Let’s Walk, Bike & Roll

The Benton-Franklin region has a long history of active transportation that revolves around residents having access to the three rivers: Columbia, Yakima and Snake River. In the early to mid-20th century, it was common for people to walk to the Hanford Shuttle and to bicycle along the rivers and to shopping centers.

All four major cities in the Tri-Cities prioritized residents’ accessibility to the rivers by developing many expansive parks along the shorelines and the area developed an extensive multi-use path system connecting the three cities on the Columbia River and tracing Sacajawea’s footsteps to ensure access to the area’s natural wonders for everyone.

Desire Lines

In order to improve air quality and public health, we encourage local governments to focus on converting trips less than 2 miles from auto to active transportation modes. It is imperative that Desire Lines are identified between neighborhoods, transit stops and hubs, parks, and amenities such as grocery stores, pharmacies, libraries, medical centers and places of employment. These Desire Lines should be the shortest distance routes, as well as the safest route alternative so that disparities can be identified, prioritized, and rectified through infrastructure changes. Identifying barriers along these routes is critical as well.

Vulnerable road users

Our most vulnerable road users are children, seniors, and people with disabilities who walk and roll. Bike Tri-Cities advocates for cyclists, but other vulnerable road users lack an organized advocacy group. Pedestrians—in particular those with mobility issues and children walking unaccompanied to school—require direct routes that do not expose them to vehicles traveling in excess of 20 mph or to high volumes of vehicles. We encourage local governments to prioritize pedestrian accessibility, safety, and comfort. 

Future strategies

We appreciate the recent physical infrastructure improvements that support active transportation, such as improved crossings on George Washington Way, Jadwin Ave, and the planned facility over SR 240 in Kennewick. We would like to see local governments consider other strategies to enhance active transportation such as those in recent publications from the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO), including:

NACTO recommends the following speed limits for urban areas: main streets 25 mph, neighborhood streets 20 mph, shared streets (pedestrians and others in street, mixing with cars) 10 mph.“ – City Limits: Setting Safe Speed Limits on Urban Streets (NACTO, 2020) 

Mobility equity

Electric Bikes (eBikes) are expanding access to bicycling for people with disabilities (who may use eBikes as mobility assistive devices), the elderly, and families with young children who use cargo bikes. We would like to see eBikes and cargo bikes included in the range of bicycles considered by the plan as they have additional needs regarding lane width and secure parking. Mobility equity improves the quality of life in our community.   

When considering all members of the community, we also encourage the cities to recognize the socioeconomic and racial inequities relating to active transportation while addressing transportation needs. We recognize that there is a large disparity in access and would like to see this disparity addressed.

For more information or to join the team:   BikeTheTri@gmail.com

Or check these organizations below: