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Lake Washington Blvd ‘Keep Moving Street’ returns Friday + Campaign seeks permanent design

Project map.
From SDOT.

Lake Washington Blvd is reopening to people walking and biking Friday as the city’s Keep Moving Street program returns. The street will remain mostly car-free between Mount Baker Beach and Genesee Park from April 9 through 18.

Seattle has experimented with various versions of this Keep Moving Street for the past nine months, and they have been very popular (see the video above). Every time they shut it down and allow car traffic to take over, it’s a huge loss. So Rainier Valley Greenways is running a campaign to extend the project to Seward Park, keep the project open all year and to work with community to come up with a permanent design for the street that enables comfortable walking and biking on the street in some fashion.

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There is no equivalent to the Burke-Gilman Trail in South Seattle, so a permanent route along Lake Washington Blvd would be huge for all ages and abilities biking access in the neighborhood. But it’s not just about biking. The open street also increases public access to the whole waterfront, an incredible public asset. It’s like an accessible extension of the lakefront park.

Additionally, Seattle Parks has been hosting Bicycle Sunday along the street for more than half a century, so this is not a major new concept. If anything, starting and stopping the program is more disruptive and confusing than simply leaving it in place.

Sign the Rainier Valley Greenways petition:

Dear city leaders and staff,

Please make Lake Washington Boulevard accessible to everyone. Open the street from Mt Baker Beach to Seward park for walking, biking, rolling, playing, and running, and conduct equitable community engagement to create a permanent space.

  • Popular: The summer, fall and winter LWB openings in 2020 were very popular and well used according to the city’s data, but never dangerously crowded. And most of the concerns that arose can be addressed.
  • Accessible: People of all backgrounds, ages, abilities, and races enjoyed the space for walking, rolling wheel chairs, pushing strollers, roller skating, biking, running, and other activities.
  • Community Space: The quality of the park experience was significantly enhanced as a result of reduced vehicle traffic and the availability of the street as a safe, wide, and accessible space for people. Creating more community space is something our growing city needs.
  • Sustainable Travel: The openings created a safe route to bike between SE Seattle and the rest of the city, helping us get closer to our goals of safe and sustainable transportation as a city.

So, I urge the city to open up LWB to people from Mt Baker to Seward Park, keep it open all year, and conduct equitable engagement to create a permanent design:

  1. Mt Baker to Seward Park hybrid design: Close LWB entirely to cars and open it to people from Mt Baker Beach to 43rd Ave S, and close the water-side, northbound, travel lane from 43rd Ave S to Seward Park to cars and open it to people (creating a temporary, ADA accessible, trail like space using sturdy barriers). This hybrid design would allow 100% driver access to all homes and Parks Department parking lots via a one way southbound travel lane, while creating an accessible space for people to walk, bike, and roll from Mt Baker to Seward Park.
  2. Open all year: Open it all year so that it is easier for the community to understand what is going on, reduce frustration from confusion, and allow people to adapt.
  3. Equitable community engagement: Conduct equitable community engagement to co-design a permanent design while the pilot is happening, not afterwards. This will allow community members to experience the potential design first hand. It will also allow the city to measure impacts (like cut-through traffic), respond to community identified needs, and test solutions in real time.

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6 responses to “Lake Washington Blvd ‘Keep Moving Street’ returns Friday + Campaign seeks permanent design”

  1. JG

    The SNG campaign makes the case perfectly. Anyone who helps make this happen has my vote

    1. NickS

      Agreed! I indicated my reason for wanting this change was to have a place for less experienced or fit bicyclists to have a place to ride for fun or exercise without mixing with traffic. There are no other flat routes in all of SE Seattle that someone can ride a bike without riding on a street with cars or riding on a heavily used pedestrian trail (Seward Park loop). Every time the city opens Lake Washington Blvd to walking and rolling, I see kids and new bicyclists riding happily. That freedom of being able to ride in the whole roadway without the ever present fear of being squashed like a bug is just amazing.

      I also REALLY want to see the full section from Mt. Baker to Seward Park opened up. The recent openings of the short stretch between Mt. Baker and Genesee Park put this area much further north and decrease the accessibility from Rainier Beach, Dunlap, Brighton. Frankly, it’s better than nothing but not good enough.

      The only fly in the ointment is preserving vehicle and boat access from 43rd Ave S to Mt. Baker Rowing and Sailing Center / Stan Sayres Memorial Park. It seems like the city could very visibly color the pavement in that shared section, post 5mph speed limit signs, “BICYCLISTS AND PEDESTRIANS HAVE RIGHT OF WAY” signs, and at least initially, post traffic enforcement giving warnings only at that location until people figure out the new rules. In that section, they could also divert walking and rolling users to a new paint/post lane on the south side of the boulevard since that block of Lake Washington Blvd is quite wide.

      1. Tom Fucoloro

        Exactly. I think that’s the kind of thing that could be solved during the community design process RVG is pushing for. Figure out which spots absolutely need motor vehicle access and the best ways to serve that use while preserving space for comfortable biking and walking. I think one-way sections make sense in many places, providing access to driveways and such. Then the other half of the street can be for biking and walking. And in section where no vehicle access is needed, the whole street can be for biking and walking.

  2. asdf2

    The trick is how to prevent the southbound lane from being filled with thru drivers. I like having a quiet street so you can actually hear the waves, rather than a car going by every 30 seconds or so.

    We somehow need a way to make Lake Washington Blvd. invisible to navigation software unless actually headed to a destination directly on that street or traveling by foot/bike. So many drivers are slaves to their phones and gps, I think that alone would make a huge difference.

    1. AW

      Is it feasible to create a road block on every corner so that through traffic must either turn right or left but not travel straight through ? Drivers will cheat for sure but this will slow them down a little bit. Add some additional things like speed bumps every 20 feet, narrow lanes, etc and the road will become very unattractive to through drivers. Of course this would require some will and effort on the part of SDOT.

    2. Steve Campbell

      I think if the green section on the map (between 43rd Ave S and Lake Park Dr S) were permanently closed to thru traffic, the amount of cars on the rest of LWB south of the rowing center would decrease significantly.

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