Tag Archive: stay healthy streets

Stay Healthy Streets: 2022 Update

What’s Next for Healthy Streets in Seattle?

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! Other open street programs were also launched, including streets as recreation spaces near parks (Keep Moving Streets); streets to alleviate pick-up and drop-off stress in front of schools (School Streets); pedestrian plazas for gathering and dining (Cafe Streets) and more.

The programs received a HUGE amount of public support. People were eager to engage in a process that yields more permanent changes.

Through 2021, we continued to conduct community engagement and outreach, and push SDOT to improve and expand the programs. Now, over two years since their launch, what’s going on with the pilot programs and what’s the plan for the future?

What’s Going On Now?

The Healthy Streets program now has two distinct components with different sets of goals.

1. Healthy Streets as routes for people to walk, roll or bike safely and comfortably — whether for transportation, recreation or both.

SDOT is plodding slowly ahead to make 20 miles of Stay Healthy Streets permanent, starting with Greenwood’s 1st Ave SHS–part of which is now completed. Engagement and planning are well underway for routes on Beacon HillLake City and High Point. There are parallels and overlaps with other SDOT program goals including Neighborhood Greenways and Safe Routes to School.

2. Healthy Streets as destinations for people to gather.

A great example is the immensely popular street in Little Brook, in collaboration with Lake City Collective. A new mural was painted last fall. South Park and Georgetown are also following this example. There are parallels and overlaps with other SDOT program goals including Home Zones, Pedestrianized Streets and Café Streets, as well as temporary or event-based programs like Festival Streets and Playstreets.

SDOT has also taken on some of our other recommendations, and has been successfully asking people what alternative ways they want to find to meet community needs–overlapping tools from this program with others such as Home Zones, Pedestrian Streets and Playstreets. “Want to host a play street on an existing Healthy Street? No permit  required!”

The city’s three Keep Moving Streets–streets for recreation that expand and amplify park space–are also continuing. Notably, completion of the Green Lake Outer Loop construction is expected this year! Lake Washington Boulevard has been open for select summer weekends and holidays, and SDOT has launched a Task Force to conduct community engagement for a permanent street solution.

What should happen next?

The last two years have fundamentally changed many aspects of how we use our streets. Transportation focus has shifted in a big way–from commuting routes to and from downtown, to a more dispersed neighborhood-based approach.

How are we getting to school, to the library, to visit our friends and neighbors? As our awareness and appreciation for neighborhood routes and community connections grows, we’ve started to value and accept the Healthy Streets and similar programs as the norm. This is the transportation planning model that Seattle Neighborhood Greenways has long advocated for–one that increases accessibility and mobility options for women, kids, elders and those who work outside of the downtown core, or outside of 9-5 hours.

We believe a successful Healthy Streets program will have a unified vision within SDOT, with branding that is easy to communicate, recognize and understand. This requires simplifying the SDOT definition of a “Healthy Street” and combining existing programs with overlapping goals to minimize bureaucratic complexity. We also need a remediation plan for upgrading existing streets to the improved standards of the new program.

The program must also have these 6 elements:

  1. Strong community engagement strategy, with a focus on serving community needs, and a public interface that makes this program accessible and the streets easy to use either informally or for special events.
  2. Clear goal for traffic calming, including a willingness to inconvenience car drivers. The program should include an expanded menu of options for street designs including diverters and give neighborhoods the opportunity to find creative approaches, include art and placemaking elements, expand the tree canopy, and create places for people that fulfill community needs. In order to decrease the volume of car traffic, the design needs to intentionally inconvenience car drivers who are not going to local destinations.
  3. Adequate budget to implement designs completely and with high-quality materials that will not fall apart right away or require exceptionally high ongoing maintenance. For example, concrete barriers are both safer and require significantly less maintenance than plastic flex-posts that are regularly run over by car drivers and create unsafe road detritus. Funding should be provided for infrastructure to expand the program and upgrading existing temporary materials or inadequate infrastructure, as well as for maintenance, community placemaking, and community utilization.
  4. Equitable access and distribution of routes that are prioritized in neighborhoods that have less safe streets to walk, roll and bike on, less tree canopy, and less access to public community spaces. Community spaces created need to intentionally lift up
  5. Strong standards for Healthy Streets that adhere to NACTO standards for bicycle boulevards, at minimum, and are consistent across SDOT programs with similar goals. Our recommendations include:
    1. Routes planned with a continuous, logical, and direct route
    2. Streets designed to be safe and comfortable for people walking, rolling, and biking, including both decreasing speeds and decreasing the number of cars through use of diverters and other barriers.
    3. Street crossings that prioritize greenway traffic by default, cause minimal delay to greenway users, and prioritize safe and convenient crossings of arterials
    4. Green infrastructure that enhances the environment such as stormwater drainage, tree canopy, art and placemaking elements, and other opportunities to create places for people that fulfill community needs
  6. Regular, transparent evaluation process with published reports. Evaluation should occur on a schedule every few years, not just once after the infrastructure goes into operation, and should include measurements for traffic speed and volume, rates of compliance at intersections, and qualitative information about community utilization of the space and the user experience gathered through surveys, interviews, or neighborhood conversations. We should also create automatic triggers so that when a report shows undesirable conditions, SDOT will automatically move to add the elements necessary to improve those conditions.

Thank you for your continued advocacy!

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.

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

 

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