Category Archive: Editorial

Sanctuary Cities, Federal funding, Vision Zero

January 27, 2017

Dear Mayor Murray and Seattle City Council,

One America SNG letter 1.27.17

Click for full document

The purpose of this letter is to express our support for the Mayor’s declaration of Seattle as a Sanctuary City, committed to shielding undocumented immigrants from the threat of deportation and family separation. President Trump has expressed his intent through executive order to punish sanctuary cities by threatening to revoke their federal funding. Because of the City of Seattle’s principled stand, under some scenarios, the President’s position may put into question billions of federal dollars annually for infrastructure and other essential municipal services for Seattle and the region, which could in turn have a direct impact on projects and policies we have advocated for, together.

Our crumbling streets can be rebuilt later – our humanity cannot. In Seattle, we trust in our ability to draw on significant internal resources to continue to maintain and improve our street infrastructure while we continue to protect and welcome people new to Seattle who come here from across the world.

Seattle Neighborhood Greenways coalition members are located throughout Seattle, from Lake City to Rainier Beach. As part of our organizing model, we ally and support those groups that bring neighbors together in positive, construc- tive gatherings and coalesce to defend basic human rights, including the work of One America. Immigrants are mem- bers of our coalitions and communities, and all of us deserve access to basic, safe infrastructure.

Immigrant and refugee communities have taken action to support community transportation improvements including the Move Seattle Levy. Recently One America and Seattle Neighborhood Greenways partnered on distributing “Hate Has No Home Here” multi-lingual yard signs. And sadly, immigrant communities are often our partners on Vision Zero Memorial Walks following traffic fatalities. Together, we strive to put people first in a manner that recognizes how creating a more equitable community can mean taking important risks.

We resolve to support people of color, children, the elderly, the other-abled, and the people who cannot afford to travel by means other than by transit, on foot or by bike. We will continue to do what we can to ensure their safety comes first, even–especially–as we face the possibility of an unsupportive federal administration. We will support Seattle in its efforts to protect and increase federal investments in critical transportation infrastructure needs. And we will oppose actions by federal authorities, like using the threat of cuts to federal funding to compel the City to undermine values that we cherish.

One of our active community members has taken to delivering flower bulbs by cargo bike, “because we’ll need to see signs of hope in the spring.” We will look to the spring of 2017 as a time to celebrate our diverse community.

Wishing you strength and happiness in 2017.

Rich Stolz, Executive Director One America

Cathy Tuttle, Executive Director Seattle Neighborhood Greenways

 

Don’t Delay Downtown & Connect Our Neighborhoods

May 12, 2016

Shirley & Tim struggle to bike with their families in Seattle

Shirley & Tim struggle to bike with their families in Seattle

Just looking to help make a difference? Jump right to the call to action!

In Part 1 of our story, we left Tim wondering how to commute by bike with his baby daughter and left Shirley stranded with her children trying to cross Seattle’s most dangerous street, Rainier Ave S. In Part 2, we’ll explain how to rescue them.

The city has a good plan.

Seattle’s Bicycle Master Plan is a 20-year plan (2014-2034). The plan “Proposes a network of bicycle facilities throughout the city that provides a way for people of all ages and abilities to travel by bicycle within their neighborhoods, from one neighborhood to the next, and across the city.” The plan’s performance targets include quadrupling the ridership by 2030, getting to zero traffic fatalities by 2030, and having “100% of households in Seattle within 1⁄4 mile of an all ages and abilities bicycle facility by 2035.”

Unfortunately, when it has come to implementing the bike plan, the public feels the city is falling short. Much has been written about the implementation plan already (Stranger, Bike Blog, CHSBlog, etc), but to recap why people are disappointed:

  1. The bike implementation plan pretends downtown doesn’t exist. The city makes no commitments to connect our major job center and our densest neighborhoods.
  2. Less is being built after passing the Move Seattle Levy than was originally projected before the levy was passed. This may be due to simple over-promising, but now people like Shirley and Tim are understandably disappointed.
  3. It seems that the routes which have been selected to be developed first in neighborhoods are low hanging fruit rather than the routes people need most to be able to safely get around.

So what would a robust implementation of a bike network look like?

Our city is growing fast. Our urban villages, the places our city has designated to grow the fastest, desperately need better transportation connections. We must build a network of trails, protected bike lanes, and neighborhood greenways that link our fastest growing neighborhoods together. We must provide safe, time competitive, and comfortable routes that entice people of all ages and abilities to try biking for some of their daily transportation needs.

Here’s a concept of what a connected network would look like that links all of Seattle’s Urban Villages:
Urban Village Bike Map small

We can build this. This represents about 60 miles of high quality safe routes for biking – or about the same number of miles the Move Seattle Levy promises over the next five years.

We can’t wait any longer to build a network downtown. We can’t wait any longer to build the important routes that people like Shirley and Tim need most to get between neighborhoods. Join us and the Cascade Bicycle Club in calling on the city to improve the bicycle implementation plan!

You can make a difference!

Here’s how:

Take Your Bike to Lunch Day at City Hall

What: RSVP Bring your sack lunch & your bike to City Hall at 12 p.m. Let Seattle City Council know we can’t wait longer for safe connected streets. Help fill the main 5th Avenue entrance of City Hall with your bikes and write postcards to Seattle City Council telling your stories.  
When: Tuesday, May 17 at 12 p.m.
Where: Seattle City Hall main atrium [Get Directions]

Testify At Seattle City Council

What: RSVP to testify on Tuesday at 2 p.m. at the Seattle City Council Transportation Committee to let Council know we can’t wait for safe streets. Cascade will help you sign up to exercise your democratic rights to speak to our elected leaders.
When: Tuesday, May 17 at 2 p.m. Arrive at 1:45 p.m. to get on the speaking list, meeting begins at 2 p.m.
Where: Seattle City Hall – Council Chamber [Get Directions]

Really fired up? RSVP now!

City Hall

See you at City Hall!

Family Bikes Belong on Transit

Want to help Family Bikes get places? Sign this letter!

To Sound Transit Board and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray:

Bringing bicycles on Sound Transit LINK light rail can be challenging, especially for families. Parents with young children often find it difficult to lift heavy bicycles onto train hooks. Bicycles with attached childrens’ seats, bicycles with front baskets, and bicycles with long tails often do not fit on bicycle hooks provided in the bicycle area of Sound Transit LINK light rail cars.

Some parents might choose to leave their bicycles at light rail stations, but bicycle parking at Sound Transit light rail stations is often challenging for families as well, with bicycle racks and bike boxes that are not designed to fit larger-sized family bicycles.

Therefore, we encourage the following actions from Sound Transit LINK light rail:

  1. Provide secure bicycle parking for bicycles of all sizes at every Sound Transit LINK light rail station.
  2. Purchase some open “flex” cars when Sound Transit makes its next light rail car purchase, to allow people with bicycles, oversized luggage, mobility devices, strollers, and other non-standard equipment more flexibility in their use of light rail space – open space can also hold more passengers who can stand at peak travel times.
  3. Develop a policy to encourage people using family bikes and cargo bikes to allow them to use light rail during off-peak hours (for example, family bicycles may use light rail at any times other than 7 to 9 a.m. and 4 to 6 p.m. weekdays and at times posted as high-capacity travel times such as major sports events).

It is particularly families who bike that benefit most from the expanded range of combining light rail with biking.  For an individual on a road bike, biking 10 miles each way is usually not as much of an undertaking. However, that same 10 mile trip with a few kids will involve bathroom and snack breaks, and much more energy output by the parent (who is piloting a combined 100-150lbs of kid + bike, instead of just a 20lb bike).  For parents biking with children, transit is a godsend. If transit can replace a portion of that trip, that can make a huge difference in how mobile a family can be without relying on a car.

People who use bicycles with their children need accommodation. We all want to do our part to be a multi-modal, climate-healthy, safe region and taking Sound Transit LINK light rail will help us reach our goals. Thank you!

 

2015 Growing A Garden of Greenways

Lake City Greenways Builds Community In Olympic Hills Pocket Park

Lake City Greenways Builds Community In Olympic Hills Pocket Park

Cathy Tuttle, Executive Director
December 2015

Let me tell you a story about one person who reached out to neighbors over the past few years, and with their help – and a little help from Seattle Neighborhood Greenways – built a park, got safer routes to their local school, slowed traffic on one of Seattle’s most dangerous streets, and helped well over one hundred neighbors meet each other for the first time.

I’m talking about Janine Blaeloch, founder of Lake City Greenways, who led the effort to develop Olympic Hills Pocket Park, gathered neighbors for crosswalk actions to slow Lake City Way traffic, and helped with the Olympic Hills Safe Routes to School sidewalk project.

What is extraordinary is that I could have as easily told you this same story a dozen times and more about Greenways leaders throughout Seattle – Phyllis Porter and Deb Salls leading Rainier Avenue South road rechannelization efforts, Don Brubeck and Deb Vandermar who were instrumental in the road safety and safe intersection efforts along 35th Ave SW, leaders at University and NE Seattle Greenways who visited business owners up and down Roosevelt Way NE and helped to make protected bike lanes on Roosevelt a reality, leaders at Licton Haller and Greenwood-Phinney Greenways who are helping five local school groups plan for their Safe Routes to School priorities.
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Parents Turn Grief Into Action #WDR2015

Cathy Tuttle, Executive Director Seattle Neighborhood Greenways
November 15, 2015

Zeytuna_slider

They wear big 3″ buttons with a young face and a date. They are parents still, even if their beloved child has died. Their eyes are haunted.

I have lived through the grief of losing my husband and best friend to cancer. I have gone through the gut-wrenching agony of nursing my teen daughter through lymphoma. I try to have an open heart and my heart breaks every time I face the pain of grieving parents who have lost a child to traffic violence.

Today, November 15, 2015 is the first day the US has honored the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims #WDR2015.

I have had the honor of meeting many parents whose children have died by traffic violence or have been injured for life. In Seattle I have sat with the parents of Zeytuna Edo, Trevon Crease Holden, Sandhya Khadka, Caleb Shoop, Elias Schulte, and more families of people who were killed or gravely injured by traffic violence.

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Let’s Get Ready For #NACTO16!

Cathy Tuttle, November 4, 2015

We passed the Move Seattle Levy!!

The future of living in Seattle suddenly seems a lot more hopeful.SNG Move Seattle volunteers

We’ll be repairing bridges, repaving roads, replacing broken signals and signs. Important as it is to maintain what we have, we passed a nearly billion dollar transportation levy because we’re ready to transform Seattle, not just to maintain it.

And what better motivation to transform Seattle than NACTO 2016?

Seattle is playing host to the “Olympics” of street engineers and activists next September when NACTO (National Association of City Transportation Officials) comes to town. Since NACTO centers around walking and biking tours of the best each city has to offer, it is a perfect opportunity to ramp up our visible, transformational infrastructure.

Here are our four suggestions for what Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) can build by September 2016 in time for #NACTO16.Center City Network

  1. Center City Bike Network. Build it. All of it. All of the blue lines. Call it a pilot project, but get it done. Seattle’s current downtown bicycle infrastructure for All Ages and Abilities is an embarrassment. Let’s put our best lanes forward for NACTO.
  2. Rainier Ave South Protected Bike Lanes. If Shirley and Adam can build 2000 feet of protected bike lanes that are safe enough for a four-year-old to ride a bike on between Hillman City and Columbia City in one day with chalk, green butcher paper, and orange cones, SDOT can link up these two Rainier Valley communities this year in time for NACTO.
  3. Safe Routes to School. Let’s make sure we can take our NACTO visitors on walking tours where we’ve transformed the school walk zones around ten of our schools in historically underserved communities. We’ve got more than 100 School Walk Zones to improve to All Ages and Abilities standards. Let’s get to work!
  4. Roll out the green carpet in South Lake Union. Of course NACTO officials will want to see the beating economic heart of Seattle. Let’s make sure South Lake Union is accessible for people who walk and bike. Westlake Cycletrack is likely to be nearly complete by 2016. South Lake Union needs to connect east, west and to downtown. Can we actually show off a walking / bicycle network that knits the city together?Murray SRTS

Our local Seattle Neighborhood Greenways groups and volunteers worked hard to get the Move Seattle Levy passed. Thank you voters!

Our challenge now is to SDOT and the Mayor: We’re inviting the neighbors over to see our streets. Let’s get Seattle ready for ‪#‎NACTO16‬Now it is time get to work to quickly transform Seattle into a safe, healthy, equitable city where people can safely walk, roll, and bike.

 

Rainier Beach HS Students Demand Safe Routes to School

Rainier Beach High School Transit Riders Union 10-22-15 event

Rainier Beach High School Transit Riders Union 10-22-15 event

We support Rainier Beach High School students and the Transit Riders Union in their request to help ALL students to a safe route to school.

To date, our city has failed to provide safe healthy streets for students who need to walk or bike to school. Seattle Neighborhood Greenways supporters would prefer students have a healthy option of walking and biking to school. We see free Orca passes and yellow safety crossing flags as a stopgap measure until Seattle uses Move Seattle Levy monies to complete and connected grid of healthy safe streets for all ages and abilities throughout Seattle.

Community support event for Orca passes is next Thursday, October 22, 6:00 – 8:00 PM at Rainier Beach High School in the Performing Arts Center. Guests include Councilmembers Tom Rasmussen and Bruce Harrell. Transit Riders Union petition in support.

From the event Facebook Page

Join students, teachers, staff, parents, and community members for an evening of interactive storytelling and collective action! Help us call upon our elected representatives on the City Council, Mayor Murray, and the Seattle School Board to fund bus passes for ALL public school students who need Metro to get to school.

Currently, only students who live more than two miles (as the crow flies) from their school are eligible for a free ORCA pass subsidized by the school district. Not only is four or more miles a long way to walk to and from school, often there is no safe route to walk, due to dangerous traffic or neighborhoods.

Since 2011, Metro fares for youth have risen from $0.75 to $1.25 and now to $1.50, or $54 for a monthly pass. This is not affordable for low-income families. It’s time for our city to provide free transportation for all students to get to school!

This summer, as part of a six week program of the Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools, 130 Rainier Valley scholars ages 5-18 organized a march between Seattle Public Schools Headquarters and City Hall, where they rallied and raised awareness about the issue of inequitable transportation in their community. Calling the walk zone policy “inequitable,” students mobilized alongside community members saying that for many students, especially those experiencing poverty, this policy “creates a barrier to getting to school, and therefore a barrier to their education.”

This Town Hall event will be held at Rainier Beach High School in the Performing Arts Center on Thursday, October 22, 6:00 – 8:00 PM. Guests include Councilmembers Tom Rasmussen and Bruce Harrell. Hope to see you there!

Please sign TRU’s petition as well: http://transitriders.org/free-orca-passes-for-public-school-students/

SR-520 Resolution Needs to be Better

Gordon Padelford
September 10, 2015

montlake blvd interchange

The 520 Montlake Interchange will be a formidable obstacle

The SR-520 and the Montlake Bridge area is one of Seattle’s key geographic chokepoints for walking and biking.

The $1.64 billion SR-520 highway project will be set in concrete for the next eighty years. It must work.

The Seattle City Council has released a draft resolution outlining the City’s official position on how to improve the design.

While there is a lot to like in the draft resolution, unfortunately the current SR520 Draft Resolution does not include the top three needed fixes outlined in a letter sent to the city seven months ago by a coalition of community and healthy transportation groups:

1. Single lane on-ramps and raised crosswalks at the Montlake interchange so that people can safely walk across.
2. Protected bike lanes on Montlake Blvd to allow people to safely bike through the interchange.
3. A neighborhood greenway along the Lake Washington Loop paid for by WSDOT, to provide a key link in the non-motorized system, and protect the neighborhood’s quality of life by mitigating cut-through traffic.

Here’s how you can make an impact

Show up and tell the Seattle City Council we need to get this right at a public hearing at the University Christian Church at 4731 15th Ave. NE, on Wednesday Sept. 16 at 5:30 p.m.

While in person testimony is an order of magnitude more impactful, if you can’t make the meeting, you can email, or better yet call, the City Council Transportation Committee Chair Tom Rasmussen directly at 206-684-8808 or tom.rasmussen@seattle.gov.

For questions or how to get more involved contact gordon <at> seattlegreenways.org
Screen Shot 2015-09-10 at 4.53.56 PM
Thank you!

Crackdown On Block The Box

August 13, 2015

Mercer Mess Blocked Box. KOMO photo.

Mercer Mess Blocked Box. KOMO photo.

Today in Seattle City Council, officials from Seattle Police and Seattle Department of Transportation presented a new initiative championed by Councilmember Sally Bagshaw called “Don’t Be a Jerk, Don’t Block the Box“.

Obstructing crosswalks and intersections during signal changes is indeed part of the Municipal Code of Seattle and is against the law (SMC 11.50.070), but traffic violations are rarely enforced unless they are part of a funded initiative.

Because journalists are often delayed as they head out from downtown Seattle by blocked boxes, so media stories about Block the Box have been overwhelmingly supportive.

Seattle Neighborhood Greenways Executive Director Cathy Tuttle presented the following testimony on why to consider Block the Box as part of a Vision Zero / Safe Streets initiative:

Tuttle Block the Box Testimony

Click on image to see testimony and City presentation on Block the Box

My name is Cathy Tuttle. I am the Executive Director of Seattle Neighborhood Greenways. I am here today representing Greenways, a community coalition of more than 20 local groups who chose as their number one priority in 2015 safe streets and Vision Zero.

We are delighted to see this “Block the Box” collaboration between Seattle Police and the Seattle Department of Transportation. It is a data-driven safety initiative we strongly support.

Not only does “Blocking the Box” lead to traffic congestion and delay, car drivers who illegally enter crosswalks and intersections pose a significant safety threat to people who walk and ride bicycles.

“Block the Box” is notable in the downtown core, but I’ve spoken to many of our members who feel threatened as they attempt to cross the street by people driving cars across signalized crosswalks in many urban villages including Greenwood, Lake City, Queen Anne, Rainier, Faunterloy, Ballard, Capitol Hill, and Wallingford. In particular, our most vulnerable elders and children are at risk by people who “Block the Box”.

A father who walks his children daily to preschool, one in a stroller and one in hand, says that he often waits for two signal cycles in Madison Valley until the crosswalk is open for him to walk his family safely across the street. A senior couple in Green Lake told me they wait for gaps in traffic and “scurry like scared rabbits” to get across the street from the Library to the Community Center.

We hope this collaborative pilot project is successful and expands to other neighborhoods. We urge Council to consider dedicating some of the revenue collected in “Block the Box” citations back into Vision Zero safety enforcement AND into Vision Zero safety engineering for safer crosswalks throughout the city.

Rainier Embraces Transportation Transformation

Mayor Murray at Rainier Ave S Open House 7-301-15

Mayor Murray at Rainier Ave S Open House 7-301-15

Cathy Tuttle July 31, 2015

In a sweltering and packed gymnasium, with the Mayor, City Councilmember Bruce Harrell, and Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) Director Scott Kubly shouting through a rolled up paper megaphone (the sound system had failed), three of the most transformative projects SDOT has proposed to date were launched.

Harrell tossed down his megaphone and shouted, “We are DONE with Rainier Ave S being a freeway! People live here! We need this street to work for all of us!”

Here are the three transformative Rainier Valley projects (including SNGreenway’s top 2015 priority for Council District 2):

Click on image to see project details of Accessible Mt. Baker

Click on image to see project details of Accessible Mt. Baker

  1. Rainier North-South Greenway stretching from I-90 to Rainier Beach. Will be completed in 2016. Route identified with extensive input from Rainier Valley Greenways and Seattle Bike Advisory Board.
  2. Accessible Mt. Baker signals an SDOT commitment to prioritize people around transit. It’s too long been the norm for Sound Transit to plop in light rail stations and blithely leave it up to local municipalities to make their stations accessible to people who need to walk or bike to them. Accessible Mt. Baker takes up the challenge with a real station area planning.
  3. Rainier Avenue South Safety Corridor Pilot begins construction on Monday August 3 and wraps up construction on August 14. Not only is did SDOT’s Vision Zero Strategic Advisor Jim Curtin present an unprecedentedly short project timeline, the Rainier Ave S project has the potential to transform what is Seattle’s most deadly street.

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