AP NEWS

Bellingham plans bike, pedestrian changes for greater safety

March 24, 2019

BELLINGHAM, Wash. (AP) — A Washington state city is planning changes to make streets safer for drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians.

Bellingham residents can expect to see substantial changes to thoroughfares over the next few months as the city continues work on its long-term effort to improve transportation safety, The Bellingham Herald reported Sunday.

New or additional access for bicyclists and pedestrians is planned, including expanded bike lanes, pedestrian crossings and new stoplights.

“Balance — that’s what it’s all about,” said Chris Comeau, city transportation planner.

Some streets will lose a lane of traffic to accommodate a buffered bike lane that separates bikes from cars. Another street will lose some parking spots as bike lanes are added.

New or expanded crosswalks aim to help pedestrians get back and forth across two heavily traveled commercial corridors. These crosswalks will feature red lights to stop traffic, instead of ones with only flashing yellow lights.

The city’s all-inclusive transit system stemmed from a series of public meetings dating to the mid-2000s.

“We are implementing the plans that we worked with the public to create and the City Council adopted unanimously,” Comeau said. “You told us what you want, and we’re delivering that.”

The city currently has 51 miles (82 kilometers) of bikeways completed out of the 160 miles (257 kilometers) planned for its entire bike network, according to the city’s annual transportation report.

The primary pedestrian network currently has 161 miles (259 kilometers) of sidewalk, according to the report. The city has planned 260 miles (418 kilometers) of sidewalk.

“We’re not trying to take away car keys from people,” Comeau said. “We’re simply trying to make it easier for people who choose to (bike). We’re creating opportunities for people to get in and out of downtown.”

A 2014 American Community Survey indicated that Bellingham ranks 21st among U.S. cities with a population greater than 65,000 for highest rates of bicycle commuting. Bicycle commuting has increased by 60 percent nationwide from 2000 to the 2008-2012 period, according to U.S. Census data.

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Information from: The Bellingham Herald, http://www.bellinghamherald.com