Project Summary

Toole Design assisted with designing an accessible, shared use path through Seattle’s Arboretum in a way that enhanced connections to and through the park while also preserving its unique qualities. The trail’s layout limited impacts to trees, plant collections, and wetlands while creating an alignment that is smooth and comfortable for path users. The trail also includes three bridges, a new parking area, and gateways to adjacent neighborhoods, maximizing the park’s value and better integrating it into the surrounding community.

We combined our expertise in user experience and universal design to align the trail amongst the park’s rolling topography, mature trees and important plant specimens.
One of our primary challenges was ensuring that the trail design mitigated conflicts between people exploring the Arboretum and people on bikes riding through it, without relying on bright signage and other visual elements that might distract from the experience of the Arboretum.
To address these concerns, we took the innovative approach of using the trail’s biggest challenges, the grades and the curving alignment, to control the speed of bicyclists and provide a comfortable experience for all trail users.
The result is a trail that provides a safe, accessible, and scenic trail experience for people to enjoy the Arboretum’s collections or make connections by bicycle through the neighborhood.

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