"How do we get more people walking and riding bikes?"
The Redmond Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee has thought through, advised staff and implemented programs based on this question and as of last Tuesday evening, formally weighed in with Redmond City Council to get their opinions and ideas. This joint meeting occurred in the council chambers at city hall.
Most recently the committe has launched the fourth edition of the Redmond Bicycling Guide.
A volunteer on the committee and local bike commuter, Glen Buhlmann, presented key things Redmond needs to attain gold status as a League of American Bicyclists Bike Friendly Community. Already we have attained silver status, from commuters like him, the "Fearless Freds," whom are willing to bike in all types of weather and in Redmond's existing bicycle lanes, many of which are on streets with lots of traffic.
Buhlmann has been a regular commuter for three years from his Kirkland residence to the Microsoft campus. Preferring to bike to his errands in Redmond as well, "Redmond is a more supportive environment to ride in," he said.
To obtain the gold status, some of the points Buhlmann brought up were:
- Coordination and participation with cops. Since two police officers were in the audience, support has already started on this point.
- More events, like the recent , where streets can be closed off for people biking downtown. This will enable the "Cautious Calebs" to feel more comfortable on the roads.
- Seniors doing more trips on bicycles. This brought up the point—we are surrounded by many hills. While it may be flat in the downtown areas, moving away from this mile or two radius will lead to a hill. The Advisory Committee will be demo-ing electric assist bikes at Derby Days.
- Making sure the links are complete.
A second volunteer on the committee, Heidi Angel, presented on the challenges and benefits to being a bike commuter. For a profile on Heidi, check EcoEastside's Facebook page. The challenges of living without a car include nighttime riding and traveling to friends homes in more remote areas. The challenge of nighttime commuting is becoming less she said, because of the B line.
The benefits of biking and walking are:
- A more active and healthy lifestyle
- The more bikers and walkers out there the more safer it becomes
- Reduced traffic
- Community building
On the fourth benefit, Angel said, "When you are not behind the windows of the car, but instead chugging up some hill and someone is walking by, you are looking them in the eyes instead of being in your own world."
The council members then weighed in on their own thoughts. The idea of having an app for the bike map was brought up. To this Mayor John Marchione asked council member David Carson how much this would cost to make on three platforms. Don't wait for this anytime soon! Carson said it would cost about "six figures." For now, the maps can be found online and in many businesses and the library.
Council member John Stilin brought up concepts behind "Share the Road" and having amiable exchanges between bikers and drivers. "This is a two-way education," Stilin said.
Two ideas came from this discussion—the education class choice given for traffic violations and start bike riding education early! This led to the Bike Rodeo idea, where kids around third grade can be educated at school about bike safety. "The parents can help instill the confidence in these young riders to go on to be lifelong bike riders," Stilin said.
Does it take fancy bikes or gear? Council member Hank Meyers asked Angel, who also happens to be an employee for Redmond REI, what advice she has for potential bikers. "Ask those who have experience biking and one doesn't need really expensive gear to make it work," she said.
Have you heard of bike sharing? Council member Hank Margeson said it may be early for Redmond, but it could be done as easily as a swipe of a credit card and the bike would be ready to ride. There is already a program going on called Blue Bike at Marymoor Park. The advice to the committee was to be ready for it when the time comes. "It is on the horizon," Margeson said. Pfundt mentioned that Redmond is part of a group setting up a bike share in King County called Puget Sound Bike Share.
The meeting concluded with a feeling of consensus and an invigorating energy in the air. The advisory committee met right afterward to discuss steps on how to keep this momentum going and will be meeting next month. The committee meets on the second Monday of each month (June 11 at 6:30 p.m.) in the Trestle Room on the first floor of City Hall. The committee members then parted and headed for their bikes.
What advice would you give to Redmond to get more people on bikes? What are some of the hurdles you face yourself when thinking about biking to work, school and errands? For those who have found ways to make it work, what advice would you give to fellow residents, and what are your favorite trips?
For more updates and to view the Eastside Green Champions profiles like Angel's, join us on our new Facebook page: EcoEastside.