Clinton considers cycling future; proposed bike route could stretch from Deer Lake to ferry

South Whidbey cyclists and residents were given a glimpse into a more bike-friendly Clinton during an open house on Thursday.

Island County Public Works updated visitors on the Clinton Biking and Walking Improvements Project, which will construct a bike path from Deer Lake Road to the Clinton Ferry Terminal. The plan is still in the design phase, and visitors had the chance to examine potential options on how to build the path and make alternative suggestions. County planners say the community input on how to build the path will be factored into selecting an option.

“The community is interested in looking at a path that would give Clinton more sense of place and make biking safer,” Transportation Planner Brian Wood said.

County planners laid out a few suggestions for how to make biking to the ferry terminal safer, building a route with varying degrees of separation from the street. Options included constructing a lane without separation from the road, building one with a curbed median, designing a lane separated by planter boxes, constructing a lane with a concrete barrier and more. Wood said visitors, who included residents, members from the Clinton Community Council and local business owners, voiced support for a variety of possible construction routes with no clear favorite. Visit the Island County Public Works website at www.islandcountywa.gov for more information on the project.

“We heard bit and pieces here and there for different possible ways to build the path,” Wood said. “Overall, it seemed like the community was mostly focused on biker safety and ways to make Clinton more attractive.”

Cyclists heading to the ferry terminal currently have to share a narrow sidewalk with foot traffic or ride down the hill alongside vehicles. The shoulder heading up to downtown Clinton from the ferry terminal is narrow, and Clinton residents say the struggle to bike uphill often makes cyclists swing from side to side in order to generate power.

Planners say the Clinton Community Council has been voicing concern over cyclist safety for more than 10 years.

“With the backups that happen with the ferries and the lines that are generated, we need to make it safer and more comfortable for non-motorized commuters,” Clinton Community Council President Jack Lynch said. “It’s interesting because we have the chance to look at visual improvements but also consider safety at the same time. Personally, I’d like to see a second crosswalk for cyclists and pedestrians in the downtown area.”

Community members also think bike paths would encourage cyclists to stop in Clinton and spend their money in town. A study done by the county backs up that claim, which claims that non-motorized commuters are more likely to stop in town than vehicles.

County planners also took the opportunity to show community members two other biking improvement projects the county plans to take on over the long run. One of those is the completion of the South Whidbey Bike Route, a loop which would connect several destinations on the South End such as the ferry terminal, Maxwelton Beach, Bayview and Langley. Much of the infrastructure is already in place, and the project would focus on installing signage and widening road shoulders to improve biker safety.

Wood said the project is funded, and the route has been identified. Completion is set for 2020.

The largest and most long-term plan is the proposed Clinton to Ken’s Corner Trail, which Wood says is identified for federal funding allocation and is scheduled for completion in 2022. Planners envision a 10-foot-wide paved, multi-use trail along Highway 525 from Deer Lake Road to Ken’s Korner. The 2.14 mile trail would have a buffer between the road and the trail similar to the one in Coupeville.

The trail is a segment of what Wood says is the dream of county planners, a “bridge to boat” trail connecting the Clinton Ferry Terminal to Deception Pass.

“The bridge to boat is a concept, a hope for the island,” Wood said.

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