Community Vision Workshop

As part of our effort to provide safe routes to school for Bailey Gatzert Elementary School students, CSG invites those who live, work, play, and worship in the area around the school to join us for a fun, interactive workshop.

Together, we’ll imagine our ideal neighborhoods. We’ll identify shared values and priorities to inform future planning for streets and land use in the historically and culturally rich area surrounding Bailey Gatzert Elementary School.

Join us on Sunday, October 29, 2023, from 1:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Washington Hall. Get your free tickets here!

CSG highlights advocacy priorities in listening tour with SDOT Director

In March, Central Seattle Greenways organized a listening tour with Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) Director Greg Spotts to share our work with him and illustrate some of the roadway challenges and opportunities that we’re focused on. Spotts has been attending listening tours with communities around Seattle since his confirmation as SDOT director in September 2022, and we appreciate his interest in working with us to envision safer and more accessible street infrastructure in Capitol Hill and the Central District.

Our tour began with a walk to Olive Way and Harvard Ave E, the site of a guerrilla crosswalk painted by frustrated community members in November 2022. Spotts informed us that improvements will be coming to that intersection in the short term. We spoke about the need for safety improvements along the entire Olive Way corridor, a popular and logical walking route from downtown and South Lake Union to Capitol Hill that nonetheless continues to prioritize vehicle traffic accessing I-5. CSG has formally asked SDOT to develop an Olive Way Corridor Plan for Olive Way between I-5 and Broadway, which would gather community input and guide future streetscape changes to slow vehicles.

We then biked along 12th Ave to Bailey Gatzert Elementary, where three busy arterials converge – 12th Ave, Boren Ave, and E Yesler Way. CSG has been working with Bailey Gatzert and volunteer parents over the past few years to implement Safe Routes to School practices, including a Walking School Bus (check out SDOT’s blog post for more info about this inspiring initiative). With support from SDOT, CSG will soon be engaging members of the surrounding communities in a visioning process about their transportation needs and the possibility of a long-term redesign of streets to improve mobility for all.

At Bailey Gatzert, we shared with Director Spotts our desire to see safety improvements made for people walking and biking along 12th Ave, a vital route that connects Capitol Hill, First Hill, the Central District, Chinatown-International District, and Beacon Hill. At present, 12th Ave is an incredibly uncomfortable and hazardous route, with few crosswalks in some sections and door-zone painted bike lanes that come and go. Our group’s preliminary research on collision and injury patterns along the corridor, which we shared with Spotts, found that over 300 people walking and biking have been hit and injured by cars along 12th Ave over the past decade. Our hope is that SDOT’s Vision Zero team can be empowered to create a comprehensive safety plan for 12th Ave, and that SDOT can find the funding to make it happen.

Afterwards, we biked back up 12th Ave to its intersection with E Madison St. Here, construction for the Madison BRT (RapidRide G) project has unfortunately created chaotic conditions for people walking and biking in many areas of the corridor at various times. We expressed our frustration that the SDOT Director’s Rule requiring appropriate accommodations for people biking and walking is so often ignored and rarely enforced during both private and public construction projects. Ideally, the Director’s Rule would be enforced and strengthened, and detour planning for people walking and biking would be better integrated into early project planning phases and informed by the expertise of SDOT’s pedestrian and bicycle planners.

Our tour concluded at Melrose Ave and E Pike St, where the current design under the Pike Pine Streetscape & Bicycle Improvements Project (a part of the Pike Pine Renaissance Project) diverts westbound (downhill) bicyclists traveling on E Pike St north onto Melrose Ave to access a future westbound protected bike lane on E Pine St. As the diagram above illustrates, this design requires people traveling eastbound (uphill) on bikes to make a two-stage turn through a small bike box to cross from the left side to the right side of the street to continue up the hill. This creates a situation where many bicyclists may continue to choose to ignore the design and signals in order to preserve their momentum and find other, potentially risky, ways to cross. The bike box will also be too small for multiple people on bikes to use at once, especially if they’re riding cargo or family bikes. We’ve asked SDOT to work with the Office of the Waterfront to create a better design for transitioning cyclists at Melrose and Pike, preferably with a signal-supported diagonal crossing similar to the one at 8th and Virginia.

At Melrose and Pike, we also called attention to the poor design of the “raised” intersection constructed there as part of the Melrose Promenade project. Contrary to its intended status as a pedestrian-focused space, the design of this intersection does not communicate to drivers (many of whom use Melrose as a shortcut to access I-5) that they need to slow down and limit themselves to the red “brick” area if stopping. It’s common to see drivers using the sidewalk space for loading and unloading materials for the nearby business or ride share drivers picking up or dropping off passengers. For people walking and rolling, it is unclear whether it is safe or legal to cross anywhere in the raised portion of the intersection. Clearly there is a need for better visual cues for drivers and people loading and unloading as to how they should use the space. We shared specific ideas with Director Spotts about ways that SDOT could revise the intersection to make Melrose actually friendly to pedestrians, as the community intended going into the Melrose Promenade project.

After the listening tour, we followed up with a letter summarizing our main asks of SDOT. We thank Director Spotts and his department’s staff for engaging with us on our vision for a more bikeable and walkable neighborhood. If you’d like to get involved with these efforts, please join us! All are welcome to attend our monthly meetings. You can subscribe to Central Seattle Greenways’ email list here for updates and meeting agendas.

After helmet law repeal, what’s next for CSG in 2022? Continuing to push for safer streets for all

On Thursday of last week, King County’s Board of Health voted to repeal its bicycle helmet law due to its disproportionate enforcement against unhoused people and people of color.

This change was the culmination of a successful advocacy effort led by Central Seattle Greenways, Real Change, and Cascade Bicycle Club. Our three organizations came together to launch a Helmet Law Working Group in part because of discussions within CSG’s Racial Equity Committee in July 2020 about how to reduce unnecessary contact between police and people who bike in Seattle.

We applaud the Board of Health’s decision, which we believe sets King County on a path to encourage helmet use through expanded access and education rather than criminalization, to create true safety for bicyclists by prioritizing safer streets, and to treat disparities in policing as a public health issue. We are deeply thankful for all of our partners – local as well as national bicycling and transportation groups – who supported our call to repeal the helmet law and worked with us to make this happen.

You can find coverage of Thursday’s vote in the New York Times, The Seattle Times, Crosscut, KUOW, KING 5, and other outlets. Additionally, the South Seattle Emerald published an op-ed urging repeal ahead of the Board of Health vote, which was written by Ethan Campbell of Central Seattle Greenways, Vicky Clarke from Cascade, and Tiffani McCoy from Real Change.

An excerpt from the New York Times’ article on the repeal of the King County helmet law.

After this exciting development, what is next for CSG in 2022? Well, we have a few efforts underway that all involve advocating for safer streets for those who walk, roll, and bike in our community.

Last year, CSG volunteers worked together with Beacon Hill Safe Streets to write a letter requesting interim safety improvements for bicyclists on 12th Ave S between E Yesler Way and S King St. This section of 12th Ave S is a critical and heavily-used corridor that connects the Central District and Chinatown-International District with neighborhoods north and south. We have been in dialogue with SDOT about our requests, and are tentatively hopeful that we will see safety improvements for both bicyclists and pedestrians at 12th Ave and E Yesler Way this year.

Now, we are also looking further north to 12th Ave between E Yesler Way all the way to E Aloha St. This important connection through Capitol Hill, First Hill, and the Central District currently features substandard bike infrastructure – unprotected bike lanes or sharrows – and lacks marked crosswalks at many locations. We have identified that frequently-blocked bike lanes, fast vehicle speeds, and risk of collisions (particularly at intersections), among other issues, are key challenges along this corridor. A biking audit organized by CSG in early February saw high attendance and engaging discussions about opportunities for improvements, and we look forward to advocating for changes in the coming months.

CSG has also started to explore improvements for those walking and rolling on E Olive Way between I-5 and Broadway, a stretch that sees some of the highest pedestrian traffic in the city. A CSG walking audit in early February identified a lack of crosswalks, long crossing distances, and poor signal timing as problems at multiple locations. We plan to explore ways to create a more safe and comfortable pedestrian experience on this stretch of E Olive Way—stay tuned, or get in touch if you’d like to join this effort!

Other priorities for CSG in 2022 include restarting our collaboration with Bailey Gatzert Elementary School on their Safe Routes to School initiative, working with community on the future of our Central Area Stay Healthy Streets, supporting the Garfield Super Block project, and continuing to monitor and shape improvements like the Pike/Pine Renaissance project and bike lanes on Eastlake Ave E.

To join us in this work, consider subscribing to our Google Group, attending our monthly meetings, or just getting in touch by email at centralseattlegreenways@gmail.com.

Central District celebratory ride

Members of CSG organized a fun, casual, all-ages-and-abilities group ride last Sunday (June 13) to celebrate the brand new E Union St protected bike lanes and other highlights in the Central District.

With COVID-19 vaccination rates high in Seattle and strong evidence that outdoor transmission is minimal, we felt it was safe to see each other in person again. A good crowd of both familiar faces and newcomers to CSG gathered at Spring Street Mini Park. (Thanks to Seattle Bike Blog for spreading the word about the ride!) Fortunately, the rainy weather that day decided to let up just long enough for our event. We set off and rode along the Union PBL, the Columbia Street Stay Healthy Street, and the 18th Ave Central Ridge Greenway, stopping to discuss new infrastructure and ongoing advocacy efforts. Our ride concluded at 12th Ave Square Park near Seattle University, where we enjoyed coffee and treats from the new Boon Boona Coffee location while catching up with old friends and making new ones.

We hope you enjoy these photos, which were taken by Brie Gyncild, David Seater, and Bob Svercl.

King County helmet law to be reviewed

Last week, members of Central Seattle Greenways joined with Cascade Bicycle Club, Real Change, and others in calling for the King County Board of Health to reconsider its bicycle helmet law. Take our survey to share your thoughts: http://tinyurl.com/KC-helmet-law-survey.

Around the country, Black, Latino, and Indigenous people are disproportionately stopped by police for minor infractions while biking. Amid calls for racial justice last summer, members of Central Seattle Greenways’ Racial Equity Committee decided to investigate whether similar disparities exist in Seattle and how we could help.

This led to the formation of the Helmet Law Working Group, a collaboration with Cascade, Real Change, and members of other transportation and equity-focused groups. Using public records requests, our research found that Seattle police have invoked King County’s bicycle helmet law to stop and ticket Black cyclists at about four times the rate of white cyclists since 2003. In December, investigative reporting by Crosscut found that over 43% of helmet citations since 2017 were issued by Seattle police to homeless people.

Our research found that Seattle police issue helmet citations (right column) to Black cyclists at about four times the rate of white cyclists.

We believe that unnecessary contact between police and people who bike should be minimized, and that Black, Indigenous, and homeless riders should not disproportionately bear the burden of helmet citations in Seattle. While helmets can reduce head injuries in some crashes, we are concerned that the helmet law does more harm than good.

With these considerations in mind, we have asked the Board of Health to conduct a thoughtful review of the helmet law that focuses on its unintended impacts and includes community voices. Last year, King County declared that racism is a public health crisis, stating that “white privilege and anti-blackness cannot be fully addressed until the same systems that have ‘worked just fine’ for white people while acting as the foot of oppression for indigenous, Black and brown communities are dismantled.” Reconsidering the helmet law is one small step that can be taken towards this goal.

Additionally, as safe streets advocates, we know that safer street infrastructure and lower vehicle speeds are more effective at preventing cyclist injuries than helmet laws. We hope the Board will take this opportunity to not only address the problem of inequitable enforcement of the helmet law, but also consider interventions aimed at the most urgent threat to cyclist safety—collisions with cars.

At the Board of Health’s meeting last Thursday, King County Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles introduced an amendment committing the Board of Health to reexamine the law this year. We are grateful for Councilmember Kohl-Welles’ leadership on this issue. In the discussion that followed, other members of the board, including Seattle City Councilmembers Teresa Mosqueda and Andrew Lewis, King County Councilmember Girmay Zahilay, Bellevue City Councilmember Janice Zahn, Burien Deputy Mayor Krystal Marx, and Board member Dr. Bill Daniell, voiced their support. The amendment was adopted in a unanimous vote (12-0).

We look forward to working with the Board and community to find ways to keep cyclists safe that don’t involve police enforcement.

Share your perspective: We want your voice to inform the Board’s review process and shape the future of the helmet law. Take our anonymous survey to share your ideas and stories about interactions with police while biking: http://tinyurl.com/KC-helmet-law-survey.

Learn more: You can read about our effort in the following venues’ coverage:

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.

Some Announcements

I’m going to keep this brief:

We’ve got a few notes up from our recent racial equity committee meeting in June.

We are looking for a new webmaster! Please contact Marissa at zhao.marissa@gmail.com for info!

Our general meeting is coming up on Monday July 13th. Please subscribe to receive information about the venue (most likely still Zoom).

That’s all for now. Please mask up and be safe!

UPDATES IN 2020: Racial Equity and moving forward

The italicized text that appears within is editorialized by the person who wrote the initial draft of this post. Black lives matter.

Since this past spring of COVID-19 sheltering and the groundswell of the George Floyd and Black Lives Matter protests here and across the country, several of our projects have taken different paths from what we had begun to plan. In the interrim, some of our friends and neighbors here in Seattle have helped to cover changes to our greenways and other public spaces. The asterisk (*) statements express areas where social distancing is leading us to get brainstormy with other ways to be a neighborhood together.

Racial Equity Committee: in reviewing notes from these past ten months of meeting, we turned in this past June meeting to how we can use our voices and skills to support racial justice and equity. Agenda focus points are as follows: drafting an equity plan for 2020, varying our means of neighborliness through means of gathering (safe play streets) or similar*, and mobilizing on supporting partner organizations who center equity for the longstanding communities of color in our Central areas.

One of our initiatives with significant communications for racial equity is the Bailey Gatzert Elementary School safe-routes-to-school walking school busses. Upon the launch of the volunteer parent-led routes, BGES leadership and Seattle Public Schools at large had still been looking for ways to address reported interactions between elementary school students and gang-affiliated people by the school. SPD had expressed an interest in information about these interactions, and in their own ongoing relationship with Seattle Public Schools. As a group working with this SRTS initiative, we recognize this relationship as a perpetuation of risk and inequality for students of color. People with this neighborhood group support demands to end the contract between SPS and SPD, as well as those of King County Equity Now, of Defund SPD, and of reclaiming land use to dismantle resources that enable criminalizing people of color. There are other demands needing support whose links we are in a position to share. There have been concerns voiced by leadership for National Innovation Services that the demand to reclaim the Seattle PD East Precinct does not fully address equity, in that the Capitol Hill neighborhood is not the neighborhood that would benefit the most in acquiring land for community use.

One topic of discussion that helped inform us in deciding how best to foster racial equity was a recent spike in interest in city council president M. Lorena Gonzalez’ tweet about jaywalking and helmet laws–specifically, the dangers of law enforcement using these laws to discriminate against people of color existing in public as white people freely do. CSG members felt that should we contribute to the abolition of these laws, our skills can be used primarily to research the impact of these practices at home by pursuing statistical and experiential data. We felt that an important person to speak with was Phyllis Porter of the Seattle chapter of Black Girls Do Bike. Our capacity to help lies in furthering the work that marginalized communities have already been doing to bring about justice for their safety.

Another relevant touchstone for CSG has been the Union Street protected bike lanes and their implementation alongside input from its immediate inhabitants and stakeholders. The Seattle Department of Neighborhoods (DoN) has been stepping up to help address equity issues where marginalized communities are concentrated and impacted by infrastructure. The Union PBLs are still on track for construction, although the DoN response for this specific process did not manage to capture the full extent of stakeholder input, to our organization’s knowledge.

In addressing our racial equity action plan, the subject of Central District-specific projects such as the Union protected bike lanes and the aforementioned Bailey Gatzert project helped us hone in on a potential focus: we may be able to take on a role conscious of bridging communications between our own neighbors and the governing agencies who we have, throughout our growth, strengthened relationships with. Trust needs healing between these governing agencies and the residents who are least benefiting from their actions (see: Pike/Pine PBLs), and we may be able to offer our position in all this to refocus to each other and especially to those who cannot or attend our group of self-selective membership. Urbanism as it has been known in the mainstream has long been a tool for strengthening the safety of one community against all others. The feeling of being heard by governing agencies is a privilege that CSG wields.

With that being said, however, CSG leadership has long been compiling a resource for identifying organizations in our neighborhood we hope to support. The list can be found here.

Please–we encourage feedback on our roles for our community as we adapt to put our skills and intentions to use to aid in amplifying the fight towards equity in our physical environment.

Your Voice, Your Choice 2020

Graphic from Seattle Department of Neighborhoods

Entries are submittable by clicking on the graphic above, until March 18. Entries can now be categorized based on use and on infrastructure type.

Now’s your chance to bring your personal experiences with our streets to the official attention of the City of Seattle. To kick things off, Gordon at Seattle Neighborhood Greenways has put out a call for people to identify opportunities for pedestrian improvements at intersections, under the “Pedestrian Crossing” category.

But there is a wide variety of other avenues under which to file a concern.

Some tips: be specific and descriptive about the problem(s) you want to have solved, and be direct and explicit in describing any possible solution(s) you feel strongly about. It’s not our jobs as citizens to design the solutions, though, so you don’t need to have spent a ton of time on a vision for the end result–your real-time experiences and your ability to describe the problem are voice enough.

UPDATES IN 2020: Safe Routes to School, MLK Day, PBLs, and more

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…

Please comment below, comment in an email to us, or come to our meetings with questions, concerns, and ideas! Additionally, you can subscribe to our Google Group and to Seattle Neighborhood Greenways at large in the “JOIN US” box to the right.