Tag Archive: parks

The Promise of Seattle Boulevards

The Promise of Seattle Boulevards is a 2016 workshop and report from Seattle Neighborhood Greenways, supported by Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT), Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation (SPR), the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods (DON), and the Friends of Seattle’s Olmsted Parks (FSOP). The recommendations of this group centered on the best use of current boulevards and a design framework to help to determine how boulevards can function equitably as both parks and transportation for all.

interlaken-blvd-promise-of-boulevards-report-2016The history of Seattle’s boulevard system is closely tied to the Olmsted legacy, which left Seattle with a promise of a citywide system of linear landscapes. The idea of connecting people to the remarkably beautiful landscapes and vistas of Seattle predates the Olmsteds, and continues to this day as we evolve to meet the open space needs of future generations, preserving and maintaining design intent, while connecting people to places.

reviewing-plans-promise-of-boulevards-report-2016

What are our challenges?

Our Seattle network of boulevards were not designed for the vehicle speeds or volumes typically seen today.​ Early boulevards were designed as slow pleasure drives linking scenic resources for early-model cars on gravel-lined roads. Boulevards today often lack intended connectivity, and higher design speed limits the safe use of boulevards for family-friendly recreational purposes, particularly by people walking or biking.

Seattle, through its Race and Social Justice Initiative, has a goal to eliminate disparities and achieve racial equity.​ How can we ensure equitable access on our boulevard system (culturally relevant, ADA, multimodal, and geographically distributed) and create a city where park-like qualities blend into our streets, where parks are accessible for people of all incomes, ages and abilities, all while celebrating our history?​ How can SPR, SDOT, and DON develop shared practices and principles to streamline interdepartmental work on our rich public space inventory? How can we create a transparent process for community involvement?

Read the complete report here

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Designing New Capitol Hill Park, Share Your Ideas!

by Brie Gyncild, Central Seattle Greenways

Central Seattle Greenways is partnering with the Capitol Hill Community Council and SDOT to transform an under-used block of road into a new Capitol Hill park! We kicked off the process at the April Community Council meeting, and will be designing the park over the next several weeks, for construction late this summer. Learn more and share your ideas at Central Seattle Greenways website.

New Park @Summit between Olive and Denny?

New Park @Summit between Olive and Denny?

Seattle ♥s Humps

by Cathy Tuttle
January 24, 2016

SNG Speed Hump Study On Lake City Greenway

SNG Speed Hump Study On Lake City Greenway

Let’s hear it for the lowly speed hump!

Seattle is poised to soon get thousands of these amazingly effective speed control devices near our schools and parks!

Speed humps, often called speed bumps**, are quick and inexpensive to install, and when installed correctly, force drivers to slow down.

Do speed humps work?

Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) started installing speed humps as part of neighborhood greenways and Safe Routes to School projects a couple of years ago. Wisely, SDOT measured speed data to track hump effectiveness.

Total speeding on the streets near three elementary schools dropped between 79 – 88 percent after speed humps were installed, and high-end speeding was nearly eradicated, and there was a 90 percent drop in aggressive drivers traveling more than 10 MPH over the speed limit.

Speed is the most important factors that determines how seriously a person is injured in a collision and, of course, whether the collision occurs in the first place. So yes, speed humps work.

SDOT Safe Routes Speed Hump Report

SDOT Safe Routes Speed Hump Report

What is a hump?

Technically, speed “humps” are different from the speed “bumps” you often encounter in parking lots. Built correctly, humps are more gradual and are not meant to bring people to a nearly complete stop. If you are driving or riding a bike at 20 MPH or below, you will not need to adjust your speed to go over them comfortably. If you are moving faster than 20 MPH, however, you will need to slow or face a jolt. And unlike with some speed bumps, the speed humps are not so sudden that they are likely to cause someone on a bike to crash.

Seattle’s speed humps will save lives, and they will prevent many people from serious and sometimes debilitating injuries.They will also make neighborhood streets places where people of all ages can live, have fun and get around on foot and bike.

Why is Seattle getting many new humps now?

In 2015, Seattle Neighborhood Greenways (SNG) staff came back from a Vancouver BC Study Trip with Commute Seattle, excited to share best practices. Among our take-aways was a Vancouver policy of putting speed humps on all non-arterial streets at EVERY school and EVERY park. SNG staff worked with SDOT Safe Routes to School coordinator Brian Dougherty and Parks staff on adapting Vancouver speed hump policies and we’re pleased to report Seattle has just now adopted similar policies!Speed Hump Effectiveness

Expect slower speeds soon where our children play and go to school. We have the tools to make our streets safer, and the speed hump is one of our most powerful tools in our safety toolbox. We can’t wait to see more of them!

**You may hear the terms speed humps and speed bumps used interchangeably by traffic safety professionals. Speed “humps” are actually the official term but according to our friends in Portland traffic engineering, the signs that said “Humps Ahead” were frequently stolen by the public but “Bumps Ahead” were left to perform their traffic calming duty.

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!

Lake City Greenways Develops a New Park!

All told, 63 people participated in this community-led design concept. That is phenomenal. You can see the complete design HERE.

There was strong general agreement among participants that they wanted a natural-feeling park with native plants and the enjoyment of flowing water. Additional elements rose to the top as they worked through their discussions.

The attached site-concept rendering and some other illustrations provided by the designers at Johnson+Southerland are quite easy to read, but to jump-start your perusal, just a few elements include the following: Screen Shot 2014-06-30 at 8.36.22 AM

*Distinctive entryways at both the 27th and 28th Avenue ends

*A pleasant and ADA-accessible pathway through the site

*Sitting rocks, providing naturalistic seating for all and fun for kids

*A bio-filtration garden that will help clean the water flowing into the site and into our tributary of Thornton Creek

*A flowing creek (no culvert) with a simple wood bridge

*Down side-paths, different “rooms” such as a fern garden, a flowing-water feature, and edible berries.

Please take a look!

This is but the first phase of the project, and Lake City Greenways will keep pushing forward with design and funding efforts to make this park a reality. A huge thank-you to all who participated and/or will join the project as it continues.

Stay tuned.

Three Lessons from Riding Every Greenway in Seattle

Originally published April 18, 2014
By Jacob Ostrowsky

Jefferson Park entrance from Beacon Hill Greenway

Jefferson Park entrance from Beacon Hill Greenway

What happens when you ride every greenway in Seattle?  Over the course of several weeks, I did exactly that and came away with a deeper understanding of how far we have come…and what the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) needs to do to realize the full potential of greenways.

First of all, I didn’t just ride every greenway.  I rode them, I walked them, and in some cases I drove them.  I went from one end to the other and back again.  I observed every sign, every speed hump, every pavement marking, and every piece of physical infrastructure, and I took notes along the way.

I took my wife and 11 year old son along for the ride and recorded their impressions, as well.

What did I find?  First of all, it’s clear SDOT knows how to build greenways now.  After a rough start that gave us the Wallingford Greenway — an embarrassment by any measure — SDOT is building greenways roughly on par with current practice in other cities.  Early on, it seemed like Seattle was going to fully recapitulate Portland’s entire painful evolutionary process.  Instead of simply picking up where Portland left off, SDOT apparently needed to re-live their mistakes.  It was maddening to those of us who understood how greenways work.  Fortunately, though, we’re past that and we have nothing but love for our friends at SDOT.  Bygones.

That doesn’t mean we don’t still have things to learn here in Seattle.  So here are three lessons for SDOT that become readily apparent when you ride every greenway.

1.  Break the Silos

Many greenways pass alongside beautiful parks seemingly oblivious to their proximity.  No curb cuts, no park entrances welcoming people along the greenway.  A greenway has the potential to link and extend the reach of Seattle’s park system.  A park should be an extension of the greenway network and vice versa.  Similarly, many greenways pass through creek protection and Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) reduction opportunity areas without addressing green stormwater infrastructure.  SDOT needs to do a much better job collaborating with Seattle Parks & Recreation and Seattle Public Utilities to truly green our greenways.  The portal from the Beacon Hill greenway to Jefferson Park (shown above) is a rare and welcome exception.  It needs to become the rule.

2.  Focus on User Experience

SDOT can be ham-handed when it comes to roadway design.  There is no doubt Seattle’s streets are built to engineering spec but they are not always intuitive to end users.  Many places end up being awkward or puzzling to people like you and me.  A few examples on greenways:

  • The offset arterial crossing at 32nd Avenue NW along the Ballard Greenway forces cyclists to merge into a standard 5’ bike lane at a 90 degree angle.  It may look fine on a schematic but, as a user, it’s puzzling.
  • There are numerous instances of 20 mph signs placed right at the corner of an arterial entrance to a greenway.  Motorists focused on making the turn will likely pass the sign unnoticed.
  • At various locations, you will see pedestrian half-signals installed without beg buttons accessible to cyclists or beg buttons located on the left side of the street only.  I witnessed a woman on a cargo bike fully loaded with groceries struggle awkwardly to activate one of these signals.  It wasn’t pretty.  Do we make drivers park and get out of their cars to activate signals?  We do not.
  • We seem to like diverters made from paint instead of concrete.  A diverter is intended to prevent motor vehicles from turning onto a greenway.  It is possible SDOT is focused on compliance rates but there is a big difference in the perception of safety provided by an actual physical concrete curb versus a painted (and soon to be faded) indicator.

 3.  Err on the Side of Safety

In numerous cases, SDOT appears to err on the side of caution: caution for the need of motor vehicles to flow swiftly.  Just once, they should err on the side of caution for the safety of pedestrians and cyclists ages 8-80.  Examples:

  • The Andover “raised crosswalk” on the Delridge Greenway is intended to protect pedestrians in the crosswalk but the raised portion is barely perceptible.  If we truly want to protect vulnerable users, we can learn a lesson from certain mall parking lots and give people a real raised sidewalk.
  • Arterial crossings along greenways seem to have the minimum acceptable treatment.  Ride the Ballard Greenway and you will wish the crossing at 14th was as good as the one at 32nd.  Similarly, you will wish the crossing at 32nd was as good as the one at 24th and you will wish the crossing at 24th was as good as the one at 15th.  Just once, let’s make err on the side of favoring pedestrians.
  • The same is true for diverters and medians.  At the arterial crossing of Beacon Avenue South at South Hanford Street, a median and pedestrian half-signal were added but the motor vehicle diverter is only sign-based with no physical barrier.  It is unclear why the median wasn’t extended slightly to serve as a physical diverter.  It’s as if SDOT is saying to motorists, “Don’t cross here, but in case you do, we made a nice cut through the median to make it easier to disobey the signs.”

In spite of these gentle observations, SDOT’s trajectory is, without a doubt, solidly upward.  Quality is improving and the results are readily apparent.  These essential greenway corridors, currently scattered across the city, are gradually coalescing into a linked network promising greater safety for those who choose to travel under their own power.  As we continue to work with SDOT, Seattle Neighborhood Greenways is dedicated to making this network a reality, one that sets a standard for quality that other cities will strive to match.

 

Greenway Wonkathon 2014

Wonkthon evaluation tableEXECUTIVE SUMMARY

On February 22, 70 thought leaders came together representing the City of Seattle, advocacy and community groups, the University of Washington, and design & engineering firms. The Greenway Wonkathon: a half-day collaborative event focused great minds on improving neighborhood greenway design and development. The topics areas we discussed were greenway development, segment design, intersection design, place-making, evaluation, and political strategy.

spokespeople-mar2014-2The Wonkathon was a huge success! Thank you! We left knowing we are a dynamic community dedicated to the idea of creating 250 miles of safe and healthy streets to Seattle in 10 years. We generated excellent strategies and actions to help us accomplish that lofty goal. Initials of people who signed up to help bring each idea to life are shown in the right hand column in the table below. Now is the time to turn your passion and ideas into action!  We invite you to connect and move forward with other people who are passionate about the same ideas and projects via the Greenway Wonkathon Google Group. Contact Gordon @ SeattleGreenways.org to join. Actions are already happening!

The ideas from the Wonkathon are organized into four high-level themes that emerged and cut across all six topic areas:

  1. Experiment and cut red tape
  2. Empower local communities
  3. Activate the streets
  4. Measure and communicate our successes
Wonkathon outcomes

Wonkathon panorama

Wonkathon outcomes 2

 
 

single bold step

UW students tap wisdom of Greenwood-Phinney Greenways

Greenwood Phinney Greenways meets UW Landscape classFor the second year, students of UW Landscape Architecture Professor Julie Johnson have made Seattle Neighborhood Greenways the focus of their studio work.

This year, the focus on Greenwood-Phinney Greenways centers around safe streets, and, in particular, how to design safer streets in places without sidewalks. We know this 2014 UW class will bring great solutions to Greenwood-Phinney Greenways!

In 2013, Landscape Architecture 402 students worked on a design plan for Lake City Greenways. Several of the student plans for safer, greener streets are already being implemented by the Lake CIty community and Seattle Department of Transportation.

 

  • Facebook photos of the first community-student meeting at Greenwood Branch Library January 16 2014.
  • Sign up here

    to get updates about future meetings in Greenwood and at the UW on the Greenwood Phinney Greenways project.