City tables bikeshare program, for now

The city also plans for more miles of trails and stress-free bike lanes in Renton

Renton is looking at the future of transportation both in major bike lane upgrades and bikeshares.

The council is moving forward with the 2019 Trails and Bicycle Master Plan, and putting Limebike on hold to watch pilot programs in other cities first.

“We currently have 30 miles of trails,” city senior planner Angie Mathias said at the Dec. 6 planning and development meeting. “A lot are along water bodies and major routes, but not connected.”

Those 30 miles include shared-use paths that accommodate pedestrians and bicyclists, dedicated bike lanes and pedestrian trails, according to the committee presentation.

A survey of 340 people determined most walk and bike for recreation in Renton, and that connection to transit and parks was important. Cyclists saw Southwest 7th Street and Rainier Avenue as “problem spots.”

The city proposed moving to a “level of traffic stress” system, which tracks how close cyclists are to vehicles, Mathias said. Most of Renton is not served by low traffic stress levels, and the system would close those gaps, according to the plan.

The city mentioned major inequities in trail availability for Benson and the Highlands, compared to areas like the city center.

When prioritizing trail and bike lane projects, the city considered Benson and Highland’s need, but also trails that would connect to current projects.

They also considered the planned 16,700 housing units and 31,000 jobs in the city by 2035.

The survey for the master plan showed folks like to bike, but a recent poll put bikeshares on hold.

The city asked if those polled would like a Limebikes, e-scooters and e-bikes program. There were 407 responses, with 379 polled living in Renton.

Results showed 62.8 percent opposed Limebikes. The main concern was management, and 89 percent surveyed said they were concerned about bikes and scooters abandoned or discarded in inappropriate places.

“The intensity of strongly disagree stands out to me. I am all for bikeshares, but I am glad we asked,” Councilmember Ryan McIrvin said at the meeting. “I think a lot of it’s an education portion for residents.”

Councilmembers Carol Ann Witschi and Armondo Pavone also said they want to see other cities figure out bikeshares before it’s implemented. Witschi said the bikes discarded in Renton from other cities should be picked up before more are added, to improve public perception.

Commenters also mentioned they see Limebikes discarded in the area already.

“Open your eyes, take a trip along Lake Washington, they are abandoned everywhere. Ugly mess,” one comment read.

McIrvin said once some of the new trails are built, he could see the bikeshares being implemented as a tourist draw for exploring places like Gene Coulon Memorial Park, but for now the city will wait.