Greenways Mean Safe and Easy Ways to Go By Foot


Seattle Neighborhood Greenways Logo

Seattle neighborhoods: Ballard, Beacon Hill, Greenwood, North Delridge, Wallingford, University District and Laurelhurst Neighborhoods get a safe way to get around by foot and bike

This year, Seattle streets will receive a safety facelift that provides children walking to school, neighbors walking their dogs, and people biking to their neighborhood parks, libraries, and grocery stores.

At a January 10 meeting of Seattle Greenway Organizers at the Beacon Hill Library, Seattle City Councilmember Sally Bagshaw enthusiastically announced a set of pilot Neighborhood Greenways being planned by the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) that are designed to make streets safer and more pleasant for people who live, walk, bike, and drive in Seattle’s neighborhoods. “Greenways connect parks and schools, community centers and neighborhood business districts. Neighborhood Greenways help with transportation, and they help with getting people where they want to go within their own communities,” stated Councilmember Bagshaw. Councilmember Bagshaw and Councilmember Rasmussen, who chairs the Transportation Committee, have taken great leadership initiative on Greenways.  The Neighborhood Greenways under review total 11 miles: seven miles in Ballard, Beacon Hill, Greenwood, North Delridge, Wallingford, and the University District and an additional four miles in Laurelhurst (funded by Seattle Children’s Hospital). These projects form the backbone of a new network of Greenways effectively connecting people to the places they want to go by giving them a choice to travel on quieter, safer streets around the city. Neighborhood Greenways are slow-speed, low-traffic residential streets made even more pleasant for the people who live, walk, and bike on them. By adding new park-like amenities and limiting cut-through traffic, Greenways are naturally attractive both for families, and for anyone seeking a safer, more connected community experience. By placing Greenways a block or two away from major arterials, the street updates create a great option for people who prefer to walk or bike away from congested streets.

While many new dedicated walking and bicycling trails are beyond the reach of our City’s budget, 10 miles of Greenways can be built for the cost of a single mile of new trail, offering the potential to bring a high-quality network to all Seattle neighborhoods at a comparatively low cost. Greenways have the potential to serve neighborhoods where many people cannot afford a car. Neighborhood access by emergency service vehicles and freight delivery vehicles — and parking — is preserved along Greenways.Motivated by concerns for public safety and a grassroots movement of citizens across Seattle demanding greater community connection, SDOT staff has been studying how other cities link people with their desired neighborhood destinations. Portland, Oregon has made a commitment to provide 85 percent of all residents will live within a half-mile of a Greenway by 2015. Portland’s safe streets policies have made streets safer for everyone whether they choose to walk, ride a bicycle, or drive. The city’s traffic fatality rate is falling six times faster than the rest of the United States. Infrastructure that makes it safer for walking and bicycling automatically benefits drivers through improved safety and saved lives.  Portland Transportation Safety Engineer Greg Raisman explains Portland’s transportation philosophy, “If we focus on the most vulnerable, we’ll make a city that’s safer for everyone. If it’s safe for a child to go to their friend’s house to play, then it’s safe to drive when you have to.”Formed in August 2011, Seattle Greenway Organizers is a rapidly growing coalition representing neighborhoods across Seattle to plan and advocate for safe and comfortable streets connecting people where they want to go, whether they walk, drive, ride a bike, push a stroller, or move by wheelchair. Greenway organizers meet frequently within their own neighborhoods around Seattle to plan community connections, and come together monthly as a citywide advocacy coalition.

Feet First salutes the efforts of the organizers of the Neighborhood Greenways and encourages you to get involved and start a Greenway in your neighborhood!

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