Bellevue's September bike ride (photo from ChooseYourWayBellevue)

The City of Bellevue is rolling along with its Downtown Transportation Plan Update— as part of its scoping efforts, it’s used rather creative outreach strategies, including two public bike rides a couple months ago.  This time around, it’s teaming up with Feet First to host walking audits designed to gather input on the downtown pedestrian experience.  There will be two audits (flier here): the first on December 1st during the mid-day which is geared more to downtown employees and businesses, the second will be a weekend audit on December 3rd and gives residents and the general public a chance to join in.

From the City press release:

At lunch time on Thursday, December 1st, the walk will cover the central part of Downtown, focusing on a sample of destinations for lunch, shopping, transit or errands. A short presentation will begin at 11:45 AM. Sign-in will be in the lower lobby of the Key Center Building at the northwest corner of NE 6th Street and 108th Avenue NE, across from the Transit Center. The walk will wrap up by 1:15 PM.

On Saturday morning, December 3rd, the walk will follow a route on the north side of Downtown. During this walk residents can share their experiences walking in Downtown Bellevue. The overview presentation will begin at 9:00 AM at Top Pot Doughnuts (10600 NE 9th Place), and the walk will conclude at 10:30 AM.

If the walks are something you’re interested in, you can contact Bellevue Transportation Planner Kevin McDonald ( for more information.

11 Replies to “Downtown Bellevue to Host Walking Audits”

  1. Well walking in downtown Bellevue has gotten better over the last 30 years. Those super blocks tend to make walking feel out of scale with the buildings, but the newer mid block pathway from the transit center to the Mall is nicer. But thing is as long as there are a zillion cars moving at higher rates of speed, walking is not nice. So for the core, from the Mall across the street, and up and down Bellevue Way for about 1/4th mile it’s ok. After that, everyone seems to drive.

    In the future, I’d like to see better access to Lake Washington. Belleuve bought the land at the Yacht club but getting to the water’s edge? Hah!

    1. Meydenbauer Park is and has been a huge focus for the city; at least as big as East Link just not as publicized. The master planning is done and funding is in the budget. The land purchases from Downtown Park to the water are done. I’m not sure what you mean by “Hah!”

      1. I walked the path from DT Bellevue to Maydenbauer Park a few times. It’s been a few years since, but I vaguely remember a portion of the way lacking sidewalks.

  2. I believe the two biggest problems with walking in downtown Bellevue are the interminable waits at traffic signals and the freeway on-ramp crossings at the NE 8th St. bridge over 405. I would really like to see something done about the 8th St. bridge.

    Is there actually any money for pedestrians? Is the city’s entire non-car-transportation budget for the next 30 years being spent on the tunnel?

  3. The reality of Bellevue, and it is even true of cities like Copenhagen, is that as they densify and grow, there just isn’t the asphalt to handle the increasing number of cars if everyone travels by car for every trip. So the sidewalk (and perhaps one day the cycle track) becomes the means by which some capacity is freed up from the short trips that are then done by foot/bike. However, I don’t see how Bellevue will be able to accommodate this, apart from shifting some car travel over to LINK. Even then, the levels of density desired will begin to brush up against roadway capacity as has been seen in places like Belltown.

  4. This seems a bit more like a PR campaign than a data gathering exercise. If you want to know the state of walking in downtown Bellevue, go to bing maps and hit “arial view”. Then look for sidewalks that are closed or non-existent.

    When they moved City Hall from 112th & Main to its current location, I asked a few folks on the council if they’d ever walked the eight or so blocks from the old building to the new one. If they had they’d have experienced the following pleasures of walking in the city:

    – Crossing the highway westbound on the south side of Main St is treacherous due to the weird entrance to 114th in front of the Red Lion parking lot
    – Crossing Main St to go north has to be done on the west side of 110th Ave (there’s only a crosswalk on the west side of the intersection). But there’s no sidewalk next to the Toys R Us just to the north, so you have to cross to the east side of the street to stay out of traffic. Once you cross 2nd you have to go back to the west side of the street because the condominiums above the sushi store had the sidewalk closed for about half a year.
    – Back to the west side of the street as you approach 4th? Watch out for traffic coming from the underground garages!
    – Wait for the impossibly long light to cross northbound on 4th Street. If you’re lucky, the crossing button works. If not, jaywalk quickly!
    – Cross back to the east side of the street and make your way through the beautiful and expensive water feature that leads up to the City Hall front door.

    Want to make downtown Bellevue more walkable? Put sidewalks in where they are missing. Don’t let construction close sidewalks for year-long stretches. Put the maintenance department’s phone number and email address on the buttons that control pedestrian crossing signals. And then, if you still have funds, go to the donut shop and have a nice stroll with your constituents.

    1. A little of both, PR campaign and data gathering exercise. In order to gain enough useful data points you have to promote not so much “walking” as “walking advocacy”; meaning “advocates” actually show up and engage in the city process. I think most people either really don’t care enough to put time into the process or they feel “you can’t fight city hall”. Well, in Belleuve it’s still a small enough town that citizen input can make a difference.

    2. City hall takes up one huge mega block and only has one true pedestrian entrance all the way at the northeast corner. It’s a castle on a hill with a moat.

      Developers have added useless mid block pathways to satisfy buildout requirements. Try the one due west of city hall and find yourself on a dirt path outside el gaucho – always quicker to walk around – but they got the extra lot coverage and height limits.

  5. As long as pushing a button is necessary to get a walk light, pedestrians will be second class. Personally, on my rare visits, I jaywalk when appropriate.

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