Kirkland needs to hear from you about its Active Transportation Plan

Downtown Kirkland. Joe Mabel [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)]

The city of Kirkland recently launched a Safe and Active Transportation survey. The survey is the first chance for public engagement as the city works to rewrite its Active Transportation Plan, which lays out Kirkland’s strategy for moving cyclists and pedestrians through the city.

The last time the city updated its Active Transportation Plan (ATP) was in 2009. The 2009 ATP was a big step forward for the time, but best practices for bicycle infrastructure have changed dramatically over the past 10 years and the city’s policies are badly in need of a rewrite. In particular, the 2009 plan focused on the needs of “strong and fearless” cyclists, often missing the perspectives of people who are not comfortable riding in traffic or taking the lane.

Take, for example, this quote from Defining a Network section of the 2009 ATP, which explicitly states that bicycle lanes are only needed on high-traffic streets.

Bicycle lanes are generally suggested when auto volume exceeds 5,000 vehicles per day. Therefore, some segments of the bicycle network do not need bicycle lanes to adequately support bicycle travel.

This might sound about right for the spandex-clad street warrior who can consistently maintain 12-15 mph. But if you are a child trying to get to school or a casual cyclist on a comfort bike, a two-lane street with no shoulder may be an insurmountable barrier, especially if it goes uphill as many of Kirkland’s neighborhood streets do. In 2015, Kirkland recognized the need for traffic calming on even low-traffic streets by funding its first two neighborhood greenways. It’s time for the rest of the city’s bike plan to catch up.

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