Seattle has been making headlines nationally for announcing that the city would make its Stay Healthy Streets program permanent, so you may have missed that Bellevue has started its own people-first street program it’s calling simply “Healthy Streets.”
The Eastside city rolled out two of these temporary projects last week in the Northeast/Crossroads/Lake Hills area. Hopefully this is just the start for Bellevue and other communities around the region, especially communities with streets that lack sidewalks and easy access to open space.
The temporary street closures will make it easier for people to bike, walk and roll for recreation and to reach essential services. The two streets being closed, totaling about 1.5 miles, are in the Lake Hills and Northeast Bellevue neighborhoods. Other streets could be added to the pilot in the future, depending on demand.
- SE 4th Street, from the Lake Hills Greenbelt to 164th Avenue SE (0.75 mile)
- 165th/166th Avenues NE, from NE 4th Street to Northup Way (0.75 mile)
The streets were selected because they have relatively low traffic volumes, are near other streets that drivers can use to avoid long detours, are long enough to provide a good route for riding and walking, lack sidewalks or that connect to parks and commercial centers that provide essential services.
Tips for Healthy Streets users
Healthy Streets are for people walking, biking and rolling. They will remain open to local vehicle traffic only, including residents, emergency response vehicles, garbage and recycling pickups and delivery vehicles. People driving should use extra caution.
Closures are marked with signs, and there will be enough space for local traffic to drive around the signs. City staff will monitor the streets daily to ensure the signage remains in place.
For pedestrians, bicyclists:
- Keep moving
- Maintain proper social distancing — at least six feet between yourself and others — to help reduce the spread of the virus
- Use a light at night. For bikes, a white light in front and red reflector or light in back
For people who must drive on the closed streets:
- Drive slowly and make eye contact with people biking, walking and rolling
- Scan the road ahead carefully; watch and yield to people of all ages who are walking, biking and rolling
- Communicate with others by making eye contact and signaling turns and lane changes
The two streets will remain closed to non-local vehicle traffic pending further guidance on social distancing from the Governor’s Office and public health officials, or as directed by the City of Bellevue.
The temporary street closures are being implemented rapidly and with minimal up-front costs for materials. Staff time will be required to place the closure signs, monitor them and remove the signs once the pilot has ended. As part of the pilot, staff will track costs and staff time.