Seattle Parks and Recreation Updates Rules for Multi-Use Trails

Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR) announced yesterday a phased policy change on how multi-use trails owned by SPR are managed. The first phase will include a pilot that institutes a 15-mph speed limit, allows some electric-assisted bicycles, and conducts an education and outreach campaign on trail use and etiquette. The pilot affects five multi-use trails (Burke-Gilman Trail, Elliott Bay Trail, Mountains to Sound Trail, Melrose Connector Trail, and Duwamish Trail) and will last for one year.

Prior to this, Seattle’s multi-use trails had no speed limit and inconsistent regulations across multiple jurisdictions. SPR receives many requests to allow electric-assisted bicycles on these trails as well as many complaints of speeding cyclists. Meanwhile, a new state law (SB 6343) classified e-bikes into three classes and allowed Class 1 and Class 2 e-bikes on multi-use trails where not otherwise prohibited.

“The current situation is confusing for community members who use these recreational trails,” stated Christopher Williams, Interim Superintendent for Seattle Parks and Recreation. “Our goal is to create a safe, clear, and consistent experience on our multi-use trails.”

The Multi-Use Trail Pilot includes three main elements:

  • Speed Limit: For the first time, the pilot will place a 15-mile per hour speed limit for all users on the five multi-use trails included. This aligns with existing speed limits on King County’s regional trails and other trail owners in the region. At all times, people should continue to travel at speeds that are safe for the conditions of the trail. 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 allows Class 1 and Class 2 bikes (which stop assisting riders at 20 mph). All rules and etiquette apply to these bikes, including the speed limit. No other form of motorized vehicles is permitted as part of this pilot, except ADA-compliant mobility devices, which are currently allowed.
  • Education: The pilot includes 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.

Seattle Parks and Recreation will be collecting data and information to understand trail use and public perception during the year-long pilot, and will provide a final policy recommendation to the Board of Park Commissioners in summer of 2019.

The public is invited to participate in the survey online: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/multiusetrail