Bicycle advocates in the state of Washington are up in arms over plans by the City of Bellevue to make improvements to a busy parkway without adding bicycle lanes.
The 5,000-member Cascade Bicycle Club has mailed action alerts to its Bellevue-area members. The club and The Friends of Lake Sammamish are urging cyclists to attend upcoming meetings on the West Lake Sammamish Parkway plan and to contact city council members for their support on bike lanes.
The parkway is a regional arterial road that connects Redmond (home of Microsoft) and Bellevue. It carries more than 12,000 vehicles a day, according to Cascade, yet hasn't been improved in more than 50 years.
This road is extremely unsafe for bicyclists. The first time I rode it to Redmond, I vowed never to take the parkway again if I could avoid it. That's difficult, however, as there are few safe alternatives to the parkway for bicyclists without pedaling miles out of your way. And the parkway listed as a bicycle route by Washington State and King County.
Basically, the problem is that two-lane West Lake Sammamish Parkway has no shoulder at all in the northbound direction. There is a poorly paved shoulder on the southbound side, and cyclists are encouraged to use that in both directions — riding against the traffic flow if necessary.
The City of Redmond recently improved its section of West Lake Sammamish Parkway by adding northbound and southbound bicycles lanes on the parkway shoulders, and a pedestrian lane adjacent to the southbound bicycle lane.
Instead of adopting similar improvements along its 5.5-mile stretch (as supported by a majority of workshop visitors), Bellevue's city staff is pushing a plan that leaves no space for bicyclists on the northbound side of the road.
The city's current plan once again puts northbound and southbound bicyclists together with pedestrians on an 8 to 10-foot wide shoulder. This so-called Multi-Use Trail is buffered from the southbound lane in places, but is adjacent to southbound traffic for 2.4 miles. Cascade points out that the southbound shoulder changes width 39 times and the traffic buffers appear and disappear as often as every 100 feet.
The next meeting on the project is scheduled for the Bellevue Transportation Commission, 6:30 p.m., Thursday, March 24, at Bellevue City Hall, where the staff is presenting its plan.
The staff is scheduled to present its plan to the Bellevue City Council at the 6 p.m. meeting on April 11, at Bellevue City Hall. Public comment is taken at each meeting.