Reader view: Let’s make South County Park pedestrian-friendly

There is a beautiful park in Edmonds, a potential gem, often seen, but seemingly nameless. A convenient park used regularly by walkers, bicyclists, runners, leashed dogs, electric scooters, and the like. The park, Southwest County Park, with Northwest flora, is about a mile long. A single narrow asphalt sidewalk, 3 to 4 feet wide, separates pedestrians from cars and trucks on a curvy road. As a runner, I see how this park can be greatly enhanced from two very inexpensive changes.

Being a regular park user, I typically see distracted drivers exceeding the speed limit, something I’ve written about to the mayor, but unfortunately to which I have not received a response. Drivers, most of whom exceed the speed limit, attempt to pass cyclists on the sharply curved two-lane road, which creates a very dangerous condition for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians. During the pandemic, walkers and runners keep socially distanced by moving onto the road. Most drivers respectfully slow or dangerously cross to the oncoming traffic lane, while others honk in an effort to clear the road.

In the long view, however, this naturally beautiful Edmonds park will be increasingly used by pedestrians and bicyclists and will eventually change away from the car-centric park it is today. The solution is quite simple and obvious, a solution successfully used on other roads in Edmonds—that is, to make pedestrian-/cycle- only lanes. With little more than road paint and a few signs, cyclists can have a safe area to ride without endangering themselves or others.

But we too see that the road is not sufficiently wide to carve out another lane. The other, least-cost solution is quite simple, too: make Olympic View Drive, at least within the park, a one-way road. Since currently the park’s vehicular parking area for trail use is on the Perrinville side of Olympic View Drive, it makes the most sense to have the one-way street beginning at Perrinville leading toward Talbot Road.

Naysayers should keep in mind that there are other more suitable roads leading to common destinations with little to no inconvenience. In my view of living in Edmonds for over 30 years, there are more cyclists riding through Southwest County Park than any other Edmonds road. The one-way road would allow visitors and the ever-increasing park users to enter the town of Edmonds through a beautifully verdant park safely shared with bicyclists and pedestrians.

— By Doug Sage

Doug Sage is an Edmonds resident.

 

  1. Thank you for your creative suggestion. That is a reality of driving and safety on Olympic view drive. It would be great to do a traffic,bike, pedestrian study maybe with a weekend trial of one lane road.

    1. Thank you for your comments, Denise. I agree that a study is warranted. Outside exercise is so important for all of us, and South County Park is the perfect place for a forested bicycle ride, walk and other beneficial exercises in a natural setting so close to the heart of Edmonds.
      -Doug

  2. I have observed far more bike riders and pedestrians on the Edmonds segment of the Interurban Trail than on Oly View Drive. Our tax dollars would be better spent by maintaining the only regional bike trail in Edmonds and hopefully some day connecting our trail section to Shoreline with a safe crossing of SR 104.

  3. When I lived in the Seaview area for some years, I walked along the length of the park and beyond to the viewpoint park often, a very enjoyable walk. On the other hand, I wouldn’t dream of riding a bike on the road my kids use to refer to as “The snake road”. It is far too narrow with far too many blind curves. The paucity of serious accidents we experience there is I believe a credit to all who use it.

  4. I would like the City of Edmonds to take a look at ways to enhance the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists on Olympic View Drive. Many people enjoy the park and walking down Olympic View Drive to and from Perrinville , but is is not safe because many motorists do not adhere to the 25 mph speed limit so much so as to witnessing cars jump the low curb. As more housing is built in Perrinville, Olympic View Drive and the park will draw more pedestrians and bicyclists as a direct route to downtown Edmonds. It would be a nice addition to the city to be able to access the downtown area by this pedestrian route an a gateway through the park promoting our value as a city that is serious about preserving trees and our natural park areas.

  5. Making OVD one way would create a huge inconvenience for many people who use this road to get to work, school, downtown Edmonds, the ferry, the marina, and many other destinations. It is a route many of us rely on to get from home to our place of employment and back Every day there are commuters and van pools from Kitsap County driving on OVD filled with workers traveling to and from the Boeing Plant in Everett which has day, swing and graveyard shifts 7 days a week. The Post Office in Perrinville uses OVD to get the mail delivered to the area six days a week. Amazon and other deliveries are made often using OVD. Many vehicles pulling trailered boats rely on OVD to access the sling launch at the Edmonds Marina which is one of the few places to access Puget Sound by boat. There are not any other routes that are as convenient as OVD which has no major hills. Don’t create a barrier that will keep people form patronizing restaurants and small business in downtown Edmonds.

  6. Yes, Southwest County Park is not a trail, so no doubt there are more bikes on the interurban than on OVD. Please keep in mind, to make the aforementioned changes to OVD is not a big tax inducing program, certainly less than a bridge or tunnel bisecting Hy 410. And speaking of highways, why not use Hy 524 to get from town/marina to Hy 99 and areas north. Even Boeing commuters could get to work and back nearly the same time by traveling highways (never saw a Boeing carpool van on OVD in 30 years). Please keep in mind, however, that we are talking about creating a one lane road through the curvy park for safety and peacefulness, rather than for speed and minute convenience. I appreciate the feedback.

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