Category Archive: News

10 Big Ideas for Seattle’s Next Mayor

Running for office in Seattle this year? Looking to be informed during candidate debates? Download our 10 Ideas for Seattle’s Next Mayor PDF cheat sheet

Our Streets Shape Our Lives, and Our Mayor Shapes our Streets

The Moment & Opportunity 

The next mayor of Seattle will face overlapping challenges around affordability, climate change, equity, health, safety, and more. How we shape our streets and transportation system can make a difference in all of these areas. One quarter of Seattle’s total land is dedicated to streets, and the mayor has wide powers to shape how these spaces are designed to meet our goals as a city. Mayors around the world are rediscovering the public space potential of streets and moving quickly to transform their streets for people. Just last year New York converted 8,550 parking spaces, Oakland created 74 miles of Stay Healthy Streets, and Lisbon doubled its bike network. What will Seattle’s next mayor do?   

How these issues connect to values voters care about
  • Accessibility: People with disabilities deserve equal access to our city (26,000 people in Seattle use a mobility aid), but right now there are too many barriers (156,000 sidewalk maintenance issues, thousands of missing crosswalks and curb ramps, and more). People with disabilities are significantly more likely to be getting around without driving, and to be killed in traffic collisions.
  • Affordability: Transportation is the second biggest household cost after housing. Today, half of all trips in Seattle are under 3 miles, an easy walking and biking distance. We can make Seattle more affordable by making it so that everyone who wants to can accomplish half of their trips on foot or by bike. 
  • Community: Streets designed for people to interact and share space can literally bring together neighbors who have never met, and build stronger community ties. 
  • Economic Prosperity: Encouraging people to shop local by walking and biking helps keep wealth in communities and create more local jobs.
  • Equity & Justice: Black Seattlies are most likely to die in traffic collisions and also face the brunt of an ineffective traffic enforcement system. We can fix this.
  • Health: Incorporating more walking into our daily lives helps keep people healthy, without having to set aside separate time to go to the gym. 
  • Happiness / Quality of Life: People who get to walk and bike regularly are happier and report a higher quality of life. 
  • Kids & Seniors: Seattle’s streets are not designed so that kids can easily and safely go to school, parks, and friends houses; or so that elders can age gracefully in place, but they could be. 
  • Safety: According to the CDC “motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death in the first three decades of Americans’ lives.” Seattle averages 150 life-altering injuries each year and 20 deaths, heavily concentrated in SE Seattle’s District 2, and these numbers are increasing. We can, and must, make our streets safe to travel on for everyone.

10 Big Ideas For Seattle’s Next Mayor

1. Make Every Street Walkable: Everyone deserves a safe place to walk and roll, but right now we’re on a 300+ year timeline to make that a reality. The next mayor needs to find additional funding for sidewalks on arterial streets and transit routes like Aurora Ave, and implement five cost-effective Home Zones each year for non-arterial streets.  

 

2. Connect Every Neighborhood by Bike: We need a network of connected, comfortable, safe, and convenient bike routes so people can bike to where they need to go. The next mayor needs to find the funding and political fortitude to make the Citywide Network of the Bicycle Master Plan a reality. Read more

 

3. Renew the Move Seattle Levy: Seattle’s next mayor must find supplemental sources of funding to deliver on the promises made to voters in the Move Seattle Levy, and build towards a transformational renewal proposal in 2024. 

 

4. Make Seattle a 15-Minute City: Everyone should have access to their daily needs within a short walk. The next mayor should make this a central organizing principle of the Comprehensive Master Plan update. Read more.

 

5. Make Stay Healthy Streets & Keep Moving Streets Permanent: These streets have been wildly popular by simply allowing people to safely walk, bike, roll, run, and play in the street. The next mayor should make Stay Healthy Streets the new standard for all neighborhood greenways, continue nimble project delivery, and direct SDOT to co-design permanent improvements for the Keep Moving Streets on Alki Point, Green Lake, and Lake Washington Boulevard. Read more

 

6. Boost Business via Cafe Streets: Cafe Streets are good for public health, small businesses, and our quality of life. The next mayor should make this program permanent in an accessible, safe, collaborative, equitable, and bold way. Read more

 

7. Get Vision Zero Back on Track: Everyone should be able to safely get to where they need to go, but every year 150 people suffer life altering injuries and 20 are killed — and the trends are getting worse. The next mayor should double the Vision Zero budget through the Vehicle Licensing Fee (VLF) to build more safety projects, and help SDOT evolve beyond the antiquated and car-centric “Level Of Service”

 

Traffic Stops Must Stop Leading to Black Deaths

8. Make Traffic Enforcement Equitable: Similar to the push to remove police from mental health response calls, there is a growing professional consensus that police traffic stops are an ineffective and inequitable way to address  traffic safety issues. The next mayor should remove police from traffic enforcement and redirect the resources to road redesigns, automated enforcement, and problem-solving focused enforcement by SDOT employees; and community health, safety, and resilience programs. Read more

 

A sidewalk made impassible by tree roots and crumbling pavement.

9. Repair Sidewalks: Our sidewalks should be safe and accessible for people of all ages and abilities. But right now there are 156,000 known sidewalk maintenance issues, making the sidewalk network we do have increasingly inaccessible to people with disabilities, the elderly, and parents pushing strollers. The next mayor should allocate funding from the VLF, and implement a point of sale sidewalk repair ordinance. 

 

A huge crowd of people stand outside City Hall at the Ride 4 Safe Streets.

10. Be Bold: The next mayor has the power to boldly re-shape our streets to make our city healthier, safer, happier, more just, sustainable, and prosperous. Strong direction from the top matters to make change, especially when it’s controversial. Today’s transformational challenges call for a transformational leader

Funding for Stay Healthy Streets and Cafe Streets!

Great news! Seattle City Council just proposed $2.5 million to make Stay Healthy Streets permanent, as well as $300,000 to fund Cafe Streets through 2022! Act now to:
  • Thank Seattle City Councilmembers for funding Stay Healthy Streets and Cafe Streets to help ensure that the funding isn’t removed.
  • Ask them to support Councilmember Herbold’s amendment to use future funding to make Keep Moving Streets permanent on Alki Point, Green Lake, and Lake Washington Boulevard. 
A blue button that reads
A family with helmets smiles at the camera standing on a Stay Healthy Street next to bikes and an A-frame sign that says
Stay Healthy Streets

Thanks to popular demand last summer, Mayor Durkan committed to making 20 miles of the pilot Stay Healthy Streets program permanent, starting with streets in Greenwood (1st Ave NW) and Lake City. The City began community engagement to design the final look and feel of the streets, but hadn’t found funding — until now!

 

People bustling around Island Soul's Cafe Street in Columbia City.

 

Cafe Streets

In May, City Council unanimously passed an extension of permits for Cafe Streets through May of 2022, which this new proposal would fund. We will be working hard to make this successful program permanent.

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.
Keep Moving Streets
Unfortunately, this funding won’t cover improvements to Seattle’s three Keep Moving Streets at Lake Washington Boulevard, Alki Point, and Green Lake. But Councilmember Herbold just introduced an amendment to use future funding to make Keep Moving Streets permanent and conduct community engagement. We’re hopeful that with continued advocacy from people like you we can find additional funding to make sure these fantastic public spaces don’t disappear. Ask Council to support Councilmember Herbold’s amendment now!
A blue button that reads
Act now to thank Seattle City Councilmembers for funding Stay Healthy Streets and Cafe Streets, and ask them to support Councilmember Herbold’s amendment to find funding for Keep Moving Streets.

Thank you for your continued advocacy!

 

Clara Cantor
She/her

Community Organizer
Seattle Neighborhood Greenways
Website – Twitter – Facebook

 

Michael Colmant Memorial Ride & Walk

Michael ColmantMichael Colmant was passionate about swimming, running, cycling, and aviation. He was a dedicated colleague at King County International Airport, helping to lift up people of color in his profession. He was a loving father and caring friend.

On April 11, 2021, Michael, 63, was hit and killed by a driver while biking. The driver fled the scene and is still at large. They were driving a Silver 2000 Lincoln LS plate # BKU 0853. Anyone with a tip about the hit-and-run is encouraged to call SPD’s Violent Crimes Tip Line at 206.233.5000.

A large crowd of people on a grassy slope. Many wear helmets or sit next to bicycles.

On Saturday, May 15, 2021, 160 people gathered on a grassy slope on Seward Park Ave to commemorate Michael Colmant’s life.

The group arrived from two directions: walking together from Seward Park in the north and from the south, biking together from Be’er Sheva Park. The two streams of people congregated together across the street from the ghost bike adorned with flowers and photos which marks the spot where Michael was killed. The crowd was surrounded by parked bikes, trikes, cargo bikes, and trailers, some with signs reading “Safe Streets for the South End,” “Michael Should Be Here,” and “It could have been any of us.”

Walk and Ride

Following the tragic crash last month, Seattle Neighborhood Greenways connected with Michael’s daughter, Sydney, and organized the memorial, walk, and ride, in collaboration with Vanessa Chin, Michael’s friend and colleague, with additional support from Bike Works and Cascade Bicycle Club.

Vanessa Chin speaks into a microphone in a grassy space. A group of people stand and sit somberly behind her.

Many colleagues and friends stood up to speak to those assembled, describing Michael as someone who consistently worked to make things better, gave his time to chat, and really listened to people. Michael’s daughter, Sydney, attended virtually from Vancouver, BC and spoke movingly about his support for her while in nursing school. You can support Michael’s family through their Go Fund Me.


A bar chart showing traffic fatalities in Seattle by District. District 2 (southeast Seattle) shows double the number of fatalities than any other district.

As requested by the family, we are also calling on the city to build safe places for people to bike in the Rainier Valley, and highlighting the fact that over the last five years SE Seattle’s District 2 has had double the number of fatalities as any other council district. In fact, Michael is the second person to be killed while riding a bike in less than a month in District 2 — Robert Miesse, 54, was killed when he was hit by a truck while riding his bike in Georgetown on March 24. Many people gathered in Georgetown for a memorial ride just 2 days before Michael Colmant was killed.

As a city, we are failing Vision Zero, the city’s goal to reduce the number of road-traffic deaths and serious injuries to zero by 2030. The Vision Zero team is underfunded, and Seattle is way behind on goals to build protected places for people to bike. Seward Park Ave, where Michael was hit and killed, is designated for upgrading in Seattle’s 2014 Bicycle Master Plan. However, due to the lack of funding and political will to build a connected network of safe bike routes, this popular route for people biking is missing from all construction lists for safety upgrades.

Senator Rebecca Saldaña, wearing a pink sundress, speaks to people sitting on a large grassy slope.

We invited elected leaders to speak to how we could do more as a city to get Vision Zero back on track.

State Senator Rebecca Saldaña (pictured above in pink), who has been leading efforts at the state level to shift transportation funding from mainly focusing on highway expansion to a more holistic approach spoke to the need to shift priorities.

King County Executive Dow Constantine spoke about Mike as a colleague and also spoke to the need to make safer streets.

King County Councilmember Girmay Zahilay couldn’t be there but sent a statement that was read:

“Dear Mike,

My heart is with you and your whole family. Thank you so much for all your years of dedication to public service. Even in your passing, you are committing everyone around you to the public good as we all come together and work to keep our pedestrians and cyclists safe on our streets, especially in South Seattle.

Rest in Peace, Mike.”

 

Tammy MoralesSeattle Councilmember Tammy Morales, District 2, Seattle City Council also could not make it, but sent a statement saying:

“I watch my kids bike to their friends and hope that they will return unscathed. But we need more than hopeful wishes, we need action. In Michael’s honor, for those that continue to push for safety, and for those who watch as their loved ones move across this City, I am committed to protection for all ages and abilities in Southeast Seattle and District 2.”

 

 

Dongho Chang

Finally, Dongho Chang, Seattle’s Chief Traffic Engineer, spoke about the importance of holding the City accountable to making progress on Vision Zero. And that’s exactly what we intend to do.

We must do more to prevent tragedies like this. Increased funding for Vision Zero would allow the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) to increase safety for more of our most dangerous streets in the Rainier Valley and citywide. Increased funding for our Bicycle Master Plan would allow SDOT to build the first comfortable, efficient, connected route into and through SE Seattle, connecting the Rainier Valley to downtown and the rest of the city.

Ultimately, this isn’t about statistics. Each number is a person like Michael, who meant so much to so many, and each loss is felt acutely by family, friends, and community. We must do better. This fall the Seattle City Council has the option to double the Vision Zero budget. We hope you will join us or stay involved in this fight for safer streets for all. Thank you.

 

A crowd of people with bicycles. A bike in the center has a baby seat and a sign that reads "Safe Streets for the South End."

 

What’s Next for Stay Healthy Streets?

In the last year, we’ve seen a huge increase in the number of people outside—walking, skateboarding, biking, and rolling down the streets—and engaging with their neighborhoods in a big way. What’s next for the City’s temporary street programs?

 

Click to watch this video about the Stay Healthy Streets Program in 2020:

 

Background

In the spring of 2020, Seattle Neighborhood Greenways pushed the idea of Open Streets as one of our 8 Solutions for Safe Social Distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic. These streets are closed to vehicle through-traffic, and OPEN to people walking, rolling, and biking in the street (local access, deliveries, and emergency services are still allowed).

Thanks to the outspoken support of neighborhood advocates like you, the City introduced Stay Healthy Streets a few miles at a time until we had over 25 miles in 13 locations around the city, as well as two sister programs: Keep Moving Streets (recreation space near parks) and Stay Healthy Blocks (neighbor-run DIY Stay Healthy Streets). And they have been a HUGE hit! Communities have rallied around their local open streets, and are eager to make them permanent. For instance, SDOT surveyed people near the 1st Ave Stay Healthy Street in Greenwood and found that over 80% supported making it permanent, which is incredible given that any changes to streets tend to be controversial.

So what’s next for these beloved streets? 

 

 

Stay Healthy Streets

Thanks to popular demand last summer, Mayor Durkan committed to making 20 miles of the pilot Stay Healthy Streets program permanent, starting with streets in Greenwood (1st Ave NW) and Lake City. Now, the City is thinking through how to fulfill this promise to fund and construct permanent improvements. 

Most of the Stay Healthy Streets created so far have been on existing Neighborhood Greenways. All of these Neighborhood Greenways already went through a public engagement process and were prioritized for people walking and biking, and de-prioritized for people drivingwith the use of stop signs, speed humps, and signs. Stay Healthy Streets, for the most part, just clarified and reinforced the original intent of neighborhood greenways, by placing signs that say “Street Closed” to indicate they are for local access only for cars, and that people are allowed to walk in the street.

 

A group of kids on bikes ride around a round-about in front of a

 

Should Stay Healthy Streets be made permanent? YES.

We believe that Stay Healthy Streets should be the new default standard for Neighborhood Greenways. The physical barriers and placemaking being promised are reminiscent of the promises made when the City introduced Neighborhood Greenways. But many Neighborhood Greenways in Seattle are differentiated from other streets only by small signs and speed humps, and are not functioning in the way they were intended.

Stay Healthy Streets should include community placemaking and clear signage for people walking and biking on the street, and people looking for the street, and both signage and physical barriers for drivers trying to avoid the street—with simple, clear branding that’s easy to understand and makes sense with other Seattle programs and infrastructure. 

In addition to the community engagement process SDOT has already launched, we believe partnerships with the Department of Neighborhoods and community organizations to host festival streets, farmers markets, neighborhood block parties, and other gatherings will turn these street spaces into the community places we’ve all envisioned.

 

A montage of images of people walking on the street, a street park, and a boy waving while riding a bike.

 

What about where Neighborhood Greenways / Stay Healthy Streets aren’t working?

Sometimes, Neighborhood Greenways and Stay Healthy Streets haven’t reached their true potential because too much car traffic remains on the street. In those cases, the City should improve the street through diverters and other traffic-calming measures. But in other cases, the underlying Neighborhood Greenways, and hence the additional Stay Healthy Streets, aren’t successful due to the route being too inconvenient, hard to follow, or hilly compared to other alternatives, which results in comparatively fewer people using the routes. In these cases, we need to ask people what they want and find alternative ways to meet community needs

We can act quickly to put it in as a pilot, get feedback, then move to full implementation if it’s well-liked. Do people need better routes for transportation? Protected bike routes, sidewalks, and bus lanes can do that. More space for recreation? The Keep Moving Streets program increases public park space. Spaces for community gathering? Cafe Streets, pedestrian streets, and play streets. Improved traffic calming? Fund the Home Zone program adequately to allow neighbors to create systemic traffic calming for a whole neighborhood.

 

A tweet by Dongho Chang with a photo of people and tents crowding a street. It reads: Stay Healthy Streets are people and community streets."

 

Should this program expand? YES! 

These streets should be everywhere. We originally envisioned 130 miles of Stay Healthy Streets that could be rapidly implemented during the pandemic, but the potential is even greater. They should be in every neighborhood and accessible to everyone, as much a part of every neighborhood’s fabric as the local community center, plaza, or park space. These streets can connect people to transit stations, schools, parks, grocery stores, and jobs. And the streets can also be destinations themselvesplaces to play, meet your neighbors, and build community. 

Stay Healthy Streets are most valuable in Seattle’s densest neighborhoods with the least access to outdoor public spaces, and this can only be achieved by expanding outside of the existing network of Neighborhood Greenways, that are mostly in low density neighborhoods. Let’s create Stay Healthy Streets in dense, rapidly growing neighborhoods like the U-District, Capitol Hill, First Hill, Downtown, and south Ballard. We should also add Stay Healthy Streets in neighborhoods that have less access to traditional parks like in South Park and Lake City.

 

A tweet reads: "I highly recommend getting a Stay Healthy Block permit and renting a donut truck for a kiddo pandemic birthday party." with two photos.

Stay Healthy Blocks

Last year, instead of rapidly expanding the Stay Healthy Street program to more streets like Oakland and other cities, SDOT decided to go with a DIY Stay Healthy Blocks approach that  allowed neighbors to build their own mini Stay Healthy Streets. It was incredibly exciting in theory, but was hindered by overwhelming permit restrictions that made it inequitable and overly burdensome. Instead of working to improve the program, the City rolled it into SDOT’s existing Play Street program. As a result, Stay Healthy Blocks can continue only as single-day permits, likely focused around holidays and festivals. We would like to see a path forward for neighbor-initiated open streets of some kind, and are eager to work with SDOT to expand this program in a way that could be open to all.

 

A collage of photos of families walking, biking, and riding scooters on Lake Washington Boulevard.

Keep Moving Streets

Keep Moving Streets are collaborations between SDOT and the Seattle Parks Department that create more public park space for recreation and play.

 

People walking and biking in the middle of the street in front of a beautiful view of water and mountains at dusk..

 

Alki Point

Thanks to continual neighborhood advocacy, SDOT announced last week that the Alki Point Keep Moving Street is officially extended for at least a year, through spring 2022! In the meantime, SDOT is seeking funding for permanent infrastructure and conducting public outreach.

 

A rendering of Aurora Ave with one lane protected by concrete barriers for people walking and biking around Green Lake.

 

Green Lake

SDOT has announced that the Green Lake Keep Moving Street will continue, and local advocates are working to extend it around the west side of Green Lake on Aurora. Sign the petition here.

A film still of a woman with curly hair and a blue shirt holds a microphone up to a man with dark skin. Behind them, a person rides by on a bike in front of a lakeshore.

 

Lake Washington Boulevard

SDOT just announced that they will re-open the Lake Washington Boulevard Keep Moving Street this summer, and we are thrilled! Lake Washington Blvd has been periodically opened to people walking, biking, rolling, running, and skating during the pandemic—and it has been a HUGE hit. Our local group, Rainier Valley Greenways–Safe Streets, is leading the way to solicit community feedback and rally support, and to encourage the city to conduct responsive and equitable community engagement. Click here to see the latest and sign the petition to reopen the full three miles of Lake Washington Boulevard to people again this year. 

 

Thank you to everyone who advocated for, and got outside to enjoy, these amazing street spaces in the last year! Let’s keep a good thing going!

 

Clara Cantor
She/her

Community Organizer
Seattle Neighborhood Greenways
Website – Twitter – Facebook

Update on $80 million funding debate + Saturday Memorial Walk

We recently wrote about protecting $80 million in funding for walking, biking, and transit projects from the chopping block. On Monday, the City Council voted to punt this decision to the fall budget process.

We are disappointed the City Council did not stick with the SDOT and community stakeholder proposal. That proposal would have doubled funding for Vision Zero, created the first-ever bike route maintenance fund, made hundreds of blocks of sidewalks and crosswalks accessible, created a new bus and subway plan, and repaired some bridges.

Council was initially tempted by Councilmember Pedersen’s proposal that would have bonded all the funding to partially pay for bridge projects, even though SDOT itself said they do not have shovel-ready bridge projects for this relatively small amount of funding. But, thanks to advocates like you, they instead asked for more analysis and will take up the issue again in the fall.

We are grateful to Councilmember Strauss, whose amendment asked for more analysis, Councilmember Morales, who spoke up strongly for Vision Zero, and Councilmember Mosqueda, who asked for more information on Vision Zero, the ADA Transition Plan, and a progress update on bike routes in the Move Seattle Levy.

Stay tuned for more opportunities to make a difference on this important source of funding.


Not doubling the Vision Zero budget, which would have allowed SDOT to create safer streets across the city, stings especially sharp this week, as we work to organize a memorial walk and ride for Michael Colmant this Saturday (details below).

Michael was biking on Seward Park Ave, a common route between Lake Washington Boulevard and the Rainier Beach neighborhood, on April 11th, when he was killed by a driver in a hit-and-run.

Michael was passionate about swimming, running, cycling, and aviation. He was a dedicated colleague at King County International Airport, helping lift up people of color in his profession. He was a loving father and caring friend. He should still be with us, and will be missed.

As requested by the family, we are also shining a light on the fact that SE Seattle’s District 2 has had double the number of fatalities as any other Council District. We must do better to reach Vision Zero. So we are hosting a memorial walk and ride this Saturday to give a voice to the family and bring attention to these safety disparities. If you’re able to, please consider attending in support.

When: This Saturday, May 15th, at 2:00pm

Where:
The ride will start at Be’er Sheva Park next to the intersection of Seward Park S and S Henderson St.
The walk will start at Seward Park, just north of the traffic circle at the park’s entrance.
Both will meet at the crash site where friends and family members will speak.

For additional information see: https://www.facebook.com/events/303311481178199

You can also support the family’s Go Fund Me. And anyone with a tip about the hit-and-run is encouraged to call SPD’s Violent Crimes Tip Line at 206.233.5000. The person was driving an older Nissan Sentra that likely has a broken windshield and a license plate similar to BKU 053.

We hope you can attend this Saturday’s memorial walk and ride for Michael Colmant.

Thank you for all that you do,

Gordon Padelford
Executive Director
Seattle Neighborhood Greenways

Critical Local Funding for Walking, Biking, and Transit at Risk

Can you take a moment this Earth Day to help protect $80 million in funding for walking, biking, and transit projects from the chopping block? Your voice is needed — Click here to send an email to City Council.

A blue button that reads "Act Now!"


The Seattle City Council is proposing to redirect $80,000,000 from walking, biking, and transit projects to pay for bridge repair over the next twenty years. While we are supportive of increased funding for bridge repair, Seattle is more likely to get state and federal dollars for bridge seismic retrofits than for walking and biking projects. Which is why making sure local dollars go to walk/bike/transit projects is so important.

To explain further, there is a fee called the Vehicle Licensing Fee (VLF) that is applied to every car registered in Seattle. It was briefly killed by Tim Eyman, and then restored by the Washington Supreme Court.

In the fall, the Seattle City Council authorized a $20 VLF and asked the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) to engage stakeholders in creating a spending plan. Seattle Neighborhood Greenways was a part of that stakeholder engagement along with a long list of organizations

A pie chart showing SDOT's proposed spending plan for VLF funding.

The final proposal from SDOT dedicated 28% of the fee revenue to Vision Zero projects, 28% to sidewalk repair (with an equity and transit focus), 24% to maintaining bridges, 10% for maintaining safe bike routes, 7% for walk/bike/transit planning (like updating the very outdated Transit Master Plan), and setting aside 3% as a reserve. With only $7 million per year to divvy up among these multiple categories, that may not sound like a lot, but it would actually make a big difference. 


Three images showing memorials for people killed by being hit by cars on our streets. Images show a cross surrounded by photos and flowers, a white ghost bike, and a group of people holding signs and listening to a speaker.

Vision Zero (28% of the funding for “Safe Streets”)

As you may have heard, Seattle is not making progress on Vision Zero, the city’s goal to reduce the number of road-traffic deaths and serious injuries to zero by 2030, which has been brought into sharp relief by three tragedies in the last month in Georgetown, Lake City, and Seward Park. SDOT just released data finding that the burden of traffic fatalities falls disproportionately on Black Seattle residents, and over the last five years SE Seattle’s District 2 has had double the number of fatalities as any other council district. The Vision Zero team at SDOT knows what/where the main issues are, but they have been chronically underfunded to achieve their mandate. This funding would double the Vision Zero budget, allowing SDOT to redesign more of our dangerous streets like Rainier Ave S, MLK Jr Way, Aurora Ave, Lake City Way, and others. 

A sidewalk made impassible by tree roots and crumbling pavement.

Safe Sidewalks (28% of the funding)

Our sidewalks should be safe and accessible for people of all ages and abilities. But right now there are 156,000 known sidewalk maintenance issues, making the sidewalk network we do have increasingly inaccessible to people with disabilities, the elderly (trip and fall hazards are a serious issue), and parents pushing strollers. Additionally, the City of Seattle was successfully sued for failing to retrofit curb ramps to make crosswalks accessible. This funding would fix hundreds of inaccessible sidewalks and crosswalks each year, making our city more accessible to all. 

A smiling group of people bike past in a separated bike lane wearing colorful rain coats and ponchos.

Safe Bike Routes (10% of the funding for “Active Transportation Maintenance”)

Maintenance and regular upgrades are key to making bike routes that are comfortable and convenient. Unfortunately, too many bike routes fade into obscurity, through city neglect and inattention, or lack true protection from cars (moving or parked). This funding would be the first dedicated source to make sure bike routes are maintained to an all ages and abilities standard, and would fund things like bike lane painting and replacement of barriers.  

Two people board a bus while people on bikes go past in a separated lane.

Planning Ahead (7% of the funding)

Political will, organized advocates, talented city staff, funding, and a good plan are the five key ingredients for making progress towards a city that’s better for walking, biking, and transit. Unfortunately, the Seattle Transit Master Plan is out of date, which transit advocates have identified as a key barrier to bringing more light rail lines to Seattle. SDOT is hoping to use this funding to create a multimodal integration plan, which many advocates are skeptical of, but it could be used to fund a new Transit Master Plan, helping guide future light rail and bus routes in Seattle

Additionally, 24% of the funding, in the SDOT proposal, is dedicated to repairing bridges. 


Councilmember Pedersen has a dramatically different plan for the VLF funds

A pie chart showing the proposed city council VLF spend plan. 75% of the chart is "Strong Bridges and Structures" while 25% is "Other Transportation Infrastructure"

Unfortunately, Councilmember Pedersen is proposing a dramatic re-allocation of these funds: redirecting a full 75% of the available VLF funding for bridge repair and leaving a mere 25% for “other transportation infrastructure.” 

While we are supportive of increased funding for bridge repair, Seattle is more likely to get state and federal dollars for bridge seismic retrofits than for walking and biking projects. Which is why making sure local dollars go to walk/bike/transit projects is so important.

A blue button that reads "Act Now!"

Right now, other City Councilmembers are considering whether to adopt his plan, or the plan that doubles the level of progress on Vision Zero, fixes hundreds of inaccessible sidewalks, repairs bike routes, and plans for a bright transit future. Which is why they need to hear from you. 

So this Earth Day, please take a minute to send a message to the City Council asking them to protect $80 million for walking, biking, and transit projects.

Thank you! 

Traffic Stops Must Stop Leading to Black Deaths

Whose Streets? Our Streets! statement following the deaths of Daunte Wright, George Floyd, and too many others, at the hands of police:

 

Traffic Stops Must Stop Leading to Black Deaths

Black people deserve public streets that are safe, thriving, community places. No matter whether we are driving, walking, biking, or simply existing, Black Lives Matter

For too long, traffic enforcement has been used as an excuse for police to threaten, harass, and murder Black people for simply existing in public space while Black. 

This reality has caused irreparable damage to our Black communities. The rippling effects of  the deaths of loved ones, family, friends, and community members means that Black communities live in fear from the over-policing of Black bodies, severely impacting our quality of life.

Traffic enforcement should not involve police. Using police for traffic enforcement can be dangerous and deadly, and is neither justified nor necessary.

WSOS has drafted a set of recommendations including:

  • Removing police from traffic enforcement entirely.
  • Prioritizing non-punitive measures for making streets safer.
  • Abolishing enforcement of activities that don’t harm other people. 
  • Investing in people and communities.

To build trust in communities, we must value people’s lives and safety and build systems of accountability and transparency. We have to change and reform the culture and structures of policing in our country, our state, and our counties and cities.

Sign up here to get the latest news and event announcements, and to learn more about getting involved with WSOS.

School Streets Come to Seattle! 

This week, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) launched four six eight! pilot School Streets! At the request of each school, the street in front is closed to thru-traffic, including parent drop-offs, and open for people walking, rolling, and biking to school. School Streets reduce traffic during pick-up and drop-off times, and encourage families to walk or bike to school or park a few blocks away and walk.

Act now!

  1. Do you have a student at one of these schools? Share a photo or story to let us know how it’s working! @SNGreenways #SchoolStreets
  2. Would a School Street be feasible in your community? Contact your school principal to request a School Street now!
  3. Check out these additional resources to help your students get safely to and from school via a walking school bus or bike train.

School is back open for in-person learning this week at Seattle Public Schools for students K-5 who opted in. But Seattle Public Schools hasn’t restarted yellow bus service, which many students relied on to get to and from school safely.

Many students are walking and biking, with adults or in groups, and many, many more students are being driven to school. Already chaotic school pick-up and drop-offs have become even more so.

Enter the new, easy, permit-free School Streets program! By creating protected streets next to school entrances, children can safely walk and bike to school or be dropped off a block away. This creates a safe zone for students and also helps to disperse vehicle traffic during the chaotic pick-up and drop-off times. The idea has been working effectively for years at Franklin Ave E next to TOPS K-8 School in Eastlake.

Would a School Street be feasible in your community? SDOT is creating more School Streets in an easy, permit-free process wherever a school community requests one. Contact your school principal to request a School Street now!

Check out these additional resources to help your students get safely to and from school via a walking school bus or bike train.

Happy walking and biking!

 

Why go back, when we can build something better?

You’ll see people of all ages enjoying Lake Washington Boulevard when it’s open for walking, biking, running, scooting, skateboarding, and rolling — as a Keep Moving Street!

One year ago this spring, our lives turned upside down. Schools closed, businesses shuttered, we were asked to stay indoors to protect ourselves and others. So much was limited, or even prohibited, during our collective lockdown — and yet, the pandemic also opened up fresh ideas, and, in some ways, even brought out the best of us.

As a city, we rolled up our sleeves and found new ways to keep each other safe and supported: by distributing food and supplies by bike, opening up new spaces for people to travel and recreate safely via Stay Healthy Streets, converting car-parking to spaces for small businesses to survive (Cafe Streets), and so much more.

With fierce commitment, we joined the national cry for racial justice after the killing of George Floyd, and so many others, at the hands of police — rising up in local street marches and actively working to dismantle racism in our institutions. Here at SNG, we formed the Whose Streets? Our Streets! group to address traffic enforcement and the policies that govern our use of public space.

In the year ahead, Seattle could go back to the way things were before COVID, but why go back when we can build something better — a more just, sustainable, and livable city? Let’s learn from the forward strides of 2020, and make Stay Healthy Streets and Cafe Streets permanent. Let’s keep walking the path towards a more just and equitable city, because feeling safe on our streets shouldn’t depend on the color of your skin, gender, age, or physical ability.

Because it’s an election year for Mayor and the two citywide Council races, candidates and our communities will be engaged in a civic conversation about our city’s future. The citywide coalition, 15 neighborhood-groups strong, of Seattle Neighborhood Greenways will bring three big ideas to this conversation:

  • People should be able to walk (or roll) to access the key goods and services of their daily lives, a concept called the 15-Minute City.
  • All of Seattle’s neighborhoods should be accessible by safe, convenient — and connected — bike routes, a major campaign we’re calling UnGap The Map, to push the city to finish what it has only begun to implement in fits and starts.
  • We are backing a slate of transformative, pro-equity, anti-racist policy recommendations from the all-BIPOC Whose Streets? Our Streets! workgroup for how our streets can be safe, thriving places without the use of armed police.

These ideas represent a bold re-imagining of what it can be like, and ought to be like, to move through public streets and spaces in Seattle. Cities change over time, that is inevitable, but how they change and evolve is up to us.

As I always say, we can change our streets to better reflect our values. We can hold a vision of that future Seattle that’s possible, a city that works better for all — and take action together, as we’ve been doing for the past ten years, to get there.

I’m confident we can shape a better future because people like you continue to show up and make a difference. Like many, I was inspired by Amanda Gorman’s poetry at the inauguration this year, especially her closing stanza, “We will rebuild, reconcile and recover and every known nook of our nation, and every corner called our country, our people diverse and beautiful will emerge, battered and beautiful. When day comes we step out of the shade, aflame and unafraid. The new dawn blooms as we free it. For there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it.”

Thank you for bringing your light and bravery, and I hope you will find a meaningful way to get or stay involved in our people-powered movement this year.

-Gordon


Gordon Padelford
Executive Director

Whose Streets? Our Streets! Releases Community-Led Recommendations on Policing at Seattle MLK Jr. Day Event

by Yes Segura, WSOS work group member

 

In January of this year, Whose Streets? Our Streets! (WSOS) leaders were invited to sit on the Strategies for Community Healing panel, hosted by the Seattle MLK Jr. Organizing Coalition, as part of the 39th Annual Seattle MLK Jr. Day celebration.

As a team, we have been focusing our efforts on primarily organizing with local Black-led organizations, so this MLK Jr Day event was a perfect opportunity to do so. The virtual panel on community solutions included emerging Black-led organizations, who use their activism and innovative efforts to create new paradigms for BIPOC communities, especially Black communities, to thrive in Seattle.

Each presentation peeled back a layer of intersectionality, demonstrating what can be accomplished when we center the wellness of Black lives in agriculture, land ownership, and the public use of space. Sharing our ideas, efforts, and stories keeps us inspired. The theme of Strategies for Community Healing highlighted our community resilience. Let us never forget that advocating for social and racial justice requires a balance between resilience and healing. Black History Month is a time for celebration and honoring those that have walked this path before us. Looking to the past but constantly striving for the progress ahead.

Over this past year, issues of white supremacy, racism, and police brutality have been at the forefront of all headlines. WSOS is tackling these issues and how they impact BIPOC communities and our rights to mobility. Our public spaces should reflect the people that live, play, and work in them. The shift in our collective awareness is only the beginning. It is our actions that will lay the foundation for a better Seattle for all.

It was a privilege to launch our recommendations for changes to traffic enforcement laws and policies among such an esteemed group of people, and we are grateful that we can gather virtually during these times of change.

WSOS will continue to seek solutions that prioritize the safety, rights, and lives of BIPOC communities in public spaces. We invite you to imagine what Seattle could look like if we prioritized people over places.

You can view our presentation and or recording from the event below [find the WSOS presentation by Phyllis Porter and Peaches Thomas at 1:00:35 at the YouTube link below].

(Presentation)

 

 

 

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