Letter to the editor: City doesn’t really want citizen opinions on bike lanes

Dear Editor:

Recently a reader board was put up on Bowdoin Way, notifying people to check out a website regarding bike lanes on Bowdoin Way. Today, we had a small notice hung on our doorknob announcing a public online meeting to be held in 2 days to provide feedback to the city. I went to the website and must say that this is the worst excuse for a website I have ever encountered. If the city’s mission was to confuse, obstruct or hide the information, they did an excellent job. There are no directions as to how to access the “interactive map.” There is a survey, also without direction, but giving you the option of marking your choices-without any explanation of the choices. It appears that the city is not really interested in people knowing the options or in really hearing their opinions.

I am not illiterate when it comes to computers, and it took me a good long time and several attempts to try and figure out what the  options were. I also had my adult and very computer-savvy daughter try and she agreed it was one of the worst sites she had ever come across and she works in the IT Department of a large employer. Her view was that the city didn’t seem very interested in sharing the details of the plan as they made no effort to make it easily accessible or understood.

Last summer when this topic came to light at a city council meeting there was  much discussion about the plan. At that point  the plan that was publicized was no parking on Bowdoin at all. I decided to begin tracking the numbers of cars and bikes on Bowdoin. Here is the information I gathered:

Number of data episodes: 50 times between mid-August to late October 2020
Hours: data collected at various times between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.
Area viewed: The entirety of Bowdoin Way
Average # of parked cars: 17.6  Range 16-27 cars
TOTAL # of bikes over all 50 times: 11
Range: 0-3 bikes per episode

I question why we need bike lanes at all. Have there been many bike accidents on Bowdoin? Again — over 50 times of driving on Bowdoin only eight times were there any bikes on the road. Street parking is a necessity for many of us. There are at least two businesses on Bowdoin — a group home, with visitors, staff and medical and social services workers and an adult family home which also has visitors and professionals who need to park nearby. There are not side streets nearby where there is accessible parking. There are condos, apartments and rental houses that have multiple cars and need street parking. There are also older homes who do not have garages, or have limited driveway space.

I cannot see how the city ever thought that removing all the parking on Bowdoin and Walnut was ever a reasonable option and why would it even be an option now? Why is no bike lanes not one of the options? And, why did you create a website that was nearly impossible to navigate?

Rosemary Fraine
Edmonds

17 Replies to “Letter to the editor: City doesn’t really want citizen opinions on bike lanes”

  1. Thank you for the zoster Rosemary. Reason for bike lanes, the city of Edmonds received money from Sound Transit and must spend it fast. I liken it to my 5 year old wanting a new toy and breaking into his piggy bank. Must spend now!

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  2. I am not opposed to bike lanes but I am opposed to drastic reductions in parking and choking auto traffic. We keep thinking that our City Government really wants to hear from the Citizens. The truth is that they are marching forward according to their own agenda which apparently is to choke traffic and reduce parking spaces to try to force us out of our cars so that we learn to bike or walk. It is a classic example of government bureaucrats thinking they know what is best for us. One important element missing is the economic impact of this. What will it do to the patronage of businesses and restaurants? What will it do to the Fourth of July, Arts Festival and Octoberfest? Where is the voice of the Chamber of Commerce on this? We need a City Council that will implement the will of the Citizens of Edmonds and not succumb to utopian visions of how they think the world should be and how they think we should live. Added to this is the considerable influence of Sound Transit who gave the City the grant monies and the powerful and vocal bike lobby.

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    1. Bike lanes are a very dangerous idea for Bowdoin Way. It’s is crowded now! It will be a constant classic traffic jam…
      And NO. We are not all able to ride bikes. And unless you are an avid expert rider…you can’t get back up that giant hill. Get US ALL to ride bikes…
      That is the most selfish, controlling thing I have ever heard. It doesn’t help bring shoppers down,that is for sure. We don’t all want to ride in the rain. Please….be realistic. Think what is being asked of we on the Hill. Then think again.

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  3. In addition to the public meeting this week, the City has one more planned in August for the final design and then its a done deal.

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  4. I didn’t do the research Ms. Fraine carried out, but I can’t agree more strongly with her assessment of the website we were directed to. There are no indications of what Alternatives 1, 2, 3, or 2A and 2B could possibly refer to. Worthless map too.

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    1. I think…its going to go down Bowdoin Way. Cross ninth and then down Walnut and around the Bowl for a nice view ride. Just a guess.

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  5. I grew up on Bowdoin Way and still keep in touch with some of the long time residents there. I also have family members who are biking enthusiasts. Bowdoin Way is the worst possible road for bike lanes. It would be a serious accident waiting to happen. People drive too fast down it now, and cars have to pull out from their driveways. Plus, and more importantly, there are very few bicyclists who travel down Bowdoin Way. Please rethink this plan!!

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  6. 9th Ave. is a very busy N/S commuter route to Edmonds Way and the Freeway. The existing parking is heavily used by residents and commercial delivery vehicles. Commercial delivery truck usage has grown exponentially since Covid-19 limitations. To my observation bicyclist usage of 9th S. is very infrequent and there does not seem to be any impediment to using the current traffic lanes by infrequent bike riders. Displacing existing street parking with a bike lane is not solved by side street parking. Most of the side streets off of 9th are steep and not useable by our aging population for parking. Is there any traffic study evidencing a collision problem between bike riders and motorists on 9th Ave? I doubt it. There is evidence in Seattle that motor vehicle right turn accidents with biker riders in bike lanes have increased, sometimes with fatal results.

    So, what problem is being fixed in Edmonds? There are very few, if any, bike riders commuting to work on 9th Ave. Those who are biking (usually only during warm dry weather) are recreational users. Are we being forced into a bad decision by the lure of “free money”? Have there been any traffic studies on how much bike usage occurs on the existing bike lanes on Olympic View Drive and 220th? I own a bike and ride it in Edmonds with few problems other than the occasional inattentive or impaired driver. A line of paint will not protect me or any other bike rider from those drivers and may in fact lure users into a false sense of security. Defensive bike riding is the best route to a safe trip.

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  7. Driving around Edmonds in forlorn search of parking leaves me with the district view that any steps which reduce available parking still more are a very bad move. Traffic is not going to decrease; we’re going to need more parking. not less!

    During events like the Taste of Edmonds, visitors are parking as far uphill as 9th and the part of Main above 9th. On the one hand, the city seems to want more visitors; on the other, it wants to take steps such as this to make it harder to visit Edmonds.

    I have done a lot of biking in Edmonds, so I know that dedicated bike lanes would be nice, but the right-turn threat and the loss of even more parking make this a ridiculous proposal!

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  8. So let me get this right.
    We voted to allow them to up our license tabs to pay for light rail. (Then found out they are over inflating our car values to get more money out of us; but that is another discussion). That money goes to Sound Transit. Now, Sound Transit is giving us our money back in the form of a “grant” to add bike lanes.
    What do these bike lanes have to do with light rail? Why do we need bike lanes? I haven’t heard of an high accident rates with bikes in Edmonds.

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  9. I’d prefer that we not spend $1.85M on street paint for bike lanes. Unfortunately, the decision to accept the grant money (taxes you and I paid) has been made. Can it be undone? I don’t know. It would take courage.

    Here is a simple solution that should satisfy biking enthusiasts, residents, visitors, businesses, delivery drivers, our mayor, city council and city engineering department:

    Simply create “sharrows” in both directions on both streets. A “sharrow” is simply a shared lane for vehicles and bicycles and indicated by a symbol including a bicycle with two chevrons. The ideal use of a “sharrow” is for residential areas with speed limits less than 35mph. Both Walnut and 9th Ave S fit this use case.

    By using “sharrows”, we can maintain existing parking (east and west sides of the street) and existing traffic flow along both 9th Ave S and Walnut including turn lanes along 9th. We can also maintain existing car lane widths and existing sidewalks. Bikes will also have free access to the road. All other designs create tremendous safety issues for local residents and bikers alike. “Sharrows” are the least intrusive solution.

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  10. Normally when spending money, a buyer determines what need is being met by spending that money, what problem is being solved and does the product provide the solution to address the problem. It appears this 1st step has been ignored. What is the problem we are fixing? Are the lack of bike lanes a problem? Does buying bike lanes create more problems than it solves?
    The addition of bike lanes on the proposed routes impacts parking, traffic congestion, and safety. The bike lanes do not lead to any rapid transit areas, do not lead to any high employment areas…so what is the purpose? This project is not well thought out and is headed toward the Police Chief appointment debacle arena.
    So, City employees listen to Edmonds Citizens regarding this project. Slow down and have real citizen participation. Perhaps returning that money is your best option.

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  11. Come on. This is Edmonds. Bikes are all the rage so we need bike lanes in Edmonds. Think of it like the tree issue; the topic of climate change and trees producing oxygen is all the rage, so we need tough save the trees laws immediately, if not sooner. Or the police chief issue; nation wide searches for just the right person are all the rage so we must over look the “good fit” in pursuit of the much more expensive “perfect fit.” During the last administration, solving regional transportation problems and saving people about to die like flies on the “dangerous train infested” waterfront was all the rage, so we decided to build a viaduct on the beach (only the wisdom and sanity of the frustrated protesting masses, stopping that debacle). I look at life in Edmonds as good in spite of our city government, definitely not because of it.

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  12. I drive on 97th, 220th and Bowdoin Way multiple times every day and have done so for many years. The sighting of a bicycle is a very rare event on any of these streets and only slightly more common on a fine summer day. Rosemary’s data is consistent with my observations. Driving in Seattle has made me very aware of the right turn problem. The compromise solution of “sharrows” seems to me to be reasonable if there is a compelling need to do something at all, which I doubt. At this time the city should immediately provide the My Edmonds News the full test of the grant award so that MEN could publish or summarize sections relevant to no longer participating in the grant so the public can understand the consequences of declining further participation.

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  13. Rosemary Fraine,

    As you are aware, when it comes to Edmonds, it is not just bike lanes.

    I have communicated with numerous issues-based, open-minded, sincere Edmonds Citizens who would truly dedicate themselves to problem solving If the City of Edmonds and Edmonds Politics wouldn’t get in the way.

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