It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
If you read the Seattle Times article on the 13th of February, you may have already heard about a new citizen led movement to create family-friendly streets where everyone feels comfortable biking, walking, and playing. For me, this movement is personal. When I bike around Seattle or other communities by myself, I feel confident and safe on the vast majority of streets. However, growing up here in Seattle no one in my family biked. Even today, with Seattle’s extensive bike lanes and sharrows network, my dad drives his bike to the Burke Gilman Trail for fun after work, my mom drives her bike to Green Lake to get exercise, and my sister was too intimated by traffic to bike the single mile to her summer job.
A potential solution? Create a system of neighborhood greenways, where everyone feels confident getting around on the streets. In a nutshell, a neighborhood greenway is a designated non-arterial street that has traffic-calming and way-finding infrastructure that slow cars, while offering safe and pleasant travel routes for cyclists, walkers, and kids (for more information check out this video or see Councilmember Sally Bagshaw’s FAQ). These neighborhood greenways will retain existing parking, maintain car access for residents, and be created using existing bicycle funding. This win-win citizen led movement will help link schools, neighbors, parks, and businesses.
People support neighborhood greenways for a wide variety of reasons: parents want a safe and healthy route for their kids to get to schools, parks, friends houses, and libraries; residents want to enjoy a quiet street where cars are welcome but not entitled; neighbors want a fun way to get some exercise on the way to a local coffee shop; and people like me want to share the experience of getting around the city by bike with their family and friends who do not feel safe on heavily trafficked roads. This diverse cross section of Seattleites has already been successful in procuring funding for 11 miles of neighborhood greenways by the end of 2012! If you live in Seattle and want to get involved in this grassroots effort check out this link. If you live in a different city, get together with some of your neighbors and form a local movement of your own! You can help make a difference in your neighborhood, and help make this region – the Mountains to Sound Greenway – a more enjoyable and sustainable place to live. Stay safe and have fun!
Gordon Padelford is a Seattle native and recent graduate of Colby College. Gordon uses his car, feet, bike, and Orca Card to get around. He works at the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust through the Department of Ecology’s Washington Conservation Corps (an AmeriCorps program). Gordon enjoys biking, living in a walkable neighborhood, land use issues, eating food (especially from local farmers and ranchers), hiking, and playing with his two new cats amongst other things.