Seattle Neighborhood Greenways reviews 2022 safe streets progress

Seattle Neighborhood Greenways recapped 2022 recently, and I think it’s a good reminder of the progress made while also setting the stage for the work needed ahead. It is difficult to celebrate wins when you’re talking about a transportation system that is increasingly deadly, but there were quite a few legitimate wins worth celebrating.

We will discuss the exciting, must-win challenges ahead of Seattle in a future post, so stay tuned. But first, a look at some of what we achieved as a safe streets movement in 2022. From SNG:

Vision Zero

We believe that everyone should be safe traveling on our streets — no matter how you get around. Sadly, last year was the deadliest year on Seattle streets since 2006, with 31 lives lost — and this year is proving tragic as well. These crashes disproportionately claim the lives of our Black, elderly and homeless neighbors and are geographically concentrated in SE Seattle. But together we are holding the city accountable to make progress:

North Seattle neighbors in the Aurora Reimagined Coalition successfully won $50 million to fix part of Aurora Ave, Seattle’s most dangerous street, from the state legislature as part of the Move Ahead WA transportation package.

Whose Streets? Our Streets!

This all-BIPOC workgroup of Seattle Neighborhood Greenways group is dedicated to organizing BIPOC communities to gain full and free use of our streets and public spaces with solutions that arise from and directly serve our communities. This year…

  • WSOS conducted extensive outreach and engagement this year, developed working relationships with groups and organizations led by and serving BIPOC communities, hosted community events, and participated in public events that engage Seattle’s BIPOC communities. WSOS conducted community outreach and engagement with  BIPOC community members at events around the city including Seattle’s MLK Day March; Honoring Black Wall Street; Umoja Fest; Summer of Solidarity; Juneteenth, Malcolm X Day; Back On the Block; Healthy Through Heat and Smoke, and the Garfield Centennial Celebration.
  • WSOS organized community safety listening sessions and town halls with BIPOC-led groups — including CID Coalition, Chu Mihn Tofu, Eggrolls, Black Prisoners Caucus, Surge Reproductive Justice, NAACP Youth Council and the Solidarity Budget Coalition —  to hear from Black youth, Queer/Trans community members, and BIPOC residents from the Rainier Valley and CID.
  • Through this deep community engagement and listening, WSOS crafted an extensive report of findings detailing how street safety is more than safety from vehicles and outlining a slate of BIPOC community recommendations. We submitted this report to SDOT to help the city advance more equitable policies and practices.
  • With partners in the Helmet Law Working Group, led by Central Seattle Greenways, WSOS won repeal of King County’s helmet law that was enforced as a harassment tool against BIPOC and unhoused communities.
  • Unfortunately, the city moved Parking Enforcement back from SDOT to SPD — for now. The City Council will be discussing where to permanently locate this division next spring, and we plan to make the case that housing it within SDOT will result in the best safety and equity outcomes.

UnGapTheMap

is our campaign to create safe bike routes for people of all ages and abilities that connect every neighborhood. This year we…

  • Celebrated the opening of the Green Lake Outer Loop envisioned by Green Lake Wallingford Safe Streets, bike lanes connecting to Climate Pledge Arena in Uptown advocated for by Queen Anne Greenways, and the 15th Ave NE protected bike lane connecting U District with Lake City Way.
  • Improved the design to close the downtown waterfront trail gap on Alaskan Way after Downtown Greenways hosted a ride to bring attention to the issue.
  • Eliminated a dangerous gap in the plans to build a bike lane on Eastlake Ave connecting the U District to South Lake Union.
  • Fought back against the decision to delay south end bike routes for MLK Way, 15th Ave on Beacon Hill, and the Georgetown To South Park Trail.
  • Envisioned and established SDOT’s new “Even Better Bike Lanes” to use concrete barriers, not floppy plastic posts, to protect bike lanes to make them safer and more comfortable.

Won funding for bike routes in South Seattle through the City Budget.

Café Streets

Thanks to your support, and letters from over 700 Seatteites, the City Council passed legislation to make cafe streets permanent! This legislation will:

  • Support the 300 small businesses have benefited from the cafe streets program since we advocated for its launch in 2020.
  • Bring cafe streets and food trucks to more communities by reducing fees and red tape.
  • Improve these spaces by requiring accessibility for people with disabilities, improving designs, and creating barriers from traffic.
  • Encourage more walking by creating interesting, vibrant, and welcoming streets.
  • Help us continue to build relationships with small businesses, which historically have been some of the most skeptical stakeholders in conversations about converting street space to uses other than moving and storing cars.
  • Advance the conversation to create pedestrian-only streets for Pike Place Market, Ballard Ave, The Ave in the U-District, Capitol Hill and more!

Healthy Streets

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic we pushed for open streets as one solution to emerging community needs. The city has experimented with over 25 miles of these streets that are closed to through-traffic, but OPEN to people walking, rolling, and biking in the street. We believe that Healthy Streets should be the new default standard for the city’s Neighborhood Greenways program, and that all communities should have access to these family friendly spaces.

  • This December, Mayor Harrell reaffirmed the city’s commitment to make 20 miles of healthy streets permanent (putting Seattle in the top 6% of American cities).
  • Working with Councilmember Morales, we won funding from the Seattle Parks District to make permanent improvements to the beloved Lake Washington Boulevard — South Seattle’s most popular park that is currently used as a speedway for cars.
  • West Seattle neighbors won permanent improvements for the Alki Point Healthy Street.
  • Green Lake Wallingford Safe Streets won permanent improvements to the Green Lake Healthy Street through the construction of the Green Lake Outer Loop.
  • Greenwood and Lake City neighbors won permanent improvements for their healthy streets.
  • We are advocating for robust additional traffic calming standards to ensure these spaces feel safe and welcoming for all.

This truly is a people-powered movement, and we wouldn’t have made this progress without you. Thank you! If you are looking for meaningful ways to make a difference in 2023, I encourage you to volunteer, donate, and spread the word about this work by following our social media accounts.

About Tom Fucoloro

Founder and Editor of Seattle Bike Blog.
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