Skip to content

Thank you so much for all of your efforts over the last several months in writing and sending hundreds of letters to the Bellevue City Council and Transportation Commission, and for showing up to testify in person and virtually to share your perspective and concerns about Bike Bellevue. This plan would have removed 6 miles of arterial road lanes to provide bike lanes throughout our city. 

Instead, Council has listened to residents and directed the Transportation Commission to consider alternatives that implement bike lanes adjacent to travel lanes, not in replacement of them – and only repurpose travel lanes as a last resort. You have made a difference! 

New Council direction on Bike Bellevue

On March 25th, the Bellevue City Council directed the Transportation Commission to develop recommendations for each of the 11 proposed Bike Bellevue corridors, consistent with the categories below:

The Council amended and added to the staff-proposed categories – the most notable being Councilmember Jared Nieuwenhuis’ amendment to category #2, which states that if a travel lane is repurposed, it should be done so only as a last resort. This amendment passed with supermajority support. Councilmember Nieuwenhuis clarified on April 11th that “last resort means we’ve looked at everything else before looking at eliminating a travel lane…[it means] every other option has been exhausted before deciding to eliminate travel lanes.”

Several councilmembers echoed this point in their individual comments:

Mayor Lynne Robinson also added an important amendment to this category that if a travel lane is repurposed as a last resort and is evaluated as a trial or demonstration project, data will be used to inform the decision by the Transportation Commission.

Council then directed the Transportation Commission to quickly implement projects that do not remove travel lanes, consistent with category #1.

Transportation Commission approves 3 bike projects that will not remove travel lanes

On April 11, consistent with Council direction on category #1 to implement projects that do not remove travel lanes, the Transportation Commission approved Bike Bellevue Corridor 7 (Lake Washington Blvd conversion of parking spaces), Corridor 9 (restriping Wilburton route), and Corridor 6B (NE 2nd between Bellevue Way and 112th). 

Bike Bellevue Corridor 6B was passed contingent on staff creating an updated plan for 6B that does not remove any travel lanes (including right turn, center, thru, left turn), as the current design does. If staff are not able to redesign this corridor to be consistent with what Council has asked them to do, they need to come back to the Transportation Commission and explain why. 

Staff discussed replacing the current plan for 6A (the second, controversial portion of the NE 2nd project that would convert NE 1st and NE 2nd between 100th and Bellevue Way to a one-way eastbound only) to be sharrow markings only, preserving two directions of travel for drivers. However, this portion of the project was not voted on.

Below are the three projects that are moving forward (with NE 2nd Street to be redesigned so as not to remove any travel lanes)

A balanced, fair approach to adding bike lanes in Bellevue

This new, moderate direction from Council for the Transportation Commission and staff will expand Bellevue’s bicycle infrastructure and connectivity without removing arterial road lanes we all depend on for mobility, freight and emergency response services.

Overlake Medical Center has come out in support of this approach, saying in a March 25 letter that “cycling lanes must not come with a reduction in driving lanes through the affected areas. As one of the community’s stewards of health and wellbeing, we cannot support an initiative that would potentially slow our city’s ambulance and fire response through the urban core. An alternative bike network through Downtown, Wilburton, and Bel-Red that does not take away road lanes is an approach that we would find sensible to further our collective cause.”  

The Council’s balanced, forward-thinking direction on Bike Bellevue comes at a critical time when the city plans to accommodate 30,000+ new residents in the next two decades. 

Expanding our multimodal transportation network includes maintaining the arterials we have, and designing new capacity where it is most needed to accommodate this anticipated growth. 

Chamber of Commerce poll: 72% oppose replacing road lanes with bike lanes

The City’s new direction on Bike Bellevue is also directly responsive to the priorities of Bellevue residents and voters, not outside interests. 

The Bellevue Chamber of Commerce conducted a poll of 400 Bellevue voters by EMC Research and found the following:

Take a moment to thank City Council and Transportation Commission

This is a great opportunity for our community to thank: 

  • Bellevue’s Transportation Director, Andrew Singelakis, for pausing the project and bringing it back to Council for clarified direction, which we now have
  • Bellevue City Council for listening to their constituents and providing balanced direction on Bike Bellevue
  • The Transportation Commission for being responsive to Council direction and providing the thoughtful feedback to staff necessary to move us forward on this project.

You can contact the City Council at Council@bellevuewa.gov and the Transportation Commission at TransportationCommission@bellevuewa.gov. Send them your appreciation for listening and responding to your concerns.

What’s next?

  • April 23: Staff have prepared a briefing for the Bellevue City Council regarding the Commission’s recommendation for the three corridors that will move forward in implementation. The memo for this meeting can be found here.
    • Please remind Council that the Corridor 6B (NE 2nd) was passed contingent on staff redesigning the project so that any portions of vehicular travel lanes are not removed. This is a requirement of the project moving forward.
  • June 13: The Transportation Commission will categorize the remaining corridors based on prepared staff recommendations. That will be the time to advocate for projects to be removed from the list (like Bel-Red Road) and replaced with better alternatives (like Spring Blvd.).

An alternative has been provided to Council and the Transportation Commission from Kemper Development and Wallace Properties. The City Council has asked the Transportation Commission to consider these designs and report back with an alternative Bike Bellevue. 

The city of Bellevue is considering an $18 million project that would convert vehicle lanes in various local arterials into bike lanes, a move city officials believe would reduce biker fatalities and improve non-vehicular commuting without negatively affecting traffic conditions.

However, opponents are arguing that the project would achieve none of those objectives.

Under the proposed “Bike Bellevue,” the city would create a 15.11 mile-long bicycle network in downtown, Bel-Red, and Wilburton neighborhoods, in most cases by removing at least one vehicle lane on the road from 11 corridors.

According to city documents, the project would “greatly expand the number of employment opportunities, schools, transit stations and stops that people can comfortably get to by bike within the project area.” The city estimates the project, when completed, would facilitate between 825,000 to 4 million bike trips a year, while reducing vehicle miles traveled by between 1.2 to 10.8 million miles annually.

Critics say the city is embellishing the perceived benefits. According to the city’s own estimates, the project would add just 210 bike trips within those corridors and 375 bike trips citywide. Only 13 new bike trips would be for commuting.

Testifying at a recent Transportation Commission meeting, Kemper Development Transportation Director Mariya Frost said that “the plan does more to increase traffic congestion and worsen conditions at intersections than it does to actually increase bike ridership, much less do anything for people living below the poverty line who will not bike to work. Worse still, some of the plan designs create serious safety concerns for all road users.”

According to city documents, the removal of these vehicle lanes won’t negatively impact traffic. In fact, the city claims that even with population and employment growth, traffic levels in those corridors will actually go down. The city bases its claim on traffic volume data gathered from those areas, arguing that six of the 11 bike corridors have either seen no increased traffic or decreased traffic.

However, Frost told the commission the data doesn’t paint an accurate picture of the situation because it’s based on combined average traffic levels in both directions.

“In other words, peak demand in one direction on a busy afternoon is offset by moderate traffic in the opposite direction,” she said, “and this then represents whether the road is fully utilized. Instead, staff should compare directional demand to directional capacity during peak hours of the day, which is when we need to accommodate vehicular traffic the most.”

The city is accepting public comments and feedback on the proposed designs through Nov. 15.

The Census Bureau reports that in Bellevue, the top quintile of households has soared past the half-million mark for the first time. They now bring in an astounding $562,670 per year per household. That’s up 28% — about $125,000 more per year — since 2019.

Meanwhile the poorest fifth of Bellevue households makes $32,500, up 1% since before the pandemic, or just $350 more per year.

wrote last year that these widening gaps in Bellevue are bound to upend that city’s placid politics, as they did Seattle’s. The pressure the top exerts on the bottom, by being so rich, is relentless. It’s most visible with housing and restaurant prices, and also shows up in the volatile issue of who pays for city services and amenities that are at a premium due to rapid growth.

Sure enough, there’s now a mini tax revolt going on in Bellevue — against potentially raising a sales tax or other fees to pay for road work in the city.

“If approved, this will be the fourth tax the council has approved in 10 months,” Craig Spiezle, of the group Neighbors for a Livable Bellevue, protested at a council meeting this past week.

Spiezle and a dozen others went on to detail how the proposed taxes are regressive, meaning they would hit Bellevue’s working poor the hardest. People are facing rising costs for groceries and gas, Spiezle said — “There’s a growing number of Bellevue households who are one paycheck away from being unhoused. … The council has made positive steps to support affordable housing. But you need to focus on affordable living.”

Read the full article at: https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/the-splitting-of-seattle-and-the-eastside-too-is-accelerating/

(The Center Square) – The Bellevue City Council is receiving pushback from residents over a transportation benefit district that, if funded as proposed, would generate an additional $10 million in sales tax revenue. While proponents within city hall say it’s necessary to cover some transportation projects, including maintenance work, some critics have called it an unnecessary and permanent “slush fund” and one of many recent tax increases without voter approval.

Under state law, local governments can form TBDs to raise revenue for specific transportations projects such as roads and sidewalks. Typically, they are funded through vehicle license fees or the local sales tax.

The Bellevue City Council first studied the concept of a TBD back June, then voted to create it in July. At its Monday meeting, the council voted to assume control of the TBD, though it has yet to vote on creating the sales tax to fund it. The assumption means that the city council can conduct TBD business during a city council meeting, rather than hold a separate meeting.

According to city documents, the TBD would be used to fund the maintenance budget for streets and signals maintenance, which saw a revenue reduction of $1.7 million in the 2021-2022 budget and $1.8 million in the next budget.

However, opponents note that most of the revenue under a proposed 0.1% sales tax increase would not be tied to any specific project.

The current local sales tax rate is 3.6%. The council might also impose a $20 vehicle license fee

Although the city estimates the 0.1% sales tax increase would cost the average Bellevue household $20 to $30 per year, Craig Spiezle with Neighbors for a Livable Bellevue told the city council at its Monday meeting that it would be the fourth new tax the council has enacted in 10 months without voter approval.

“While individually these taxes may be small, collectively they have a significant impact on a growing number of households who are one paycheck away from being unhoused,” he said. “Continually increasing taxes cannot and should not be the answer.”

While both city staff and some councilmembers stressed that the meeting’s vote was on assuming control over the TBD and not on a new tax as originally scheduled, Spiezle said “we need to be honest. The only reason to approve a TBD is to impose a tax. This is the elephant in the room.”

Read the rest on The Center Square at: https://www.thecentersquare.com/washington/article_bc754b58-5260-11ee-808d-5bd40e175f28.html