Eastside Cycling: the time is now!

All across America, cities are positioning themselves to take advantage of the resurgence of cycling and the transformative impact it’s having on local economies, mobility and health. The cities on the east side of Lake Washington are no exception, and it’s no wonder when you look at the incomparable assets and opportunities in the communities of Kirkland, Redmond and Bellevue.

Eastside Rail Corridor:
With the recent acquisition of the Eastside Rail Corridor -- a former rail line that stretches 42 miles from Renton to Woodinville -- we have a rare opportunity to create a major bike-ped corridor to connect communities up and down the east side of Lake Washington. Cascade will continue to work with the Eastside Rail Corridor Regional Advisory Council to provide input on how this regional corridor should be developed for all users and keep you informed on opportunities to get involved.

The city of Kirkland got the ball rolling in 2013 when it became the first community to purchase 5.75 miles of the rail corridor for development into a multi-use trail.

The city is now working to finalize the Cross Kirkland Corridor Master Plan, which will determine key elements of what will become a regional, paved trail and transit pathway. The city will be hosting a public event in late February or early March to present their report and solicit community feedback. We encourage you to learn more about the Cross Kirkland Corridor and share your vision for this regional trail.

Meanwhile, the newly formed Kirkland Greenways, led by Glen Buhlmann and Caron LeMay, is working hard to make 2014 the year that Kirkland breaks ground on its first greenway, connecting neighborhoods and business with safe and convenient streets for all users.

Kirkland is quickly becoming a burgeoning leader in regional trails development and Cascade acknowledges the service and tenure of outgoing Mayor Joan McBride and applauds her contributions. Mayor McBride passes the gavel to newly elected Mayor Amy Walen. We look forward to working with the new Council and Mayor Walen to ensure Kirkland’s 2035 Vision and updated Comprehensive Plan include steps to increase Kirkland’s walk and bike ability for all ages and abilities.

The city of Redmond -- the “Bike Capital of the Northwest” -- is living up to this claim with its new Transportation Master Plan. Released in 2013, the plan attempts to meet the broad range of travel needs for the city including developing bicycling facilities that are safe, accessible and comfortable for a wider segment of the community.

The city’s Pedestrian Bicycle Advisory Committee is working on connectivity in 2014 and hopes to create a safe connection between Redmond and Kirkland. The committee plans to dedicate their annual bicycle field trip to visit areas along the border of Redmond and Kirkland in the summer of 2014 to explore bicycle connectivity. The route will likely be set in June and is open to the public.

The city is also installing the first ever bicycle wayfinding signage to guide people to their destinations.

“Redmond looks forward to encouraging bicycling by installing a bicycle wayfinding system that helps visitors, residents, and employees navigate the city by bike,” said Peter Dane, planner for the city of Redmond.

With the 2008 voter-approved expansion of an East Link light rail line connecting the city of Seattle to Mercer Island, Bellevue and Redmond, an unparalleled opportunity exists for Bellevue to integrate safe bike and pedestrian facilities into each of the six new Bellevue stations. Cascade will continue to work collaboratively with Sound Transit and the cities of Bellevue and Redmond to incorporate safe bike and pedestrian faculties and access throughout the design process.

In 2013 the city began the final design on a 1.3-mile section of the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trail between Factoria Boulevard SE and 150th Ave SE. This is a subsection of a 3.6-mile gap in the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trail known as the Eastgate Gap. The city is currently at 30 percent design and has funding to complete the 60 percent design by the end of 2014.

Additional funding is needed, however, to complete the design and build the trail. If the funding is secured, construction on the 1.6-mile trail could begin as early as the summer of 2015.

The Eastside is an epicenter for active transportation and there are innumerable ways to get involved and ensure success. If you live in Kirkland, Bellevue or Redmond, please, get involved locally and partner with Cascade to make sure that all ongoing city planning and facilities include safe, all ages and abilities accessible infrastructure.

Let me hear from you. Email me at taldiw@cascadebicycleclub.org to tell me your story, get involved and let me know your top Eastside priorities.