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Multi-Use Trails Reviewed By Expert User

by Don Brubeck, West Seattle Bike Connections
October 15, 2015 (original letter 9/11/15)
The City of Seattle is in the process of updating both its Pedestrian Master Plan and Trails Plan. There are several opportunities for public input. As an everyday bicycle commuter, Don Brubeck, co-leader of West Seattle Bike Connections, has had a lot of experience as a trail user. Don is also a great thinker and writer. We were so impressed with Don’s suggestions that we got his permission to reprint his letter, below. Thank you Don!

Don Brubeck, West Seattle Bike Connections

Don Brubeck, West Seattle Bike Connections

We are happy to know that SDOT is doing a comprehensive study of the multi-use trails. The trails are valued community assets. They are essential in providing mobility and recreation for people of all ages and abilities. The trails vary widely in age, design, condition and use. It seems timely to step back and look at them as a whole, for safety with Vision Zero, and for connectivity and equity as part of the region’s transportation network.

West Seattle Bike Connections is a volunteer community organization advocating for safe and effective bicycle transportation in, to and from West Seattle. We advocate for pedestrian safety as well, and for use of city streets by all modes of transportation. We represent West Seattle and South Park in the Seattle Neighborhood Greenways coalition. We are the West Seattle branch of Cascade Bicycle Club’s “Connect Seattle” groups. We are part of Sustainable West Seattle. At our last meeting, we developed some suggestions for the Trails Upgrade plan, and followed up with other members in an online brainstorming session. Here are our thoughts.

General issues for all multi-use trails and off-street bike paths:

  1. Vehicle drivers entering and exiting driveways frequently fail to stop and look before crossing multi-use paths, creating serious hazards and causing serious injuries. At all public drives, e.g., into parks, public parking lots, Seacrest marina:
    1. Install stop signs and stop bar markings on pavement for exiting drivers.
    2. Restrict curb cut widths to minimum workable, with required sight triangles.
    3. Hold parking lane parking back from entries.
    4. Add trail crossing warning signs to entries to public and private drives.
  2. Posts and bollards are hazardous to bike riders, especially when trail traffic is heavy, and in hours of darkness. Remove posts where not really necessary to prevent vehicle traffic from entering trail. Mark all bollards and posts and mark pavement at posts per national trail standards. Follow WSDOT Design Manual Chapter 1020 – Bicycle Facilities for setback, daytime high visibility paint and nighttime retro-reflective markers, and pavement warning markings per MUTCD.
  3. Pedestrians, dogs on leashes, skaters, skateboarders, people pushing strollers, and tourists on rental bikes and surreys tend to use the entire trail width when in groups, making it difficult to yield and hazardous to all parties for people on bikes or skates to pass in either direction. Even solo pedestrians and inexperienced cyclists are often encountered on either side of the trail, at random. We recommend design and education to encourage travel on the right, with passing on the left and yielding to oncoming traffic, for all trail users.

Read complete letter here

WSBC Trails letter 9-11-15