Are Greenways the Right Way?
Part of SDOT's $40 million upgrade to 23rd Ave. includes an adjacent greenway.
The latest installment of Urban Upgrade, the pro-density, pro-bikes, pro-pedestrians, pro-city living column I write for the magazine, is out.
This month, it's about the Seattle Department of Transportation's $40 million revamp of 23rd Avenue from Capitol Hill, south through the Central District to the Judkins Park neighborhood. (It's much like the successful plan on NE 125th that just got gold stars in Smart Growth America's annual report on pedestrian safety.)
The column concludes: "For those who think urbanism is about favoring one mode of transportation over another, let this car-ped-bus plan serve notice: The guiding principle of city design is mixed use."
You'll notice, though, there was no mention of bikes in that equation.
I didn't get into the bike component of SDOT's plan, but there certainly is one. On 21st, just two blocks west of 23rd, from Galer in North Capitol Hill, running south to Columbia in the C.D., and then crossing east over to 24th and continuing south all the way to S. Irving by Judkins Park, the city is builiding a "greenway."
Greenways—no, not a street with rain gardens, wildlife, and a dreamy tree canopy—are side streets that use traffic calming design, signage, and shared car/bike lanes to create a safe route for bikers.
On the one hand, greenways are a progressive design concept, fitting in to the mixed-use tenet I noted in the column. The more you can normalize mixing bikes and cars the better. But the problem here lies in that word "more." The shortcoming with greenways, and it overrides the thumbs-up in this case, is that without planning them frequently and citywide, SDOT is actually continuing to relegate bikes to the background.
To really put bikes in the mix, they either need dedicated lanes (particularly on key streets), or the greenway concept needs to be widespread.
SDOT had an open house at a coffee shop in Beacon Hill last Saturday where they had folks fill out a survey, getting public input on how to best to work biking into the grid. And there's a section on greenways—I overheard a heated, lively conversation on the pros and cons.
Agree with me or disagree, fill out the survey here if you've got opinions and ideas.