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In 2017, central and south Seattle could be covered in neighborhood greenways

South Seattle will be the biggest focus for neighborhood greenways in the next couple year. See full map below.
South Seattle will be the biggest focus for neighborhood greenways in the next couple year. See full map below.

As we reported yesterday, Seattle’s neighborhood greenways are attracting a whole lot of people on bikes. One route in Ballard even led to an 805 percent increase in people biking on the street in just the first year of operation.

And the city is just getting started.

After a couple years trying to figure out how to put the pieces together to build neighborhood greenways effectively, Seattle has finally hit its stride. The city is on track to build 5.4 miles of neighborhood greenways by the end of this year (like this one in Olympic Hills), but they have many more miles in the planning and outreach pipeline.

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SDOT released their updated workplan this week, which gives a rough look ahead at which routes will be built and planned next. And while West Seattle and the north end get some love, the majority of routes are focused in central Seattle and Rainier Valley.

South Seattle has long been left out of safe streets improvements seen in many other parts of the city, so it’s no surprise that the area is home to some of the most dangerous streets in Seattle. For people on bikes, there are very few direct and comfortable routes, especially compared to neighborhoods north of the Ship Canal. Since Rainier Valley has a more diverse and lower income population, the city’s failure to make the streets safe and connect bike routes raises serious questions of equality and social justice.

Just over one year ago, Trevon Crease-Holden was walking his little brother across the street when someone driving struck him and then fled the scene. The person responsible has not been caught. Crease-Holden, who should be getting ready for his sophomore year of high school is instead fighting slowly to recover from a serious brain injury. KOMO caught up with him and his family to see how he’s doing one year later:

The city’s updated Bike Master Plan includes a framework for selecting priorities for investment, and equity is one of the most important factors. So, as could be expected, the lion’s share of high-priority neighborhood greenways are in Rainier Valley where few safe routes exist today.

One of those routes, scheduled for study next year, crosses MLK at S Walden Street where Crease-Holden was struck.

Below is the map and plan through 2016. Every route is subject to change based on feedback gathered during community outreach. Routes marked for study will be on track to be built the following year if everything goes smoothly.

2014-2016 Work Plan Map v42014-2016 Work Plan v4

Blue = Protected bike lane, green = neighborhood greenway, red = trail
Blue = Protected bike lane, green = neighborhood greenway, red = trail

Seeing this network of neighborhood greenways in Rainier Valley is very exciting. It also makes a strong argument for making a Rainier Avenue-to-downtown protected bike lane a high priority project for the city. The Bike Master Plan calls for protected bike lanes on Rainier from MLK to 12th Ave with a connection to downtown via Dearborn and 4th Ave.

This would be a rather high-budget project, but it is the only way to activate these neighborhood greenway investments and provide a comfortable connection to downtown. Other than safe bike lanes within downtown itself, this Rainier connection should be at the very top of the city’s high-budget bike project list. While I would love to see it happen sooner, 2017 seems like a good deadline to have a fully complete connection between these planned neighborhood greenways and downtown.

Other notable and interesting projects on the list include:

  • A route from First Hill to the University Bridge via Melrose, Lakeview and the Eastlake neighborhood
  • Two connections to close missing links in the Chief Sealth Trail
  • A route on Cheasty Boulevard
  • A connection from Green Lake to the Burke-Gilman Trail via Wallingford

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7 responses to “In 2017, central and south Seattle could be covered in neighborhood greenways”

  1. Chuck

    #20 is going to be interesting to follow. I cross at the new light at 95th because 100th is a nasty intersection.

  2. Virchow

    Wow, this is pretty exciting stuff. While 2017 would be great for MLK and Rainier routes, I think the city is taking a politically astute tack here. By building infrastructure on less-contraversial routes they can build up a demand and prove doom-sayers wrong about changes to roadway design. That way, when it comes time for a MLK/Rainier push you have more demand and less resistance, making for a better experience all around. I mean if the Westlake bike path almost resulted in a shut down, imagine what unified politico-legal opposition could do from MLK and Rainier. This step by step approach might even end up more expedient, given the unfortunate obstructionism our legal system supports.

    On a positive note, as a one car family, I am really excited to be able to bike kids around more safely to more destinations! Yay! At this rate, even my wife may get enticed!

  3. Anna Lord

    This gives me so much hope!! Being committed to being a cycling-for-transport family while living in Rainier Beach sometimes feels insane (especially when I have the chance to ride on the North side and compare infrastructure), but the future feels brighter with this stuff on the horizon. Thanks for championing a safer RV, Tom. I hope the best for Trevon Crease-Holden. What a totally unnecessary crime.

  4. Josh

    With so many integrated connections in the Rainier Valley, another need may soon become apparent — larger-scale bike parking at transit connections, especially the light rail stations.

    Many people are not going to bike all the way downtown, but neighborhood greenways make bikes a much more comfortable last-mile (or last three mile) solution to transit access, but only if you know your bike is going to be there when you get back to it.

    When you look at light rail stations in countries where bikes are normal transportation, our reserved, exclusive bike lockers look ridiculous — they’re a system designed around a few well-off people riding bikes that are high theft targets. Where’s the covered rack space for even a hundred people to lock up modestly-priced utility bikes at Othello Station, at Rainier Beach, at Columbia City?

  5. […] Portland and Seattle while ditching the smaller towns along the way. Central and South Seattle are slated to get a whole lot of new Neighborhood Greenways by 2017. 10 Pronto! bikeshare docking stations planned for Capitol Hill so […]

  6. CCity Dad

    So glad to see more biking infrastructure to the south end. We have a lot of enthusiastic cyclists here, and Bikeworks – a center for cycling enthusiasts and activists. He piece neglected so far have been families who want safe routes to work, daycare, the store, etc. A lot of commerce is on Rainier, but is made inaccessible to anything but cars. Time for a change.

  7. Jenny Peterson

    I wonder about Route 25: why does it jog along tiny streets, such as S. Grand from 24th to 25th, and 25th to Holegate, then to 26th and on to (eventually) College (or Plum?), before turning east across MLK? And why are there no detailed maps of this route? And why has no one asked for neighborhood input?

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