Monday, April 11, 2016

Citizen recommends Sammamish River Trail improvements to promote safety and traffic flows

Letter by Brent Schmaltz to city planner Carolyn Hope
Carolyn, as you are aware, a cyclist was injured in Bellevue the last week of March 2016. The cyclist was hit by an automobile and thrown 100 feet. The cyclist was admitted to the hospital and was in critical care. The accident occurred where the biking trail near I-90 crosses a roadway on 118th Ave SE. This is indicative of the type of accident that occurs when automobiles cross trail ways.
Carolyn, your current plan is for the City of Redmond to develop a hiking, biking trail alongside the major Willows roadway.  It will pass through 8 intersections with automobiles. In these intersections, automobiles will need to cross the trail to access businesses or partake in other activities in Arena Sports, Overlake Church, Willows Golf Course, 60 Acres Soccer Fields. Your main argument for investing in this improvement stems from the desire to provide cyclist a route to get to the technical hub near DigiPen.
I suggest it is possible to have those cyclists use the Sammamish River Trail and then improve the trail alongside Overlake Church perhaps on the Puget Power Trail or along side Willows Golf course.  You resisted as this would require cyclists to ‘go out of their way’. However, anyone cycling from Woodinville or the East side of the Sammamish River Trail will have to ‘go out of their way’ to use this new trail, unless however the Puget Power Trail is improved....which would result in NO interaction with automobiles right to DigiPen. 
We also discussed that cyclists who have lived on Education Hill for 25 years have not been provided with a way to cycle to the trail, it was mentioned a plan is being developed but, ‘it is not optimal and cyclists will need to go out of their way’.
I agree that providing a safe cycling route to this technical area is a worthwhile investment. I disagree with the scale of the improvement and the plan to promote this trail as a recreational area. Providing a safer cycling route could be achieved simply by paving the trail or finding an alternative. I believe that substantial investment in this area to make it ‘park like’ is not well spent. That money should be spent along the natural place for a park, the existing Sammamish River Trail. While the intentions seem to be in the right place, I feel the plan developed by the City of Redmond is not in the best interests of the residents of Redmond.
I have proposed to both King County and The City of Redmond a better place to invest that will provide for existing and future residents of Redmond that would be safer (no interaction with automobiles), more enjoyable (it is by a river) and provide for an simpler traffic alternative route around Redmond.  The alternative is to work with King County to improve the Sammamish River Trail:
1.       Would have no interaction with Automobiles, therefore there would be no such accidents such a noted above.
2.       Maintains the ability to develop a natural traffic pattern from 520 / Leary Way to Woodinville and north Redmond.
a.       The current high density building in downtown Redmond merges with travelers who use 202 to get to the north end of Redmond or Woodinville.
b.      By developing this new trail, the complexity to widen Willows is increased.
I feel there has been some excellent work performed by King County and City of Redmond with regard to cycling. Bellevue is way behind our efforts, but we have the river a natural corridor. On this particular issue, I think we are missing the mark.
Brent Schmaltz.

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