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Get involved in push for safe streets: Meetings in Central Seattle, South Park

2013_1014_SDOT_23rd Greenway_Brochure_FINALThe city team working on a neighborhood greenway near the 23rd Ave corridor will be holding a series of drop-in sessions this week to gather community input and answer questions about the project.

Now dubbed the Central Area Greenway, the project is due to be designed and built on an accelerated schedule in 2014 so that it is ready to use before a major repaving project begins on 23rd Ave. Only Phase 1 of the greenway and repaving projects (between S Jackson and E John Streets) are planned this year, though later phases will stretch north to E Roanoke and south to Rainier.

The neighborhood greenway was funded after planners of the repaving project decided against including bike lanes on 23rd Ave itself, at least for the first phase. Plans for the street repaving project include a road diet and new, wider sidewalks. Currently the most dangerous street in the neighborhood, plans would change the street from four lanes of speeding traffic to one lane in each directions plus a new center turn lane.

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Map from data compiled by Seattle Neighborhood Greenways' Bob Edmiston.
Map from data compiled by Seattle Neighborhood Greenways’ Bob Edmiston.

Central Seattle Greenways (of which I am a member, so I apologize if the following references too many streets you are not familiar with) has developed their preferred route for the neighborhood greenway (roughly 25th Ave south of Columbia, 22nd/21st Ave north of Columbia with connections at Columbia and/or Pine Streets). That route would be a great addition to the neighborhood, connecting many community destinations like commercial centers, the library, several schools, community centers and parks. I’m excited that it is funded, and I’m sure it will get a lot of use.

But being part of a community effort to pick a single neighborhood greenway route that sufficiently meets neighborhood transportation and safety needs has made it all the more apparent to me that trying to use neighborhood greenways as a way to meet the city’s “complete streets” ordinance is an inherently flawed exercise. Destinations line 23rd Ave, and geographic constraints sometimes effectively isolate the blocks on one side of the street from the other. Will a neighborhood greenway on 25th Ave really increase the safety and access to 23rd Ave destinations for someone who lives at 22nd and Yesler? Does a neighborhood greenway on 21st Ave help someone who lives on 24th Ave walk or bike across Madison? Probably not.

I hope the experience planning Phase 1 work informs the future phases and future complete streets projects in the city. Building neighborhood greenways is a good idea, but they do not make busy streets a block or two away “complete.”

Want to learn more or submit your comments to project planners in person? You have three chances this week:

The project team will be available at drop-in sessions in the project vicinity at the end of January. Staff from the Central Area Neighborhood Greenway and the 23rd Avenue Corridor Improvement Project will be on hand to answer your questions and take comments.

January 28, 3:30 – 6 p.m.
Douglass-Truth Library, 2300 E. Yesler Way

January 29, 4:30 – 7 p.m.
SOAR, 801 23rd Ave S

January 31, 4:30 – 7 p.m.
Miller Park Community Center, 330 19th Ave E

South Park Green Spaces and Vision Plan

Want connected trails and more access to green spaces in South Park? Get involved with the Seattle Parks Foundation and a coalition of other groups in the South Park Green Spaces and Vision Plan. From SPF:

Upcoming Public Meetings: If you live or work in South Park, please come to an upcoming public meeting to share your priorities for South Park green spaces:

  • Tuesday, January 28th, 2014, 5:00 – 8:00 p.m.
  • Tuesday, March 4th, 2014, 5:00 – 8:00 p.m.

Both meetings will be held at the South Park Neighborhood Center (8201 10th Ave. S.)

Community Survey:

You can also fill out a short survey to tell us what you think. Please visit www.southparkgreenspace.org for survey options in English and Spanish.


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9 responses to “Get involved in push for safe streets: Meetings in Central Seattle, South Park”

  1. I really appreciate the Greenway efforts but what I have noticed is that a lot of people who live on the road really aren’t aware or seem to not be able to make these meeting and miss the fact that their street is now a Greenway. Better yet, the streets designated as bike routes, like 19th, are fast car gateways. I bike through here regularly and have to yield a lot to people driving cars. If speed humps are to be installed I suggest that they make the hump go through the whole street, without a gap in the middle. People driving do crazy things to avoid the humps. Another note would be to make the traffic circles in a way that really slows cars down. I have yet to encounter one where, rather than speeding up, the car actually slows down and makes the correct turn.

    1. Tom Fucoloro

      There are no greenways yet in Central Seattle. I agree more neighbors need to be reached. Hopefully these drop-in sessions (hosted by the city, but Central Seattle Greenways will be there) will be a chance for folks to get involved. There are sessions in various parts of the 23rd ave corridor.

      If you want to stay up-to-date with Central Seattle Greenways (the resident-led group), be sure to sign up for the Google Group. There’s a box on the group website (top right corner) to join: http://centralseattlegreenways.com/

      19th certainly is not one and comes from the era where the city found it reasonable to paint sharrows on wide, busy streets and call it a bike route. I personally avoid the street.

      1. I’m going to defend 19th just a bit.

        Between Yesler and Union 19th is similar to a lot of streets that get turned into greenways, and since it’s already a signed bike route the only thing Seattle’s best greenways (39th, 58th) have over it is cross-street stop signs. Between Union and Madison it’s wider and marked like an arterial but gets little enough traffic that if the centerline was erased and big-ass sharrows printed on it it wouldn’t feel too different from 58th (it probably doesn’t have much more car traffic than 58th).

        It’s north of Madison where traffic really speeds up, and where drivers start to use it more as a through street. Traffic volumes are higher, but low enough and with few enough significant cross streets that traffic moves kind of fast. Because 19th has a direct connection to Interlaken Blvd, favorable grade, some local business access, and priority over most cross streets, it could be a really valuable bike route if traffic was slowed down. It would be a big fight to change it, though, and probably not the most important thing to spend energy on.

      2. Tom Fucoloro

        Oh, yes, I’m sorry. I was only thinking about the stretch of 19th north of Madison. You’re right, south of there (and especially south of Union) it’s fine.

      3. I always figured 19th was some weird Greenway. I don’t know a lot. This is coming from the person who thought that stupid sidewalk on Westlake was a shared path. I actually bike on 18th from Yesler going north and find that street much more bike friendly. Once I get to Thomas I change up to 19th depending if this is prime carpool time. Otherwise, it is a gateway to get to Interlaken up to the norther part of our city. I might have to print out a cue sheet and figure out how this proposed Greenway would work. If I don’t bike on 19th I miss all the cool people: Davey Oil, Haulin Collin, the guy with the cool beard…I could go on.

      4. Tom Fucoloro

        No, you’re not mistaken. I was confused and thought you were referring to a busier part of the street. I was also a little grumpy for unrelated reasons, but I’m better now :-)

      5. Jayne

        19th north of Madison is pretty bad, even worse north of Thomas. I was actually attacked by a driver on that street on Friday who was frustrated at having a hard time finding a parking space. (Of course the one time a year someone in a car tries to attack is the one time a year I’ve left my ulock at home). It’s too bad it’s such a sweet connection to Interlaken from the CD.

  2. Josh

    While it’s just a side-effect, one potential benefit of NOT putting bike lanes on 23rd is to demolish, once and for all, the notion that road diets are all about squeezing in bike lanes. Road diets have huge benefits for safety and community, but in Seattle at least they’ve been dogged by claims that they’re only for the benefit of militant cyclists.

    I would hope plans for 23rd will include shared lane markings, properly centered in the travel lanes — it’s still a street open to bicycles, there are plenty of destinations right there on 23rd, and the road diet layout actually makes for a very rideable street, with lanes too narrow for motorists to squeeze by within the lane, but a center turn lane that will offer them safe passing room. Not an all-ages facility, I wouldn’t let an 8-year-old loose on it unsupervised, but teens through working years should be able to ride on it quite safely with the new layout.

  3. Good points, Josh. The same applies to 35th Ave SW. Where there are good parallel Greenway routes a block either side of a principal arterial / major truck street / major transit street we do not need protected bike lanes on the arterial. Let’s prioritize to spend that kind of effort and money where there are NOT good parallel routes. The angled arterials with gentler grades like Rainier Ave S, Avalon SW, SW Fauntleroy, SW Admiral, Madison, and MLK S do not have feasible parallel Greenway routes. That is where protected bike lane funding ought to go first. The straight N-S arterials like 35th SW and 23rd E would benefit more from rechannelization with fewer but wider travel lanes, a center turn lane, and parking and bus stops at the curb, with curb bulbs at intersections to shorten pedestrian crossing distance. They are not wide enough for all that and bike lanes and decent sidewalks, too.

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