John Wayne Pioneer Trail: Comments for Commission Meeting

Riding toward the east portal of the Boylston Tunnel in the Yakima Training Center grounds. Photo by Mike Sorensen (used by permission).

Riding toward the east portal of the Boylston Tunnel in the Yakima Training Center grounds. Photo by Mike Sorensen (used by permission).

Washington Trails Association and Washington Bikes wrote this joint letter to the State Parks and Recreation Commission that will be shared at today’s meeting in Clarkston concerning the John Wayne Pioneer Trail and recommendations of the Advisory Committee on which both organizations have been represented.

Dear Members of the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission:

As organizations that collectively represent thousands of members who ride and hike on Washington state’s trails, we are writing to urge continued support of the John Wayne Pioneer Trail.

Representatives from Washington Bikes and Washington Trails Association were appointed to Washington State Parks’ John Wayne Pioneer Trail Advisory Committee. Over the past seven months we have worked with State Parks and other trail stakeholders to develop recommendations for addressing a variety of trail issues. We thank Washington State Parks for its commitment to working with group like ours on this important process.

Through Washington State Parks’ public outreach process to develop recommendations for the future of the John Wayne Pioneer Trail, a spotlight has been put on the trail. Our organizations have heard from many hikers and bicycle riders who value the trail and would like to see it developed to its fullest potential as the largest cross state trail in the country.

Clearly significant work remains to fully realize the vision of the John Wayne Trail, including trestle and trail surfacing improvements and the development of critical trail infrastructure such as trailheads, campsites and water provisions along the trail. Prioritizing investments for development of the eastern portion of the trail is critical to the trail’s future success as a national cross state trail that not only draws Washingtonians to travel it, but those who are eager to travel the trail’s length from around the country. In addition, enhanced coordination between State Parks and Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to develop both the Beverly Bridge crossing over the Columbia, as well as DNR-controlled properties immediately east of the Columbia is necessary.

Our organizations urge the Commission to harness the energy and public interest of the John Wayne Pioneer Trail planning process and prioritize project investments that will greatly benefit the trail now and in the future. We recognize and appreciate that Washington State Parks has a number of project priorities across the state, but also recognize that due to the statewide interest in this Trail, the time is now to prioritize investments to get the ball rolling for the long-term development and use of this unique trail of statewide significance. Washington Bikes and Washington Trails offer our continued support and assistance in helping State Parks achieve success around the state for recreation and trails.

WA-Trails-Assoc-logo

WA-Bikes-logo

Posted in Advocacy, Issues & Advocacy, Trails | Tagged , | Comments Off on John Wayne Pioneer Trail: Comments for Commission Meeting

A Different Set of Wheels: Ride with Ian Mackay

Help Ian McKay plan and ride his expedition

Ian-Close-Up

From Ian’s Blog

Here’s the plan. I’m setting aside two weeks. August 13-27, 2016.  I intend to travel Washington state from north to south.  Along with a support crew, I plan to navigate through the state on multiuse paths and roadways, all the while posting about my experience on social media. The idea is to find out firsthand and share with the public how accessible our state is for nonmotorized users, specifically people in wheelchairs. I’d also like to help a worthy cause.

The Journey

Ian McKay is setting off on a journey that would be a challenge for anyone. He plans to ride his electric wheelchair from Canada to Oregon. Along the way he hopes to ride with people who want to share a piece of his journey, people who care about making our streets and roads safer for people on bikes, people who share his love of multi-use trails in particular.

Trails are especially important for Ian, who uses an electric wheelchair since a bike crash at age 26 that left him paralyzed from the neck down. To learn more about Ian read his blog.

Route Planning and Ridealongs

Ian is looking for people to help him work out the best route, which needs to include a stop about every 30 miles to charge his chair. He’s hoping members of bike clubs along the route might want to share their expert advice and that riders and city planners and engineers will look at their local routes with accessibility and safety for all kinds of riders in mind.

If you’re interested in helping with route suggestions or riding a part of the route with him, get in touch with him via email. If you have maps with details so much the better. Ian’s been using Strava to track his travels; in the last couple of years he’s put in over 5,000 miles.

 

Ian-Mackay-on-Olympic-Discovery-Trail

Riding for a Cause

Ian is looking for sponsors and donors to help cover the cost of his trip. In-kind donations will help keep costs down–anything from a place to stay to a tank of gas for his support vehicle will help. Anything he raises over and above trip costs, estimated at around $3,000, will be donated to Washington Bikes to support our statewide work for better connections that are safe, accessible, and available to everyone. Legislative advocacy and investments in trails and safe routes are important to Ian; that’s why he sought us out.

Sponsorship benefits include, but are not limited to, signs on support vehicles and Ian's wheelchair, recognition in social media, and mentions in any media interviews or podcasts he does. We're on Ian's team to amplify the thank-yous. To learn more download the sponsor brochure.

Follow Ian's journey on his blog.

Posted in Accessibility, Adventure, Advocacy, News | Tagged | Comments Off on A Different Set of Wheels: Ride with Ian Mackay

John Wayne Pioneer Trail Study Recommendations Coming Out

Marilyn Hedges on the John Wayne Pioneer Trail. Photo by Mike Sorensen (used by permission).

Marilyn Hedges on the John Wayne Pioneer Trail. Photo by Mike Sorensen (used by permission).

Not many people in Washington know about the Channeled Scablands, created 15,000 years ago by an epic glacial flood sending water the equivalent of the five Great Lakes through Eastern Washington.

Fewer people yet know that the longest cross state trail in the country, the John Wayne Pioneer Trail (JWPT), winds through the heart of the Channeled Scablands. The JWPT starts at Rattlesnake Lake, near North Bend, WA and continues for 285 miles to the Idaho border. In those 285 miles it crosses the Cascades, high desert country, the Scablands and eastern Washington’s Palouse. The JWPT, the former Milwaukee Railroad, is a rail to trail jewel in Washington State’s growing network of trails.

In the fall of 2015, 135 miles of the eastern section of the John Wayne Pioneer Trail was nearly given back to adjacent landowners — saved by a typo in the bill. This secretive attempt by Washington 9th District lawmakers to close the trail created a public outcry that led to three contentious public meetings and a series of Washington State Parks CAMP planning meetings.

These meetings started at the beginning of 2016, included meetings for public input and established an ongoing Citizens Advisory Committee with representatives from numerous stakeholders: weed control (important in eastern Washington), bicycling, hiking, equestrian, adjacent landowners, agribusiness, utilities, railroad history and tourism. The final meeting of the Advisory Committee was held in Moses Lake, WA on Monday, June 27, 2016. The proposed final Recommendations Report (a long term plan for the preservation, improvement and maintenance of the JWPT) was presented… but there was additional news!

Peter Herzog, Assistant Parks Director, and Daniel Farber, Parks Policy Director, introduced a (new) potential Washington Parks Policy Revision declaring that the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission “Affirms its commitment to long-term development and operation of Washington’s cross-state trail system including the entire length of the Iron Horse State Park Trail Corridor (the JWPT) between Rattlesnake Lake and the Idaho border.” Further, “The commission authorizes the Director to work with private and public entities towards achieving the Legislature’s and the Commission’s shared vision of a Washington cross-state non-motorized recreational trail system extending from the Pacific Coast to the Idaho border and connecting to a national network of rail-trails.”

Riding toward the east portal of the Boylston Tunnel in the Yakima Training Center grounds. Photo by Mike Sorensen (used by permission).

Riding toward the east portal of the Boylston Tunnel in the Yakima Training Center grounds. Photo by Mike Sorensen (used by permission).

Now, the potential future closure of the eastern JWPT is unlikely, potential funding for improvements to the eastern section of the JWPT is more likely, and the future of a system of rail-trails in Washington State may be one significant step closer to becoming a reality.

In addition to the potential change in policy for the JWPT and Washington rail-trails, Washington Parks is prepared to seek $6.2 million in capital and grant requests for the 2017-2018 biennium and an additional $11.3 million in future biennium requests. These funds will be used for repair and construction of JWPT trestles, bridges, the roadbed, access/camping/water facilities and more.

To be clear, these funds are yet to be awarded, but this is truly good news for the citizens of Washington State and for those who have worked so hard to save the JWPT and to bring the promise the JWPT holds to eastern communities like Beverly, Lind, Warden, Malden, Rosalia and Tekoa. Organizations like JWPT Wagons and Riders, Tekoa Trail and Trestle, Washington Bikes, Washington Trails Association, Cascade Rail Foundation, Pullman Chamber of Commerce and Friends of the JWPT have worked hard with Washington Parks to make this happen.

If you live in eastern Washington, or feel like a road trip, the next Washington Parks Commission meeting is July 21, 2016 at 700 Port Drive, Clarkston, WA from 9am – 5pm. The final Recommendation Report will be presented at this meeting. Among the recommendations for the JWPT is the likelihood that the trail name will change.

Mike Sorensen on the John Wayne Pioneer Trail near Lower Crab Creek. Photo by Marilyn Hedges (used by permission).

Mike Sorensen on the John Wayne Pioneer Trail near Lower Crab Creek. Photo by Marilyn Hedges (used by permission).

If you haven’t done so, put the JWPT on your bucket list to walk, mountain bike or horseback ride. You can get help in planning your trip by visiting the Friends of the John Wayne Pioneer Trail  website.

Guest blogger Robert Yates serves on the board of Friends of the JWPT, a nonprofit organization.

Posted in Adventure, Advocacy, Issues & Advocacy, News, Trails | Tagged , | Comments Off on John Wayne Pioneer Trail Study Recommendations Coming Out

We Are Traffic: Court Says Cities Must Maintain Streets for Bicyclists

This isn't the crack that led to the fall in Port Orchard. (Wikipedia image licensed for noncommercial reuse.)

This isn’t the crack that led to the fall in Port Orchard. (Wikipedia image licensed for noncommercial reuse.)

The ruling made headlines across the state as once again it was announced that bikes are traffic.

Cities have a responsibility to maintain streets for bicycling to the same standards that apply for other traffic, a Washington appeals court held in a recent ruling. Defining bicycling as “ordinary travel,” not a purely recreational activity, the judges wrote in O’Neill v. City of Port Orchard, “Bicycles are an integral part of Washington’s ‘statewide multimodal transportation plan.”

The ruling by the Washington State Appeals Court came in a lawsuit filed by Port Orchard rider Pamela O’Neill. The city argued that the requirement to maintain streets in reasonable condition for ordinary travel did not apply to travel by bicycle. Their ruling sends the case back to the lower court for further disposition of the original suit.

The ruling does not require cities to make streets perfectly smooth for ideal conditions — some irregularities in surface are a given. It does, however, reinforce the standing of bicycles as transportation already established by the Washington State Supreme Court in Camicia v. Howard S. Wright Constr. Co. (2014) and Pudmaroff v. Allen (1999). The latter is the suit in which the Bicycle Alliance of Washington filed an amicus brief arguing that a bicyclist in a crosswalk has the same rights, duties and obligations as a pedestrian.  Washington cities have a clear duty to maintain roadways that are safe for bicycle travel.

The court noted in its ruling, “Falling is an inherent and necessary risk of the activity of cycling, and O’Neill assumed the general risk that she would fall off her bicycle and injure herself. She did not, however, assume the enhanced risks associated with the city’s failure to repair an alleged defective roadway of which the city allegedly had constructive notice” (“constructive notice” means that the city, in the ordinary course of maintaining the street, had plenty of prior opportunity to observe and correct the fault even if it hadn’t been formally reported. In fact, they had applied some patching but that had occurred years ago, with no formal record.) 

The ruling received extensive coverage across the state. A Walla Walla Union-Bulletin editorial noted, “Cities across Washington state should view the roads they maintain with bicycle riders in mind. In addition, they should expect growing bicycle traffic on their roads and should plan for maintenance accordingly. Bikes are an increasingly popular mode of local transportation — for work, errands and recreation. In doing so, it will make roadways safer for all. (Cities have responsibility to maintain roads for bikes; An appeals court ruling this week in Washington state rightly sends that message, July 1, 2016).

The Kitsap Sun article provides more information on the suit: Lawsuit from bicyclist against Port Orchard can go forward (June 29, 2016).

Report Hazardous Street Conditions

The Port Orchard public works director stated in his deposition that the city fixes roadways on a “complaint-based system” and the city had not received complaints about that stretch of road. Let’s make sure street conditions reports are on record in your town.

We’re compiling a resource page with our partners at Cascade Bicycle Club with information on how you can contact your town’s street or public works department to report hazardous conditions. Email us with a link to the page with your town’s reporting process or app and we’ll add it to the list. This selection of towns gives you an idea of the different systems you may encounter–everything from downloading an app and using it to emailing the public works director directly. This is in no way a comprehensive list. When we have the resource page established we’ll replace the list here with a link to that page.

Bainbridge Island: See Click Fix

Bellevue: MyBellevue app or issue reporting page

Clark County: Report road condition

Kent: 253-856-5600 or via email at publicworksoperations@kentwa.gov or service request form

King County: See Click Fix

Olympia: 360.753.8333 or send email to publicworks@ci.olympia.wa.us

Pacific: Email the Public Works Directonecity.org/r listed on this page

Seattle: Use the Find It Fix It app or submit a service request

Shoreline: See Click Fix

Spokane: At https://my.spokaaccount/report/ (must create login)

Tacoma: Submit request (have to create log-in if you want to track progress of the request)

Tukwila: See Click Fix

Vancouver: Public Works service request, MyVancouver app

Walla Walla: According to the pothole page, email pwinfo@wallawallawa.gov or call 509-527-4363.

Yakima: Click on “New Report” on the Yak-Back web page

 

Posted in Complete Streets, Funding/Policy, Infrastructure, Legal, News, Safety | Comments Off on We Are Traffic: Court Says Cities Must Maintain Streets for Bicyclists

New Washington Bikes Board Members

New Washington Bikes board members have been elected by the board of Cascade Bicycle Club. Chosen for their experience, geographic representation, and the balanced perspectives they bring to both the policy and political work of the organization, the new board members will serve one-year terms. They will be adopting a new strategic plan in the next few weeks.

Leda Chahim, Seattle

Leda-ChahimChahim serves as Government Affairs Director for Forterra, where she is in charge of developing and advancing state and federal proposals aimed at creating livable, affordable communities and conserving working farms, forests and natural lands across the state. She serves on the boards of the Washington Association of Land Trusts and the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition. She’s also a member of the International Living Future Institute’s inaugural Cascadia Congress and is an appointed member of the Forest Resources Coordinating Committee, a federal advisory committee to the Secretary of Agriculture. Leda holds degrees in Political Science and Conservation Biology from the University of Washington.

Paul Dillon, Spokane

Paul-DillonPaul Dillon serves as the Public Affairs Manager for Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington and North Idaho. Previously he was the legislative assistant for Senator Andy Billig of the 3rd Legislative District of Spokane and co-founded an environmental news site published by the Spokesman-Review called Down To Earth. He was the board president for Pedals2People, a former community bike nonprofit in Spokane, and serves on the board of the Center For Justice. Dillon holds a bachelor’s degree from Eastern Washington University.

Jane Hague, Bellevue

Board Secretary

Jane-HagueHague served on the King County Council 1993-2015. Prior to joining the Council she served as the Manager of Records and Elections for King County, and was an elected member of the Bellevue City Council. She has served on the King County Boys and Girls Club Board of Directors, was elected President of the National Association of Counties, and was one of the founding members of the board for Sound Transit.

Haley Keller, Seattle

Board Treasurer

Haley-WoodsKeller is co-founder and co-owner of Peddler Brewing Company in Ballard, which opened its doors in 2013. A graduate of the Cascade Bicycle Club Advocacy Leadership Institute, she is a leader in the Connect Ballard neighborhood advocacy team and continually seeks ways for Peddler Brewing Company to support the bicycle community. Keller received her BS in Mathematics and Master in Teaching from Seattle University and taught math at Lake Washington High School in Kirkland.

Ron Sher, Medina

Ron-SherFounder and CEO of development firm Sher Partners, Sher devotes considerable time and energy to creating community gathering spaces. He owns Third Place Books, with locations in Lake Forest Park,  Ravenna, and Seward Park. He redeveloped the Crossroads Shopping Center and developed other retail properties.  He holds a PhD in agricultural economics from Washington State University, serves on the board of Washington Conservation Voters, and is a former member of the board of the Project for Public Spaces and Cascade Bicycle Club.

Daniel Weise, Kirkland

Board President

Daniel-WeiseDaniel Weise is an ex-academic (PhD MIT, Assistant Professor at Stanford University, Microsoft Research group leader) who, for the last decade, has been a community volunteer. He serves on the boards of several nonprofits (including Climate Solutions and the Washington Environmental Council), on various other advisory panels and for-profit boards, and he assists technology start-ups. In his spare time he is a recreational cyclist, gardener of edible plants, and angel investor. His favorite investment, though he will probably never make a nickel from it, is the DailyKos.

Washington Bikes Organizational Structure

In September 2015 the board of Washington Bikes, then a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, voted to merge with Cascade Bicycle Club. Under new bylaws for Washington Bikes, now a 501(c)(4) nonprofit, Cascade Bicycle Club is the sole member of Washington Bikes and as such elects the board. An initial board consisting of Cascade executive committee members was chosen to provide oversight in the initial phase of the merger implementation.
Posted in News | Tagged | Comments Off on New Washington Bikes Board Members

Willapa Hills Rail-Trail Links Chehalis to Pe Ell

Projects like these represent the culmination of our work to grow investments in trails to record highs. With each trail project we come a little closer to having a connected network of safe, accessible bikeways across the state.

Willapa Hills Trail, Adna Bridge, railroad trestle. Picture by Discover Lewis County.

Washington State Parks staff have opened up the trail just west of Adna, where it had been closed since late 2015 due to restoration work on a 923-foot trestle known simply as Bridge #5. The previously unsurfaced bridge was the final gap in the Willapa Hills Trail between Chehalis and Pe Ell after two other bridges further west over the Chehalis River were completed last year.

The Willapa Hills Trail is a rails-to-trails project that, in all, extends 56 miles from Chehalis to South Bend in Pacific County. Five miles of the trail between Chehalis and Bridge #5 are paved, while the stretch from Bridge #5 to Pe Ell consists of ballast that is suitable for just about any bicycle tire except for thin road tires. Beyond Pe Ell, however, much work on several segments and bridges needs to be complete before full rideability of the entire trail is achieved.

The 22 miles between Chehalis and Pe Ell being fully open now means big things for west Lewis County. For one, bicyclists don’t have to drive out from Chehalis or Pe Ell to a trailhead miles away to reach a point on the trail; they can ride out straight from town and head back at their own leisure, forgoing a four-wheeled vehicle trip. Secondly, the trail encounters very little cross traffic all along, and its rural scenery along the Chehalis River and several pastoral farmlands makes it a beautiful option for people wishing to enjoy a long ride on Washington’s newest rail-trail — again, with the option now of originating their route from a population center.

Bikepacking is sure to be a hit with people combining the experience of bicycling with minimalist camping along the trail. And speaking of camping, Rainbow Falls State Park is a perfect spot to pitch a tent, located just off the trail in Dryad. It’s first-come, first-served, so check in at the park entrance, pay the required fee and claim your spot.

The town of Pe Ell stands to benefit, as it is home to the trailhead with the most amenities — restrooms, running water, bike racks, horse trailer parking, interpretive displays and more — and several establishments such as Evey’s Cafe, Kettle Creek and the Pe Ell Pub, among others. Stop into Pe Ell and say a friendly hello to the folks there!

As for the new bridge itself, contractors Tapani Inc. of Battle Ground, Washington recently put finishing touches on the upgrades, which include a concrete surface, safety railing and bridge stability improvements. The project lasted roughly six months, culminating with a final walkthrough on the last day of May.

If you want to experience the new bridge for yourself, the Adna trailhead off Dieckman Road is the best place to park (remember your Discover Pass!). Walk about a mile west and you’ll be among the first to experience this beautiful crossing of the Chehalis River that trains once roared over daily a century ago.

Posted in Advocacy, Bike Camping, Lewis County, Tourism, Trails | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Willapa Hills Rail-Trail Links Chehalis to Pe Ell

Tell USDOT We ALL Count #MakeMeCount

Little girl on bike seen from te back, wearing helmet, others biking/walking in street.The Federal Highway Administration has once again ignored bicyclists when determining performance measures for our transportation system. We need you to speak up now.

With passage of the FAST Act signed into law December 2015, Congress just instituted a Complete Streets policy for the National Highway System (which is much more than highways; it includes main streets, arterials and other major roads). Yet despite this FHWA wants to measure performance of the system using a measure for drivers only. Their draft performance measure rules would measure congestion by measuring delay for drivers, conflating performance for all traffic with travel time reliability for motorists only. Speeding up motorists on Main Street doesn’t improve performance for people biking or walking!

We need an additional measure that measures performance or reliability for those outside of cars, whose concerns are much more around measures of access, comfort and safety. We know that what we measure, matters. If governments are not directed to measure performance for non-motorized transportation, they have no incentive to invest in improvements.

Incentivizing states to speed up drivers may result in significant danger to people biking or walking. If these draft rules are implemented, they will hinder the ability of local governments to implement Complete Streets, build protected bike lanes, and improve transportation for all people. We need to speak up now before these rules are adopted as final.

We’ve done it before. With your help we convinced FHWA to include a safety performance measure for biking and walking. We need your help again.

IRONY ALERT: Adding insult to potential injury, USDOT recently rolled out “Every Place Counts,” a design challenge aimed at undoing highway-building mistakes of the past that tore communities apart and created barriers to safe, active transportation. And USDOT Sec. Anthony Foxx has issued a 30-year plan that explicitly encourages multimodal transportation choices. Yet their own proposed rules would encourage high-speed barriers to active transportation, not discourage them.

Shouldn’t federal rule-making support federal policy goals? We think so. Act now(Deadline for comments is mid-August but don’t wait. Spread the word; share this link on Facebook and Twitter and via email.)
Not only does the draft rule propose incentives that put drivers first, everyone else dead last, the rule also sets goals for measuring air pollutants from transportation but doesn’t include greenhouse gases. Our clean transportation choices apparently don’t count either.
Posted in Advocacy, Alert, Federal, Issues & Advocacy | Comments Off on Tell USDOT We ALL Count #MakeMeCount

Rail-Trail Surface Improved Along Curlew Lake

Project improves school access, recreation

IMG_1982

Curlew Job Corps students and foreman Rick Baum stand with the paver on loan from Rebecca Baker.

The Ferry County Rail Trail is rolling into Phase 3. In May an eight-foot-wide smooth, firm and very user friendly surface made of crusher fines was spread and compacted on 2.3 miles of the trail along the west side of Curlew Lake. The new surfacing connects to improvements made just last summer for a total of 5.5 miles.

A $198,000 Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO) non-motorized trail grant made the new surfacing possible. Also included in the phase 3 plan are surface improvements to approximately 2 miles of rail-trail from Lundimo Meadow Road to the Curlew School, then north along the majestic Kettle River ending at the tunnel. These improvements, including a new vault toilet at the Black’s Beach Trailhead, are scheduled for later this summer.

Curlew Job Corps workers on the trail.

Ferry County Rail Trail Vice President and retired Echo Bay Mines geologist Keith Bell are pictured mixing up the new surface for the trail. The formula is 3/8 minus crusher fines with 10% water added. Volunteers and Curlew Job Corps students applied the material to the surface of the trail (using the paver) and then used a vibrating roller to compact it. Once dry it creates a firm and smooth ADA / user-friendly surface.

The RCO grant required a 50% match that was met through generously donated materials from Kinross Gold Corp., transportation of materials by ACI Northwest Inc., equipment use from Stott’s Construction, and volunteer hours from Curlew Job Corps students, Ferry County Rail Trail Partners (FCRTP) as well as many other local stakeholders and trail advocates.

Bob Whittaker, President of the FCRTP, said, “Now that the full six-mile length of trail next to Curlew Lake is improved you can see the greater potential to connect the Lake to the town of Republic. And how sweet is it that come this fall the Curlew School will have a new, safe, off-highway route to the center of town and beyond?”

Bobbi Weller, Chair of the County’s Rail Corridor Committee and an adjacent landowner to the trail, commented, “It is so wonderful to see more people on the trail. It goes to show just how important it is to win these trail grants.”

Join us in advocating for state investments in trails and other essential connections. Sign up for our e-news.

This blog post and photos came from the Ferry County Rail-Trail Partners.

IMG_1888 IMG_1460

 

Posted in Accessibility, News, Trails | Tagged , | Comments Off on Rail-Trail Surface Improved Along Curlew Lake

Take Action for Skagit County Active Transportation

Last Chance to Make a Positive Difference for Open Space, Non-motorized Pathways and Trails in Skagit County’s 2016 Comprehensive Plan Update

The Board of County Commissioners is taking public comment on final proposed changes to the Skagit County Comprehensive Plan, 2016 Update. This new comment period is focused primarily on changes to the original proposal both from the Planning Commission in May, staff recommendations and additional changes directed by the County Commissioners in June.

The proposed changes are summarized in the Planning & Development Services staff report dated June 10, 2016.

We encourage both speaking at the hearing and submitting written comments. You may also talk directly with your respective district’s County Commissioner. The Commissioner’s general phone number is 360-416-1300.

Public hearing date: Monday, June 20, 2016 at 6:00 p.m.

Written comment deadline: Thursday, June 23, 2016, at 4:30 p.m.

What to Say 

Personalize, share your own experience, and state why is this important to you. Be sure to follow the directions below for submission of written comments so that your comments will be accepted.

1. Support for the recommended inclusion of a 20-year list of non-motorized projects as part of the updated Comprehensive Plan, Transportation Element. The map of non-motorized projects in the latest version of the Transportation Technical Appendix is on page 56 and the project list begins on page 58.

Say why it’s important to you to have a vision and long range plan that includes non-motorized pathways and facilities. The projects include pathways and trails, safe bicycle and pedestrian routes, as well as safety improvements to county roadways such as usable shoulders.

You will also find new flow charts and narrative of the public process for trails, bike paths, and facilities beginning on page p. 229 of the comprehensive plan in the  trails and non-motorized projects process and flow chart.

2.  Support Skagit County’s intent to continue cooperating with local partners to identify and protect open space corridors. Open Space is defined as a combination of public and private lands, both rural and inter-urban, that form greenbelts of agriculture lands, trails, wildlife habitat, parks, significant scenic or historic lands etc. Support public access where it is appropriate. State why you think it is important for Skagit County to protect open space.

How To Participate and Comment

In Person: Show up at the County Commissioners Chambers at 1800 Continental Place, Mount Vernon WA 98273 on Monday June 20 2016 at 6 p.m. You may choose to make a public comment; however, you are also demonstrating your support by showing up. As we did for previous meetings we will have stickers available for you to wear.

If you wish to make a comment sign up on the list to speak. Keep your comments brief, 3 minutes or less, and personal.

By email: You may submit your written comments by email, which must be sent to pdscomments@co.skagit.wa.us by Thursday, June 23, 2016, at 4:30 p.m.  Include your comments in the body of your email message rather than as attachments.

By letter: Paper comments must be printed on 8½x11 paper and mailed or delivered to: “2016 Comprehensive Plan Update” Planning and Development Services. 1800 Continental Place, Mount Vernon WA 98273 by Thursday, June 23, 2016, at 4:30 p.m.

The entire 2016 Comprehensive Plan Update proposal is available for review on the project website.

Next Steps and Timeframe for Decisions

The Skagit County Board of Commissioners is scheduled to meet on Tuesday, June 28, at 9:00 a.m., for final deliberations on the 2016 Comprehensive Plan Update proposal. This is where we expect they will give departments final direction about what they want included in the adopting ordinance and the adopted documents, based on the most recent public comment period and the entire update record.

 The Board of Commissioners is scheduled to meet on Thursday, June 30, at 9:00 a.m., to approve the ordinance adopting the 2016 Comp Plan Update, based on the direction they give on June 28.

Please share this information widely with your friends, coworkers and family who may be interested.

Advocate and former Washington Bikes board member Liz McNett-Crowl is the Skagit Healthy Communities Coordinator with Skagit Regional Health and has been active for years in efforts to develop trails and get people walking and biking.

Posted in Advocacy, Alert, Skagit County, Trails | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Take Action for Skagit County Active Transportation

Skagit County, Stand Up May 24: Bike/Walk Projects Are Being Taken Away

Advocate and former Washington Bikes board member Liz McNett-Crowl is the Skagit Healthy Communities Coordinator with Skagit Regional Health and has been active for years in efforts to develop trails and get people walking and biking.

If you care about better biking wskagit_bike_tulip_festival-pic-by-Pam-Headridge-from-Visit-Skagit-Valleye need you to come out and be counted in Skagit County. Stand up for your belief in a county where it is safe for residents and visitors to walk and bike on county roads — to advocate for a county that has a transportation plan that considers all users and builds a network based on their plan.

What: Skagit County Comprehensive Plan update being deliberated by the Planning Commission

When: Tuesday, May 24 at 6pm

Where: County Hearing Room at 1800 Continental Place, Suite 100, Mount Vernon, WA

Be a Visible Supporter: Molly Doran of the Skagit Land Trust and Kit Rawson of BikeWalk Mount Vernon will have stickers for supporters to wear with simple messages like “ I ♥ Bicycles” or “I ♥ Trails”, and we are encouraging all bicyclists to wear your helmet.

Why? Some of you may be aware that 11  non-motorized projects were stripped from the plan last week by the Planning Commission. As you can see in the attached Supplemental Staff Report 4, County Planning Staff is making some new recommendations and encouraging that the commission revisit their decision. Tuesday’s agenda may continue the transportation deliberations and will move on to the Open Space.

Included in these deliberations:

  • Additional policies and project descriptions related to the motorized and non-motorized transportation system;
  • A new policy encouraging implementation of the County’s previously adopted UGA Open Space Concept Plan;

Members of the public are welcome to attend these meetings to show their ongoing interest in the issues being considered by the Planning Commission. No public comment will be taken during the Planning Commission’s deliberations. However, your presence at the meeting helps to convey this interest. It also allows individuals to understand concerns the Planning Commission has with the proposed Comprehensive Plan amendments. This allows citizens to give informed comment on future occasions.

The public comment period as far as the Planning Commission is concerned is closed. Once the Planning Commission finalizes their recommendations on the Comprehensive Plan they will be sent to the Board of County Commissioners, who may or may not decide to have their own public comment period before they take up the Plan.

 The proposed transportation element contains the most significant non-motorized plan ever proposed by the County. We know in the past that opposition has prevailed to have most previous plans stripped of any projects or concepts related to trails and projects. We already know that there is concern among some Planning Commission members about the 20-year project list and inclusion of proposed trails or conceptual trails. Just for your information, this is a 20 year plan and it is appropriate for there to be a list of projects that are on the 6-year Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP) as well as an illustrative list that goes beyond the TIP for the County to pull from in the future should the opportunity or funding arise.

Implementing the County’s UGA Open Space Plan will mean secure and transparent future implementation of the plan that was adopted several years ago. The plan enables the County to move forward in creating an advisory committee, which would be charged with creating a process of implementation, including identifying sources of funding and how the program would administer an open space program. The plan would create open space buffers between the urban and rural areas of the county, could include open spaces that provide for the protection of open space and wildlife corridors, and when appropriate could include public access or trails in Skagit County. It is important to show the Planning Commission there is local support for moving the open space plan forward.

The meeting generally lasts a few hours. Even coming for one hour will help demonstrate important support.

For more information, The written comments on the County’s 2016 Comp Plan update are posted on the project website (www.skagitcounty.net/2016update) and available via this link: Public Comments


Want to spread the word about issues like this in your area? Get in touch about writing a guest post.

Want to know when something like this is happening? Get on our email list.

Posted in Advocacy, Alert, Skagit County, Trails | Tagged , | Comments Off on Skagit County, Stand Up May 24: Bike/Walk Projects Are Being Taken Away