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Why Bicycle-Friendly is Neighborhood-Friendly

Posted by Johnine Larsen on March 18, 2014
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Greenways Map

Greenways are good. They make neighborhoods safer, quieter, and healthier. And greener, too. That’s a lot of good, and the best part? Seattle has a lot of Greenways already, and this year, it’s getting even more.

So what are they? A combination of bicycle lanes, speed humps, and traffic markings that make residential streets great for bicyclists and pedestrians, and not-so-great for drivers who want to speed or cut through your neighborhood. According to the Seattle Department of Transportation, Greenways:

  • Improve safety
  • Help people cross busy streets
  • Discourage cars from using neighborhood streets to avoid main streets
  • Protect the residential character of our neighborhoods
  • Keep speeds low
  • Get people to where they want to go like parks, schools, shops and restaurants

Greenways mean fewer cars roaring down your street at one in the morning, and fewer cars racing past your kids playing in your front lawn. Instead, greenways get more people in the streets—bikers and pedestrians both.

Cathy Tuttle, executive director of Seattle Neighborhood Greenways, said greenways are important because “they allow people mobility regardless of their age or their ability or their choice of the way that they get around … it also allows people to start using their streets as public places.”

10 miles of greenways already exist in Seattle neighborhoods, and by the end of this year, the city will add 6.2 more miles.

On top of that, we now have the Green Lane Project. The PeopleForBikes’ Green Lane Project recently chose six U.S. cities—Seattle included—for a two-year project of implementing protected bicycle lanes. From their website:

Protected bike lanes bring predictability to busy streets: drivers like knowing where to expect riders, and pedestrians report fewer bikes on the sidewalk. The lanes make roads safer for all users, reducing bike, auto and pedestrian injuries by up to 50%.

Protected lanes also add vitality and energy to the street, attracting new businesses and helping create a community people want to be in, not just move through. In New York City, local businesses on the 9th Avenue corridor saw a 49 percent increase in retail sales after the construction of protected bike lanes, compared to only a 3 percent increase citywide.

Bicycle Sign

Mayor Ed Murray agreed. In a statement on Monday, he said, “These lanes are an important part of Seattle’s transportation infrastructure and at the heart of our Bicycle Master Plan. The Green Lane Project will help us make progress on our goals of making Seattle more interconnected, safe and environmentally sustainable.”

All this is good news for Seattle. Safe neighborhoods, stronger communities, and a greener city. Go bicycles.