We live in a fairly hilly neighborhood, and if you’re walking or biking a good strategy is to get up to one of the highest streets and go north or south from there. For years my favorite route to get to Trader Joe’s or other parts of Capitol Hill has been to take 17th, including the sidewalk that runs between TT Minor and its little playfield. A lack of car traffic and the scenic downtown views from the playfield are two of the main advantages there.
But starting with the new school year, they’ve started locking the gates there during the daytime, keeping neighborhood folks from passing through.
From the schools perspective, it’s easy to understand why. The safety of the kids is very important, “won’t someone please think of the children!”, etc.
But the cranky old man in me wonders why things are so different this year vs. the previous scores of years the school has been there. Have things really changed so much in 2008 that kids can’t be kept safe without cutting off a good pedestrian route for the rest of the neighborhood?
Street and alley vacations are coming up more and more as the city grows. And it starts to really have an impact on the feasibility of non-motorized transportation when even publicly owned mega-blocks start locking down the right-of-ways through the neighborhood.
I’m guessing maybe they had an incident last year with someone wandering into the schoolyard off the street during recess or something. If I were a parent there and something like that happened, I’d certainly want the school to take measures to make me feel safe about having my children there.
For the safety of 4 of my grandkids, who are students there i am truly grateful that they have taken to locking those gates. To protect them from strange people and strange dogs that may accompany those strange people
Protecting children from strange people and dogs, AND preserving pedestrian connections in our neighborhood are important. Do we know what facts were used by the sign-posters to reach the conclusion that it was necessary to bar public passage on what appears to be a public street? Not saying there could be no valid reason, but Scott has a point.
I believe it is a sidewalk on school property, not a public street. Someone please correct me if I’m wrong.
I have a kid at TT Minor and am one of many parents that requested the gates be locked during the school day. Access to the school is too easy when pedestrians use that route. After the New Years Eve stabbing of Shannon Harps in the neighborhood (and the proximity of a number of people with mental health issues) installing the gates was considered a sound move but, as with any school funding, it took a little time to get the gates in place. As a parent I can only emphasize that the inconvenience is far outweighed by the security that the gates provide for the students at the school.
while i ‘sort of’ get what you’re saying scott, it’s really only a short diversion round the school. i’ve been in that playground when a guy with a straight edge razor was prowling around – safety of the students and staff is the only real consideration, regardless of whether it’s school property or not.
I understand and sympathize with Scott’s concern.
However, some people consider it inappropriate for cyclists to drive their bicycles (bicycles are vehicles) on our pedestrian facilities, and this one goes through a school! I am both a cyclist and a pedestrian and I know that as a pedestrian I do not like bicycles in the few pedestrian refuges from vehicles. I like to walk in a natural manner on pedestrian facilities and not have to worry about vehicles, motorized or not.
I also found that as I corrected my poor bike riding habits with better bicycle driving behavior, I found the streets to be safe, appropriate and even fun cooperating with other drivers. And as I learned bicycle driving behavior, my sense of “entitlement” to bicycle on pedestrian facilities diminished significantly while my respect for pedestrians increased. Now I use 23rd for my North/South cycling and feel no need for the side streets I used to depend upon let alone sidewalks through childrens’ schools.
My 3 year old son and I were kicked out of the playground for playing during school hours when we were the only ones on the playground. The rules are the rules.
I am glad they did lock it. My daughter attends the school and she told me her friend was pushed down by a jogger running through there during her recess time. My daughter also told me that the dogs were chasing them on recess. Clink, clink! Lock it up Principal King. Thanks!
i like to bike through there too, but it really isn’t *that* much harder to just bike down 18th. i’d understand your gripe more if it was significantly longer to use the street.
This is totally my ped/bike route to TJ’s. Tangent alert: even more than the playground shortcut, I always look forward to the diverse collection of multifamily architecture packed into the one short block between Spring and Union. Institutional at one border, and a sterile environment of generic townhomes immediately to the South, the collection of classy brick apartment buildings is like an oasis of craftsmanship in an otherwise inhumane architectural environment. I’m going to say it: The best block in Seattle, architecturally.