Our bike is still in the shop, so there’s more driving than usual. Sunday afternoon I went by car to drop off a load of goods at Goodwill in Bellevue. I arrived to a completely full parking lot and a line of cars at the dropoff. There must have been a hundred cars circling the lot like buzzards. Every aisle was completely lined with cars. I do not do well with chaotic parking situations (who does?) so when I realized what was going on, I started looking for a way out. I found the back way out of the lot, and was glad to get out of there without any further wasting of time or stress.
What I sensed in that lot was desperation. All these people drove there, because they don’t have other options. They need to find a place to stash their enormous beast vehicles in order to do their errands, but there isn’t enough space to do that. They are faced with circling the lot until they find space, or leaving with the errands undone. I left, because I do have options: I can come back during the week, or I can suck it up and bike there even if I am uncomfortable doing so (I might be scared to take the lane but I’m not likely to actually get hit by a car or I could ride on the sidewalk). I suppose having too many customers is better than the alternative for the establishments in this shopping center, but I don’t think this situation is actually good for anybody. Ask anybody there if driving was worth it, and if they would have rather walked, if they could.
But this is Bellevue! Nobody can walk or bike anywhere!
Here is the parking lot in question:
Here is the street at the driveway for Goodwill:
Five lanes, no bike lanes, 35+ mph traffic. At least there’s a decent sidewalk.
What else is in the neighborhood?
There appears to be housing south of Bel-Red Road, which is not too far to walk to this shopping center. But Bel-Red is another one of these poisonous 4-lane semi-highways. With the way Bellevue’s super blocks are laid out, there are few safe places to cross the street, so everybody is isolated in their enclave, and can only get out by car.
What’s the solution? I don’t know, but it’s not easy. The first solution that comes to mind is more parking, but that would require a garage at this point. I would say that the first step is to make it reasonable and pleasant to bike and walk there and provide plentiful, obvious bike parking. There are lots of people within reasonable biking distance. Driving is a hassle, and it’s far more expensive to make it not a hassle than it is to make biking pleasant.