Community bike audit points to opportunities to make Edmonds a bicycling destination

Bertrand Hauss, City of Edmonds Traffic Engineer, discusses upcoming transportation projects with bike audit participants at a post-ride picnic in Marina Beach Park.

Here’s a trade secret: the best way to test on-the-ground bicycling conditions? Go for a ride of course!

Cascade has been conducting a series of rolling bicycle “audits” of South Snohomish streets as part of our work funded through the Verdant Health Commission. In June, we held the first of these study bike rides  to assess the bicycling environment in South Snohomish County. The route covered sections of Lynnwood, Mountlake Terrace and Edmonds to take a critical look at bicycle access to transit facilities (read more about the ride here). We heard from the experts—local residents in attendance—and compiled participant feedback into a report for local jurisdictions on how to improve the existing bicycle network to be safe and attractive for people of all ages and abilities.

On Wednesday, Aug. 28, Cascade invited commuters and residents out for a second audit of existing and proposed bicycle routes in the City of Edmonds, focusing on connections to reach popular destinations, such as the ferry terminal, Edmonds Station, the Interurban Trail and schools, by bike.

The verdict? Despite a few hills to climb, with beautiful views, wide lanes and connections to the ferry, Sounder and Amtrak as well as the Interurban Trail, Edmonds could (and should) be a bicycling destination. But the infrastructure's not quite there yet. While a full audit report is forthcoming, below are a few challenges and opportunities identified:

Bike route wayfinding sign on Dayton Street coming out of downtown Edmonds

  1. Wayfinding. Is this really a bike route? Where does it go? While Edmonds has several signed bike routes indicating low-traffic, wide-laned streets, the network could be greatly improved if signs directed bicyclists to specific destinations such as transit hubs, the Interurban, Edmonds Community College, Downtown, City Hall, the library and so on.

    Heading west in a bike lane on 220th St. SW

  2. Connectivity.Riders appreciated the bike lane on 220th Street SW, but it's lonely. The lane doesn't extend to 76th Ave. W, a main thoroughfare with Swedish/Edmonds Medical Center, Edmonds-Woodway High School and other destinations. Nor does it connect to Highway 99 or the Interurban Trail. However, Edmonds has something that Seattle and more densely built cities do not: space to stripe. Audit participants identified 9th Ave. S, Bowdoin Way and 212th Street SW (the primary commuter route to the Burke-Gilman) as critical connections in need of bicycle facilities beyond extra width on the road. In some areas, the city may need to remove on-street parking, but with the political will and public demand, the potential for bike lanes is there.

    Riders stop at Pine Street Park to discuss greenway potential for Pine Street and 6th Ave. S

  3. ALL Ages and Abilities. Participants discussed the potential for Neighborhood Greenways and trails through Yost Park to offer family-friendly all ages and abilities routes through Edmonds. Steep topography is a challenge, but proper wayfinding directing riders to the flattest routes out of the Edmonds bowl could help.
  4. End-of-Trip Facilities. Overheard on the bike audit: "Edmonds is missing a bet leaving out bikes in planning, [there is] lots of money in cyclists." It's true, bicyclists make great customers if you give them a place to lock up. A Portland study found people arriving by bike spent more each month at bars, restaurants and grocery stores compared to other commute modes. Furthermore, bike commuters are healthier, happier and more productive employees. How can Edmonds cash in on these benefits? It starts with more bike parking through downtown and at popular destinations like grocery stores, gyms, the library, schools and parks. However, we hope the conversation can expand to how employers can invest in end-of-trip facilities and external infrastructure improvements that will motivate more people to ride a bike to work. That's why Cascade is bringing business leaders to the table to discuss how the business community can support bicycling. Join us next Thursday to be a part of it. 

Thanks to everyone who came out for a fun ride and discussion! We hope you stay active and vocal in making Edmonds and South Snohomish County a great place to bicycle.