Transportation Committee testifies on Bike Bellevue

Advocacy, Transportation,

The Chamber's advocacy arm has been in-the-weeds with transportation policy as-of late, with the Bike Bellevue project raising concerns among membership, primarily in the developer community. Our Government Affairs Specialist, Gavin Haines, gave testimony on the topic at the City of Bellevue's November 9 Transportation Commission meeting.

"We know that we have aggressive growth targets in the coming decades, and it is important to appropriately and realistically accommodate that growth," said Haines. "Increasing mobility and recreational options are a draw for both the business community and visitors to our city, [and] the Bike Bellevue plan encompasses several positive features agreed upon by our Transportation Committee."

Haines went on to hash out the specific grievances our membership has expressed, including the elimination of travel lanes in the City's densest areas, the locations of proposed bike lanes along Northup Way and BelRed Road, and currently insufficient funding for the estimated $18.6 million project. 

"The business community does support bike lane developments in the plan that do not eliminate travel lanes and are safe for all, [and] the future of Bellevue calls for a safe, efficient, and data-driven multi-modal approach that is well understood by our community and its leaders," he said. 

About Bike Bellevue

In a 2017 online questionnaire from the City of Bellevue, 57% of respondents reported feeling unsafe riding a bicycle in Downtown, and 62% indicated they would ride a bike downtown more often if streets had safe and comfortable bike lanes. So, in November 2022, the City Council adopted the 2023-2029 Capital Investment Program, which ended up providing $4.5 million to design and implement rapid build bicycle infrastructure on existing streets in the Downtown, Wilburton and BelRed neighborhoods.

Thus, Bike Bellevue was born.

Share your thoughts on the proposed designs for each corridor hereyou will also be able to see comments from other people, add a response, and agree or disagree — sign up for project alerts here, and express your interest in participating in a focus group with the City here.

A map showing the Bike Bellevue project area.
A map showing the Bike Bellevue project area.


( Sourced from the City of Bellevue )

Major capital projects and levy-supported projects are implementing bikeways in Bellevue’s downtown, Wilburton and BelRed neighborhoods; however, significant gaps in the network remain that limit access to and the utility of these investments. The neighborhoods in this project area collectively represent just 8.5% of the city geography but account for 52% of citywide transit usage, 65% of citywide jobs, 36% of citywide "high-injury network" and 34% of the city’s pedestrian and bicyclists involved in fatal and serious injury crashes.

Urban core neighborhoods in Bellevue are, by far, the fastest growing areas of the city and are preparing for 67,000 new jobs and 33,000 new residents by 2035 (Source: BKRCast). Anchoring this growth are five new East Link light rail stations, three planned frequent transit network routes, and the Eastrail regional trail. Completion of these transportation projects and realization of the land use vision will facilitate greater use of non-auto travel options in the Bike Bellevue project area.

Bike Bellevue will include rapid-build bicycle improvements that will fill network gaps in the project area. Rapid-build projects use low-cost materials that can be quickly installed on existing streets with no or minimal impact to existing curbs and drainage.
Past efforts to advance bicycle facility improvements along individual corridors have proved to be challenging, involving time-consuming and costly consultative processes that ultimately delivered only incremental segments of the broader vision for a safe and connected network. A coordinated approach to implementing network improvements — with a single engagement process through which stakeholders arrive at a clearly articulated strategy for investments over multiple years — will help the city achieve its goals more efficiently and effectively. 
The 2023-2029 Capital Investment Program (CIP) allocated $4.5 million for the planning, public engagement and implementation of Bike Bellevue. Staff are pursuing other funding sources, such as grants, which would allow more improvements across the network to be implemented.
Bike Bellevue funds rapid-build projects that are implemented on existing streets with no or minimal impact to existing curbs and drainage, which will be addressed as appropriate on a location-by-location basis. An estimated 5.9 miles of motor vehicle travel lanes will be repurposed to implement the 15.11 miles of bike lanes referenced in the Bellevue DRAFT Design Concepts Guide, November 2023.
Of these 15.11 miles of bike lanes: 11.17 miles will result from converting 5.9 miles of travel lanes to bike lanes, 2.06 miles of bike lanes will be added while retaining the travel lanes, and 1.88 miles of bike lanes will be upgraded, while retaining the travel lanes. These numbers reference the entire length of each corridor (including the centers of the intersections). The calculations are based on the descriptions of the concept designs in the Bike Bellevue DRAFT Design Concepts Guide, November 2023.
The project descriptions do not capture small deviations in the design along the corridor (e.g., the bike lane on one side of the street starts proximate to, but not at the intersection, or a limited section of curbside parking removed). The two-way bike lanes are counted twice to account for bike lanes in each direction.