Long-awaited bus stop relocates next to crosswalk in Sehome neighborhood.
A new bus stop on bus route 107 Samish Way/Downtown was installed for crosswalk users on East Maple and Edwards Street in the Sehome neighborhood.
Until two weeks ago, the new crosswalk has ushered walkers across the busy four-lane section of East Maple Street between Samish Way and downtown but the nearest bus stop on the north side of the street has been more than two blocks away.
The long-awaited bus stop was relocated from the corner of Ellis and Liberty Street two weeks ago. The bus stop was moved to be closer to a crosswalk that was installed a year ago for pedestrian safety.
More than a year ago a bus stop on East Maple Street was removed to make way for the crosswalk as part of the city of Bellingham’s transportation improvement program said City Engineer Rory Rourke in an e-mail on Wednesday.
“The old bus stop was right in front of the crosswalk, which invites people to cross in front of the bus,” WTA Operations Supervisor Chuck Boyle said. “But if a car come up on the left side of the bus they won’t see someone crossing in front and a person could get hit.”
Boyle said the WTA moved the stop around the corner on Ellis Street to make using the bus safer.
Don Keenan, Sehome neighborhood association vice president, said when the city started construction on the crosswalk they were working with the WTA to have a bus stop easily accessible to the crosswalk.
“Originally the WTA thought they could not put a bus stop there,” Keenan said. “But I talked to Rick Nicholson [WTA director of service development] and they came out and looked a second time and decided they could safely change the stop on the carwash side.”
Neighbors like crosswalk, missed bus stop
Sara Richmond, a Western senior, has lived on the south side of East Maple for two years. Richmond’s house looks out at the crosswalk and the new bus stop.
Richmond said the crosswalk has been helpful, but when the crosswalk went in the bus stop that she always used was removed.
“My roommate complained to the WTA about them moving the bus stop because that’s why they put the crosswalk in—for people who use the bus,” Richmond said.
Richmond said she’s glad to have a bus stop back instead of having to get off two blocks before or after the crosswalk.
Crosswalk added, bus stop removed
City Transportation Options Coordinator Kim Brown said the city worked with the Whatcom Transportation Authority [WTA] during the crosswalk construction project.
“We looked for the most appropriate and safest spot to put in a crosswalk and tried to coordinate it with the bus stops.” Brown said.
Brown said Sehome neighbors requested the crosswalk be installed along the busy section where Samish Way turns into East Maple and the city determined which location would be best.
Boyle said the city assumed that when the crosswalk was installed the WTA would move bus stops closer to accommodate users, but Boyle said that’s not always possible.
“All kinds of factors are involved in moving bus stops,” Boyle said. “Sight distance for other cars, distance from other bus stops, and all kinds of safety factors.”
Boyle said bus stops have to be beyond crosswalks so when the bus is parked the back of the bus is past the crosswalk. That’s why the bus stop was relocated a year ago.
Boyle said he and Rick Nicholson assessed the stops on both sides of East Maple and determined that the bus stop on the north side could safely be moved closer to the crosswalk.