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Bicycle club encourages friendly streets in city's bicycle and pedestrian plan
City staff and officials took to the streets Wednesday kicking off a process intended to promote healthy living by creating a bicycle and pedestrian master plan.
They participated in a workshop put on by Cascade Bicycle Club.
The club educated participants on a concept known as “complete streets,” or streets and rights-of-ways designed for use extending beyond the automobile. Rights-of-way designed to meet the needs of a variety of users contribute to an incline in safety, health and quality of life, said Tessa Greegor, Cascade Bicycle Club principal planner.
The club encouraged Federal Way staff and leaders to think about how and why the city’s streets and rights-of-way are used. They urged Federal Way to set policies that encourretrofitted construction. They reminded attendees that though streets are typically thought of as a means to transport people via automobile, they shouldn’t always be designed solely for vehicle use.
“We’ve had a history of designing our right-of-ways around serving the automobile,” Greegor said.
A field exercise was used to start attendees thinking about how Federal Way’s streets are used. Participants walked along South 336th Street, from 9th Avenue South to Pacific Highway South.
The group looked for ways to make the right-of-way friendlier to pedestrians, both those with disabilities and those without, bicyclists and motorists.
Pedestrians, bicyclists, transit users and motorists were spotted during the brief outing. Two bicyclists were seen riding on the sidewalk. The area lacks bike lanes. Two people were seen dashing across the multiple lane South 336th Street in front of oncoming traffic.
Crosswalks that are too far apart encourage jaywalking, said Teresa Simmons, a pedestrian in the area.
“You have to go a mile just to get to another one,” she said.
Following the outing, workshop participants discussed improvements that could be made to better serve users of the right-of-way.
They discussed how those improvements would likely require trade-offs so that all people using the street would benefit.
“Our big take away from that meeting is a better understanding of all the users of our public rights-of-way,” Janet Shull, Federal Way senior planner, said. “We learned a lot about what different users need to be able to safely use the street system.”
Bike and pedestrian plan
The workshop and field exercise were part a larger city project. The City of Federal Way, with help from Seattle-based SvR Design Company, will, in the next 15 months, draft a bicycle and pedestrian master plan to be incorporated into the city’s comprehensive plan.
“We’re really in the beginning stages,” Shull said.
When finished, the plan will identify actual and perceived barriers to walking and biking in the city. Graphics and maps of future connections between residential areas, commercial areas, trails, parks, schools and food and clothing banks will be outlined. Policies for encouraging pedestrian and bicycle travel will be adopted.
The formation of the plan will include an advisory committee that will likely meet monthly, Shull said. A city Web page and public involvement will also be part of the process, she said. Both the Web page and meetings will be designed to seek public input, Shull said.
“We’re open to hearing from anyone with suggestions,” she said.
Federal Way will use a $180,000 grant from Public Health—Seattle and King County to build its plan.
The agency received $8.9 million in 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grants in association with the Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW) initiative. Public Health redistributed the money in 51 individual grants to King County jurisdictions. Consulting work performed by SvR is provided free of charge, via grant money, to the cities through Public Health — Seattle and King County.
The CPPW initiative is focused on promoting healthy living habits as a means of reducing obesity and tobacco use in the United States. In cities where streets do not allow for safe alternatives to driving, there are higher obesity rates, Greegor said. In King County, the obesity rate is 19.8 percent, she said. In Federal Way, that rate is 28.1 percent.
“These trends have been disproportionally high in South King County,” she said.
For more about CCPW, visit www.kingcounty.gov/healthservices/health/partnerships/CPPW.aspx.