  2. Brian

    This is really great news! I haven’t ridden over in Bellevue for a while, but I used to ride there often up to about 5 years ago and every time I rode there I thought that Bellevue was a terrible place to ride a bike BUT it could be so good. The streets are wide with plenty of room for PBL’s and BBL’s. So I hope the do this and more. Bellevue could be a very cool place to ride.

  3. Dan

    I really like the idea of a 108th and Main combo, especially if the Main St lanes get you across 112th Ave NE so you can ride down to 114th which is an easy, relatively low-traffic connection to the I-90 bike trail.

    That combination could be a great way to get from the 520 bike trail, through Bellevue, and to I-90 without having to just ride down 112th Ave NE in traffic.

  4. d reeves

    Nice to see them doing this. This was on my commute for years to an office building at 108th and Main.

    It’s funny, that stretch of Main street right now effectively doesn’t even have sidewalks, save for a 12 inch-wide, steeply-sloped strip of asphalt. Pedestrians are left dodging cars backing up while walking through strip mall parking lots.

    1. AP

      You’re referring to one block, near the pot store. That’s been torn down. There’s no sidewalk now either but it’s no longer dodge-em in the parking lot.

  5. Of the four possible routes, most has some real potential for connections to wider bike routes.

    – 2nd has the most direct connection to the Lake Washington Loop route to the south (Main works OK eastbound, but not so much westbound). It also goes straight to Downtown Park.

    – Main points toward Bellevue’s only human-scale/human-speed commercial district, and beyond there to a reasonable-grade route to the 520 bridge (Lake Washington Blvd. to 84th). To the east, Main is one of the few ways across 405 without an interchange. All these places really need bike-infra improvements, and this stretch of Main could catalyze them.

    – 108th continues both north and south as a hilly but relatively low-traffic street. On the north end it also connects directly to a planned extension of the NE 12th bike route, which takes you to 116th and the 520 Trail heading east, and apparently toward the Spring District in the future.

    – 106th is really the unfortunate one. It probably has less traffic than the other streets but really doesn’t connect to anything.

  6. […] plans to pilot a game-changing downtown bike lane, as soon as […]

  7. eddiew

    106th Avenue NE has less traffic would be a good arterial for bike emphasis; 108th Avenue NE has a transit emphasis; best if kept separate.

  8. tudza

    I’ve biked into Bellevue once from Kirkland.

    The ride through Kirkland all the way to Bellevue had a bike lane, that’s even through the section where people get on the 520. I was impressed.

    Google said I should take 10th down to the road that went directly to Bellevue Square. As I remember it, that had no clearance for bicycles and the curb was a foot or more high. I quickly got on the side walk. Bellevue did not impress me as a bike friendly place in that area.

    The ride down Bellevue Way on the street was just fine. Nice that they are making it better.

    The one one thing I particularly liked about the experience was not having to find parking. I locked my bike to a convenient bike hitching post right in front of the mall.

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