Children's Hospital to Invest $2M to Improve Bike and Ped Infrastructure

By Josh Cohen October 28, 2010

Seattle bike and pedestrian infrastructure is getting a $2 million dollar boost that will potentially include bicycle boulevards, increased access to the Burke-Gilman Trail, and improved intersections and crossings along Sand Point Way. What might surprise you about the investment is that it's coming not from the city but from Seattle Children's Hospital, a private institution.

Children's plans to spend around $4 million over the next 20 years improving Northeast Seattle's walkability, bikeability, and drivability as part of the hospital's expansion and its Comprehensive Transportation Plan. The hospital will invest $2 million on bike and pedestrian improvements around the Ravenna and Sand Point neighborhoods, $1.4 million on general capital investments "in line with Seattle's priorities," and $500,000 on intelligent transportation systems (essentially "smart" signals that improve traffic flow and predict congestion).

Paulo Nunes-Ueno, Children's transportation director, says there are several motivating factors inspiring their transportation plan.

"Part of this comes from us simply wanting to be good neighbors," said Nunes-Ueno. "But we see this as furthering our health care mission as well. Providing young people with safe places to walk and bike allows them be active and helps combat obesity. Alternative transportation reduces congestion and pollution which is linked to health problems. It goes on and on."

Nunes-Ueno also says the investment is an extension of Children's commute program, which works to decrease the amount employees get to work in single-occupancy vehicles. The company currently offers an employee shuttle between hospital campuses and major transit hubs and a company bike loaner program that provides free bikes to employees who pledge to bike at least two days a week. Children's also charge sfor daily employee parking to discourage solo driving. Investing in better bike and pedestrian infrastructure around Children's main campus on Sandpoint Way will make it that much easier for Children's employees to get to work without a car.

The site of one potential Burke Gilman access improvement project at Sandpoint Way and 36th Ave.

Among the projects Children's is considering:

• Bicycle boulevards on NE 36th and/or NE 39th Ave. Bicycle boulevards are non-arterial streets with low traffic that provide a safe route for bicyclists. Nunes-Ueno said 36th and 39th were relatively flat north-south routes that would better connect the neighborhoods to several elementary schools and parks, as well as to the Burke-Gilman. Children's is also considering a bike boulevard on 58th St, a skinny, alley-like street that skirts the south end of Ravenna Park.

• Several new access points to the Burke-Gilman Trail, including one on the south side of the trail at 36th Ave., one leading up to the bridge at Princeton Ave., and one connecting the north side of the trail to NE 60th St. According to Nunes-Ueno, there are currently no ADA accessible entry and exit points along the trail between 40th Ave and 65th St.

• Improved pedestrian and bicycle crossings on Sand Point Way at 44th Ave. NE, 41st Ave./Penny Dr. NE, and 40th Ave. NE. These improvements may include new signalized crossings, crossing islands, or a four-way pedestrian scramble signal.

• Reconfiguring the five-way intersection of Ravenna Ave., Ravenna Pl., and NE 54th and 55th Sts. to improve pedestrian and bike crossings into Ravenna Park.

          Children's is holding a workshop at University of Washington's Gould Hall (3949 15th Ave NE) on November 13 from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. to discuss their plans and receive community input and suggestions for potential projects. More information is available on their web site.
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