Last night, about thirty Delridge and West Seattle neighbors gathered at Youngstown for SDOT’s Delridge Greenways open house. SDOT was well prepared – tables were set up around the room with large maps of the study area, displaying various information such as accident rates and locations, measured vehicle speeds and volumes, existing bike and pedestrian improvements, and locations of improvement projects currently underway.
The gathering started with a forty minute presentation from SDOT’s John Vander Sluis emphasizing the core motivation of greenway improvements: safety. This is an often-misunderstood piece of greenways advocacy: it’s not just about cyclists, or about pedestrians. It’s about safety for all road users, primarily through lowering vehicle speeds and volumes on non-arterial streets. Greenways are about changing streets for drivers to streets for everyone. Further, it’s also about creating a well-connected network of these safe streets throughout our city, so that all residents can reach schools, parks, work-places, and favorite businesses more efficiently and more safely.
This meeting was primarily about gathering neighbors’ feedback. Vander Sluis presented the facts — transportation statistics in our neighborhood, the greenway/bike boulevard approach that Portland has developed over the years, the greenway safety tools available to SDOT, realistic funding and timelines — and asked us as neighbors to share our concerns and ideas for our own neighborhood. The presentation complete, we were free to ask questions, offer feedback, and chat one-on-one with SDOT planners. They provided pens and stickers for us to write and draw directly on the maps scattered throughout the room to indicate places of concern.
I wasn’t able to be part of every conversation, but here are a few highlights that I saw and heard
- Several neighbors were present who live on 26th avenue. There was a particular concern raised about the lack of sidewalks on 26th south of Brandon. The SDOT reps noted the expense of sidewalks, and that greenway projects do not include enough funding for large amounts of new sidewalk. It is possible to address some of these concerns through Bridging the Gap funding: for example, sidewalks are currently being built at 25th avenue near Brandon, funded by a city grant written by neighbors.
- Several neighbors brought up concerns over the safety of the unsignalized crossing at 26th and Brandon, especially the speed of drivers traveling east and west. The SDOT representatives noted that this concern will likely be addressed through a redesign of this intersection.
- The intersection of 26th and Genesee was also discussed at length. The heavy east-west traffic, lack of crosswalk, and poor sight-lines make this very unfriendly to people on foot, especially children and those with limited mobility. The SDOT representatives mentioned the possibility of adding cross-walks and “cross-rides” — bicycle equivalents of crosswalks — to address these concerns. Neighbors suggested that a two-way stop on Genesee would increase safety.
- Neighbors brought up the problem of morning cut-through traffic on 25th and 26th between Genesee and Avalon. Drivers often use these roads to avoid the signal at Genesee and Delridge, and as a result these quiet streets often can feel more like arterials. Neighbors suggested traffic diverters which would limit north-bound vehicle access to these streets, while still allowing bicycle, pedestrian, and emergency vehicle traffic.
- Several neighbors wondered if 26th ave is the best place to focus limited funding. Several people noted the much higher current bike traffic on 21st through Puget ridge. The 21st greenway was recommended for study beginning next year (only two months away!) so SDOT will be able to address these concerns in the near future. Additionally, several neighbors noted that Andover is commonly used by bicyclists going between Delridge and Avalon, and that improvements here would likely benefit a greater number of cyclists than improvements on 26th.
- The connection along Andover and Delridge to the West Seattle Bridge trail was of great concern to many present. SDOT is currently pursuing a grant to extend the West Seattle Bridge shared-use path along the east side of Delridge down to the Andover signal. Given this potential improvement, only a short block of Andover st. remains without family-friendly bike/ped connections to 26th. Some neighbors suggested a multi-use path along the north shoulder of Andover. The SDOT planners will think about how this sort of improvement could fit into the project.
- On the south end of 26th Ave, there is the potential for building a short bike/ped connection along public land to 24th Ave, which would connect via the longfellow creek trail to the new bicycle infrastructure at Delridge and Myrtle. Though this is off the table for the current iteration of the project, it is a direction we will continue to advocate in the future.
I know I missed some of the discussion that took place: if there’s anything you’d like to add, please use the comments below!
I came away from the meeting very encouraged: it’s great to see so many members of our community come together to build a shared vision for our streets, and it’s great to have the city give us the opportunity to influence how transportation dollars are spent. SDOT will come back to present their recommendations on January 15th, and after a second round of community input, begin implementing the changes during the spring and summer of 2013. For more information on city-wide greenways advocacy in Seattle, see Seattle Neighborhood Greenways.
Stay tuned, and thanks to everyone who came and shared their ideas last night.