King County lawmaker wants to add safety measures to busy trails

Nov 6, 2017, 8:46 AM | Updated: 9:01 am
After a man drove a truck onto a New York bike path, killing eight, a King County council member is pushing for better protection of walking and biking paths in the region. (File, Associated Press)
(File, Associated Press)

Since last week’s terror attack in Manhattan, a King County council member is focusing on making busy trails a tougher target for terrorists.

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But it’s a huge job. All of King County’s trails together would stretch to Portland.

King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn‘s vision is to install barriers, bollards and even boulders in key spots along all of King County’s trails, to make it impossible for someone in a vehicle to drive in.

Dunn hatched a big proposal the moment he saw the attack in New York.

“Let’s make our trail system a place where that can’t happen,” said Dunn.

His proposal? To protect anyone using Seattle and King County bike and pedestrian trails from invading cars and trucks. He wants to plant heavy physical barriers along 175 miles of trails as soon as possible.

“My fear is the problem with what happened in New York. It gives people ideas – ‘Wow, that worked!’ (He) just rented a truck, off he went, eight people are dead tragically today. We want to make sure the easy targets are taken away,” said Dunn.

Dunn says those easy targets of terrorism have shown how vulnerable people really are all over the world when terrorists use cars and trucks as weapons. From London, to Barcelona, to Stockholm and here in the US, 37 people were killed in recent months in places which were supposed to be vehicle-free.

Dunn says the barriers could look like part of the landscape.

“And a boulder is big enough to stop a car, obviously, and you put them close enough together where a truck can’t drive through,” said Dunn.

He admits it would take tens of thousands of boulder barriers, and tens of millions of dollars to keep cars and trucks out of all the trails, but he says new federal money now being offered by Congress for projects like this will be spent in another part of the country if it’s not used here.

“There are places where you can simply drive right onto the paved trail surface or to a gravel trail surface and do a lot of damage. I mean, the people walking trails, hiking on trails, biking on trails, they’re not expecting vehicles to be there. They’re not inside another vehicle where they have some protection,” said Dunn.

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Dunn says the project could take at least five years to build out, and they could start with the busy Burke-Gilman trail, which could be welcome news for cyclists and walkers.

The proposal will be considered for study on Monday.

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King County lawmaker wants to add safety measures to busy trails