Connecting People and Places in Federal Way


Photo from bfw.org

By Becca Meredith, Community Engagement Project Associate, and Jeff Aken, Community Policy Program Manager

We have learned over the years that great communities are complete, compact and connected with safe streets designed for all users. On February 21st, the Forterra Communities Team met with Federal Way residents, City staff and Council Members to discuss a vision of walkable, bikeable streets and the actions needed to get them there.

We began our Trails-to-Transit event by asking people to finish the sentence: “I would walk/bike more if…” We heard a range of responses, but one common thread was a desire to make walking and biking safer: bike lanes, sidewalks and slower traffic.

Forterra staff member Jeff Aken highlighted street safety by looking at how our communities were designed in the past with a focus on moving cars and not walkers and bikers. He then discussed how progressive communities are now incorporating complete streets policies, bike boulevards, “rightsized” streets and people-oriented places to increase safety for all.

The City of Federal Way is working to make it easier for people to bike and walk to the places they need to go. Federal Way Traffic Engineer Rick Perez spoke about the work the City is doing to implement its recently passed Bike and Pedestrian Master Plan and the completion of key links that create safe routes to schools. Audience members were interested in speeding up this work many wondered how they can fund more of these projects. The final speaker, Blake Trask, from Bicycle Alliance of Washington, addressed just this question.

Blake discussed several state-level budget decisions that will determine how much money is available for local projects such as complete streets .(See Bike Alliance website for Action Alerts and breaking News on this topic). Residents learned that they are particularly well positioned to impact these budgetary decisions because one of their senators, Tracey Eide, is the co-chair of the Transportation Committee.

To wrap-up the night, staff, council members and residents all huddled-up to brainstorm how to make their streets safer and what action each individual could take.  Participants left with plans to send letters to their state legislators and with petitions to rally their community to support a transportation revenue package that meets the needs of kids walking to school, seniors who need safer streets to maintain their transportation independence, and bicycle users who want safe, connected trails and roads. If you are interested in supporting this work please contact Becca Meredith: bmeredith@forterra.org.