Category Archive: News

What’s next for safe streets with our new mayor?

2022 is going to be a big year. At the start of both the Murray and Durkan mayoral administrations, we had to fight to restore critical walking and biking projects that were delayed, canceled, or watered down. Will we see the same pattern with mayor-elect Harrell? Only time will tell, but it gives us pause that he let competent SDOT director Sam Zimbabwe go. Will you chip in to make sure we can respond to whatever comes our way under this new mayor? 

The good news is that the public is on our side. Seattleites overwhelmingly want our new mayor to dedicate more street space for sidewalks, bike lanes, sidewalk cafes, and bus lanes, even when it means removing a lane of traffic or parking. But general public support can easily be drowned out by a few loud angry voices. That’s why our proven strategy of organizing supporters in neighborhoods around the city is integral to creating better streets. And we get results! 

Below are a few highlights your support made possible in 2021:

  • Tripled the funding for equitable and data-guided safe street projects.
  • Extended the successful Cafe Streets program that 260 small businesses have used to stay open. 
  • Kept seventeen Healthy Streets open for thousands of people to enjoy.  
  • Continued organizing our Whose Streets? Our Streets! BIPOC working group, which built important new relationships this year, and celebrated the movement of 120 parking enforcement officers from SPD to SDOT as a first step towards removing armed police from traffic enforcement.
  • Celebrated safe routes for people to walk and bike to the three new light rail stations this year, representing years of advocacy, including the John Lewis Memorial Pedestrian bridge, protected bike lanes on Green Lake Drive and 100th street, and better sidewalks on NE 43rd street.
  • Won $1.5 million to repair sidewalks and add curb ramps to make walking and rolling more accessible to people of all ages and abilities.

These improvements would not have happened without supporters like you — thank you. If you can, please consider making an end of year gift to power our work into 2022. 

                                                 


 

With your support, next year we will…

  • Fight to improve safety on some of our most dangerous streets including Aurora Ave, MLK Way S, and Airport Way S. 
  • Build relationships and advocate to shift traffic enforcement from SPD to SDOT.
  • Bolster struggling small businesses with street cafes and pedestrian-only streets.
  • Advocate to close dangerous gaps in bike routes that leave families stranded. 
  • And support everyday people across the city who want to get organized and make their neighborhoods better places to walk, roll, bike, and live.

Thank you and happy holidays! 

Gordon Padelford
Executive Director
Seattle Neighborhood Greenways

P.S. Did you miss our year in review newsletter? Be sure to check out the inspiring progress we’re making together, or make an end of year donation now so we can make progress in 2022

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2021 Year In Review — Putting our values into action

At Seattle Neighborhood Greenways we believe that our streets should reflect our shared values as a city.

When we polled Seattle voters in October, we found that those values that have guided our work these past ten years are widely shared and supported. When asked what values are important to how Seattle funds and allocates space on our streets, there was strong support for all nine values listed: Safety, racial equity, clean environment, accessibility, affordability, convenience, kid-friendly streets, health, and happiness. Encouragingly, support ranged from 95% for safety to 72% for happiness!

Here are some highlights from 2021 that exemplify how we put these values into action this year.

Safety
We won funding to permanently triple the Seattle Department of Transportation’s Vision Zero budget, which will vastly increase the number of critical safety projects that are built starting in 2022!

A group of people walking down the street holding Black Lives Matter signs.

Racial equity
Our Whose Streets? Our Streets! BIPOC work-group built important new relationships this year, and celebrated the movement of 120 parking enforcement officers from SPD to SDOT as a first step towards removing armed police from traffic enforcement.

Clean environment
We celebrated safe routes for people to walk and bike to the three new light rail stations this year, including the John Lewis Memorial Pedestrian bridge, protected bike lanes on Green Lake Drive and 100th street, and better sidewalks on NE 43rd street.

Accessibility
We won $1.5 million to repair sidewalks and add curb ramps to make walking and rolling more accessible to people of all ages and abilities.

Affordability
After housing, transportation is the biggest household expense, which is why we are excited that the 15 Minute City concept, which would make it so you can walk to all your daily needs, gained traction this year.

Convenience
The 4th Ave protected bike lanes now connect Pioneer Square to Belltown and beyond, helping fill in one of the last pieces of the downtown Basic Bike Network, which will encourage more people to ditch their cars and bike to work instead.

Kid-friendly streets
Lake Washington Boulevard was open for families every weekend this summer and during school closures, allowing kids to be kids and everyone to enjoy this amazing public space in SE Seattle.

Health
Stay Healthy Streets remained open on seventeen streets this year, and SDOT (slowly) began the process of working with different neighborhoods to determine what permanent improvements could look like (see our take on how the city should evolve the program).

Happiness
We successfully extended the well loved Cafe Streets program until spring 2022, helping 260 small businesses to stay open, and people stay connected to each other safely.

We didn’t poll about every value we hold true — community togetherness for instance. Thank you for being a part of our community in 2021. We truly are a people-powered movement, and we could not have achieved this without your support. If you can, please make an end of year donation to keep us going.

We hope you will resolve to stay involved in the New Year, as we walk together on the long journey towards streets that truly reflect our shared values.

Thank you!

Gordon Padelford
Executive Director

Safe Streets Construction Highlights 2021

2021 was a big catch-up year for SDOT, after 2020 completion of only 2.3 miles of protected bike lanes and neighborhood greenways, out of the 15.2 miles planned. We’re excited to see the completion of several huge, much-anticipated projects that will make a huge difference to people walking, rolling, biking, and accessing transit across Seattle.

Here’s some highlights of the new protected bike lanes, street crossings, and sidewalks you may not have seen yet!

A long row of people on bikes, including some children, ride towards the camera in the new 2-way protected bike lane next to Green Lake.

North Seattle: New sidewalks and Connections to new light rail stations!  

Three new light rail stations opened this fall, and along with them several important new routes that will help people access the stations and make our transit system more accessible to more people. The biggest and most anticipated is the new John Lewis Memorial Pedestrian bridge, allowing access across I-5 to the Northgate Link Light Rail Station.

New bike lanes now connect around the east side of Green Lake (pictured above). Green Lake Wallingford Safe Streets advocacy heavily influenced the accompanying pedestrian improvements that square up intersections and improve access to the park. This project, which connects to the new Roosevelt Light Rail Station via protected lanes on NE 65th St and NE Ravenna Blvd, was originally also meant to include bike routes on Stone Way and N 40th St, but those segments were cancelled (for now).

Other improvements include new sidewalks on NE 43rd St accessing the University District station, and the new Northgate Neighborhood Greenway, including intersection improvements at 8th Ave NE and Northgate Way.

Lake City Way Safety: This year also saw the completion of new sidewalks, crossings, and intersection improvements along Lake City Way, dramatically improving pedestrian access and safety on what has historically been one of Seattle’s most dangerous corridors.

An instagram post from @urbanistorg. Image shows a protected bike lane next to a lively business district. Text reads: "Fresh Kermit alert. Feels like 34th Street PBL was in planning for five years and built in a weekend."

Connections South to Downtown: N 34th St now has new parking protected bike lanes (pictured above), including many design suggestions from Ballard-Fremont Greenways. This route improves access to the Fremont Bridge and connections south to the Westlake Trail and downtown, and makes it possible for people of all ages and abilities to ride from Gasworks Park to Pike Place Market, downtown, or Chinatown/International District.

A woman with a blue shirt rides a bike on the newly completed 2-way protected bike lane on 4th Ave. In the background are 2 more people on bikes, one person riding an e-scooter, and several cars and buses.

Central Seattle: Downtown Basic Bike Network

After many years of delays and continued pressure and advocacy, we finally have a new 2-way protected bike lane on 4th Ave through downtown Seattle (pictured above)! With the new short segments of bike lanes in Uptown around the new Climate Pledge Arena and improvements on Alaskan Way, downtown Seattle has never been easier to get around by bike.

A map of protected bike routes in downtown Seattle.

South Lake Union: Short segments of new bike lanes on Eastlake Ave through South Lake Union and the newly re-opened Fairview Ave bridge set the stage for the future protected bike route which will connect from Lake Union Park along Eastlake Ave to the U District Station as a part of the Rapid Ride J line (construction to begin in 2023).

Central District: New protected bike lanes on E Union St include protection around the intersection with 23rd Ave, which Central Seattle Greenways (CSG) advocated heavily to include after it was not included in the original design. CSG celebrated with a group ride.

A family with a small child bike away from the camera in a protected bike lane across the Jose Rizal Bridge. The background shows a cityscape with trees with yellowing leaves..

Connections South: New protected bike lanes on 12th Ave S (pictured above) now connect people safely from the King St neighborhood greenway in Little Saigon over the Jose Rizal bridge to the I-90 Trail at the north end of Beacon Hill! Even more exciting, after many years of advocacy by Beacon Hill Safe Streets, the dangerous slip lane at the top of the bridge has been closed. Though short, this 4 block connection is the first direct bike route designed for people of all ages and abilities that connects from downtown to the entire southern half of Seattle. It also sets the stage for the future bike connection currently being planned along the spine of Beacon Hill (construction to begin in 2023).

The left image shows a woman in a green jacket shrugging while standing next to a train track and a street with a semi truck speeding past. On the opposite side of the street the Duwamish Longhouse and Cultural Center is visible. The right image shows a nighttime image of a new traffic signal and crosswalk with glowing lights.

West Seattle: Rapid Ride and Greenway Improvements

2021 brought the completion of the West Seattle Neighborhood Greenway, which connects all the way from Alaska Junction to High Point, Fairmount Park, and down to Roxhill Elementary School. After many years of advocacy from West Seattle Bike Connections, the new Rapid Ride H line (formerly Delridge Rapid Ride) multimodal improvements included sections of protected bike lanes as well as neighborhood greenway improvements and pedestrian improvements, including a traffic signal and diverter at 35th Ave SW and SW Graham St.

And most noteably, the Duwamish Longhouse on West Marginal Way SW has a new sidewalk, traffic light and crosswalk (pictured above) connecting the longhouse to bus stops, the Duwamish Trail, and car parking across the street. This comes after many years of advocacy from the Duwamish Tribe and allies, including West Seattle Bike Connections and Seattle Neighborhood Greenways.

A gray image of a street with cars parked on both sides and white blooming trees. There is a bike sharrow painted in the middle and a "Neighborhood Greenway" sign on the right.

South Seattle: Safe Streets Infrastructure Investments Still Lagging Behind the Rest of the City

South Seattle has historically received significantly less safe infrastructure investment than the rest of the city, and despite many promises to prioritize equity from SDOT and our elected leaders, this underinvestment continues. The lack of safe streets has tragic consequences for south end families and communities — of the 31 people who have been killed in traffic collisions this year alone, 18 were killed in District 2, which includes Rainier Valley, Beacon Hill, SODO, and parts of Chinatown/International District. This is not acceptable, and we must do more to prioritize safe streets for SE Seattle.

The only bike infrastructure installed in SE Seattle this year was a refresh of the S Kenyon St Neighborhood Greenway (pictured above), providing a valuable East-West connection from Beacon Ave S to Seward Park Ave S, improving crossings of dangerous arterials and connecting to the Chief Sealth Trail and Rainier Valley neighborhood greenway.

Pedestrian Improvements: There were many exciting pedestrian improvements in South Seattle, including:

  • The intersection of 15th Ave S and S Columbian Way is finally improved after years of advocacy from Beacon Hill Safe Streets. These changes dramatically increases safety and access for students at Mercer International Middle School as well as people accessing Jefferson Park, the business district, and the VA Hospital.
  • Rainier Ave S received hardened centerlines at four intersections, with potentially more to come! Although they may seem insignificant, these small plastic strips force drivers to slow down when turning, and make walking or rolling across the street feel considerably safer. Rainier Valley Greenways-Safe Streets continues to advocate to improve safety and reduce speeding on Rainier Ave S.
  • I-90 onramps on Rainier Ave narrowed from two lanes of vehicle traffic down to one. After continued pressure from Rainier Valley Greenways-Safe Streets and Disability Rights Washington, people crossing here or accessing the Judkins Park station are now significantly more visible to drivers and have a much shorter distance to cross.

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

Citywide Improvements: Lowered Speed Limits and Safe Routes to Schools

  • SDOT installed signage lowering speed limits to 25 mph on most major streets — a total of 415 miles of Seattle’s arterial streets are now 25 mph! Lower speeds decrease the number of collisions that occur as well as the severity and likelihood of serious injury or death.
  • Seattle’s Safe Routes to School program, built 29 road safety improvements near schools in 2020 and 2021, including neighborhood greenway connections, new sidewalks, new crossings, and speed humps that will help kids walk or bike to school safely. The new School Streets pilot program also added space for kids in front of schools.
  • Seattle also distributed 21,500 free ORCA cards (transit passes) to 18,000 students this year, in addition to 3,500 essential workers and Seattle Housing Authority residents.

These exciting projects will help keep people safe and comfortable when biking around Seattle, and we’re thrilled. We’re also looking forward to more transformational projects in 2022, including the Georgetown to South Park Trail, a new protected bike lane on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Way from Rainier Ave S to Judkins, the Pike Pine Renaissance, and more!

Thank you for all that you do to make improvements like this possible! If you can, please pitch in to help make more important projects possible next year and beyond.

Safe travels,

Clara Cantor
Community Organizer

The Future of Urban Highways

Forming a grassroots movement to re-think Aurora Avenue

By Tom Lang

The Aurora Reimagined Coalition is a group of activists, community organizations, businesses, and neighborhood groups working to improve the Aurora corridor. Among the founding members are Licton-Haller Greenways, Greenwood-Phinney Greenways, Green Lake and Wallingford Safe Streets, and Ballard-Fremont Greenways.

A group of people wearing yellow reflective vests descends a stairway next to a 5 lane highway. In the foreground, a sign reads "Aurora Ave".

The Aurora Reimagined Coalition leads a walking audit in Bitter Lake.

In the past 10 years, 27 people have been killed biking, walking, jogging, and crossing Aurora. In 2020, during the first part of the Pandemic, when traffic volumes fell across the city, more people died on Aurora than ever before.

Whether you live near Aurora, drive down, or walk across it, we can all agree that the street has many problems. Now is the chance to join other community activists to fix Aurora and make it a safer corridor that meets the needs of the 21st century. Learn more at https://www.got99problems.org/

In early 2021 a few local Seattle Neighborhood Greenways advocates first met to talk about the problem of Aurora Ave. Our intention was simple: how do we focus the community’s attention on Aurora Avenue North and get elected officials to take action on one of the most dangerous roads in Seattle? 

A group of people with jackets and masks stand under a banner that reads "Somos Mujeres Latinas".

The Aurora Reimagined Coalition leads a Spanish language visioning workshop.

We started small – public outreach events and meetings with transportation officials. We hosted visioning workshops, spoke with reporters, contacted city and state elected leaders, and shared a public survey with the community. We walked nearly every section of the highway and documented the challenges people face when using Aurora outside of a car. We’ve heard the opinions of many neighbors and business owners, talked with impacted and marginalized community groups, and encouraged everyone to imagine how Aurora could be made better. In less than a year the Aurora Reimagined Coalition has grown to a city-wide effort of hundreds to create a safer corridor through North Seattle, with real changes coming as soon as next year.

A still from a video called N 130th Street Walk Audit. Text reads "Observing the conditions along Aurora at N 130th Street."

Click here to see the video summary of the N 130th Street Walk Audit.

In 2022, the Seattle Department of Transportation, with state and local funding, will launch a $2 million study to address Aurora’s safety and guide its future. This, along with a recently announced $1 million dollars from King County Metro to study the E-Line, which runs the entire length of Aurora, is a very exciting development. Now is our time to influence the scope and vision of the city’s planning work. The Aurora Reimagined Coalition will be an active part of these studies, elevating the community’s interests and ensuring the agencies deliver tangible results.

But Aurora Avenue is more than just a transportation corridor. We recognize that the best transportation plan is a great land use plan. For this reason, we are committed to addressing the neighborhood holistically. Zoning, housing, freight, crime, transit, parks and open space, stormwater management, urban forestry – all these issues are connected and relevant to a reimagined Aurora Avenue North. 

Change will come gradually, in fits and starts, and may take 10 years or more of consistent advocacy. Now is the time to question the fundamental nature of our streets and ask ourselves: What is the purpose of the public right of way? 

We invite you to join the next Aurora Reimagined Coalition meeting and help improve one of the most dangerous streets in Seattle. Learn more at https://www.got99problems.org/

A logo for the Aurora Reimagined Coalition. Text reads "99 Problems", for Hwy 99.

Big Wins from the 2022 Seattle City Budget

12 Big Wins for the 2022 Seattle City Budget!

Advocates like you across Seattle have rallied allies, given public comment, and written to elected officials to push for a city budget that aligns with our values and priorities. On Nov 22, City Council finalized the 2022 Seattle City Budget. And it includes substantial gains, including tripling the budget for Vision Zero — Seattle’s goal to have zero traffic deaths or serious injuries by 2030 — which has been chronically underfunded.

Street Safety:

1. Vision Zero: $5.1 million increase for Vision Zero street safety projects in 2022, via ongoing vehicle licensing fees and a new increase in the commercial parking tax championed by Councilmember Lewis. This increase nearly TRIPLES the current Vision Zero budget.

2. Home Zones: $1 million for this low-cost solution for traffic-calmed neighborhood streets championed by Councilmember Morales.

3. New sidewalks in District 2: $2 million for sidewalks accessing the IDIC Filipino Senior & Family Services Center, Rainier View Elementary School, and other locations in D2  championed by Councilmember Morales.

4. Maintenance: $1.5 million for sidewalk repair and curb ramps, and $800,000 for active transportation maintenance including sweeping bike lanes, planter box maintenance, replacing flex posts, and more, included in Mayor Durkan’s proposed budget.

5. NE 45th Street crossing of Interstate 5: $150,000 for this vital connection, in addition to the funding last year, which has not been used due to delays. Championed by Councilmember Pedersen.

6. MLK Jr Way Safety: A request that SDOT draft a plan and cost estimate to make this high crash corridor where 8 people have been killed in the last 2 years safer for people walking, biking, and accessing transit. This report, requested by Councilmember Morales, will be returned in September, 2022 in time for next year’s budget deliberations.

Public Space for People:

7. Lake Washington Boulevard: $200,000 for equitable outreach and permanent design for this beautiful public park space for people championed by Councilmember Morales.

8. Ballard Ave NW: $270,000 for designing permanent pedestrian and streetscape improvements, building on the successful temporary Cafe Street, championed by Councilmember Strauss.

Policing and Traffic Enforcement:

9. Parking Enforcement: 120 full-time positions moved from the police department to the department of transportation, which will now be conducted by un-armed city employees and governed by SDOT’s values and goals.

10. Data Collection: A request that SDOT analyze what it would take to collect street safety and crash data in order to move this work away from the Seattle Police Department. This report, championed by Councilmember Morales, will be returned by Sept, 2022 in time for next year’s budget deliberations.

Ongoing Planning:

11. Transportation Equity Workgroup: $1 million in continued funding for this important workgroup that has just released their initial Transportation Equity Framework.

12. Seattle Transportation Plan: A proviso on the $2.5 million funding this long-term, multimodal planning effort will allow Council and the public an opportunity to see plans and provide comment, and ensure that our values and priorities are incorporated. This opportunity, championed by Councilmember González, will open up this opaque process and have huge impacts on our abilities to make streets safer.

Click here to thank the City Council for doing the right thing, and get involved in Seattle Neighborhood Greenways by volunteering with us or donating to support our work.

What’s Next:

Read more about what this means and what’s next for Vision Zero, Home Zones, Lake Washington Boulevard, and Traffic Enforcement.

Vision Zero

This past weekend, we remembered and honored the 30 people who have been killed by speeding vehicles so far in 2021, including 5 people killed just in the last month. In 2015, the City of Seattle committed to Vision Zero — the goal to have zero traffic deaths or serious injuries on city streets by 2030 — but those numbers have been increasing, due in part to the program being chronically underfunded.

Advocates like you successfully increased the budget for Vision Zero street safety projects by $5.1 million via vehicle licensing fees and a commercial parking tax increase. Rather than a one-time increase, this revenue is ongoing, and will continue to fund street safety year after year.

The Vision Zero budget has strong safety and equity filters, so this funding makes a real difference to the streets and intersections where it’s needed most. Big-scale street re-designs make the most impact on safety, but small safety infrastructure like new sidewalks and crossings, traffic signals that give pedestrians a head start at intersections, protected left turns for vehicles, pedestrian refuge islands, and protected bike lanes can make our streets significantly safer for a fraction of the cost.

Home Zones

Home Zone is a low-cost, holistic plan that pushes through-traffic to surrounding arterials and traffic-calms a whole neighborhood of residential streets at once. After SNG and neighborhood organizers worked on a successful DIY Home Zone in Licton Springs, City Council adopted an official pilot of the program in 2019.

This program has been plagued by projects that are only partially completed and funding that has dried up, and people are demoralized. Councilmember Morales, advocating for her constituents in Holly Park and Rainier Beach that have been clamoring for a Home Zone since the program was paused due to Covid-related budget cuts last year, initially proposed an increase of $3.7 million. This number was cut down through the rebalancing process, but we will continue to advocate for increased funding so that we can fulfil promises and make real changes to neighborhoods desperate to calm speeding cut-through traffic.

Lake Washington Boulevard

In the summer of 2020, three miles of Lake Washington Boulevard, from Mt. Baker Park to Seward Park, closed to vehicle through-traffic and opened to people walking, running, rolling, and riding bikes. It was a wild success. During intermittent openings since, SDOT’s survey of nearly 7,000 people found that 65% supported keeping the street open to people all the time (not just on weekends) including a majority of 98118 residents, and respondents who identified as BIPOC.

In 2022, the City will conduct equitable community engagement that will create a design for permanent improvements to Lake Washington Boulevard.

And, SDOT just announced that Lake Washington Boulevard will open again this weekend, from November 25 – 28. If you get outside and enjoy it, share a photo and tag us on social media (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook), use #AccessLWB, or email [email protected]. You can also join our volunteer workgroup to help create an Accessible Lake Washington Boulevard by emailing [email protected]

Policing

Although changes to the police department budget were not as dramatic as some might have hoped, the Solidarity Budget coalition (which SNG endorsed and collaborated with) did win many improvements (read the press release here). Despite promises nationwide after protests in the summer of 2020, Seattle will be the only major city in the country that divested from policing two years in a row, allowing investment in community health and well-being.

The biggest change came from permanently moving parking enforcement from the police department into the department of transportation. Parking enforcement will now be conducted by un-armed city employees and governed by SDOT’s values and goals. Seattle also took the first tentative step towards moving street safety and crash data collection into SDOT as well, as recommended by our Whose Streets? Our Streets! Workgroup.

Recent polling shows that traffic enforcement is an area of wide public consensus for the movement to divest from policing. The public is very supportive (73%) of transferring traffic enforcement duties away from SPD and to SDOT. This is a common sense solution that would both result in more equitable outcomes (traffic stops are the #1 way the public interact with the police, which as we know can escalate with deadly consequences) and result in a more pragmatic approach to traffic safety that will save lives and keep people moving safely. Our Whose Streets? Our Streets! Workgroup is continuing this advocacy.

As we celebrate these hard-fought wins, we also look ahead to the coming year, and continue to push for the #SolidarityBudget that would divest from policing and invest in community health and safety, including safe streets and thriving, walkable communities. We thank you for your tireless energy in helping to make it happen. You are making a difference!

Click here to thank the City Council for doing the right thing, and get involved in Seattle Neighborhood Greenways by volunteering with us or donating to support our work.

Thank you for your continued advocacy!

 

Clara Cantor
she/her

Community Organizer
Seattle Neighborhood Greenways
Website – Twitter – Facebook

 

World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims, Nov 21, 2021

The wide street in SODO where Ramona, 34, was killed by a drunk driver in September of this year.

Jared was out walking on January 1, 2021 and was hit by a driver and killed, the first traffic fatality of the year. He was 23 years old.

In March, Rainy, 53, died after being struck by a car while crossing the street in Lake City. The next day, Luri, also 53, was killed by a driver while biking in Rainier Beach. They were the seventh and eighth people killed in road traffic in Seattle in 2021.

Donta, 43, died after a hit-and-run collision while walking on the sidewalk just south of Aurora Bridge in April.

Jennette, a 37 year-old mother, was killed in a hit-and-run collision while crossing Martin Luther King Jr Way at the Columbia light rail station in June.

Ramona, 34, was killed by a drunk driver while walking in SODO in September.

So far in 2021, 30 people have been killed on our streets and another 125 people have received serious, life-altering injuries, including 5 people killed in just the last month.

This is already the highest number in recent years, and we still have a month and a half of the darkest, wettest time of year.

A collage of images: A cross leaning against a tree, surrounded by flowers, a woman speaking next to a bike painted white, a crowd of people in the rain holding signs and flowers.

Memorials commemorating and honoring people killed by traffic violence on our streets.

This Sunday, November 21, 2021, is the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims.

We remember the millions of people killed and seriously injured on our streets as well as their families, friends, and communities. We also give thanks to the first responders and other people in emergency services who are faced with tragedy every day. This tremendous burden and loss is often seen as unavoidable — that each incident is a completely accidental aberration, but that’s not the case.

Many of our city streets are designed for speed, rather than safety. But our city was intentionally designed this way, and we can make the choice to design it differently.

For World Day of Remembrance, Seattle Neighborhood Greenways is collaborating with Cascade Bicycle Club, Seattle Department of Transportation, and other safe streets advocates to commemorate and honor those killed by traffic violence over the last two years (2020-2021), 53 people in total.

In the last two years (2020-2021), 53 people have been killed on our streets and another 272 people have received serious, life-altering injuries.

Traffic violence, like so much else in our city, is disproportionately killing and harming people of color, people with disabilities, elders, low-income people, and unhoused people.

They’re also geographically concentrated: of 53 deaths, 30 occurred in District 2, which includes Rainier Valley, Beacon Hill, SODO, and parts of Chinatown / International District. Southeast Seattle is home to many communities of color, and has historically received significantly less infrastructure and safety investment.

Each number is a person, and each death has rippling effects on their family, friends, and community.

This map shows the locations in Seattle where 53 people were killed by traffic violence in 2020 and 2021. Locations are densest in Southeast Seattle and along Aurora Ave.

Victims of traffic violence are disproportionately people walking, rolling, and biking.

In the last two years, 37 people have been hit by cars and killed while walking, rolling, or biking, including 22 just this year. This includes 31 people walking, 4 people riding bikes, one person rolling in a wheelchair, and one person riding an e-scooter. People walking, rolling, biking, and accessing transit are disproportionately low-income people, people with disabilities, elders, kids, and people of color. We must do better to protect the most vulnerable people on our streets.

A group of people stand behind a yellow banner that reads "Seattle Neighbors for Vision Zero."

In 2015, the City of Seattle committed to Vision Zero — the goal to have zero traffic deaths or serious injuries on city streets by 2030.

But our pedestrian safety crisis has continued to get worse. In the last two years, traffic volumes dipped dramatically due to the pandemic and work-from-home measures, but deaths continued to rise.

The Vision Zero team at SDOT knows what and where the biggest safety issues are — 50% of fatal and serious injury crashes occur on just 11% of our street network (multi-lane, high speed, high volume arterial streets). The four most dangerous streets in Seattle are Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Way, Aurora Ave N, Rainier Ave S, and Airport Way in SODO.

On MLK Jr Way alone, there were 8 people killed in the last two years.

Long-term planning projects require massive amounts of funding, community engagement, and political support, but improve safety in a way that nothing else can.

But in addition to large-scale projects that re-design streets, small safety infrastructure can go a long way. New sidewalks and crossings, traffic signals that give pedestrians a head start at intersections, protected left turns for vehicles, pedestrian refuge islands, and protected bike lanes can make our streets significantly safer for a fraction of the cost.

We also recognize that safety on our streets doesn’t just mean safety from speeding vehicles, and that people are being killed on our streets by systemic racist policing, by gun violence, and because they are currently experiencing homelessness. In addressing this pedestrian safety crisis, we have to work together to find solutions that house people, give people safe, convenient mobility options, and support community needs so that we can all thrive.

An Asian woman holds a sign that reads "Vision Zero!"

What’s Next?

The Seattle City Council is currently poised to triple the Vision Zero budget in the 2022 City of Seattle Budget. We thank Councilmembers Morales and Lewis in particular for championing Vision Zero investments through this year’s budget deliberations. This funding is also a greater acknowledgement from our City Council that they are committed to Vision Zero and to improving safety on our streets.

Mayor-elect Harrell showed strong leadership championing safety improvements for Rainier Ave S when he served as the City Councilmember for District 2. Let him know that he has people who will support his decision to champion Vision Zero during his tenure as Mayor.

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

  1. If you drive, maintain a safe speed and be alert for people walking, rolling, and biking.

  2. Send an email to Mayor-elect Harrell to ask him to support street safety during his tenure as Mayor.

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

A child fastens a hand painted sign that reads "Look out for pedestrians" behind a collection of flowers.

 

Mia, 29, died after being struck by a driver while walking in S Beacon HillMichael, 66, died while walking in West SeattleMichael, avid runner and cyclist, killed in a hit-and-run while riding his bike in Seward ParkMikayla, 27, was a passenger in a car and died in Sodo Mike, 44, died riding a bike in Roosevelt Ly-Kui and Thin-Sang, both 56, died while driving in Hillman City Luri, 53, killed while biking in Rainer Beach Keith, a retired Kirkland Fire Captain, died after being struck by a car while riding a moped John, 55, killed while walking in Interbay Jennette, 37 year-old mother, killed in a hit-and-run while crossing MLK at the Columbia light rail station Emoke and Steven, recently retired and active community members, died after being struck by the light rail while walking accross tracks Hieu, 41, killed walking in N Beacon Hill James, 57, died after being struck by a vehicle while walking south of Georgetown Jeffery, 57, died driving in SODO Jeffrey, 30, killed riding a motorcycle Elenora, 28, killed after being hit while walking in Columbia City Douglas, 43, died after being struck by car while walking in Sodo Donta, 43, died after a hit-and-run collision while walking on sidewalk south of Aurora Bridge Dino, 31, died riding a motorcycle in Sodo David, 61, died riding a motorcycle in Pinehurst Aaron, 33, died while driving in Sodo Andra, 27, killed walking in S Beacon Hill Christopher, 38, killed in a hit-and-run while walking near Green Lake Xikuhn, 54, died driving in N Beacon Hill Unknown person, 72, died while walking in S Beacon Hill Unknown driver died in a car crash in interbay Simeon, 46, hit by a car and died while riding an e-scooter in Sodo Raymond, 51, struck by car while crossing street in a wheelchair Richard, 70, killed in a hit-and-run while walking across Aurora Avenue N Robert, 54, killed riding his bike after being hit by a car in Georgetown Ronald, died walking in the Mt Baker neighborhood Rong Xing, died walking in Sodo Ramona, 34, killed by a drunk driver while walking in Sodo Rainy, 53, died after being struck by a car while crossing the street in Lake City Penny, 75, died walking in Queen Anne Paul, 58, died walking in Lake City Norbert, 72, died while walking in Belltown

Thank you to the volunteers across Seattle who contributed to this photo collection to commemorate each individual who has been killed on our streets. It is sobering to compilation and a heavy reminder of why we do this advocacy.. Together, we will continue to push for #VisionZero and improving safety on our streets.

Action Alert: Demand Protection for Eastlake Ave Bike Lanes!

Protected bike lanes on Eastlake Ave connecting the University District and South Lake Union are long awaited and eagerly anticipated.

But current designs show protection ending two blocks south of the University Bridge, leaving people unprotected through the most dangerous section of this entire corridor.Act now to demand a complete, protected bike connection through this vital corridor! Comment period closes Monday, Nov 22, 2021.

A photo of Eastlake Ave shows a wide expanse of pavement with three people biking next to some parked cars.

A Dangerous Gap in Protection

The current design, which includes a gap in the protection for people riding bikes between Fuhrman Ave E and Harvard Ave E, just south of the University Bridge, is unacceptable. This unprotected area is especially concerning due to the volume of high-speed vehicle traffic to and from Harvard Ave and the I-5 highway on-ramp.

Already A Heavily Used Route, Even With Current Dangerous Conditions

This bike route fills an essential missing segment for people traveling between the University District and South Lake Union, two of Seattle’s neighborhoods with the lowest rates of car ownership. And the route is already extremely popular: Despite current dangers, during peak hours, there are over 120 people on bicycles per hour riding along Eastlake Ave. The University Bridge has the second highest volume of people on bicycles in the city.

A map of car crashes shows Eastlake Ave with numbers at various intersections: 18, 89, 16.Yet it is an exceptionally dangerous route for people travelling by bike. From 2012-2017, there were 39 reported bicycle collisions along Eastlake Ave — and those are just those that were reported. The map above shows car crash data in the section where protection for people on bikes drops. Click here to see the full map. A comfortable, fully protected route along this corridor has the potential to increase the number of people riding bikes to where they need to go exponentially.

A video still shows a map of Seattle with the words Continuous Protection is Critical 

Bike routes are only as comfortable as their scariest section, and we can’t keep building bike routes that stop and start, dropping the protection for people riding bikes in the most dangerous sections. This design means the route won’t be comfortable for many including families, kids, elders, disable people, and new riders. 60% of Seattleites say they want to bike more, and safety is the number one reason they don’t. Fully protected bike lanes are critical for maintaining safety throughout the entire corridor, creating better bike network connections, and increasing ridership. Click here to learn more about our citywide campaign to #UnGapTheMap!

A crowd of people in colorful raingear biking down a green protected bike lane.

Seattle’s Climate Action Plan calls for an 83% reduction in road transportation emissions to reach our 2030 climate goals. Every effort should be made to increase the utility, safety, connectivity, and attractiveness of the city’s bike network to make bicycling a viable option for more people, for more trips. We appreciate the work that has been done to this point to plan for bike lane protection along the Eastlake corridor, and it is why we are pushing so strongly for the final block of this project to receive the same attention.

Send an email to elected officials now to demand a complete, protected bike connection through this vital corridor! Comment period closes Monday, Nov 22, 2021.

Click here to learn more about our campaign to #UnGapTheMap!

Thank you for your continued advocacy!

Clara Cantor
she/her

Community Organizer
Seattle Neighborhood Greenways
Website – Twitter – Facebook

Poll: Seattle voters support streets for people

 

Conversations about changes to Seattle’s streets can often feel contentious, but is that just because of who chooses to engage in these debates, or is Seattle truly divided? To find out, we teamed up with the Northwest Progressive Institute to compose our questions, and they contracted with Change Research to poll the public. The poll has a modeled margin of error of 4.1% at the 95% confidence interval (read more about the methodology here). The short answer is that at least when it comes to transportation issues Seattlites are surprisingly united!

A row of people on bicycles in a protected lane share the street with a King County Metrobus.In brief, we found Seattle voters…

  1. Share common values for how to shape the future of our streets
  2. Support giving space for safe routes to school, bike lanes, sidewalks, street cafes, and bus lanes even when it means removing a lane of traffic or parking
  3. Are eager to implement transformational ideas

Shared values

When planning for our transportation future, the vast majority of Seattle voters thought that our elected leaders should take into account safety, racial equity, sustainability, accessibility, affordability, convenience, kid-friendly, health, and happiness.

These values are what underpin Seattle Neighborhood Greenway’s vision and work, so seeming them shared so strongly was heartening and will help guide how we talk about what we do.

 


Support for bike lanes, sidewalks, cafe streets, and bus lanes — even when it means removing parking or travel lanes

Even when it comes to seemingly contentious transportation projects that require converting a lane or traffic or parking spaces, Seattle voters were overwhelmingly supportive. They are willing to convert travel lanes and parking lanes into more space for kids to get to school, outdoor dining, wider sidewalks, safe bike lanes, and bus lanes. This scientific polling finds that Seattle voters are in fact more united around an inclusive transportation vision, even when there are difficult tradeoffs, than parts of the public discourse would lead us to believe.

We hope this finding encourages Mayor Elect Harrell and SDOT to be bold in proposing street improvements that reflect our shared values as a city, even when it feels challenging, since they will know the public has their back.

 


Transformational ideas are popular

Overall, the public is very supportive of transformational ideas like creating pedestrian only streets, shifting the enforcement of traffic laws from SPD to SDOT, implementing a 15 Minute City vision, and creating more Home Zones and Stay Healthy Streets.
Strong support for pedestrian only streets 
The public is overwhelmingly supportive (81%) of seeing more pedestrian only shopping streets. These streets could build off the success of the city’s Cafe Streets program, which has allowed small businesses to thrive by using street space for retail, dining, and other uses. The city should create permanent policies to allow for pedestrianized small business streets, so that we can help our local economy thrive during this difficult time, and rebound after the pandemic, guided by new research of how to create successful pedestrian only streets.

 

A group of people walking down the street holding Black Lives Matter signs.

Traffic enforcement is an area of consensus for the policing debate
The public is very supportive (73%) of transferring traffic enforcement duties away from SPD and to the Seattle Department of Transportation. This would result in more equitable outcomes, because traffic stops are the #1 way the public interact with the police, which as we know can escalate with tragic deadly consequences, especially for people of color. It would also result in a more pragmatic approach, that would refocus traffic enforcement towards problem solving to keep people safe, rather than just writing tickets. Leaders at the state level should propose legislation to allow this common sense solution, so that cities can move traffic enforcement responsibilities from police departments to transportation departments. This would be a more equitable, efficient, and safe system for everyone.

 

15 Minute City graphic that shows how many different destinations you could get to quickly

Talking about 15 Minute Cities brings people together
Conversations around zoning and land use can be contentious, but the public is overwhelmingly supportive (81%) of adding more housing, retail, and neighborhood amenities to make it so that people can walk to their daily needs in fifteen minutes or less. Our ask: This 15 Minute City concept could bring people together around a shared vision for how we should grow as a city, and should be used as a foundation for updating the city’s zoning and land use plan (called the Comprehensive Master Plan).

 

Stay Healthy Streets and Home Zones remain popular
The poll found that 67% of people support efforts like Stay Healthy Streets and Home Zones that limit traffic on neighborhood streets to local access only. These two pilot programs have been a lifeline during the pandemic, and they have also been a successful experiment showing the way towards a better future. The Seattle City Council is working to add funding to the Home Zone program for next year, which is a cost-effective way to make neighborhoods, especially those without sidewalks, a safer and more comfortable place to walk. Outgoing Mayor Durkan promised at least 20 miles of permanent Stay Healthy Street, a promise which Mayor-elect Harrell has said he will expand upon. We laid out a vision for how the Stay Healthy Street program can better serve all Seattlites.  

 

A School Streets graphic showing figures walking, rolling, biking, delivering goods, and a school bus.

School Streets need to demonstrate their benefit better
While safe routes to school projects in general are wildly popular (84% in the tradeoff question), the School Streets pilot that allows schools to close their adjacent streets to create a safer and more orderly way for kids to walk, bike, and bus only got 55% support. Participating schools report that this has calmed what can be a hectic and dangerous time around the start and end to the school day, but these stories have not yet been widely reported. We think that with more public education of the benefits of this SDOT pilot program, the public would be even more supportive.

 

A sidewalk made impassible by tree roots and crumbling pavement.

Sidewalk repair

Did you know that repairing sidewalks are the responsibility of the adjacent property owner? Many people do not, and there is little help or incentive for them to do so. There are 150,000 known sidewalk hazards, which can be dangerous and completely block access for folks walking and rolling.
The City of Seattle recently conducted an audit on current sidewalk repair policies and programs and recommended the Oakland buy/sell/repair ordinance which requires property owners to bring sidewalks into compliance before a property is sold. Oakland reported a 65% increase in sidewalk repairs after this was implemented. To do this equitably the city would need to set up a revolving fund to give property owners access to funds before the sale goes through to make the repair, and to subsidize low income land owners. This would essentially function like a capital gains tax on property sales, that would capture some of the skyrocketing wealth created by owning land.
A better long term solutions would be for the State Legislature to give Seattle more options for progressive taxation to fully fund the city run sidewalk repair program, but in the meantime Seattle should do what it can to make our sidewalks more accessible. We understand why on its face this idea is less popular (45% support, 8% unsure) than the others we polled about, but we think that when all of this is explained it will be seen as a progressive and pragmatic temporary solution, while we wait on Olympia to deliver better revenue options to fully fund a City of Seattle run program.
In summary, Seattle voters…
  1. Share common values for how to shape the future of our streets
  2. Support giving space for safe routes to school, bike lanes, sidewalks, street cafes, and bus lanes even when it means removing a lane of traffic or parking
  3. Are eager to implement transformational ideas

These ideas are widely popular, and passionately supported

Speak up for Vision Zero and the Solidarity Budget!

Yesterday, someone died while travelling on our streets. Same with last week. This is unacceptable. Everyone has a right to get to where they need to go safely.

Seattle has committed to Vision Zero, the goal to eliminate road-traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2030. But we are failing to reach that goal. One big reason why is that the Vision Zero program has been chronically underfunded. Decades of neglect have created a huge backlog of high-speed streets that see crash after crash, and often lack basic safe places to walk, roll, or bike.

Right now, with your help we can triple the Vision Zero budget, and invest in safety projects like sidewalks, safety redesigns, crosswalks, and traffic calming where they are needed most.

Two easy ways to ask the City Council to invest in Vision Zero and the Solidarity Budget in the 2022 Seattle City Budget:

  • Phone in to give public comment: Thursday morning, Oct 28, when Seattle City Council discusses the transportation budget! Public comment starts at 9:30 am, sign-up opens at 7:30 am. You’ll get a second opportunity during the public hearing on Nov 10 at 5:30 pm. How-to guide here.
  • Click here to send an email of support to the entire City Council

So far in 2021, 26 people have been killed by traffic violence on our streets, including two people killed in two separate incidents just in the last week — and we still have two months of the darkest, wettest time of year. And traffic violence, like so much else in our city, is disproportionately killing and harming people of color, disabled people, elders, low-income people, and unhoused people. Each number is a person, and each death has rippling effects on their family, friends, and community. We must do better.

We also recognize that safety on our streets doesn’t just mean safety from speeding vehicles, and that people are being killed on our streets by systemic racist policing, by gun violence, and because they are currently experiencing homelessness. That’s why we’ve endorsed the Solidarity Budget, asking Council to defund the Seattle Police Department and reinvest in communities, including in Vision Zero. The Solidarity Budget is a collective call towards a city budget that centers the needs of the most marginalized and vulnerable Seattle residents and aligns our budget with our shared values and priorities.

A young girl holds a sign that says

Earlier this year, the City Council doubled the Vision Zero budget for 2021. Now, they are voting to make that change permanent. Councilmember Lewis has also proposed an additional increase that would triple the Vision Zero budget going forward. This funding would make a huge difference in the number and quality of safety improvements our city is able to install each year, and the number of lives we’d be able to save.

We’re also supporting amendments proposed by Councilmember Morales increasing safe places to walk in both new sidewalk construction and Home Zones.

Other important proposed amendments to make the budget better reflect our city’s values and priorities:

  1. Lake Washington Boulevard: Conduct equitable engagement to design and implement permanent improvements for Lake Washington Boulevard.
  2. Martin Luther King Jr Blvd Safety: Ask SDOT to come up with a plan to make this high crash corridor safer for people walking, biking, and accessing transit.
  3. Remove Data Collection from the Police: Ask SDOT to analyze what it would take to collect street safety and crash data in order to move this work away from the Seattle Police Department.
  4. Smart Planning: Demand accountability for the “Citywide Integrated Transportation Plan,” which may undercut our efforts to make safer streets.

Act now to ask the City Council to invest in Vision Zero and the Solidarity Budget in the 2022 Seattle City Budget:

  • Phone in to give public comment Thursday morning, Oct 28, when Seattle City Council discusses the transportation budget! Public comment starts at 9:30 am, sign-up opens at 7:30 am. You’ll get a second opportunity during the public hearing on Nov 10 at 5:30 pm. How-to guide here.
  • Click here to send an email of support to the entire City Council

 

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

Thank you for your continued advocacy!

 

Clara Cantor
she/her

Community Organizer
Seattle Neighborhood Greenways
Website – Twitter – Facebook

Act Now to support walk/bike/transit in this year’s City Budget!

The City of Seattle is failing to reach its Vision Zero, climate, and equity goals. A budget is a moral document, and we are working with the Move All Seattle Sustainably (MASS) Coalition to ask the City Council to amend the Mayor’s proposed budget to better reflect our shared values.

Two easy ways to ask the City Council to prioritize people walking, rolling, biking, and taking transit:

This year we’re supporting some critical changes to make the budget better reflect our city’s values and priorities:

  1. Vision Zero: Increase funding for our Vision Zero program, which has strong equity and safety prioritizations. 
  2. Sidewalks: Increase funding for sidewalk construction, particularly along critical transit corridors, improving access for disabled people, elders, and others.
  3. Lake Washington Boulevard: Conduct equitable engagement to design and implement permanent improvements for Lake Washington Boulevard.
  4. Martin Luther King Way South Safety: Ask SDOT to come up with a plan to make this high crash corridor safer for people walking, biking, and accessing transit. 
  5. Remove Data Collection from the Police: Ask SDOT to analyze what it would take to collect street safety and crash data in order to move this work away from the Seattle Police Department.
  6. Smart Planning: Demand accountability for the “Citywide Integrated Transportation Plan,” which may undercut our efforts to make safer streets.
  7. Progressive Revenue: Continue to seek new progressive revenue, and direct sources such as the Vehicle Licensing Fee and Commercial Parking Tax towards street safety.

Click here to ask City Council to support people walking, rolling, biking, and taking transit, and phone in Friday morning, 10/15, at 9:30 am when Seattle City Council discusses the transportation budget! Sign-up to give public comment opens at 7:30 am. How-to guide here.

Two people walk beside 7 lanes of traffic on Aurora Ave.

Increase funding for Vision Zero, new sidewalks, and Home Zones 

Safety for people walking and rolling is more urgent than ever given the sharp uptick in traffic deaths this year, which disproportionately impact people of color, low income people, unhoused people, disabled people, elders, and their communities. These deaths are also geographically concentrated — over half occured in Southeast Seattle. District 2 Councilmember Tammy Morales has proposed several increases.

A mixed race family smiles for the camera with their dog in front of a boulevard full of people walking and biking next to a lake.Projects in Southeast Seattle

We also support Councilmember Morales’s proposals for projects within her district. District 2 has long been underfunded and lacking in publicly accessible park space and safe streets infrastructure.

  • Lake Washington Boulevard: $200,000 to conduct equitable engagement and develop a community design for a long-term vision for people using this iconic waterfront space.
  • Martin Luther King Jr Blvd Safety: A request that SDOT develop a plan to make this high crash corridor safer for people walking, biking, and accessing transit. MLK Blvd is one of the most dangerous streets in Seattle, and has seen 3 community members killed this summer.

Remove Data Collection from the Police

Currently, our street safety data relies exclusively on police reports, which results in huge gaps in data. Reports skew towards vehicle crashes, and incidents often go unreported, particularly those involving Black people, Indiginous people, and other People of Color (BIPOC), immigrants, those who do not speak English fluently, and low-income or unhoused people. Our BIPOC Whose Streets? Our Streets! Workgroup recommendations include developing a new, holistic data-collection structure without police involvement, and we’re supporting Councilmember Morales’s request that SDOT analyze what it would take to collect street safety and crash data — the first step towards moving this work away from the Seattle Police Department.

A street scene with people biking and people boarding a bus.Smart long-term Planning

SDOT is currently developing a “Citywide Integrated Transportation Plan” to combine and replace the existing pedestrian, bike, transit, and freight master plans. However, the process has been opaque, and early releases are worrying, particularly for people walking, rolling, and biking. Councilmember Strauss is proposing a proviso on the $2.5 million budget item for devising this multimodal master plan, requiring that SDOT bring that process out into the public eye and ensure that they follow through with their stated climate, equity, and mobility goals. 

A pie chart showing funding from the Vehicle Licensing Fee.Progressive Revenue Options

Seattle doesn’t have the funding available to fully meet the overlapping crises around housing, climate, mobility, and racial justice, which is why it’s crucial Seattle continues to pursue progressive revenue, and direct new sources such as the Vehicle Licensing Fee and Commercial Parking Tax towards street safety.

Click here to ask City Council to support these priorities, and phone in Friday morning, 10/15, at 9:30 am when Seattle City Council discusses the transportation budget! Sign-up to give public comment opens at 7:30 am. How-to guide here.

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

Thank you for your continued advocacy!

Clara Cantor
she/her

Community Organizer
Seattle Neighborhood Greenways
Website – Twitter – Facebook

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