To the Editor:

Like several other recent letter writers, I too was skeptical of, and my driving inconvenienced by the Seventh Avenue improvements. But, quickly, within a couple of weeks, I learned the new traffic patterns, planned my turns for convenience when driving along Seventh Avenue, and now the improvements pose no problems. But more, I have also been very regularly using Bicycle Avenue as a bicycle route, daily and often multiple times a day, and have come to truly appreciate it and the vision it represents.

I am surprised, then, when other letter writers claim the avenue sees no bicycle use, and particularly given that I also regularly observe other cyclists and many pedestrians using it and counts show that it is seeing substantial use by cyclists and pedestrians. What could account for this discrepancy? It's quite well established that design focused solely on vehicles can make pedestrians and cyclists effectively invisible to drivers. This is particularly troubling given rapidly increasing rates of distracted driving and vehicle-caused casualties of pedestrians and cyclists.

That is another important benefit I have seen firsthand from Bicycle Avenue: when I am cycling or walking I have noticed greatly increased courtesy and caution from drivers along this corridor. The noted exceptions notwithstanding, my experience is that Bicycle Avenue is helping make the rapidly growing numbers of cyclists and pedestrians in Ellensburg — our kids and students, our seniors, your neighbors and friends — more visible to drivers and thus safer.

I am grateful for the foresight and fortitude of those leaders who recognize that Ellensburg shouldn't have to learn the hard way what so many other communities have: our inevitable and ongoing long term growth needs thoughtful and active management to maintain our enviable quality of life. Finally, if you haven't had a chance recently, dust off your bicycle and helmet or your walking shoes, and a companion's or a child's, and take a safe spin or stroll along Bicycle Avenue; it provides easy, safe cycling and pedestrian access between grocery stores, bakeries and shops, parks, the pool and rec center, downtown, CWU, and other safe bicycle routes to name a few.

Michael Braunstein

Ellensburg

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