“Whaaat?” you ask. “I don’t remember any discussion about a ‘Neighborhood Greenway!’
Nope, that’s because back in January we told you that efforts were underway to plan and develop a bike boulevard in Wallingford, thanks to Cathy Tuttle of Spokespeople and SDOT (Seattle Department of Transportation) for funding. Well, a few things have changed since then, especially the term “bike boulevard” since this proposed dedicated east/west passageway applies not only to bicyclists but pedestrians as well, hence the new term: Neighborhood Greenway. If you’re unfamiliar with Greenways, Sally Bagshaw has developed an excellent FAQ, which you can read here. You can also view the clip below, featuring Portland’s Neighborhood Greenways and produced by Streetfilms. Portland likes their Neighborhood Greenways so much they are committed to putting in 20 miles a year of them!
The second change is that the route is fixed now. We’d reported back in January that 44th, 43rd and even 46th were under consideration. The route SDOT chose goes from NE 44th from 5th Avenue N. (basically I-5) to Burke Avenue N. The route then jogs down one block south to 43rd for crossing at Wallingford Avenue, and then continues down 43rd to Stone Way.
On Monday night, Tuttle met with some neighbors who live along 44th, Burke, and 43rd, as well as some folks from the U-District, where a Greenway plan is also in the works. The meeting was called to discuss the Greenway and raise some important questions as to the necessary traffic devices that should be installed to get cars to slow down on 44th. The group then spent the second half of the meeting walking and biking the route, pointing out trouble spots and street details.
The meeting resulted in some key takeaways, which, thanks to Tuttle, are outlined here:
Because the Wallingford Greenway will soon be built by SDOT, any thoughts and suggestions need to be made in the next month. Wallingford has a very high level of professional expertise that is reflected in what people suggested. Some neighbor suggestions are:
- Figure out specific metrics before and after for SDOT to monitor and achieve – speed, number of vehicles, survey of resident perceptions of comfort and safety. Suggestions need to be refined for very specific “asks”
- Since this is a pilot, try and then monitor the effects of different treatments at different locations – bright paint on the street, curb bulbs, signs, rain garden treatments mid-block as traffic calming
- Street should be safe enough for an 8 year-old kid to be able to ride their bike (alone)
- Max speed for cars = slow bike speed (8-10mph). Many cars drive too fast for safety now along 44th
- car traffic in 44th will need to be calmed, signs won’t do it alone.
- cars ‘squirt’ onto 44th from 45th to escape sluggish traffic. There is no one spot they do this, but get on 44th from the freeway to Stone Way
The experience of walkers and cyclists was very different during the tour. The walkers focused on street details, safety in crossing the street, talking to neighbors, the possibilities of playing in the street. The cyclists were more interested in destinations and connections.
Wallingford Greenway is a pilot. There will be other Greenways in Wallingford linking east-west and north-south, and many Greenways are being planned throughout the city – Ballard, Beacon, U-District, NE Seattle, Children’s Hospital in Laurelhurst, and Wallingford are all in planning stages. Now is the ideal time for Wallingforders to plan a complete Greenway system as is being done in many neighborhoods around Seattle. Learn more about Greenways in this Sally Bagshaw FAQ. We definitely need to join up with Ballard Greenways and University Greenways. We spent some time talking about a comprehensive Greenway system in Seattle and the comprehensive Portland Greenway system.
Follow-up and next steps. There were eight people at the meeting who were interested in refining the questions/visions for this and future Greenways in Wallingford. We need meet in the next week or so in order to get our specific requests in to SDOT in a timely way.
Someone raised an excellent point in last night’s meeting in that unless we prepare the Greenway with specific, effective traffic calming devices to slow cars down, the street still remains a street with just a fancy label on it. Therefore, it’s important to look at every intersection of 44th and 43rd between 5th Avenue NE and Stone Way to determine what will be useful to make the Greenway a success. So successful that, as another person pointed out, it’ll be something an 8 year-old kid could safely ride on it alone.
If you’re interested in helping to shape our currently funded Neighborhood Greenway and building a great plan for a Wallingford Greenway network in the future, you can email Cathy Tuttle at: [email protected]
Most things that get bike riders out of auto traffic are okay in my book. But, as I dodge horrifyingly large potholes and observe other basic maintenance deficiencies everyday, I have to wonder, how much will this cost? Is this really what the SDOT needs to be spending time, money and manpower on?