Looking backward… and forward

Hello, friends of Central Seattle Greenways! We apologize for our radio silence on this blog over the past few months. We’ve been busy, and have lots of updates to share from the second half of 2020 and the start of 2021.

Our regular meetings on the second Monday of each month have continued through the pandemic, virtually on Zoom (where else?). Many thanks are due to CSG’s tireless leaders, Brie Gyncild and David Seater, for keeping the group chugging along and making each meeting a welcoming and productive space where everyone can make their voices heard.

If you’d like to join us, subscribe to our Google Group email list to receive updates about meetings. Our next meeting is around the corner, on Monday, February 8 from 6-8 PM.

Here are a few things that CSG has worked on recently:

  • In September, CSG members attended SNG’s Racial Equity Workshop and discussed how to live our racial equity values within our neighborhood action plans. 16 (!) people from CSG also attended SNG’s “Defining Community Safety” conversation with Aaron Dixon, founding member of the Seattle chapter of the Black Panther Party. His presentation was recorded and can be viewed here.
  • Members of CSG attended the Washington Bike, Walk, Roll Summit virtually in October and shared insights with the group. These sessions are also available to watch on YouTube (highly recommend checking them out!).
  • In November, CSG penned an open letter to City leadership expressing our concern and frustration about the wall around the Seattle Police Department’s East Precinct building in Capitol Hill. Though some plywood on the building’s windows briefly came down, the wall remains, a concrete symbol of the divide between Seattle police and our community.
  • Also in November, CSG member Christopher Hoffman applied for a permit to add 14th Ave E from Olive Street to Volunteer Park to SDOT’s Stay Healthy Block program. For over a month, hundreds of Capitol Hill residents enjoyed having the extra street space to socially distance while walking and biking. Under new restrictions from SDOT, however, 14th Ave reverted to its original, car-centric state in December, as detailed by Ryan Packer in Seattle Bike Blog. SDOT has created a survey where you can share feedback about the Stay Healthy Block program.
  • Members of CSG provided input on Seattle Central College’s Major Institution Master Plan update during a meeting in November, and followed up with a letter summarizing our recommendations. We view the plan as an opportunity to make this campus at the heart of Capitol Hill an even more vibrant space, with amenities and infrastructure that facilitate walking, biking, and transit use, while reducing single-occupancy vehicle trips.
  • In January, CSG members voted to support SNG’s endorsement of the “Washington Can’t Wait” campaign championed by Futurewise, which aims to update the Growth Management Act to address climate change, environmental justice, and housing affordability.

And these are some of our top priorities for 2021:

  • Continuing an ongoing effort that originated in CSG’s Racial Equity Committee back in July to reduce contact between police and members of vulnerable populations who bike in Seattle. Analysis of public records requests filed by CSG member Ethan Campbell uncovered stark disparities in rates of bicycle helmet infractions issued to Black and Indigenous cyclists by Seattle police. This led to the formation of the Helmet Law Working Group, a collaboration between CSG, Cascade Bicycle Club, Real Change, and members of other transportation and equity-focused groups. Read about our work in this article from Cascade, and take our short survey to share your perspective on the policing of cyclists and find out how to get involved. More soon—stay tuned!
  • Advocating for improvements to 12th Ave S between E Yesler Way and S King St, together with members of Beacon Hill Safe Streets. Existing infrastructure and street conditions are dangerous and harrowing for cyclists. This section is a vital connection for those biking to destinations in the Central District, Chinatown-International District, and neighborhoods north and south—especially via the new bike lanes over the Jose Rizal Bridge.
  • Responding to attempts to modify or discard Seattle’s Bicycle Master Plan through SDOT’s draft “modal integration policy framework.” (More details from Seattle Bike Blog here.)
  • Working with SDOT to shape their plans to make Stay Healthy Streets permanent, and advocating for Lake Washington Boulevard to become permanently car-free, too (see this Urbanist article explaining why this is important).
  • Monitoring ongoing and planned projects in our neighborhood, including protected bicycle infrastructure along the Pike/Pine corridor, E Union St, and Eastlake Ave E, and signal upgrades and other intersection treatments at Broadway/E John St/E Olive Way.
  • Supporting Seattle Neighborhood Greenways’ priorities for 2021. These include advocating for efforts by the “Whose Streets? Our Streets!” workgroup to reimagine traffic safety in Seattle, elevating the concept of 15-minute neighborhoods in our local conversation, and advancing safe infrastructure projects in historically underserved areas of Seattle, particularly the South End.
  • As COVID restrictions and stressors ease, we look forward to collaborating with Bailey Gatzert Elementary School again on Safe Routes to School.
  • Developing a set of bylaws for Central Seattle Greenways.

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