Seattle Neighborhood Greenways reaches ten-year milestone

EDITOR’S NOTE: Caroline Carr is a scholar in UW’s Information Lab program.

Seattle Neighborhood Greenways, celebrated 10 years of working in direction of a extra strolling and biking pleasant Seattle final month.

Three teams from Beacon Hill, Wallingford and the Central District realized they have been working in direction of the identical aim in 2011, in order that they shaped a nonprofit and started collaborating on bigger citywide initiatives. The group has since grown to embody 15 smaller neighborhood committees that span from Lake Metropolis to Rainier Valley.

When it first started, the group targeted round its namesake: neighborhood greenways. Greenways are streets with a low quantity of automobiles the place pedestrians and cyclists can really feel extra comfy. Earlier than they have been launched in Seattle, greenways have been integrated into cities like Vancouver and Portland. Throughout its early days, the nonprofit was profitable of their efforts to implement greenways in a number of neighborhoods. From there, the group expanded their objectives to bigger initiatives.

The group contributed a lot to the 2014 Seattle Bicycle Grasp Plan, a big plan of how the town can higher accommodate cyclists and permit bicycles to be a extra secure and purposeful type of transportation. Protected bike lanes are integral to this plan, and over time the goalposts have shifted from the mere existence of motorcycle lanes to bike lanes that can tangibly make riders safer. Beforehand, the town painted skinny bike lanes and sharrows, or shared lane markings, that solely demarcated the biking area however didn’t shield riders from the site visitors beside them. The 2014 Bike Plan pushed for protected bike lanes. Town has since created plastic flex posts that present the phantasm of safety in some areas, together with including extra sturdy and protecting concrete planter packing containers alongside bike lanes.

The aim of those lanes and protecting boundaries is to guard riders whereas additionally serving to encourage extra apprehensive riders. Government Director Gordon Padelford defined that beforehand, the infrastructure was designed for a really slim group of those who was regarded as principally white, able-bodied, middle-aged males who have been prepared to bike in site visitors. With a brand new, extra inclusive imaginative and prescient, biking could be a extra viable possibility for extra demographics.

“The overwhelming majority of individuals are not comfy biking site visitors,” He stated. “If you wish to make biking extra accessible and extra helpful to everybody, then you definately’ve acquired to implement issues like trails, neighborhood greenways and guarded bike lanes.”

One of many group’s newer initiatives is popping Seattle right into a 15-minute metropolis, the place residents can attain all of their every day actions inside quarter-hour by foot, bicycle or public transit. Robert Getch, co-chair of Beacon Hill Protected Streets, spoke concerning the current growth of public transit in Seattle, emphasizing the significance of transit for all elements of life.

“I feel the one mistake we’ve in lots of people’s heads is that transit is for commuting and we actually want it to be for every thing.” Getch stated. “I feel top quality frequent trains actually make {that a} risk.”

One other aim that Seattle Neighborhood Greenways has been working in direction of is fairness in site visitors enforcement. Together with different organizations who’re pushing to defund the Seattle Police Division, the group hopes to shift the job of site visitors enforcement from SPD to the Seattle Division of Transportation. Whose Streets? Our Streets! is a majority-BIPOC fronted group inside Seattle Neighborhood Greenways that goals to assessment present legal guidelines relating to using public area and search to make the streets safer for residents, particularly BIPOC who’ve been traditionally excluded from these conversations. With disparities in regulation enforcement in Seattle that disproportionately goal folks of colour, residents have been supportive of insurance policies that intention to treatment the problem. Employees at Seattle Neighborhood Greenways said that the general public has been supportive of shifting site visitors enforcement obligations to SDOT.

“How can we make our streets safer for everybody and in a manner that doesn’t contain the police and doesn’t criminalize poverty and depend on archaic, punitive measures?” Stated Group Organizer Clara Cantor. “How can we make this supportive of our communities as a substitute of detrimental?”

Looking into the following 10 years, the group is specializing in a number of totally different initiatives. Together with the 15-Minute Metropolis initiative and the site visitors enforcement fairness work, the group hopes to advocate for a pedestrian-only road, a mission the town has not carried out because the Nineteen Seventies. Padelford described the pedestrian-only out of doors eating setups that popped up attributable to COVID-19 restrictions as a “profitable experiment displaying the best way in direction of a greater future.”

Relating to all of Seattle Neighborhood Greenways’ present and prior initiatives, Getch encourages his fellow Seattle residents to keep in mind that none of our present infrastructure was finished accidentally.

“The whole lot is designed, every thing was deliberate. We did this; we constructed large roads, we put in parks,” He stated. “It’s essential to consider it as a result of we designed it to be this manner and it may be something we actually need it to be.”

Residents can be taught extra and get entangled on the neighborhood or city-wide degree by visiting Seattle Neighborhood Greenways’ web site or contacting them instantly at [email protected].

About Caroline Carr

Caroline Carr is a third-year scholar on the College of Washington learning journalism and ethics. She is initially from the San Francisco Bay Space.

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