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.
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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.