The City of Seattle is considering the permanent closure to vehicles of the road (see image below) that connects Green Lake and Wallingford with Phinney Ridge and Greenwood. However, there has not been any community outreach on this decision. Residents who have experienced the negative effects of this road closure have started a petition to reopen the road and invite all impacted to consider signing it.
The street was originally closed to automobile traffic as part of the construction on Green Lake Way and eventually the closure become part of the city’s “Stay Healthy Streets” initiative during the Covid-19 restrictions. The stretch of road offered additional space next to the Green Lake path to run or ride bikes and remain physically distanced.
We previously reported on the partial reopening of this street back in March. However, shortly after it was opened to southbound traffic, it was closed again. According to District 6 Councilmember, Dan Strauss, “many of our neighbors were driving the wrong way on the street, or driving in the closed portion of the street. This is why West Green Lake Way North has been closed in both directions once again until a better design is created.“
So, it has remained closed, creating significant impacts for many people and organizations. Prior to Covid-19, this was a heavily used arterial connecting east and west neighborhoods. Based on a sample of traffic data for W Green Lake Way N – pre-pandemic, the “Average Daily Traffic (ADT) = 11,531” cars utilizing W Greenlake Way N, based on 7 day, 1-Hour Detailed Report, dated June 1-June 8, 2018, as reported by Seattle Department of Transportation (see below). With this traffic now being diverted south to 50th or north to 80th Streets, absent of alternative solutions, residents have reported a 20-30 minute increase in commuting time.
The city has not presented any data to show how many people are using the closed road to walk, bike or run.
Businesses on both sides of the barricade record a noticeable drop in patronage. Organizers spoke with Green Lake Crew, the Putt-Putt course, R&R hair salon, and Fresh Flours, to name a few. My family participates in North Central Little League at the Lower Woodland fields and teammates from Phinney Ridge have reported such extended times to reach practice, that they are considering dropping out.
The “Stay Healthy Streets” initiative has issued a survey asking for input on whether certain streets should remain closed permanently, but West Green Lake Way N is curiously missing. (Side note: The Stay Healthy Streets closure of N 44th St. in Wallingford is included on the survey and those interested should be sure to respond and share thoughts on it.)
A recent meeting with Councilmember Strauss indicates that the road will remain closed “until a two-way, protected bike lane is installed.” Everything is “ready to go”, but there is some hold up related to the mayor’s office preventing the work from moving forward. No reason is given as to why the street cannot be open in the interim while the city’s issues are being sorted.
In a recent email from the Dept of Transportation, the city said “we have not yet made a decision about the long-term configuration for this street, and are still evaluating options to balance the needs of people who want to walk, roll, bike, and drive in this area.”
I don’t know about you, but I’m confused why this road remains closed. It seems a solution exists to meet all residents’ needs without shutting down a major thoroughfare. There are now permanent signs and street crosswalk barricades installed. The time to make any changes is now.
For more information on the many impacts of the closure, please review and consider signing the Petition to open W Green Lake Way N.