Bellevue takes steps to increase cycling and walking

Bellevue takes steps to increase cycling and walking

Bellevue has updated its Pedestrian and Bicycle Transportation Plan, adding 435 projects that will yield 144 miles of bikeway, 90 miles of walkway, and 20 miles of trail improvements.

The goal is to create a network of bicycle routes and sidewalks that increase walking and cycling – which transportation officials say is vital to reducing traffic congestion and pollution as the city continues developing.

“This is just one of a number of ways that we're trying to develop solutions,” said Bellevue transportation planner Franz Loewenherz.

The city's other bike-oriented programs include:

• Plans to designate multiple roads as “sharrows,” which use pavement markings to indicate that bikes and cars must share the space.

• A Commuter Connection facility at the downtown transit center featuring secure bicycle parking, lockers and a changing room.

• Twenty-five new downtown bike racks

Sharrows are used to change driver habits and improve rider positioning in areas where there is no dedicated bike lane. The concept originated as a way to get cyclists away from the door zone of parked vehicles, but it has grown increasingly common as a share-the-road strategy, according to Loewenherz.

Bellevue's only sharrow is located on 161st Avenue Southeast, and is there as an experiment. Others could eventually appear along 164th Avenue Southeast and Eastgate Way, Loewenherz said.

Additional efforts by the city to increase cycling include a new online program called Bike Bellevue that allows riders to share information about the best routes through town. The service is run through MapMyRide.com

Richard Edwards, who commutes regularly from Seattle to Bellevue by bike, said the resource could make cycling to work seem like more of a real possibility.

“It helps to visualize it,” he said. “If you're not already riding, you wouldn't know what roads are suitable.”

The city has also added a new cycling-safety brochure and Bellevue bike map to the Walking and Biking page on its web site.