Ellensburg is getting some love from Streetsblog USA for demonstrating that for most people to ride a bike for transportation doesn’t require a town to be big, rich or cutting edge. The college town of 20,000 recently became one of the smallest cities in the country ever to construct a neighborhood bikeway, complete with five traffic diverters on larger streets to ease pedestrian crossings and reduce cut-through auto traffic.

The 1.7-mile route connects several neighborhoods, Central Washington University, a commercial district around Main Street, a city park, a discount grocer and the Ellensburg Rodeo Grounds.

It cost just $150,000 to plan, design, and install — one-tenth as much as the city spent to widen a single intersection for more auto traffic. The majority of that, $120,000, came from a state grant earmarked for walking and biking.

The “bicycle boulevard” on 7th Avenue is expected to get more people riding, which will save the public over time with fewer turn lanes and less need to repave roads.

was championed by Nancy Lillquist, 57, a 16-year veteran of Ellensburg City Council. She said she got the idea from a Streetfilms video about efforts in Portland, Oregon, to cheaply convert miles of low-traffic side streets into threads of an all-ages bicycling network.

A few residents have been upset about the bike boulevard as it has caused them to have to figure out slight detours from their usual driving route but overall the reception has been good apparently.


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