Bellevue Chamber Transportation Committee submits comments on curbside practices
The following letter was recently sent to the City of Bellevue's Transportation Commission on behalf of the Bellevue Chamber's advocacy group focused on transportation.
To meet growing demand in Bellevue, curb space must serve a variety of functions for our community. The work the City is doing to develop a Curb Management Plan that serves these needs is important, and we are grateful for the time and thought staff, commissions, and council have dedicated to this effort.
While evaluating dynamic curb use in a growing city can be a challenge, establishing curb priorities based largely on the City’s preferred policy outcomes, rather than existing and projected transportation demand, can lead to unintended consequences. As mentioned in previous correspondence, the Chamber would be concerned by any recommendation that deliberately lowers the level of service for commercial and emergency vehicles, as well as rubber-tired transit and private passenger vehicles. We prioritize relieving traffic congestion, increasing safety, and accommodating trips and guests to Bellevue. An informed approach that leads with data and responds to public input and modal demand is imperative.
The staff agenda memo included in the meeting materials states that the Curbside Practices Guide will identify “overarching recommendations for improving curb management approaches” and will “highlight strategies and tools that can be considered during implementation.” As indicated in staff’s pilot program, extracting and properly applying reliable data about curb use and their multimodal impacts will determine the best uses for limited curb space in Bellevue. We ask that the City be transparent in sharing these data sources with the public prior to advancing any specific curb policy. Releasing all available data (including maps, traffic flow analysis, price-sensitivity studies, etc.) that the City is relying upon to support its proposals before those proposals are being debated and refined will help key stakeholders and the public engage meaningfully in their development.
While the Curbside Practices Guide will focus primarily on the curbside area, rather than the curbside lane, it will be critical to understand the effects that such activities will have on auto throughput specifically. To that end, we ask that the City include a traffic impact analysis as a part of any process that evaluates future curb uses or requested curb changes that may impact the downtown transportation network.
Many who come to Bellevue to access employment or recreation do so by car, including a growing proportion by ride-shares and carpool. While reliance on transit will increase over time, a functional transportation network that supports continued vehicular access and mobility will remain a priority. This is especially true in the context of equity. Bellevue must remain accessible by those who depend on their car and, as of yet, cannot afford to live in or near Bellevue and for whom transit is still not a viable alternative. Steady and dependable traffic flow is equally important for emergency response and for Bellevue’s growing demand for last-mile delivery and fulfillment.
The transportation decisions Bellevue officials make now will have long-term impacts on Bellevue’s labor force and economic activity. Taking the time to collect and share curb activity data to inform curb policy choices will provide a strong and lasting foundation for the City’s continued growth.
Thank you for considering these views in your decision-making. We look forward to continuing this important work for the betterment of Bellevue.
Vice President, Government Affairs Bellevue Chamber