I’ve written before that we pretty much avoid Bellevue as much as possible. It turns out that Crossroads is actually a fairly reasonable destination, despite the fact that 156th Ave NE and NE 8th St are typical poisonous Bellevue roads. It’s a combination of a few decent pieces of infrastructure combined with using residential streets over the arterials. Here’s the approximate route:
Before I go into details, I need to correct that map:
- Don’t ride a bicycle the wrong direction around a traffic circle
- A bicycle or pedestrian can go straight across Bel-Red Road in the crosswalk
- I think the satellite imagery at Crossroads Park is a bit out of date.
(Very first, I scouted this on foot to drop off some books at the library, so there’s still some more that we can learn.)
First you need to get to the 520 trail. That will depend on where you starting from, but for me this means Old Redmond Road to 152nd past Ben Rush Elementary to the trail at 60th. Be extra careful crossing 51st and 40th because those intersections are designed to kill you. After 40th, the next large road is the bridge connecting 36th and 31st. Skip the turnout before the bridge, go under the bridge, and then take the turnout which will be like a U-turn to the right and back up to the bridge. On the bridge, turn right either into the bike lane or on the sidewalk. Cross the bridge. If you chose the bike lane, you will then have this choice:
You may merge into traffic and enter the traffic circle. Skip the first right (so effectively you are turning left at the traffic circle). If you choose the sidewalk instead, then you will use a crosswalk to skip that first right. You will then be stuck on the sidewalk and need to use the next driveway to get back onto the road.
This is Microsoft territory. A lot of the people driving there are pretty good about bicycles, but not all. My experiences with Microsoft shuttle drivers have been good. In general you’ll want to avoid both rush hours if you can because that’s when people can get crazy. Go straight across 156th (poison road), then make two right turns at all-way stops (close together). Skip an intersection that is really just building parking and then turn left. I don’t know if that road name is even marked, but if you keep going straight you’ll end up in more parking. Then you will go straight through a four-way intersection and another with a turn on the left and arrive at the light for Bel-Red. Here you will enter the sidewalk on the right (which is tough on a large bicycle or with a trailer) and cross as a pedestrian. After crossing, somehow get back in the road (probably just enter the road directly from the crosswalk).
This is where the back roads start, or this is what I really wanted to write about, but it takes some work to get there.
The back roads start on NE 30th St:
This is pretty quiet since the intersection blocks travel across to Microsoft. The street itself is pretty narrow with a speed bump and some physical obstacles in the center. We’ve biked down this one before, and it’s pleasant. The only real improvement I can think of would be to mark small shoulders; the distance from center to curb is 11-12 feet (all measurements in this post are based on a combination of using my eyes and my approximately one-foot feet) and could be narrowed to 10. Well, designation and signage as a greenway would be ideal, but that’s the least of Bellevue’s problems.
After turning onto 164th, things are pretty similar. The road is wider with the inclusion of rarely parking, unmarked-but-kind-of-bike-lines shoulders are both sides. However the lanes seemed to be marked at 10 feet. This is rather remarkable since the city seems to have an unwritten policy against non-highway widths on non-highways.
The crossing of 24th is ok. It has left turn lanes all around, so the crossings are unfortunately 3 lanes long and the light cycle is longer than it would be otherwise, but it doesn’t seem particularly busy. I’ve only been there at the end of the school day once, and even then it wasn’t that busy, but I don’t know if that holds in general. The road in front of the schools, which are immediately south of 24th, does seem to have some design flaws. Here it is:
The main problem is that all of a sudden it is a wide, looks-like-one-should-drive-fast street. A few things contribute to that. First, the lane widths inexplicably jump up to 12 feet. Second, there is a long bus stop lane. Third, a center lane appears, which is used for some school turns as well as the left onto 24th. This also leaves room for the pedestrian island, which is probably good regardless, but is certainly more necessary when crossing 24 feet of optimized-for-vehicle-throughput road rather than 20 feet of calmer road.
Just south of the schools, the road makes a slight jog to the east and back. For some reason, these curves warrant 11 foot lanes. Next is the crossing of Northup, which is similar to 24th (3 lanes) but somewhat busier. Things are pretty nice south of Northup:
The lanes are back to 10 feet. The shoulder doesn’t seem to be intended for parking, though it is that “not a bike lane but kind of looks like bikes should be there” width. The east side, though it’s hard to see in that picture, has an asphalt path. It’s not wide enough for pedestrian and bicycle traffic, but it’s more pleasant than a typical sidewalk.
Next is the key to the route: Crossroads Park. Without this, it wouldn’t be possible to get over to Crossroads Mall. This is your only sign that it is there:
Enter at that sign and it’s time to mingle with vehicular traffic for a bit. Go down the driveway and then skip the turn to the right.
While that’s the correct direction, there aren’t any curb cutouts. However, near the handicapped parking, there are several. After getting onto the sidewalk, then it’s time to head to the right. It’s pleasant, though if the park is busy at all it will be a bit tough on a bicycle:
In the second picture, you will come down the hill on the left, turn around, and continue back on the right side of the picture to the Bellevue Youth Theater. Turn right and continue along the parking lot and past the Bellevue Community Center to the border with the Crossroads Mall parking lot. Pop up onto the sidewalk before the end:
There is a series of pretty obvious sidewalks and crosswalks that will take you to the food court area. Unfortunately I didn’t have to lock a bike so I don’t know exactly where the racks are. There are some at the mall and there is another up at the community center.
Here is the path back the food court across the parking lot back to the community center:
There aren’t too many differences on the route back. You can use the other crosswalk to cross Bel-Red. The traffic circle is a simpler right turn, though there isn’t as obvious of a place to get onto the sidewalk if you prefer that. There’s a separate ramp back to the 520 trail on the right side – there’s a hard right turn exit from the roadway and then you continue straight to the trail.