Totem LakeToday I am continuing the series on connecting the Eastside Rail Corridor to actual destinations by describing the route to Houghton. Houghton is a neighborhood shopping district that we’d like to be able to bike to. In particular, we’d like to be able to get to the PCC there (green dot). At a mile-and-a-half from our house, it’s well within our bike-shed, but taking the safe routes turns it into an all-morning outing and I haven’t found a way through Houghton that I’m comfortable with. So for now I’ve given up.
The Cross Kirkland Corridor (blue line) skirts the edge of Houghton, maddeningly close but not really accessible. You can get off the CKC and ride through Google, to 6th St and 68th St (red line), no thanks. The climb through Google shouldn’t be too bad, but both streets are very busy and the bike lanes disappear at the intersection.
There is a path to the elementary school (yellow line), then you’d ride through their parking lot and up the left side sidewalk on 68th St. The first problem is that there is a hill there. See how the street drops but the trail bridge is at the same level? This picture is taken from the Houghton businesses and the school is on the other side of the trail on the right, down the hill.
The hill is steep enough that the slippery gravel makes it hard to ride up.
There’s also a curb at the bottom. There is a speed bump right at the end of the path, shortening the curb, but it’s a curb nonetheless and even if it’s small it makes it less usable, depending on the bike and the person. (glove for scale)
Then there’s a problem at the trail overpass. The sidewalk is very narrow where it splits to go around the posts. I’ve never ridden that with the trailer, and I’m not sure I could actually negotiate the narrow, steep, winding path. Here is an example of how two narrow openings do not make one wide opening!
The city has built access on the south side of 68th, connecting the CKC to 106th Ave with a nice bridge and flat trail (pink line). This provides access to the shopping center on the south side of 68th St. The driveway access to the bridge is rutted but certainly usable.
This connection is awesome, and we are so pleased that the city made this happen. So why isn’t this an option to get to PCC? Because of the crossing of 68th! It seems so stupid – it’s just a street crossing, why is this a problem? Because even if you can make the whole trip on neighborhood streets (and I can) those arterial crossings are still really stressful. You can’t rely on people driving yielding to people in crosswalks, painted or not, biking or pushing a stroller or walking with kids or whatever. We deal with this all the time when walking to our neighborhood grocery store and sometimes I don’t have it in me to fight the arterial crossing battle, especially if it’s dark or rainy.
You can cross 106th Ave into the parking lot on the other side, and then use a crosswalk at the driveway. This is reasonable solution for someone walking. On a bike, you could get to the crosswalk from the driveway, and then once in the street with traffic stopped ride out of the crosswalk straight for the driveway on the other side. It would be a tricky turn onto that narrow sidewalk otherwise.
There is a solution to this problem, but it would require a couple of different private land owners to work together. The building just to the northwest of PCC has a driveway right along the fence separating the properties, and it goes all the way to the CKC (orange line). In the photo below, taken peeking through the fence along the CKC, the PCC parking lot is just on the other side of the fence near the farther dumpster.
It’s flat and short and direct. It’s all right there. It’s very frustrating, enough that some people have taken to cutting through the apartment complex next door, from what I’ve heard.
There’s still one more shopping center in Houghton, right on the northwest corner of 108th Ave and 68th St. I think the only way to get good bike access there is real protected bike lanes and a protected intersection. Sadly, I expect this whole area will be redeveloped before that happens.
Next: Totem Lake
Previously: Downtown Kirkland