This Wednesday, April 7, the Leschi Community Council will focus on walkability. For a preview of the 7:30 p.m. program at the Central Area Senior Center, LeschiCC interviewed Feet First Executive Director Lisa Quinn.
Leschi CC:What’s the most important thing for CD News readers to know about pedestrian-issue policy and politics in Seattle right now?
Lisa Quinn: This past fall, the City of Seattle passed its first Pedestrian Master Plan. The plan outlines ways the City will reach its goal to become the most walkable city in the nation. The most critical part of the plan is to have designated funding for implementing the different elements.
Last month, Feet First signed on to a letter with other organizations which was sent to Seattle City Councilmembers addressing the need to ensure the planning design for Washington Department of Transportation’s proposed tunnel project in downtown moves full speed ahead with a robust oversight to ensure Seattle’s interests are protected. It is important for community representatives to know this project is happening and leadership by the City is important to support the pedestrian environment on the waterfront.
Leschi CC:What can we do to make our neighborhood a better place to walk?
Lisa Quinn: One of the simple ways is just getting out and walking. As a voice for promoting walkable communities, Feet First has a lot of tools community groups can take advantage such as walking audits and our new Neighborhood Walking Ambassador Program . http://feetfirst.info/Walkingambassador.
I invite community representatives from Leschi to take advantage of an upcoming free Neighborhood Walking Ambassador training being held on Saturday, June 10th from 10am-12pm in West Seattle designed for engaged, passionate community members interested in leading walks in their neighborhoods. The walks build on neighbor to neighbor action identifying ways to create more walkable communities.
For more information or to register for the Neighborhood Walking Ambassador training, contact Feet First by emailing [email protected] calling 206-652-2310
Leschi CC: You personally endorsed Mayor Mike McGinn in his candidacy as Mayor. What are your hopes for pedestrian issues in Seattle during his term?
Lisa Quinn: During his term, I hope the City of Seattle will take transportation seriously and invest in walkable communities. Mayor McGinn’s proposed Walk, Bike and Ride campaign is a great start to becoming the most walkable city in the nation. Pedestrian improvements are crucial thread to many pieces of transportation. There must be an integrated approach in supporting walkable communities. A few issues I hope his administration will address include:
- Redistribute funding to support high need areas;
- Identify travelsheds to address how people travel and to leverage transportation dollars;
- Reach new citizen groups rather than the usual suspects; and
- Measure projects on their impact on the pedestrian improvements. For instance addressing how the tunnel project will affect the Level of Service for the pedestrian environment has not been discussed, rather only the Level of Service for vehicles. We need to re-prioritize what we measure if we are truly trying to have walkable communities not drivable communities.
Leschi CC: Safe Routes to School—how safe can they be? Why should kids bike or walk to school? Isn’t it dangerous?
Lisa Quinn: Since 2005, Feet First has been working on Safe Routes to School programs locally and statewide. With the upcoming Neighborhood Schools policy in Seattle, schools have an opportunity to embrace active transportation as a legitimate and important way for students to arrive at school.
Every child should have a safe place to walk to school, to the library, to a park. At Feet First we recognize the importance of Education, Encouragement, Engineering, Enforcement and Evaluation to create a safe route to school. Over the last 30 years the number kids walking and biking to school has reduced from 66 percent to 13 percent. In that same time, obesity rates have dramatically increased. To make it safe for students to walk to school, Feet First developed a pedestrian safety curriculum which gives every student in a K-5 environment hands on information on how to be a safe pedestrian.
Leschi CC: What will we see on Wednesday night at the Leschi Community Council meeting?
Lisa Quinn: Join us on Wednesday night for entertainment by students in the Central District as they share with the community their interpretation of public space and walkable communities through videos they personally created. We’ll also show the Safe Routes to School documentary, which highlights three schools and how Feet First has used the program to increase the number of students walking. The videos provide an opportunity for inspiring reflection and conversation, which will support creating walkable communities throughout Seattle.