A Year of Action: CSG is One Year Old!

Written for an originally posted on CSG’s Blog.

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)Muffins on Melrose
    • 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:

  • Melrose: CSG and the Melrose Promenade Advisory Committee Melrose Planningwill 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

Originally written for and posted on the Central Seattle Greenways blog.

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 MontlakerSeattle 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.

City Council Poised to Make New SR 520 Right

Originally written for and posted on the Central Seattle Greenways blog.

This Tuesday (January 22nd) at 2:30 PM in the Council Chamber, the 520 Committee of the Seattle City Council will hopefully pass a resolution that finally gives WSDOT and city staff the authority to begin to fix the pedestrian and bicycle design flaws in the current plans. Most importantly, the resolution calls for

  1. Fixing the Montlake mess and creating a hub of family friendly connections. It is necessary to completely rethink the design of the Montlake area to make it safe for people of all ages and abilities. The standard for success must be that Montlake children are able to walk and bike around their neighborhood to school, to friends’ houses, to the library, and for the sheer joy of being able to explore your neighborhood as a kid. It is likely that a new design would also make the project cheaper while providing more value for nearby residents and the city.
  2. Continuing the SR 520 Trail to Capitol Hill. The design moving forward must examine how a trail can be incorporated into the Portage Bay Bridge design. The utilitarian needs for quality bicycle and pedestrian access to Capitol Hill and beyond should be paramount. There are still a few residents in the immediate proximity of the bridge who desire it to be as narrow as possible even at the expense of the trail, but the vast majority of Seattle residents would like to see the bridge have as little a visual impact as possible, while still providing connections for everyone whether they drive, take transit, walk, or bike.
  3. Designating a 520 champion. This is a common sense idea that originates from the Seattle Design Commission which allows one person at the city to keep track of the complicated design process. Currently such a unified response is lacking.

This resolution, if passed, would be a huge step forward. Please don’t leave this to chance! Please show up at 2:20 to give a short (2 minutes or less) public comment in support of the resolution, or jot your city councilmembers a quick email letting them know they have your support:

sally.clark@seattle.gov
sally.bagshaw@seattle.gov
tim.burgess@seattle.gov
richard.conlin@seattle.gov
jean.godden@seattle.gov
bruce.harrell@seattle.gov
nick.licata@seattle.gov
mike.obrien@seattle.gov
tom.rasmussen@seattle.gov

By supporting these common sense improvements to the current design, you join the ranks of many other Seattlites seeking a fair deal out of the new SR 520. Let’s recap who supports making the design better for people who walk and bike:

Thank you for your help in making sure that the new SR 520 reconnects our neighborhoods to each other, our kids to their schools, and creates a Seattle that we can all enjoy getting around regardless of our means of transportation!

Bridging the Topographic Fortress with a Trail

Written for, and originally posted on, the Central Seattle Greenways blog. Reposted by the Seattle Transit Blog and Seattle Bike Blog. Discussed by the Montlaker blog.

As promised in the “SR-520 Design Will Discourage Walking and Biking to the UW and University Link” post, here is some further elaboration on the value of a Portage Bay Bridge Trail. Currently the idea is bouncing around the halls of Seattle City government – stayed tuned to see if the trail makes it into an official recommendation to WSDOT.  

The glaciers did not have walking and biking in mind when they sculpted Seattle, and north Capitol Hill in particular. This geological heritage is part of what gives Seattle its character. North-South elongated hills, hidden valleys, and numerous glacially carved bodies of water. As beautiful as it is, this natural character poses serious challenges to creating an interconnected system of family-friendly walking and biking infrastructure.

It would not be hyperbole to think of north Capitol Hill as a topographic fortress. It is surrounded to the east, north, and west by very steep slopes. To the best of our knowledge, there is no ADA accessible route for walking or biking off of north Capitol Hill (check out the map below – compiled from city data and our measurements). Complicating the situation, the streets that were slightly less steep were cherry picked to be arterials for car traffic. As a result, creating an all-ages-and-abilities friendly route between the “urban centers” of Capitol Hill and the University District, and further to neighborhoods in N.E. Seattle and to the Central District, is quite a challenge.

NCapHillBarriers.svg.2012_12_03_21_27_29.0

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SR-520 Design will discourage walking and biking to the UW and University Link

Written for, and originally posted on, the Central Seattle Greenways blog. Included in Seattle Bike Blog’s news roundup.

The new SR-520 will serve as a barrier to people trying to walk and bike from the Montlake area and neighborhoods further south to the University of Washington and the new University Link station. As currently designed, the project will essentially destroy the walkshed and bikeshed south of the Montlake Bridge.

Over the summer, WSDOT has (in good faith) attempted to make tweaks to the plans to better incorporate walking and biking, but the plans still fall short of acceptable levels of service. Simply put, the new SR-520 will make things worse.

The solution: WSDOT and SDOT must work together to refine the plans (which are still actually in a fairly conceptual stage) before the legislature funds a multi-billion dollar budget that fails to connect people who walk and bike to places they need to be such as the UW, transit stations, schools, parks, workplaces, and other parts of the City.

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We need your help – SR520 Portage Bay Bridge Trail

Written for, and originally posted on, the Central Seattle Greenways blog: http://centralseattlegreenways.com/2012/10/we-need-your-help-sr520-portage-bay-bridge-trail/. Reposted linked to by the Montlaker and Seattle Bike Blog.

Is this post a little too long? Check out the shorter, easier to read version here and here

WSDOT needs to hear from us by this Friday – October 5th – about their proposed design preferences for the new SR-520 bridge design (click here for more information on these design preferences). Currently the design does not include a multi-use trail on the Portage Bay Bridge. The trail comes all the way from Redmond and then dead ends in Montlake rather than continuing to Capitol Hill and beyond.

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Add your name to our 520 letter!

Written for, and originally posted on, the Central Seattle Greenways blog (graphics by Nicholas Richter). 

If you want a bike and pedestrian shared use path on the Portage Bay bridge, add your name to our letter to WSDOT and SDOT!

The multi-use trail on the 520 bridge is a new, important link in the regional bike and pedestrian network, but the current plan is for the trail to end in Montlake. We see this as a half-built trail and have, along with other greenway and community advocates, been active in pushing for WSDOT to complete the trail by building the final link on the Portage Bay bridge. We believe that the neighborhoods of Seattle would be best served by a simple, safe and direct connection between Montlake and the Delmar lid (where I-5 and 520 meet), and are happy that we have been able to help put this back in the spotlight where it needs to be.

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