Category Archive: News

Can-Do Neighbors “Daylight” Sidewalks, Show City How It’s Done

Photos and story by Greenwood-Phinney Greenways

In celebration of Earth Day, Greenwood-Phinney Greenways and Licton-Haller Greenways held a lively and well-attended community service event where neighbors were able to “reveal” and clear off a significant stretch of sidewalk along the west side of Greenwood Ave North, between North 120th Street and North 122nd Street, previously buried under gravel .

“Yes, the work was harder than we’d expected,” said Robin Randels, co-leader of the Greenwood-Phinney Greenways group. “We’d thought—shoveling compacted gravel? How tough could that be? Ha!”

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Making a key neighborhood street safer for all

The pay-off for their strenuous effort was palpable: “We saw several people walking or jogging along this stretch, as well as people waiting at the bus stop while we worked. Hopefully, our service will help make this stretch safer and more accessible for all. Additionally, we collected a large garbage bag full of trash, a bucket of recycling, and 3 syringes (disposed of in a proper sharps container).”

Check out these before-and-after photos of the daylighted sidewalk:

GreenwoodPhinneyBeforeAndAfterSidewalkCleanUp

 

Fixing a cluttered, impassable sidewalk may seem like a small victory, but it points to a much larger issue for many of the neighborhood streets in the Greenwood area: that is, the lack of safe and comfortable sidewalks for kids walking or biking to school, people walking to the bus stops, library patrons, and seniors on scooters or in chairs attempting to get home.

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Numerous hazards for neighbors on foot

Other common sidewalk impediments in the area include large scale, overgrown laurel hedges that block pedestrian right-of-way, apartment building parking, and other vehicle parking that are frequently encroaching on the would-be public walkway.

Local traffic in the area is fast and dangerously close to those walking along Greenwood Ave North.

”We had multiple lanes of traffic to cross during our weekend clean-up—and it was sad to see, there wasn’t a single car that stopped for us,” shared Randels. “But you know, it’s not all that surprising for those of us who live in the area. It’s just very oriented around cars and driving here—and not around people on foot or in wheelchairs.”

More attention and effort needed from the City

Safety enhancements for people who walk along Greenwood Ave N were envisioned in the Move Seattle Levy. While improvements have been made south of North 112th Street, and more are coming north of North 137th Street, this middle stretch between the two is glaringly lacking in even rudimentary sidewalk access—a condition that falls short of Seattle’s own Complete Streets policy.

The Greenwood-Phinney Greenways group, a member group of the Seattle Neighborhoods Greenway coalition, is hoping that the City will step in to “daylight” the existing sidewalks in this part of District 5, and that the overgrown vegetation is cleaned up to provide a temporary solution for pedestrians on this stretch of Greenwood Avenue.

Randels: “Unfortunately, this overgrowth and resulting obstruction are so vast that cutting it back is well beyond the capacity of our group (and likely that of the adjacent homeowners as well). It is a liability for the city and a hazard for our citizens who are forced to walk in the street as a result. At this point, the situation seems overly large and impractical to coordinate with the multiple homeowners along this stretch to get the job done in a timely fashion. Ideally, we need a City crew out there to get it cut back and hauled off just as soon as it can be arranged.”

GreenwoodPhinneySidewalkClearing1

 

Safe and accessible walking routes: an ongoing issue for Greenwood and the City at large

The Greenwood-Phinney Greenways group is continuing to meet with city leaders to discuss ways to fund and implement more permanent improvements to provide safety and accessibility for all users on this important corridor.

A Seattle Neighborhood Greenways citywide priority is the conversation about how pedestrian projects are funded and constructed. The Greenwood-Phinney and Licton-Haller Greenways groups are working on making Greenwood Ave North an example for the city.

Inspired by this community-driven success story? Pitch in to help make more outcomes like this possible.

Arena Redevelopment to Bring Walking and Biking Improvements to N. Downtown

Story by Andrew Koved, Queen Anne Greenways.

The KeyArena redevelopment project has the opportunity to transform the Uptown neighborhood—for better or for worse. Seattle Neighborhood Greenways has been working hard to ensure that the Oakview Group, the developers hired for the project, will be building infrastructure and setting norms that will set the course for a world-class urban street system that can move people safely and efficiently to and from the arena, and connect to existing city-wide routes that will serve as key access corridors into and through Uptown, Belltown, South Lake Union, and beyond.

Uptown Mobility map walk and bike

 

Evaluating the impact on surrounding neighborhoods

The redevelopment of KeyArena has generated multiple studies, groups, and actions—with many questions focused on the impacts this project will have on surrounding neighborhoods.

When Oakview Development Group agreed with the City of Seattle to redevelop the arena for use for hockey and basketball, they funded a study to look at the mobility and transportation needs of the area. This resulting North Downtown Mobility Action Plan (NDMAP), looked at the redevelopment of the arena at Seattle Center, the rest of the Uptown neighborhood, as well as Belltown and South Lake Union neighborhoods.

Although not named explicitly in the process, Denny Triangle and parts of Lower Queen Anne were taken into consideration for the study as well due to their proximity. The goal of the study was to understand the current issues with pedestrian, bike, transit, freight, and public realm infrastructure in these areas, and then fund the implementation of priority projects from among the findings. Oakview Group will pay roughly $40 million over 20 years for these improvements; funding separate from mitigation costs which will be required through the environmental impact statement.

North Downtown is seeing truly rapid growth, and it is critical that people on foot and on bicycles have safe and connected routes into and through the city. Seattle Department of Transportation has taken a piecemeal approach that has led to a small number of wins—such as the increased ridership on the 2nd Avenue bike lane—but many more continued gaps. Oakview Group was interested in studying these areas and helping to identify those projects that hold massive potential.

Oakview Group brings neighborhood groups together, and faces some challenges

Oakview Group sought a local, on-the-ground, perspective to best understand the transportation issues plaguing these neighborhoods, and so they brought together a large and varied collection of neighborhood groups and citywide organizations. Since December, Oakview Group has held monthly meetings to bring together this broad coalition to work on the NDMAP and receive their feedback.

Queen Anne Greenways and Seattle Neighborhood Greenways were a part of these meetings, along with organizations such as Cascade Bicycle Club, Uptown Alliance, Seattle Center, Rise Up Belltown and Community Councils from Queen Anne and South Lake Union. The meetings combined the personal community knowledge with the expertise from Oakview Group, staff from City of Seattle including Seattle Department of Transportation and Council Member Sally Bagshaws’ office, and Nelson Nygaard, the firm conducting the NDMAP. The coalition faced challenges surrounding the diversity of interests represented at the table, with many groups not seeing the same concerns nor seeking the same solutions.

Seattle Neighborhood Greenways leads discussion on public benefits

With a long list of issues facing pedestrians and cyclists in the North Downton, Belltown, and South Lake Union areas of the city, Seattle Neighborhood Greenways staff, along with Andrew Koved of Queen Anne Greenways, brought together a smaller number of community leaders to prioritize projects that maximize the Oakview Group investment and help complete a basic bicycle and pedestrian network through North Downtown. In collaboration with Cascade Bicycle Club, Seattle Neighborhood Greenways hosted an open house to get direct community feedback on the most important projects and goals for the NDMAP investment.

Turn-out to the event was high despite the drizzly March evening, with nearly 100 community members from the various impacted neighborhoods. With snacks and drinks in hand, neighbors pored over maps and marked their priorities for pedestrian and bicycle projects that would facilitate mobility and increase safety. A wonderful range of experiences and organizations were heard, and the outcome of the evening reflected this diversity. It was important to make sure that the pedestrian and bicycle group led by Seattle Neighborhood Greenways understood the pain points of Seattle’s infrastructure, and this evening was key to ensuring that the projects selected by Oakview Group reflected the needs of the community.

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SNG priority for improved mobility: connected corridors to and through North Downtown

Though the needs and recommendations from the open house were many, they focused around people’s ability to safely connect into and through the North Downtown area along key connected corridors. The SNG-led group distilled these ideas into a set list of priority projects and improvements, focused on key pieces of the network that would have the greatest number of impacted users.

Response to Oakview Group’s Draft EIS Statement

Oakview Group released their draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) in May, and Seattle Neighborhood Greenways and Queen Anne Greenways participated in two opportunities to provide feedback and recommendations. The larger coalition of neighborhood groups participated in a second negotiating process and produced a strong letter endorsing a multimodal vision for the neighborhood and pushing the Oakview Group to work hard to decrease Arena attendees’ reliance on private vehicles.

Final Recommendations from SNG, Cascade Bicycle Club, and Feet First

Then, SNG also produced a more direct letter in collaboration with Cascade and Feet First that was more detailed in asking for specific routes and improvements for people walking and riding bikes.

The final list of recommendations includes: 

  • Street improvements surrounding Seattle Center including protected bike lanes on Roy St, 5th Avenue, Broad Street, Queen Anne Avenue, and 1st Avenue North, and pedestrian improvements on Valley Street and Olympic Place.
  • Wayfinding and other improvements on Harrison Street connecting Seattle Center to the John Coney Overpass for people walking and biking.
  • Connections east from Seattle Center that prioritize pedestrian and bicycle movement including signal re-timing and upgrading along Mercer and Denny, and the construction of a Thomas Street Neighborhood Greenway.
  • Connections to downtown routes including Bell Street and 4th Avenue.
  • Other recommendations including expanding bicycle parking, incorporating lighting and wayfinding, and partnering with bikeshare and rideshare companies to provide designated parking and pickup locations.

Exactly what projects will get funded is not yet known. Projects have a chance of being funded either by the limited NDMAP funding or the larger pot of mitigation funding from the Community Benefits Agreement that will result from the final environmental impact statement when it is released this summer. Then, all of these agreements must be approved by the Seattle City Council.

Although the final outcomes cannot yet be known, it does look as though many of the suggestions from Seattle Neighborhood Greenways and from the larger neighborhood coalition will move forward.

To show your public support for this project, mark your calendar for the next Seattle City Council Select Committee for Arenas meeting on July 26 at 2:00 pm.

 

Inspired by this community-driven leadership? Pitch in to help make more organizing like this possible.

Imagine a Pedestrianized Ave

Can you imagine “The Ave”(aka University Way Northeast) in the University District being open only to people walking or the occasional delivery trucks dropping off business supplies? The community can! This is just one exciting result of months of meetings, surveys, one-on-one outreach, and planning workshops.

Opening The Ave, as the proposed pedestrian-only zone is being referred towould create more space cafe seating in the street, open-air markets, community gatherings, for people to enjoy. Check out this early rendering of what that might look like:

the ave cross section

pedestrian only ave from above in colorThis transformational vision would make the The Ave Seattle’s second pedestrian-only small business street, the first being Occidental Ave in Pioneer Square.

occidental

 

This bold proposal was arrived at by an extensive process of community and stakeholder engagement led by the U District Mobility Group.

The U District Mobility Group is comprised of a Working Group:

U dist mobility working group

 

With support and direction from a Strategy Group:

u district mobility strategy group

 

U District Mobility group has hosted 19 outreach meetings, 3 community workshops, an outreach table at the University District Streetfair, online surveys, and numerous one-on-one conversations. In the end, people preferred the option with a pedestrian-only Ave three times more than any other option!

meeting #3 photo of drew facilitating

Drew Dresman from University Greenways and Seattle Children’s Hospital leading a table discussion of the options.

This process has been community-led, and will require support from people like you to help it come to fruition. Want to help make this a reality?

 

Seattle’s First People-Protected Bike Lane

Everyone who wants to bike should be able to because biking can make us happier, keep us healthier, save us money, and reduce climate pollution. That’s why we’re advocating to build a connected network of safe and comfortable streets for people biking.

At 8:00am on the morning of Bike Everywhere Day, we took this message to the street by forming Seattle’s first people-protected bike lane in front of City Hall on 4th Avenue. The hugely successful free speech action and the rally that followed demonstrated the joy and safety that protected bike lanes can bring to our streets.

Standing side by side, we created a colorful human barrier between people riding bicycles and car traffic. Five group rides from around the city (Beacon Hill, Columbia City, Fremont, Ravenna, and West Seattle) joined people on their regular commuting route and converged at the people-protected bike lane amidst a positive fanfare of cheering, high fives, and waving streamers.

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Click here to watch a cool hyperlapse video of the lane

Across the street afterwards, the Rally for the Basic Bike Network featured a slate of powerful female speakers including Councilmember Sally Bagshaw, who spoke to the crowd about the need to build the basic bike network:
sally bagshaw speaking (image from her office)
Clara Cantor, Community Organizer for Seattle Neighborhood Greenways, rallied the crowd chanting “Build it Now!”

Clara at 2018 ride and rally

The mood turned more somber when Clara asked the crowd to “raise your hand if you have been involved in a crash or close call in the last month” and every hand in the audience went up, including Councilmember Rob Johnson’s.

ride and rally 2018 people who have been invovled in crash or near miss in past monthWe know that safety is a major barrier — sixty percent of the population in Seattle wants to bike more, and dangerous streets is the number one reason they choose not to. But the Basic Bike Network, which would build safe and comfortable bike connections to get people where they need to go in and around the center city, has been delayed again and again — see this story for background information.

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The proposed Basic Bike Network

We also know that when you build connected bike routes, people will come in droves. Around the world, cities like Vancouver, Calgary, New York and London have all implemented connected bike networks, and have seen ridership explode. Even here in Seattle, bike ridership jumped 30% on 2nd Ave when the protected bike lanes there were connected to an incomplete route on Pike and Pine. Every connection matters and makes the network more useful.

In fact, the City of Seattle expects that ridership will double with the completion of the Basic Bike network. That’s why we’re asking the City of Seattle to #BuildItNow!

And as a people-powered movement we can’t win these improvements without you.

ppbl shot (ben hughey) thank youA big high five to everyone who showed up and took part in the people protected bike lane or the ride and rally today, and to all the volunteers who helped us make signs, carry supplies in their cargo bikes, spread the word, or otherwise supported us to make this event a success.

Here are four ways to keep the momentum going: 

  1. Email your elected leaders letting them know we need to build to the Basic Bike Network!
  2. Become a monthly donor.Your gift allows us to fight for safe places to bike for people of all ages and abilities.
  3. Share a photo of yourself along with a quote about why a basic bike network is important to you. Check out our inspiring album on Facebook and share your own story with tags #basicbikenetwork, #wecantwait, and #seattlegreenways.
  4. Ride your bike & bring a friend! There is safety in numbers – research has shown the more people who ride their bikes, the safer everyone is. May is a great time to encourage a friend, colleague, or family member to try biking in Seattle.

You are making a difference and together we will build a city that reflects our common needs and shared values by making every neighborhood a great place to walk, bike, and live.

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New Bike Parking Regs for the Win!

Images and story courtesy of Bicycle Security Advisors.

There can only be as many people biking as there are safe, convenient, and accessible places to lock-up their bikes at destinations. Every year, more people are biking in Seattle, and that means we need to support them with new, better standards that will help ensure this growth continues over the next decade.

Fortunately, on April 2, the Seattle City Council passed major improvements to the city’s bike parking requirements in new buildings. The improved standards will help ensure people will always have a safe, convenient, and accessible location to park their bicycle, whether it’s in a building or on the sidewalk for a short errand or trip.

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In addition to improving the bicycle parking requirements, the legislation, CB 119221, also updated many off-street parking requirements, aiming to reduce the city’s dependence on single-occupancy vehicles and to support transit-oriented development.  

In support of CB 119221, Seattle Neighborhood Greenways worked in a broad coalition alongside Bicycle Security Advisors, Cascade Bicycle Club, Capitol Hill Housing, Futurewise, Transportation Choices Coalition, Transit Riders Union, Sierra Club, and 350 Seattle to meet with councilmembers, send supportive email messages, and provide public comment at the city council hearings. This work built on bike parking advocacy in previous years such as the Rackathon event we co-hosted.

bike parking reform 2018The new legislation brings Seattle’s bicycle parking requirements closer in line with the other major Pacific Northwest cities of Portland and Vancouver, B.C., as well as other peer cities across the nation.

A centerpiece criteria for determining how much bike parking would be required was the City of Seattle’s performance target to quadruple bicycle ridership by 2030, the equivalent of one-in-eight trips being by bike. Here are a few of the key highlights:

  • Increases the amount of required bicycle parking. In comparison to eight peer cities, Seattle now has the highest requirements for long-term parking for 13 “land use categories,” and the highest requirements for short-term parking for 8 land use categories.
  • Requires office buildings with more than 100,000 square-feet to provide commuter showers for different genders, and exempts the shower facilities from a new building’s size limits.
  • Improves the incentive policy for bicycle parking by allowing developers to trade 1 car stall for two bicycle parking spaces, and increased the cap on this provision to now allow up to 20 percent of the required car parking to be removed.
  • Requires bike parking to be accessible without the use of stairs.
  • Requires bike rooms to accommodate family, cargo, and electric bikes.
  • Requires more temporary bike parking, aka “bike valet” parking, for major events such as Sounders games.

bike valetMore work still needs to be done.  Many of the code’s new provisions, such as definitions of “safe” and “convenient,” and the new bike valet allowance, will need to be implemented through new guidelines to be adopted by the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT).

The parking reform legislation was stewarded by Councilmember Rob Johnson, chair of the Council’s Planning, Land Use and Zoning (PLUZ) Committee, and his staff. In addition, Councilmember Mike O’Brien, vice-chair of the PLUZ Committee, also worked tirelessly with bicycle, transit, housing, and environmental stakeholders in helping to shape the final legislation.

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*This post is a modification of a blog post by Bicycle Security Advisors. Follow Bicycle Security Advisors on Twitter.

Supporting Local Economies: A Shiny New Crosswalk for the Georgetown Business District!

Photos and story by Jesse Moore, Duwamish Valley Safe Streets.

Last month, Georgetown neighbors and business owners gathered with Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) staff to celebrate the completion of a new signal and marked crosswalk at Airport Way South and South Doris Street, in the heart of this popular South End arts and culture hub. 

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According to Georgetown Merchant Association Chairman, Larry Reid (of the legendary Fantagraphics Books), it took 8.5 years of persistence to create this much-needed improvement for safety in one of the busiest areas for pedestrian activity in Georgetown.

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Larry, and GMA member John Bennet, cut yellow ribbons with large scissors (courtesy of SDOT) on both sides of the street, to much applause, the clinking of plastic cups and distribution of boxes of salted caramels from neighboring Fran’s Chocolates.

After the celebration, much of the crowd walked to nearby Machine House Brewery for a beverage and the monthly GMA meeting where Diane Wiatr, Serena Lehman and Ian Macek from Seattle Department of Transportation gave an update on additional Georgetown-area pedestrian safety improvements currently in the works.

According to the presenters, the plan to build a multi-use bike/walk trail connecting Georgetown and South Park’s business districts is on track.The first step involves gathering public input on the trail’s alignment—that’s happening this summer.

Attendees also got a first look at a conceptual design aiming to control traffic speeds at the I-5 off-ramp at Corson Ave South.

The heavily trafficked off-ramp and intersection at South Michigan and Corson separates two halves of the residential neighborhood, Georgetown’s two public parks, as well as two halves of Georgetown’s retail commercial core.

The Corson/Michigan/Bailey intersection and the area around the Corson off-ramp have received many requests for improvements to pedestrian safety and comfort in a recent mobility study conducted by SDOT, as well as in other neighborhood planning efforts.

Meeting-goers seemed encouraged by the attention being given by SDOT to rethinking the design of this intersection.

If this new trend of Georgetown and SDOT working together to improve safety for people walking and biking continues, hopefully we can look forward to ribbon cutting celebrations for completing both the Georgetown to South Park Trail and this intersection improvement project, and it won’t take another 8.5 years.

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Build the Basic Bike Network

 

31961859_1692955744121011_3116401357712523264_nJump to three ways you can help save the Basic Bike Network during Bike Month.

May is National Bike Month. A month when everyone is encouraged to dust off their bike, pump up their tires and try biking to get to work, school, local businesses, or just for fun. Everyone who wants to bike should be able to because biking can make us happier, keep us healthier, save us money, and reduce pollution.

But right now, too many people find biking to where they want to go scary or uncomfortable. In fact, a lack of safe streets is the #1 reason people in Seattle don’t bike more.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

Way more people bike in cities that have safe, comfortable, and convenient bike networks. Around the world, cities like Vancouver, Calgary, New York, and London have all implemented connected bike networks and seen ridership explode. Here in Seattle, when the 2nd Ave protected bike lanes were connected to Pike and Pine, ridership on 2nd Ave jumped 30%. But Seattle still has a long way to go.

That’s why we created a vision of a bike network that connects all neighborhoods, starting with our fastest growing “Urban Villages.”

 

And collaborating with Cascade Bicycle Club, we also created a plan for a “Basic Bike Network” for downtown Seattle.

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Unfortunately, in 2016, former Mayor Ed Murray put the Basic Bike Network on hold until after a new transportation plan for downtown Seattle called One Center City could be developed.

We pushed back against these delays. Led by family bikers, we filled City Hall holding signs saying “My Family Bikes” and “Safe Streets Now,” and chanting “We can’t wait!” As a result of these protests, the city promised to build parts of bike lanes on 2nd Ave and Pike/Pine and include bike routes in the One Center City planning process.

2016 we can't wait rally photo by SBB

 

The two-year One Center City (OCC) collaborative planning process resulted in a plan for downtown that safely moved more people. The planning process was organized by a working group made up of government, agency, and dozens of community stakeholders. Last fall, after years of study, analysis, and compromise, the committee approved a holistic plan that would keep everyone moving downtown. The plan included new bike and bus lanes that would increase safety (decreasing collisions by 7-18%), move more people with more efficiency (10,000 more people per hour), and reduce travel times for everyone (30 seconds to 1 minute compared to the no-action alternative). Additionally, the city’s analysis showed that the Basic Bike Network was a key part of the solution, because by building it the number of people biking downtown would double by 2023.

But when the new Durkan administration came to power, they pushed aside the One Center City community stakeholder committee, ditched the compromise, delayed the bike lanes, and watered down the transit improvements. Once again, we rallied caring community members who were fed up with all the delays. We sent hundreds of emails to elected leaders and testified at City Council meetings.

 

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While we haven’t won yet, our elected leaders are listening now. Help us keep the momentum going.

Here are three quick things you can can do during Bike Month to make the Basic Bike Network a reality:

  1. Show up at the Rally for the Basic Bike Network on Bike Everywhere Day, May 18. Gather at 8:00, program 8:15 – 8:45 AM at the Seattle City Hall Plaza.
  2. Share a photo of yourself along with a quote about why a basic bike network is important to you. Check out our inspiring album on Facebook and share your own story with tags #basicbikenetwork, #wecantwait, and #seattlegreenways.
  3. Ride your bike & bring a friend! There is safety in numbers – research has shown the more people who ride their bikes, the safer everyone is. May is a great time to encourage a friend, colleague, or family member to try biking in Seattle.

Bonus action: Become a monthly donor. Seattle Neighborhood Greenways is a 501(c)3 and we depend on your financial support to make every neighborhood a great place to walk, bike, and live.

Thank you!

Downtown biking

Tell the city: Build the Basic Bike Network now!

Safe bike lanes downtown are in jeopardy.

We need your help to demonstrate support for building the #BasicBikeNetwork now by showing up at the Seattle City Council Transportation Committee meeting this Tuesday! RSVP and learn more.
Downtown bikingWhat’s the Basic Bike Network? It’s a vision for a connected network of safe streets to bike on, not just disconnected pieces here and there. When the #BasicBikeNetwork is built, the city expects to more than double the number of people who bike downtown by 2023. And we also know that protected bike lanes make it safer to walk too by separating car turning and walking signal phases.

Downtown Minimum grid map with arrows 6 copyBut the basic bike network has already been delayed years because of politics, and we can’t wait any longer to make our city safer and more accessible.

Join us as we tell the city: Build the Basic Bike Network now!

When: Tuesday, April 3rd, 2:00-2:40 PM (please arrive a few minutes before 2 PM)

Where: Seattle City Hall, in the Council Chambers (2nd floor).

RSVP: On Facebook or to clara@seattlegreenways.org

How: By standing with us and holding signs of support (we will have some available) during the public comment period of the meeting. If you’re interested in speaking please contact clara@seattlegreenways.org. Kids and families very welcome!

 

Community members stand up for the #BasicBikeNetwork at the Seattle Community Council Transportation Meeting

Photo Credit: SounderBruce

 

Can’t make it? Stay tuned for more opportunities.

Thank you and we hope you can join us on Tuesday!

Gordon Padelford
Executive Director
Seattle Neighborhood Greenways

Advocacy Alert: Safer bike lanes downtown are in jeopardy

Urgent: Safer bike lanes downtown are in jeopardy.

Click here to send a message to government leaders who are on the fence about whether to go forward with protected bike lanes on 4th Ave downtown.

When protected bike lanes were added to 2nd Ave following the tragic death of Sher Kung, not only did 2nd Ave become much safer but the number of people biking jumped dramatically and just increased by 30% again this year.

 

Downtown biking

 

We have the same opportunity to create protected bike lanes on 4th ave to make it safe and comfortable for people of all ages and abilities to access downtown jobs, and destinations like the flagship library, the downtown YMCA, City Hall, and the Cinerama just to name a few. If built along with other parts of the #BasicBikeNetwork, the city expects to more than double the number of people who bike downtown by 2023. And we also know that protected bike lanes make it safer to walk too by separating car turning and walking signal phases.

The city and region spent years of planning and millions of dollars to come up with a comprehensive plan that will improve transit travel times by 40%, move more people overall, and make it safer to walk and bike downtown.

Send a message to government leaders: we want action now, not more delays. #WeCantWait
If you value our work, please donate to keep us going.

 

 

Planning for Walking and Biking to U-District Light Rail

The University District is the second largest business district in Seattle, and with the University of Washington, Seattle Children’s facilities, and other major entities located there, it’s already a complex area for pedestrians, bikers, and buses.

A new light rail station at NE 43rd Street and Brooklyn Ave NE is scheduled for 2021, and plans for mobility and access aren’t coming along fast enough.

Drew Dresman, Transportation Planner for Seattle Children’s, sets up the problem handily in The Urbanist:

“Sound Transit’s construction of Northlink is on track to extend light rail to the north end of Seattle by 2021. After decades of failed attempts and hard work, we will finally have a fast, reliable rail line connecting North and South Seattle. Unfortunately, major questions have been left unanswered as to how people will be able to safely and easily access our future light rail stations and nowhere is this oversight more glaring than in the U District. U District Station will attract tens of thousands of daily users, but unlike Northgate Station and a growing list of others, no agency has studied how people will travel to and from U District Station and what improvements are needed to ensure people can reach Link safely and comfortably by 2021.”

Enter the community advocates and a powerful neighborhood coalition

For the past nine months, residents and representatives of several organizations in the University District have been meeting to discuss the need for a coordinated plan for light rail station access at the forthcoming U District Station. Together, members of the U District Greenways neighborhood group, U District Advocates, U District Partnership, as well as transportation staff from Seattle Children’s and the University of Washington formed a neighborhood-based coalition: the U District Mobility Group.

As a first joint action, the Mobility Group hosted a station access walking tour on September 7th — with hopes of building a unified vision for multi-modal access to the new station and the surrounding areas.

The well-attended (65+ participants) Station Mobility Tour began at the UW Tower and led participants through the neighborhood, on foot, with stops and speakers at several locations. At each location, members of the working group shared insights about the anticipated challenges for accessing the station by foot, bike and bus — and presented a variety of mobility solutions.

u dist mobility walking tour compressed

Current mobility challenges in the U District

The U District Mobility Group identified several current problematic conditions for pedestrians and cyclists in the neighborhood:

  • Most people walk or take transit to the U District and UW — yet pedestrian amenities and public open space are lacking.
  • Many pedestrians and bicyclists do not feel safe near major arterials.
  • Transit suffers from speed & reliability issues and cumbersome transfers.
  • Automobile traffic is concentrated on NE 45th Street, 15th Avenue NE, and the intersection at Roosevelt Way NE & 11th Avenue NE.

Growth and changes ahead

When the U District Station opens in 2021 it’s expected to serve 24,000 daily riders. That’s a daily influx/outflux of pedestrians and bicyclists in a neighborhood where walking is already the most common form of travel. At the University of Washington alone, 76% of students and employees take transit, walk, or ride bikes.

The new light rail station is one among several major changes slated for the neighborhood. With recent upzoning and other development impacts, the U District faces unprecedented commercial, academic and residential growth. The City and Sound Transit are both planning major capital investments in the U District, and Metro is expected to restructure area bus service.

Members of the U District Mobility Group want to ensure that as the neighborhood redevelops there’s a coordinated, holistic vision in place for how people will move about safely, comfortably, and efficiently.

Via Drew Dresman, here’s a taste of what that holistic vision could include:

  • Prioritize safety concerns for the tens of thousands of daily pedestrians in the immediate vicinity of the station.
  • Develop great bus-rail transfers and ensure connecting buses have reliable pathways to the station, even during evening rush hour.
  • Ensure people on bikes have safe routes to the station including alternatives to major arterials such as NE 45th Street and improvements at dangerous intersections.
  • Ensure adequate loading areas and building access for private vehicles.
  • Create streets that support vibrant, safe and welcoming experiences for all.

Getting the community organizing and outreach funded

So far, the U District Mobility Working Group has $87,000 in funding pledged and/or received from Seattle Children’s, U District Partnership, the University of Washington, Sound Transit, Seattle Department of Transportation and the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods. This total includes a $42,000 award from the Neighborhood Matching Fund Program.

Interested in updates on the U District light rail station mobility project? Sign up here.

Interested in getting involved in a wide range of U District mobility projects? Join the U District Greenways group here.

If you value our work, please donate to keep us going.

 

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