The Auburn-Reporter recently posted an article on the future of cycling in Auburn, WA. Situated in a North-South valley south of Seattle, Auburn actually provides many opportunities for cyclists. The terrain is basically flat around town, but has ample opportunities for reasonably challenging hills surrounding the valley for those that want to climb. The local rail service – the Sounder – allows bikes to be taken on board, making bicycles a viable option for large portions of the region. In addition, the Interurban Trail travels nearly 15 miles of the North-South corridor, providing yet more out-of-traffic travel opportunities.
With eyes fixed on the future rushing onward like a freight train — a future in which Auburn is expected to swell to a city of more than 150,000 within 50 years — Mayor Pete Lewis formed the Bicycle Task Force last March to study bike trails and routes within the city.
The task force came up with a list of recommendations for both the short and long term. Their recommendations are what you would probably expect. It included an emphasis on the short term with additional traffic markings – sharrows and bike lanes. In addition, their recommendations included a particular favorite of mine:
Develop Auburn-specific bicycle signage programs to highlight north-south corridors, east-west connectors, and in-city and out-of-city connections that will help cyclists coming into the city make the smart street-to-street choices that will help them get safely to where they want to go.
I’ve always felt that knowing where to ride to get where you want to go can be challenging for those new to riding on our city streets. Bike routes not only indicate reasonable routes (reasonable being defined as the traffic engineers generally) but also reinforces the fact that bicycles do, in fact, belong on the street. This reinforcement is import for both new or would-be cyclists as well as non-cycling motorists.
However, I was somewhat surprised to find that city bike maps were included in the catergory of “…a number of long-term, more costly improvements for which the City has no money right now to make happen.” It is entirely possible that there are facets of this that I am missing (perhaps what budget the funds come from?) but to my laypersons perspective creation of a map seems a relatively inexpensive activity.