Here's a taste of Neighborhood Greenways, Portlandia style (via Streetfilms)
Update: Read on for background and proposed routes, but the latest Ballard Greenways information is to be found on the Ballard Greenways Facebook Page
Calling all Ballard bike people! Neighborhood Greenways (the streets formerly known as Bicycle Boulevards) are coming to Seattle. Soon. And in a big way.
Thus far, Seattle bike improvements have tended to favor commuters, and "fast and fearless" cyclists, with narrow bike lanes on busy arterials. While the associated road diets have lowered rates of speeding and accidents, being wedged between fast motor vehicles and the door zone is not exactly where you want to be with your kids. It's time to address the "willing but worried" who would ride if they felt safer, using designs that cater to cyclists of all ages and abilities, helping them get to neighborhood schools, parks, libraries, and shops, on pleasant, traffic-calmed "bike arterials."
Enter the Neighborhood Greenway. Take a quiet street, often parallel to a busy arterial, with already lowish motor-traffic volumes. Add calming devices that discourage cut-through speeding motorist traffic (speed bumps, speed tables, curb extensions, chicanes, etc), and favor through-traffic for bikes by turning some stop signs to favor the greenway, and at arterials, provide safe crossings for bike/peds but divert motorists onto the arterial. Bonus points for adding "green" features such as stormwater diversion "rain gardens" in conjunction with curb extensions, trees, and other greenery. Make the routes distinctive and let motorists know to expect bike/peds with large street markings, and wayfinding signs that help cyclists navigate our bike-friendly network.
Unlike some more controversial (yet still vital) infrastructure where traffic or parking lanes are removed, the Greenway approach is potentially less divisive. Residents can still drive home, but experience calmer streets and higher property values. Pedestrians are spared from speeding motorists, and have safer crossings. People on bikes both feel and are safer, due to the "safety in numbers" phenomenon, and are able to keep their momentum up with fewer stops on the route. And by attracting cyclists to these "bike arterials", there are fewer cyclists on the other arterials, which benefits motorists. The only people who lose are the drivers that like to speed down your quiet neighborhood street. Oh well.
There's a lot of momentum towards this new school of bike facility in town. Sally Bagshaw, of the City Council, has caught the fever, and reports that others on the Council see neighborhood greenways as a win-win. Seattle Parks Foundation is on board, as are Cascade and the Mayor's Office. SDOT is relatively late to this concept (especially compared to Portland, Vancouver, Berkeley, and other bike-friendly cities with extensive greenways networks) but is coming around. What's nice about Seattle is that the push for these is coming from neighborhood groups like Beacon BIKES, Spokespeople (Wallingford), Seattle Children's, not to mention a host of interested Ballard bike/walk organizations. After all, we know best what streets are bike-friendly, and where everyday cyclists need to ride. A number of us have been meeting together to help our Greenways get off to a successful start.
For more info on Seattle Greenways, see these resources:
- Our post on "Ballard Bicycle Boulevards" from 2 summers back, before the "ixnay on the ikebay" / more inclusive name change
- Sally Bagshaw's posts on Greenways
- An excellent recent series on Seattle's Neighborhood-Powered Streets movement from SeattleBikeBlog
- Download an excellent design manual
The first Seattle Greenways are likely to be in Wallingford on N 43/44th St, Laurelhurst on 39th Ave NE, and Beacon Hill on 17th/18th Ave S, due the efforts of neighborhood grassroots organizations. Let's get Ballard on the map for round two of Seattle Greenways, and push for a connected network of greenways rather than a single street. Ballard's flat-for-Seattle neighborhood grid is ideal for such a system, one that can get families to places they need to go in Ballard, and connect to established routes like the Burke Gilman trail, and the downtown route through the Locks and Elliott Bay Trail.
Here is a very rough draft of what Ballard's network might look like (original Seattle map by Dylan Ahearne of Beacon BIKES). Detailed thoughts on routes follow. But we need your input! Please post suggestions in the comments, and I'll update the map as consensus evolves. SDOT truly wants to know what we think, and so does the City Council.
Proposed Neighborhood Greenways in Ballard
View Ballard Greenways in a larger map, with other cycle routes
28th Ave NW
I really like 28th Ave NW, as it's already a popular N-S bikeway, with relatively gentle grade, that would route from the top of Sunset Hill, down past the Nordic Museum and park, in front of Adams Elementary plus the Ballard Community Center & Playfield, across Market (already has a traffic light), to the future Missing Link section of the Burke Gilman and downtown through the Locks. Some motorists like to speed down it, as it's relatively wide, so there could be some pushback, but calming this street would have real safety benefits for residents and Adams Elementary students.
NW 57th/58th Street
This vital E-W route links up Seaview Avenue at Ray's (and the Burke Gilman trail extension), past QFC, Ballard Commons Park, the Ballard Library, downtown Ballard, the Port Office, supermarkets on 15th, and so on. The arterial crossings are already signalized. It's 1-2 blocks away from many local Ballard businesses. Love it. Only issue I have is 57th is pretty narrow west of 24th Ave, which can be said of some of the other routes. That'll be something to carefully mull over, as the visibility and shareability of such streets is limited, and I don't think such streets would easily lose one parking lane. Some streets already have a "no parking" side in sections, which could help.
17th Ave NW
This N-S route would link up North Ballard, Salmon Bay School (and parks), the new Ballard Corners Park, Market Street businesses, Swedish Medical Center, lower Ballard Ave, and the Burke Gilman. It would need a crossing treatment at 17th and Shilshole, but that's been needed for years, and is in the interim plan for the Missing Link. The Leary crossing would also need a median refuge or signal. Market has a light. 65th crossing would need help as well. Interestingly, this is the only proposed Greenway on the Seattle Bike Master Plan, which is due for it's midway update next year.
NW 67th Street
This E-W route would connect to the routes above, is wide in the West, and would provide a calmer alternative to busy/narrow 65th for Salmon Bay and Ballard High Schools. Crossing 24th and 15th would need some help. NW 70th St is a similar route to consider, as it seems roomier in East Ballard, has a light on 15th, includes the Honore/Delancey business strip and intersects with Salmon Bay Park. Maybe make it 67st-70th St route, jogging up 17th Ave?
11th-12th Ave NW
This route hooks the Burke Gilman Trail at Fred Meyer up to North Ballard, past Gilman Playground, and including Ballard High School.
NW 77th St
This is a nice E-W bikeway that routes from Sunset Hill Park, past Loyal Heights Elementary & Community Center, and provides one of the gentler routes up and over Phinney, connecting nicely to North Greenlake at the wading pool, on streets that already include some calming features like the chicanes near the lake. Intersects the Interurban bike trail as well.
6th Ave NW
This N-S Greenway could link the BG Trail at Hale's, up past Pacific Crest School, West Woodland Elementary, to NE Ballard.
What do you think? Please share your thoughts and suggestions, as this is just a rough start. As you design, remember that the most expensive part of Greenways are arterial crossings, so bonus for routes that already have safe ways across. What routes would you like to see created first?
As our proposed Greenways get tightened up, I propose we borrow the 7-person Conference Bike from Dutch Bike and ride the routes with interested parties and stakeholders. Who's in for a round-bike discussion on the streets of Ballard?