Category Archive: News

Trick or Treat with Play Streets

Gordon Padelford
September 30, 2015

At Halloween, the only scary thing should be the costumes – not kids dodging cars. Luckily, it is easy to turn your block into an oasis where kids and parents can walk, Trick or Treat, and play without fear.

Turn your street into a Play Street for Halloween, or set up a recurring event where kids can safely play in the street and cars aren’t allowed to cut through (access for people living on the block is still maintained). Some parents on Capitol Hill loved doing this last year – how about your block this year?

It’s free, fast, and easy for anyone to do, as can be seen by how many have sprung up across the City. Learn more and apply today! The City needs 14 days to process your application, so start soon.

Photo courtesy @PhinneyWood blog

Photo courtesy @PhinneyWood blog

Play Streets are very popular

Play Streets are very popular

 

Let’s Talk About Lane Width

Cathy Tuttle
September 26, 2015
jointly published on The Urbanist
Crosswalk wet pavement

Lane width helps to control speed on urban streets.

People driving tend to slow when streets are narrow.

Urban Streets

The National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) recommends a default of 10-foot lanes.

“Lane widths of 10 feet are appropriate in urban areas and have a positive impact on a street’s safety without impacting traffic operations. For designated truck or transit routes, one travel lane of 11 feet may be used in each direction. In select cases, narrower travel lanes (9–9.5 feet) can be effective as through lanes in conjunction with a turn lane.”


Seattle’s current standard is 11-foot lanes
and 12-foot bus-only lanes. Many of our streets were laid out in a time when wider was always better — and ended up with dangerously wide lanes, dangerous because wide lanes encourage people to drive fast, and when cars go faster, collisions do more harm. Narrower lanes in urban areas are shown to result in less aggressive driving, and give drivers more ability to slow or stop their vehicles over a short distance to avoid collision.

Lane Widths and vehicle sizesWhile tooling along city streets, unless you are a transportation engineer, you aren’t aware of street width.

You aren’t thinking, “Hey, I’m in a 14-foot lane. And now I’m in a nine-foot lane. And now I’m in a 10-foot lane.” (Note, transportation engineers really do think like this.)

Instead, you, the average mortal, just thinks (if you are driving a car), “I can go fast here. Whoa! This street is narrow, I’d better slow down. And now I can speed up a bit again.”

Seattle’s standard width for parked car lanes is eight feet wide, while adding a bike lane that avoids the “door zone” (the distance a car driver can accidentally fling open a door into the path of an oncoming person on a bike) requires a a 14-foot lane (parked car plus bike lane).

With our elbows akimbo, we’re about two and a half feet riding a bike, taking up about as much space as people in wheelchairs. Both protected bike lanes and sidewalks require a minimum of six feet of street right-of-way to accommodate people riding and rolling respectively.

20 is Plenty fatalities graphic

“It’s surprising to see how a difference of 20 miles reverses the survival rates of people hit by moving vehicles.”   Seattle Department of Transportation 2015

Highways

Highways are a different case entirely when it comes to lane width.

You may have read the lane width on the Aurora Bridge was a factor in the recent collision fatality between a Duck amphibious vehicle and charter bus. It is up to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to determine causes, but Federal standards for highways recommend 12-foot lanes, in addition to shoulders wide enough for emergency parking and median barriers. Most lanes along I-5  are 12 feet wide. The Aurora Bridge lanes are 9.5 feet wide. Read the rest of this entry »

PARKing Day 2015 Makes Successful Streets

Five local neighborhood groups changed their streets on a grand scale on Friday September 18.

People in Rainier, Ballard, Ravenna, Bryant and Fremont were winners of Seattle Neighborhood Greenways first annual PARK(ing) Day Design Competition.

Instead of endless public meetings, design charettes, and flat conceptual drawings, we helped these four groups build protected intersections in Ballard and Bryant, and thousands of feet of protected bike lanes in Rainier and Ravenna. Here’s a look at what happened.

Rainier Ave S Protected Bike Lanes

Rainier Ave S Protected Bike Lanes

Rainier

The Grand Prize Winner was an ambitious idea to make Rainier Avenue South, Seattle’s most dangerous street, safe enough for a parent to bike with their four-year-old (you must watch this YouTube!)

A crew, led by visionary Shirley Savel, and leaders Adam Dodge and Travis Merrigan, built 2000 linear feet of bike lanes out of white chalk, white duct tape, green butcher paper and traffic cones on both sides of Rainier between Columbia City and Hillman City.

Ballard Greenways Protected Intersection

Ballard Greenways Protected Intersection

Ballard

The co-leader of Ballard Greenways, Chris Saleeba, also works at one of Seattle’s best bicycle and pedestrian design firms, Alta Planning and Design. Chris, Fred Young, and Steve Durrant of Alta created a protected intersection that was extremely effective at slowing vehicles and allowing people to safely walk and bike across NW 65th and 6th Ave NW, just where the next north-south greenway in Ballard is planned.

The Seattle Department of Transportation concurred NW 65th and 6th NW was a high priority for safety improvements and added a permanent crosswalk in record time.

Chris said the bar owner of Molly McGuires – the most active business in front of the new intersection – came out during the day and talked about how much he loved the improvements and wondered if he could get the crosswalk painted in Irish flag colors as part of Mayor Murray and the Department of Neighborhood’s new community crosswalk program. Read the rest of this entry »

Seattle Celebrates PARKingDayPlus

Cathy Tuttle September 16. 2015

Remarkable people in Ballard, Rainier, Bryant, and Ravenna are erecting PARK(ing) Day projects to make their streets safer on Friday, September 18 between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m.

Four winning designs from the first annual Seattle Neighborhood Greenways PARK(ing) Day Design Competition will be built this Friday. These are tactical urbanism projects – quick, inexpensive, and effective demonstrations of how streets can be safer for all of us. PARK(ing) Day celebrates streets for people. #PARKingDayPLUS celebrates SAFE streets for people.

Interestingly, all #PARKingDayPLUS projects are spearheaded by parents of very young children who want to make their streets – and their neighborhoods – safer for their families and their community.

PARKingDayPlus heroesRainier Ave South. Shirley Savel bikes with her baby and young daughter along Rainier Avenue South, Seattle’s most dangerous street. Savel has teamed up with other Rainier Valley residents and parents to install a one-day demonstration of a protected bike lane on both sides of Rainier Avenue South between 39th Ave S and 42nd Ave S, stretching between Columbia City and Hillman City. Savel met with Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) engineers and safety experts to plan her route and make it safe for people who walk, drive, ride the bus, and bike.

Ballard NW 65th & 6th NW. In Ballard, Chris Saleeba often bikes with his four-year-old daughter to the Ballard Farmer’s Market. Chris teamed up with his co-workers at Alta Design & Planning to design a protected intersection for people who walk and ride bikes across NW 65th St. at 6th Ave NW. Saleeba, along with his friends and neighbors from Ballard Greenways, will build and staff the intersection from 10 to 7 on Friday for PARK(ing) Day and 11 to 3 on Saturday during the Ballard Summer Parkways event.

Ravenna NE 65th & 20th NE. In Ravenna, Andres Salomon and his three-year-old son Atom are frequently out and about walking and biking in northeast Seattle. Andres and his friends from NE Seattle Greenways will build a protected climbing lane for people who bike along NE 65th St between 20th Ave NE and 22nd Ave NE. Andres found that the sidewalk on this stretch of NE 65th was narrow, uneven, and often blocked by cars, while biking in the street felt very unsafe.

Bryant Burke Gilman Trail & 40th NE. In Bryant, Kenneth Trease, father of two young children, and Jen Goldman, mother of three whose oldest is celebrating her sixth birthday on Friday, will build a protected crossing in a high conflict area for people who walk, bike and drive at 40th Ave NE and the Burke-Gilman Trail. Jen says, “I am providing mini cupcakes to hand out. Sort of a shared birthday party for my daughter, who loves to bike, frequently crosses there, and is turning 6 that day. She is excited about the idea of getting a nicer spot to cross for her birthday.”

PARK(ing) Day is an annual worldwide event where artists, designers, and ordinary people improve streets and transform on-street parking spaces into temporary parks for a day. It is an official Seattle event, with all temporary improvements requiring approval from the city.  People all over Seattle are celebrating PARK(ing) Day from 10am to 7pm on Friday, Sept 18th.

Seattle Neighborhood Greenways staff will deliver a truckload of white duct tape, chalk, and orange cones on Friday morning, September 18 at 8am and let the building begin!

Find a map here of all 59 Seattle PARK(ing) Day projects.

Make sure to visit our award-winning projects on September 18. Who knows, some of them may even be implemented  permanently in the future!

Contacts:
Cathy Tuttle (206) 713-5869 Seattle Neighborhood Greenways
Shirley Savel (206) 841-2415 Rainier Valley Family Biking
Andres Salomon (617) 501-2445 NE Seattle Greenways

Site plans:

  1. Rainier: https://twitter.com/NEGreenways/status/643216875749425153
  2. Ballard: https://twitter.com/NEGreenways/status/643221411142590465
  3. Bryant: https://twitter.com/NEGreenways/status/643212933208477697
  4. Ravenna: https://twitter.com/NEGreenways/status/643210336540098560
2nd Prize Winner 6th NW & NW 65th Street Crossing

2nd Prize Winner 6th NW & NW 65th Street Crossing

 

 

Greenways Receives Major SDOT Award

Cathy Tuttle
September 12, 2015

SDOT Director Scott Kubly awards SNGreenways 2015 Transportation Team Award

Seattle Department of Transportation Director Scott Kubly presents Seattle Neighborhood Greenways with the 2015 Transportation Team Award

On September 10, 2015, Seattle Neighborhood Greenways (SNG) received the Transportation Team Award from Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT). SDOT gives just one annual award to “individuals or teams from other departments/groups or citizens not employed by the city, such as volunteers or non‑profit groups who help to advance SDOT’s mission, vision, and goals.”

Before the awards ceremony, in true grassroots activist fashion, nine SNG leaders spread out among the SDOT managers at tables filling City Hall’s Bertha Knight Landes room and learned more about various SDOT functions and discussed how SNG can help to advocate for future funding and safety improvements for a variety of new street projects including signals, paving, sidewalks, and safe routes to school.

Here is the complete text from SDOT of why Seattle Neighborhood Greenways organization was nominated for and received this coveted award. Thank you for the honor! We look forward to many more years of productive collaboration!

Seattle Neighborhood Greenways (SNG) has changed, and improved, the way Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) works with community partners in doing outreach and public engagement. The Bicycle Master Plan (BMP) was an innovative combination of staff, consultant, and community resources, which led to a final product that had broad public, and Council, support.SDOT 2015 Transporation Team Award Plaques

Seattle Neighborhood Greenways is being nominated for their proactive and innovative community support for the development, and adoption of, the Seattle Bicycle Master Plan.

Seattle Neighborhood Greenways (SNG) took an active and critical role in developing the Seattle Bicycle Master Plan (BMP), which was approved by City Council in April, 2014, after a 2-year planning process. Seattle Neighborhood Greenways groups took the initiative, in small neighborhood-focused groups throughout the city, to identify good greenways streets in their own neighborhoods, share that information with SDOT (including a map prepared in GIS), and attend community meetings on the plan update. This resulted in significant resource and cost savings for SDOT’s efforts on the BMP. Over 200 miles of greenways were included in the final BMP.

Seattle Neighborhood Greenways (SNG) took the initiative, on a volunteer basis, of organizing community members to do walking tours and fieldwork on streets in their neighborhoods, which contributed significantly to the development of the final Bicycle Master Plan (BMP). These efforts supplemented the work by City staff and consultants, and allowed a level of detailed effort and analysis that would not have been possible with City resources alone. SNG staff and volunteers also participated actively in community meetings relating to the development of the BMP, helped develop thinking around an “all ages and abilities” bicycle network and helped advocate for the Plan’s adoption with City Council.

SNGreenways leaders Cathy Tuttle, Phyllis Porter, Don Brubeck, Merlin Rainwater, Robin Randels, Barbara Gordon, Selena Carsiotis with SDOT Director Scott Kubly

SDOT Director Scott Kubly with SNGreenways leaders Cathy Tuttle, Phyllis Porter, Don Brubeck, Merlin Rainwater, Robin Randels, Barbara Gordon, Selena Carsiotis

Seattle Neighborhood Greenways volunteers exceeded the usual expectations by community groups in terms of not only participating in SDOT-led community events on the BMP, but also organizing their own events, including neighborhood walks and bike rides. They also presented information on their own initiative to District Councils and other larger community organizations. Finally, they documented and presented information to SDOT in Geographic Information System (GIS) form, which SDOT was able to use in preparing maps of the final system network for the BMP.

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!

Join a Group Ride to Summer Parkways!

September 9 2015Central District Summer Parkway 2015

Summer Parkways is this Saturday September 12 in the Central District!

Over three miles of car-free streets and parks for you and your family to play on, walk and bike on!

Watch or take part in the Disaster Relief Trials, check out all day live music and food trucks, take lessons with Skate Like A Girl, and bring along your stuffed animal friends for Swedish Medical Kids Teddy Bear Clinic.

Join us, it’ll be fun!

Interested in going, but don’t want to ride alone down there? Group rides to Summer Parkways coming from all over Seattle!

 

South of the Ship Canal:

  1. Northwest African-American Museum (2300 S Massachusetts) – 10 a.m. (Leader: Merlin)
  2. Cal Anderson Park near the tennis courts (E Pine & Nagle Place) – 10 a.m. (Leader: Dharma)
  3. Julia Lee’s Park (E Harrison & Martin Luther King Jr. Way East) – 10 a.m. (Leader: Mike)

All rides are family-friendly with an easy pace, aiming to get to Garfield High School around 10:30 to decorate bikes and take part in the opening festivities. Please help spread the word!

 

North of the Ship Canal:

  1. Greenlake Village in the seating area between Menchies and PCC (NE 71st St & 5th Ave NE) – 8:45 a.m. (Leader: Glen)
  2. NE 77th & 20th Ave – 8:50 a.m. (Leader: Andres)
  3. NE 65th & 20th Ave (outside Ravenna Third Place Books) – 9:00 a.m. (Leader: Andres)

You can also choose to join when the “north” groups meet up in U-District at NE 50th & 12th Ave NE (on the University Greenway) around 9:20am, and from there head to down to the event.

See you Saturday!

Rasmussen Stands Up For Sidewalks

Councilmember Rasmussen at James St Clair Memorial Walk @WestSeattleBlog.com photo

Councilmember Rasmussen at James St Clair Memorial Walk @WestSeattleBlog.com photo

September 3, 2015

Tom Rasmussen has chaired the Seattle City Council Transportation Committee for years. While Bertha, streetcars, unprecedented traffic congestion, and freight take a lot of his attention, the Councilmember has remained attentive to the needs of people who walk and bike.

Most recently, Rasmussen has weighed in on Sound Transit’s construction closure of the 12th Ave NE Greenway. Construction closures are a hot item right now in Seattle. Here’s what Councilmember Rasmussen had to say:

I have requested [Seattle Department of Transportation] SDOT to continue to work to improve mobility and safety for everyone around construction zones.  One of the first tours I organized for Mr. Kubly [SDOT Director] was of one epicenter of construction: the Pike/Pine neighborhood on Capitol Hill.  We have had a number of updates and briefings from SDOT about their work to ensure compliance by contractors and progress is being made.

SDOT should not give permission to close a sidewalk or street or part of one until SDOT has approved the detour plans and routes.  Even when a plan is approved some contractors or their workers will arbitrarily move barriers to the detriment of the public.  This requires regular site visits by SDOT inspectors.  One of the challenges is that there are not enough inspectors to keep up with the volume of construction.  I have requested SDOT to hire more as soon as possible

Thanks for bringing this to my attention.

Councilmember Tom Rasmussen
Chair, Transportation Committee Seattle City Council

Thank you for speaking up for people who walk and bike. We need strong support from our leaders all over Seattle!

Announcing PARK(ing) Day Winners!

Grand Prize Winner Rainier Ave S Protected Bike Lanes from Family Bike & Shirley Savel

Grand Prize Winner Rainier Ave S Protected Bike Lanes from Family Bike & Shirley Savel

August 27, 2015

Announcing the 2015 Seattle Neighborhood Greenways first annual PARK(ing) Day Design Competition winners!

(Hurry!! Applications for PARK(ing) Day are due by close of day Friday, August 28.)

Our judges (Andres Salomon University/NE Greenways), Bob Edmiston (Madison Park Greenways), Dave Rodgers (SvR Design), David Burgesser (Seattle Department of Transportation) and Cathy Tuttle (Seattle Neighborhood Greenways) had a hard time narrowing the field of 18 fabulous entries down to just three winners and two alternates.

Winners will receive prizes plus extra attention as they apply for permits, help with materials, and help making the best possible PARK(ing) Day projects. All of our judges will all offer technical support, with Andres Salomon taking the lead on working with winning entries.

Cafe Red Coffee Cart will grace Rainier Ave S during PARK(ing) Day

Cafe Red Coffee Cart will grace Rainier Ave S during PARK(ing) Day

Funding for the first annualPARK(ing) Day Design Competition comes from the Bowline Fund.

And the winners are:

  1. GRAND PRIZE WINNER Shirley Savel/Family Bike Team, Rainier Valley Protected Bikes Lane
  2. Chris Saleeba and Fred Young Alta Planning & Design, 6th Ave NW & NW 65th St crossing
  3. Andres Salomon, NE 65th St & 22nd Ave NE Protected Bike Lane

Runners-up

  1. Kenneth Trease & Jen Goldman, Burke-Gilman Trail & 40th Ave NE
  2. Andrea Fitch, 4th Ave N & Florentia St connector

    2nd Prize Winner 6th NW & NW 65th Street Crossing

    2nd Prize Winner 6th NW & NW 65th Street Crossing

Congratulations and thank you to everyone who entered the first annual Seattle Neighborhood Greenways first annual PARK(ing) Day Design Competition!

Seattle PARK(ing) Day on Friday, September 18 from 11am to 7pm will be wonderful this year!

Seattle Neighborhood Greenways is using PARKing Day to celebrate streets for people by encouraging applicants to build street safety projects.

Make sure to visit our award-winning projects on September 18. Who knows, some of them may even be implemented  permanently in the future!

 

 

 

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.

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