Nearly one month ago, Complete Streets Bellevue was happy to announce that we would be hosting three walking audits of NE 8th St, one of the most dangerous streets in Bellevue. These audits would complement the work of city staff and engineers, who would review the corridor and suggest tactical projects to be built with Bellevue’s Vision Zero Rapid Build Project funding to improve safety. Since the feedback from our walking audits would help guide engineers in their project suggestions to city staff, we knew this would be a great opportunity for our community to provide valuable insight – and boy did our community deliver!
Across our three events on March 8th, March 10th, and March 13th, we had 22 attendees show up from all over our city and region to support safe streets! In addition to the many Bellevue & Crossroads neighborhood residents who provided their lived experiences navigating the corridor, we were honored to be joined by representatives from great organizations like Greater Redmond Transportation Management Association (GRTMA), Feet First, and Disability Rights Washington. On our March 13th “Errands” walk, Bellevue City Councilmember Janice Zahn met with us at Crossroads Park to join in our group’s discussion of the difficulties walking & biking around Bellevue. We are extremely grateful for CM Zahn’s attendance and for her leadership in making Bellevue streets safer for all. Special thanks also go to Caitlin Whitehead, who is behind all of the great photos you’ll see of our event. An illustrator by trade, her artistic insight and help with planning the walks helped make them a success. To see her great work, check out her website here.
Below, we’ve included some preliminary findings from each of our events, as well as links to Twitter threads with more details. Although this week was a lot of fun, the work has only just begun – CSB leadership will be collating our community’s feedback into a report, which will be presented to city staff later next week. As soon as that report is complete, we’ll be sure to share it with our community for feedback & questions. We’ll also keep our members updated on next steps for getting the suggested projects actually built, the potential for walking audits on other streets, and other ways to stay involved in the safe streets movement in Bellevue.
We’re so honored and excited to have shared these experiences with our community. We thank you for choosing to be a part of this young but growing movement for safe streets in our city. It’s time for a Bellevue that’s sustainable, safe, and equitable – one that works for all of us, no matter how we get around. Thank you for your part in helping us achieve this vision!
Monday, March 8th – Health
Our first walk had the most attendees and was held at twilight, which enabled us to recognize visibility issues which we might not have noticed during the day. Although a lot of participants were able to share experiences of how they’d walked, biked, or taken transit to health appointments in the past, they all noted the difficulties surrounding scheduling & safety that they encountered. After the walk, the group consensus around the stretch of NE 8th St between 148th Ave & 156th Ave was that it was an uncomfortable and drab walk that they would only use if no other options were available. However, we still saw several people jogging, biking, and walking with groceries along this section of the corridor, implying that there are some people for whom improvements to this section would make a difference.
Wednesday, March 10th – School
Although only a couple of attendees presently had school-aged children, nearly all participants were parents who were able to share experiences of their children walking to school (or being unable to because of lack of safe infrastructure). In our discussion of 15-Minute Cities, we noted how schools are perfect, hyperlocal destinations for which we can build walking & biking infrastructure that’s accessible for all ages – but we often lack the funds or political will to do so. Although certain portions of our route between 140th Ave & 143rd Ave NE were safe for young children in our group’s opinions, other stretches, especially closer to the apartments where kids would actually be coming from, were more dangerous. Our kids deserve safe infrastructure along their whole route, so that they can navigate their way to schools independently & safely.
Saturday, March 13th – Errands
We were honored to be joined by Bellevue City Councilmember Janice Zahn for this event, and our group made the most use of her time by having some great discussions on walking, biking, and taking transit for errands in Bellevue. Many in our group expressed desires to be less car-dependent and to be able to use our ped & bike networks to accomplish day-to-day tasks, but noted how the infrastructure is often not there to facilitate that. One group member mentioned how they biked occasionally but often stayed on the sidewalk because of discomfort with cars. Another mentioned how we needed more robust transit service to encourage people to switch from cars. We also talked about the effect that increasing visibility of bike riders & infrastructure can have on encouraging more people to ride. Although we got so lost in our discussion that we began very late, we did eventually walk the corridor between 156th Ave & 164th Ave NE and noted the safety issues that we thought could be fixed.