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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Neighborhood Greenways, Fuck Yeah!

Posted by on Thu, Mar 22, 2012 at 10:38 AM

  • Courtesy of DOUG.
Six months after starting a citywide conversation about strategically altering non-arterial streets to prioritize walkers and cyclists, neighborhood greenway activists have a lot to brag about: City workers have started construction on a NE 44th Street greenway route in Wallingford and committed to developing greenways in Beacon, Ballard, and West Seattle, for a total of seven miles of bike- and pedestrian-prioritized routes.

The swiftness with which activists have spurred the city into action is commendable, sure, but the real shocker is that no one's complaining about it. "There seems to be widespread support for enhancing biking and walking on low-speed non-arterial streets," says Seattle Department of Transportation spokesman Rick Sheridan, who reports that his office has received absolutely no angry emails or bitchy voice mails about the projects.

That's a big fucking deal in a city where residents have been known to bitch about their neighbor's flower gardens being too bright. (Really.)

To celebrate their victory, Seattle Neighborhood Greenways is holding a public meet-up tonight from 6:30 to 8:30 pm at the Phinney Neighborhood Center Auditorium (Auditorium 6615 Dayton Ave N), to speak with special guests SDOT director Peter Hahn and city traffic engineer Dongho Chang about how to integrate neighborhood greenways into Seattle's Bike Master Plan.

Because while seven miles of greenway spread over four neighborhoods may not sound like a lot, activists explain that this is a decade-long process with the short-term goal of adding another 10 miles of new greenways on an annual basis (give or take).

"We submitted 12 miles to the city and said, 'If we’re going to build the network, these are the low-hanging fruits—the spine,'" explains Cathy Tuttle, leader of the citywide effort, who says that the routes come directly from crowdsourced maps (.pdf) developed by residents (but must still be approved by SDOT planners).

Portland implemented a similar program five years ago and the city now has over 60 miles of interconnected routes. Tuttle adds: "We fully expect the few greenways that weren’t approved [in Phinney Ridge and the U-District] to be approved next year."

Neighbors selected the routes based on a variety of factors, including incline steepness and how well they connected to other neighborhoods or major shopping areas. To complete their greenway transformation, each route will be enhanced with bike-friendly road sharrows, speed bumps, cross walks, and signage that will discourage car traffic.

Bridging the Gap funds are expected to cover the cost of each $150,000 mile of new greenway.

And while they've been endorsed by the city's Seattle Bicycle Advisory Board as a good alternative to simply painting bike sharrows on busy arterials, Tuttle stresses that the routes weren't chosen or designed just for cyclists—they're for pedestrians, dog walkers, runners, geriatrics on a leisurely stroll to their neighborhood pharmacy for vital heart medicines, children skipping to school, etc.

"Really, these are more for pedestrians than for bicycles, that's the message we want to get out," she says.

SDOT is also working with Seattle Children's Hospital to create additional greenway routes in the Laurelhurst, Magnuson Park, and Wedgewood areas, although those routes are still in the early stages of planning, Sheridan says, and they will be funded with neighborhood mitigation money attached to the hospital's expansion.


Comments (14) RSS

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..."geriatrics on a leisurely stroll to their neighborhood pharmacy for vital heart medicines, children skipping to school." Great stuff, Cienna.
Posted by gloomy gus on March 22, 2012 at 10:48 AM · Report this
Phoebe in Wallingford 2
So are greenways bike lanes that pedestrians can use?
Posted by Phoebe in Wallingford on March 22, 2012 at 10:51 AM · Report this

Hah...after years of listening to vehicular cyclists promoting putting narrow lanes into the area between 50 mph traffic and car doors opening, suddenly, someone got a brain and figured out that was probably not the ideal cycling environment for most.

The best thing for bikes? A shrinking Portland's.
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://_ on March 22, 2012 at 10:53 AM · Report this
emma's bee 4
I love to hear this, Cienna! Gives me hope for cities in less-progressive parts of the country (like mine).
Posted by emma's bee on March 22, 2012 at 10:56 AM · Report this
Rotten666 5
Now the peds and bikers shall battle to the death.

We can use these on a north-south route in the south end. Some fool is seriously going to get run the fuck over on the Rainier International Speedway ™.
Posted by Rotten666 on March 22, 2012 at 10:56 AM · Report this
TVDinner 6
Fantastic! I'm meeting with a city councilman tomorrow to talk about improving Spokane's bike network, and I'm gonna cite this. Thanks, Cienna!
Posted by TVDinner http:// on March 22, 2012 at 11:29 AM · Report this
ScrawnyKayaker 7
What?? Nobody's bitching? WHAT!!!1!11

Quick! Someone text Dori Monson to mobilize the Real Taxpayers against this cyclofascist assault!
Posted by ScrawnyKayaker on March 22, 2012 at 11:32 AM · Report this
Will in Seattle 8
@2 peds always use bike lanes.

We don't need your "authorization" ...
Posted by Will in Seattle on March 22, 2012 at 11:38 AM · Report this
Cienna Madrid 11
@6, Good luck, TVDinner!
Posted by Cienna Madrid on March 22, 2012 at 11:55 AM · Report this
SPG 12
Arglebarglegrumble Spandex! arglegrrrr entitled! grumblegrumble war on cars! grumble run 'em over! garglegrumble...
Posted by SPG on March 22, 2012 at 12:01 PM · Report this
DOUG. 13
Hey, there's my house!
Posted by DOUG. on March 22, 2012 at 12:54 PM · Report this
dwightmoodyforgetsthings 14
That's pretty cool. Sadly it ends right where the traffic situation actually gets most dangerous on the Wallingford-to-University District ride. I like going down to the Burke then over, but it is longer and means climbing the hill to get to Trader Joe's
Posted by dwightmoodyforgetsthings on March 22, 2012 at 1:18 PM · Report this
emor 15
I live a couple blocks from the western terminus of the Wallingord greenway. Sure it's nice, but I'll probably keep on using 45th for most of my cross-neighborhood bike trips.

I do wish there was a better way to ride a bike or walk from my house to all the businesses in Upper Fremont, which are only a few blocks from my house as the crow flies. Aurora makes what should be a two minute stroll into a 15 minute journey, and 46th is a cycling nightmare, while the bridge on 41st with its two sets of stairs on each side is annoying even with the "runnel" SDOT installed.

Also, I can't wait until the mythical pedestrian/cyclist bridge is installed over I5 between Wallingford and the U District. Riding 45th is gnarly for most cyclists.

All said and done, though, I'm loving being a cyclist in Seattle these days. Now of it'd only start being 50 degrees a little more often!
Posted by emor on March 22, 2012 at 1:28 PM · Report this
a.m. stallings 16
Photo by DOUG., post by Cienna. My people! You're representing today.
Posted by a.m. stallings on March 22, 2012 at 3:49 PM · Report this

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