‘We’re pretty disappointed by this,’ says cycling nonprofit of decision to restrict bikes at Green Lake

Apr 1, 2022, 4:53 PM | Updated: 5:17 pm
Green Lake...
Green Lake Park (Jeffrey Zeldman via Flickr)
(Jeffrey Zeldman via Flickr)

Seattle Parks and Recreation has closed the inner loop trail at Green Lake Park to bicycles, tricycles, rollerblades, and scooters.

Foot and vehicle traffic in and around the nearly 300-acre Green Lake Park has been in flux since the start of the pandemic. In 2020, the parks department announced that they would close the inner loop to bicycles, along with the decision to keep traffic flow facing in a single direction.

Officially, Seattle Parks revisited that policy every 60 days. COVID-related restrictions on inner loop bicycles were still in place in August, and the park’s board of commissioners voted to make the restriction indefinite in October.

In March, the department began posting signs that explicitly ban bicycles from the path. Seattle Parks also clarified that the “long-term temporary use restriction” is intended to “create more space for path users on this high use trail and to provide more time for the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) to complete their design process and coordinate the construction timeline for creating a complete outer loop around Green Lake with protected access for bikers and pedestrians.”

Seattle to move forward with preferred designs for Green Lake outer loop

“That language, ‘permanent until it’s changed,’ is an oxymoron if ever I heard one. In a way, it’s a bit of a communications issue for them,” Vicky Clarke, policy director with the Cascade Bicycle Club (CBC), tells MyNorthwest.

“We’re pretty disappointed to see this. I don’t think it’s the right move,” Clarke continued.

“Many of the COVID restrictions are being lifted at the same time that [the parks department] appears to be doubling down on a COVID restriction pertaining to keeping bikes off that inner loop.”

The Cascade Bicycle Club, a statewide cycling nonprofit, sees the “long-term temporary” restriction as unnecessarily punitive in that it prohibits all cyclers from the loop, especially noncommuters simply enjoying the lake, traveling at less than 10 miles per hour.

“Removing the ability for people on bikes to be on the loop [is] modal thinking. What’s disappointing is that a ban on wheels on the inner loop hits hardest when [many surface] streets aren’t safe for all ages and abilities,” Clarke added.

“I’ve definitely seen numerous kids [at the inner loop] on trikes, walking alongside their moms and dads. It’s homogenous thinking that is problematic here.”

As far as the CBC is concerned, the solution is as simple as implementing a speed limit, or at least finding ways to engender trail etiquette to everyone’s comfort.

“It’s really about having safe speeds on trails … thinking about the behavior. What are the behaviors that we want to see?”

“The inner loop trail at Green Lake is an absolute community treasure, right? We see that in the number of people who want to use it. As Seattle has grown, more and more people want to use a trail. [We should] think about what the behaviors are we want to see that will make it so that everyone who’s using the trails feels safe and comfortable. That feels like a better approach.”

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‘We’re pretty disappointed by this,’ says cycling nonprofit of decision to restrict bikes at Green Lake