City of Seattle Multi-Use Trails

Multi-Use Trail Pilot Project

Updated: July 31, 2018

Multi-Use Trail Pilot Project

Overview

Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR) is implementing a phased policy change on how we manage multi-use trails under our jurisdiction. The first phase will include a pilot project that institutes a 15-mph speed limit, allows Class 1 and Class 2 electric-assisted bicycles, and conducts an education and outreach campaign on trail use and etiquette. The pilot project will take place on five multi-use trails (Burke-Gilman Trail, Elliott Bay Trail, Mountains to Sound Trail, Melrose Connector Trail, and Duwamish Trail) starting August 1, 2018 and lasting for one year.

Background

Prior to this policy change, Seattle's multi-use trails had no speed limit and inconsistent regulations across multiple jurisdictions. SPR received many complaints of speeding cyclists and distracted pedestrians leading to many conflicts. Meanwhile, a new state law has classified e-bikes and allows them on multi-use trails. The goal of this policy change is to create a safe, clear, and consistent experience for all users on these shared use paths that aligns with regional and national standards.

Pilot Elements

  • Speed Limit: The pilot will, for the first time, place a 15-mile per hour speed limit for all users on these shared-use paths. This aligns with existing speed limits on King County's regional trails and other trail owners in the region. Signs will be placed along these trails to reiterate the new rules and an education campaign will help to amplify this limit.
  • Electric-Assisted Bicycles: Electric-assisted bicycles were recently classified by Washington State and permitted on multi-use trails unless prohibited by local laws. The pilot proposes allowing Class 1 and Class 2 bikes, which stop assisting riders at 20 mph. All other rules and etiquette will apply to these bikes, including the speed limit. No other form of motorized vehicles are permitted as part of this pilot.
  • Education: The pilot will include signs describing proper trail rules and etiquette, and an outreach and engagement campaign with the Seattle Department of Transportation and community partners. Surveys and observations will be conducted to gather user data and perceptions throughout the pilot.

Comments & Questions

Input is critical to the pilot, and may be directed to PKS_info@seattle.gov or 206-684-4075.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Why now?
The Washington State Legislature recently passed Senate Bill 6434, which defined and classified electric-assisted bicycles, permitted the use of Class 1 and 2 e-bikes on multi-use trails (if no local regulations existed), and required regulatory consistency along a trail. As co-owner of many of Seattle's multi-use trails, Seattle Parks and Recreation is working with trail managers to align regulations with a goal of clarity and safety for all people throughout the trail system.

What are e-bikes?
Electric-assisted bicycles look like your typical bike, but have a battery-operated electric motor that provides assistance up to a certain speed. Class 1 bikes have a 750w motor that can assist up to 20 mph when pedaled. Class 2 bikes have motors up to 750w that can assist up to 20 mph when pedaled, and also have an independent throttle. Class 3 bikes have a 750w motor that can assist up to 28 mph when pedaled, and are not allowed on multi-use trails at this time.

Why a 15-mph speed limit?
King County and other neighboring jurisdictions like Redmond currently have a 15-mph speed limit for all users on their regional trails, including those that exist in Seattle such as the Burke-Gilman Trail. This speed limit fits within the design of Seattle's multi-use trails, achieves regulatory consistency, and is generally considered a safe upper speed limit. This does not prevent some sections of the trails from having lower speed limits where appropriate to ensure safety.

Why did you choose these five trails?
Seattle Parks and Recreation manages each of these trails in partnership with other jurisdictions. We sought to find trails in various areas of the city that have different use patterns and characteristics, but still fit the definition of a multi-use trail.

What about enforcement?
The Seattle Police Department has responsibility for enforcement of regulations on these trails. Seattle Parks and Recreation is working with SPD to determine how to best ensure trail regulations are followed. Currently, complaints of violations can be directed to SPD's non-emergency line, 206-625-5011.

Why not allow Class 3 e-bikes?
The new state law prohibits Class 3 e-bikes on multi-use trails, and some of Seattle trails are co-managed with the Washington Department of Transportation, which intends to follow the new state law. To ensure regulatory consistency, Seattle Parks and Recreation is proposing to also align with this rule.

Multi-Use Trails in Pilot Program