If you didn’t make it to last week’s neighborhood greenways presentation and discussion with Portland’s Greg Raisman and Mark Lear, you’re in luck! University Greenways caught the whole thing on video (Mark and Greg’s talk gets going around the 8:00 mark).
The whole meeting was exciting and empowering, but particularly the first portion of Greg and Mark’s presentation is useful to everyone trying to figure out how to create a coalition for neighborhood greenways that stretches beyond people who ride bicycles.
Of everything I saw during the presentation, here’s the graph that grabbed me the most:
This is stunning stuff, and it should be inspiring to everyone regardless of how they choose to get around town. We know how to make our roads safer for everyone, we just need to make the decision that protecting the lives of all people is our highest transportation priority.
Another important note about neighborhood greenways is that it has more in common with neighborhood traffic calming (which Seattle already does a lot of) than it does with bicycling. They are certainly great for bicycling, but perhaps SDOT should be looking to change the way we address neighborhood traffic calming and focus those efforts into greenways instead of expensive and only partially successful efforts, such as traffic circles. For example, we should probably be doing more (bike safe) speed bumps instead.
The city gets a remarkable number of requests for increased traffic calming on residential streets because nobody wants people speeding down streets in front of their homes where they, their kids and their pets walk, drive, bicycle and play. Combining traffic calming with new safe arterial crossings (the most expensive part of a neighborhood greenway), you get a neighborhood traffic calming project that does as much for people trying to walk or get to a bus stop across a busy street in the neighborhood as it does for people biking.
Clearly, people who bike and bicycle advocates are going to be a driving force behind neighborhood greenways. But the appeal of these projects reaches far beyond people who want safer streets for use as bicycle routes. They are about neighborhood life and safe communities.
Luckily, groups like Spokespeople, Beacon BIKES, Ballard Greenways, University Greenways and a growing list of other groups are already reaching out to district and community councils to introduce themselves and the idea of neighborhood greenways to people who live in those neighborhoods. Once people in Seattle learn what a neighborhood greenway is and start imagining what it would be like to live on or within a couple blocks of one, the momentum behind Seattle’s neighborhood greenways movement will really take off.
The SunBreak has more analysis of the presentation, including praise for Seattle councilmember Sally Bagshaw’s commitment to making neighborhood greenways a reality:
Portland Greenwayboosters Greg Raisman and Mark Lear were in Seattle recently to introduce the curious to this less-contentious form of transportation infrastructure. Seattle City Council’s Sally Bagshaw told the 70 people packed into the event that the time for greenways is now:
What I want to do–and as a member of your city council, what I am pledging to do–is to make sure that these neighborhood greenways become as real as what Portland has done. It is really my goal for my next few years while I am on the council.