(Riders on West Duwamish Trail, seattle.gov photo from 2015)
Should people on electric bicycles be allowed to join other riders, walkers, and runners on Seattle’s “multi-use trails”? Tomorrow night, the Seattle Board of Park Commissioners will get a briefing that could be the first step toward a pilot program this summer on five of them – including the Duwamish Trail in West Seattle.
From the proposal, as detailed in this document prepared for the Parks Board:
Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR) proposes a pilot project to allow Class 1 and Class 2 electric bicycles on five of the multi-use trails we manage: Burke-Gilman Trail, Elliott Bay Trail, Mountains to Sound Trail, Melrose Connector Trail, and Duwamish Trail. These trails were chosen due to the width of the trails, the commuting connections they provide, and their ability to safely accommodate e-bikes. The pilot would include a speed limit of 15 mph on these trails, although there will be areas where riders need to reduce speed, for all users and an education campaign in partnership with the Seattle Department of Transportation.
Seattle has changed significantly since 1995, when Seattle Parks and Recreation passed a Bicycle Use policy (060-P 7.11.1) that banned all motorized vehicles on multiuse trails. The population has risen dramatically over the last 28 years (150,000 more people), bicycle use has increased on streets and trails (up 100% since 1985), electric bike technology has advanced, and there is now access to a number of bike share programs including e-bikes.
The Parks schedule for the pilot program starts with tomorrow night’s briefing, followed by a public hearing when the board meets again on April 26th, and potentially a vote on May 10th. The briefing document adds, “The goal is to have regulations in place for e-bikes on Seattle Parks and Recreation multi-use trails by Memorial Day to prepare for the busy summer biking season.” This is how the pilot project would work:
During the pilot year, Seattle Parks and Recreation will collect data in the following ways: bike counters, field observations and on-site surveys, stakeholder focus groups, and public feedback through an online survey, emails and correspondence. This information will help us understand use patterns, safety concerns, and pilot outcomes. Following the collection of this data, Seattle Parks and Recreation will evaluate potential options and provide a policy recommendation to the Board of Park Commissioners.
That would happen in summer of 2019. But first – tomorrow’s briefing is during the board’s 6:30 pm meeting at Parks HQ downtown (100 Dexter Ave. N.), open to the public. Here’s the agenda.