Kirkland City Council to Consider Bike Lanes Ordinance

A bike rider uses the bike lanes along Northeast 141st Street shortly after the City of Kirkland created the bike lanes during the 2015 paving process. The City Council is will consider an ordinance on July 19 that will improve safety for bicycle riding by ensuring bike lanes are clear from parked vehicles.

A bike rider uses the bike lanes along Northeast 141st Street shortly after the City of Kirkland created the bike lanes during the 2015 paving process. The City Council is will consider an ordinance on July 19 that will improve safety for bicycle riding by ensuring bike lanes are clear from parked vehicles.

Kirkland’s City Council will consider an ordinance on July 19 that will improve safety for bicycle riding throughout the City by ensuring bike lanes are clear of parked vehicles.

The proposed ordinance would cite drivers with a $45-fine for parking in marked bike lanes.

“However,” said Kirkland Transportation Manager Joel Pfundt. “We would initially focus on educating the public about the new ordinance and the importance of keeping bike lanes clear and safe, not citing drivers for violating it.”

The proposed ordinance also exempts from citation instances of “incidental encroachment from adjacent designated parking”—areas where parked automobiles might extend by a few inches into the bike lane.

Bike lanes are for traveling … just like car lanes.” Kirkland’s transportation staff sent this postcard to residents who might be affected by the proposed ordinance.

Bike lanes are for traveling … just like car lanes.” Kirkland’s transportation staff sent this postcard to residents who might be affected by the proposed ordinance.

“On Market Street, for example, some residents’ [vehicles] can’t fit completely in the parking stall,” said Kirkland Traffic Sergeant Nathan Rich. “We are not going to cite those people. If it’s incidental encroachment, it’s not a factor.”

The ordinance will apply to all of Kirkland’s existing 49 lane-miles of bike lanes, as well as the bike lanes the City will create in the future. This includes a nine-block section of Finn Hill’s 84th Avenue Northeast—from Northeast 136th Street to Northeast 145th Street—which the City will repave and restripe this summer.

That project will create bike lanes along both sides of 84th Avenue, improving bike connections to Finn Hill Middle School and Thoreau Elementary School, as well as to Big Finn Hill Park. To ensure those bike lanes can run along all nine blocks without interruption, the new configuration will replace shoulders—where a few residents sometimes parked their cars—with the bike lanes.

Kirkland’s staff mailed postcards in early April about this proposed ordinance to 84th Avenue residents and the residents of more than 200 homes along streets with bike lanes. Two residents so far responded with comments and questions.

The proposed ordinance is part of the City’s continuing effort to prepare its transportation network for the coming decades, when regional planners expect Kirkland’s population to swell by more than 20,000 new jobs and 8,000 new homes. This proposed ordinance will  help by providing residents with another travel choice.

“Kirkland’s leaders are continuously working to implement policies to keep Kirkland moving in the future by giving residents more choices over how they travel throughout the City and beyond,” Pfundt said. “Providing more transportation choices is part of the strategy.”

The Complete Streets Ordinance, Active Transportation Plan and Transportation Master Plan are all part of the City’s strategy to create more transportation choices. So too, is the creation of a bicycle greenway network and the ongoing development of the Cross Kirkland Corridor—a 5.75-mile trail that runs along the flattest north-to-south terrain in the city and which connects neighborhoods, parks, schools and job centers.

“These plans and projects, along with many others, are all examples of how the City is focused on moving people by all modes of travel, whether they are driving, walking, riding transit or cycling,” Pfundt said. “One of the most fundamental ways we can make bicycle riding safe and comfortable is to ensure that our bike lanes are open.”