By the Numbers and the Not Numbers: Celebrating Tacoma’s 13.1 Miles

Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety, Bicycle-Pedestrian Planning, Complete Streets, Healthy Living, Northwest, On-Street Bikeway Design

by Liz Kaster, Planner, Alta Planning + Design

Tacomans celebrate safe connections to Wright Park on a Stadium in Motion bike ride

Tacomans celebrate safe connections to Wright Park on a Stadium in Motion bike ride

Last month, the City of Tacoma unveiled 13.1 miles of new bikeways and pedestrians improvements, and for the first time, I experienced the numbers behind this project, which I have watched and helped shepherd from community outreach to plan adoption, from grant applications to on-the-ground infrastructure:

  • 58 new pedestrian ramps
  • 2 miles of bike lanes
  • 296 sharrows
  • 5 pedestrian islands
  • 15 improved intersection crossings

But as impressive as these numbers are, anyone who has been part of a bicycle and pedestrian project as an advocate, neighbor, planner, or elected official knows that they don’t tell the whole story.

Numbers alone cannot contain the relief in seeing a new improved crossing and pedestrian island installed at the exact spot where you’ve watched car after car fail to yield to students trying to walk to school.

Or the joy one feels being counted by the City’s first automatic counter after riding the same route for 9 years.

Or the pride in seeing stamped on the pavement in bright colors, the unequivocal statement that these routes aren’t just built for the strong and fearless riders.

As we assess the impact of our projects, we’ll never be able to quantify the sighs of relief from parents whose children now have a safer route to school or the thankfulness of a person riding a bike when wayfinding signage directs them to the least steep route out of downtown. But although less tangible, these are victories worth celebrating.

So when you next visit Tacoma, and ride the newly smoothed pavement on Yakima Avenue or carry your picnic to Wright Park in the bright new crosswalk, go ahead and smile, holler, or dance your way across the street. Join the celebration!


Liz Kaster

Liz Kaster

Liz worked for the City of Tacoma from 2007-2012 and helped pass the City’s first comprehensive bicycle and pedestrian plan, which included this project as a top priority. As a planner at Alta, she’s been working with Tacoma on its Stadium in Motion program and recently helped lead a bike ride celebrating the 13.1 miles.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *