The Online Voice of the Bicycle Alliance of Washington

Showing posts with label Trails. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Trails. Show all posts

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Olympic National Park Opts for Better Spruce Railroad Trail Alternative

Thanks to public comments from citizens and advocacy groups like the Bicycle Alliance of Washington and Peninsula Trails Coalition, Olympic National Park has announced that an 8-foot asphalt trail with 3-foot gravel shoulders is the selected alternative for the Spruce Railroad Trail improvements.  This trail segment is part of the larger Olympic Discovery Trail.

This is a change from last fall when the park first identified its preferred alternative for trail improvements as a 6-foot paved surface.  Read our earlierblog post for more info.

Unhappy with the preferred alternative, the Bicycle Alliance and Peninsula Trails Coalition coordinated efforts to push for a safer multi-use trail design with 8-10 feet of paved surface.  A paved trail surface of 8-10 feet provides sufficient space for two bicyclists to pass each other and is consistent with the existing trail design.  It also meets the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) requirement to make this trail accessible and usable by people with disabilities. The park’s preferred alternative would not have met those requirements.

In an announcement released this week, Olympic National Park Acting Superintendent said:

This project illustrates the value of public and community collaboration, as important issues and concerns have been raised throughout the process and have helped shape the final decision.

We are pleased that park officials have listened to public comment and revised their final selection to reflect the safety concerns.  You can read the park’s announcement here.

A completed Olympic Discovery Trail will traverse approximately 130 miles of the Olympic Peninsula.  The trail begins at the Victorian seaport of Port Townsend and will end at the Pacific Ocean in the Quileute Nation village of La Push.  The segment utilizing the Spruce Railroad Trail through Olympic National Park will allow bicyclists to avoid a dangerous portion of Highway 101 along the shore of Lake Crescent.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Yahoo! Grand Opening of Ship Canal Trail Extension Tomorrow

The long awaited and much anticipated opening of Seattle’s Ship Canal Trail extension under the Ballard Bridge is Saturday, November 19, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony slated for 11am. 

This extension fills a critical missing link in Seattle’s bicycle network.  The trail offers a safer connection for bicyclists traveling between Magnolia/Interbay to Queen Anne and Fremont by bringing them under the Ballard Bridge and avoiding the gnarly cloverleaf interchange at bridge level.  Check SDOT’s Ship Canal Trail Phase II for directions to the ribbon-cutting and more information on the project.

View Larger Map

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Tips for Trail Advocates

I was the keynote speaker earlier this month at Forever Green Council’s Pierce County Trails Conference.  Around sixty trail supporters turned out for this event to network, learn from each other, and celebrate trails.

Before I assumed my current mantle of Outreach and Communications Manager for the Bicycle Alliance, I worked with trail advocates around our state and helped organize support for a variety of trail projects. I drew from that experience to prepare my presentation and assembled some tips to share with conference attendees.  I think they’re worth sharing with you as well.

You’re in it for the long haul.

It can take years to build a trail.  The rail corridor that is today the Burke Gilman Trail in Seattle, was abandoned as a railroad in 1971.  The first segment of trail was not dedicated for public use until 1978.  Although additional segments have continued to be built, forty years after abandonment the trail still has a missing link.  You can read a more detailed history of the Burke Gilman Trail here.

It takes a coalition to build a trail.

Behind every successful trail is a determined group of citizens who made it happen.  The coalition often begins with a few folks who envision the trail and they get others to buy into their vision.  Successful coalitions build a broad-based constituency that includes individuals, trail user groups, business organizations, government agencies, community groups, and other influential partner organizations.  The Friends of Centennial Trail (Spokane), Yakima Greenway Foundation, and Peninsula Trails Coalition are a few examples from Washington State.

Make your vision tangible to others.

Do you hope to convert an old railroad bed, a river corridor, or a greenbelt into a trail?  Invite people to walk it with you so they can visualize what the trail could be.  Touching it, seeing it and experiencing it can help make the trail real for others.

Plan and prioritize your work.

Develop a plan for your trail and get it formally adopted.  Having your trail plan approved by  your City Council, or incorporated into local and regional plans gives it credibility and makes it eligible for certain types of funding.  Trails are frequently built in phases, so it’s important to prioritize your work.  Pick “low hanging fruit” and aim for impact.

Celebrate the milestones.

Since it can take many years to complete a trail, it’s important to celebrate the milestones along the way.  Hold a groundbreaking ceremony when you’re ready to build your first phase of trail or invite the community to a celebratory ribbon-cutting when you open a new segment of trail.

Cultivate the next generation.

Life throws us curve balls.  You and your fellow trail advocates may not always have the time to serve with the coalition.  It’s really important to recruit and mentor new advocates if you want your coalition’s work to continue.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Bikes Don’t Fare Well in Senate Transportation Bill

MAP-21 (Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century), the Senate’s recently introduced reauthorization of federal transportation legislation, sets bicycle and pedestrian programs back instead of forward.

Under the current SAFETEA LU, there is dedicated funding for bicycle and pedestrian projects, Safe Routes to School and trails.  Not so under MAP-21.  Transportation Enhancements, Safe Routes to School and Recreational Trails Programs have been eliminated as dedicated funding sources.   Projects eligible for these programs must now compete for CMAQ (Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality) funds.

America Bikes coalition prepared a side-by-side comparison of the existing programs and what’s proposed in MAP-21.  Read America Bikes response to MAP-21 here.

Expect more action on the reauthorization in coming months.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Some Planning Projects of Interest to Bicyclists

Bicycle friendly communities don't just happen. It takes public planning, citizen support, political will, funding and engineering.  There are opportunities in communities around the state to shape things in the planning stages to benefit bicyclists.  Here’s a sampling:

WSDOT’s SR 520 bridge replacement project is holding a Seattle community design public session on November 9.  The process is intended to further refine the basic features of this project.  The bridge replacement project includes bicycle pedestrian pathway and connections to it.  Meeting details are here.

Sound Transit’s light rail system expansion in Seattle and the Eastside (King County) have elements that impact bicyclists.  The North Link project has a couple of open houses scheduled to update the community on the Northgate Station (November 9) and Brooklyn Station (November 16).  Open house details can be found on the Sound Transit website.

The City of Federal Way is creating a Bicycle and Pedestrian master plan and held an open house on it last week.  You can still provide input.  More information can be found on the city website

Ferry County is developing a trail plan in a 28-mile railbanked corridor that stretches from Republic to the Canadian border.  Check out the Ferry County Rail Trail Partners to learn more about the planned trail.

Public comments are welcome through December 5, 2011 on the Sinclair Inlet Development Concept Plan.  The plan includes a trail connecting Bremerton and Port Orchard via Gorst.  View the plan online.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Pierce County Trails Conference

Do you live in Tacoma and wish you could ride your bike on a trail to Eatonville?  Perhaps you’re a Puyallup resident dreaming of the day that the Foothills Trail extends to Tacoma.  Maybe you live in Graham and your kids need a safe biking route to school and to the Foothills Trail.

The Forever GreenCouncil shares your vision of a trail network in Pierce County and they are holding their annual trails conference and dinner next week.  Trails and pathways don’t happen overnight and it often takes the work of many committed individuals to get these facilities off the drawing board and onto the ground.  Maybe it’s time for you to get involved in your local trails movement.  Details of the conference can be found here and I’ll be there as a speaker and supporter.

Monday, October 17, 2011

National Park Service Makes Bad Design Proposal for the Spruce Rail Road Trail- Olympic Discovery Trail: Make Comment by October 21

The Bicycle Alliance of Washington and the Peninsula Trails Coalition are announcing that the National Park Service (NPS) has released the Environmental Assessment and preferred alternative for the Spruce Railroad Trail (SRRT) segment of the Olympic Discovery Trail (ODT)

The NPS will be accepting public comment on phase two of the project until October 21, 2011. Phase two is for the last four mile section of the ODT that will complete the shared use path through the Olympic National Park.

At issue is the fact that the NPS is proposing to use a 6 foot minimum width in the design criteria for the last four mile section. The NPS proposal contradicts the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board’s (Access Board) 2011 Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for creation of shared use paths which cites the AASHTO bicycle facilities guide 8-10 ft MINIMUM as a MUST to ensure Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance. If this proposal were implemented, the final section of the ODT would be considerably inferior to the 40 miles of AASHTO compliant shared use path that has already been built and would not be ADA compliant.

The Peninsula Trails Coalition and the Bicycle Alliance of Washington ask that you offer comment to the NPS on the width issue. Specifically, make it clear to the NPS that for a shared use path, the 8-10 foot minimum guidelines established in the AASHTO bicycle facilities guide is a minimum that must be adhered to and as experienced cyclists, we know, based upon our own personal experiences, that a 6 foot path is unsafe for all users.

For your review copies of the EA can be downloaded from the NPS at

Comments should be made online at

The Peninsula Trails Coalition, and the Bicycle Alliance of Washington thank you for your support. We hope that by sharing your personal experiences as cyclists on shared use paths we can demonstrate to the NPS the complete unanimity of the cycling community, and convince them to change their plans.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Bike Maps

Are you ready to try biking to work or school but you're unsure of a decent route?  Are you interested in finding new bike trails to explore?  Maybe you want to explore a particular part of the state by bike but you're not familiar with the area.

There's a good chance that there's a bike map out there that can assist you with planning your routes and adventures.  Many of our cities and counties have produced bike maps that show routes commonly used by bicyclists.  They can help you find low-traffic streets, streets with bike lanes or shoulders, and local bike trails.  There's even a state bike map produced by WSDOT.

Do you live in Vancouver and work in Portland?  You're in luck!  The City of Vancouver has a bike map that includes bike routes in Portland.  You can request a hard copy of the bike map or view it online.  Check here for details.

Maybe you're a freshman at Western Washington University and you brought your bike to campus but you're not familiar with Bellingham area.  No worries.  Just get your hands on the Bellingham and Whatcom County bike maps.

Are you itching to explore the John WayneTrail or the Olympic Discovery Trail?  Maybe you'd like to spend time touring the Columbia River Gorge or the Walla Walla wine country.  There are maps to assist you with route finding.

A section of the Bicycle Alliance website is dedicated to bike maps.  You’ll find links to many bike and trail maps, most of which can be viewed and downloaded.  You’ll also find links to sites that allow users to post their favorite bike rides and map their own routes.  Check it out!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Spontaneous Interactions

Perhaps one of my favorite things about bicycling is the possibility for spontaneous interactions. You know, like when you're biking to the store and you see a friend walking their dog, you both stop and chat for awhile, having a meaningful dialog. That wouldn't happen if you were both in a car, you'd possibly see each other and wave, but there would be no interaction. Or meeting someone at the bike rack, you're both locking or unlocking your bikes and you chat for a bit.  Maybe it's small talk or maybe it's deeper than that.  Either way, I can't remember the last time, if ever, I've had a conversation with the car driver parked next to me. I'm sure we've all experienced this, I'd love to hear your story about an amazing spontaneous interaction you've had while on your bike.

I will leave you with one I think my daughter planned. On a Saturday morning my almost 9 year old daughter and I were going to go to the grocery store. She asked if we were going to take the car or the bikes and I told her the car.

"No, let's take the bikes," she says.

"Okay," I reply, happy to oblige and happy that she wanted to bike, even if I was hungry.

As we head down our hill and get ready to cross over the bike/ped bridge that takes us into the neighboring streets she says, "I wonder if Suzzy will be outside, we can say hi to her if she is".

Suzzy (not her real name), is a good friend of my daughter and her parents are good friends of mine. We often walk or bike to and from school together or to the farmers market. They live a few blocks away near a trail and if we bike or walk anywhere we go past their house. If we drive the car, we take another route. It just so happens that Suzzy was outside that morning, we talked for awhile and tentatively set up an afternoon play date.

I couldn't help thinking that maybe, just maybe, Izabelle wanted to bike because she knew there was a good likelihood her friend would be outside and that we'd stop and chat. She knew there was a possibility for a spontaneous interaction that couldn't take place if we drove. I didn't ask her if that was what she was thinking, because she probably wouldn't admit it even if it were true. Even if that wasn't her intention and she just wanted to bike because she loves biking, then great! If she did plan it, I couldn't be happier. It means that she has learned one of the best things about bicycling: spontaneous interactions.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Alert: Planned Tree Removal will Destroy the Greenway Feel of the Interurban Trail

Today's post is written by Lance Young of Shoreline.  Lance is a cyclist, concerned citizen, and the Director of the Outing Club.
Seattle City Light is planning to remove all the trees under the power lines along the Interurban Trail north of N 145th Street this summer rather than continue to prune them every few years to cut their costs of doing business. The natural barrier provided by the trees may become a man made barrier of wood and cyclone fences, as it has in other sections where the natural greenery has been removed.

This is what the trail corridor looks like today:

This is what it may become:

 The power company claims they will be replacing the matrue evergreens they remove with low growing bushes like this section of the trail.

It is of course important for the power company to maintain the transmission lines and electric service to the many customers they serve. According to the representatives from the the power company, one of the primary concerns of Seattle City Light is to lessen the work required to come out every few years and prune or top the trees, and it may well be less costly in the long run for them to just remove the trees entirely.  

However, this corridor is also a greenbelt with a prominent regional pedestrian and bike trail.  The interests and well being of these many users should be an important consideration in any decisions made here. Currently and over the past many decades this vegetation has been pruned and maintained to preserve the shade, the wildlife habitat, a weather barrier, and sound and visual barrier between the adjoining commercial and residential communities.  These benefits should be maintained and enhanced, not removed.

The trees along the trail provide wildlife habitat for local woodland creatures including: squirrels, chipmunks, woodpeckers, owls, and several other species of birds including flickers, finches, Steller's jays, blue herons, hawks, and many others. These trees provide shelter not only for wildlife but local residents and greenway users as well. Though the Interurban Trail is just a short distance from Aurora Avenue these many trees provide a significant sound dampening effect for the neighborhood and trail.  They also provide a significant moderating influence on wind and weather blowing through the area. Further, the removal of the trees at the street end of 149th would open up the access to this undeveloped street right of way to trail traffic which is better directed to the 148th street access.

For all of these reasons these trees should really be maintained rather than removed. In addition, removal of these mature trees will change the character of the neighborhood and the trail, and the natural barrier between the commercial properties along Aurora Ave and the residential neighborhood. The greenway view would change from mature evergreen trees to apartment units, businesses and light industrial. These many mature trees have become such an important part of the community in this area, that their removal would truly be a great loss.

The power company says they will be setting up community meetings, but that the purpose of these will be only to tell everyone what they are going to do, not to solicit suggestions or input. The plan is to remove the trees sometime this summer (August-September 2011).

What to do

If you appreciate the trees along the Interurban Trail and would like to comment on this project, below are several contacts:

Seattle Mayors Office
(The power company is accountable to the Mayor)
600 4th Ave  #7
Seattle, WA 98104

Shoreline City Council
(Shoreline has the Interurban Trail right-of-way)
Brian Breedon (public works, nice guy)

Seattle City Light
(planning the tree cutting project)
Brent Schmidt
700 5th Ave  #3300
Seattle, WA 98104

8/19/2011 Update:   The City of Shoreline has asked Seattle City Light to hold a public meeting regarding the planned removal of trees along the Interurban Trail corridor.  The meeting will be August 23 at 6:30 pm at Pacific Learning Center, 14550 Westminster Way N.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Saturday is National Trails Day

I love the 200,000 miles of trail that we have in the US and I use them religiously.  There’s my after work walks through the old growth in Schmitz Park in my neighborhood or the midweek bike ride on one of the regional trails nearby.

Then there are my pilgrimages on trails to special places.  I backpacked into the Pasayten Wilderness and straddled the US-Canadian border.  I slapped on a pair of skis and followed snow covered paths into the winter wonderland of Mount Rainier National Park.  I pedaled and pushed my bike to abandoned mines and ghost town sites in the Cascades.

I’m not alone in my love for trails.  In fact, we Americans will celebrate our love of trails this Saturday on National Trails Day.  Organized hikes, bike rides, work parties and celebrations are planned all across this country on trails.

In Spokane, REI and the InlandNorthwest Trails Coalition are hosting the Fish Lake Trail Family Adventure.  Families are invited to come out to the trail to do some clean up, then bike or walk one of the most scenic paved trails in Eastern Washington.

The North Kitsap Trails Association is hosting a Bike, Hike and Paddle event.  Volunteers will lead a family mountain bike ride on the Port Gamble Trails, a guided walk through the North Kitsap Heritage Park, and a sunset paddle on Port Gamble Bay.

Check here for a listing of registered National Trails Day events in Washington.  Then go enjoy your local trails!