Federal Way adopts plan for its first neighborhood greenway

On March 18th, Federal Way’s City Council approved a “neighborhood greenways” plan to provide residents with safe walking and biking options between their homes, parks, schools, and business districts in the Twin Lakes and Westway neighborhoods.

Bike to Work Day 2013
Photo by Jeff Aken

Making Walking and Biking Safer in Federal Way

It started in 2012, when the City of Federal Way adopted the Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan, asserting a commitment to making Federal Way’s infrastructure safe for those who bike and walk around town. Forterra and partner Cascade Bicycle Club built community support leading up to adoption and hosted a celebratory bike ride with community members after its success.To keep the momentum building, we hosted several active transportation events in early 2013, including a workshop to discuss transit and trail connections and a Bike-to-Work Day commute station on the BPA trail at Celebration Park on a rainy May morning. At these events, a group of dedicated community members stepped forward to express a strong interest in seeing the Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan implemented. In our initial community meetings the neighborhood greenway model emerged as a great way to implement the Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan.

Neighborhood Greenways

A neighborhood greenway is a designated route for biking and walking that takes advantage of existing roads where auto traffic is lower and slower. The model is intended to be an easy and inexpensive way to make useable connections between every day destinations in a neighborhood without large and costly infrastructure projects.

After several rides and much collaboration with a community steering team Forterra designed a route in the Twin Lakes/Westway area that takes advantage of neighborhood streets most conducive to safe biking and walking. Forterra and the steering team selected the Twin Lakes / Westway neighborhood area because of existing community organizing energy and concerns about safety stemming from the tragic death of a young boy struck by a car in the neighborhood. After this tragedy, the City of Federal Way made significant improvements to the roadway in the Westway neighborhood. The neighborhood greenway will build on the recent improvements and make the streets even safer for pedestrians and cyclists.


Community Engagement and Mapping

Forterra and our community activists then reached beyond the group of current cyclists to get input from the broader community. We asked people three main questions:

  1. Where do you want to go?
  2. Where is it dangerous?
  3. What is needed?

With maps of the route in hand, Forterra and volunteers went out to several community events, including the Westway National Night Out BBQ, Twin Lakes neighborhood picnic, the Saghalie back-to school event, and the local farmers’ market. At these events, we were able to reach a variety of community members ranging from 10-70 years of age.

Final Federal Way Route Map

The outcome was numerous maps identifying the popular destinations people would bike or walk to, and the areas that concerned people in terms of safety for pedestrians and people on bikes. To follow-up we hosted a Safe Streets Open House where we discussed the results and gave community members an opportunity to prioritize the concern areas for implementation.

We reviewed the combined community feedback with city staff and in collaboration with Public Works traffic engineers crafted a set of recommendations.The final route is an approximately 4.5-mile loop that connects two retail centers, three schools, two parks, the BPA Trail, and residential neighborhoods. The neighborhood greenway route and recommendations for near-term and long-term solutions for each concern area are detailed in the plan adopted by City Council on March 18th, 2014. You can view the plan here: Twin Lakes / Westway Neighborhood Greenway: A Model for Safe Streets in Federal Way.

What’s next? Contact Becca Meredith (bmeredith@forterra.org) for more information.