Opinion

Think globally and act locally — hike and bike

Creating a healthy and sustainable community requires that we all share our limited resources — including our roads and trails. As a key part of the City Council’s sustainability initiative, the Council will be reviewing the city’s Pedestrian and Bicycle Facilities Plan at a study session on Aug. 6 and we want your input.

Mercer Island is a beautiful environment for hiking and biking. The Council is looking for creative ways to connect our schools, parks and neighborhoods with a series of connected bike/pedestrian lanes and trails. That way, we can promote healthy transportation options on the Island that support our schools, our local businesses and our goal of reducing greenhouse gases to combat global warming.

With the warmer weather, rising gas prices and increased congestion on our roadways, we see more of our citizens biking or walking to work, the Town Center, our parks and favorite local businesses. To meet this demand, the City Council continues to dedicate resources to improving our roads and trails and to develop a comprehensive system of pedestrian and bicycle facilities as part of the Transportation Element of the Comprehensive Plan. Projects are directed at making the roads safe and usable by motorists, cyclists and pedestrians. Projects identified for construction in 2007-08 include:

a East Mercer Way Roadside Shoulder Development — 4600 block near Ferncroft Road south to the 5000 block and possibly as far as 53rd Place, depending on bid results and/or future increase in funding for the project by the City Council at bid award. (2007)

a 84th Avenue S.E. from the Lakeridge Elementary School driveway to S.E. 80th Street. (2007)

a Island Crest Way between S.E. 71st Street and S.E. 78th Street. (2007/2008)

a S.E. 28th Street between Island Crest Way and 84th Avenue S.E. (2008)

In addition, the city continues to educate and enforce the rules of the road to insure the safety of motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists. Here are some helpful hints for motorists and cyclists:

Please pay special attention to children walking or riding their bicycles, particularly in residential neighborhoods and in school zones, on sidewalks, and entering or exiting driveways — kids do not judge speeds or distance well. Be aware of weather conditions, how they can affect cyclists (i.e. the windblast effect), or cars (skidding) and adjust accordingly. Stay alert because momentary inattention is the No. 1 cause of accidents, and ensure you have safe sight distance on our curving streets prior to passing cyclists. And again, for motorists and cyclists, please abide by the rules of the road, especially comply with all stop signs and form a single file if vehicle traffic is present.

For more safety tips for motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists, please visit www.mercergov.org/sharetheroad.

Finally, please remember to be patient, respectful, and to “share the road” and share your ideas with your City Council!

Mike Grady and Steve Litzow are Mercer Island City Councilmen. Councilmember Grady can be reached at mike.grady@mercergov.org and Litzow at steve.litzow@mercergov.org.

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