Behind Bike Bellevue

Advocacy, Community, In the News,

There has been a lot of buzz surrounding the City’s “Bike Bellevue” plan — both good and not so good — so we wanted to take the opportunity to share some basic project resources, give the rundown of last week’s Transportation Commission meetings, and reiterate our advocacy team’s stance on its current form.  

 For a top-level review of Bike Bellevue, visit the City’s website here, and check out our initial take on the plan here.  

The Resources

Since data is at the core of this project’s modeling, efficacy, and the discourse surrounding the project, there are a handful of dashboards being used to display the City’s findings.  

Pedestrian & Bicycle Count Report & The Bellevue Transportation Department Dashboard
Using these resources in tandem helps give more color to the cyclist story, as it both details where the City’s bicycle counters are (as well as why they are there, how they work, etc.) and gives year-over-year comparisons and actual YTD counts for each location.  

Draft Design Concepts Guide 
Considering traffic these days, it shouldn’t be surprising to see folks tense up at the thought of decreasing car lanes and removing parking spots. In order to create 11.17 miles of new bike lanes, City plans intend to remove 5.9 miles of existing lanes for vehicles, as well as 30 parking spots downtown.

Click on each of the 11 designated corridors below to view the proposed changes:

Convert 1 of 2 westbound lanes to separated buffered bike lanes, then integrate with bike lanes on 140th Avenue NE
Cost Estimate: $3.90M
1 of 2 eastbound lanes removed
east of Bellevue Way NE, 106th
Avenue NE, and 108th Avenue NE
Cost Estimate: $0.99M
Convert 1 of 2 westbound lanes to one-way buffered bike lanes between NE Spring Boulevard and 124th Avenue NE ; Convert 1 of 2 eastbound lanes east of 124th Avenue NE
Cost Estimate: $3.38M
Convert curbside parking to one-way bike lanes between Main Street and NE 1st Street ; Between NE 4th Street and NE 8th Street, convert 1 of 2 northbound lanes to provide a separated buffered two-way bicycle facility on the east side.
Cost Estimate: $0.61M
Restripe channelization to provide separated buffered bike lanes while maintaining existing 5-lane cross section ; Protected bicycle corner at the intersection of 116th Avenue NE and NE 4th Street
Cost Estimate: $1.87M
Convert 1 of 2 southbound lanes to separated
buffered bike lanes ; Existing dual westbound left turn lanes at NE 24th Street and NE 20th Street will be converted to single left turn lanes.
Cost Estimate: $1.76M
Convert 1 of 2 eastbound lanes to one-way separated buffered bike lanes ; Between NE 20th Pl and 148th Avenue NE, convert one of two westbound lanes to a one-way separated buffered bike lane ; Convert 1 of 2 westbound lanes at 148th Avenue NE.
Cost Estimate: $2.81M
Convert 1 of 2 eastbound lanes to one-way separated buffered bike lanes between 148th Avenue NE and NE 20th Street ; Convert 1 eastbound lane and 1 westbound lane to a one-way separated buffered bike lanes ; Convert 1 of 2 eastbound lanes to one-way separated buffered bike lanes between NE 24th Street and 156th Avenue NE
Cost Estimate: $1.61M
 Convert NE 1st Street and NE 2nd Street between 100th Avenue NE and Bellevue Way NE to one-way eastbound only for motor vehicles ; Between Bellevue Way NE and 112th Avenue NE, retain 1 lane in each direction to provide one-way bike lanes
Cost Estimate: $1.25M
Remove curbside parking on the south side to accommodate a pair of bicycle lanes.
Cost Estimate: $0.21M
Install new conventional bike lanes on both sides of the street by removing the northbound merge lane (north of NE 12th Street) and converting the curb lane to a right turn lane (south of NE 12th)
Cost Estimate: $0.20M

The Meetings

On Thursday, December 14, the City of Bellevue’s Transportation Commission held two meetings — one special and one regular — to discuss the Bike Bellevue project. This meeting came on the heels of some City-Hall-centric controversy, as there have been complaints of unethical communications and outreach practices for this project, so attendance was plentiful. 

The special meeting — which preceded the regular meeting — was set up for City staff to answer nearly 50 questions from the Commission, and due to time constraints, will continue at a later date. However, here’s the gist of the Q&A portion they were able to get through: 

Data & Modeling: A common thread between Commissioners was confusion of how certain models were drafted and the assumptions they were based on, particularly when discussing and comparing land use scenarios. Further clarification on certain models and baseline metrics will be presented at the next meeting on this topic. 

Equity Priorities: Similar to the modeling question, the Commission was curious as to why the City picked specific equity indicators such as educational attainment, # of children and seniors, and the # of non-white residents rather than weighing low-income households higher. 

Biking Infrastructure: Beyond the actual construction of bike lanes, there are other facilities necessary for a truly bike-friendly community, particularly one hoping to cater to commuters. (Think secure lockers, shower facilities, the works.) However, when discussing these amenities, City staff said that we are already considered a Level A system based on anecdotal evidence and the fact that new builds are supposed to incorporate this infrastructure into their plans. 

Listen to the full discussion here, and check out the City’s slide deck here. 

After a brief recess, the Commission then came back for its regular meeting, which almost entirely consisted of comments from the public regarding Bike Bellevue. There was a mix of folks in attendance and speaking — swaths of Bridle Trails neighbors, developers of all sizes, concerned parents, former councilmembers — each with their own concerns. 

Advocates for the plan discussed how they believe adding bike-only lanes will make cyclists safer, thus bringing more out-of-towners to patronize our businesses, allowing their kiddos to take themselves to school or the park, and decreasing the cost of living for those who work here, while those against the project noted fears of increased congestion, a lack of transparency from the City regarding modeling and outreach efforts, and questions of ‘Is this the best way to spend our money?’ 

Listen to the regular meeting and public comment period here.

No actions were taken on the topic, but the next Transportation Commission meeting will be on January 11, 2024. Perhaps we will see you there! 

The Takeaway

Collaboration between City staff, Commissioners, the public, and stakeholders is important, and fostering an environment in which all parties can participate and fully understand the data put before them is just as important as showing up. We intend to stay involved — as we do — and hope everyone who lives and works here can engage, too.