At a January 10 meeting of Seattle Greenway Organizers at the Beacon Hill Library, Seattle City Councilmember Sally Bagshaw enthusiastically announced a set of pilot Neighborhood Greenways being planned by the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) that are designed to make streets safer and more pleasant for people who live, walk, bike, and drive in Seattle’s neighborhoods.
The Neighborhood Greenways under review total 11 miles: seven miles in Ballard, Beacon Hill, Greenwood, North Delridge, Wallingford, and the University District and an additional four miles in Laurelhurst (funded by Seattle Children’s Hospital). These projects are intended to form the backbone of a new network of Greenways that effectively connect people to the places they want to go by giving them a choice to travel on quieter, safer streets around the city.
Councilmember Bagshaw, chairing the newly formed Seattle City Council’s Parks and Neighborhoods Committee, is excited to include Neighborhood Greenways on her agenda. “Greenways connect parks and schools, community centers and neighborhood business districts. Neighborhood Greenways help with transportation, and they help with getting people where they want to go within their own communities.” (Watch a YouTube video of Councilmember Bagshaw’s announcement here.) Councilmember Bagshaw and Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, who chairs the Seattle Transportation Committee, have taken great leadership initiative on Greenways.
In case you missed previous posts here and here: Neighborhood Greenways are slow-speed, low-traffic residential streets made even more pleasant for the people who live, walk, and bike on them. By adding new park-like amenities and limiting cut-through traffic, Greenways are naturally attractive both for families, and for anyone seeking a safer, more connected community experience. By placing Greenways a block or two away from major arterials, Neighborhood Greenways create a great option for people who prefer to walk or bike away from congested streets. While many new dedicated walking and bicycling trails are beyond the reach of our City’s budget, 10 miles of Greenways can be built for the cost of a single mile of new trail, offering the potential to bring a high-quality network to all Seattle neighborhoods at a comparatively low cost. Neighborhood access by emergency service vehicles and freight delivery vehicles—and parking—is preserved along Greenways.
If you would like to get involved with Greenway planning on Beacon Hill during these exciting times please visit the Beacon BIKES webpage and come to our February meeting!
A Seattle city-wide neighborhood greenway organizers event will be held on Beacon Hill at the Beacon Hill Library next Tuesday, January 10, from 6-7:45 p.m. Beacon Hill currently has a new greenway in progress along 17th/18th Avenues South, between Jefferson Park and the Mountains-to-Sound Trail. For more information on what neighborhood greenways are all about, see this video about Portland’s greenways project.
Here’s the announcement for next Tuesday’s meeting:
Seattle’s Neighborhood Greenways movement is attracting many newcomers to bike advocacy who are eager to transform Seattle into a city where everyone can bike and walk safely. Come join us to learn about the history of bike advocacy in Seattle, and how our growing Neighborhood Greenways movement can complement the hard work that’s already been done to make Seattle one of the nation’s most respected cities for bicycling and walking.
We are privileged to welcome Blake Trask as our featured speaker for this meetup. Blake is the chair of the Seattle Bike Advisory Board (SBAB) and is the Statewide Policy Director of the Bicycle Alliance of Washington (BAW). He’ll be providing us with the context for Seattle’s current (2007) Bicycle Master Plan: who was involved in it? What was the vision? What were the biggest challenges? And how can Neighborhood Greenways be incorporated into the 2012 update to the Bicycle Master Plan?
Blake brings a wealth of knowledge and many years of experience in improving bike safety “from the inside”. By learning from Blake where we’ve already been as an advocacy movement, we will be even better equipped as Neighborhood Greenways organizers to “work within the system” to make bicycling and walking safe and attractive for all Seattle.
We will also be discussing the upcoming neighborhood project fund grants (deadline Feb 1). This is a great and easy way to get some Greenways built in your neighborhood NEXT YEAR!
Please attend this meeting if you can.
Last month, Seattle Pulp published “Hello Bicycle, goodbye bike snobs,” a profile of the shop and bicycle mechanic Sam Lettes:
“Somewhere in Seattle, one bicycle mechanic isn’t feeling smug. He’s not leering at shop patrons as they push their mangled machines through the shop door. He’s not belittling new customers who’ve never heard the word Shimano. And he’s happy to see penniless pre-teen BMXers hovering outside the shop door.”
Then yesterday, Hello Bicycle founder Miki Nishihata was interviewed on American Public Media’s Marketplace radio show, for a story about small businesses and technology by Steve Henn. You can read the interview or listen to it here.
Hello Bicycle is located at 3067 Beacon Ave. S.
What are Neighborhood Greenways, you may ask?
Neighborhood Greenways are quiet residential streets that are optimized for pedestrian and bicycle travel. The idea is to have routes that connect our neighborhood to itself along streets that are safe for those 8 to 80 years old. The bike lanes on the arterials are only going to be used by a small minority of the neighborhood; Neighborhood Greenways, on the other hand, can be conformably used by anyone!
What does a Neighborhood Greenway look like?
The best introduction to Neighborhood Greenways is this video from Portland. Basically, a residential street that connects neighborhood destinations is outfitted with wayfinding signs, paint markings on the street (like the “sharrows” on 15th), some traffic calming (speed bumps, traffic circles), improved crossing treatments at intersections with arterials, and maybe some trees to spruce the place up. The result is a street that gives that small town feel in the middle of the big city. Traffic is calmed where people want it calmed (in front of their homes!), bikers are off the arterials where conflicts with traffic are good for no one, use of the public space provides more eyes on the street and thus reduces the likelihood of crime, and you can bike to the park or to school with your kid without worrying for their lives.
The Beacon Hill Family Bicycle and Pedestrian Circulation Plan is basically a big network of Neighborhood Greenways on Beacon Hill. The first Greenway route (18th Ave South/17th/Lafayette) is currently being implemented. The wayfinding signs are up (you may have seen them around the library), the paint will be going in within a month, and as of yesterday SDOT planted about 70 trees along the route. I snapped some photos this morning of our new friends on the hill. Its not a Greenway without the Green, so we are excited that the city agreed to help us out with the trees! Neighbors along the route with a spot for a potential tree in their planting strip were offered a choice of a couple different species of trees or no tree at all. SDOT planted and will water the trees for 3 years until they are established. SDOT will also prune for the life of the trees. The trees planted were paperbark maples, Persian ironwood, “Royal Raindrops” crabapples, “Native Flame” American hornbeam, and “Emerald Sunshine” elm.
If you get the chance, take a stroll down 18th and see how our first Greenway is coming together!
Next Beacon B.I.K.E.S. meeting is Wednesday November 16th, 6-8pm at the library. All are welcome!
(This article is cross-posted, with permission, from the blog Yellow Tent Adventures. — Ed.)
Recently ribbons were cut and speeches were made at the opening of the new segment of the Mountains-to-Sound Trail. Any additional trail miles that provide needed access for bikes and pedestrians is cause for celebration. Except that the Mountains-to-Sound Trail now officially ends at a blind corner of a very steep hill.
Holgate, which rises to and descends from Beacon Hill, is legendary on this side of the city. It is the type of road that even some seasoned cyclists choose to avoid. If you are descending it from the top of Beacon Hill, you can easily hit 40mph without a single pedal stroke. You just take the lane and fly. The road crosses I-5, and at this point as a cyclist, you need to be hyper-aware as you dump out onto the left lane of traffic. Cars turning from Airport Way S. are speeding to make the light at 6th Ave. S. Many motorists like to make a left hand turn across your path as they exit the Office Depot. And the road surface is a photo op for the “repave our streets” campaign.
On the way up Holgate you are in a narrow lane with a high curb on your right as you climb over I-5. The thought that a car clipping you could send you catapulting onto the freeway is enough to have many cyclists choose to ride on the left hand sidewalk and then cross over at the blind corner as the sidewalk ends. Sounds fun, doesn’t it?
Can you imagine parents riding their bikes along with their two young kids tackling any or all of this? It sounds rather nightmarish.
And yet it is a possibility. The Mountains-to-Sound Trail is a separated recreational path. The type of trail that is desirable for riders and walkers who aren’t comfortable in traffic. The recently opened extension expands the trail from 12th Ave. S. to Holgate. The path is a delight and offers beautiful vistas of downtown Seattle. I had a hard time wiping the grin off my face the first time I rode it.My grin faded at Holgate. The sign simply reads, “End. Mt. to Sound Trail” That’s it. No more information.
What is the family with their two kids going to do? They’ll look at the option of crossing the road at the blind intersection and climbing the steep hill to their left. But what’s up there? They don’t know, because they are visiting from Spokane or Missoula and they don’t know that at the top is the business district of Beacon Hill with a light rail station, bus connections, stores, restaurants, a library, and a huge park. No, to them it’s just a big scary hill to destinations unknown.
Then they’ll look down the hill and think, “The Sound is that way.” They’ll opt to walk their bikes down the sidewalk because the hill is steep and their kids are scared. This is good. Because that sidewalk ends in a flight of stairs. To their credit, SDOT has posted a sign regarding this about 200 feet before impact.Now our visiting family is stuck. Because to continue forward means having to lift their bikes onto a narrow road with speeding traffic and “take the lane, kids.” Beyond this dangerous move there is no signage letting them know that they are three blocks away from the bike path that runs parallel to light rail.
But I’m guessing at this point our family will opt to turn around and push their bikes back up the sidewalk. The kids will be crying and Mom and Dad will think, “This is unsafe and crazy.” They will finally reach the trail and backtrack from whence they came.
What the family doesn’t know is that the Mountains-to-Sound Trail will eventually be completed. There will be a switchback trail that crosses under the freeway and connects to the bike trail and light rail station at Royal Brougham. But construction of that section isn’t even scheduled yet… so it’s years away.
In the meantime, information needs to be posted that gives everyone an option. Experienced city traffic cyclists can take a right at Holgate and shoot into the Sodo District or take a cautious left and climb to the Beacon Hill business district. Others can backtrack and follow the bike route signs to downtown, or be routed that way to begin with.
The dangerous conditions at the blind curve where Holgate becomes Beacon Ave. S. need to be addressed. This is now more important than ever! This is one of the few accessible routes up to Beacon Hill and it should be made safe for everyone.
The Mountain-to-Sound Trail extension is great! It will be better when it is finished (South Seattle’s missing link?). But until then, we need signage that explains the current conditions, and improvements that give everyone safe options. Without them, the ride doesn’t end well.
Greenways are residential streets that are designed to be safe neighborhood connections for bicyclists and pedestrians, while still allowing automobile access using traffic calming measures. (City Councilmember Sally Bagshaw has posted a FAQ with more information about neighborhood greenways on her website.)
For more information on bicycle and pedestrian strategies on Beacon Hill, see the Beacon Hill Family Bicycle and Pedestrian Circulation Plan, a ten-year plan put together by Beacon B.I.K.E.S. and ALTA Planning + Design. (See also the appendix.)
The Seattle Public Library is hosting a series of “Urban Self-Reliance” workshops, including several here at the Beacon Hill Library branch. The workshops are free and open to the public, and registration is not required unless noted in the class description below.
These are the classes scheduled for the Beacon Hill Library (2821 Beacon Ave. S.):
“Bicycle Maintenance”: Basic bike maintenance techniques taught by instructors from The Bikery, a non-profit community bike project. Registration is required for this workshop; call 206-684-4711 to sign up. (1-3 p.m., Sunday, October 2.)
“Keeping Chickens in the City”: The basics of keeping chickens in the city, including starting with chicks, feeding and housing requirements, and more. (6-7:30 p.m., Monday, October 10.)
“Finding Edible Weeds in Your Garden and Lawn”: Local author and expert forager Langdon Cook will talk about how to use your backyard as an exotic produce aisle. (6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, October 26.)
Classes offered at other library branches include “DIY Seismic Home Retrofitting,” “Apartment Gardening with Amy Pennington,” “Introduction to Bike Commuting,” “Simple Sewing (Bags/Pillows/Potholders),” and more. For more information about the classes offered throughout the rest of the city, see the SPL website.
BEACON B.I.K.E.S. (Better Infrastructure Keeping Everyone Safe) will be meeting tonight, September 6, from 6-8 p.m. in the Beacon Hill Library conference room. Light refreshments will be provided. The meeting is open to all who are interested in safely getting people of all ages and abilities around the Hill on foot and bicycle.
Tonight’s agenda includes:
- Debrief of previous month’s events
- Discussion of Seattle Greenways potluck on September 14
- Event logistics for 350.org Moving Planet on September 24
- Crossing counts at Spokane and Lafayette
- NEPO 5k Don’t Run: volunteers for Serpent Walk
- Hilltop Red Apple bicycle parking update
- Other announcements
See more about Beacon B.I.K.E.S. at http://www.beaconwalksbikes.org/.
…To get to our brand new park!
Jefferson Park is a wonderful community gathering space located in the heart of Beacon Hill. It offers amazing views, brand new tennis courts, playground, cricket, lawn bowling, golfing, a community center, and soon we will have a skate park and spray pad (which would not have gotten much use this summer, somewhat diminishing the sting of construction delays). But the irony is this community nexus acts as a physical division within our neighborhood. The golf course is not permeable by car or foot, while the park is surrounded by arterial and collector streets (Spokane, Columbian, Beacon) that are wide and unsafe to cross except at stoplight-controlled intersections. Due to the current configuration it is difficult to access the park in a safe and efficient manner without getting in your car and driving there, which I must say, though I love my car, does take the neighborhoodiness out of things a bit—when was the last time you had a meaningful interaction with a neighbor when driving past them on 15th?
Neighbors have noticed that many people try to access the park by foot by crossing Spokane between Beacon and 15th Ave. S. (at 16th, 17th, Lafayette, and Alamo). Though legal, crossing Spokane at these intersections across 4 lanes of fast-moving traffic with no marked crosswalks and difficult sightlines is not the most relaxing stroll to the park. A solution proposed in Beacon Hill’s Bike and Pedestrian Circulation Plan is to create a safe pedestrian crossing at Lafayette Ave. S. The first step to adding a new pedestrian crossing is data collection. Within the past month folks from Beacon B.I.K.E.S. have conducted pedestrian crossing counts and even shot a nice video at the proposed crossing.
The results from the counts indicate that during peak hours around 20 people per hour will cross Spokane at these dangerous intersections. This is considered a high enough rate by SDOT to justify a pedestrian crossing. SDOT will soon be conducting their own counts and studies and hopefully we will get the crossing installed next year! Of couhttp://youtu.be/dvqw7D8-6aYrse, it won’t happen without a lot of community support, so if you are interested please contactBeacon B.I.K.E.S. and send an email to Peter Hahn (SDOT director) letting him know this is something the neighborhood needs.
See you at the Park!