City plans 11 miles of neighborhood greenways in 2012

By this time next year, there should be 11 miles of neighborhood greenways completed in Seattle, with an additional 11 miles planned for 2013.

The 2012 total includes seven miles paid for by the city (in Ballard, Beacon Hill, Greenwood, North Delridge, Wallingford and the University District) and four miles in Laurelhurst paid for by Seattle Children’s Hospital.

At a Seattle Neighborhood Greenways meet-up earlier this month, Councilmember Sally Bagshaw announced that the city is also planning to fund 11 miles per year starting in 2013, mostly from Bridging the Gap funds and some from the Bicycle Master Plan budget. The city will de-emphasize painting sharrows on busy streets (a recommendation by the Seattle Bicycle Advisory Board), putting that (limited) budget toward greenways.

A press release from Seattle Neighborhood Greenways (an umbrella of sorts for the city’s ever-growing number of individual neighborhood groups) also has a fantastic selling point to put the cost of neighborhood greenways in perspective: 10 miles of neighborhood greenways costs the same as 1 mile of trail.

To put that another way, 45 miles of neighborhood greenway costs the same as 1 mile of repaved arterial roadway (using last year’s U-District 15th Ave NE repaving as a price guide). I’d say that’s a fantastic deal.

Here’s a video of Bagshaw speaking at the meetup:

From Seattle Neighborhood Greenways:

Seattle streets will become more welcoming in 2012 to children walking to school, neighbors walking their dogs, and people biking to their neighborhood parks, libraries, and grocery stores. At a January 10 meeting of Seattle Greenway Organizers at the Beacon Hill Library, Seattle City Councilmember Sally Bagshaw enthusiastically announced a set of pilot Neighborhood Greenways being planned by the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) that are designed to make streets safer and more pleasant for people who live, walk, bike, and drive in Seattle’s neighborhoods.

The Neighborhood Greenways under review total 11 miles: seven miles in Ballard, Beacon Hill, Greenwood, North Delridge, Wallingford, and the University District and an additional four miles in Laurelhurst (funded by Seattle Children’s Hospital). These projects are intended to form the backbone of a new network of Greenways that effectively connect people to the places they want to go by giving them a choice to travel on quieter, safer streets around the city.

Councilmember Bagshaw, chairing the newly formed Seattle City Council’s Parks and Neighborhoods Committee, is excited to include Neighborhood Greenways on her agenda.  “Greenways connect parks and schools, community centers and neighborhood business districts. Neighborhood Greenways help with transportation, and they help with getting people where they want to go within their own communities.” Councilmember Bagshaw and Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, who chairs the Seattle Transportation Committee, have taken great leadership initiative on Greenways.

Neighborhood Greenways are slow-speed, low-traffic residential streets made even more pleasant for the people who live, walk, and bike on them. By adding new park-like amenities and limiting cut-through traffic, Greenways are naturally attractive both for families, and for anyone seeking a safer, more connected community experience. By placing Greenways a block or two away from major arterials, Neighborhood Greenways create a great option for people who prefer to walk or bike away from congested streets. While many new dedicated walking and bicycling trails are beyond the reach of our City’s budget, 10 miles of Greenways can be built for the cost of a single mile of new trail, offering the potential to bring a high-quality network to all Seattle neighborhoods at a comparatively low cost. Greenways have the potential to serve neighborhoods where many people cannot afford a car. Neighborhood access by emergency service vehicles and freight delivery vehicles — and parking — is preserved along Greenways.

Motivated by concerns for public safety and a grassroots movement of citizens across Seattle demanding greater community connection, SDOT staff has been studying how other cities link people with their desired neighborhood destinations. By 2015 in Portland, for example, 85% of all residents will live within a half-mile of a Greenway. Portland’s safe streets policies have made streets safer for everyone whether they choose to walk, ride a bicycle, or drive. Portland’s traffic fatality rate is falling six times faster than the rest of the United States. Infrastructure that makes it safer for walking and bicycling automatically benefits drivers through improved safety and saved lives.

Portland Transportation Safety Engineer Greg Raisman explains Portland’s transportation philosophy, “If we focus on the most vulnerable, we’ll make a city that’s safer for everyone. If it’s safe for a child to go to their friend’s house to play, then it’s safe to drive when you have to.”

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25 Responses to City plans 11 miles of neighborhood greenways in 2012

  1. biliruben says:

    I was pondering my Lake City neighborhood for possibilities. The two that occurred to me, in conjunction with schools and parks, would be:

    40th/39th from 110th to 145th, and

    130th between Lake City Way and 15th.

    Anyone have any input/pros/cons on why these would or wouldn’t have potential?

    • Andres says:

      Bill, the Greenways group needs people from different neighborhoods to propose/research routes and form neighborhood groups. I’m not aware of any greenway plans north of 105th St NE, and no Lake City group. So, if you’re not already helping out, please do. :)

      I’m not personally familiar with the streets you’ve proposed, but 39th is already a candidate further south (between 55th and 85th). It’s not entirely clear what happens past 85th, as the street doesn’t go through and the terrain gets more dicey.

      • biliruben says:

        Yeah, I’ve ridden this area a fair amount. The problem is the ravine caused by Thornton Creek, which, along 39th, dips down around 95th and is a nasty climb around 110.

        Their seems like you could make a route that weaving through 40th/42nd from 85th to 95th, then 42nd is actually very pleasant up toe 110th. Can’t avoid the hill on 110th though.

        It could definitely be done, and I’ve thought for a long time that following Thornton Creek would be the best (flattest) way to Northgate, though you would have some right-of-way issues.

        110 to 125th is flat and quiet along 40th, but crossing 125th would need some sort of calming/infrastructure. That road is mean, narrow and fast.

        Past that it’s very friendly to the city line along 39th.

      • Andres says:

        Bill, here’s the Children’s proposal for 39th. After heading North on 39th:
        – Left onto 85th
        – Right onto 38th
        – Left onto 90th
        – Right onto 30th
        – Right onto 95th
        – Left onto 32nd
        – Stay on 32nd until 105th

        105th is the end; nothing proposed North of there. You can see that route here: http://neighborhoodgreenwayssea.wordpress.com/neighborhoods/laurelhurst/

        Please join the list if you have a better idea of how it should go, or how it should continue.

        http://neighborhoodgreenwayssea.wordpress.com/take-action/

      • biliruben says:

        Interesting. I’ll join.

      • Morgan Wick says:

        “105th St NE”?

  2. eric.br says:

    as a cyclist and resident of 12th ave NE, this made my morning !

  3. Gary says:

    “The city will de-emphasize painting sharrows on busy streets ” well duh. How about “The city will stop painting sharrows on busy streets.” Or is that too clear for a bureaucracy?

    • Tom Fucoloro says:

      “De-emphasize” was my word because, while I’m pretty sure they aren’t going to be painting sharrows on busy streets, I didn’t confirm that as a solid policy change. So blame me for the wishy-washy words, not the city. However, don’t blame me for the sharrows on N 45th St…

  4. Al Dimond says:

    In light of current road conditions… if the city is creating major bike routes away from masses of car traffic, does the city plan to maintain these important bike routes, and keep people updated on their conditions, or will it do what it did this year and only bother with major car arterials? I saw lots of people out biking today, not just hardcore-looking folk, and lots of them fell on icy roads and paths marked as preferred bike routes. It looks to me like Seattle has the will to bike year-round and the government isn’t keeping up!

    • Tom Fucoloro says:

      That’s a good question, Al. The city maintains that it’s main priority during snow emergencies is to keep the buses rolling, and their map of priority roads does match up with the busiest bus snow routes. So while neighborhood greenways are basically biking and walking arterials, should the city consider them for priority (or secondary or tertiary, basically at all) snow and ice treatment?

      I have a post coming up soon about this sort of. But the question we need to ask is “where (if at all) does biking and (especially) walking fit into the snow response plan?”

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  6. JH says:

    I’ll take sharrows over greenways any day of the week.

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