The city plans to build 11 miles of family-friend walking and biking routes every year, and the number of citizen groups advocating for neighborhood greenways continues to grow. For my part, I got involved with Central Seattle Greenways (CSG), covering Capitol Hill and the Greater Central District. Here’s an update on our first meeting and our next steps (neighborhood ciclovia anyone?).
About 40 people squished into Central Cinema February 9 for the first CSG meeting. Residents put their heads together to come up with some potential family-friendly walking and biking route ideas and discussed ways to promote them.
The Seattle Times interactive map of bicycle-involved collisions between 2007 and 2011 shows that the Central District and Capitol Hill streets with the most collisions are busy streets with lots of car traffic: 12th Ave, Broadway, Pike, Pine, Union, Cherry, Jefferson and Jackson.
Central Seattle Greenways (which, full disclosure, I am part of) has the goal of providing routes for walking and biking that are further away from heavy car traffic. The group is now working to apply for a small Neighborhood Matching Fund grant, which can provide up to $20,000 to selected projects. Grant applications are due March 12, so a lot of work needs to get done before then.
To keep updated on those meetings and participate in other planning discussions, you can join the Google Group email list. Central Seattle Greenways also has a website, Facebook and Twitter.
To get an idea of what routes might work as neighborhood greenways, people split into three groups. Each group had a big map on the table, and people highlighted important neighborhood destinations — such as schools, big transit stops (present and future), parks, churches and commercial centers. They then drew on the maps to highlight neighborhood streets that could connect these destinations. Adam Parast then took those maps and combined them into one so you can see which ideas groups shared (see map above or check out the PDF for mega detail).
Several CD route needs became clear. There was strong support for a route on Columbia Street connecting the First Hill Streetcar stop at Swedish First Hill to Madrona — stopping by Seattle U, Swedish Cherry Hill, Garfield and the Cherry Street commercial areas along the way. There were several good options for a long north-south route connecting Volunteer and Judkins Parks. People also supported routes parallel to 34th Ave in Madrona and routes to help connect Montlake with Capitol Hill and Madison Valley, to name a few.
The group is not starting completely from scratch on Capitol Hill. Mike Kent of the Capitol Hill Community Council presented planning work already under way for Melrose Ave. The Melrose Promenade would redesign the road, particularly north of Denny, so that it is more comfortable for walking and enjoying the excellent views. CSG embraced the plans, and general consensus was that the group should do whatever it can to move the plan forward.
On Capitol Hill, there are several good options for an east-west route somewhere between Madison and Volunteer Park. All groups agreed that all of Federal Ave would be a good option, though it needs to be repaved (which could be costly).
The next step is to decide the best grant ideas. $20,000 is not really enough money to build a route (which cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $150,000/mile). However, it could be enough for design planning (a requirement for the Melrose Green Street project, for example).
Or it could be an opportunity to bring more people in the community together. One idea discussed would be a big cross-neighborhood street party, where a loop of neighborhood streets is turned into a big park for a few hours one weekend day. Organizations and individuals can host parties, music, exercise classes, food, etc along the way. Car traffic is limited, and police or volunteers are on hand to help people cross busy streets. Similar ciclovia-style events have been increasingly popular around the world (and, in fact, the idea has origins right here in Seattle with Lake Washington’s Bicycle Sundays. More on that soon).
The next two meetings will be about grant planning (6:30 p.m. February 27, location TBA) and a route-scouting neighborhood bike ride (2 p.m. March 4, meet at the Judkins Park Tennis Courts).
This is great to see, a triumph of pragmatism.
I’m a regular user of 35th Ave NE where it passes through Wedgwood, this being a popular route for drivers of all stripes whether of the self-powered pedaling sort or of the motorized persuasion. Given the small space available there’s often simply no way to allow a proper 3′ distance while passing a cyclist, pretty much from 95th all the way down to 55th. The result is that as a motorist one has to have an iron will to slow down properly for cyclists while being obnoxiously tailgated by other more impatient motorists, and at the same time I’m sure I’m not alone among cyclists in finding the virtues of smooth pavement not worth the risk and aggravation of encountering motor traffic in such confined quarters.
Upshot: more motorists needlessly frustrated with cyclists, fewer actual cyclists.
Just a block away from 35th is a parallel street that with just a few small tweaks would make a relatively serene route for bicycles, a situation undoubtedly duplicated all over the map of Seattle. If the greenway project is handled with continuing sensitivity to residents of streets parallel to arterials we can truly cozy up a little closer to the best of all possible worlds.
I was looking at the map, and can’t determine what blue, violet, and purple each indicate – its not in the legend that I can see. Can you help me out?
I was wondering the same thing. However, I think that it is the result of the 3 different groups that broke up and created routes. I wasn’t at the meeting so it’s purely a guess.
Mike is right. There were different groups using different markers. That’s all. If we had been thinking ahead, we would have make sure everyone used the same colors for the same things, but it was really just a conversation-started brainstorming kind of thing. The map above is those three maps combined into one. So what’s more relevant is how many lines are on the same road. That shows some level of consensus. That said, the final routes could look very different as we looks further into things. Who knows?