By Tim Ahern
As long time residents of Lake Forest Park we know how lucky we are to live in a large metropolitan area and still live close to forests, lakes and a wealth of open spaces.
We are also extremely lucky to have the Burke-Gilman Trail (BGT) to provide a magnificent, multiple-use facility that serves all of Lake Forest Park’s residents. Because the BGT is such a tremendous success and in order to accommodate an increase in the number of BGT trail users, improvements need to be made to the trail to bring it up to contemporary standards of engineering, safety, and functionality.
King County has developed what we believe to be an excellent plan to upgrade the BGT so that walkers, joggers, bicyclists and other trail users can all safely use the BGT at the same time. King County’s plans are built upon years of engineering studies and have been shepherded by a Citizen’s Advisory Group (CAG) representing trailside homeowners, residents, trail users and business owners. The keys to the redevelopment include widening the trail to improve separation between users, improving sight lines at driveways and street intersections so that drivers and trail users have unimpeded views of each other, and uniform signage consistent along the entire length of the trail.
Sadly, however, the Lake Forest Park City Council and a small number of trailside homeowners have taken it upon themselves to oppose the proposed trail improvements. They have passed an ordinance that places unreasonable and, in our opinion, irrational conditions on trail improvements. The LFP City Council has already spent approximately $100,000 of taxpayers’ dollars defending the position of the trailside homeowners. As we understand it, the council has backed away from some of the unreasonable conditions, but refuses to yield on its final condition related to trail signage. The City Council and some trailside homeowners are insisting that yield signs face trail users and that individual trailside homeowner’s personal vehicles take the right of way over thousands of users of public property.
We believe that the right of way at driveways crossing public property, the BGT, should be given to the joggers, walkers, skaters, and bicyclists who use the trail, and not to individuals in private vehicles. We believe that Lake Forest Park can be a shining example of community spirit that encourages exercise and promotes, rather than impedes, transportation free of greenhouse gas emissions. We encourage you to contact members of the LFP City Council and tell them to act in the interests of the majority of LFP’s citizens and not the minority of trailside homeowners who consider the trail their private driveway. Help Lake Forest Park encourage climate-friendly practices by all of its citizens and stop delaying the county’s plan to increase safety for all users on the BGT.
Ask yourself one question: Who benefits from having yield signs point toward trail users? The only answer we can think of is trailside homeowners, which include two of the seven LFP city council members.
Tim Ahern is a member of the Lake Forest Park Chapter of the Friends of the Burke-Gilman Trail.