Active Transportation in South America

A lot has happen in the last few weeks. Here in Seattle, representatives from Central Seattle Greenways met with the citywide group to discuss which routes will be prioritized for next year and the multiuse trail on the Portage Bay Bridge has keep us busy as well. Meanwhile, you haven’t seen too many updates here on the website because I’ve been in South America, checking out how Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro have been adapting to the challenges of urban transportation.

Transportation Research in Rio!

South America has seen a number of innovative, and at times daring, active transportation initiatives that reflect a new vision about what they want their cities to be like. Gone are the days where cars were seen as the sole future of transportation, an ideal best embodied by  the completely master planned Brasilia. What we see today are cities all over the continent working to create places where people have more transportation choices and where cycling and walking can take root again. There seems to be a change in attitude towards cars and their role in society, including the quote from an ex-Mayor of Bogotá: “An advanced city is not a place where the poor move about in cars, rather it’s where even the rich use public transportation.“*

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What 10 more Feet Gives Us

A new Portage Bay bridge is coming as part of the 520 replacement project. The bridges that we build today will shape how people get around the region and our city for the next 60-75 years. When we built the I-90 bridge, we created brand new links across the lake and enabled people to get from one side to the other on foot or bike. The success of that link is partly because we made the choice to maximize the benefit of that investment by building bike and pedestrian tunnels that made getting to downtown and the central Seattle neighborhoods easy and direct. Today, we are in the process of deciding whether or not we want to maximize the investment being made in the new link across the lake  on the 520 bridge by connecting it with the rest of Seattle with a multi-use trail on the new Portage Bay bridge.

Recently, we asked for your support in asking the city to ask WSDOT to include the multi-use trail as part of the Portage Bay Replacement. We quickly collected 346 signatures from regular people all across the city, including long time residents of Montlake who will be neighbors to the new bridge and are interested in what is best for their community and for Seattle. Since then, the Seattle Design Commission has come out in support of the multi-use trail and the Seattle Bicycle Advisory Board is expected to follow suit. While we have had broad support, we have also seen concerns from some members of the community who are concerned about the additional width of the bridge that the multi-use trail would cause.

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