The City of Bellevue’s effort to install bike facilities on this crucial part of the Eastside’s bike network are commendable, but its plans show the bike lanes ending well before the intersections on both ends of the street. If not expanded along the entire length of the project, the bike lanes will serve very little purpose as the unsafe intersections would keep many from riding on 116th entirely, even if they would feel safe before they reached either intersection. The current plans would not fulfill the city’s vision to make “biking in Bellevue safer and easier”, as defined in its 2009 Pedestrian/Bike Master Plan.
Another flaw in the proposal is the width of each lane. The planned design places 5-foot bike lanes on the outside of the roadway, and three 11-foot lanes in the center: one in each direction plus a center turn lane. However, those extra-wide 11-foot lanes encourage speeding, as opposed to safer 10-foot lanes.
Last Spring, Bellevue endorsed the NACTO Urban Street Design Guide, which recommends 10-foot lanes, stating that “lane widths of 10 feet are appropriate in urban areas and have a positive impact on a street’s safety without impacting traffic operations.” Bellevue should now practice what it endorsed.
What Should Change
If the center lanes were narrowed to 10 feet, the extra three feet can be distributed to an 18-inch painted buffer for each bike lane. This will increase comfort for people biking and bring the speed of drivers closer to the speed limit. It will bring us one step closer to Vision Zero.
Dear City Council,Thank you for approving bike lanes on 116th as part of the pavement overlay project, but the incomplete design should be refined in order to make biking safer and more attractive along this stretch of road.The bike lanes should be expanded to the intersections in order to provide a safer route. The northbound lane merge should be placed before the intersection at 12th, as it was recently done at a similar intersection at 140th and 24th.Traffic lanes should be narrowed to 10 feet, encouraging drivers to drive at the legal speed limit and providing a safety buffer for people biking in the bike lanes.With these two simple improvements, 116th could become a much safer place to bike, and would encourage many people to do so, fulfilling the City of Bellevue’s goal as stated in the Ped-Bike Master Plan.[customize your message here][sign your name]