How community volunteers made Seattle’s Pike Street bike lanes happen

Pike and Pine streets connect the city’s
densest employment, transit and destination center with some of the
city’s most densely populated neighborhoods, and the streets are lined
with popular businesses. Seattle just completed new bike lanes on Pike Street
between 9th Avenue and Broadway. Broadway has protected bike lanes already. The sections that have been finished demonstrate the potential of safe and
comfortable bike lanes in this corridor and that’s exactly why community members
have been working so hard to make sure they become reality.
Brie: I’m Brie Gyncild. I
co-lead Central Seattle Greenways, which is part of the larger Seattle Neighborhood
Greenways coalition and I was on the One Center City Advisory Group. Central
Seattle Greenways is a local volunteer organization of neighbors working to
make our streets better for people walking and biking. We specifically focus
on the Central Area and Capitol Hill We knew that this is an incredibly
important corridor to a lot of different people in the community, not just people
who bike obviously. We wanted to make sure especially with the businesses that
that their needs were met from the beginning. We wanted to make sure that
when we were advocating for specific design, we were actually understanding
the community’s priorities. So we wanted to hear from the community, we wanted to
hear from businesses, and we also wanted to facilitate a sense of community
dialogue that has been missing in a lot of the neighborhoods and with a lot of
projects in our city So we brought everybody together to talk
together about how to build streets that work for everybody. So
Central Seattle Greenways, Seattle Neighborhood Greenways as a whole, the Eco District the
community council, a lot of local organizations, neighborhood
organizations, came together to do some early business outreach just to
find out how businesses felt. In 2017, we went door-to-door and had a very generic
conversation with businesses about street safety, and what they’ve been
experiencing and how they felt about street safety projects. In 2018 we kicked
off our outreach with a pop-up protected bike lane on Pike for Parking(ing) Day in
September, and then we followed that up with door-to-door business outreach and
inviting those businesses to join us at our community workshop in October. And
that was the that was really the pinnacle of the effort, and it was a it
was a really inspiring evening. We knew that not everybody could come to a
Thursday evening meeting so we also had a community survey online. I think there’s tremendous value in
community members doing outreach to other community members, right? I think
there’s tremendous value in the business community understanding that there
is no bikes versus business story here that we all want the businesses from
these corridors to succeed and we all want people to be able to travel safely
through them and to businesses using those corridors. And it was while we were
doing that outreach that the Convention Center opportunity arose. The Convention
Center expansion required vacating some alleys and some underground areas under
streets, and as part of that process they have to provide Community Benefit
commensurate with the value of that. The Convention Center had put out a call for
projects, basically, and had a large open house that showed all these projects
that were essentially going to be competing with each other, and Gordon
Padelford of Seattle Neighborhood Greenways took a look at that that night
and said, “You know, I think I think we can do all of this and I don’t think we
should be fighting with each other.” So he brought all of the organizations
together that were advocating for specific projects and together we built
the community package and negotiated with the Convention Center. And we’re not
done because this isn’t the permanent design, and the actual alignment hasn’t
been chosen yet. The interim bike lanes have some problems, they have some issues.
We knew they would. Especially the gap between sixth and ninth. But already it
feels a lot more comfortable biking up the hill than it used to, so I appreciate
that. Tom: Yeah, definitely. Awesome. Thank you so much.

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