Category Archive: News

Whose Streets? Our Streets! 39th Annual Seattle MLK Jr. Day Presentation

This January Whose Streets? Our Streets! (WSOS) leaders were able to sit on a panel in celebration of the 39th Annual Seattle MLK Jr. Day, hosted by the Seattle MLK Jr. Organizing Coalition. As a team we have collectively been focusing our efforts on primarily organizing with local Black led organizations, so this was a perfect opportunity to do so. The virtual panel on Strategies of Community Healing 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.

Within this past year issues of white supremacy, racism, anti-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 laws and policies among such an esteemed group of people. While 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.

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Don’t Miss: MLK Jr Day panel featuring Whose Streets? Our Streets! (WSOS) workgroup

Please join us for a not-to-be-missed panel, Strategies for Community Healing, featuring the Whose Streets? Our Streets! (WSOS) Workgroup:

 

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Saturday, January 16, 2:00-3:15p

On Zoom, free to attend. Register here for the link.

 

In this panel discussion, one of a dozen powerful workshops being offered this week by the MLK Jr Organizing Coalition in its 39th Annual MLK Jr Day celebration, activists will describe their innovative efforts to create new paradigms for BIPOC communities, especially Black communities, to thrive in Seattle.
As part of the panel, local organizers Phyllis Porter and Peaches Thomas of the Whose Streets? Our Streets! (WSOS) workgroup will introduce the WSOS slate of recommendations for how our streets can be safe, thriving places without the use of armed police. The majority-BIPOC workgroup’s recommendations were developed by using a pro-equity and anti-racist framework to review laws and policies governing the use of streets.

WSOS is honored to join the following groups on the Strategies for Community Healing panel:

  • The Africatown Community Land Trust, formed to acquire, steward and develop land assets necessary for the Black/African diaspora community to grow in the Central District
  • CACE21 – Wa Na Wari, which creates space for Black ownership, Black ownership, possibility, and belonging through art, historic preservation, and connection in the Central District;
  • Nurturing Roots, focusing on sharing the truth about systematic oppression with an emphasis on food and environmental justice,
    The panel discussion will be followed by Q and A.

 

ABOUT WHOSE STREETS, OUR STREETS

Whose Streets? Our Streets! (WSOS) is a Seattle-based, majority-BIPOC workgroup. Group members are dedicated to reviewing and recommending changes to street use design, laws, and policies in order to better meet the needs and support the lives of all street users, especially the BIPOC community.

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For more information about the work of Whose Streets? Our Streets!, see this recent interview with two WSOS organizers, Phyllis Porter and Yes Segura:

Screenshot Whose Streets Our Streets --Streets For People 2020

 

ABOUT THE SEATTLE MLK JR  ORGANIZING COALITION

Seattle’s MLK Jr. Organizing Coalition has mobilized for social justice every year for almost four decades, and this year is no exception. The Coalition comprises grassroots, labor, business, people of color, and progressive community organizations and volunteers from throughout the Puget Sound region.

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SDOT says your time doesn’t matter, unless you drive


All people deserve traffic signals that allow them to walk and roll safely, conveniently, and with dignity. But right now, too many traffic signals…

  1. Don’t give you enough time to cross the street safely
  2. Take forever to let you cross
  3. Make you push a button to get a walk light

So last year, in response to advocates like you, the City Council directed SDOT to come up with a new comprehensive traffic signals policy that fixes these issues.

This year, SDOT has developed a new draft signals policy that gives people enough time to cross the street, but still prioritizes cars.

It would allow traffic signals to make people wait for over two and a half minutes to cross the street in Columbia City, Rainier Beach, Lake City, Uptown, South Park, and the Central District. Meanwhile, SDOT is busy planning to spend more than ten times the annual sidewalk and crosswalk budget to create a dangerous highway-style intersection at the south end of the Ballard Bridge to theoretically save drivers two and a half minutes. We think your time matters, whether you are trying to catch a bus, rolling home to take care of your kids, or running errands on foot.


That’s why we’re asking SDOT to use nationally established best practices to limit wait times to no more than 90 seconds, except in rare circumstances, and to make automatic crosswalk lights the default.

Click here to tell SDOT we need a signals policy that puts people first. Your time should matter just as much, if not more, when you are walking or rolling as when you are driving. Thank you for speaking up!

 

Thank you for your continued advocacy!

 

Bringing 15-Minute Neighborhoods to Seattle

Nick Tritt has been interning with Seattle Neighborhood Greenways over the past quarter as part of his UW Environmental Capstone Program. He conducted research on the 15 Minute Neighborhoods strategy. In the interview below, I asked him about some of his key findings. 

Gordon: If you lived in a 15-minute neighborhood what would your life be like?

Nick: Urban planning has long been focused on moving as many cars as possible and though mass transportations systems like Seattle’s own Link light rail are expanding, what if we thought about how to bring people’s daily needs to their own neighborhoods? What if instead, we made it possible so you could get all your daily needs within a 15-minute walk from home? A 15-Minute Neighborhood vision brings amenities like grocery stores, retail shops, restaurants, parks, childcare, and places of employment to where people live. When we focus on how the different spaces in our lives such as residential, commercial and recreation areas can be intermixed instead of in separate areas of the city, meeting all our needs by walking becomes the easy option, and likely the more enjoyable one! When you think of some of your favorite neighborhood streets in the city, I bet some of them are bustling, tree-lined main streets full of character where a short walk is all it takes to run some errands, meet a friend for coffee, and visit some favorite shops all while getting some exercise in along the way just by walking. Those lively streets and the folks who live among them are the heart of the 15-Minute Neighborhood vision.

15 minute neighborhood graphic from PPS

Gordon: What does a 15 neighborhood look like in theory?

Nick: All of the goods and services we need and want would be located in the same safe walkable radius from our homes. Compiling data from many pedestrian-focused academic papers and municipal transit studies show that the largest non-work needs of people in the day to day are:

  • Grocery Shopping
  • Recreation & Exercise
  • Running Errands (mailing, appointments, dry cleaning, pet care)
  • Retail Shopping (clothing, electronics, books, home & hobby items)
  • Healthcare
  • Entertainment (venues, theaters, art exhibits)
  • Natural Areas
  • Public Gathering Spaces
  • Restaurants & Bars
  • Places of Worship
  • Social Services
  • Child Care Services

Having a choice between similar amenities does matter, as several studies point out that with grocery stores specifically, people often frequent several different stores to purchase food. Consumers navigate their priorities of convenience, price, and specialty options to decide which store will fit their needs best when they shop.

It’s important to consider the distances most people are willing and able to walk for their needs. Industry-standard data points out that 5 minutes is the ideal distance and 20 minutes is the maximum a person is willing to walk before choosing a different option. At the average adults’ walking pace of 3mph, 15 minutes allows for about a ¾ mile around their front door. The close proximity of amenities in a 15-Minute Neighborhood makes multi-stop trips easily accomplished all within the same walking route.

Gordon: What weren’t you able to find during your research?

Nick: Some research still outstanding is survey data of the specific daily, weekly, and monthly needs of people beyond broader categories such as groceries, parks, and errands. Next step research is finding out more about the types of errands, recreational activities, and shopping habits people have and their frequency. Another unknown is data supporting how people may have different walking thresholds for different amenities and activities, which can inform the placement of new development.

Gordon: Where have 15-minute neighborhood plans been adopted?

Nick: Below is a map of cities around the world that are implementing versions of 15-Minute Neighborhoods into their official municipal planning documents, ranging from Barcelona’s famous Superblocks and Paris’s fresh new 15-Minute City plan, down to Charlotte’s Complete Neighborhoods and the 20-Minute Neighborhood plans from our regional neighbors in Portland and Eugene, Oregon.

15 minute neighborhoods map

Gordon: What are the core components of a 15-minute neighborhood plan around the world?

Nick: There are many things that 15-Minute Neighborhood style plans have in common regardless of where they are happening throughout the world. Mixed-use development is by far the most common trait among plans because when buildings and spaces have multiple uses and open zoning, the cultural, residential, educational, recreational, and commercial spaces coexist, potentially in the same building. Several plans layout the three D’s of urban walkability; Distance, Destinations, and Density. These factors represent having many areas that are easy to walk in a comfortable distance, presence of the most needed business and facilities destinations, and a dense enough resident, employer, and visitor population to financially support all the amenities in a neighborhood. 

Gordon: What are some of the supporting strategies that complement a 15-minute neighborhood strategy?

Nick: Strong bicycle infrastructure and multi-modal transit hubs are widely supported in cities with 15-Minute Neighborhood plans because they allow people on foot to go beyond their walkshed without resorting to cars. More bike lanes, especially those with physical barriers, provide extra protection and space from cars, while well-planned transit hubs can contain pedestrian facilities such as bathrooms, lockers, and information services. 

One other big similarity between cities planning for pedestrian priority is providing more green space and general vegetation in neighborhoods. Greening a neighborhood definitely involves well-maintained parks but also adding street trees, greenery, and pocket parks in vacant lots or oddly shaped and small pieces unused city space. Detroit, MI has made great strides to bring more nature into the city by turning a defunct railroad line into a 1.65-mile-long greenway and supporting extensive urban farm and garden opportunities throughout the city.

Gordon: What do you think should be a part of a 15 Minute Neighborhood plan for Seattle?

Nick: As Seattle progresses toward a more walkable city, we need to make sure that developmental change does not take away the character of our neighborhoods. This includes maintaining racial diversity and equity within communities. We must preserve affordable housing and fully engage with all community members to address everyone’s needs. The individuality of neighborhoods and their unique aesthetics, architecture, and landmarks are part of the intangible characteristics of walkability that make us want to take in the town on foot and feel the community pride with our neighbors and visitors enjoying the scenery. Fostering small independent business growth not only adds appealing character to a neighborhood but in mixed-use development, there is more opportunity for residents to live where they work and be that much more invested in their community.

Recently, the miles of new Stay Healthy Streets in Seattle show that when given the opportunity, communities come alive with activity in new public space options for families to gather, safely play and travel by walking or biking. We need to continue to find similar opportunities to expand pedestrian space through easily implemented temporary traffic lanes and parking minimization. Farmers markets in Seattle, notably the Ballard Farmers Market is an example of what could come from experimenting with reclaiming roads for community space. For less dense areas, being creative with using space in multiple ways such as getting a pop-up retail market or food truck corral in parking lots or school grounds lets less walkable neighborhoods experience having more amenities close to home.

Thanks for all your work on this Nick! For folks who want to support helping Seattle become a place where everyone can walk or roll to their daily needs, donate or sign up to volunteer

Big Wins from the 2021 Seattle City Budget

Takeaways: After a disappointing proposed austerity budget from Mayor Durkan, advocates like you across Seattle rallied allies and wrote to elected officials and made HUGE gains in the 2021 Seattle City Budget. We secured funding for critical transportation projects across Seattle including the long-awaited Georgetown to South Park Trail! (See more below.) Click here to thank the City Council for doing the right thing, and stay engaged to keep fighting for the #SolidarityBudget and other underfunded walking and biking projects.
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When Mayor Durkan released her proposed budget in September with massive cuts from walking and biking projects alone, we were incredibly disappointed. While transportation faced the steepest cuts, the entire budget was framed around severe austerity, which we know is not the answer.

Seattle Neighborhood Greenways, along with the rest of the Move All Seattle Sustainably (MASS) Coalition, drafted a set of 2021 City Budget Asks. Advocates like you from across the city spoke up in support, and the Seattle City Council came through!!

Send an email thanking Seattle City Council for restoring funding to critical walking, biking, and transit projects now!

Transportation highlights from the restored funding include:

  • Georgetown to South Park Trail: $5.2 million to fully fund this vital connection for Duwamish Valley communities that have been bearing the brunt of West Seattle Bridge overflow traffic. Thanks to Duwamish Valley Safe Streets and advocates like you, this long-awaited connection finally has funding to become a reality!

  • Sidewalk repair in Rainier Ave corridor: $943,000 will fund sidewalk repair and other pedestrian improvements in the Rainier Ave corridor that were previously stripped from improvement plans.

  • Safe Routes to School Funding: $9 million will backfill revenue lost due to COVID closures, and will be used to help kids get safely to and from school once in-person classes resume.

  • South End Bike Routes: $400,000 for continued planning for south end bike routes including a Georgetown-Downtown connection through SODO and a feasibility study of MLK south of the Mount Baker Light Rail Station.
  • NE 45th St Protected Bike Lane: $900,000 for improvements to the Route 44 corridor, including bicycle and pedestrian improvements along NE 45th St across I-5, connecting Wallingford to the future University District light rail station, opening next year.
  • Thomas St Redesigned: $777,000 for the this vital east-west connection and green street between South Lake Union and the Seattle Center.
  • Duwamish Longhouse Crossing: Funding for construction of pedestrian improvements and a safe crossing of West Marginal Way in front of the Duwamish Longhouse.

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Thanks to your advocacy, we achieved big wins for critical mobility and transportation projects around Seattle, but we have a lot more work to do. The final 2021 Seattle City Budget makes steps towards the #SolidarityBudget that Seattleites have been in the streets since May to demand. However, it doesn’t go far enough. Learn more about next steps for the #SolidarityBudget work here from key organizers at King County Equity Now, Decriminalize Seattle, 350 Seattle, and more on this important, ongoing effort.

Feeling safe on our streets includes safety from police brutality. In July 2020, Seattle Neighborhood Greenways convened and funded Whose Streets? Our Streets! This workgroup, lead by Black women, is dedicated to reviewing and revising laws and policies to better meet the needs—and support the lives—of all street users. This includes getting armed police out of traffic enforcement entirely.

As we celebrate these hard-fought wins, we also look ahead to the coming year, and continue to fight for the #SolidarityBudget and other unfderfunded walking and biking projects. We thank you for your tireless energy in helping to make it happen. You are making a difference!
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Click here to thank Seattle City Council for championing these priorities in the 2021 budget, 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

Lake Washington Blvd Reopens to walk/bike/rolling for Thanksgiving!

Big News! Thanks to advocates like you, the Seattle Department of Transportation just announced that part of Lake Washington Boulevard will be OPEN for the long Thanksgiving weekend for people to walk, bike, and roll, and will be closed to vehicle thru-traffic!

Volunteer or chip in so we can continue to advocate for Lake Washington Boulevard, and other streets to stay open to people to walk, bike, and roll. 

At the beginning of the pandemic, people across Seattle were clamoring for more spaces to safely walk, bike, roll, and run. So with your help, we envisioned a network of 130 miles of streets to give people more space. The city responded and launched the Stay Healthy Streets programincluding a pilot Keep Moving Street on Lake Washington Boulevard. It was so popular the city government received thousands of supportive comments, including over 1,000 people signing on to Rainier Valley Greenways – Safe Streets petition asking the city asking to keep it open on weekends at least and engage community. Unfortunately, the street switched back to a car thoroughfare in late October. 

Now, thanks to amazing advocates and supporters like you, the Seattle Department of Transportation has made a short-term decision to reinstate the “Keep Moving Street” on Lake Washington Blvd. The street will once more be open to walking, biking, and rolling from Wednesday Nov 25 through Monday Nov 30. They have also pledged to engage the community in a conversation about keeping the street open permanently.  

And we’re not stopping now. Here are three things you can do to keep this momentum going:

  1. Share a selfie of you or your friends/family enjoying walking, skating, biking, running, or rolling on Lake Washington Boulevard or another Keep Moving Street or Stay Healthy Street, and share it with us by tagging us in social media https://twitter.com/SNGreenways or emailing [email protected]
  2. Share the Lake Washington Boulevard video or action page with your friends and family. 
  3. Sign up to learn more about volunteering or chip in to keep this people powered movement going.  

Happy Thanksgiving!

Be well,
Clara

 

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 facing a major budget shortfall for next year. Yet the Mayor has proposed a severe austerity budget, with $21.5 million cut from walking and biking projects alone, that will not help people, help the City recover, or move us towards our City goals. 

The 2021 budget cuts are too deep. We’re asking the City Council to reject austerity and invest more in walking, biking, and transit to align our city budget with Seattle’s values.

Act now to ask City Council to support these priorities, and join us on Thursday, October 27 at 5:30 pm at the City Council virtual public budget hearing.

As we face the deepest recession since the Great Depression, austerity is not the answer. People are relying on the government more than ever, and Seattle’s economic recovery depends on increasing public services and investment, not cutting them.

Seattle Neighborhood Greenways, along with the rest of the Move All Seattle Sustainably (MASS) Coalition, have drafted a set of 2021 City Budget AsksClick here to send a letter of support to City Council!

MASS supports the #SolidarityBudget and makes the following requests specific to equitable and climate-friendly transportation:

  • Georgetown to South Park Trail: Fund this vital connection for construction in 2021 for communities that have been bearing the brunt of West Seattle Bridge overflow traffic.

  • Sidewalk repair in Rainier Ave corridor: Reverse the decision to cut sidewalk improvements from the Rapid Ride 7 plans.

  • RapidRide Program: Stem the continued budget cuts to the RapidRide Program and citywide network of dedicated bus lanes. Making transit rapid, reliable, and efficient is essential to accomplishing the shift to a sustainable transportation system.

  • Seattle Green New Deal: Adequately fund the staff and resources needed for Seattle to advance the Green New Deal.

Act now to ask City Council to support these priorities by sending a letter to the Seattle City Council.

A group of people protesting. A black woman with long hair stands front right with a megaphone. People behind her hold signs in support of Rainier Ave Safety.

Recognizing that there are many vital demands on a limited budget this year, we propose that funds for these projects be shifted away from other budgets that do not align with our city’s stated priorities. Decrease funding for Intelligent Transportation System funds (ITS signals) which more than doubled in the 2021 budget, and other car-focused budgets that were not reduced proportionately to other programs.

We also recognize that new funds are badly needed, and ask that the City explore possible new revenue sources in the coming year specifically for transportation.

Transportation remains Seattle’s top source of carbon pollution. Curbing transportation emissions means investing in walking, biking, and transit.

Act now to ask City Council to support these priorities, 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

 

Defining Community Safety: SNG in Conversation with Aaron Dixon

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On Monday, August 31, 2020, Seattle Neighborhood Greenways sat down (virtually) for a community conversation with Aaron Dixon, founding member and Captain of the Seattle chapter of the Black Panther Party. We discussed community ownership of public space, how we define community safety, and community alternatives to policing.

It was wonderful to hear Aaron share his wisdom and experience, and I left the event feeling inspired. A huge thank you to Aaron Dixon and Peaches Thomas, as well as to everyone who attended, asked thoughtful questions and shared in this community space.

For those of you unable to attend, check out the Recording and Full Transcript.

Special thanks to Disability Rights Washington for providing closed captioning.

And a huge thank you to our other event co-sponsors: 350 SeattleFeet FirstSierra Club Seattle GroupTransit Riders UnionTransportation Choices Coalition, and The Urbanist.

If you are interested in learning more about our work in this realm, check out Whose Streets? Our Streets!, a work-group currently drafting recommendations to the City of Seattle and State of Washington to re-imagine traffic enforcement without armed police.

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Event Details:
Monday, August 31, 2020, 5:30 – 7:00 pm
This event will be a conversation between Aaron Dixon and Peaches Thomas (5:30-6:30 pm), followed by attendee questions and dialogue (6:30 – 7:00 pm). The event will be recorded and available in the days that follow. Closed captioning is available live and a full transcript will be made available after the event.
This event is co-sponsored by 350 Seattle, Disability Rights Washington, Feet First, Sierra Club Seattle Group, Transit Riders Union, Transportation Choices Coalition, and The Urbanist.
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Aaron-Dixon Headshot 2About Aaron Dixon, Guest Speaker:
Aaron Dixon, founding member and Captain of the Seattle chapter of the Black Panther Party. As Captain, Dixon helped launch the Free Breakfast for School Children Program, which fed over 10,000 children every day before school. Dixon was also instrumental in the opening of a free medical and legal clinic which later became the Carolyn Downs Clinic.
Dixon is also the founder of the nonprofit organization, Central House, providing transitional housing for homeless young adults and a youth leadership project. He is a former Green Party candidate for WA State Senate, and an organizer of the Center for Social Justice based out of the Seattle Central District. He is the author of My People are Rising: Memoirs of a Black Panther Captain. Read more here or see his interview with the History Makers.
Peaches Thomas HeadshotAbout Peaches Thomas:
Peaches Thomas is a local Community Organizer with Duwamish Valley Safe Streets, a member of the Seattle Neighborhood Greenways network. She works to create opportunities for residents, specifically youth, to foster a culture of walking and rolling. Notable projects include SDOT’s pilot Home Zone project in South Park and the Georgetown to South Park Connection. Peaches recently received the Unsung Hero Award, presented by the South Park Neighborhood Association.
Peaches believes in empowering communities through advocacy, outreach, and education. In her experience working within Seattle’s South Park and Georgetown neighborhoods, residents feel safer when their shared spaces are equitable and accessible to all. She hopes to one day travel to Egypt, Ghana, and France.

On the Street: KL Shannon interviews youth advocate, community leader, and bike rider Dawn Bennett

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KL Shannon: Tell me about your first experience with a bike or who got you interested in riding a bike.

Dawn Bennett: My first experience riding a bike was when I was little in Youngstown, Ohio. There were eight of us (siblings). We all had bicycles because our mom wanted to make sure that we were busy. She got us little red tricycles (my bike was so cute). We were always falling off the bikes because we were daring one another … so we would end up in the emergency room! True story. <Laughs.>

KL: Can you tell me about a time you wanted to give up biking?

Dawn: Yes, When we got older. My older brother graduated to a beautiful silver 10-speed bike and his own apartment. At that time, I didn’t have a bike. It was time for mom to buy us all 10-speeds. And I was the youngest of eight — down the pecking order, I was last. So I was like, “I’m last, she will never get to me. I don’t want a bike and if I wanted a bike I want a silver 10-speed. I want to be like my big brother.” (And that wasn’t coming.) So, my mom saw that I was really mad about not having a 10-speed. Her partner at the time, she had him give me his old stupid bike. I didn’t want to ride it — so I gave up biking. It was not good enough for me, not good enough for Dawn!

KL: What’s a moment or experience related to biking that stays with you? Could be good or bad.

Dawn:  <Laughs> I have sisters. There are three of us. We’re all a year apart. There’s a lot of us (LOL). Anyway. When we moved to Seattle, we biked around Seward Park. We did the loop (or tried to do the loop, we didn’t make it.) We ended up having a picnic halfway through, then walked back. That was my best bike experience because it was about me and my sisters bonding, experiencing nature and the beauty of Seward Park. We were in the woods together and eating together.

KL: Tell me about why you bike.DawnBennett

Dawn: I bike because I like to keep my body moving. I have a twin brother and he is a fitness guru. And he has taught all of us sisters how to keep our bodies moving. My mom and grandmother were obese. They didn’t have heart problems, thank goodness, but they both had high blood pressure. My twin brother made sure we had the information to make sure we kept ourselves — um, fit. I played basketball for thirty years. My knees got kind of weak — so I got back on the bike and now I bike a whole bunch.

KL: I have a follow up question. Where are some of the places you like to bike?

Dawn: There is a black bicycle club that I want to be a part of. In order to be a part of this bicycle club, I need to bike as much as they do. I practice at Seward Park. And — I have to see beauty, beautiful nature. So, I also practice at Alki Beach. I own my home in Kent. I use to bike around Kent all the time. And so, when I can’t get to Alki, I bike around Kent. Pretty soon, I’m going to do the trails with the black bike club — I’m going to be a part of the club. I just need to get up to par.

Susan Gleason: <Interjecting> There are a couple, I think — Rainier Riders, but the one you’re talking about is really intense. Clara went on a ride with them. She was wiped out.

Dawn: This is how intense they are: I was coming out of Island Soul after grubbing. Walked out of Island Soul. Whole group of bikers came by me. Almost hit me. And they were all black. I yelled, “I want to join!” They said, “Sister, you can join.” But, they came very, very far that day — from Kent. I got to work up to that. That’s my goal, to join one of those black bike clubs.

KL: Another follow up question.  You met with one of my colleagues, Robert Getch [Beacon Hill Safe Streets]. He has convinced you to purchase an expensive bike. 🙂

Dawn: <Smiles> Yes, I’m going to get a bike like his. I told him I am going to invest in a bike like that. My little Schwinn is not doing it for me. Part of riding a bike is you want the wind in your face and you want to be going fast — and my little Schwinn will not go fast, no matter how hard I pedal. He [Robert] knew all about it. So, in our meeting time [about the Beacon Ave Trail] we took some time to talk about bikes. I’m going to buy a bike like his. Twenty-five hundred dollars. A full-on investment, man. I’m going to do it. His bike has a little motor on it. I have a feeling my bike will have a motor too. I’m concerned I will have that motor on way too much. <Laughs>  I got to be careful about that.

Susan: <Interjecting again> People say that maybe you’re not going to get as much exercise with that electric assist on the bikes. But everyone I’ve talked to — avid bike riders, daily commuters, all different kinds of riders — say they bike ten times more because of the motor. Opens up the whole city. Gives you more things you can imagine doing in your day.

Dawn: That makes sense, because what Robert talked to me about are those hard hills. When you’re trying to have a beautiful bike ride — going up those hills is easier. You can get up to the top of those hills and then turn that motor off. It makes sense.

KL: You know we work on walking issues too. Do you walk?

Dawn:  I don’t walk. I don’t like walking at all. I’m ADD. <Laughs>

KL: Adult Attention Deficit Order?

Dawn: Yes! I have decided that I have that. (I haven’t been tested.) I can not walk down the street without — I need something faster! I’m not even going to pretend that I can walk.

KL: Do any of your family members still ride?

Dawn: No. Nobody still rides. Everybody graduated out of bikes to their cars. And never left their cars.

KL: In a perfect world, what would biking and walking look like for you? What would biking and walking look like, specifically in communities of color?

Dawn: So, folks here at Jefferson Park Community Center walk and bike on the pathway because its beautiful. There are a lot of people using this park. So, you walk and watch games. You can walk and watch your kids. Everything is overlapping. You can bring your kids to the park and walk the trail. It’s wonderful. I do walk and bike that trail sometimes at lunch. It’s hard to walk it, but I love putting my bike on that trail. Folks come in here [Jefferson Community Center] to do pottery and the whole pottery class will come out and get on that trail and start walking.

Susan: Can you say more about that? About how people can be making pottery together here on Beacon Hill, and leave class and go on a trail. Be among beauty?

Dawn: Beauty plays a big part of it. You want to be around stuff that has been taken care of. Lit up and safe. That’s what draws me to Alki — all kinds of people watching, the beauty of the water, riding my bike, and the sun is out, the clouds — it’s just beautiful. I would ride anywhere that is beautiful. So, that Beacon Ave Trail — if trees are put out there, if you see nature happening, I like being in that kind of stuff. And at night, lights keep people safe. Being safe, and with the beauty at the same time, that’s important to me.

KL: Why are people of color not sitting at the table participating in the dialogue regarding biking, pedestrian safety, transportation and walking?

Dawn: Because folks think we don’t do it. If they think we don’t do it, they won’t outreach to us. And we’re not going to go and say “Hello, we do it. See us.” There are parallels that they will not cross that keep us out of conversations where decisions are being made. There is no culture in the decision-making, which is sad, because we bring the soul. We’re soulful folks.

KL: Last question. Who inspires you?

Dawn: When it comes to athleticism, my twin who’s done fitness his whole life inspires me. But when it comes to inspiration from African Americans, it’s Janet Preston, who takes on a lot of this weight that our community is going through. She just takes it on, and she gives back the best way she can to give us some ease.

KL: She is an amazing elder.

Dawn: Yes, she is an amazing elder and mentor. The weight that woman carries for us. It’s freaking amazing.

KL: What she has done for people that are in prison and coming out of prison.

Dawn: Right. She doesn’t just do the work in incarceration. She does education, housing, and takes Christmas presents all over the freaking place. She makes you want to do more … she inspires me to do more and more. Not only is she educated from the UW, but she has that common sense. She walks and I bike.

Alki Point Stay Healthy Street: “Make it permanent!”

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Story and photo by Loren Schwartz (Stay Healthy Alki Point)

The change resulting from making Alki Point/Beach Drive a Stay Healthy Street was immediate and transformative.

At once, it made the street safe and inclusive. Prior to the Stay Healthy Street designation, Beach Drive was a route fairly exclusively designed for motorists. It seems planners hadn’t anticipated the amount or type of traffic and behavior that these streets and parks were going to experience.

The street closure (to vehicle through-traffic) and opening (to walking, biking, running, rollerskating, skateboarding, and more) has been dramatic and positive to everyone who uses the street and parks. And neighbors in the area are eager to keep it this way.

Folks may not be aware, but neighbors have been clamoring for more street and park safety on Beach Drive for years.

The campaign to make Alki Point a permanent Stay Healthy Street has included multiple community-led steps:

  • Creating an online petition, which enabled us to gather names, addresses, and comments from people.
  • Using data from the petition to create a presentation and map that clearly demonstrates people from all over the city, and beyond, are using the Stay Healthy Street — and they’re loving it!
  • In addition, to better tell the people-focused stories of this street, neighborhood volunteers came together to create a video.

Combined, these efforts have been powerful tools for storytelling and gaining broad support for making Alki Point a permanent Stay Healthy Street.

If you have any questions, please send your emails to: [email protected]

And please come out to Alki Point to enjoy this awesome Stay Healthy Street (then sign the petition) or get out and enjoy the Stay Healthy Street nearest you, whichever it may be!

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