Category Archive: Uncategorized

Fun and Safe Ways to Walk or Bike to School!

Are you looking to encourage your child and their friends to walk or bike to school this school year (and beyond)? Consider organizing a walking school bus or a bike train!

 

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A walking school bus — what is that?

A walking school bus is a group of children walking to school together with one or more adults, or older students. It can be structured in many ways, but is most commonly a route with designated meeting points and a schedule of parents or volunteers who take turns walking the group to school.

What’s a bike train?

Similarly, a bike train is a group of children who bike to school together, accompanied or led by one or more adults, or older students. Bike train leaders should have some bicycling skills, understand traffic laws and feel comfortable riding on the road.

What are the benefits of a walking school bus and a bike train?

Studies show that fewer children walk to school today than even just a few decades ago, and many children don’t meet recommended daily levels of physical activity. For many parents, safety concerns are one of the primary reasons they are reluctant to allow their children to walk or bike to school.

The walking school bus and bike train models are safety-first, by design. But they’re also fun, social, and active ⁠— providing school age children with easy, comfortable access to a healthy lifestyle, as well as improved skills for walking and pedaling safely in the city. Parents benefit too ⁠— they get to enjoy greater piece of mind knowing that their children are being protected by ‘safety in numbers’ as well as the presence of adult supervision.

There’s a terrific community-building aspect to these models as well. With a rotating schedule of parents or volunteers coordinating together to lead the walking school bus or bike train, it can be a great opportunity for people to meet other families in their neighborhood.

Did we emphasize “fun” enough? A walking school bus or bike train is a delightful daily activity ⁠— for both the kids and adults involved. Give it a try! And share your experience with us ⁠— contact Clara with your walking or biking to school stories: clara@seattlegreenways.org

 

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Tips for organizing a walking school bus:

  • Check out your neighborhood walkability checklist, and the City of Seattle’s Safe Routes to School Walking Maps. Determine the safest route to walk to your school and map your route, including what stops are needed.
  • Invite families who live nearby to walk, and contact potential participants (e.g. school faculty and staff, law enforcement officers, other community leaders).
  • Test your route, noting approximate walking times.
  • Identify the number of adults or older students needed to supervise walkers and draft a rotating schedule. Download walking school bus leader schedules and information forms, and recruit volunteers.
  • Check out these safety training guidelines and determine what’s needed for both kids and adult volunteers on your route before kicking off the program.
  • Have fun!

 

A group of smiling kids riding bicycles down the street.

 

Tips for organizing a bike train:

  • Determine safe routes for biking to school with a City of Seattle Bike Web Map, and draft a potential route, including the stops that are needed.
  • Invite families who live nearby to bike, and contact potential participants (e.g. school faculty and staff, law enforcement officers, local bike shops, bike teams/clubs, other community leaders).
  • Pick a route and do a test bike ride, noting approximate biking times.
  • Identify the number of adults or older students needed to supervise bikers and draft a rotating schedule. Check out these scheduling tips for bike train leaders and other guides.
  • Check out these safety training guidelines and determine the safety training, skills and equipment needed for kids and bike train leaders before kicking off the program.
  • Have fun!

 

 

Happy walking and biking!

Li Tan Portrait

Written by Li Tan,
Safe Routes to School Intern
Seattle Neighborhood Greenways

Best part of my bike commute? The smells.

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By Tom Lang, co-leader of Green Lake & Wallingford Safe Streets

 

One of the best parts of commuting by bike is whizzing past a long line of cars stuck in traffic. I love that. But—hands down⁠—⁠the very best part of my commute is the smells.

Once upon a time, not too long ago, my commute from the far side of Fremont to the U District was along the Burke Gilman Trail⁠—a safe, comfortable and flat bike ride. Some mornings, I would get to see a sunrise over Lake Washington, framed by the Aurora Bridge. Most afternoons, I saw rollerbladers, joggers, and families outside enjoying the day.

 

On Monday and Wednesday mornings, I would be treated to both rich, chocolaty smells and fragrant hops …

 

I also passed by the Theo Chocolate Factory and Fremont Brewing. On Monday and Wednesday mornings, I would be treated to both rich, chocolaty smells and fragrant hops being turned into delicious beers. Most days, it was the highlight of my day.

The North Seattle Transfer Station was also on the route, so I also enjoyed whiffs of garbage and stinky things. But for most of the five years between 2011 and 2016, the Transfer Station was closed for renovation. And the re-opened station does a much better job of containing the trash smells.

 

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I recently traded in my commute for a downtown slog, through traffic and past parked cars, up hills and into Little Saigon. But, here too, there are smells to be grateful for. I pass the Tsue Chong fortune cookie factory in the morning (that distinctively  sweet smell reminding me of birthday dinners past) and several blocks of Vietnamese restaurants, with mouth-watering aromas of garlic and fish sauce. On the way home, I pass Pagliacci Pizza, where I try to forget about all the other surrounding smells of diesel and oil and just…focus…on…the…pizza for at least a few minutes each day.

 

Do other people have an olfactorily-blessed bike commute?

 

I sometimes wonder if I’m alone in appreciating the smells of my commute. Do other people have an olfactorily-blessed bike commute? What kinds of things am I missing out on? Where should I move to in order to maximize my convenience-to-smelliness ratio? I NEED TO KNOW.

MASS Coalition hosts Seattle City Council Candidate Forums ⁠— Video and Transcripts now available

A crowded room of people sitting facing a panel of candidates at the front of the room.

The Move All Seattle Sustainably (MASS) Coalition, of which Seattle Neighborhood Greenways is a part, hosted five forums recently, asking candidates for Seattle City Council tough questions about transportation, housing, and sustainability.

You can watch the forums or read transcripts here, with special thanks to Rooted in Rights and Disability Rights Washington, or find a general summary of the five forums here from the Urbanist. (Don’t know which district is yours? Find it here.)

The primary election will take place on August 6 (register to vote or update your mailing address by July 29). The top two candidates will advance to the November 5 general election. Because Seattle Neighborhood Greenways is a 501c3, we are unable to make candidate endorsements, but we encourage everyone to educate themselves on the issues they care about. Don’t forget to VOTE!

MASS

MASS (Move All Seattle Sustainably) is a coalition of organizations and advocates working to connect Seattle’s diverse and vibrant neighborhoods, minimize reliance on private vehicles, achieve Vision Zero, make Seattle carbon-neutral, create walkable communities, and ensure equitable access to transportation for all people.

Community mourns death of Jesse Gurnett and looks for solutions on Lake City Way

Article written by Janine Blaeloch, a leader with Lake City Greenways, SNG’s local chapter in the neighborhood. 

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                                             Candy holds a picture of her son Jesse.

 

On March 29, 2019, 32-year-old Jesse Gurnett, a lifelong Lake City resident, was struck by a speeding driver in the crosswalk at NE 127th Street and Lake City Way—on his way home, and just steps away from Value Village, where he worked. Jesse died the next day, devastating his family and friends. Loved by co-workers and customers for his unflagging positive attitude and his dancing skills (including an uncanny Michael Jackson dance impression) he is sorely missed in Lake City and beyond.

 

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In collaboration with Jesse’s family, Lake City Greenways and Seattle Neighborhood Greenways organized a gathering on June 22 to memorialize Jesse and to honor him through a legacy of street safety for the community he left behind. We gathered at the main plaza in Lake City for some words from family and friends, then walked the intersection where Jesse lost his life—bearing signs saying “Stop for Jesse,” “Brake for Humans,” “Families Crossing,” and other reminders for drivers passing through.

 

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Then we walked to a nearby church basement to talk about problems and solutions around pedestrian safety on Lake City Way, a state highway that is also our neighborhood street. Speed was on everyone’s mind; had the driver who hit Jesse been obeying the posted speed limit of 30 rather than an estimated 45 mph, the two might have seen each other—or Jesse might have survived his injuries.

 

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Ideas and aspirations sprang forth, and a plan began to take shape for bringing speed down to 20 mph in the commercial core of Lake City through both a speed-limit reduction and streetscape design. A Leading Pedestrian Interval (LPI) will also be proposed for the intersection where Jesse was hit and others nearby; LPIs give people a few seconds lead time with a “walk” signal before cars are allowed to go.

 

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                                                   Jason & child, relatives of Jesse.

 

Amplifying the passion of Jesse’s family and friends and the commitment of the Lake City community, we are confident that with energy and a strategic approach we will secure improvements on Lake City Way that will honor Jesse’s memory and his parents’ wish that his death will not have been in vain.

If you want to get involved with making safer streets in Lake City, email Clara@seattlegreenways.org.

Bicycle Implementation Plan Update: Good Project List, Incomplete Funding

The mayor’s latest bicycle plan adds critical projects, but leaves them unfunded. Join us at the Ride4SafeSteets this Sunday, and send a letter to elected officials to call for completing the network.

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At the end of April, the Mayor released a draft 2019-2024 Bicycle Implementation Plan outlining projects to be built through the end of the Move Seattle Levy. The plan drastically cut the connected network that the original Levy promised to voters, and the community responded.

In hundreds of emails sent to city officials, letters from advisory and oversight boards, and at outreach events conducted across the city, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) heard two resounding calls —

  1. We want safe routes from SE Seattle to the rest of the city, and
  2. We want the network to be connected — no more building infrastructure with missing gaps where people riding bikes are thrown out into dangerous intersections or stretches of roadway. If we’re spending money to build safe routes, they need to connect to each other.

Now, the City has released the final version of the Bicycle Implementation Plan. Our summary: Good project list, incomplete funding. Join us at the Ride4SafeSteets this Sunday, and send a letter to elected officials to call for action.

A group of smiling kids riding bicycles down the street.

The Good

Because you spoke up, the City added a list of important projects that will be built if more funding becomes available, including North-South routes which would connect SE Seattle to downtown on Beacon Ave S and MLK Jr Way S, and a safe connection from SODO to Georgetown, which would provide safe access to thousands of blue collar jobs.

Additionally, the plan fully funds a route on a short section of MLK Way connecting from Mt. Baker station to the I-90 trail, and retains important projects providing safe places to bike on Eastlake Ave E, Green Lake Way, Delridge Way SW, Pike/Pine (and other parts of the Basic Bike Network), Thomas St, and the Burke Gilman Trail Missing Link.

These are big wins — thank you for speaking up.

A joyful crowd of people in rain ponchos ride on a protected bike lane.

The Bad

Unfortunately, because the plan does not commit to fund and build the critical connections through South and South East Seattle and SODO. Also, apparently partly because of a lack of funds, the long planned and delayed downtown 4th Ave route has been downgraded from a two-way protected bike lane to a one-way (northbound).

We must make it clear to our elected leaders that these routes are not optional.

 

A group of people with helmets and bikes hold signs calling for safety and Vision Zero.

Next Steps

In her cover letter, Mayor Durkan states that “we are committed to delivering the bike safety projects included in this plan,” and “we will continue seeking additional revenue sources and grants to advance these key connections.”

We all need to work together to secure funding for these projects, to create the connected, comfortable network of safe routes for people to bike throughout Seattle that we all support. There are numerous options for generating additional funding for safe streets projects including a rideshare tax, commercial parking tax, or impact fees, all of which need careful consideration to ensure they can be implemented equitably. It will be up to our elected leaders to find a way to fund these projects, but it is up to all of us to let them know that we care.

Here’s three things you can do, right now:

  • Join us at the Ride4SafeSteets this Sunday to call on our elected leaders to fund and build these critical routes.
  • Send a letter to the Mayor, City Council, and SDOT thanking them for including the projects and pushing for funding them.
  • Ride your bike, and bring a friend! More people out enjoying the sunny weather on bikes means more safety and visibility for everyone.

A woman with dark hair rides a lime bike down a tree-lined street.

Thank you for your advocacy!

A headshot of Clara CantorClara Cantor

Community Organizer
Seattle Neighborhood Greenways
Website – Twitter – Facebook

 

You’re helping solutions take shape!

As 2018 draws to a close, we want to thank you for all that you do to make Seattle a great place to walk, bike, and live. With each gift of time, energy, creativity, and financial support, you’re helping safe streets solutions take shape all across the city.
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Thanks to your amazing generosity this year, we’re just $5,000 away from meeting our year-end goal, and a generous donor has just offered us another $1,000 if we can meet it. It’s doable — each gift we receive by midnight tonight will help us get there and hit the ground running in 2019!

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There is still time to make a tax-deductible gift before the new year. Looking forward to what we can accomplish together in 2019!

Seattle Neighborhood Greenways
220 2nd Ave S #100
Seattle, WA 98104

P.S. Check out our end of year newsletter in case you missed it.

Two Public Forums, Two Play Streets for Queen Anne Greenways Group

Our Queen Anne Greenways group wrapped up another full year of community engagement activities with the energizing Building the Cycling City event at Impact Hub Seattle, featuring Vancouver-based authors and urbanists, Melissa and Chris Bruntlett, followed by a panel of local community experts.

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If you missed the event or want to relive it, our 2018 multimedia intern, Jake Ostrow, captured the full event in this video.

Photo gallery:

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This event follows an earlier public forum Queen Anne Greenways held in July 2018, featuring Seattle’s Chief Traffic Engineer, Dongho Chang. See the video.

And, in case you missed it, here’s the write-up on two community Play Streets Queen Anne Greenways organized this summer.

The Home Zone Solution: Making Streets Without Sidewalks More Walkable

A group of people talking around a table with a large map covered in post-it notes.In 2018, Seattle Neighborhood Greenways set out to pilot a quick and cheap way to make Seattle neighborhoods safer to walk, bike, and live in for people of all ages and abilities. Our solution? Neighborhood “home zones” — a low-cost model that’s been implemented with success in other countries.

home zone problemThe Problem

A number of Seattle neighborhoods lack sidewalks, including large areas of North Seattle, which has the highest concentration of older adults in the city. Combined with increasing cut-through traffic, the lack of safe places to walk makes many neighborhood streets dangerous and uncomfortable. Given the current rate of city funding for pedestrian infrastructure, it’s going to take Seattle 300 years (at a minimum) to make every neighborhood safe for walking. We think this timeline is unacceptable and we set about creating a Home Zone demonstration project to show the city that more immediate, low-cost solutions are possible.

home zone solutionThe Home Zone Solution

A Home Zone is an area that is protected from lots of fast-moving cut-through traffic so that streets are safe enough to walk on. Home Zones direct thru-traffic to arterial streets that surround a neighborhood, keeping local access for residents, emergency access. Home Zones can use a variety of design improvements such as diverters, speed humps, and other elements, but focus on improvements that have the best “bang for our buck”, recognizing that Seattle’s pedestrian budget is stretched very thin.

A Pilot Project

Licton Springs is one of a number of neighborhoods that were annexed by the City of Seattle years back without existing sidewalks. We worked with neighbors in the Licton Springs neighborhood to identify a multi-block area to establish the Home Zone demonstration project, and community leaders from within the neighborhood to help coordinate the project. Over the course of the year, volunteers with the “Meridian Project” gathered at community design meetings, did door-to-door outreach, and toured the neighborhood streets to take note of known street hazards as well as opportunities for future traffic-calming.

Results to Date

This project is still underway, but the results have already surpassed our expectations on two fronts—one being the level of enthusiasm and participation from a multi-generational base of neighborhood volunteers; but also, and most notably, the unexpectedly brisk buy-in from the City, whereby Seattle is ready to invest $350,000 in a pilot Home Zone project of its own, based on our persistent vision and promotion of this model.

A young child points to a map while speaking to an adult.The initial community design workshop was a vibrant affair, packed to capacity, with a high level of participation across the room. We had a robust turnout of 60 people, including kids, elders, homeowners, renters, business owners, and members of the local deaf community. Food was provided and short presentations were made, but the bulk of the 2-hour meetup involved maps, markers, and sticky notes—and community members deeply engaged with each other in identifying both the hazards of their local streets and possible solutions. The community identified traffic-calming, art, and wayfinding ideas to be explored further. Building off of this large meeting, we hosted two smaller strategy meetings and a community walking audit to formalize the initial input we gathered.

A home-made wayfinding sign with walking times and distances, decorated for Halloween.Local community volunteers created a delightful wayfinding sign, pointing to popular nearby parks, libraries, and shopping districts, within walking distances noted. Sites have been selected and designs drawn up for self-watering planter box chicanes, now only awaiting official permits before they can be put together and installed on the street through a community work party. A street mural is also in the works: We’ve selected potential locations and are talking with local artists about designs — installation is expected in June when the pavement will be dry and warm enough for the paint to adhere properly.

Going Forward: A Model to Replicate

One of our key goals going in was to inspire the city of Seattle to adopt the Home Zone model as a large-scale, systemic solution that’s affordable, and immediately within reach. In November 2019, Seattle City Council approved a budget of $350,000 for the city to create its own Home Zone pilot project, building on ideas we developed.

 

For more details about the Home Zone model, see our handy Home Zone FAQ.

Pushing the City in Advance of the Seattle Squeeze

Have you heard of the Seattle Squeeze? Seattle city planners have been preparing for this car traffic crunch for years, but we don’t think they’ve done nearly enough.

A woman on a bike in a protected lane surrounded by other people on bikes, walking, a bus, and a busy urban street.

That’s why Seattle Neighborhood Greenways helped to form the Move All Seattle Sustainably (MASS) Coalition this fall, along with transportation and environmental advocacy organizations across Seattle. We called upon the Mayor to take action in advance of the Seattle Squeeze, which begins January 11, with the closing of the Alaskan Way Viaduct.

MASS has become a powerful voice on the Seattle stage, and will continue to advocate for sustainable transportation into the new year. Check out the latest news, and MASS’s response to the Mayor’s current plan for the Seattle Squeeze.

Community Outreach Around Green Lake

Story by Tom Lang, Green Lake & Wallingford Safe Streets

If you have been to Green Lake, you probably walked, biked, or drove through the Starbucks intersection (NE Ravenna Blvd / NE 71st Street / E Green Lake Way/Drive). This intersection is confusing, uncomfortable, and dangerous.

Because La Escuelita Bilingual School is right next door, and since many sports teams and families use the play fields nearby, fixing this intersection is a huge priority for Green Lake & Wallingford Safe Streets (GLWSS), a brand new member of the Seattle Neighborhood Greenways coalition that re-formed early this year. Since February, GLWSS has focused on the impending 2019 re-paving project that will see the installation of two-way protected bike lanes around the entire east side of Green Lake. While we support the project as a whole, our group has several proposed changes to the SDOT plans which would make the park, playfields, and business district safer and more accessible to pedestrians and people on bikes. By slowing speed limits, narrowing the car traffic lanes, and “squaring up” several intersections, this project will now result in greater predictability, visibility, and safety for all users.

 

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On PARK(ing) Day in September, we hosted two pop-up parks — one at the Starbucks intersection and another at the Kidd Valley intersection (N 50th Street / Stone Way N / Green Lake Way N).

One of the goals of PARK(ing) Day is to encourage residents to re-imagine their streets — exactly what we had been doing all summer as we talked with our neighbors about redesigning the two troubled intersections. Our small but mighty team of volunteers planned and organized a park at each of these intersections: next to Starbucks in the morning and in front of Kidd Valley in the afternoon.

With generous donations from both of these business, we were able to provide coffee to our morning visitors and milkshakes in the afternoon. We invited the students from La Escuelita to join us and add to our community art project. We set up a putt putt course in front of Kidd Valley and rewarded golfers with a coupon for a free milkshake. We had a great time transforming these spaces in the streets into places for people to gather and enjoy themselves.

GLWSS Park(ing) Day 2018

 

At each of these locations we talked with our neighbors about SDOT’s re-paving plans. The most common response we heard was that people hadn’t yet heard about the project. Despite the mailers and community meetings, most people didn’t know the details, and were eager to learn. We gathered another 30 signatures of support on this day and helped more people see
the potential in their streets.

Following a successful summer of community outreach, the Green Lake & Wallingford Safe Streets Group leadership met with SDOT project managers and went over the 60% design for the re-paving project — including many of our suggestions. We are very happy to see the Starbucks intersection will be much safer in 2019, and the proposed stoplight added at N 52nd Street has been removed from their plans. These are big wins for our small group!

Unfortunately, we learned in November that SDOT removed the bike lanes from the street design for N 40th St. We’re distressed at the precedent of removing a route designated on the Bicycle Master Plan, and awaiting more news from SDOT in early 2019. If you’d like to get involved, visit us at GLWstreets.org and drop in on our monthly meeting!

GLWSS Park(ing) Day 2018

We’re going to keep moving forward with our primary task: to make the streets around Green Lake and Wallingford safer for people of all ages, abilities, and transportation choices. Remember — one important role of our community group is to educate our neighbors about current transportation projects, build community connections, and get people thinking in creative ways about how we use our streets.

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