City offers better trail connections and use of residential streets for recreation

Promoting social distancing while supporting economic recovery, non-motorized transportation, and safe recreation

June 17, 2020 - by Janice Keller, Communications Director

City officials are offering opportunities for residents to use City streets, sidewalks, trails, and other rights of way to support social distancing as our community begins to emerge from COVID-19 restrictions and prepares for summer recreation.

Improved crossings, trail connections, way-finding and a new option for residential street closures support non-motorized transportation and safe outdoor recreation while helping reduce the spread of COVID-19 by offering ways to use City property to spread out and maintain adequate social distance.

Bellingham Mayor Seth Fleetwood said these opportunities are in addition to the more than 80 miles of trails and 40 parks available in our City.

When City parks and trails are combined with the Galbraith Mountain complex, the Chuckanut Mountain recreation areas, Larrabee State Park, and more, we have hundreds of miles of trails and thousands of acres of space for recreation of all types, all within or adjacent to City limits.

We are well situated for social distancing outdoors, he said, as long as people choose to try out parks and trails that are less crowded than Lake Padden, Boulevard Park, Taylor Dock and Bloedel Donovan Park. Much of this space is accessible without the use of a vehicle and is connected to the City’s trail system.

Enhanced connections and wayfinding

To support the use of our parks and trails, and help improve way-finding to the city center, the City is accelerating improvements to connections identified and approved in the Parks Plan, Downtown Plan, Fairhaven Plan, the Bicycle Plan and the Pedestrian Plan.

Examples already completed or now underway include:

  • Changes to the sidewalk on King Street at the end of the Railroad Trail terminus;
  • A protected crossing on Cornwall at the Whatcom Creek trail;
  • Improvements on the Whatcom Creek Trail behind Habitat for Humanity;
  • Increased wayfinding connecting the South Bay Trail to Railroad Avenue from Laurel and north connecting to the Railroad Trail;
  • Increased wayfinding between Ellis and the Whatcom Creek Trail along Kansas to Meador;
  • New marked crossing at Electric Avenue and Flynn Street connecting into Whatcom Falls Park;
  • New marked crossing at June Road and Fuchsia Drive to connect to trails leading to Julianna Park;
  • A new marked crossing at Barkley Boulevard and Racine Street to connect to the Barkley Trails;
  • A new marked crossing at Cornwall Avenue and Broadway connecting Broadway Park and adjacent open spaces.

Some of these improvements were made with temporary markings for now, with permanent installations expected to be completed by the end of next year.

“These are important connections that have been identified as priorities through various public processes,” Mayor Fleetwood said. “In light of needs identified during our COVID-19 response, we are accelerating schedules and making these connections now.”

​Residential street closures

On June 8, the Bellingham City Council approved a plan to waive permit fees and insurance requirements for individuals and neighborhood groups seeking right-of-way permits for local access closures on residential streets during the COVID-19 emergency.

Mayor Fleetwood said this is another way the City is supporting opportunities for safe outdoor recreation while reducing the spread of COVID-19 with appropriate social distancing.

“People who have gained the consent of their neighbors may apply to close streets in their neighborhoods to all but local traffic, allowing people to stay nearby their homes to walk, ride bikes, skate, walk their dogs and more. It is another way we hope to reduce the number of people driving to City parks and ease crowding in them while we are trying to maintain social distance.”

The City is now accepting applications for these residential street closures. Contact for more information.​

Media Contact

​Janice Keller
Communications Director
City of Bellingham Mayor’s Office or (360) 778-8100​

Eric Johnston
Public Works Director
​ or (360) 778-7900

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