Category Archive: Editorial

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

Right-of-Way Declaration of Independence & Bill of Rights

Cathy Tuttle
July 4 2015
Cross-posted with The Urbanist

Declaration of Right of Way Rights

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all people are created equal, whether they are rich or poor, black or white, young or old, and that we are endowed with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

  1. We the people recognize that the ownership or use of a private vehicle does not imply the sole ownership of the public Right-of-Way.
  2. We recognize that there is no such thing as free parking, and that our collective community pays to subsidize free car storage on our public Right-of-Way.
  3. We recognize the rights of people, in particular our most vulnerable elders and children, to freely walk on and across our public Right-of-Way without fear of injury or death by people in moving vehicles.
  4. We recognize that when separated sidewalks are provided as part of the Right-of-Way, they must be wide, uncluttered by street poles and furnishings, and minimally punctuated by driveways in order to be functional for people who walk.
  5. We recognize that people riding bicycles have the right of way on our streets, and that the movement of people on bikes, particularly families riding bikes, shall not be limited on our Right-of-Ways unless their movements represent a danger or obstruction to people walking.
  6. We recognize every public Right-of-Way that does not provide separated sidewalks and protected bike lanes is a place where “cars are guests” and where people who drive should go no faster than three times average walking speed (ten miles per hour).
  7. We recognize the highest and best use we can have for our vehicles, our Rights-of-Way, and our fossil fuels, that are all subsidized by our common wealth, is to move our goods, provide emergency services, and provide transport for our most vulnerable people.
  8. We recognize that our public Rights-of-Way are maintained through extraordinary investments of our collective energy and capital.
  9. We recognize we have built more public Right-of-Way than we will be able to maintain in the future.
  10. We recognize that we live on a finite planet with limited resources and that the fuels and battery energy needed to power our vehicles is heavily subsidized with our collective money.
  11. We recognize we are at the start of a centuries long climate crisis, and that every opportunity to maximize tree planting on the forty percent of our city land that is currently paved is an investment that future generations will thank us for.
  12. We recognize the potential for beauty, gathering space, and places for people in our public Right-of-Way.

 

Respect Gayborhood With Safe Streets, Not Rainbow Crosswalks

Eli Goldberg June 25, 2015
(Eli is a former leader of Seattle Neighborhood Greenways who remains committed to safe streets advocacy)

Our brand-new rainbow crosswalks in Capitol Hill have received dozens of well-deserved news articles, garnering nationwide coverage.

Kudos to the City for starting to treat Capitol Hill’s streets as the community spaces that they are.

And it’s great to see SDOT take this first step towards tailoring our street spaces for the needs and personalities of our diverse neighborhoods. From the national news coverage the rainbow crosswalks have generated, hopefully, SDOT, you’ve realized you’re onto something bigger than just rainbow-colored crosswalks: you’ve tapped into the potential of using our streets to respect and strengthen our community identity.

But these rainbow crosswalks also tangibly demonstrate the ongoing gap in SDOT’s ability to express and act on a understanding of the needs of our individual neighborhood. Even after painting rainbow crosswalks on our streets, it couldn’t be clearer that SDOT has just started on the journey of learning how to act on and support our neighborhood’s unique needs and values. Read the rest of this entry »

Seattle Comprehensive Plan 2035

Cathy Tuttle June 24, 2015
(published originally in The Urbanist on 6/17/15)

Northwest Seattle Mode split expectations Seattle 2035.

Northwest Seattle Mode Split Expectations Seattle 2035

A week ago I sat down after work in a Pioneer Square pub with five young men to discuss the Transportation Element and Transportation Appendix of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Seattle 2035, Seattle’s Comprehensive Plan for growth over the next 20 years. Read the rest of this entry »

Underfunded Equity Priority: Safe Routes to School

Click to listen to CIty Council testimony. Begins at 13.50.

Click to listen to CIty Council testimony. Begins at 13.50.

Douglas MacDonald
June 4, 2015
WA State Secretary of Transportation, 2001 – 2007
Key considerations that support the position offered in public comment to the Seattle City Council of May 29, 2015 that a large increase should be made in the proposed allocation to the Safe Routes to School Program.

The Proposed “Move Seattle” Transportation Levy Should Significantly Increase Its Commitment to Safe Routes to Schools. Justice and equity should be served by higher SRTS funding in transportation investment.

 

School children attending the Seattle Public Schools make up about eight percent of the City’s population.

The ethnicity of students in the Seattle School District is not a mirror image of the city population as a whole. Students are less likely to be white and almost twice as likely to be Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino or Multi-­Racial than citizens at large.

  • Over a quarter (26%) of the students are from non-­‐English speaking backgrounds.
  • Almost two fifths (38%) of the students are from economically stressed family circumstances qualifying students for reduced price or free school meals.
  • Almost one in six (14%) of school age children in Seattle live in poverty.

The purpose of Safe Routes to School investments towards more convenient, safer and healthier trips for school children back and forth from home to school is a transportation investment manifestly responsive to social justice and equity.

SRTS Effectiveness and Results

Nationwide and Washington State research on effectiveness of SRTS programs shows that schools where programs are implemented generally achieve a 20% increase in children walking to school.

We know from WSDOT survey results (2014-­‐15) that nearly 60 percent of parents queried respond that unsafe road crossings are a factor in deciding how their children get to school.

Sampling from classrooms collected by the state’s Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction suggests about 1 child in 3 in Seattle already walks to school daily (twice the statewide norm) – underscoring why the safety focus of SRTS is so important. But almost half the Seattle students never walk to school – underscoring the rich opportunity to improve child health and transportation efficiency from SRTS investments.

We know from national and local research that inactive lifestyles are a major contributor to significant health issues for children. Walking and biking to school are widely seen as delivering multiple important health benefits to children.

We know that SDOT has declared a goal of “Building America’s Most Walkable City.” And that the vision of Seattle’s Bicycle Master Plan is that “Riding a bicycle is a comfortable and integral part of daily life in Seattle for people of all ages and abilities.” SRTS investments turn rhetoric into reality. Quickly and tangibly.

We know that SRTS programs invariably show ancillary benefits for safer, more walk-­able and more bike-­able trip choices for everyone, old and young, and often do valuable double-­duty as improvements for transit accessibility, a critical need almost everywhere in the city and often especially in lower income neighborhoods.

We know that planning and implementing SRTS programs for individual schools inherently provide rich and welcome opportunities for building positive relationships between the Seattle School District, neighborhood groups and parents, the Seattle Police Department and the Seattle Department of Transportation. The value of these collaborations to daily family and neighborhood life is widely dispersed across the city -­‐-­‐ probably unmatched in this respect by any other transportation investment proposed in the levy.

Increased investment in SRTS builds quickly and positively on a program already underway, widely known and favorably viewed. 

STRS is a program with existing momentum that can quickly be made even more powerful, successful and meaningful to Seattle citizens.

Working with competitive grant money from the state and funds from school zone speed enforcement fines (both sources, however, now in decline, and Olympia’s attention unfortunately focused n big highway spending projects) important beginnings on STRS have been made, giving the program visibility and popularity delivering tangible transportation benefit at very modest cost.

A few of the schools, for example, were state funds have already bought starter investments include Dearborn Park, Roxhill, Olympic Hills, Concord, Baylet Gatzert, Sanislo, High Point, Fairmont Park and Hawthorne, among others. Other important progress, though limited in scale and scope, has also already been made by the City’s use of its own resources. Some of the additional schools where progress has been achieved include North Beach, Salmon Bay, Wing Luke and Kimball among others.

City projects have included new sidewalks (but, since 2007, only 27 block faces), curb bulbs and curb ramps, flashing beacons, newly painted crosswalks and other improvements.

 

SRTS needs and priorities deserve more investment than now proposed.

We know that despite all the above, the proposed funding level for SRTS in the current proposal for the $930 million nine-­‐year “Move Seattle” transportation levy proposal is just $7 million. This would work out to about $750,000 a year – hardly enough to make a significant dent in SRTS needs and opportunities. This works out to about 7/10ths of 1 percent of the fiscal commitment in the levy – for essential transportation improvements for a population that just counting students alone (not even tallying their parents, or other citizens who directly benefit from these investments) makes up eight percent of the City’s population. Members of the population that have uniquely high claims on transportation spending for reasons of age, social equity and overall personal and community health.

We know from the diligent work of the analysis spearheaded by Seattle Neighborhood Greenways that investment on the scale of $20 million is required to achieve solid STRS progress within the one mile walk zones of ten elementary schools with the highest equity claims for attention. Adding 17 next level equity elementary schools would bring the total scale above $35 million. Key steps taken for high school walk zones are also badly needed. The funding level in the currently proposed levy of $7 million (less than 8/10ths of one percent of the total levy amount) would if unchanged signal a lack of intention to make any more than token progress toward the safety, convenience, health and equity benefits the STRS program should deliver. A larger commitment will both strengthen the levy program and strengthen its tangible appeal to prospective Seattle voters.

View this written testimony in memo form.

Read the rest of this entry »

10 Ways You Can Help Move Seattle For Our Kids

Safe Routes Walk HomeWe need YOU to speak for increasing funding for Safe Routes To School in the proposed $930 million transportation levy. This is our best chance to make all schools safe to walk and bike in the next nine years.

Councilmembers will discuss the Levy in Committee until June 23, when it will go to the full Council for a vote. So act quickly!

Here are 10 ways you can help get money for Safe Routes To School in the next few weeks:

  1. June 2nd: Speak for two minutes at the Public Hearing on Tuesday June 2 5:30pm. City Hall.
  2. Stand behind someone who is bravely speaking up for a Move Seattle Levy for Our Kids on Tuesday.
  3. Join the KIdical Mass Ride to City Hall on June 2 4pm at South Lake Union Park.
  4. Call individual City Councilmembers you might know (phone numbers here).
  5. Read about why we think Move Seattle For Our Kids is so important.
  6. Send email to the Council council@seattle.gov
  7. Send snail mail (yes! this is great! especially with kids artwork)
  8. Write a blog post about Safe Routes for Kids and post it on social media listing the Council.
  9. Talk to parents at your PTSA or on the playground about taking action.
  10. Donate to Seattle Neighborhood Greenways to support our outreach & advocacy work.

We’re actually pretty pleased that we’ve influenced so much investment into walking and biking safely along our corridors and in our neighborhoods in the Move Seattle Levy. We need just a little more to Move Seattle For Our Kids.

Thank you!

Should We Put More Money In The Levy For Our Kids?

May 20, 2015 Cathy TuttleSchool Walk Zone Dunlap Elementary

In the $930 million Move Seattle Levy, $7 million has been allocated for Safe Routes to School.  That $7 million is simply not enough to address safe routes for kids in all 97 Seattle Public Schools (and many private schools). We believe the Levy should provide $40 million for Safe Routes to School. Let me explain why in more detail.

When this young boy leaves this school, he’ll need to walk home somewhere within this School Walk Zone.

Thanks to previous wise investments by Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT), some of his walk will be safe and more pleasant. But he’ll still face many gaps on his way home – missing sidewalks, faded crosswalks, traffic signals, speed bumps & tables, and stop signs to slow inattentive drivers. I’ve walked this Walk Zone and there are places I don’t feel comfortable as an adult crossing the street.

We need to invest money in our Levy to get this young boy home safely.

With the help of transportation experts, we’ve calculated about $40 million can fill some of the biggest gaps at 28 elementary schools where half or more of the kids qualify for free lunch.

SDOT already invests a lot in Safe Routes to School. 20mph speed cameras next to a few schools bring in more than $5 million a year that we’ll need to keep investing in a backlog of hazardous road conditions in the Walk Zones of all 97 Seattle Public Schools.

Where’s the $40 million going to come from?

Well, there is $930 million in the proposed Levy. Most large engineering projects – big repaving, bus corridors, bridge repairs –  need to leverage big state and federal money. We believe these mega-projects can leverage a little more.

Unfortunately the fine-grained careful investments that give this boy a safer walk home qualify for almost no outside matching monies. Small neighborhood-scale investments for our most vulnerable are what cities are expected to make, what transformative levies are intended address, and what compassionate voters approve. Unlike big paving and bridge projects, money for safety improvements for walking in our neighborhoods is never going to come from state or federal transportation packages (and if you believe it is, you haven’t been following the news lately).

It is truly up to us to decide to provide $40 million to Move Seattle for Our Kids.

The Move Seattle Levy is a once in a generation opportunity to change course and decide to invest in our most vulnerable and valuable. Let’s invest in our kids.

Please sign our petition to the Mayor & City Council if you believe we should Move Seattle for Our Kids.

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