Letters to the Editor

Make streets safer for walking and biking in FW | Letters

May is Bike to Work Month, and Federal Way joined the rest of the region to celebrate on Friday, May 17, 2013. - Courtesy photo
May is Bike to Work Month, and Federal Way joined the rest of the region to celebrate on Friday, May 17, 2013.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

May is Bike to Work Month, and Federal Way joined the rest of the region to celebrate on Friday, May 17.

Perhaps you’ve seen the uptick of bikes on the road in your neighborhood. There are many great places to ride in Washington, and the League of American Bicyclists recently named us the “Most Bicycle-Friendly State” for the sixth time.

But despite the designation, there is still a lot of work to do to make our streets safe everywhere and for everyone. Sadly, this is evidenced by the recent deaths of Federal Way residents Lance David, who was killed biking in Seattle on May 1, and 8-year-old Wayde Rodrigues-Fale, who was killed biking on 24th Avenue South in Federal Way in July 2012.

The Federal Way community is already taking action to make streets safer for bikers and walkers. In March 2012, the Federal Way City Council adopted a Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan that identifies and prioritizes necessary improvements. City staff have started implementing these, including improvements at Lakota Middle School late this summer that will add sidewalks and a peak time traffic signal on 14th Avenue SW.

The city has also added 13 flashing crosswalk beacons to alert drivers to the presence of people crossing the street.

Dedicated bike lanes, sidewalks, traffic signals and other infrastructure are what we need to make the safe streets we know people want and use for biking and walking as transportation. But without dedicated funding sources, it will be difficult to complete all the projects we need in Federal Way.

Advocates, community groups and nonprofits facing similar financial constraints in other cities have developed a new model called “neighborhood greenways.” Greenways are designated pedestrian and bike routes typically built on low speed neighborhood streets – instead of on high-traffic major streets. Signs and paint on the road help guide people along the route. Greenway projects are often community-led and are typically less expensive than major road projects. They will be an important part of a Federal Way transportation network that allows people to get from their homes and to work and to go shopping in town.

The Seattle Neighborhood Greenways group has successfully improved streets throughout Seattle. Now, the regional conservation and community-building organization Forterra is exploring the possibility of starting a greenways group in Federal Way. Contact Becca Meredith (bmeredith@forterra.org) for more information.

As a first step, Forterra and partners Bicycle Alliance of Washington, Cascade Bicycle Club, the City of Federal Way and Phil’s Bike Shop hosted a Bike to Work Day Commute Station in the morning on Friday, May 17. The station was at the north end of the BPA Trail (11th Place South and South 324th Street) and we had a great turnout. Forterra staff was on hand to give out snacks and coffee and chat with bikers who stopped by. Mayor Skip Priest was in attendance to talk about making streets safer in Federal Way. Thank you to all the bikers and walkers who made this celebration a success.

Lance David’s and Wayde Rodrigues-Fale’s untimely deaths were a tragedy. It is time now to do the work necessary to make our streets safe for everyone.

Becca Meredith, Forterra Community Engagement Project Associate, and Phil Meyer, owner of Phil’s Bike Shop


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