Everett working to be more bicycle-friendly
EVERETT — When Everett’s bicycle master plan was implemented in 2011, two of the city’s main goals were to create a citywide network of connected bicycle facilities and allow a safe haven of bicycle-friendly roads to flourish downtown.
Three years later, the city is making some steps towards these goals.
Special bike lanes have been created on both California Street and Hoyt Avenue, allowing for basic passage in all four cardinal directions. The path by Port of Everett has been widened. An east-west bicycle arterial in south Everett along 112th Street was completed last year.
Also, a link connecting East Grand Avenue to East Marine View Drive is currently under construction and should be complete sometime next month.
“Making these routes is what the master plan wanted to focus on,” city engineer Ryan Sass said. “We already have the facilities there, they’re just not nicely connected.”
But local cyclists are not seeing the surge in cycling that they were hoping for when the master plan was created.
“A lot of people don’t think it’s safe because things don’t connect,” cyclist John Lindstrom said.
Lindstrom was heavily involved in the creation of the bicycle master plan. His vision was to create a cycling system on par with those in Portland, San Francisco and Eugene, Ore. He said that the cycling infrastructure in these cities proliferated in a surge in cyclists.
“I don’t think that’s politically possible in this city,” the retired Everett Community College instructor said. “This won’t happen in Everett while I’m alive.”
He’s also been hit on a bicycle in downtown Everett before.
Furthering the development of cycling roads could attract more young people to Everett, Lindstrom said. He points to a recent University of Michigan study that found car sales are decreasing in all age groups younger than 55.
He doesn’t follow the development of Everett’s bicycle plan much anymore, as his focus has shifted to traveling to areas that are more bicycle-friendly and spending days riding their trails.
“I’m just going to ride my bike and if stuff happens, it happens,” he said.
The main thing Lindstrom would like to see is more connectivity between currently functional bike trails, such as connecting Hoyt to the Interurban Trail.
He has noticed a few of the changes the city has made. On one entrance to the Interurban Trail, there used to be staggered gates that cyclists would need to nearly stop to go through. Now, those have been replaced with bollards, which still successfully keep vehicles out but are much easier for cyclists to navigate.
Other cyclists have a few problems with the decisions the city has made in implementing the bicycle master plan.
Bill Weber, from Riverside, rides his bike mostly for fun with the B.I.K.E.S. Club of Snohomish County, but he will also ride his bike into the city once or twice a week. Even though the main north-south bicycle lane runs down Hoyt Avenue, he will usually ride up Colby Avenue since more shops are there.
“Colby probably gets more cyclists than Hoyt still,” he said.
Since the city has not been bragging about the changes that have been implemented, Weber said that many people do not know about the improvements that have been made for cyclists, which may impact the number of people using the paths.
One day, on a whim, he took the Riverfront Trail to the north end out of Lowell, where he discovered a half-mile area from Lowell to 41st Street that had all been paved.
Weber expressed understanding that many of the changes he would like to see would be expensive for the city, but the little changes that he does see are encouraging.
“I have to give them credit for the things they have done,” he said.