Category Archive: News

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—including the relative safety offered by 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 gains in Safe Routes to School funding, policies, and infrastructure.

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.

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.

Candidate Forums on Transportation, Equity, and the Environment

In June, Seattle Neighborhood Greenways, the Move All Seattle Sustainably (MASS) Coalition, and allies hosted two candidate forums focusing on transportation, equity, and the environment, both moderated by Erica C. Barnett.

See the recordings and transcripts below to learn more about candidates positions on key issues, and remember to vote! The primary election is August 3, 2021, so look out for ballots in the mail by mid July.

The first forum educated voters about candidates for Mayor of Seattle Jessyn Farrell, Lorena González, Bruce Harrell, Andrew Grant Houston and Lance Randall. Colleen Echohawk and Casey Sixkiller were unable to attend.

Check out the recording here, or read the event transcript or event coverage from The Urbanist.

 

In the second forum, we heard from candidates for Seattle City Council Position 9 Nikkita Oliver, Brianna Thomas, and Sara Nelson.

Check out the recording here, or read the event transcript.

* * *

Thank you to all the co-sponsoring organizations: the MASS Coalition, 350 Seattle Action, Cascade Bicycle Club, Disability Rights Washington, Seattle Neighborhood Greenways, Seattle Subway, Sunrise Seattle, Transportation Choices Coalition, Transit Riders Union, and the Urbanist.

Remember to register to vote online by July 26, or in person by election day, August 3. Check the mail for your ballots starting in mid-July for the primary election, and deposit your ballot in the mail (no postage required) or in an official drop box by 8 pm on August 3, 2021.

WIN: Funding for Stay Healthy Streets and Cafe Streets!

Great news! Seattle City Council just passed $2.5 million to make Stay Healthy Streets permanent, as well as $300,000 to fund Cafe Streets through 2022!
Thanks to your advocacy, the legislation also included a promise to use future federal funds or other resources to launch equitable community outreach and fund potential permanent infrastructure changes for Keep Moving Streets at Alki Point, Green Lake and Lake Washington Boulevard.
See below for background and details!
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!

The funding for Stay Healthy Streets includes $1.875 million for infrastructure improvements, as well as $625,000 for associated work, engagement, and design. SDOT has already launched community engagement efforts, and will accelerate plans now that funding has been secured.

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

Cafe Streets

City Council provided $300,000 to extend Cafe Streets permits through May of 2022. 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
Thanks to your advocacy in support of Seattle’s three Keep Moving Streets at Lake Washington BoulevardAlki Point, and Green Lake. Councilmember Herbold introduced an amendment which was supported by the rest of the council. The legislation now also includes a promise to use future federal funds or other resources to launch equitable community outreach and fund potential permanent infrastructure changes for all three Keep Moving Streets. We’re hopeful that with continued advocacy from people like you we can secure the necessary funding to make sure these fantastic public spaces don’t disappear.

Thank you for your continued advocacy!

Clara Cantor
She/her

Community Organizer
Seattle Neighborhood Greenways
Website – Twitter – Facebook

 

 

PS: Want to learn more about what happens now? Check out What’s Next For Stay Healthy Streets.

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, 66% of arterials lack crosswalks, thousands are missing 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.

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