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|Spotlight on: Seattle Neighborhood Greenways|
Spotlight on: Seattle Neighborhood Greenways - Creating Healthy Streets for All Seattle Residents
What do you think is special about Seattle Neighborhood Greenways?
By committing to this broader goal, we have built a much broader and more powerful organizing coalition than we typically see with traditional bike advocacy. If you look at our leadership, you'll see lots of middle-aged moms. We even get support from neighbors who hate bicycling--they still need to walk!
Seattle has added its own twist to greenways by crowdsourcing our route network plan to neighborhood groups. These community-driven routes will form the basis of our new Bike Master Plan's greenway network. This neighborhood crowdsourcing has empowered hundreds of people to get involved in the livability of their own neighborhoods, often for the first time.
How did your group come together - was there one specific incident which sparked this movement and its subsequent growth?
We shared our stories on the ride. Cathy was working with Seattle DOT staff to define what made streets safer for walking and bicyling. Paulo was tasked with building a network of greenways as part of the mitigation for the expansion of Seattle Children's Hospital. Dylan's Beacon BIKES had hired Alta Design + Planning to make a circulation plan that included greenways. Eli, after two years away from Holland, longed for the freedom and magic of Dutch complete streets. Julian, a pediatrician, wanted safer streets for children. And Sally, a month after a study trip to Portland with Seattle DOT Director Peter Hahn, was a new convert to the idea of greenways. Following this ride, Sally wrote a blog post that defined greenways for the community and for local government.
Since then, we've seen truly explosive growth, with over 16 neighborhood groups planning and advocating for greenways, and the creation of a central city-wide grassroots organization, together with tremendous leadership from Seattle City Council member Sally Bagshaw.
How can Neighborhood Greenways help to defuse the cars v. bikes rhetoric that exists in many communities?
Because our greenway routes are being planned, studied and tested by and for the neighborhood residents themselves, it's a lot harder for even the most curmudgeonly citizen to imagine that we're part of the mythical U.N. Agenda 21-sponsored bicycle conspiracy seeking to deprive them of their cars.
What advice can you give to other citizen-led groups out there hoping to work with their local government on a project such as this?
For more information about the Seattle Neighborhood Greenways group, see http://seattlegreenways.org/.
Photos courtesy of Eli Goldberg and SeattleGreenways.org