Seattle Neighborhood Greenways: 2021 Priorities

2020 may have hit us all with a slough of unprecedented challenges, putting many of our best-laid plans on pause, but the resiliency of the SNG network of advocates was formidable. With a pivot to serving immediate community needs, 2020 was a noteworthy year for the streets-for-people movement.

2021 is also shaping up to be a big year with many opportunities and challenges. With your help, we will make progress towards creating a city where every neighborhood is a great place to walk, bike, and live. Thank you to everyone who weighed in and helped set our priorities for the year ahead (listed below). And don’t hesitate to get involved, if you’re not already — no experience necessary!

 

  1. Whose Streets? Our Streets!
  2. Stay Healthy Streets
  3. UnGapTheMap
  4. Permanent Cafe Streets
  5. Safe Routes to School
  6. 15-Minute Neighborhoods
  7. Thomas Street
  8. Beacon Ave
  9. Lake Washington Boulevard Keep Moving Street
  10. Georgetown to Downtown Connection
  11. Home Zones
  12. Complete the Basic Bike Network
  13. Aurora Avenue Safety
  14. Speed Limits and Vision Zero
  15. Duwamish Longhouse Crossing and Duwamish Trail Connection
  16. Georgetown-South Park Trail
  17. Advancing Our Racial Equity Goals and Programs

 

Seattle Neighborhood Greenways is a grassroots, people-powered movement. This is an ambitious list of projects that we simply can’t bring to fruition without the energy and hands-on involvement of our local neighborhood chapters — and engaged volunteers like you!

Get involved.

 

 Beacon Hill Safe Streets action on the 12th Ave / Jose Rizal Bridge.

[Photo Credit: @4SafeStreets]

 

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1. Whose Streets? Our Streets!

For over a century, the laws and policies that govern how we use streets in Seattle have largely been written, enforced, and adjudicated by white people. Whose Streets? Our Streets! (WSOS) is a BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) group, convened in July 2020 by Seattle Neighborhood Greenways, dedicated to reviewing and revising laws and policies to better meet the needs and support the lives of all street users — in particular, the BIPOC community, who have historically been excluded from the full and free use of this shared public space.

WSOS uses a pro-equity, anti-racist framework to review laws and policies governing the use of streets and develop a vision of how our streets can be safe, thriving places without the use of armed police.

This includes recommendations to: cease involvement of the police in traffic enforcement, prioritize non-punitive methods for making streets safer, abolish enforcement of actions that don’t harm other people, invest in communities of color, and to trust, support, and invest in the owners and experts of those communities.

In 2021, the WSOS workgroup is building community support, starting with engagement in BIPOC communities. WSOS released a first peek at their policy recommendations at the MLK Jr Day panel, Strategies for Community Healing.

See minute 1:00:38 for the start of Phyllis Porter and Peaches Thomas’ WSOS presentation.

Get involved: Sign up to get news and updates related to WSOS events and activities.

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2. Stay Healthy Streets

Have you been out to enjoy one of Seattle’s Stay Healthy Streets? In response to our advocacy in early 2020, these streets are closed to vehicle thru-traffic, but are OPEN to people walking, biking, running, skating, scootering, and rolling! Local access, deliveries, and emergency services are still allowed.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Stay Healthy Streets have given people extra space to recreate outside and get where they need to go while allowing each other to maintain a safe physical distance.

In 2021, in response to community requests, we’re pushing for the following: an expansion of pilot Stay Healthy Streets into neighborhoods that don’t yet have access to one; making those that are successful and much beloved by the local community permanent; and for the continued success of the Keep Moving Streets program — i.e., Stay Healthy Streets that connect to and expand public parks — as we’ve seen on Lake Washington Boulevard, Green Lake Way N, and Alki Point.

Get involved: 

  1. Share your thoughts with the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) with this survey on Stay Healthy Streets (NOTE: This is a NEW SURVEY! Please take it now, even if you filled out a different one last fall).
  2. Send an email supporting the neighborhood push for Lake Washington Boulevard to remain open to people year-round.
  3. Send an email supporting the neighborhood push to complete the street-loop around Green Lake by extending their Keep Moving Street and creating a temporary space along Aurora Ave.

A familiar scene on the Alki Point Keep Moving Street: folks out walking, biking, roller-skating, skateboarding, taking their dogs for a stroll. This Keep Moving Street offers a safe, healthy place to recreate with gorgeous views to boot! [Photo credit: Lynn Drake]

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3. UnGap the Map

Seattle boasts a ton of great bike trails, protected lanes, and greenways. Yet, too often, bike routes end abruptly, leaving people stranded in scary intersections to navigate on their own. A bike route is only as comfortable as it’s scariest section, and if we want to be a city where people of all ages and abilities can choose to bike comfortably and conveniently to get where they need to go, we need to #UnGaptheMap.

In 2021, we’re identifying critical gaps in our routes and advocating for a complete network as the only way to achieve our city’s climate, health, and transportation goals. 

Get involved: Email [email protected] for details.

 

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4. Permanent Cafe Streets

Last year Seattle piloted allowing small businesses to use parking spaces or even entire streets for restaurants and retailers to stretch out and operate safely. We successfully advocated to make the permits affordable and extend them through 2021. Over a hundred small businesses have been able to stay open thanks to this initiative. This year we will be working to make the permits permanent, and help small businesses not only recover, but thrive in Seattle by making better use of our street space than storing and moving cars. 

cafe streets video screenshot

Get involved: If you have connections to small businesses that would benefit from this initiative, please contact [email protected].

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5. Safe Routes to School

We believe that every child deserves to be able to walk, bike, or bus to school safely and comfortably.

Seattle Neighborhood Greenways is pushing for systemic solutions to help improve the Safe Routes to School program citywide. We’ve secured funding for a new full-time Active Transportation Coordinator for Seattle Public Schools and built relationships at schools citywide to help each community identify and advocate for their own needs.

In 2021, we are working with volunteers, school communities, and agencies to mitigate major transportation budget cuts and make sure that school communities have their voices heard.

Get involved: 

  1. Join the campaign here or email [email protected] for details.
  2. Push for a School Street at your local elementary school by emailing the principal to request a School Street now! 
  3. Share a photo or story of your students walking or biking to school! Tag us on Twitter (@SNGreenways) or Instagram (@seagreenways), and use the hashtag #SchoolStreet

 

Kids Crossing

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6. 15-Minute Neighborhoods

Everyone should have access to their daily needs within walking (or rolling) distance. That’s the deceptively simple idea behind 15-Minute Neighborhoods/Cities. In 2021, we will advocate for the City of Seattle to develop this idea as part of the city’s next major master plan, called the Comprehensive Master Planning process. Read more from our intern who conducted research on the idea last year

Get involved: Sign up to get news and updates related to 15-Minute Neighborhood campaign updates and activities.

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7.Thomas Street

How will thousands of people get to the new Seattle Storm and Kraken arena when it opens in fall of this year? Right now the Uptown neighborhood is bracing itself for a deluge of cars, but if the Thomas St Redefined effort is successful, people will walk, bike, and take transit to the new arena and the Seattle Center instead. Thomas St will be the only all ages and abilities connection that links transit lines (including the most popular bus route in the state, the E-Line) and the South Lake Union neighborhood to Uptown and the Seattle Center. 

Get involved: If you live, work, or care about this area, get in touch with [email protected].

Thomas St Design

 

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8. Beacon Ave

People deserve safe routes to bike from SE Seattle to the rest of the city. We are partnering with the city and community organizations to craft a route down the spine of Beacon Hill that connects people to where they need to go.

Read our local neighborhood group’s (Beacon Hill Safe Streets) March 2021 letter to SDOT about plans for improved walking and biking options on Beacon Ave, and see the Seattle Bike Blog write-up on this campaign.

Get involved: Email [email protected] or join Beacon Hill Safe Streets at a monthly meeting.

Current walking/biking trail on Beacon Ave.

 

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9. Lake Washington Boulevard Keep Moving Street

Lake Washington Boulevard has been periodically opened to people walking, biking, rolling, running, and skating during the pandemic — and closed to cars. And it has been a HUGE hit. As in, we’ve never received more support for any project. Our local group, Rainier Valley Greenways – Safe Streets, is leading the way to get SDOT to implement another long-term open street this summer, and to conduct responsive and equitable community engagement. 

Get involved: Go to stayhealthystreets.org/lwb to show your support and learn more.

The Nguyen family, enjoying the Lake Washington Boulevard Keep Moving Street while it was open to people walking, biking, and scootering, April 9-18th.

 

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10. Georgetown to Downtown Connection

SODO is one of the most deadly neighborhoods in Seattle for both walking and biking, yet there isn’t a single bike route connecting from Georgetown to Downtown, and people walking or biking to major job centers are left stranded amongst freight routes and high-speed vehicles. Since the closure of the West Seattle Bridge, the additional vehicles have made the situation considerably worse. In 2020, we advocated for SDOT to study the route, then secured funding. This year, we’re pushing for interim improvements as well as a long-term plan that improves safety for people biking into and through SODO.

Recent news: The Georgetown community suffered a loss when local resident River was killed by a driver at Corson Ave S & S Michigan, while crossing the street, in the crosswalk, on a bike. In honor of River, and his tragic death, the Georgetown community hosted an all ages and abilities Slow Ride Friday 4/9, with many Seattle organizations represented, including our local neighborhood group, Duwamish Valley Safe Streets. See live tweets from the event here.

Get involved: Join Duwamish Valley Safe Streets or email [email protected] for more info.

african american biking on 2nd ave SDOT photo

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11. Home Zones

With current funding, it’s going to take between 200 and 1,800 years to build sidewalks in all of Seattle’s neighborhoods. That’s way too long.

A Home Zone (FAQ sheet here) is a neighborhood that creates a holistic plan to discourage speeding, cut-through traffic while maintaining local access for neighbors, emergency vehicles, and deliveries. It is a cost-effective and community-focused solution to make residential streets safer to walk, bike, and roll on. 

City-funded Home Zone projects stalled in 2020 due to COVID-19 budget cuts, but we’re picking up where we left off and pushing for the City to complete the last few elements to Home Zones in South Park and Broadview and move forward on Home Zones in Highland Park and New Holly. Additionally, neighbors in NE Greenwood are working to build their own new Home Zone.

Get involved: Email [email protected] for more information.

IMG_E8799

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12. Complete The Basic Bike Network

Seattle needs a connected network of safe and comfortable streets for biking. 60% of Seattleites want to bike more, and concern about street safety is the number one reason they choose not to. We’ve advocated for years for a downtown Basic Bike Network, and we now have routes that will offer safe and comfortable bike connections to get people into and through the center city from the north, east, and south. But critical gaps remain. 

In 2021 we will continue to advocate for closing the gaps in the #BasicBikeNetwork with a focus on Pike St, 4th Ave, 12th Ave, and the Uptown area. To read more about this effort, see: https://seattlegreenways.org/basicbikenetwork

Get involved: Email [email protected] with questions or for more info.

basic bike network graphic

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13. Aurora Avenue Safety

Green Lake & Wallingford Safe Streets, Greenwood-Phinney Greenways, and Licton-Haller Greenways have formed the  Aurora Reimagined Coalition, a public outreach and advocacy effort to improve Seattle’s second most dangerous street — Aurora Ave N. They are building a community coalition to re-knit communities on either side of this concrete curtain and finally make it safe to walk, bike, take transit, and drive along and across this dangerous stretch.

Get involved:  Join the discussion group to stay in the know. Email [email protected] with questions.

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14. Speed Limits and Vision Zero

Vision Zero is the goal to have zero people die or suffer serious injuries in traffic crashes by 2030. Last year, Seattle lowered speed limits to 25 mph on major arterial streets across the city, and installed head-starts for pedestrians at hundreds of intersections. This year, we’re holding the city accountable for completing that work, and focusing on safety for Aurora Ave N and Rainier Ave S — the city’s two most dangerous streets for road collisions!

Get involved: Email [email protected] for details.

Vision zero

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15. Duwamish Longhouse Crossing and Duwamish Trail Connection

Access to the Duwamish Longhouse & Cultural Center has been difficult due to the heavy, high-speed traffic along Marginal Way, poor sidewalks, and the lack of safe options for crossing. In 2019, the tribe launched the Duwamish Longhouse Pedestrian Safety and Accessibility Project and built public pressure for the overdue safety improvements. With the closure of the West Seattle bridge, these critical improvements took on added urgency. SDOT is now prioritizing the construction of  a new signalized crosswalk, a pedestrian pathway, and an extension of the Duwamish Trail for this year. For more on this story, see feature write-ups in The Urbanist and Real Change News.

 

Get involved: People who are interested in getting involved should contact the Duwamish Longhouse & Cultural Center directly.

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16. Georgetown to South Park Trail

Georgetown and South Park are a short, flat, 1.8 mile distance apart. In these adjacent neighborhoods, more than 8,500 people live, 30,000 work, and countless thousands play in parks, schools, festivals, and local establishments. Each of these Southend community hubs has essential goods and services that the other doesn’t — however, the lack of safe walking or biking infrastructure keeps the two neighborhoods divided.

In 2021,we will work to keep the construction of the Georgetown-to-South Park Trail on track to connect these two neighborhoods.

Get involved: Email [email protected] to join Duwamish Valley Safe Streets at a monthly meeting.

Georgetown + South Park Logo

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17. Advancing Our Racial Equity Goals and Programs

Are you interested in advancing racial equity in our streets-for-people movement? Seattle Neighborhood Greenways has updated our Racial Equity Action Plan for 2021-2024 to strengthen our goals and accountability, and we’re gathering enthusiastic do-ers for an ongoing racial equity workgroup to help us think through details, launch programs, and plan educational and engagement events.

In 2021, we’re also launching two exciting new scholarship funds:

  • Sponsorship for all volunteers to attend equity-focused workshops and training.
  • Sponsorship for people of color to attend continuing education workshops and trainings within transportation, urban design, and public space fields — open to POC whether or not they are volunteers within our coalition.

Get involved: To join our ongoing Racial Equity Workgroup, to hear more about scholarships, or to add your name to the list to make sure you hear about upcoming opportunities, email [email protected]

20-is-plenty-at-rainier-view

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If you’ve read this far, thank you, and you’re amazing. Please get involved and donate — we need YOU to help fuel this people-powered movement!