KIRKLAND, Wash. –
Scores of Kirkland residents will be on their bicycles and in the City’s bike lanes,
crosswalks, trails and streets in May to celebrate Bike Everywhere Month—a national event aimed at getting people on their bikes. To help riders be as efficient and safe as possible, the City of Kirkland is hosting an interactive panel discussion on April 19 at Heritage Hall (203 Market Street). The event begins at 7 p.m.
“This forum will be an opportunity for people with an interest in bicycling to engage in a direct conversation with people who have an expertise in bicycling,” said Joel Pfundt, Kirkland’s transportation manager.
The panel will feature experts on various aspects of bicycling, including a bike-commuting police officer, who can discuss the rules of the road; a bike-commuting transportation planner, who can discuss upcoming bicycle projects; as well as a bike-commuting bike mechanic, who can discuss gear and maintenance.
“Interest in bike commuting grows every year,” Pfundt said. “So has our network of bike lanes and bike-friendly policies. We want to make sure people know how to use those facilities and understand how transportation policies are resulting in the facilities that Kirkland has already built and is planning to build.”
In the last few years, Kirkland’s leaders have upgraded the City’s Complete Streets ordinance
to accommodate all ages and all abilities, created a law that improves street safety by banning parking in bike lanes
, adopted a transportation master plan
and changed the way Kirkland measures the relationship between private development and transportation facilities from an auto-only metric to a multimodal metric that includes bicycling, walking, driving and transit.
The impetus for these efforts derive from two primary sources: The first is Kirkland residents, who assert in a variety of forums, that they want safer streets for bicycling, walking and living.
One of these forums is Kirkland’s Suggest-a-Project interactive mapping system, which allows residents to identify infrastructure needs and suggest projects that would remedy them. The system has received more than 500 transportation-related suggestions since it went live in May 2013.
“And about 80 percent of those suggestions have something to do with making streets safer for walking, bicycling and living,” Pfundt said.
The other reason Kirkland’s leaders have focused on building a more bike-friendly City is a need for other, feasible travel options. Demand for Kirkland’s roads will continue to increase throughout the coming decades as the City’s population continues to grow. And creating enough capacity to accommodate all that additional traffic—an unpopular strategy with many residents—would cost more than $500 million.
The other strategy for diffusing the stress on Kirkland’s roads is to offer more travel choices by making more modes of travel more feasible. That includes walking, transit and bicycling.
Portland, Oregon, Seattle, and Vancouver, B.C., are all using this multimodal approach to manage their increasing demand for travel. In Vancouver, walking, cycling and transit account for 58 percent of all work trips and 50 percent of daily trips.
“That shows you just how much potential there is for multimodal transportation,” Pfundt says.