Neighborhood Greenways: Creating a Safer Seattle for Pedestrians and Cyclists

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Local 17 members at the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) are helping to implement neighborhood greenways as part of a plan for safe and efficient transportation throughout the city.

Local 17 - SDOT

Local 17's SDOT members AJ Verdugo and Brian Dougherty installing new speedbumps along the Ballard neighborhood greenway.

Working on the Greenways project has allowed us to use our expertise to make improvements in the community that are based on community feedback and actually being out in the field to see what will work best for residents.

Local 17 members at the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) are working hard to build and maintain a safe, reliable and efficient transportation system throughout the city. As part of this effort, SDOT has recently begun to implement neighborhood greenways.

Greenways provide people of all ages and abilities with comfortable and safe places to walk and ride bikes in their neighborhoods. The greenways aim to connect parks, schools and local businesses through quieter, less heavily trafficked streets.

“Our goal is to serve everyone from age 8 to age 80—walkers, bikers and drivers, alike,” said Brian Dougherty, Local 17 member and Planning and Outreach Lead for the SDOT greenways project.

With the addition of signs, pavement markings, speed bumps, flashing crosswalk beacons—along with reduced driving speed limits—greenways benefit walkers, bikers, drivers and residents of the street where they are installed. Streets are chosen carefully by measuring a host of factors, including the hill grade, traffic, access to amenities, etc. After implementation, greenways generally boast less cut-through car traffic at slower speeds, safer intersections for walkers and bikers, and smoother, more comfortable sidewalks and roads.

The first greenway project was located in the Wallingford neighborhood of Seattle, and was completed in June 2012. The 2.1-mile greenway in Ballard is currently under construction along NW 58th Street and is expected to be complete by September 2013. Other neighborhoods where greenways have been proposed or are underway are on 39th Ave. NE, Beacon Hill, Delridge, Highland Park, and Olympic Hills, which will connect Northgate with Shoreline just off of Lake City Way. The greenways are funded through the voter-approved Bridging the Gap Levy.

Throughout the proposal and planning process for several of the greenways, Dougherty met with community organizations and residents during open houses.

“Getting community input and feedback for the project has been pivotal to its success,” he said. “Overall, the response to the greenways has been really positive.”

SDOT Engineering Associate/Civil Designer, AJ Verdugo, turns ideas and concepts into an engineering plan for each site. He uses CAD to design the routes and features, and then does many site visits to determine the optimal locations for new signs, signals, speed bumps and other enhancements.

“Working on the Greenways project has allowed us to use our expertise to make improvements in the community that are based on community feedback and actually being out in the field to see what will work best for residents,” said Verdugo.

One of the most rewarding aspects of Dougherty’s job is that he gets to see a project go from concept to completion. “I really enjoy being a part of something that benefits the community and the City as a whole.”

Both Dougherty and Verdugo live in Seattle, and are avid bike riders. “Seattle is a great city, and our jobs at SDOT allow us to work to make it an even better one,” said Verdugo.

Similar projects have been successful in other major cities like Chicago, Ill. and Portland, Ore. You can learn more about the Seattle Neighborhood Greenways project at: http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/greenways.htm .

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Deidre Girard
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