We have a solid amount of updates to run through since last September: from new committees, to old projects coming back into the picture, Central Seattle Greenways has been plugging away through the fall and winter to set us up for a productive 2020.
New things in 2019 & 2020:
Racial Equity Committee: In the summer of 2019, SNG brought members together from neighborhood groups all over the city–including CSG–to attend orientations for better developing our collective racial equity lens. In the early fall, we drafted and established a Racial Equity statement, with specific acknowledgement of our own group’s geographic area, with the historically marginalized Central District and Little Saigon.
KL Shannon kicked off the idea–and helped set us up–for joining the MLK Day workshops, rally, and march hosted annually at Garfield High School. The theme for 2020 was “20/20 Vision,” and CSG’s Whitney Johnson partnered with Rainier Valley Greenways‘ Andrew Kidde and Beacon Hill Safe Streets‘ Brett Youngstrom to co-chair the crafting of our workshop, “Greenways, not Redlines.” Our workshop explored the data and stories of the Seattle communities–especially the Central District–that were openly discriminated against through the practice of redlining, and the subsequent (and ongoing) inequalities in the built environment that simultaneously result from and spur on this discrimination. Inadequate, dangerous infrastructure was a big focus of our round-robin-style discussion stations.
As of this March, we are revisiting the next steps we want to take to keep racial equity as a key lens through which we see our work.
Pike PBLs: The construction of the Pike PBLs from 9th Ave eastward/uphill to Broadway was a celebrated step in expanding access and safety in our neighborhoods. In the fall and winter, our group leaders Brie & David stayed on top of developments with some SDOT project staff to affirm the need for a careful and truly accessible design to connect this new stretch of protected bike lanes with the existing downtown portion (2nd Ave to 7th Ave). Part of what we are working towards is getting clear signage installed for cyclists and drivers going through these few blocks, since cyclists are meant to ride on the sidewalks that span the Convention Center atrium while SDOT works on the design for that stretch.
Moving forward, we are still in need of that signage. We are also gearing up to lead an outreach effort to inform and collect feedback from businesses and stakeholders (the Washington State Convention Center is a prominent one). We will use this information to continue to work with SDOT to shape a design that can speak to the concerns of all of those involved in the coming changes.
Broadway Crossing Improvements at Denny: The problem with this intersection is that currently, none of its users are being properly accommodated. What started as a joint effort between City of Seattle’s (beloved) Dongho Chang and CSG to achieve an adequately-timed scramble pedestrian signalization has, in 2019, become complicated by construction on the Station House Apartments, the abrupt ending of the protected bike lane that was initially built as part of the First Hill Streetcar project scope, and by the signalization that is currently in place.
The walk signalization did most recently allow for an all-walk period whose signal length has been extended to almost be enough time to cross diagonally, for pedestrians who use assistance. It also shows north-south crossing when north-south vehicle traffic has a green light. There is no signal that is east-west when the east-west vehicle traffic has a green light. CSG’s primary concern with this configuration is the lack of signage that lets pedestrians know a) that they can actually cross diagonally over Broadway–sometimes; b) that this opportunity does not happen in a predictable cycle of signal changes; and c) how long either of the two types of signals will last, until the countdown kicks in and people realize they actually could have crossed diagonally if they had just known beforehand how these signals behave.
Additionally, due to the curtailing of the FH streetcar tracks at just before Denny (and the prolonged delay on funding the leg of the project that would have brought it further north up Broadway), the two-way protected bike lane that stops juuust north of Denny Way leaves cyclists traveling in either direction with a sudden decision to make. Northbound bikes must merge with traffic (but with no signage as of yet to warn people this is the case), and southbound bikes nearing this intersection must find a way to travel across an opposing lane of car traffic to get into the PBL, or else be left riding around/between the streetcar rails. For southbound cyclists especially, suddenly “turning left” across car traffic to get into the infrastructure that is best for them can happen in a couple different ways (staying to the right and then using a crosswalk moment to get over, anticipating the streetscape change and moving as left as possible among cars as they come down toward the intersection) but why guess at what might work, when adequate information on the road could provide a predictable, legal way for riders to act in concert with pedestrians and cars?
On the upside, putting this intersection under some scrutiny has led to the possibility for SDOT to facilitate street painting here by local artists, perhaps sometime in 2020. There is no specific design yet, but the idea is to cover the intersection to visually demarcate the areas of the intersection where all-walk signalization implies travel–and also to add some playful intrigue to this area that leads into the reinvented Barbara Bailey Festival Street (festival street permit granted through the work of our own leader Brie) where the Broadway Farmer’s Market will be relocated, upon completion of Station House Apts construction in 2020.
Eastlake PBLs: In 2019, planning design for protected bike lanes along Eastlake Ave reached 30% and will continue into late 2020. Our group, among many others in the city, appreciates that Mayor Durkan seemed to change her tacit tune on bicycle safety and infrastructure and began to support this project. Cascade Bicycle Club’s policy manager recruited some of our own CSG members to help in outreach efforts to businesses along Eastlake Ave in January 2020. Please check out SDOT’s page on the project to get the full scoop.
E Union PBLs: Also to reach 30% design in 2019 was the E Union St protected bike lane planning! Where currently a mix of painted bike lanes and sharrows help move cyclists from 14th Ave eastward to MLK Way, SDOT is now planning construction of a protected bike lane–with partial parking-protected buffering–to be complete sometime in the summer of 2020. CSG was visited multiple times to give feedback and insight on our members’ specific connections with this part of our neighborhood. SDOT engineers have told us that businesses that were part of their outreach efforts generally responded politely to the modifications. The official information on the this project can be found here.
News from Continued Projects in 2019:
Bailey Gatzert Safe Routes to School: Some backstory on this project can be found here. In 2019, CSG was granted approval by SDOT to host and implement a playstreet around Bailey Gatzert Elementary School sometime in 2020. The planning for that event is still underway.
Concerns with infrastructure and gang-related harassment of students walking to school also reached CSG, and a contract was established between the school, SDOT and CSG to launch a parent-staffed walking school bus program to ensure safety and efficiency in travel to and from school. The walking school bus program launched in February 2020, beginning with four routes. CSG has noted that parents and school administration alike are reacting positively to this transportation option.
On the infrastructure level, CSG has plans for business outreach efforts in Little Saigon, the Central District, and Yesler Terrace, to help the communities around Bailey Gatzert represent their perceptions of the chewed-up, car-heavy streets in this area. An urban planning class at the University of Washington showed great interest in a practicum aspect of this outreach and overall effort to improve conditions in this area, and a partnership with the UW may happen in one of the coming quarter’s courses. As of this writing in March 2020, CSG is taking these efforts at a more considerate pace, given the impact on our communities’ and public institutions’ spurred on by the risks perceived in our city during the appearance of COVID-19. We understand that schools, institutions, and our neighbors are responding as best as possible to the more pressing concerns of health and racial discrimination that are arising from this perceived risk.
Melrose Ave: Some backstory on this project can be found here. Improvements along Melrose Ave continue, most recently in order to connect the Melrose Promenade with the Pike/Pine bike lanes. Initial schematic design has been made available to our group in late 2019.
Madison BRT (RapidRide G Line): Although not directly a project with CSG involvement, this new bus rapid transit line can and will affect our neighborhoods upon implementation. The concept is simple: connect the Central District and Madrona to downtown using the already-existing most-direct-route, Madison Ave. There is no foreseen conflict between this project and the E Union PBLs. The official information on this project can be found here.
Vision Zero: Analyzing data in the context of Vision Zero in Seattle revealed that pedestrian deaths reached an all-time high since the initiative’s launch. In 2020, SNG has called on the city and on the citizens to sit down and get specific about what is going wrong with the increase in accidents between motor vehicles and other more vulnerable street users. Some other sources of action and information about Vision Zero can be found at the SDOT blog, at Seattle Bike Blog, and at SNG’s site, among other places.
Seattle Neighborhood Greenways 2020 Priorities: Here is SNG’s newsletter detailing its 2020 priorities. In December 2019, SNG asked its neighborhood groups to collectively identify some things that would definitely deserve focus throughout the new year in order to be as successful as possible. CSG, as part of this process, saw some common themes pop up in the Safe Routes to School, racial equity, and policy arenas that we in turn can keep in mind as a group as we work on our area’s projects: the Georgetown-South Park trail, City Equitable Action, pedestrian-prioritized signal policy, Complete Streets metric adjustment policy, and Rainier Ave Fix-It.
Additional Things We’ve Heard for 2020:
Black Farmers Collective: YES Farms, founded by the Black Farmers Collective, has taken the formerly-“undevelopable” land between Yesler Terrace and the I-5/Dearborn Overpass and brought the immediate community together to grow, harvest, and teach agriculture as a resource for Yesler Terrace.
Terry Ave Redevelopment: The Berger Partnership has begun collecting public input in its beginning stages of designing Phase I (Marion to Cherry) of Terry Ave on First Hill. The goal is to bring life back to this street that houses many community institutions.
Dept of Clean Greenways: Two CSG members, Marissa Zhao and Eric Westberg, formed this small-but-efficient work force to tackle Seattle’s leafy, soggy, gravelly bike lanes and shared greenways, in response to inadequate maintenance by the City of Seattle–especially in the winter months. The group aims to partner with like-minded greenway users across the city to get together, get to know each other, get outside, and hopefully convey how much it helps for our facilities to be as clean as that of cars. As we head into spring, the group plans to continue setting up work parties along greenways such as the Pike PBLs and the Burke Gilman Trail. Stay tuned here.
Traffic Signals for People: In our March meeting, Dustin Carlino demonstrated the project that he’s been running on Traffic Signals for People. As a user-driven resource, Traffic Signals for People uses Open Streets (GIS) to collect data on the nature of intersections in the city of Seattle–especially problematic and ineffective ones. Anyone with chops for data collection, GIS, and bettering the Seattle pedestrian experience can join the effort here.
Hopefully I’m Not Missing Anything…
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