May 22, 2012

Higher density equals decreased traffic

Denser development leads to less traffic says an Arizona DOT study highlighted by Streetsblog.

No surprise here, but this is good ammunition against anyone claiming the Central Issaquah Plan’s increased density is a recipe for gridlock.

Central Issaquah Plan feedback

A couple of weeks ago I attended a meeting instigated by the good folks at Forterra for some of our local bike/ped advocates to talk about the Central Issaquah Plan. Skye Schell from Forterra wrote up our discussion for the planning department and I’m reproducing the resulting letter here.

Dear Trish & Christen,

Thank you for your work on the Central Issaquah Plan, and for your interest in making the Plan a great plan that will allow non-motorized mobility through the area. I recently met with a group of Issaquah residents who care about making Issaquah a safe place for people of all ages – especially children and seniors – to get around without needing a car. The group includes residents who have been dedicated bicycle advocates for many years, as well as young parents new to advocacy who want their children to be able to get around safely.

We came up with a short list of key recommendations for the current drafts of the Central Issaquah Plan (CIP) and Development & Design Standards (DDS), and also for city-wide consideration. We hope that the city-wide recommendations can be passed as part of the CIP process, since they are critical to making the CIP work for cyclists and pedestrians.

City-wide, we recommend that Issaquah:

  • Develop a Bike / Pedestrian (Active Transportation) Master Plan for the whole city. The Master Plan will be the blueprint of infrastructure and facilities to connect all of Issaquah. We expect that most improvements will come to Central Issaquah, and also want the Plan to include connections from Central Issaquah to the rest of the city. Getting those connections right is potentially the most important (and challenging) aspect of active transportation planning. This plan can also guide grant applications and other funding sources.
  • Apply for Bicycle Friendly Community certification, using the Bicycle Friendly Blueprint. This program will guide Issaquah through bike improvements in many important dimensions, including Engineering, Education, Encouragement, Enforcement, and Evaluation and Planning. These dimensions are a crucial complement to the infrastructure that we are otherwise recommending.
  • Create an Active Transportation Board made up of committed residents and supported by a staff person. The board will be responsible for evaluating whether infrastructure development and other policy and programs in the Central Issaquah area – and other parts of Issaquah – improves the non-motorized transportation system.

In the Central Issaquah Plan:

  • Prioritize improvements on key corridors – “spine” or “trunk” routes like Gilman, Newport, and 12th. This prioritization would be part of the Master Plan, but should also be included in the Central Issaquah Plan.
  • Make all new [I-90] crossings bike + pedestrian crossings, not just pedestrian crossings (see C&M Goal D7). The crossings should be designed for cyclists as well as pedestrians so that there are not breaks in a seamless network of routes
  • Include more types of currently-used proven bike facilities in the “Street Classifications.” The Street Classifications currently all feature the same basic design of standard bike lanes. Cities around the country have developed new facilities to increase safety and convenience. Many of these are included in the NACTO Urban Bikeways Design Guide. We recommend using a suite of buffered bike lanes, cycle tracks, bike boxes at intersections, and median refuges in the various street types (Pedestrian Priority, Core, Avenue, Boulevard, Parkway). Each type of facility has different advantages, and we look forward to working with your planners and engineers to recommend specific options for various streets. We suggest the city incorporate language into the CIP and DDS that calls for use of these modern facilities.
  • Also, potentially include street furniture in addition to the street trees in the DDS. Benches and other creative furniture will create a more vibrant atmosphere for pedestrians, and also subconsciously motivate car drivers to go at slower and safer speeds.
  • Separate uses on multi-use trails to prevent conflict between cyclists and pedestrians when possible – whether with actually separate trails or just clear paint and signage on the trails.

Thanks again for your consideration, and please feel free to contact me or the other members of our group to learn more about these recommendations and to share your current ideas. We would be interested in meeting soon to discuss the Plan in more detail.


Skye Schell & Jeff Aken

David Baty
Karen Behm
Tony Cowan
John Johnson
Jeff Youngstrom

Issaquah residents