Category Archive: News

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

Action Alert: Park Streets For People

Quick Summary: People should be able to safely walk, bike, roll, and play on streets in parks. Click here to take action and tell the Seattle Parks Department to include this idea in their strategic plan.

During the pandemic, the Seattle Parks Department teamed up with the Department of Transportation to create a version of Stay Healthy Streets next to iconic parks, which they called Keep Moving Streets. These streets along Alki Point, Lake Washington Boulevard, and Green Lake were opened for people to walk, bike, roll, and play by limiting car traffic. While not perfect, they have been well-loved by Seattleites.

 

The City is exploring how to make the Alki Point Keep Moving Street permanent, and has implemented an interim trail for a section of Green Lake. The City has not yet begun to conduct outreach to make permanent improvements for Lake Washington Boulevard.

The Seattle Parks Department needs to work with the Department of Transportation to conduct equitable engagement to co-design permanent improvements for these three streets, and expand the program to other streets to serve more communities.

The Parks Department is going through a strategic planning process, and needs to hear from people like you that continuing and expanding the Keep Moving Streets program is important. Please click here to send them a comment, or write your own email to [email protected]

Act Now! button

Thank you!

Gordon Padelford
Executive Director
Seattle Neighborhood Greenways

P.S. Don’t forget to RSVP for our annual Streets For People event coming up on November 7th

Support a Youth-led Movement for Mobility Justice in Beacon Hill

Photo courtesy of PATHSS Youth Participant L.S.

In collaboration with Beacon Hill Safe Streets and Seattle Neighborhood Greenways, our partners at the Participatory Active Transportation for Health in South Seattle (PATHSS) study have spent the past year hearing from Beacon Hill youth and adult community members about what they need to get from place to place.

This week they’re publishing an infographic and youth-led South Seattle Emerald op-ed calling on city leaders to ensure fair, just access to transportation and mobility in Beacon Hill and all of South Seattle. Act now and join their call.Act Now! buttonThe community recommendations for mobility justice on Beacon Hill:

  1. Make transit free for all youth as a first step towards free transit for the whole community

  2. Add more buses, bus routes, and bus shelters
  3. End fare enforcement
  4. Fund traffic calming, curb cuts, smooth sidewalks, visible crossings, and better street lighting in South Seattle
  5. Increase affordable, dense housing
  6. Increase access to supportive, rather than police-based, services for those with mental health and substance use conditions
  7. Listen to youth, BIPOC communities, low-income people, and people with disabilities
  8. Generate new progressive revenue to fund changes

Act now to ask Seattle’s elected leaders to support this vision and invest in the future and well-being of our wise South Seattle youth and adult community members. Learn more in the South Seattle Emerald.

Act Now! buttonClick here to learn more about PATHSS, including viewing youth photography, stories, and videos capturing their experiences getting around South Seattle.

 

Last week to experience the U District pedestrian street!

An amazing thing happens when buses are diverted off of University Way Northeast and the remaining car traffic is reduced to just one lane. The prevalent sounds become conversation, laughter, and music in the newly-discovered quiet of this temporary pedestrian environment.

Welcome to Outdoors on the Ave, a rare experiment in pedestrianizing a key commercial district in one of Seattle’s densest neighborhoods for daily walking and rolling activity. With the new U District light rail station about to open, a university serving 40,000 students, and recently up-zoned buildings under construction, the University District is projected to challenge Capitol Hill as Seattle’s walking-est neighborhood.

Throughout September, and culminating this weekend, the U District has hosted a Cafe Street on The Ave, with restaurants and community life filling street spaces that are usually clogged with traffic and parked vehicles. Outdoor dining is available at dozens of restaurants and cafés, featuring cuisine from around the world. Thursday nights feature an outdoor, all-ages concert series, free to attend — two more concerts have just been added, so you’ve got great options for music this Thursday, Friday, and Saturday each, featuring En Canto (Sep 30), The Civilians (Oct 1), and Reposodo (Oct 2). Come early to grab take-out, take a seat at a picnic table, and listen to music together in the open air.

   

Thursday is also Chess Night on The Ave’s Cafe Street, hosted by Bulldog News, with a large street chessboard and tables for other matches. Bring your board or borrow one.

 

Experience Outdoors on the Ave before it’s gone.

Sadly, Saturday, October 2nd is the last day to experience this pedestrian street experiment. The 2nd will be a significant day in Seattle, marking the grand opening of three new light stations, including the U District light rail station — a new major connection for this neighborhood to the rest of the city.

The U District station grand opening festival will feature a $3 food walk ($3 menu at over 45 restaurants), an outdoor stage for live music, and a beer garden at Big Time Brewery. Come for the light rail station opening and check out the pedestrian street before it disappears!

How did The Ave’s pedestrian street experiment come about? 

Just as the severe impacts of the pandemic on our beloved, local small businesses became alarming in May of 2020, a group of U District neighbors and volunteers came together to help with the following priorities:

  • Help local small businesses recover from the pandemic
  • Create space for safe social distancing for pedestrians on The Ave
  • Attract customers to the U District to compensate for loss of students during the summer

But the idea of a “people street” on The Ave goes back to the 1970’s with a proposal by Victor Steinbrueck, who helped save Pike Place Market from demolition.

Throughout extensive public engagement workshops and other community-led activities over the years, the U District community stakeholders’ (business owners, nonprofit organizations, students, neighbors) priorities have been consistent:  pedestrianize our main shopping street and save our unique small businesses.

The Outdoors on the Ave cafe street project addresses both of these concerns and keeps this one commercial street at a human scale, while high-rise buildings begin to go up all around it.

It may be temporary today, but the community, assisted by University Greenways, and Seattle Neighborhood Greenways, will keep pushing for a permanent version.

Don’t miss out on the chance to experience the future of The Ave, during this temporary experiment. It all goes away after Saturday. Come visit, dine, shop, and then take our survey.

Welcome!

Outdoors On The Ave

Safe Routes to School Update: SNG Pushes for Systemic Change

 

As students returned to school this month, parents have had a lot on their minds regarding their kids’ health and safety—including the benefits of being outdoors. 

In that vein, we’re thinking about how Seattle can make it safer, easier, and more comfortable for more kids to choose to walk, roll, or bike to get to school. Here’s a roundup of back-to-school news, featuring the critical advocacy work that’s garnered recent progress in Safe Routes to School funding, policies, and infrastructure, and actions you can take now to help SNG make even greater gains. 

Individual School Improvements: School Streets

As school communities work to find solutions to keep kids, teachers, and staff safe, creating outdoor spaces is more important than ever.

At the request of individual schools, the street in front of the building is closed to thru-traffic, including parent drop-offs, and open for people walking, rolling, and biking to school. School Streets reduce traffic and chaos during pick-up and drop-off times, and encourage families to walk or bike to school or park a few blocks away and walk.

The school streets introduced last spring were wildly successful, and received incredible community support. Thanks to positive feedback, the school streets program will continue this fall. All but one school chose to extend their temporary school street, and many more have applied for new safe outdoor space for students!

  • Want a School Street at your school? Contact your school principal for support, and find more information and the application form here.
  • Have a School Street at your school? Share a photo or story about the school street at your local school to let us know how it’s working! @SNGreenways #SchoolStreets

These measures are all instrumental in getting kids safely to and from school. But it can take a lot of individual energy and attention to start and maintain programs, and heavy reliance on volunteer parent energy leaves some schools without any programs at all. What Seattle really needs is a system-wide approach that prioritizes and normalizes kids walking and biking to school through everything from the structure of support from the school district to the design of the schools.

As Seattle Neighborhood Greenways advocates for improvements at individual schools, we’re continuing to pursue systemic change that will make a difference for generations to come.

Systemic Change: Hire a Safe Routes to School Coordinator

In 2019, residents like you helped us successfully advocate for funding for a new full-time employee at the Seattle Public School District to help kids walk and bike to school safely. Unfortunately, despite having secured funding, this position has yet to be advertised and filled. 

58% of students live within their school’s designated “walk zone” and are not served by school bus routes, and currently walking and biking school buses, when offered, are predominantly run by parent volunteers, and do not exist at all schools. Reliance on volunteers and lack of central management results in enormous inequities. 

At schools with dangerous road conditions, many parents who have the means to do so make the decision to drive their kids to school every day. The increase in vehicle traffic around the school leaves those kids who do not have the option, disproportionately low-income kids and people of color, in even more dangerous conditions. Nationwide African-American children are twice as likely to be killed while walking and Latino children are 40% more likely than white children. 

A full-time staff member paying attention to the thousands of kids who walk to school, or helping them to do so safely would be a dramatic improvement. 

 

Systemic Change: Build schools with bike parking

Great news! At the request of the School Traffic Safety Committee and advocates, the Seattle School Board just stood up for schools to be built with adequate bike parking included!

Earlier this year, the school board committed to being carbon-free by 2040, including transportation. The transport of students to and from school, everything from a yellow bus to a parent driving their kids, is by far the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions for schools. To reduce transportation emissions, the school district must enable and encourage walking and biking as a prioritized method of getting to school for both students and staff.

In 2018, Seattle City Council adopted a major update to the City’s codes that established new requirements for bicycle parking in new buildings. Schools will now provide three long-term spaces (secured access and weather protection) and one short-term space (racks in publicly available locations) for each classroom. This equates roughly to safe bike parking for a little more than 10% of students. But schools being rebuilt have not been meeting these code requirements, cutting the required parking by as much as 50% at Kimball, Northgate, and Viewlands Elementary Schools. In addition, a shortage of bicycle parking at the recently renovated Lincoln High School means students are parking bikes in classrooms.

These buildings will be in use by Seattle students for the next 100 years, and the decreased amount of bike parking provided will limit bike ridership at these schools far beyond 2040. Building infrastructure that meets our current city goals should be a bare minimum.

This August, the Seattle School Board saw this necessity and called for schools to meet 100% of the code requirements. Advocates are continuing to push, asking for a plan for increasing bicycle parking at existing schools and to update codes to reduce costly red tape.

Henry English Day on the first day of school—riding his bike is his favorite way to get there, rain or shine.

Five Ways YOU Can Help:

  1. Share a photo or story about the school street or other safe infrastructure at your local school to let us know how it’s working! @SNGreenways #SchoolStreets
  2. Request a School Street at your school: Contact your school principal for support, and find more information and the application form here.
  3. Join a list of other interested parents and community members to receive updates on Safe Routes to School.
  4. Start or join a walking school bus or bike train to help your students get safely to and from school in groups. Find out more here.
  5. Help spread the word about job openings! Seattle Public Schools is hiring crossing guards to help make school intersections safer. Check out this KIRO 7 news segment or read this flyer to find out more, or contact Yvonne Carpenter, [email protected] or (206) 252-0907.

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