Places for People: 12th Ave Square Park Now Open

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12th Avenue and E James Court in 2008. The property on the left is now an apartment building, the property on the right is now a park. (Click for enlarged view)

East James Court used to be a little cut through street with parking along both sides, remarkable only in its unremarkableness, a way for cars to get between 12th Avenue and 13th and to store their cars for a two-hour block of time. But not a place where anyone likely felt a strong desire to spend a whole lot of time.

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Now East James Court is a complementary space next to the newest park in central Seattle, directly between Capitol Hill and the Central District. On April 14, the grand opening ceremony was held for this park, which includes one of the biggest pieces of public art to be added to Seattle Parks properties in many years, the “Cloud Veil”, designed by Ellen Sollod.

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The grand opening ceremony. Photo credit: No Spandex Required

The grand opening ceremony. Photo credit: No Spandex Required

Visit 12th Ave Square Park to witness another example of spaces for cars becoming places for people. Grab a coffee at Cherry Street, or a bite to eat at Ba Bar, take a seat under the Cloud Veil, and marvel at the difference on 12th Avenue now compared with a few short years ago.

 

Nominate the Worst Intersection in Seattle

For the past three years, the worst intersections in Seattle for pedestrians, according to the readers of the Walking in Seattle blog, have all been close to Seattle’s downtown, along Aurora and Denny Way.

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2015’s “winner”- Terry Ave and Denny Way.

We suspect our readers have a number of intersections that they would like to nominate as worst in Seattle, most of them within our central Seattle greenways boundaries. You can nominate an intersection through April 30 at Walking in Seattle and readers will decide if it is truly awful enough to be worst intersection in Seattle.

Pavement To Parks at Capitol Hill Community Council

The Seattle Department of Transportation is seeking ideas on what to do with a segment of street on Capitol Hill that it has singled out as being one of several sites that it wants to transform from underutilized street to park space in 2016.

The segment of road is on Summit Avenue between Olive Way and E Denny Way. This one-way segment serves only as a cut-through for traffic coming off Denny or Summit, and creates more potential for pedestrian conflict when there are already several busy streets coming together in the area. It also contains two parking spaces and a Pronto station. The parking will go; the Pronto station is set to remain part of the newly reimagined space.

What to do with this segment of Summit Ave?

What to do with this segment of Summit Ave?

 

At the Capitol Hill Community Council meeting this Thursday, April 21, SDOT will be on hand to gather feedback about what could be done in the new parks space. For these projects, the changes must not be permanent as the Pavement to Parks projects are essentially pilot projects to see how well the spaces function as park space.

Join us on Thursday and take part in this exciting new program. You can also check out the first Pavement to Parks project in Seattle on First Hill at the intersection of Union, University, and Boylston.

The CHCC meeting will be held at 12th Avenue Arts at 6:30 PM.

Summer Parkways is coming to the Central Area!

Where can you bike, walk, dance, climb rocks, skateboard, see bike polo, listen to music, and so much more? Summer Parkways! Three miles of streets and the four parks they connect will come alive on Saturday, September 12. Be there! Pages from SSP Postcard

Summer Parkways kicks off with a grand opening celebration of the first section of the new Central Area Neighborhood Greenway, providing safe and comfortable streets for people biking and walking from S. Jackson to E. John. Join us at 11:00 a.m. at Garfield Community Center for the speechifying, ribbon-cutting, and celebratory bike parade.

At the same time, the buff and adventurous Disaster Relief Trials contestants will set off to gather water and other necessities, travel over challenging terrain, and generally do the things we’d need done in a natural disaster. Cheer them on at the start line! (See Tom’s post on Seattle Bike Blog for more info and great video.)

Summer Parkways festivities go from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Bike a bit, and then take in some music, bounce around on a harness trampoline, climb a rock, eat some food, and meet some folks from around the neighborhood, other parts of the city, or out of town.

As you’d expect, it’s going to take a lot of volunteers to pull this off. If you’d like to help, go to http://www.cascade.org/summerparkways, and use Cascade Bike Club’s volunteer portal to find the right fit.

The following weekend, on September 19, the focus shifts to Ballard for another family-friendly fun-packed party in the streets.We’re modeling Summer Parkways after the incredibly successful Sunday Parkways events in Portland. Check out this video to see why we’re so excited.

Ted Virdone braves Seattle rain with Central Greenways

Who is willing to give up a Saturday morning to spend it out in the rain?

Central Greenways fearless volunteer leaders - Merlin and Brie - talking at Columbia and 18th  about plans for Columbia St. and Ridge Route greenways.

Central Seattle Greenways volunteer leaders, Merlin and Brie, talking at Columbia and 18th about plans for Columbia St. and Ridge Route greenways.

Happily, several Central Seattle Greenway volunteers and Ted Virdone, a staff member for Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant. We met on Saturday, January 17 at a cafe for a quick ‘briefing’ before heading out on a bike tour of planned future greenways. It was an exciting opportunity to educate Ted and Councilmember Sawant on Central Seattle Greenways and the work happening in our neighborhood to make streets safer for all users.

After visiting one of the first implemented greenways in the East District, we set out to explore short segments of multiple routes that the community is hoping to see established in the near future, including:

  • Columbia St. Greenway
  • Ridge Route Greenway
  • Union St. Protected Bike Lane
  • 27th Ave Greenway

 

You can help move these and other projects forward in 2015. Already this year we’re seeing movement on the Madison BRT Project, construction of the Central Greenway paralleling 23rd Ave from Rainier Ave S to Montlake, and Vision Zero. Come out and join your neighbors in a movement for safe streets.

Ted Virdone, surrounded by Central Greenways volunteers, discussing a future greenway route in the central neighborhood.

Ted Virdone, surrounded by Central Greenways volunteers on January 17, discussing a future greenway route in the central neighborhood.

Central Seattle Greenways meets the second Monday of each month at 6pm. Check our Facebook page or sign up to join our email list for details of upcoming meetings and projects.

Join us 12.6.13 to discuss future Greenways

Join us Friday, December 6th at 6:30 PM at the Central Cinema to discuss how we can help bring safe streets to our neighborhoods.

360 image by Adam Parast

SDOT has secured funding for two greenways in our neighborhoods! The top candidates are the “23rd corridor greenway” now called the Central Greenway which you may have heard about at the open house, and our priority “ridge route” now called the Ridge Greenway that is already a popular way for people to walk and bike along the ridge of the CD/Capitol Hill. That’s a lot of funding for safe and comfortable streets in our neighborhoods! 

This is a really exciting and important time to get involved. We really need all hands on deck for the next few months to make the most of this opportunity. Come to the restaurant area at Central Cinema Friday December 6th at 6:30 PM to get involved. If you can’t make it but still want to help please be in touch.
How you can help
  1. Make introductions to local groups, organizations, churches, councils etc. SDOT will be able to make some presentations to these groups, and we may end up partnering with SDOT for these conversations or conducting some of our own outreach.
  2. Help us host smaller neighborhood meetings: SDOT is planning to host another mega meeting, but it would be wise for us to host a few smaller meetings in Capitol Hill and the Central District. This is something I hope to discuss further next week – come with your ideas!
  3. Spread the word: Do you know someone who is interested in getting involved? Bring them next Friday to our meeting! Or invite them to the Google Group. We will also need your help spreading the word about other upcoming events and talking to the public about what greenways are (hint: think traffic calmed streets with safe intersections)

We hope to see you on Friday!

Nov 6th public meeting on 23rd corridor greenway possibilities

Montlake Greenways leader Lionel Job explains potential safety improvements for seniors, kids, and people accessing the Boyer Clinic.

Montlake Greenways leader Lionel Job explains potential safety improvements for seniors, kids, and people accessing the Boyer Clinic.

Tonight, in a packed room, neighbors Capitol Hill, Montlake, the Central District, and Madison Valley heard about what greenways are from SDOT. Top concerns voiced by community members were the potential impact of the 23rd Ave arterial repaving project putting additional cars onto neighborhood streets, being able to safely cross arterials, speeding and volume of school drop off car traffic, and the need for safe routes for families to walk and bike to where they need to go. There was no consensus about where greenway safety improvements would be best suited. Negative emotions ran high about the 23rd Ave E arterial repaving project and spilled over into other conversations.

Central Seattle Greenways hopes SDOT and safe streets advocates are able to refocus the conversation on the neighborhoods’ shared concerns of reducing cut through traffic on neighborhood streets, slowing speeding drop off traffic, and providing safe ways for our aging population to walk to parks and kids to safely bike to school.

Nov 6 23d corridor gway meeting

There is common ground to have a quality conversation moving forward. In addition, we hope that the conversation about the 23rd Ave E arterial project and greenway safety improvements can be separated.

Thank you to everyone who came out in support tonight! We will need your passion, ideas, and hard work moving forward to help create safer streets in our communities. If you would like to sign our letter thanking SDOT for investing in safer streets in our communities and to receive updates from your local greenway group please click here.

Let’s Create a Great 23rd Ave Corridor Greenway

If you have not already heard, SDOT is planning to create a 23rd avenue corridor greenway as part of the $46 million 23rd Ave E complete streets project. Sign our letter and join us in thanking the City for the planned walking improvement and asking for a broader scope of study for the 23rd Ave Corridor Greenway project. This has not been a priority for Central Seattle Greenways (stay tuned for exciting news about the “ridge route!”), but it came about because planners were unable to accommodate safe walking, biking, transit, freight, and car traffic on 23rd Ave E itself as part of the street redesign.

First, Central Seattle Greenways applauds SDOT for putting first the needs of people safely and comfortably walking along and across 23rd Ave E. Currently 23rd Ave E divides our community and makes it hard to walk to where neighbors want to go such as bus stops, shops, parks, school and more. SDOT is planning to improve sidewalks and crossings on 23rd, which is most welcome. We hope this project will continue to place an emphasis on the mode of transportation that everybody uses, walking.

Second, Central Seattle Greenways requests that SDOT examine a wider range of options for the $4.6 million in funding that will go to a parallel greenway in this corridor. We strongly desire greenways to be built quickly, but we also must be strategic with how the City spends its limited budget. Specifically we request SDOT as part of this process to investigate:

  1. Whether a greenway on 24th/25th might better serve the Central District.
  2. Whether a 27th-Lake Washington Loop greenway might serve as a through route for people who do not need to access Capitol Hill and are instead trying to get between the UW/Montlake and the Central District. It has the added benefit of also serving Madison Valley.
  3. Whether a protected bike lane on 24th Ave E could serve as a better alternative for climbing the hill between Montlake and NE Capitol Hill.
  4. How SDOT can work with the Department of Parks and Recreation and Seattle Public Schools to provide better access to these important community destinations.
  5. How whatever route(s) is/are chosen can connect through the SR-520 interchange project area in Montlake to the UW and Burke Gilman Trail. This corridor cannot simply dead end in Montlake. This is a critical junction for the City, which we have written about extensively.

(These options are visualized in a map at the bottom of this page.)

Central Seattle Greenways volunteers scout best route options for a greenway parallel to 23rd

Central Seattle Greenways volunteers scouted route options for a greenway parallel to 23rd

This is a complicated and very large project. Let’s make sure we get the most bang for our buck. Join us in thanking the City for the planned walking improvement and asking for a broader scope of study for the 23rd Ave Corridor Greenway project.

Thank you for all that you do. We hope to see you at the open house on November 6th from 5:30-7:30 at the Nova High School (300 20th ave E).

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Figure 1. Map of different opportunities that should be investigated as part of the 23rd Ave Corridor Greenway project.

View this map in a larger window.

A Year of Action: CSG is One Year Old!

Central Seattle Greenways was started a little over a year ago by Alexa (now in Portland), Tom, David, and Adam as the local chapter of Seattle Neighborhood Greenways serving the Capitol Hill, Central, Leschi, and Madrona neighborhoods. In barely over a year, countless neighbors have worked together to create a better place to live, work and play where anyone can get around safely by walking or biking. We did not do it alone – it takes a committed community of individuals, elected leaders, businesses, and groups to change our neighborhoods for the better.

For 2013, we have an ambitious list of priority projects that will help create safe and healthy streets for our children and our grandparents. We can’t do this alone. We hope YOU will join us in this community effort!

This blog post is organized for easy scanning by:

  1. 2012 list of accomplishments
  2. 2013 priorities
  3. How you can get involved
  4. More information on our projects

2012 List of Accomplishments

  • Melrose: We began to improve Melrose Avenue by obtaining a grant from the Department of Neighborhoods, hosting 5 community clean ups, 4 outreach events, numerous advisory committee meetings, a BBQ, a poetry reading, and selecting a firm to host three large community planning meetings (scroll down to learn about how you can get involved with this ongoing project)2012-06-01 08.50.50
    • Special thanks to: Mike Kent, the Melrose Promenade Advisory Committee, Sustainable Capitol Hill, the Seattle Parks Foundation, Stewardship Partners, and others.
  • SR 520: CSG volunteers worked with many partners to identify and advocate for connections that are all-ages-and-abilities in the SR 520 reconstruction design.  We were able to fundamentally change the debate around the SR 520 reconstruction by focusing public attention on the failure of the design to serve people of all-ages-and-abilities, and its potential to better connect our neighborhoods if done right. The Seattle City Council, WSDOT, and the community now are all in agreement that more work must be done to provide quality connections before the design is finalized.520 Planning
    • Special thanks to: City Councilmembers Sally Bagshaw, Richard Conlin, and Tom Rasmussen, the Mayor’s Office, Cascade Bicycle Club, the rest of the City Council, the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce, the Capitol Hill Community Council, the Montlake Community Club, Montlake Greenways, Seattle Neighborhood Greenways, and many others. Thank you!
  • Neighborhood Greenways: We researched, discussed, and proposed an all-ages-and-abilities network for the Capitol Hill, Central District, Leschi, and Madrona neighborhoods which has been incorporated in Seattle’s new Bicycle Master Plan.
    • We orchestrated two large public meetings to discuss potential Greenway projects in our neighborhoods.
    • Organized three route planning rides.417475_310374669011089_566492964_n
  • Safe Routes to Healthcare: CSG and Ballard Greenway volunteers engaged Swedish Hospital to survey how patients are arriving at healthcare and to identify safe ways the public can access the facilities as well as how patients can enjoy the surrounding neighborhood.
  • BMP: We analyzed and responded to the proposed Bicycle Master Plan Network Map.
  • Safe Routes to Transit: CSG volunteers shone a spotlight on the street car expansion needs for bikes and the Capitol Hill light rail station.
  • Changing the ConversationOur virtual activism engaged and informed neighbors about local pedestrian and bicycle issues through our TwitterFacebook, and Google Group (follow, like, and join us!).
  • Collaboration Is Paramount: As much as possible we tried to constructively collaborate with SDOT staff, WSDOT staff, City Councilmembers, executive staff, Capitol Hill Community Council officers, and Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce board members, and the Cascade Bicycle Club amongst other groups.

2013 Priorities

2012 was just the start of great things to come. We hope you will join us as we work on:

  • MelroseMelrose PlanningCSG and the Melrose Promenade Advisory Committee will work to finalize and begin to implement a community plan for Melrose Avenue and Bellevue Place Park.
  • SR 520: CSG will work with our allies to continue to advocate for family-friendly connections before the design is finalized.
  • BMP: We will continue to analyze and try and shape the direction of the BMP so that it sets us on a path where all-ages-and-abilities connections are recognized as the key to creating better biking infrastructure in Seattle.
  • Greenways – Central Ridge Route: CSG volunteers will team up with SDOT in the Fall of 2013 to begin to plan Capitol Hill and the Central District’s first greenway, what we are calling the Central Ridge Route (better name TBD). More information to follow.
  • Safe Routes to Health: Volunteers will continue to work with area hospitals to address access opportunities and potential partnerships.
  • Safe Routes to Transit: We will work with other Seattle Neighborhood Greenway groups and other organizations to continue to ensure that transit and walking/biking work together.
  • 23rd Ave Redesign: CSG plans to advocate for all-ages-and-abilities friendly facilities as part of the redesign of 23rd Avenue.
  • Events and Outreach: We are hoping to host more events in 2013. Get in touch if you have ideas you would like to share!Planning Ride

Get Involved!

If you simply want to stay informed we suggest liking us on Facebook and/or following us on Twitter (our Twitter and Facebook posts usually overlap). Additionally please feel welcome to subscribe to this blog (see the link on the sidebar), although we do not always post the most up to date news on this site.

If you want to get more involved we suggest joining our Google Group and introducing yourself and what projects you are most interested in helping with. We don’t bite – promise!

Learn More About Our Projects

The Melrose Promenade

In 2012, Central Seattle Greenways (CSG) obtained a grant through the Department of Neighborhoods to initiate a community vision planning process around the Melrose corridor. Throughout the second half of 2012, members of CSG and the Melrose Promenade Advisory Committee (MPAC) coordinated a number of neighborhood outreach and improvement events – including regular Muffins on Melrose and community cleanups – to begin a conversation about what Melrose could be like in the future. The project has generated significant community interest, and in 2013 CSG and MPAC will be working to channel that energy into a community-driven and -supported plan for the corridor. The MPAC recently selected Berger Partnership to lead the project’s design and community involvement processes, which began in earnest with our first public meeting on January 24th. The Advisory Committee is also working to capitalize on the Promenade’s early success and community interest by applying for additional grant funding when available. Folks interested in contributing to the Melrose Promenade efforts can visit the project’s website (www.melrosepromenade.com), Like the Promenade on Facebook (www.facebook.com/MelrosePromenade), or contact us directly atmelrosepromenade@gmail.com.

Safe 520 Campaign

For more about the 520 Campaign see our list of posts on the topic.

Safe Routes to Health

The Safe Routes to Health project “envisions a city where every health clinic and hospital can be comfortably reached by walking, biking , wheelchair and transit.”  We aim to partner with healthcare institutions to develop safe neighborhoods for active living and incorporate active transportation in healthy lifestyle choices.

We are just now meeting with potential supporters from major healthcare institutions.  Today we met representatives from Swedish Medical Center.  They have designated a physician champion for Safe Routes to Health, and have committed to including information about active transportation choices on their website and to developing a transportation survey for clinic patients and visitors.  Meetings with representatives from other healthcare institutions are in the works.

23rd Avenue Redesign 

See the Seattle Bike Blog post for more information and stay tuned.

Didn’t find what you are looking for?

Message us on Facebook, Tweet us, post a message in our google group, or send us an email centralseattlegreenways at gmail.com. Thank you for your interest!

City 520 Resolution Passes! Charts New Course

If you haven’t heard, the Seattle City Council unanimously passed a resolution directing the City and WSDOT to work together to fix the SR-520 design flaws for people who walk and bike (see our discussion of the resolution here). Thank you to everyone who made this happen! Together we must ensure the resolution is carried out faithfully so that the new SR-520 connects our neighborhoods for people of all-ages-and-abilities: for kids biking to school and grandmothers walking to the Arboretum. Take action and thank your City Councilmembers (via Cascade Bicycle Club). Rest assured, Central Seattle Greenways, Montlake Greenways, and Seattle Neighborhood Greenways will continue to work on this issue until the final design includes family-friendly connections.

A big shout out is in order to our partners at Cascade Bicycle Club as well as our supporters that saw both the threat and opportunity that 520 poses, notably the Capitol Hill Community Council, Montlake Community Club, Madison Park Community Council, and Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce (click for a complete list). Perhaps most importantly, this is a quintessential Seattle story about the potency of neighborhoods organizing themselves to fight for a better future.

Eight months ago this victory was a mere flickering hope. Last July, spurred by excellent reporting from Seattle Bike Blog, neighbors flying the flags of Central Seattle Greenways, Montlake Greenways, and Madison Park Greenways mobilized in a last ditch effort to fix the deep flaws in WSDOT’s SR-520 design and seize the opportunity that such a mega project presents.

This coalition of Seattle Neighborhood Greenway groups quickly collected 350 community member signatures for a petition to WSDOT asking them to reexamine the lack of family-friendly connections through the 520 project area. This petition lent our coalition enough community support and credibility to open doors at WSDOT and City Hall.

We quickly learned that WSDOT, despite the many opportunities for input in the Seattle Community Design Process, was more interested in what the City Council wanted than what the 350 of us had to say. Redirecting our efforts, our coalition of Neighborhood Greenway groups rapidly met with numerous community organizations and institutions in order to educate them on the problems and opportunities that the new highway presents. We received support from every group that we met with, which greatly strengthened our neighborhood based message we planned to take to the City Council.

In addition, our coalition of Neighborhood Greenway groups successfully refocused the discussion surrounding SR-520 to a narrative about safely moving all people, regardless of their means of transportation. This was accomplished by timely reporting from neighborhood media sources (CHS Blog, the Montlaker, Seattle Bike Blog), our blogging, compelling graphics, a focus on connecting people to destinations, and an easy to understand urban design review.

We had authentic community support and a resonating message, but we lacked political expertise to navigate the halls of City Government. Luckily, the hardworking people at Cascade Bicycle Club were more than happy to work with us to get the job done (they had also been working on the issue). Together we created a compelling campaign: combining Cascade’s political savvy and active membership with our grassroots organizing and in-depth knowledge of the project. The campaign was able to effectively demonstrate overwhelming community demand for corrective City Council action, resulting in the Mayor and City Council crafting and passing a forward-thinking resolution.

Discussion at the City Council 520 Committee Meeting on 2/4/13 demonstrated that the City and the State finally “got it.” In response to a question about the need to address the scary and unsafe under-bridge areas, WSDOT project manager Daniel Babuca said

We recognize that that is a key area of interest and concern from the communities and we heard that loud and clear through the comments expressed during the Community Design Process, as it relates to the ultimate vision I think that is where we have more work to do frankly, in terms of what the ultimate connections are across the lid underneath Montlake Blvd – are there surface options that are more preferred or safer as opposed to taking them underneath. So that is still something that we will continue to work on, we will continue to consult on with the communities and the stakeholders as the lid conversations progress and the interchange conversations progress. (Seattle Channel Video, 49:55)

City Councilmember Sally Bagshaw succinctly explained that success for the design will now be judged against whether or not the connections are safe enough that “you would let your 8 year old walk or ride her bike unescorted.”

While the resolution does not legally bind WSDOT to do the right thing, it clearly lays out a new course that the SR 520 design should follow. We sincerely hope the good working relationships between the City, WSDOT, and State Legislature will ensure that the spirit of the resolution is carried out before the design is finalized. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for a major highway project (of all things!) to better connect our neighborhoods to each other and our kids to their schools, and to create a Seattle that we can all enjoy getting around regardless of our means of transportation.