Last Saturday I took the babies in the trailer to run some errands in Juanita Village and downtown Kirkland. It seemed like the perfect example of infrastructure that is almost usable but tragically not.
First, let’s look at Bridle Trails to Juanita Village. The shortest routes would be about 5 miles, which to be fair would generally have me looking for a closer destination. Here’s a map of the area (ignore the routes other than the start/stop because Google has no clue what it’s doing here):
The most obvious route, which is roughly how one would drive it if not using I-405, is to start out west on 70th, drop down to Lake St., and then go over Market St to Juanita. This doesn’t work because I’m unwilling to take the trailer on 70th, which is a rather wide minor arterial with bike lanes. 70th and Old Redmond Road are fairly popular for rides (especially commutes) but only because there isn’t anything better (and not by families).
Another route is to head north on the proposed South Rose Hill Greenway (130th/128th). Other than the short stretch on 80th and crossing 85th, this starts nicely. Unfortunately, the next step is to cross under I-405 on 116th, which Michelle has previously documented as a reason why we drive. So that’s out.
Kirkland does, however, have a few great pieces of infrastructure: ped/bike bridges over I-405 and the Cross Kirkland Corridor (CKC). And in fact I hardly went through the thought process above because these are how one bikes pretty much anywhere in Kirkland. From Bridle Trails, another part of the proposed South Rose Hill Greenway heads towards the bridge at 80th. Unfortunately, the actual connection isn’t done yet, so one has to use the existing facilities on 80th St or 116th Ave to approach. 80th St has bike lanes but is always a bit crazy with cars and turns. 116th has bike lanes but the northbound one (approaching the bridge) almost always has cars parked in it. The southbound one is really wide (and no one wants to park on that side of the road), so I usually find myself riding the wrong way on it. Plus, one has to cross at some point anyway to get to the bridge. On this particular trip, I was fairly lucky with the parking and light traffic. Then it’s down the hill to the CKC.
It would probably make sense to exit the CKC at 7th or 12th and head over to Market, though I wanted something quieter (more on Market later). Unfortunately, after this the CKC turns north-east, adding distance to the route. The (probably) quietest route back is Forbes Creek Dr, which of course heads back south, adding even more distance. 112th would probably be ok, but then I would have ended up on 116th. If you look at the map, you’ll see that the CKC and Forbes Creek run quite near each other for a while, but there’s a hill and rough connections that I’ve only used on foot. At the end of Forbes Creek, there are two options: head up scary four-lane 98th (more on this later too) or meander through the park. I chose the later, which is a narrow paved trail that works as long as no one else is using it. This leads to the Juanita Bay boardwalk, which then dumps you on a sidewalk. After crossing Juanita Dr, I reached Juanita Village, where the roads are busy with cars so I rode up the sidewalk on 98th. The bike parking was kind of far, so I locked to a fence of a restaurant that wasn’t open yet. This route is closer to 7 miles.
The next stop was the Kirkland library. By this point, I was late so I decided to take the direct route over Market. I also saw that 98th had a bike lane, so I decided I would go straight along it rather than using the sidewalk/crosswalk/boardwalk/circuitous path. This was a terrible mistake. After the intersection with Juanita Dr, the bike lane inexplicably disappears until after the boardwalk entrance:
So there I was on a sharrow on a four lane road with a trailer. And of course someone decided to rev their engine, squeal their breaks, zoom by, and yell “get the f*** off the road”, which is pretty much what the infrastructure was telling me too. Market St is a door-and-sometimes-part-of-a-parked-car-zone bike lane, though like most parking in Kirkland most of it was empty. I was able to time breaks in traffic to avoid the door zones and not get yelled at.
Last I had to actually get across Kirkland to the library. We usually sneak in and out of the library from the east, avoiding the rest of downtown, but here I had no choice. I wasn’t going to use Central Way, so I went through the Marina, waited for some drivers staring at parked cars, and took Kirkland Ave/Main St so that I could check out the new Park Lane. I must admit I was rather underwhelmed. It was nice that day since it was closed to cars, but it doesn’t look like the space devoted to cars vs people has changed at all. The curbs are gone, and the roadway is brick (which should slow things down), but it’s still sidewalks that aren’t particularly large with a lane of traffic and angle parking. So much car space. On the bright side, with some tables and kids playing in the street space, it could someday be pretty nice.
After Park Lane I went through Peter Kirk Park to the library. The narrow pathway meant I had to dismount when an elderly couple passed the other way, but it was preferable to going around on the roads. Then back up the hill and across the 80th St bridge and home.
In the end, I got to ride to a few errands. Stretches of the ride were quite pleasant. I very much regret using the bike lane and being forced onto a sharrow on 98th. In the future I think I will work harder to just avoid this trip and therefore all of the businesses in Juanita Village. The biking distance plus the bad connections end up being too much. I don’t want to drive those roads either. Metro 245/255 is an option. Like most of Bellevue, my best option is probably to run alone. Or not go.