Category Archive: Editorial

Cathy Supports Streets for People

Merlin and Cathy

Merlin Rainwater & Cathy Tuttle at a rally for Vision Zero 20 MPH streets

August 1, 2017

Come join me for a farewell beer — and welcome new staff at a party at Peddler Brewing in Ballard on Sunday August 13 from 4 to 8 PM.

It has been my great pleasure getting to know you.

You are people all over Seattle doing your part to reclaim streets as public space.

You are the parents walking to school with your children in Lake City along streets with no sidewalks. You are the tech workers who suffer daily terrifying near misses on your bike to work. You are the families celebrating Play Streets in Queen Anne. You are Rainier Valley family bikers negotiating a car-free life. You are neighbors who are trying to figure out how to travel safely on foot and by bike between South Park and Georgetown. You are families mourning the death of a loved one from traffic violence. You are the teams painting streets in Ballard on PARKing Day. You are older adults who long for a nice place to sit outside on slower, safer streets where people driving stop as you cross the street.

You are part of a citywide movement — and Seattle in turn is part of a global movement — of people who share a vision of streets as essential public places for people.

As the founding Executive Director of Seattle Neighborhood Greenways (SNG), I’ve worked full time and tirelessly for the past six years, listening to your stories, uniting our coalitions, and amplifying our voices.

In the past six years as ED, my work has been to direct the conversation, and I’ve seen our streets transformed. More people are walking and biking along protected bike lanes and greenways, parklets and play streets are opening, safe routes for children to our lowest income schools are prioritized. We’re in a good place. And we have far to go.

I’ve worked side by side for the past four years with SNG Policy Director Gordon Padelford, a master coalition builder. I’m delighted he is taking over as ED of SNG. His focused advocacy has helped to put Seattle on the map as a 20 MPH Vision Zero city, and his work has directed millions of dollars into Safe Routes to School, true multi-modal corridors, road rechannelizations, sidewalks, protected bike lanes, better traffic signals, safer routes to transit, Play Streets, tactical urbanism, and much more.

As we continue on our journey dedicated to reclaiming contested public space for people, I am asking you to keep caring and to keep showing up.

Please support the work of Gordon and his team of professional advocates (welcome to the SNG team Susan Gleason!). Support your neighborhood’s on-the-ground greenway group. Keep demanding safe, healthy streets for people of all ages, all abilities, and all incomes.

Thirty percent or more of land in most every city is primarily dedicated to moving and storing cars. I am leaving on a series of extended stays in cities around the world that are working out the details of how to transform their streets into public spaces for people. First stop, Berlin.

We are at a tipping point in the transformation of Seattle into a walkable city. We are witnesses of and advocates for the movement towards a bike-friendly city. We are transforming our streets into public places where people can sit, meet, talk, and play.

With your help, Seattle can become a growing city where streets support people’s lives as they move around, meet new people, raise a family, and grow old. A city I look forward to visiting. Keep going strong my friends.

With love,

Cathy Tuttle, PhD, Board member
Seattle Neighborhood Greenways
@CathyTuttle

Thank you Seattle

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Bike Share Changes Seattle Safety Equation

by Cathy Tuttle
July 17, 2017

Bike share will test safe Seattle streets

Bike share will test safety of Seattle streets

I’m so excited!

This week, 1000 new orange and green bikes will be magically scattered like confetti throughout Seattle.

@LimeBike has a track record of launching dock-less bike share systems. @SpinCities says it raised $8 million for bike share and eventually wants a fleet of 10,000 bikes in Seattle.

Seattle is the largest market to date for both companies, and Spin and LimeBike will be competing head to head. Each company is allowed to launch a fleet of 500 of their distinctive bright green and orange upright bikes today, another 1,000 next month, and 2,000 the following month.

The beauty of dock-less bike share is the fact you can find a bike anywhere in the service area with an app, unlock a bike with your phone, and ride anywhere for 30 minutes for $1. No search for parking, just find a bike and ride.

Bike Share and Vision Zero

My biggest worry is safety. Not safety of the bikes, that feel solid and reliable, but street safety. The new bike share service areas in Downtown, Central Seattle, Columbia City, Beacon Hill, South Lake Union, Eastlake, Fremont, Ballard, the U-District are filled with high crash corridors and intersections with few miles of protected bike lanes, trails, or greenways.

  • My hope is the thousands of new Spin and LimeBike riders will encourage people driving to become more aware and respectful of people on bikes.
  • I also hope SDOT will quickly build out a fully protected #BasicBikeNetwork downtown and a linked safe network throughout Seattle.
  • Most of all, I hope thousands of people will discover the joy of riding a bike for everyday transportation.

Welcome SpinCities and LimeBike!

Ready for a downtown #BasicBikeNetwork?

Ready for a downtown #BasicBikeNetwork?

 

Urban Village Bike Map connect the dotted lines!

Urban Village Bike Map connect the dotted lines!

 

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Vision Zero in a Sanctuary City

May 30, 2017

Statement from Seattle Neighborhood Greenways Coalition:

We Renounce Deportation Based on Traffic Violations

Seattle, WA­ –– The undersigned members of the Seattle Neighborhood Greenways Coalition release the following statement in response to the Trump Administration’s announcement on 2/21/17 that a forthcoming executive order may expand deportable offenses to include traffic violations.

Advocates for safe streets have tired of hearing the trivialization of traffic violence as “just a traffic violation” or “no more important than a speeding ticket.” Traffic violations can lead to death and serious injury, especially for vulnerable users of our streets. People walking and biking are frequently the victims of such injuries, and seniors, children, and people with disabilities are disproportionately at risk.

However, as one of the coalition of groups that make up Seattle Neighborhood Greenways, we forcefully reject the Trump administration’s plan to pursue deportation for undocumented immigrants who have committed minor traffic offenses. Individuals in low-income communities and communities of color are disproportionately killed and injured by traffic violence on our streets. Now, the primary victims of this violence may also be unfairly targeted by biased and punitive enforcement.

We refuse to allow Vision Zero — Seattle’s goal to eliminate all serious and fatal traffic injuries by 2030 — to be perverted into an excuse to round up and deport our undocumented neighbors and friends, just as we have previously denounced racial profiling committed in the name of traffic safety.

The undersigned seek to work with, not against, the very communities now under attack by the xenophobic and racist policies of the federal government. We declare unequivocally that Vision Zero must not be used as a cover for raids, racial profiling, or other unjust attacks on our fellow Seattleites.

We support the following actions to address traffic violations while minimizing biased enforcement:

  1. Focus on engineering.  Enforcement is not at the core of Vision Zero.  Engineering is at the core.  Understanding which street designs kill people and which street designs don’t is at the core of Vision Zero.  The safest traffic stop is the one that never happens.
  2. Explore restorative justice options for traffic violations. For example, people speeding in school zones in Finland have a choice to pay a substantial fine, or to appear at the school to explain their actions before a panel of school children.
  3. Continue to provide more transportation choices.  Traffic stops don’t happen on a bus, in a protected bike lane, or on a sidewalk (except in rare cases).  When we make driving the only practical choice, we expose vulnerable people to unnecessary risk.
  4. Rely primarily on speed cameras near schools to enforce traffic violations.  Speed cameras don’t require a traffic stop to do their job, they are always on (so they enforce less selectively), and they issue citations based on objective criteria rather than the judgment of an officer.  Cameras should be distributed equitably across the city.

Member groups of the Seattle Neighborhood Greenways Coalition (listed below)

  • Beacon Hill Safe Streets
  • Central Seattle Greenways
  • Duwamish Valley Safe Streets
  • Licton Haller Greenways
  • Maple Leaf Greenways
  • Pinehurst Greenways
  • Queen Anne Greenways
  • Rainier Valley Greenways
  • Wallingford Greenways
  • West Seattle Bike Connections

SNG logo1

 

 

 

 

Seattle’s Pedestrian Plan Should Put Our Best Foot Forward

In Seattle, we love to walk. Every day, walking accounts for one quarter of our trips. But can Seattle step up to be “the most walkable city in the nation?”

Red are missing sidewalks

Red are missing sidewalks

Becoming the most walkable city in the nation is the stated vision of the latest draft of the Seattle Pedestrian Master Plan. To some, this vision seems more like a delusion, because 26% percent of our sidewalk network is missing, and every neighborhood has streets of fast-moving traffic that feel nearly impossible to cross. But we’re optimists at Seattle’s grassroots walking and biking advocacy organization, Seattle Neighborhood Greenways. We believe becoming the most walkable city in the nation is achievable.

Here’s how.

First, we have to acknowledge the magnitude of what we need to accomplish. Completing our missing sidewalk network will cost at least $2.04 billion dollars, using Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) estimates. The cost of building all of the crosswalks, curb ramps, and signals that are needed to navigate our streets is harder to estimate, but it’s in the billions of dollars as well. On top of this, the Vision Zero safety program that focuses on fixing the most dangerous streets and making it safer for people to walk is significantly underfunded. At the current rate of funding, completing all this will take hundreds of years.

Second, to be the most walkable city in the nation, we also need go beyond these basic safety and accessibility investments by making walking enjoyable: planting more street trees, building more benches for our seniors, lake city areaprioritizing pedestrians at stop lights more often, and creating denser neighborhoods where everything you need is within a safe, easy walking distance.

Third, we have to commit to tackling the problem of funding a truly walkable city head on. For far too long the magnitude of the problem has led to paralyzation and finger pointing. It’s time for our elected officials, department staff, advocates, and neighborhoods to roll up our sleeves together and find solutions. From developer impact fees, to donated crosswalks, to requiring sidewalk maintenance when adjacent property is sold, there are a ton of ideas out there that other cities have successfully implemented to fund good walking infrastructure. Which ones will make the biggest difference and be equitable in Seattle? Let’s find out.

Finally, we need to get started now. A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step, and this journey can start if the Seattle City Council requires SDOT, the Department of Neighborhoods, and the Office of Planning and Community Development to make walking a top priority.

You can help. Tell the Seattle City Council that making Seattle America’s most walkable city is a priority for you. Tell them in person Tuesday May 16th at 2PM at Seattle City Hall, email council@seattle.gov, and join Seattle Neighborhood Greenways as we work to advocate for safe streets for people walking and biking.

Let’s walk forward together.

Screen Shot 2017-05-11 at 11.42.08 AM

 

Gordon Padelford
Policy Director
Seattle Neighborhood Greenways

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.

 

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