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Meeting will discuss options for neighborhood greenway near 23rd Ave

From the Central Seattle Walking Map. Yellow lines show grades > 10%, which is not bikeable for many people
From the Central Seattle Walking Map. Yellow lines show grades > 10%, which is not bikeable for many people

Yesterday, we reported on an expansion to the 23rd Ave complete streets and repaving project, making the case for safe bike lanes from Montlake to the Central District.

But the primary focus of Wednesday’s open house is a planned neighborhood greenway near 23rd Ave through the CD. The main question is whether the east or west side of 23rd is a better option for a neighborhood greenway, according to planner Maribel Cruz.

The meeting goes from 5:30–7:30 p.m. at Nova High School Auditorium in Miller Park.

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This project is near my home, so I am rather excited about it. Even though I live on 20th just west of 23rd, I think a neighborhood greenway on the east side of 23rd is more useful, with easier access to more neighborhood businesses, schools and community centers.

The Central Seattle Walking Map also shows another problem with a neighborhood greenway on the west side of 23rd: steep grades make some of the most important 23rd Ave destinations relatively inaccessible. (Note: The yellow lines denote blocks steeper than 10% in grade, which is too steep for many people).

Promenade 23 shopping center and Douglas Truth Library are two major destinations not served be a route on 22nd or 21st, for example.

Another idea would be to simply build greenways on both sides of the street, with the east greenway destined for Madison Valley and the Montlake Bridge while the west greenway heads toward Interlaken Park and the University Bridge. Both routes would meet on the I-90 Trail near the future light rail station on 23rd Ave.

Below are some routes I could see working the best (green line shows my favorite sections, give or take a block or so):

The challenge is that neighborhood greenways and Seattle’s commercial drags accomplish very different transportation and place-making goals. A neighborhood greenway can create or improve biking and walking routes that follow desire lines where there currently is no arterial, busy street. For example, a route connecting Judkins Park to Volunteer Park or Interlaken Park. Or Beacon Hill’s neighborhood greenway, which connects the I-90 Trail to Jefferson Park to Georgetown.

But Seattle’s main busy streets are often built along regraded routes chosen for their preferable grades and directness. They are also the streets where the front doors of destinations are located.

A neighborhood greenway is simply not a replacement or alternative to building safe bike lanes on commercial streets. These commercial streets should be places that bring neighbors together, not walls that split a neighborhood in half. People should be able to walk and bike safely from their homes to the doors of neighborhood restaurants and cultural centers. A neighborhood greenway might get you a block or two away, but that’s a block or two short of the goal.

So yes, let’s build a great neighborhood greenway (or two) in the Central District. But let’s also keep working to make sure investments in the city’s planned remake of 23rd Avenue put neighbors first.

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12 responses to “Meeting will discuss options for neighborhood greenway near 23rd Ave”

  1. […] Don’t spend too much time dwelling on the election. There’s progress to be made no matter who is in office. Wednesday on Capitol HIll, city planners will meet with the community to talk about a fantastic opportunity to overhaul a major connection between the Central District, eastern Capitol Hill and Montlake. Here’s what Seattle Bike Blog has to say about the process to plan a $46 million overhaul of 23rd Ave including a proposed greenway system for bicyclists and walkers to travel across the area: […]

  2. Zach Shaner

    I like 24th and ride it several times per week, at least between Cherry and Madison. Totally flat and minimal traffic.

    North of Madison is really tricky, dealing with dead ends on the west side of 23rd and insanely steep hills on the east side. From Madison to Boyer, I don’t feel there’s any alternative to a facility directly on 23rd/24th.

    For the east side, then, I like the idea of 25th from Judkins Park to Cherry, 24th from Cherry to Madison, and on 23rd itself from Madison to Montlake.

    For the west side, 20th or 21st are both reasonable choices, but you’d still need to connect back to 23rd near Aloha.

  3. […] you haven’t already heard, SDOT is planning to create a 23rd avenue corridor greenway as part of the $46 million 23rd […]

  4. Doug Bostrom

    Egermency! Egermency!

    Tom, you better purge all the awful things we said about Ed Murray here. :-)

    I for one have always been all about Ed Murray.

  5. sally

    Please put something on the west side of 24th for the few blocks south of Boyer. Even if it is improved curb ramps it would make the trip much nicer.

  6. […] We have written previously about the 23rd Ave Corridor Neighborhood Greenway meeting (5:30–7:30 p.m. at Nova High School Auditorium in Miller Park). […]

  7. Andersen

    I agree that we need to have bikeways on our commercial streets, however 23rd Ave is not really a commercial street. I don’t know what the city zoning says, but it is definitely not a neighborhood destination.
    – Where is the entrance to the Safeway on 23rd & Madison? On 22nd.
    – Where is the entrance to the library? As far from 23rd as they could put it.
    – Where is the public face of the park at Garfield? On Union, sheltered from 23rd by the community center.
    – Where are the entrances to the Promenade businesses? Not on 23rd.
    If the developers of the post office property have any sense, they’ll orient the commercial face of their building toward Union, where it belongs,.
    My point is that the destination streets in our neighborhood all run East-West, and we ought to treat this bikeway as a North-South connector. Leave 23rd alone and let it suck up all the auto traffic. Don’t try to radically re-engineer it or you’ll drive that traffic onto the side streets.

    1. Andersen

      Did I really say the Garfield community center is on Union? I meant Cherry, of course. I must be getting a little woozy up on this high horse of mine. :)

    2. Tom Fucoloro

      I agree it is that way now, but it doesn’t always need to be. 23rd could be such a better asset to the neighborhood rather than simply being a pipe for cars the splits the CD in two.

      1. Steve Campbell

        Seattle’s dirty little secret is that we really did build the RH Thomson Expressway, only we call it 23rd Avenue and Martin Luther King Jr. Way.

      2. Don’t forget Lake Washington Blvd!

  8. […] into each other’s path. At a well-attended and — at times — testy November 6th meeting to gather public input on the greenway, much of the discussion turned towards the 23rd Ave corridor […]

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