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Supporting safe streets advocacy — now, and beyond COVID-19

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Dear Friends and Supporters of Seattle Neighborhood Greenways,

Clearly, this is a difficult period for us all.

During this COVID-19 crisis, Seattle Neighborhood Greenways is continuing to build campaigns and policies for a later time of greater mobility, while focusing on some of the immediate needs of our communities, can we count on you to help us continue this work?

 

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In this period of quarantine, more people than ever are out and about walking in their neighborhood streets — grabbing some reprieve for fresh air and exercise (at a safe social distance). And in this harrowing and unusual time, we’re seeing that streets that are designed for people are critical now, and will definitely be on the other end of this, when we’re able to move freely again between the activities of our daily lives.

The need for walking- and biking-friendly streets continues — now and beyond the pandemic. And in order for our local walking and biking movements to succeed, Seattle Neighborhood Greenways must grow. As Tom Fucoloro at Seattle Bike Blog puts it, “SNG is doing the lion’s share of safe streets organizing both inside City Hall and through volunteer-powered grassroots groups in every corner of the city.”

From energizing and organizing grassroots advocates, to savvy policy analysis, coalition-building, and strategic campaign design, we have a proven model that gets results. We strongly believe that the most effective way to make change in Seattle is to empower everyday people with knowledge, guidance and support to champion the needs of their communities. Our organizing model is put to the test in today’s context of quarantining. We’ve altered our community outreach and support to feature online tools and training, leadership development, and mutual aid.

Please consider a gift today to keep our critical safe streets advocacy moving forward.

We kicked off 2020 with an ambitious slate of priorities this year, directed by the 16 active neighborhood groups in our citywide network. We’re still moving forward on many of these campaigns, but of necessity, we are already needing to reorient our programming.

Our work has always prioritized the communities most impacted by unsafe conditions for walking, biking, and rolling — and we know that these dangers persist, even with fewer cars and trucks on the streets. We will continue to push for much-needed walking and biking infrastructure in Seattle’s South End neighborhoods, as well as improved crossings and intersections citywide. We are also doubling down on implementing our Racial Equity Action Plan — a critical next step of which includes developing neighborhood-by-neighborhood action plans.

Collectively, we’re in a time of great uncertainty — for ourselves, our loved ones, and our communities. We don’t know what’s on the other side of these dual public health and economic crises. At Seattle Neighborhood Greenways, we will be doing what is within our means to support those who are most impacted by these calamities, while also building for a future beyond the pandemic.

For a brief window here, the streets and sidewalks of the city have become enlivened with more families than ever taking daily walks together, parents biking with kids on quieter neighborhood streets. There’s a glimmer in this, of what Seattle’s streets could be like — a different future that we can build towards right now, where our public streets are designed for people. Safe, functional, enjoyable streets for everyone — at any age, from any background, and for all abilities.

This is the bold vision that Seattle Neighborhood Greenways continues to work for. Join us in helping Seattle rebound from this crisis as a greener, more equitable, and thriving city with your generous contribution today.

Thank you for all that you do to take care of each other and support community life in Seattle!

— Susan Gleason, Development & Communications Director

Stay Healthy Streets

 

Have you been out to enjoy one of the City of Seattle’s Stay Healthy Streets?

People walk and bike down the middle of a street in front of an A-frame sign that says
These streets are closed to vehicle through-traffic, but are OPEN to people walking, rolling, and biking in the street. Local access, deliveries, and emergency services are still allowed. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Stay Healthy Streets give people extra space to recreate outside and get where they need to go while allowing each other to maintain physical distance.

Do you use a Stay Healthy Street? Take This Survey!

TAKE THIS SURVEY, and tell SDOT how you feel about the Stay Healthy Streets and whether you’d like them to be permanent. Survey closes July 15.

Report issues with a Stay Healthy Street

Report missing or misplaced signage or cones to the City of Seattle by emailing StayHealthyStreets@Seattle.gov or calling the regular street maintenance reporting line at 206-684-7623 (ROAD). You can also report through the FinditFixit App. You can also share experiences and suggestions, but please refrain from community policing the behavior of other people using the street.

Explore More Stay Healthy Streets

Check out this map to view all of Seattle’s Stay Healthy Streets, and get outside to enjoy the one nearest you! If you’re snapping a selfie, use the hashtag #StayHealthyStreets and we’ll share it on Twitter or Instagram.

A family bikes around a traffic circle on a local Stay Healthy Street.

Seattle Neighborhood Greenways pushed the idea of Stay Healthy Streets in Seattle as one of our 8 Solutions for Safe Social Distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks to the outspoken support of neighborhood advocates like you, the City introduced Stay Healthy Streets a few miles at a time throughout April and May. We now have over 20 miles of Stay Healthy Streets in 13 locations around the city, and we continue to advocate for their continuation and expansion.

Updates on the Stay Healthy Streets Program:

We Stand in Support of BLM Protesters and Decry Any Use of Cars as Weapons

We are horrified at the tragic event that led to Summer Taylor’s death, and Diaz Love’s serious injuries, in the early hours of Saturday, July 4th—a driver, rushing at high speed, entered the WSP-closed Interstate 5 through an offramp, swerved around clear barricades, and plowed straight into the Black Femme March.

We don’t have all the facts, but we express our strong solidarity with those peacefully protesting for positive change. Here are the ways we’re standing in support:

  1. Organizers ask any of us who have the means to please contribute to Diaz Love’s GoFundMe site, as more than 2,500 people already have.
  2. We ask that allegations by the BLM Women’s March organizers—that the driver did not act alone and that multiple individuals not connected to BLM were filming it as it occurred—be investigated; and that inquiries be made into other accounts of driver-based harassment and threats targeting BLM protestors.
  3. As part of our commitment to racial justice, Seattle Neighborhood Greenways is looking at how the urgent calls for police accountability and defunding police intersect with our core issues of safe and healthy streets. To that end, we are partnering with a diverse team of community members with expertise in transportation, mobility justice, restorative justice, criminal justice, public health and safety, and public policy, to dig deep into Seattle’s system of traffic enforcement. Check here for more about the newly launched Re-Imagining Traffic Enforcement working group.
  4. No one should ever intentionally use a motor vehicle as a weapon. At SNG, we’ve heard repeatedly that people in Seattle have felt threatened by drivers doing just that—using their vehicles to intimidate and frighten people walking, riding bikes, and protesting for justice—on countless occasions. And there are the many established accounts, from the 2017 murder-by-driver in Charlottesville, VA to the very recent driver-attack on Capitol Hill. The New York Times just reported that vehicle/driver attacks on protesters are on the rise (“There have been at least 66 car attacks nationwide since George Floyd was killed”). We abhor this assault on the right to peacefully assemble, and on the basic human right to be, and move safely, through one’s daily activities in public space. If you personally have felt threatened by drivers on Seattle’s streets, could you let us know about it?

 

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Cafe Streets for Seattle

Exciting news for local businesses and street advocates: Last Friday, the City of Seattle announced that they will waive fees for sidewalk permits, offering free 6-month permits for outdoor cafes and streateries!

Seating in the street

Existing Seattle streatery in Toronto, CA. Photo: @QAGreenways

Seattle Neighborhood Greenways has been pushing for an expanded and more streamlined Cafe Streets program as a part of our 8-point plan for healthy streets during COVID-19 physical distancing requirements. We drafted this plan in response to the pandemic after gathering community input on needs and possible solutions. People across Seattle rallied in support and Seattle has already made tangible progress on many of the demands.

King County has now entered Phase 2. Many small businesses, however, are still struggling to survive while physical distancing rules are in effect and indoor capacity is limited. The push for cafe streets is more urgent than ever.

 

Boston

Parking Lane Streatery in Boston. Photo: Kristina Rex

Around the world, many cities have opened parking spaces, extended seating into places with ample sidewalk space, and even used entire streets or street lanes for restaurants and retailers to stretch out and operate safely. USA Today reports, “As the U.S. reopens and summer approaches, cities from Tampa, Florida, to Las Vegas to Portland, Maine, are opening sidewalks and closing streets to create large al fresco or plein air dining rooms.” Here in the Pacific Northwest, Portland, Edmonds, Redmond, Port Townsend, and other cities moved quickly to support small businesses by creating street plazas. Seattle, a city famous for its food and coffee, needs to join the parade.

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Parking spot streatery in New York City. Photo: Streetfilms

Cafe Streets have already gained support locally from small-business owners across Seattle who are eager to find ways to serve their customers safely and protect their employees. Bob Donegan, who runs Ivar’s and Kidd Valley restaurants, reports dramatic benefits from the al fresco seating at his restaurants, most dramatically at the Mukilteo Ivar’s by the ferry dock. One recent day, Donegan reports, the shoreside Ivar’s served double the usual number of entrées to people who purchased meals at the take-out window and dined in fresh air at a nearby park. 

Katherine Anderson, who runs the stylish London Plane restaurant on Occidental Ave. S. in Pioneer Square, has long envisioned her restaurant/bakery/flower shop spilling out into the car-free street. To date, city restrictions on outdoor tables made that impossible. Small-business owners like Katherine, Bob and many others around the city are excited by cafe streets as an important first step that will help businesses reopen safely. Ultimately, this will prevent more businesses from having to close permanently.

NYCcafestreetsStreetfilms10

Parking lane streatery in New York City. Photo: Streetfilms

In response to neighborhood business owners and local advocates, the City of Seattle announced that they will waive fees for temporary (6-month) sidewalk permits, offering “free temporary permits for outdoor cafes, retail merchandise displays, food trucks and vending carts that are valid for up to 6 months.” Check the City of Seattle information page for permit details and applications. Interested business owners may apply for permits to expand into the sidewalk (while maintaining space for pedestrians) or parking lane (excluding loading zones and ADA parking). We are thrilled. 

Thank you to the Mayor and City Council and especially to advocates like you who rallied support, sent emails to your elected leaders, and helped your local small-business districts survive this challenging time.

NYCcafestreetsStreetfilms7

Parking lane streatery in New York City. Photo: Streetfilms

But more can be done. 

Expanding businesses into sidewalk space and unused parking spots is a great first step but Seattle must go further. Businesses that don’t have wide, plaza-like sidewalks are unable to create sidewalk seating without obstructing pedestrians, especially those who have reduced vision or use wheelchairs or other mobility devices. And while temporary permits for unused parking spaces are a great first step, the permit excludes arterial streets with fast-moving car traffic where many of our business districts are located. As an example, business owners and neighborhood advocates in Belltown are outspoken about needing outdoor space for businesses along Second Ave, which is not currently allowed.

Cafe Streets for Seattle- A Way to Help Local Restaurants Survive from Pangeality Productions on Vimeo.

By proactively finding collective solutions for small businesses, Seattle can streamline both the process and the result. Owners that are already overwhelmed and stressed can work together instead of applying individually. And business districts could create street plazas with shared seating or vending spaces that are safe and predictable for everyone.

Brooklyn New York. All minority owned businesses

Brooklyn, New York. Open cafe street surrounded by all POC-owned businesses.

Ultimately, what works in Ballard or Othello will be different from what works in South Park or the U District. Each neighborhood should be given the tools and support to implement what will help sustain their community’s needs. Ballard-area Seattle Councilmember Dan Strauss has already proposed opening Ballard Avenue (a restaurant mecca) so restaurants can take advantage of warm weather for outdoor dining.

We urge the city to expand this program to grant permits for larger street plazas, allow cafe seating on some arterials through business districts, and work to support individual small-business district requests and needs. These changes are crucial to help our neighborhood business districts safely thrive this summer and beyond. And who knows — Seattleites may fall in love with these new spaces, ushering in an era where friends meet for tacos in cozy outdoor spaces, even in the rainy season.

Cafe Streets for Seattle

Exciting news for local businesses and street advocates: Last Friday, the City of Seattle announced that they will waive fees for sidewalk permits, offering free 6-month permits for outdoor cafes and streateries! But there is more work to be done. 

Seating in the street

Existing Seattle streatery in Queen Anne. Photo: @QAGreenways

 

Seattle Neighborhood Greenways has been pushing for an expanded and more streamlined Cafe Streets program as part of our 8-point plan for safe streets for social distancing during the pandemic. We drafted this plan in response to the COVID-19 physical distancing requirements after gathering community input about needs and possible solutions. People across Seattle rallied in support and the city has already made tangible progress on many of the demands.

Our small businesses give us food, clothing, jobs, a place to build community, and other necessities of daily life, but they are struggling because of the pandemic. With new options available during King County’s Phase 2, the push for Cafe Streets is more timely than ever.

More room for outdoor dining is the solution.

Around the world, many cities have opened parking spaces, extended seating into places with ample sidewalk space, and even used entire streets or street lanes for restaurants and retailers to stretch out and operate safely. USA Today reports, “As the U.S. reopens and summer approaches, cities from Tampa, Florida, to Las Vegas to Portland, Maine, are opening sidewalks and closing streets to create large al fresco or plein air dining rooms.”

 

Boston

Parking Lane streatery in Boston. Photo: Kristina Rex

NYCcafestreetsStreetfilms3

Parking space streatery in New York City. Photo: Streetfilms

 

Here in the Pacific Northwest, Portland, Edmonds, Redmond, Port Townsend and others have already been moving quickly to open street plazas to support small businesses. Seattle, a city famous for its good food and coffee, needs to join the parade.

  • Brooklyn New York. All minority owned businesses

 

Cafe Streets have already gained support locally from small-business owners across Seattle who are eager to find ways to serve their customers safely and protect their employees. Bob Donegan, who runs Ivar’s and Kidd Valley restaurants, reports dramatic benefits from the al fresco seating at his restaurants, most dramatically at the Mukilteo Ivar’s by the ferry dock. One recent day, Donegan reports, the shoreside Ivar’s served double the usual number of entrées to people who purchased meals at the take-out window and dined in fresh air at a nearby park.

Katherine Anderson, who runs the stylish London Plane restaurant on Occidental Ave. S. in Pioneer Square, has long envisioned her restaurant/bakery/flower shop spilling out into the car-free street. To date, city restrictions on outdoor tables made that impossible. Independent business owners like Katherine, Bob and many others around the city are excited by Cafe Streets as an important first step that will help businesses reopen safely. Ultimately, this will prevent more businesses from having to close permanently.

NYCcafestreetsStreetfilms10

Parking lane streatery in New York City. Photo: Streetfilms

 

In response to neighborhood business owners and local advocates, the City of Seattle announced that they will waive fees for temporary (6-month) sidewalk permits, offering “free temporary permits for outdoor cafes, retail merchandise displays, food trucks and vending carts that are valid for up to 6 months.” Check the City of Seattle information page for permit details and applications. Interested business owners may apply for permits to expand into the sidewalk (while maintaining space for pedestrians) or parking lane (excluding loading zones and ADA parking). We are thrilled.

Thank you to the City leadership, and especially to advocates like you who rallied support, sent emails to your elected leaders, and helped your local small-business districts survive this challenging time.

But more can be done.

Expanding businesses into sidewalk space and unused parking spots is a great first step but Seattle must go further. Businesses that don’t have wide, plaza-like sidewalks are unable to create sidewalk seating without obstructing pedestrians, especially those who have reduced vision or use wheelchairs or other mobility devices. And while temporary permits for unused parking spaces are a great first step, the permit excludes arterial streets with fast-moving car traffic where many of our business districts are located. As an example, business owners and neighborhood advocates in Belltown are outspoken about needing outdoor space for businesses along Second Ave, which is not currently allowed.

 

 

By proactively finding collective solutions for small businesses, Seattle can streamline both the process and the result. Owners that are already overwhelmed and stressed can work together instead of applying individually. And business districts could create street plazas with shared seating or vending spaces that are safe and predictable for everyone.

Brooklyn New York. All minority owned businesses

Brooklyn, New York. Cafe street surrounded by all POC-owned businesses.

 

Ultimately, what works in Ballard or Othello will be different from what works in South Park or the U District. Each neighborhood should be given the tools and support to implement what will help sustain their community’s needs. Ballard-area Seattle Councilmember Dan Strauss has already proposed opening Ballard Avenue (a restaurant mecca) so restaurants can take advantage of warm weather for outdoor dining.

 

Portland is allowing plazas in different configurations.

Portland is allowing plazas in different configurations.

 

We urge the city to expand this program to grant permits for larger street plazas, allow cafe seating on some arterials through business districts, and work to support individual small-business district requests and needs. These changes are crucial to help our neighborhood business districts to sustain and thrive, safely, through this summer and beyond. And who knows — Seattleites may fall in love with these new spaces, ushering in an era where friends meet for tacos in cozy outdoor spaces, even in the rainy season.

8 Solutions for Safe Streets for Social Distancing

—Click here to send a note showing your support—

StayHealthyStreet

Governor Inslee’s newly extended stay-at-home order currently allows walking and biking for exercise and essential transportation as long as you stay six feet away from everyone else. Getting fresh air and activity are important not only for our physical and mental health, but walking and biking to our essential jobs and services can also help save money when finances are feeling tight (transportation is a major household cost in Seattle, second only to housing).

With warmer weather ahead, and the possibility of even more-crowded parks and sidewalks, Seattle Neighborhood Greenways has been looking at ways to expand our options for safe, affordable, and sustainable transportation and recreation. With the input and collaboration of community members across the city, we’ve come up with eight solutions for healthy streets during the COVID-19 crisis.

#1 Expand Stay Healthy Streets

Have you had the chance to experience one of the city’s Stay Healthy Streets yet? They’re a little bit of sparkling magic in these dark times. At first glance they don’t look like much, because all it takes to make one is a few cones and signs to restrict vehicles to local access-only and open up the street for people.
Stay Healthy Street sign

But linger for any period of time and you’ll see an elder walking, a couple running, a family walking their dogs, or kids biking in the street.

 

People using the Beacon Hill Stay Healthy Street

This morning, Mayor Durkan announced another 11 miles of Stay Healthy Streets, and we’re so excited! This initiative opens up valuable public space, our streets, for people to move around while maintaining a safe physical distance from each other. If widely implemented, these streets will help to ease pressure on some of our overcrowded city parks, sidewalks, and trails. Stay Healthy Streets will become increasingly important as the summer heats up, and Seattleites are eager to get outside while being able to keep a safe distance from others.

That’s why we’re proposing the city implement our community-sourced, 130-mile network of Stay Healthy Streets.

Click here to open the interactive map in a new window. The plan includes iconic recreational walking and biking routes in Seattle such as along Lake Washington Blvd, Green Lake Drive, Beach Drive, Alaskan Way, and much more!

In recognition of the current staffing and budget crunch, this proposal does not require any new major infrastructure — only cones and signs. The map relies heavily on existing neighborhood greenways and quiet neighborhood streets where possible, but incorporates pathways on some major streets where needed. For additional information, see our FAQ.

This unique, community-sourced plan incorporates suggestions from city residents citywide. SNG’s community survey, shared widely in pieces by KUOW, the Seattle Times, The Stranger, Seattle Bike Blog, and other media outlets, received 250 suggestions.

We also utilized our network of local groups and relationships with other organizations to solicit recommendations and vet maps from each district. In District 2, leadership from community and neighborhood-based groups such as the African American Leadership Forum, Bethany UCC, and El Comité offered support and insight on routes. Through these conversations and more, we emerged with a map that is at once pragmatic, community-supported, and inspiring.

If you want to see 130 miles of Stay Healthy Streets implemented in Seattle this summer please click here to send a note showing your support.

 

temporarily close lanes to widen sidewalks

#2 Emergency Sidewalk Extensions

97% of Seattle’s sidewalks are too narrow for people to safely pass each other while social distancing guidelines are in effect. Where possible, the city should temporarily expand sidewalks by using cones or other barricades. We’ve already heard major concerns from the Belltown Community Council for instance, and no neighborhood will be immune to this issue.

 

paris graphic for emergency bike routes

#3 Emergency Bike Routes

For the immediate foreseeable future, people are going to want to have physical distance between them as they start to get back to commuting and other travel around the city. Cities around the world have begun to implement temporary bikeways to reduce crowding on transit during this time of social distancing. This could be accomplished through temporary installation of cones and construction barriers, and/or by speeding up existing projects such as those along East Marginal Way and Eastlake Ave. Creating a network of safe places to bike will give people options to get to where they need to go.

 

Seating in the street

#4 Next-Level Play Streets and Streeteries

Expanding our city’s Play Streets and Streeteries programs and making the permitting process easier and more streamlined will allow residents and businesses to use street space more easily once public health restrictions on activities are eased. Local businesses can create additional space for physical distance between patrons by using parking spaces or perhaps entire streets for seating, and people in both low and high density neighborhoods can create their own community spaces.

 

Walk Signal Is automatic sign in Redmond, WA

#5 Automatic Traffic Signals for People

All people deserve traffic signals that allow them to walk and roll across the street safely and with dignity. We encourage the Seattle Dept. of Transportation (SDOT) to reconfigure traffic signals to automatically give people the walk signal without them having to touch a button (other than for vibration and sound signals for blind or deaf-blind pedestrians). The City should also develop a policy that limits how low people have to wait for a walk light and gives people enough time to cross the street. 

 

Man holding slow down sign. Graph showing 9/10 pedestrians survive at 20 MPH

#6 Pursue Vision Zero

The significant decrease in vehicle traffic during this time has also meant a significant increase in speeding. It’s critical that we keep people safe as they travel to where they need to go. That’s why we must follow through with the Mayor’s Vision Zero commitments to implement safer speed limits citywide and build the Rainier Ave Safety Corridor Project.

 

racial disparity in ticketing

#7 Decriminalize Walking

Many people may already feel comfortable walking on non arterial streets to avoid other people, but we know from experience that laws like this are not equitably enforced and are often used to place blame on victims of traffic violence. Let’s legalize or decriminalize walking in the street, just like used to be the case before the automobile industry lobbied to kick people off of streets.

 

jobs created by type of transportation project

 

#8 A Green and Just Rebound

What comes next? What comes after the worst pandemic and possibly the worst economic crisis in modern times? With Seattle as an early pandemic epicenter, can we lead the way for a different future— by rebounding as a greener, more equitable, and thriving city? It won’t be easy, but we should start by implementing a Green New Deal at every level of government to transform our streets and our economy. Just in Seattle, there are billions of dollars worth of needed walking, biking, and transit projects that would create more good-paying green jobs than highway megaprojects.

Excited by these ideas? We need your help to bring them to reality. The Mayor and city staff are already implementing the first steps of many of these initiatives, and we are grateful for their hard work. Now is the time to join together, roll up our sleeves, and problem-solve to bring these critical ideas to fruition as soon as possible so that we  emerge from this crisis a more safe, affordable, and sustainable city.

Act Now! button

Click here to send a note to elected leaders supporting Stay Healthy Streets and other COVID-19 Responses.

Can you chip in financially to help make this happen? Make a contribution today!

Letter of Support from SNG Staff

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At our very core, Seattle Neighborhood Greenways is a grassroots organization. We’re made up of neighbors, like you, all across the city. We are everyday folks, with varied backgrounds and interests, who’ve come together to figure out what it takes to make our neighborhood streets healthy and welcoming for the most basic of daily activities getting from one place to another, safely, comfortably, conveniently. 

We are passionate about our communities, especially those who are most vulnerable. And collectively, we are passionate about this city and making sure Seattle is a place where people of all ages, languages, ethnicities, genders, races, abilities, and levels of wealth are able to walk, bike, roll, and live. 

We’re about people — about all of us. And we take the health and safety of our community seriously. We’ve moved all of our organizing online, so that we can continue to bring community together in a responsible, proactive way. In this precarious and uncertain time of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are eager to connect with you, our community, and provide whatever resources or support is within our realm to provide. To that end, we wanted you to hear from our staff directly, and from several of the volunteer community-builders who drive this safe streets work.

 

Gordon Padelford testifying at Seattle City Council.

Gordon Padelford, Executive Director: 

Here at Seattle Neighborhood Greenways, our mission is to organize and mobilize people to make every neighborhood a great place to walk, bike and live. But how can we organize and mobilize people when we can’t meet in person, when in-person outreach is not allowed, and when community members and politicians are understandably focused on the current pandemic? It’s going to be challenging.

Our current areas of focus during this difficult period of quarantine include short-term and longer-term solutions for keeping people safe as they recreate in their neighborhoods or move through the city. We’ve provided a full write-up of these ideas here. Take the short survey and add your own ideas, and please share with your friends and networks.

Our staff and volunteers are using alternative strategies to keep this critical work moving forward. We’re known for having frequent neighborhood-based organizing meetings and advocacy campaign meetings, and these meetings will still be happening, only online, through the Zoom video conferencing software we have provided to all our neighborhood groups (check out upcoming meetings here). 

We will continue to ground our community engagement strategies in the same principle that we have always used, which is to meet people where they are at. During normal times, that means having in-person conversations at the time and place of their choosing, but in this moment that may mean more phone calls, emails, video chats, and sometimes simply acknowledging that folks may, understandably, have other priorities for a while, and that we may need to adjust our campaign timelines accordingly. If you have thoughts about how we can best adapt our work, please let us know — we are learning together and will get through this together. 

 

Clara Cantor riding a bike in downtown Seattle.

Clara Cantor, Community Organizer:  

This is a scary time for all of us, and during this pandemic it is important to prioritize your health, physically and mentally. Social isolation, lack of routine, financial uncertainty, and stress all increase mental health problems, domestic violence, and anxiety. As a community-driven movement, everything about our organizing, actions, and impact are going to be different, and our expectations need to shift to match. 

But that can be a good thing. We’ve seen inspiring examples in Seattle and around the world of people supporting each other through collective action, financial support, and by spreading community joy. We are in a moment of tremendous societal shift, which is also a moment of great possibility. By coming together — in our collective creativity, resourcefulness, and care — who knows what impossible thing will suddenly be very, very possible.

Click here to get connected with other Greenways volunteers in your neighborhood, or join us for one of these upcoming virtual events. And check out this list of tips for organizing during the current outbreak.

 

KLatFeastInTheStreet

KL Shannon, Community Organizer:  

My thoughts are with our most vulnerable community members. Here are some ways, big and small, I’m encouraging folks to support our communities during the outbreak: 

 

SusanRidingOnRVGmedcrop

Susan Gleason, Development & Communications Director:  

I have to admit, this is a daunting period for our fundraising efforts. During this COVID-19 crisis, Seattle Neighborhood Greenways is continuing to build campaigns and policies for a later time of greater mobility, while focusing on some of the immediate needs of our communities

The need for walking- and biking-friendly streets continues — now and beyond the pandemic. For a brief window here, the streets and sidewalks of the city have become enlivened with more families than ever taking daily walks together, parents biking with kids on quieter neighborhood streets. There’s a glimmer in this, of what Seattle’s streets could be like — a different future that we can build towards right now, where our public streets are designed for people. Safe, functional, enjoyable streets for everyone — at any age, from any background, and for all abilities.

This is the bold vision that Seattle Neighborhood Greenways continues to work for and you can help us get there. We simply couldn’t do what we do — to push community-identified safe street improvements and policies forward — without generous support from people like you.

Fixing the Pedestrian Safety Crisis

Mayor Durkan and Lynda Greene unveiling a 25 mph speed limit sign.

Mayor Durkan and Lynda Greene (Dir. of SouthEast Seattle Senior Center) unveil a new speed limit for Rainier Ave.

We can and must keep everyone safe on our streets. This morning, Mayor Durkan outlined four excellent and long overdue strategies to get back on track. Your support helps us keep up the pressure on our leaders to act quickly to implement safer speed limits, redesign our most dangerous streets, and get Vision Zero back on track.

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memorials for traffic violence victims

We are in the middle of a pedestrian safety crisis.

In the few weeks since we first wrote that Vision Zero is off track in Seattle (12 people had died and 70 had suffered life-altering injuries after being struck by vehicles when walking and biking on our city streets, so far this year), three more pedestrians have been struck and killed in two separate incidents:

  • On November 27, a woman in her 60s, Jin “Kimberly” Kim, was hit and killed at 42nd Avenue SW and SW Oregon Street in West Seattle while she was crossing the street from her apartment to the grocery store.
  • On November 29, a driver struck four pedestrians, killing two people: Rebecca Richman, 28, a recent law school graduate, and her brother, Michael Richman, 26, an actor and musician. Their father is still hospitalized and Rebecca’s boyfriend was injured.

This brings the total number of people killed while walking or biking in Seattle to 15 in 2019 alone, making this one of the worst years in recent memory.  

A pile of flowers on the side of the street with a sign that reads: look out for pedestrians.

And these are just the people who have lost their lives on our streets. There have been many others who have suffered life-altering injuries such as a 60-year-old pedestrian still in critical condition after being struck on December 4 while crossing the street at Columbia Street and 4th Avenue downtown — the same intersection where a woman was struck and killed in January of this year. And over two consecutive days, two people on foot were struck by drivers and injured at Delridge Way SW and SW Orchard Street.

The strategies Mayor Durkan outlined this morning are excellent and long overdue — we welcome and applaud these critical steps:

4 Big Steps for Vision Zero

1) Safer speed limits: Safer speeds save lives. We know that Seattle’s arterial streets are where 90% of road traffic deaths and serious injuries happen. That’s why it’s so important that the mayor sent an easy-to-understand message today about safer speed limits: once the signs are changed, wherever you see a painted centerline (indicating an arterial street) in Seattle, you should be driving 25 mph, and wherever you don’t, you should be driving 20 mph.

Seattle Neighborhood Greenways has been working to reduce speeding for years. Back in 2015 our advocacy for traffic safety culminated in the city’s adoption of Vision Zero, the goal of zero traffic fatalities or serious injuries by 2030. In 2016 our Safer Speed Limits for Seattle effort led to all 2,400 miles of non-arterial streets being changed to 20 mph. This made a huge impact for people walking and biking on neighborhood streets, but expanding these safer speeds to our busy streets has been slow and piecemeal. We’re thrilled that the Mayor is now taking on a systemic approach, and are eager to see it implemented as quickly as possible before more tragedies occur.

Slow Down

2) Red light running prevention: Running red lights endangers everyone, so doubling the number of cameras that catch and fine red light runners just makes sense. Automated systems like this limit biases in enforcement (and an ideal system would also issue tickets based on income to limit regressive impacts on low-income neighbors).

AuroraAvenueFastTraffic

3) Walking head start traffic lights: The majority of collisions between people walking and driving happen at intersections. We applaud SDOT’s new policy to double the number of traffic lights that give people walking a head start next year, with all traffic lights to follow.

Three pedestrians, one with a mobility aid, cross the street holding signs asking for safe crossings.

4) Vision Zero Task Force: This panel of experts will ensure we treat traffic violence like the public health crisis that it is, and provide transparency, accountability, and leadership for Vision Zero. A Vision Zero Task Force comprised of public health officials, first responders, roadway designers, and advocates for seniors, the disability community, and pedestrians, should analyze each and every deadly crash to provide recommendations for how what can be done to achieve Vision Zero. Part of their work will inevitably be analyzing what can be done about emerging trends like the rise in deadly-sized SUVs and increased distracted driving.

A group of people holding a sign that reads: Seattle Neighbors for Vision Zero.

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What’s next?

These are welcome first steps but much more remains to be done.

Communities along Rainier Ave S and Aurora Ave N, Seattle’s #1 and #2 most dangerous streets respectively, have been clamoring for safer streets for years. The planned redesign of Rainier Ave S cannot come soon enough after years of delay. And sadly, Aurora Ave still lacks basic pedestrian safety improvements like sidewalks and safe crosswalks for long stretches, which must be addressed as quickly as possible. The city can do much on its own, but the recent fatalities on Aurora Ave, a state route, must also be a wake up call to state legislators. Redesigning our streets is the most effective and equitable approach to keeping people safer on our streets and should be the center of any effort moving forward, while education, encouragement, and enforcement should mainly be supplementary strategies.

If we are truly going to make progress on Vision Zero, we must give the Department of Transportation the political support to implement best practices and innovate new ways to keep everyone safe on our streets—even when those changes are hard. We see today’s announcement as a tremendous step in the right direction. We will continue our work until every neighborhood is a great place to walk, bike and live — where no one loses their life or is seriously injured trying to get to where they need to go.

A protest at Rainier Ave S and Henderson in 2018.

Together, we can help Seattle make the changes necessary to achieve Vision Zero, and make sure everyone makes it home safely. Your tax deductible donation today, allows us to fight tomorrow for safe streets for every neighborhood. Thank you!

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Gordon Padelford
Executive Director
Seattle Neighborhood Greenways

 

Li Tan holding a sign that reads: Vision Zero!

Fixing the Pedestrian Safety Crisis

Mayor Durkan and Lynda Greene unveiling a 25 mph speed limit sign.

Mayor Durkan and Lynda Greene (Dir. of SouthEast Seattle Senior Center) unveil a new speed limit for Rainier Ave.

We can and must keep everyone safe on our streets. This morning, Mayor Durkan outlined four excellent and long overdue strategies to get back on track. Join us and send a letter to the Mayor and other elected leaders thanking them for their leadership and ask them act quickly to implement safer speed limits, redesign our most dangerous streets, and get Vision Zero back on track.

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memorials for traffic violence victims

We are in the middle of a pedestrian safety crisis.

In the few weeks since we first wrote that Vision Zero is off track in Seattle (12 people had died and 70 had suffered life-altering injuries after being struck by vehicles when walking and biking on our city streets, so far this year), three more pedestrians have been struck and killed in two separate incidents:

  • On November 27, a woman in her 60s, Jin “Kimberly” Kim, was hit and killed at 42nd Avenue SW and SW Oregon Street in West Seattle while she was crossing the street from her apartment to the grocery store.
  • On November 29, a driver struck four pedestrians, killing two people: Rebecca Richman, 28, a recent law school graduate, and her brother, Michael Richman, 26, an actor and musician. Their father is still hospitalized and Rebecca’s boyfriend was injured.

This brings the total number of people killed while walking or biking in Seattle to 15 in 2019 alone, making this one of the worst years in recent memory.  

A pile of flowers on the side of the street with a sign that reads: look out for pedestrians.

And these are just the people who have lost their lives on our streets. There have been many others who have suffered life-altering injuries such as a 60-year-old pedestrian still in critical condition after being struck on December 4 while crossing the street at Columbia Street and 4th Avenue downtown — the same intersection where a woman was struck and killed in January of this year. And over two consecutive days, two people on foot were struck by drivers and injured at Delridge Way SW and SW Orchard Street.

The strategies Mayor Durkan outlined this morning are excellent and long overdue — we welcome and applaud these critical steps:

4 Big Steps for Vision Zero

1) Safer speed limits: Safer speeds save lives. We know that Seattle’s arterial streets are where 90% of road traffic deaths and serious injuries happen. That’s why it’s so important that the mayor sent an easy-to-understand message today about safer speed limits: once the signs are changed, wherever you see a painted centerline (indicating an arterial street) in Seattle, you should be driving 25 mph, and wherever you don’t, you should be driving 20 mph.

Seattle Neighborhood Greenways has been working to reduce speeding for years. Back in 2015 our advocacy for traffic safety culminated in the city’s adoption of Vision Zero, the goal of zero traffic fatalities or serious injuries by 2030. In 2016 our Safer Speed Limits for Seattle effort led to all 2,400 miles of non-arterial streets being changed to 20 mph. This made a huge impact for people walking and biking on neighborhood streets, but expanding these safer speeds to our busy streets has been slow and piecemeal. We’re thrilled that the Mayor is now taking on a systemic approach, and are eager to see it implemented as quickly as possible before more tragedies occur.

Slow Down

2) Red light running prevention: Running red lights endangers everyone, so doubling the number of cameras that catch and fine red light runners just makes sense. Automated systems like this limit biases in enforcement (and an ideal system would also issue tickets based on income to limit regressive impacts on low-income neighbors).

AuroraAvenueFastTraffic

3) Walking head start traffic lights: The majority of collisions between people walking and driving happen at intersections. We applaud SDOT’s new policy to double the number of traffic lights that give people walking a head start next year, with all traffic lights to follow.

Three pedestrians, one with a mobility aid, cross the street holding signs asking for safe crossings.

4) Vision Zero Task Force: This panel of experts will ensure we treat traffic violence like the public health crisis that it is, and provide transparency, accountability, and leadership for Vision Zero. A Vision Zero Task Force comprised of public health officials, first responders, roadway designers, and advocates for seniors, the disability community, and pedestrians, should analyze each and every deadly crash to provide recommendations for how what can be done to achieve Vision Zero. Part of their work will inevitably be analyzing what can be done about emerging trends like the rise in deadly-sized SUVs and increased distracted driving.

A group of people holding a sign that reads: Seattle Neighbors for Vision Zero.

What’s next?

These are welcome first steps but much more remains to be done.

Communities along Rainier Ave S and Aurora Ave N, Seattle’s #1 and #2 most dangerous streets respectively, have been clamoring for safer streets for years. The planned redesign of Rainier Ave S cannot come soon enough after years of delay. And sadly, Aurora Ave still lacks basic pedestrian safety improvements like sidewalks and safe crosswalks for long stretches, which must be addressed as quickly as possible. The city can do much on its own, but the recent fatalities on Aurora Ave, a state route, must also be a wake up call to state legislators. Redesigning our streets is the most effective and equitable approach to keeping people safer on our streets and should be the center of any effort moving forward, while education, encouragement, and enforcement should mainly be supplementary strategies.

If we are truly going to make progress on Vision Zero, we must give the Department of Transportation the political support to implement best practices and innovate new ways to keep everyone safe on our streets—even when those changes are hard. We see today’s announcement as a tremendous step in the right direction. We will continue our work until every neighborhood is a great place to walk, bike and live — where no one loses their life or is seriously injured trying to get to where they need to go.

A protest at Rainier Ave S and Henderson in 2018.

Care about ending traffic violence? Here are three ways you can help keep everyone safe on our streets:

1) If or when you drive, maintain a safe speed (i.e., below the speed limit and suitable for conditions), and be alert for people walking and biking.  

2) Send a letter to the Mayor and other elected leaders thanking them for their leadership and reinforcing the need for safer speed limits, redesigning our most dangerous streets, and getting Vision Zero back on track.

3) Get involved in advocating for traffic safety in your neighborhood

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Together, we can help Seattle make the changes necessary to achieve Vision Zero, and make sure everyone makes it home safely.

Li Tan holding a sign that reads: Vision Zero!

Act Now to support walk/bike/transit in the 2020 City Budget!

We care about making every neighborhood in Seattle a great place to walk, bike, and live, and Seattle has fallen far behind on it’s promises and goals.

We’re calling on the Mayor and City Council to go beyond general statements of support for transportation and environmental issues, and act now to align our city budget with Seattle’s values.

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Act now to ask City Council to support these budget priorities, and join us on Thursday, October 22 at the City Council budget hearing.

Seattle Neighborhood Greenways has a huge slate of budget asks this year!

  • Safe spaces for people to walk and roll: We’re pushing for a long-term, sustainable source of funding for new sidewalks, as well as continued funding for our successful Home Zone Pilot, a vibrant pedestrian space for Thomas St, and a safe crossing for the Duwamish Longhouse.
  • Safe spaces for people to bike: We’re asking for funding for the currently unfunded routes in the 2019-2024 Bicycle Master Plan (BMP) Implementation Plan, including the Georgetown to South Park Trail and Beacon Ave Trail, among others. We’re also asking for funding for proactive Bike Infrastructure Maintenance to take care of the infrastructure that we do have. We’re also asking for funding for in-street bike and scooter parking corrals.
  • Other Transportation Improvements: Including Safe Routes to School Funding, transit priority, SDOT’s Transportation Equity Agenda, and asking SDOT to develop alternative evaluation methods that effectively measure people, rather than just cars.

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See below for more details on these important issues! These priorities include those in the MASS Transportation Package set by the Move All Seattle Sustainably (MASS) Coalition.

More details about our budget advocacy this Fall:

Safe spaces for people to walk and roll: We applaud the $4 million increase in funding for new sidewalks in the Mayor’s budget, and also recognize the need for a long-term sustainable source of funding to address the 26% of Seattle streets that don’t currently have safe places to walk. In addition, we’re pushing for:

  • Home Zones: Thanks to last year’s advocacy, our successful Home Zone Pilot is currently partially funding the construction of home zones in South Park and Broadview. We’re pushing to continue the pilot program creating low-cost, neighborhood solutions for non-arterial streets with no sidewalks.
  • Thomas St: We’re leading the effort to create a vibrant pedestrian space on Thomas St connecting South Lake Union and Uptown. Getting Thomas St. right will reconnect our neighborhoods, retain talented employees, connect our cultural and civic assets, and get people to the new arena at Seattle Center.
  • Duwamish Longhouse Crossing: People on foot are currently crossing 5 lanes with a 40 mph posted speed limit on a major truck route, without a crosswalk, to get to the Duwamish Longhouse from Herring House Park and parking lots, and from the Duwamish Trail. We’re supporting the Duwamish Tribe’s request for the $2 million needed so that people can safely access this important cultural and community center.

Safe spaces for people to bike:

  • We’re asking the City to fully fund the bike routes included in the 2019-2024 Bicycle Master Plan (BMP) Implementation Plan, as unanimously supported by City Council RES 31894 and the Mayor’s cover letter to the plan. The total funding gap is between $25 and $50 million, spread out over 4 years. The currently unfunded routes include the Georgetown to South Park Trail, Beacon Ave Trail, MLK, Georgetown to Downtown Connection, 4th Ave, and Alaskan Way to Elliott Bay Trail Connection, among others.
  • Proactive Bike Infrastructure Maintenance standards to take care of the infrastructure that we do have. We’re asking for an additional $1.5 million per year to cover re-painting, pavement marking updates, bollard replacement, lane-sweeping, storm drainage, and clearing of debris, foliage, and snow in existing on-street bike infrastructure.
  • Expand SDOT’s installation of In-Street Bike Parking. We’re asking for an additional $1.4 million as noted in the SDOT response to RES 31898. These funds would be used to hire a term-limited team of planning, design, and construction employees for the sole purpose of installing 3000 new off-sidewalk parking spaces for bikes and scooters, which would have the added benefit of increasing visibility for pedestrians at intersections.

Other Transportation Improvements:

  • Safe Routes to School: We’re asking for a full-time Active Transportation Coordinator to help kids get safely to school, and for the City to restore funding to Safe Routes to School that was siphoned off into the general fund last year, and ensure that this kind of siphoning doesn’t happen again. Find out more about our Safe Routes to School work here.
  • Transit Priority: We applaud the 30 blocks of bus lanes SDOT rolled out this fall and the 60 blocks planned for next year. Still, we aren’t doing enough to grapple with the Seattle Squeeze and the climate crisis. We’re working with allies in the MASS Coalition to push for SDOT to double bus lane mileage and implement signal priority in key locations.
  • Transportation Equity Agenda: SDOT’s Transportation Equity Agenda and the Workgroup it formed have only temporary funding. We’re pushing for continued funding to ensure that this work is sufficiently staffed and resourced to be implemented department-wide.
  • Measure What Matters: SDOT currently measures the success of an intersection with what’s called a “level of service,” which measures delay for vehicle traffic. We’re pushing for SDOT to develop alternative evaluation methods.

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Act now to ask City Council to support these priorities, and join us on Thursday, October 22 at the City Council budget hearing.

Get involved in Seattle Neighborhood Greenways by volunteering with us or donating to support our work.

Thank you for your continued advocacy!

 

Clara Cantor

Community Organizer
Seattle Neighborhood Greenways
Website – Twitter – Facebook

 

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