Where and when are you most likely to find bicycle riders in Bellevue, Washington? It's the I-90 bike trail in the Enatai neighborhood.
According to the Pedestrian and Bicycle Count Report taken on Sept. 29, bicycle commuters come through there at the rate of 2 per minute between 4 and 6 p.m., and at about 1 per minute between 7 and 9 a.m.
If you commute between the Eastside and Seattle, that I-90 bridge trail is the only way across Lake Washington. The only alternatives are riding through Renton south of the lake or the Burke-Gilman Trail through Bothell north of the lake. [The photo shows bike commuters at that location on a bike-to-work day.]
In all, the bike count report logged bicyclists and pedestrians at 13 spots around the city. The intersections with the I-90 trail generally had the highest use, increasing as it nears the crossing to Mercer Island.
The report highlights other well-used bike commuting corridors through the city.
The bike trail along Route 520 at NE 24th Street got 24 cyclists in the morning commute and 22 in the afternoon, and the intersection of NE 12th and 116th Avenue NE saw 24 cyclists in the morning and 20 in the afternoon.
The pedestrian and bicycle count was part of a statewide effort to document commuters in the morning and evening of Sept. 29.
Bellevue video-taped 4 intersections with its traffic cameras, used automatic pneumatic tube counters at 8 locations and a volunteer at another location.
I was among the volunteers who reviewed the videotapes of the traffic cameras at a later date from the comfort of the Bellevue City Hall. I was assigned the tape for Bellevue Way at 4th Street from 7-9 a.m. That's a busy street with no bike lanes. Three cyclists were spotted there in the morning, five in the afternoon; the lowest totals of the 13 locations.
In addition to the bike counts, city staff interviewed nine bicyclists at one downtown location. Seven of them were commuting to or from work. The average trip length was 9 miles, with one bicyclist riding 18 miles.
More than half said they'd like to see the bike lanes improved along their route.
Although the results from Seattle will no doubt be higher, I'm impressed with these numbers from Bellevue.
As I recall from observing the videos, it was not a pleasant fall day. The weather was wet and blustery in the morning. The report attributes weather to the 50% drop in bike commuters through the I-90 – Enatai counting station.
After undergoing rampant growth in recent years that has choked many streets with cars, the city is making an effort to catch up its bicycling infrastructure.
In March, the City Council approved a Ped-Bike Plan that includes 400 projects to make walking and bicycling safer in Bellevue. It also recently opened an indoor bike parking facility at the downtown transit center on 6th Street.
Let's hope the city follows through with the efforts.
More information about alternatives to cars in Bellevue.
(Here's where you'll find information of the statewide ped-bike count for 2008 and 2009, when released.)