With experts saying that we might see $5/gal gas this summer, I’m thinking that it’s a good time to start focusing on how to get around without getting behind the wheel. And here in the CD, we’ve got it better than a big portion of the region, since we’ve got a fairly walkable neighborhood. It’s not perfect, but unlike the suburbs, we actually have sidewalks and a grid pattern that can get you places without going around in circles and getting stuck in cul-de-sacs.
But while we’re fortunate in many ways, anyone who walks around here knows that we’ve still got work to do. And as luck would have it, the city is revving up the wheels of process to try and help out. There’s talk of creating a dedicated pool of funding to address pedestrian issues all across the city. And today was declared to be Seattle Walks Day, with a goal of getting people out onto the streets to start making a list of how we can make things safer and more appealing for walking.
Starting at 23rd & Union, we walked up the hill and checked out what worked and what didn’t along the way. On the positive side, 8 years of neighborhood effort back in the 90s led to a big makeover of Union around 20th & 21st. Asphalt was ripped up between the curbs and sidewalks and replaced with actual plants in the planting strips. And crossings were improved with bulbs at the corners that reduce the crossing distance and make people more visible to drivers as they’re waiting to cross.
And while there’s plenty of projects that still need to be tackled, we’re lucky that John Stewart, the President of Feet First, lives right here in the neighborhood. They are a dedicated advocacy group for pedestrians in the city, and know exactly who’s in charge and how to navigate the byzantine processes that make up “The Seattle Way”. So if you’ve got an issue on your block, but you’re not sure how to go about fixing it, give them an email or a phone call.