Tag Archive: biking

Fixing the Pedestrian Safety Crisis

Mayor Durkan and Lynda Greene unveiling a 25 mph speed limit sign.

Mayor Durkan and Lynda Greene (Dir. of SouthEast Seattle Senior Center) unveil a new speed limit for Rainier Ave.

We can and must keep everyone safe on our streets. This morning, Mayor Durkan outlined four excellent and long overdue strategies to get back on track. Join us and send a letter to the Mayor and other elected leaders thanking them for their leadership and ask them act quickly to implement safer speed limits, redesign our most dangerous streets, and get Vision Zero back on track.

Act Now! button

memorials for traffic violence victims

We are in the middle of a pedestrian safety crisis.

In the few weeks since we first wrote that Vision Zero is off track in Seattle (12 people had died and 70 had suffered life-altering injuries after being struck by vehicles when walking and biking on our city streets, so far this year), three more pedestrians have been struck and killed in two separate incidents:

  • On November 27, a woman in her 60s, Jin “Kimberly” Kim, was hit and killed at 42nd Avenue SW and SW Oregon Street in West Seattle while she was crossing the street from her apartment to the grocery store.
  • On November 29, a driver struck four pedestrians, killing two people: Rebecca Richman, 28, a recent law school graduate, and her brother, Michael Richman, 26, an actor and musician. Their father is still hospitalized and Rebecca’s boyfriend was injured.

This brings the total number of people killed while walking or biking in Seattle to 15 in 2019 alone, making this one of the worst years in recent memory.  

A pile of flowers on the side of the street with a sign that reads: look out for pedestrians.

And these are just the people who have lost their lives on our streets. There have been many others who have suffered life-altering injuries such as a 60-year-old pedestrian still in critical condition after being struck on December 4 while crossing the street at Columbia Street and 4th Avenue downtown — the same intersection where a woman was struck and killed in January of this year. And over two consecutive days, two people on foot were struck by drivers and injured at Delridge Way SW and SW Orchard Street.

The strategies Mayor Durkan outlined this morning are excellent and long overdue — we welcome and applaud these critical steps:

4 Big Steps for Vision Zero

1) Safer speed limits: Safer speeds save lives. We know that Seattle’s arterial streets are where 90% of road traffic deaths and serious injuries happen. That’s why it’s so important that the mayor sent an easy-to-understand message today about safer speed limits: once the signs are changed, wherever you see a painted centerline (indicating an arterial street) in Seattle, you should be driving 25 mph, and wherever you don’t, you should be driving 20 mph.

Seattle Neighborhood Greenways has been working to reduce speeding for years. Back in 2015 our advocacy for traffic safety culminated in the city’s adoption of Vision Zero, the goal of zero traffic fatalities or serious injuries by 2030. In 2016 our Safer Speed Limits for Seattle effort led to all 2,400 miles of non-arterial streets being changed to 20 mph. This made a huge impact for people walking and biking on neighborhood streets, but expanding these safer speeds to our busy streets has been slow and piecemeal. We’re thrilled that the Mayor is now taking on a systemic approach, and are eager to see it implemented as quickly as possible before more tragedies occur.

Slow Down

2) Red light running prevention: Running red lights endangers everyone, so doubling the number of cameras that catch and fine red light runners just makes sense. Automated systems like this limit biases in enforcement (and an ideal system would also issue tickets based on income to limit regressive impacts on low-income neighbors).

AuroraAvenueFastTraffic

3) Walking head start traffic lights: The majority of collisions between people walking and driving happen at intersections. We applaud SDOT’s new policy to double the number of traffic lights that give people walking a head start next year, with all traffic lights to follow.

Three pedestrians, one with a mobility aid, cross the street holding signs asking for safe crossings.

4) Vision Zero Task Force: This panel of experts will ensure we treat traffic violence like the public health crisis that it is, and provide transparency, accountability, and leadership for Vision Zero. A Vision Zero Task Force comprised of public health officials, first responders, roadway designers, and advocates for seniors, the disability community, and pedestrians, should analyze each and every deadly crash to provide recommendations for how what can be done to achieve Vision Zero. Part of their work will inevitably be analyzing what can be done about emerging trends like the rise in deadly-sized SUVs and increased distracted driving.

A group of people holding a sign that reads: Seattle Neighbors for Vision Zero.

What’s next?

These are welcome first steps but much more remains to be done.

Communities along Rainier Ave S and Aurora Ave N, Seattle’s #1 and #2 most dangerous streets respectively, have been clamoring for safer streets for years. The planned redesign of Rainier Ave S cannot come soon enough after years of delay. And sadly, Aurora Ave still lacks basic pedestrian safety improvements like sidewalks and safe crosswalks for long stretches, which must be addressed as quickly as possible. The city can do much on its own, but the recent fatalities on Aurora Ave, a state route, must also be a wake up call to state legislators. Redesigning our streets is the most effective and equitable approach to keeping people safer on our streets and should be the center of any effort moving forward, while education, encouragement, and enforcement should mainly be supplementary strategies.

If we are truly going to make progress on Vision Zero, we must give the Department of Transportation the political support to implement best practices and innovate new ways to keep everyone safe on our streets—even when those changes are hard. We see today’s announcement as a tremendous step in the right direction. We will continue our work until every neighborhood is a great place to walk, bike and live — where no one loses their life or is seriously injured trying to get to where they need to go.

A protest at Rainier Ave S and Henderson in 2018.

Care about ending traffic violence? Here are three ways you can help keep everyone safe on our streets:

1) If or when you drive, maintain a safe speed (i.e., below the speed limit and suitable for conditions), and be alert for people walking and biking.  

2) Send a letter to the Mayor and other elected leaders thanking them for their leadership and reinforcing the need for safer speed limits, redesigning our most dangerous streets, and getting Vision Zero back on track.

3) Get involved in advocating for traffic safety in your neighborhood

Act Now! button

Together, we can help Seattle make the changes necessary to achieve Vision Zero, and make sure everyone makes it home safely.

Li Tan holding a sign that reads: Vision Zero!

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!

 

070829-F-0870P-001

 

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

 

Kids Crossing

 

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

Mayor’s 5-year Bike Plan Slashes Promises — Act Now

Have you seen the draft 2019-2024 Bicycle Implementation Plan? The document proposed by Mayor Durkan lays out which projects will be built through the end of the Move Seattle Levy. While the plan includes some important projects, it drastically slashes the connected network that was promised to voters. In short, the next five years will not bring us considerably closer to connecting every neighborhood to each other with comfortable and convenient bike routes.

We need your help to tell SDOT and Seattle city leadership that this plan isn’t good enough. Send a comment to SDOT and Seattle city leadership here.

Act Now! button

How we got here

First, it is important to place this implementation plan in a wider context. It comes on the heels of the “Move Seattle Reset” — a hard look at the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT)’s ability to deliver projects given current funding levels. This reset pares down expectations from what was promised to voters to what can actually be delivered given current funding levels. But the implementation plan takes this trajectory too far and is downright pessimistic about funding assumptions.

For example, it predicts that after 2021 our city will never win another grant to complete what we promised voters. It’s also important to put this in the wider context: our society has plenty of existing funding to build out a safe bike network that connects every neighborhood, but politicians decide to spend it on projects like the $3,374,000,000 Highway-99 tunnel.

We could also stop the bad habit of making the bike budget pick up the tab for completely rebuilding streets and stretch our Bike Master Plan dollars further. Or we could aggressively pursue progressive funding options locally, regionally, and at the state level. Or some combination of all these strategies. Instead, what we are getting is extreme fiscal austerity at the expense of our city’s vision for a healthy, safe, affordable, equitable, and sustainable future. We can and must demand better from our leaders.

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

Important Inclusions

Zooming in on the specific projects listed in this Bicycle Implementation Plan, there are laudable inclusions and glaring omissions.

The plan includes much-needed safe places to bike on Eastlake Ave E, Green Lake Way, Delridge Way SW, E Marginal Way, the Georgetown to South Park Trail, Pike/Pine (and other parts of the Basic Bike Network), SW Avalon Way, and the Burke Gilman Trail Missing Link. The mayor deserves credit for including these critical projects in her plan and we hope she will work to swiftly build them before the end of her term.

Official sign reading "Bike Lane Ends". Someone has added googly eyes and a frowning face.

Three Glaring Omissions

1) A convenient, safe connection for SE Seattle. The most glaring omission is the lack of a single comfortable and convenient north-south route for Southeast Seattle. The viable options are, in order of preference, Rainier Ave S, Martin Luther King Jr Way S, and/or Beacon Ave S. A route down the spine of Beacon Hill may be the easiest option to implement. Building a continuous route from Yesler Terrace to South Beacon Hill on 12th, 15th, and Beacon Ave would connect SE Seattle communities to each other and economic opportunities like never before.

 

2) Safe Routes to SODO Jobs. The second biggest missing piece is a route that serves the thousands of blue collar jobs in SODO. The SODO Trail should be extended all the way to Georgetown or a viable alternative should be found that provides a connection to all the jobs along the way to protect the workers like Celso Diaz, who was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver  in 2017 while he was cycling home from work. On the other side of the Duwamish River, closing the Duwamish Trail gap would connect workers to jobs and fulfill a desire of the Duwamish Tribe to better connect their longhouse to the rest of Seattle.

 

3) Safe Routes to Transit. The third area that needs improvement is access to high capacity transit. Biking can be a great way to get around for many of our daily necessities since 51% of our trips are to destinations less than five miles away. For the other 49% of our daily needs, transit is a great option — if people can get to it. We need to build projects that will help people access transit hubs:

  • A protected bike lane from Mt Baker to the I-90 Trail on MLK, connecting people in the Rainier Valley directly to the East Link Light Rail station at Judkins Park, and people in the Central District to the Mount Baker Station.
  • A route paralleling California Ave SW, connecting people in the Admiral neighborhood of West Seattle to the C Line stations in the Alaska Junction neighborhood and to the Fauntleroy Boulevard Project (a project which is well overdue).
  • Improved bike routes to Northgate light rail station (opening 2021) and the N 130th Station (potentially opening 2024) to provide better access, especially for north Bitter Lake and Little Brook — the two most racially diverse neighborhoods in North Seattle.  

Seattle Neighborhood Greenways staff bike on a Pike St protected bike lane.

What You Can Do

These routes are a start to building a bike network that connects every neighborhood. We encourage everyone to continue pushing our elected leaders until every Seattleite has the opportunity to bike for their daily needs. And we invite you to join us in speaking up for the additional projects above at one of the upcoming public engagement meetings:

 

SHOW UP IN PERSON: SDOT Café-style Conversations

6:00 pm Doors open / 6:15 pm Short presentation / 6:30 pm Conversations

 

COMMENT ONLINE: Can’t make it in person? Send a comment to SDOT and Seattle City leadership using this form.

 

Here’s a cheat sheet for in-person and online comments:

  • A convenient, safe connection for SE Seattle. The viable options are, in order of preference, Rainier Ave S, Martin Luther King Jr Way S, and/or Beacon Ave S. A spine along Beacon Hill connecting from Yesler to Way to Kenyon St on 12th Ave S, 15th Ave S, and Beacon Ave S may be the most viable option.
  • Safe Routes to SODO Jobs. Connect the SODO Trail to Georgetown and jobs along the way, and close the Duwamish Trail gap to connect to the Duwamish Longhouse.
  • Safe Routes to Transit. For Sound Transit stations opening in 2021 and 2024, this plan will make or break their accessibility and usability. Connect the Little Brook and north Bitter Lake neighborhoods to the new light rail stations, Admiral to the C-Line via 42nd Ave SW & Fauntleroy, and the Central District to the Mount Baker station via MLK.

 

Thank you for all that you do!

Be well,

Clara

 

claraClara Cantor

she/her/hers
(206) 681-5526
Community Organizer
Seattle Neighborhood Greenways

The Mayor’s 35th Ave NE decision is a dangerous precedent. . . Take Action.

You may have heard this week that the Mayor reversed plans for a bike lane on 35th Ave NE. As neighborhood advocates stated, this upset “undermines the previous decisions of SDOT, city policy and the will of the community – by bending to a vocal minority who used tactics of fear and misinformation. It sets a dangerous precedent for safety projects across the city.” This isn’t an isolated incident, and it cannot become precedent.

Blue button that says

Join us Tuesday, April 2, from 2:00-2:30 pm, and tell the City Council to stand up for a safe, connected network of bike routes connecting every neighborhood in Seattle. Or send an email to your elected leaders now.

Apu testifying at City Council surrounded by people holding signs in support of the basic bike network.
TAKE ACTION: 
1) Tell the City Council: Stand up for our shared values.
Tuesday, April 2, 2:00 – 2:30 pmSeattle City Hall, in the Council Chambers (2nd floor).
Stand 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!
2) Tell the Move Seattle Levy Oversight Committee: Hold the Mayor accountable to the priorities Seattle voted for.
3) Send an email telling your personal story, and why safe, connected bike routes are important to you.

 

A headshot of Clara Cantor

Clara Cantor

Community Organizer
Seattle Neighborhood Greenways
Website – Twitter – Facebook

P.S. Thank you for your continued advocacy – you are making a difference!

Speak up for Walking and Biking in Seattle’s 2018 City Budget!

We care about making every neighborhood in Seattle a great place to walk, bike, and live, but too many important projects are being delayed or watered down.

That’s why Seattle Neighborhood Greenways is leading the charge as part of a new transportation alliance Move All Seattle Sustainably (MASS)We’re calling on the Mayor and City Council to go beyond general statements of support for transportation and environmental issues, and act now to align our city budget with Seattle’s values.

Walking

Seattle Neighborhood Greenways, backed by the MASS alliance, has four main city budget priorities this year:

  1. Safer Intersections. Halt spending on adaptive signals, which prioritize cars over everyone else, until the technology can prioritize people walking and biking.
  2. Traffic Calming. Fund a Home Zone pilot project, using diverters and traffic calming to limit and slow traffic on residential streets, particularly in areas with no sidewalks.
  3. Basic Bike Network. Add additional funding to get people to and from the new Arena and into and through Uptown and South Lake Union.
  4. Equitable Street Parks. Restore funding to successful Pavement to Parks projects with an equity focus.

Act Now! button

Act now to ask City Council to support these priorities, and join us on Wednesday, October 24 at 2:00 pm at the Transportation Committee Budget Hearing. Public comment is at the end of the meeting, likely around 4:00 pm.

Get involved in Seattle Neighborhood Greenways by volunteering with us or donating to support our work.
ApuAdvocacyCropped

Thank you for your continued advocacy!

 clara

Clara Cantor

(206) 681-5526
Community Organizer
Seattle Neighborhood Greenways

Website – Twitter – Facebook

Basic Bike Network Vote July 18!

Thanks to incredible community advocacy in support of the Basic Bike Network, we are on the cusp of a major win: the Seattle City Council Transportation Committee is considering legislation requiring the construction of three critical connections by the end of 2019, but we need your support!

Show up at noon on Wednesday, July 18, at Seattle City Hall, and ask the Council to vote for the #BasicBikeNetwork. We will have snacks and signs, or feel free to bring your own.

RSVP and learn more.

Can’t make it? Send an email voicing your support.

ApuTestifingAtCityHall

What’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.

BasicBikeNetworkMap2018

But the basic bike network has been delayed year after year, including a disappointing delay announced this March. We raised our voices, rallied in front of City Hall, and even took to the streets for Seattle’s first people-protected bike lane to make our message clear: We can’t wait any longer to make our city safer and more accessible.

And we are starting to be heard. You may have seen our message that, thanks to your advocacy, the city committed to protected bike lanes on the Pike/Pine Corridor without further delays. Help us keep the momentum going.
If this legislation passes, you and your loved ones will have safe, protected routes to bike into and through downtown Seattle from the north, south, and east (2nd Ave to Westlake, Dearborn, and Broadway) by the end of next year. Let’s make this happen.
A comparison between current, unsafe conditions at the intersection of Pine and Boren and a happy image of a protected bike lane filled with happy bikers on a rainy day.

Join us as we tell the City Council: Vote for the Basic Bike Network now! When: Wednesday, July 18, 11:50 am – 12:20 pmWhere: 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. Feel free to bring a bag lunch and a friend. Kids and families very welcome!

Can’t make it? Send an email voicing your support.

Thank you and we’ll see you on July 18!

A headshot of Clara CantorClara Cantor

Community Organizer

Seattle Neighborhood Greenways

WebsiteTwitterFacebook

 

P.S. Thank you for your continued advocacy – you are making a difference!

Creating Walkways in Georgetown

August 5, 2017
by Carol Ohlfs and Jesse Moore, Co-leaders
Duwamish Valley Safe Streets

Duwamish Valley Safe Streets leads tour to homeless camps for agency & City officials

Duwamish Valley Safe Streets leads tour to homeless camps for agency & City officials

Duwamish Valley Safe Streets (DVSS) members believe all people in Seattle deserve a safe way to reach their closest Library, Public Medical Clinic, and Community Center.

Georgetown’s new Seattle sanctioned homeless encampment hosted 50+ residents at 1001 S Myrtle Street who live closer to the South Park bridge than almost any other neighbors in Georgetown.

Before after sidewalk Georgetown 2. 2017For many of Georgetown’s residents and workers, getting to South Park means about a 30 minute walk, or a 10 minute bicycle ride along East Marginal Way and over the South Park Bridge. East Marginal Way is a major corridor used by cars, freight, and bus, having 4-5 vehicular travel lanes lanes. There are no crosswalks at large intersection, no safe crossing on 16th Ave, and no sidewalks connecting Marginal to the bridge.

The design of this important route, connecting the flatlands in the south of the city across the Duwamish River, currently fails to consider the safety and equity of all users.

On February 25th 2017, co-leaders of DVSS, Jesse Moore and Carol Ohlfs, led a walk of this unsafe route to bring eyes and minds together around improving safety and connectivity between Georgetown and South Park.

In attendance were Kathy Nyland Director of Neighborhoods, George Scarola Director of Homelesness, Council Member Lisa Herbold, city employees from Department of Transportation, Office of Policy and Innovation, and Office of Sustainability and Environment, Georgetown and South Park residents and business owners, as well as Robert Getch form Beacon Hill Safe Streets.

While there is still a long way to go to make this mile feel safe for people of all ages, abilities and walks of life, as a result of our walk the city implemented some basic improvements that are worth celebrating!

Below are before and after photos illustrating how road paint, vegetation maintenance and wheels stops begin to make some room for people walking between Georgetown and South Park.

Want to support work like this? Volunteer and donate:

  Join Us Donate
Before after sidewalk Georgetown 1. 2017

Before after sidewalk Georgetown 3. 2017