M aple Valley is moving ahead with a plan to make it easier for residents to leave their cars in the garage and still get around town.
The Maple Valley City Council last night agreed to place an update to its Non-Motorized Transportation Plan on its consent agenda, which would allow landscape architects to develop the plan this year — with help from the public.
“Everybody complains about the traffic, but maybe it wouldn’t be such a problem if people had other ways to travel,” Public Works Director Steve Clark said after the council study session.
The idea is to use a series of community meetings, in part, to identify ways to improve access and safety for walkers and bike riders around Maple Valley, says Clark.
“The city’s goal is to develop a livable, walkable community,” he says. “If you could walk or ride your bike to the store … and you don’t have to walk on a goat path next to the freeway, you probably would do that.”
The city initiated its first Non-Motorized Transportation Plan eight years ago, which led to improvements such as the extension of the Green to Cedar Rivers Trail south of Kent-Kangley Road and the access to the trail from Witte Road along with the addition of bike lanes and sidewalks around town.
“A lot has happened since 2004,” Clark says, noting the city’s significant population growth. “There are a lot of new faces and new neighbors that have come in, and maybe their priorities are a bit different.”
Council has already budgeted $100,000 for 2012 to update the plan. The resolution discussed last night would allow the city manager to execute a contract for just under that amount with MacLeod Reckord, a Seattle-based landscape architecture and urban design firm. The firm would develop a plan for the city based in part on input from the public.
Layne Barnes was among several council members who expressed support last night for updating the plan, even asking Clark to encourage the architects to finish by this November, a month ahead of the proposed deadline.
“I’m very glad to see this come forward,” Barnes said. “It’s one of my passions.”
Identifying clearly defined, community-supported priorities for improvements will help the city seek grants and other funding to get the work done, Clark says.
Examples of new projects might include safety improvements along existing trails and sidewalks for children headed to school, for blind people or for wheelchair users, Clark says. It might also mean slowing down vehicle traffic in some neighborhoods.
“You want to have an environment where people feel it’s safe to get out and ride their bikes,” says Clark.
The community might also choose to add new trails, bike lanes and sidewalks to connect neighborhoods with each other or with the Green to Cedar Rivers Trail that bisects the city, Clark says. The trail is “kind of like the main artery, but how are you going to get to it from the neighborhoods?”
Clark stresses this idea of developing non-motorized connectors throughout the city.
“Not very many communities have something like the Green to Cedar Rivers Trail … if you have that you’re light years ahead of everybody else,” he says. The problem is that too many residents need a car to get there safely.
“How do you take that diamond and make sure everybody is connected to it?” he says. “Then you have a community that really is a destination. … As it is you have two state highways and one arterial, but there’s more to Maple Valley than that.”
What improvements to trails, bike lanes and sidewalks would you like to see? Post a comment below.
Want to share this story with neighbors? Click the “share” button below to post it to Facebook OR email the link.
Want to receive an alert when a new story appears in the Post? You have three options: Click the “like” button below to receive alerts on your Facebook newsfeed; click the Twitter icon in the sidebar to follow us on Twitter; OR type your email address in the sidebar (to the right of this story) to receive once-a-day digests of new posts.