Edmonds engineering staff presented the latest plans for the proposed new bicycle lanes in a virtual Wednesday evening meeting that drew more than 20 participants. Staff present included City Engineers Ryan Hague, Bertrand Hauss, and Rob English, and Public Works Director Phil Williams. This is the second public meeting on the bikeways project; the first was held Feb. 28.
Wednesday’s formal presentation was a repeat of that given to the Edmonds City Council on May 4 but presented an additional opportunity for citizens to provide comments and input. The full PowerPoint presentation is posted to the project website and may be viewed here.
The citywide project, funded by a $1.85 million Sound Transit Access grant, would add bike lanes on various Edmonds streets, including:
- 100th Avenue West/9thAvenue South from 244th Street Southwest to Walnut Street.
- Walnut Street/Bowdoin Way from 9th Avenue South to 84th Avenue West.
- 228th Street Southwest from 78th Avenue West to 80th Avenue West.
- Sharrows will be added along 80th Avenue West from 228th Street Southwest to 220th Street Southwest.
The project comprises four design stage submittals and includes two public meetings before construction is to begin next spring. The anticipated timeline, showing Wednesday’s meeting in red, is as follows:
“This is essentially the plan we are going to council with later this month,” remarked Public Works Director Phil Williams. “But of course the council will then have the opportunity to discuss various aspects and to modify the plan before approval.”
The subsequent question-and-answer session drew several inquiries from participants asking for clarification and more detail on various aspects of the project. Overall, there seemed general consensus that the intiative is a good idea and should move forward.
One questioner asked whether the planners had considered the option of having on-street vehicle parking between the bike lanes and the roadway, reasoning that the line of parked cars would further separate cyclists from traffic and provide added safety. City staff responded that studies show that having cars parked between cyclists and traffic is actually less safe in that it impedes visibility for both cyclists and motorists, making them less aware of each other’s presence.
Another questioner noted that the bike lanes are 5 feet wide when located directly against a curb, but 6 feet wide when located next to designated vehicle parking spaces. Staff explained that because cyclists may not notice someone actually inside a car, and the person in the car is less likely to notice a cyclist approaching from behind, many accidents occur when the occupant of the car swings the door out into the cycle lane. The extra foot of space gives the cyclist room to swerve and avoid this without having to enter the traffic lane.
Other questions asked for clarification on how and where the new bikeways would connect to existing bike paths that provide access to places such as the Mountlake Terrace Park and Ride, and various locations in Shoreline and Seattle. Staff responded that the planned bikeways would feed into many existing facilities, including those in Mountlake Terrace and the Fremont Avenue bike lanes that begin south of 205th Street Southwest in Shoreline.
Regarding parking, a questioner noted that the plans for many sections of the proposed bike lanes call for limiting parking to one side of the street as a way to free up space, and eliminating the current parking on both sides of the street. Staff cited studies showing that unlike the downtown core, parking along the proposed bike lane routes is historically underutilized and that limiting parking to a single side of the street should have no adverse impact.
Another questioner asked about large vehicles and trailers that are sometimes parked “for weeks at a time” and spill over the parking lanes posing a particular hazard for cyclists, and whether stepped-up enforcement of existing parking regulations could be tool to help solve this. Phil Williams responded by saying that while there is a 72-hour limit on parking, police don’t “routinely drive around marking tires on trailers in residential areas,” and that enforcement is usually in response to a complaint.
The final question asked about whether the design took into consideration event days in Edmonds that draw hundreds of visitors such as the Fourth of July, and specifically whether the one-side-of-the-street parking would be suspended for these. Williams replied that the single-side parking would be maintained at these times, adding “we’re not going to design around things that a happen only once or twice a year,” and that there are many side streets where parking is currently underutilized.
The question-and-answer session then transitioned into more of an informal discussion between citizens and project staff. Topic items included the growing popularity of e-bikes and how this would affect bike lane use was discussed, and the possibility of opening Edmonds to bike sharing, which would provide racks of public-use, pay-per-ride bikes (and possibly e-bikes and electric scooters) — offering yet another option for both residents and visitors to get around town and use the new bikeways.
The meeting concluded with staff thanking participants and inviting them to submit further comments, questions and ideas to project lead Ryan Hague at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 425-771-0220.
— By Larry Vogel