Each city in Washington is required to develop comprehensive plans, including transportation elements, under the Growth Management Act (GMA). The Bellingham Comprehensive Plan includes a Transportation Element that addresses the multimodal transportation needs of the City and the Urban Growth Area (UGA) over a 20-year planning period. Bellingham Transportation Planners work with Whatcom County, Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), and the Whatcom Council of Governments Regional Transportation Planning Organization (RTPO). The Transportation Element is updated every 10 years through an extensive public process. Transportation planners are involved in Urban Village planning, Neighborhood Plan updates, and UGA annexation proposals to ensure that long-range transportation needs are addressed and that proposals are consistent with the Transportation Element of the Comprehensive Plan.
While Bellingham has not adopted the label of "Complete Streets" that has become increasingly popular in recent years, the two documents below demonstrate that Bellingham's very progressive 2006 Transportation Element visions, goals, and policies fulfill the same intent and accomplish the same outcomes as the 10 principals of "Complete Streets" guidelines.
Bellingham's multimodal Transportation Element addresses the four major modes of travel (pedestrian, bicycle, transit, and automobile), but Bellingham has also engaged in mode-specific transportation planning efforts for both pedestrian and bicycle needs.
The City also works hand-in-hand with Whatcom Transportation Authority (WTA) to plan and accommodate public transit bus service. Visit the WTA website for plans of existing and future public transit.
Bellingham's first mode-specific transportation plan was approved on July 16, 2012. See the Pedestrian Master Planning section for more information.
Bellingham is working on a city-wide Bicycle Master Plan. With the installation of marked bike lanes on Lakeway, Birchwood, and Northwest/Elm/Dupont, there are currently over 65 miles of marked bike lanes citywide. The 2006 Transportation Element calls for the addition of approximately 60 additional miles of marked bike lane, as shown on the map below. It is anticipated that the Bicycle Master Plan will increase this mileage and establish plans for a wider variety of bicycle facilities. The desired result is to create a comprehensive, cohesive, and well-connected bicycle "system" throughout Bellingham.