The city of Bellevue is exploring ways to make downtown a safe, comfortable place for people to ride bikes. One way the public can get involved is by helping choose the location of a demonstration project for safer cycling.
People who live, work or visit Bellevue are invited to attend an open house, drop in on one of three lunchtime events or complete an online survey to help pick the street and project design that balances community priorities.
Three casual, pop-up events will take place on Nov. 15, 21 and 28, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. at Bellevue Connection Compass Plaza, at 106th Avenue Northeast and Northeast Sixth Street. These events provide an opportunity for people who can’t attend the open house to learn more and interact with city staff.
The open house will be Thursday, Nov. 30, 5-7 p.m. at City Hall, 450 110th Ave. NE. City staff will present design concepts and answer questions about project tradeoffs and next steps.
A survey is available for the public to take through Sunday, Dec. 31.
“People tell us they want to ride more in Bellevue, especially downtown, but it can be pretty intimidating with cars whizzing by your bike,” said Transportation Director Dave Berg. “A demonstration project would give us a chance to test a bikeway design that allows folks to feel and be safer on two wheels. Safety is a priority for us.”
On Bellevue’s bike map, the streets downtown are all labeled “caution areas” because of heavy traffic, high speeds and the absence of bike lanes or shoulders. Under consideration is a pilot project that would create the first “high-comfort,” downtown bikeway, a lane with separation from cars that could occupy part of a street or sidewalk depending on the conditions.
Having one north-south and one east-west bikeway downtown was a goal established in the city’s 2009 Pedestrian and Bicycle Plan. Four streets are candidates for the pilot project: 108th Avenue Northeast and 106th Avenue Northeast for the north-south bikeway, and Main Street and Northeast Second Street for the east-west one. At least one location would be selected for the pilot, and possibly more. Each street offers benefits and challenges.
While some improvements to the bicycle system have been made this year – and more are funded in 2018 through the voter-approved Neighborhood Safety, Connectivity and Congestion Levy – none connect to bike lanes downtown, Bellevue’s most vibrant urban neighborhood where tens of thousands of people travel each weekday.
The Transportation Commission will review community feedback and make a recommendation about a demonstration project to the City Council in early 2018. If the project moves forward, a bikeway or bikeways could be installed by mid-2018 and would be evaluated through at least December 2018. Bicycle, vehicle and pedestrian traffic would be monitored, and adjustments would be made to improve operations if necessary. If the demonstration is successful, more permanent upgrades could be installed in the future.
More information is available on the Downtown Demonstration Bikeway page.