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Kirkland News Room

Council Updates Complete Streets Ordinance

Ordinance says transportation facilities should accommodate travelers of all ages, all abilities and all forms

KIRKLAND, Wash. – Kirkland’s City Council voted unanimously on Oct. 18 to update its Complete Streets Ordinance, which it first approved 10 years ago.

The updated ordinance requires Kirkland to accommodate all forms of travel for all ages and all abilities “to the maximum extent practical” when it is upgrading or building new transportation-related infrastructure. 

The ordinance does exempt transportation-related projects from this requirement under certain circumstances, such as when “their establishment would be contrary to public safety …,” or when site conditions make some “complete streets” elements impractical. All of these exemptions require the city manager’s approval. 

In addition to capital improvements, the new ordinance also requires street maintenance practices to support the policy goals of Complete Streets.

“Our street maintenance crews already put safety and efficiency as their top priorities,” said Kirkland Transportation Manager Joel Pfundt. “But the ordinance codifies that when we clean our streets we can’t just leave the debris in the bike lane or place construction signs on the sidewalk if other options exist.” 

Since working with the Cascade Bicycle Club to pass the state’s first Complete Streets ordinance 10 years ago, Kirkland’s leaders have continued to press for policies and projects that give residents a variety of meaningful transportation options. They created the Transportation Master Plan, which includes a plan for a network of neighborhood greenways. They replaced Kirkland’s auto-centric concurrency management system with a multimodal system and continue to use its annual street paving program to create new bike lanes and add buffers to existing ones. 

“In a lot of ways, this update mirrors that of the original: it establishes a policy for an established practice,” Pfundt says. “But our new ordinance means we will strive to make our whole transportation system work for everyone.”

Kirkland became the first city in Washington to create a Complete Streets ordinance 10 years ago when its transportation engineers and Transportation Commission collaborated with the Cascade Bicycle Club to draft Washington state’s first Complete Streets ordinance. The City Council approved the original ordinance on Oct. 3, 2006.