King County works to improve safety on the Sammamish River Trail | Guest editorial

Tips on using the trail safely as well as what the future has in store.

  • Thursday, January 3, 2019 8:30am
  • Opinion
Jean White. Photo courtesy of King County

Jean White. Photo courtesy of King County

By Jean White

Special to the Reporter

King County Parks has received some comments from trail users who expressed concern about congestion creating possibly unsafe conditions on the Sammamish River Trail through the city of Redmond.

This is one of the busiest stretches of trails that King County manages, with an average of 2,800 people a day during sunny summer weekends. This level of trail use can lead to conflicts between different types of trail users, particularly between pedestrians and bicyclists.

The safety and enjoyment of our park and trail visitors is a top priority and we’ve taken a number of actions to ensure the Sammamish River Trail and other popular regional trails are as safe as possible.

For example, we initiated a public education campaign to help trail visitors understand safe trail use and etiquette, including:

Stay right, pass left — Be aware of those around you; walk and ride on the right side of the trail unless passing.

Leave room for others to pass — Whether walking or biking, leave enough room for others to get around you; don’t bike and walk in large groups; and always yield to oncoming traffic.

Use your voice or bell when passing — Avoid startling people when passing by letting them know you’re approaching with a bell or by calling out “on your left” before you’ve arrived.

Go slow when passing — Reduce your speed when going by other people on the trail, whether they’re biking or walking.

Be visible in low light — The darkest days of the year are here, so make sure other trail users can see you by wearing reflective gear and using lights.

These messages are posted along the regional trails during the spring, summer and fall.

Another element of our trail safety campaign is coordination with King County Sheriff’s Office deputies to patrol the trail system during heavy use times and to speak with trail users about safe trail behavior, including the 15 mph speed limit.

There are also plans to improve and widen portions of the Sammamish River Trail. King County Parks recently identified an opportunity to partner with the King County Wastewater Treatment Division (WTD) to improve a section of the trail between Leary Way Northeast and Northeast 85th Street as part of a sewer pipe upgrade project that’s scheduled to begin as early as 2020.

While construction will require temporary trail closures, WTD’s project will take the trail from its current 10- to 11-foot width to a 14-foot-wide paved trail with a 2-foot-wide gravel shoulder on the river side and a 4-foot-wide gravel shoulder on the landward side. Learn more about the project at kingcounty.gov/KCRedmondSewer.

It is in King County Parks’ long term trails plan to also widen the Sammamish River Trail between Northeast 85th and Northeast 116th streets.

And finally, King County Parks is partnering with Sound Transit and the city of Redmond to extend the East Lake Sammamish Trail from its current terminus in Redmond at Northeast 70th Street into downtown Redmond.

The work, which has $2.3 million in federal grant funding, will connect the East Lake Sammamish Trail to the Redmond Central Connector trail as part of the Sound Transit Downtown Light Rail Extension Project that’s set for completion in 2024.

King County Parks is working to be responsive to the community who enjoys our regional trails and leverage our funding for stewarding and expanding our regional trails through grants and partnerships.

Jean White is a program manager for King County Parks’ regional trails.

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