After I noticed this past weekend that Renton had lowered speed limits on the Cedar River Trail to 10 mph and imposed a $101 fine [see Monday's article], I contacted the Cascade Bicycle Club to see if they had an opinion about the city's action.
Here's the response from David Hiller, advocacy director for the Seattle-based bike club:
“We find Renton’s response to be unsound and grossly disproportionate. Though we promptly reached out to staff at the city following the tragic circumstances that led a pedestrian to die from a collision, none of our guidance was taken and, with the exception of one phone call from an apologetic staffer, the promised coordination never materialized.
“We continue to discuss mounting a full scale campaign to get Renton to reverse the course it has taken, but haven’t arrived at a conclusion as far as how and when it is best to proceed. It goes without saying that we will be evaluating all avenues to amend this policy, including recommending the FHWA (Federal Highway Adminstration) seek return of federal Enhancement funds for the trail as it is no longer a viable transportation facility, and action in the 2011 municipal election.”
The lowered speed limits or dismount zones on the 4.5 miles of the Cedar River Trail that runs through Renton came in reaction to the death of an 83-year-old woman who stepped out in front of a bicycle on April 18 and was knocked to the ground. She died the next day.
No charges were filed against the 57-year-old cyclist, who was also injured, but the mayor and city council set about restricting bicycle operation on the multi-use trail.
Speed and dismount zones
The city says that “an interdepartmental city team with input from citizens and various trail users” came up with recommendations that were presented to the public at the May 24 City Council meeting (“Renton considering slower speed limit for the Cedar River Trail“). A press release was issued the next day announcing a “comprehensive program to enhance overall safety on its trails.”
The program in the May 25 press release announced the lowering of speed limits from 15 mph to 10 mph, trail dismount zones, and painting a line down the center of the trail for passing and no-passing zones. The ordinance that supported this comprehensive program was passed unanimously by City Council on June 28.
'Not about .. bicycles'
In the press release, Mayor Denis Law said:
“We have over 13 miles of multi-use trails in our city and we need to make sure that all our users have a safe and enjoyable experience. This is not about rules and regulations to restrict bicycles. This is to enhance and promote safety for all users whether they are walking, hiking, jogging, rollerblading or biking. Most people on our trails are very careful. Our comprehensive program will send a message to the few reckless people who fail to be mindful of other users.”
Although Law emphasized “this is not about rules and regulations to restrict bicycles,” it's worth noting that the only enforcement mentioned in the press release regards bicyclists. And even though the press release is directed at trail safety, it puts cyclists on notice about increased enforcement along Lake Washington Boulevard as well, which is at least a mile from any part of the Cedar River Trail.
Trail and street enforcement
The enforcement actions the city will take:
- “Enforce the new speed limits on the trail once posted.
- Offenders will be issued a warning for the first two weeks once enforcement begins.
- Issue citations for additional traffic infractions such as running stop signs, etc., that occur in various areas of the city including Lake Washington Boulevard.”
It sounds to me like the mayor and city council is making an effort to restrict bicyclists, on and off the Cedar River Trail. Ironically, the Cascade Bicycle Club named Renton as one of the top 3 Puget Sound-area cities for bicycle friendliness in its 2010 Puget Sound Bicycle Scorecard released earlier in August. Let's hope the city remains supportive of all types of transportation, including bicycles.
Renton invites everyone to take its 2010 Customer Satisfaction Survey for trails in the city.
Renton Reporter, Tuesday, Aug. 25: “Renton lowers bicycle speed limit on Cedar River Trail…”