A. The Transportation Concept

In 2010, the Transportation Commission proposed, and City Council endorsed, four principles for transportation in Kirkland in a document titled Transportation Conversations:

Safely Move People

Support a transportation system and related government and private actions that promote all viable forms of transportation.

Link to Land Use

Ensure consistency between land use, transportation planning and implementation.

Be Sustainable

Support a transportation system that can be sustained over the next 50 years.

Be an Active Partner

Actively build and maintain partnerships locally, regionally and nationally, to further our transportation goals.

These themes serve as the foundation of the Transportation Concept for the City of Kirkland.

Livable, vibrant cities like Kirkland offer safe, accessible, well maintained and fully connected alternatives for getting people where they need to go. An approach to safety that permeates multiple aspects of the transportation system is fundamental to achieving a city where there are no fatalities or serious injuries due to transportation. Safe and approachable interconnected walking and biking networks designed for “all ages and abilities” can offer everyone options for all kinds of trips. When efficient, frequent, easy to understand transit routes connect popular destinations, transit offers a good choice for many trips. Auto congestion will continue to be heavy during some of the day; it has been recognized that it is not desirable nor financially feasible to build auto capacity sufficient to remove all congestion, nor is this in keeping with the City’s land use plan. Efficient deliveries are the major component of the local freight system which supports economic development.

Land use and transportation visions are inextricably linked. The Transportation Master Plan (TMP) tailors a transportation network to a land use vision and the companion land use plan is based on realistic transportation expectations. Economic development is nurtured through a careful balance between land use and transportation. Level of Service is established based on the completion of the 20-year Land Use and Transportation networks rather than aspiring to a certain standard of performance. The 20-year transportation network is planned to serve the community’s transportation needs for all modes of travel in a safe and efficient manner.

Sustainability is a multi-dimensional concept. It refers to transportation practices that value the health of the environment, particularly those that affect air quality, water quality and climate change. It also encompasses fiscally prudent spending within likely revenue, sound maintenance policies emphasizing repair of what we have and equitable accessibility for all, as well as considering and removing a range of barriers to the transportation system.

Transit providers and the Washington State Department of Transportation immediately come to mind as important partners in implementing Kirkland’s Transportation Plan. In order for the Plan’s goals to be fully recognized however, entities such as schools, neighboring cities, regional groups and the private sector must become active partners.

Measurement and reporting of progress toward accomplishing goals, policies and actions is critical to ensuring that the transportation plan is well understood and effectively carried out. A revised concurrency system offers a simpler, more multimodal approach to balancing land use changes and network development.

With the expressed purpose of moving people, goods, and services, the City’s transportation decisions will generally reflect a hierarchy of modes:

1. Walking;

2. Biking;

3. Transit;

4. Motor vehicles.

This hierarchy is intended to help ensure that the needs of each group of users is considered in the City’s planning process. This approach does not mean that users at the top of the hierarchy will always receive the most beneficial treatment on every street. It is not possible to provide ideal accommodations for every mode in every location. Nor does it mean that certain modes will necessarily receive greater funding. However, when lower hierarchy modes are prioritized above higher priority modes, the underlying reasons for this approach will be shared and the City will make special efforts to provide reasonable alternative accommodations such as parallel routes.

Some examples of transportation mode hierarchy in the current system include Juanita Drive, Lake Street, Central Way and other locations, where pedestrians use crosswalks that cause motor vehicles to stop and, in this sense, pedestrians have a higher priority than motor vehicles at these locations. There are not currently plans to install bicycle facilities on sections of NE 124th Street in Juanita/Totem Lake nor on NE 85th Street on Rose Hill. This exemplifies a case where motor vehicle traffic could be said to receive a higher priority than bicycles, but this decision was carefully considered and documented in the Active Transportation Plan. An example of future implementation of the hierarchy could occur where transit receives priority over other motor vehicles through traffic signal prioritization, or by providing dedicated transit corridors.