(Photos courtesy Mike Dady)
What started as a discussion on the North Delridge e-mail list quickly turned into something bigger – a bike ride with a visiting City Councilmember, to explore the possibility of a big change for 26th SW, a future as a “greenway” – a street-use concept the city is exploring (as detailed in this recent story from the Seattle Times [WSB partner]). Jake Vanderplas, who first brought the idea forward, CC’d us on a followup letter he sent to the entire City Council, recapping the ride and the concept. We asked for his permission to republish it here – so more people hear about the idea in the early stages:
On Saturday, October 15th, a group of Delridge neighbors met with Sally Bagshaw for a bike ride through the neighborhood to talk about turning 26th ave SW into a neighborhood greenway.
It was a diverse group of neighbors: there were “fast and furious” cyclists who are comfortable mixing with cars on Delridge, there were “willing but wary” cyclists who have rarely strayed beyond the Alki bike path. There were mothers riding with their kids in tow, and 26th ave residents concerned with speeding cars. There were members of the North Delridge Community Council, representatives from a local construction project, and a couple greenway advocates from other neighborhoods around the city. During our two hours of riding and conversation, we discussed a wide range of exciting ideas.
First, some background on 26th ave SW. 26th is a quiet neighborhood street which parallels Delridge Way SW for a mile and a half. As such, it is a well-used alternate route for cyclists and pedestrians who wish to avoid the noise and traffic of Delridge. For the same reason 26th is a well-used route for cyclists, it’s also a tempting alternative for drivers when Delridge backs up, as it often does during commute hours. This turns an otherwise quiet neighborhood street into a high-speed bypass, unsafe for neighbors on foot, bicycle, or skateboard.
26th is a unique street. It connects four different neighborhood parks, passes a community center and a library, and a mile of it is designated as part of the Longfellow Creek Legacy Trail as the trail bypasses the golf course. The city’s golf master plan calls for a future West Seattle Golf Course perimeter trail, of which this section of 26th ave is a major component. In short, 26th is ideally suited for the sort of traffic calming and beautifying associated with a greenway project. It’s already recognized as a multi-use trail by the city, and needs traffic calming and other greenway features to reach its potential.
As we rode the street and discussed our varying visions and ideas for the throughway, a few major themes kept coming up:
Connections: There was a lot of discussion about the need for connections between different neighborhoods: a greenway is more than just a street with calm traffic. It’s a part of an interconnected network which allows pedestrians and cyclists to travel safely between neighborhoods to school, work, and entertainment. 26th has the potential for connections at the north to the West Seattle Bridge trail and Alki trail. It would simply require well-designed bicycle & pedestrian facilities for one block along Andover, and three blocks along Delridge. On the south end, pedestrian connections abound, with a dirt-path link to the Longfellow Creek trail, and a stairway to the Highpoint neighborhood. Bicycle connections are more difficult, but there is a large swath of city-owned property at the 26th Ave dead end which could someday be the site of a trail connecting to 24th ave and Delridge, or even all the way up to Highpoint and the future greenway that neighbors envision on 34th ave. With this improvement, 26th could provide a very safe and pleasant route for cyclists in all of southwest seattle to reach Delridge and Downtown.
Traffic Calming/Street dead-ending: A few of the folks participating were not interested in bicycle connections as much as slowing the traffic in their neighborhood so that their kids can be more safe when walking to local parks. 26th has three traffic-circles already, as well as some speed bumps near the intersection of Brandon. To the north, much more is needed to slow drivers who speed through on their way to and from the bridge. Near the community center, it may even make sense to dead-end the street for automobile traffic, allowing cyclists and pedestrians a safe way through.
Intersection Improvements: The intersection of 26th and Genesee has been a problem for many years. It is often the site of fender-benders, and the fast traffic makes it difficult for kids to cross to the nearby skate-park and community center. There are no cross-walks, and no stop sign for traffic on Genesee. There is a stop sign on 26th, but it is often disregarded by motorists. For the safety of pedestrians and drivers alike, it is vital that something be done with this intersection.
West Seattle Bridge Trail Connections: It has long been noted that the connection for cyclists heading south on Delridge from the West Seattle bridge is unreasonably dangerous. A cyclist heading south on Delridge from the trail is forced to ride several blocks on a poorly-maintained sidewalk on the wrong side of the street, past blind driveways and an intersection where merging drivers are rarely aware of the pedestrian and bicycle cross-traffic. This is a connection used not only by Delridge residents, but by nearly any cyclist traveling from Downtown to locations south of Alaska Junction.
Street Greening: As the closest street to Longfellow Creek, bioswales and other greening efforts on 26th have the potential for a very large environmental benefit. The architects of Cooper at Youngstown, a new multi-use development at 26th and Dakota, plan to install some of these features as part of their project. There are already bioswales on one block of 26th near Greg Davis Park. Similar treatments should be installed along the entire length of the street.
In short, 26th is an ideal candidate for greenway treatment. It provides direct connection between different neighborhoods, paralleling a major arterial, and has the potential to provide even more connections with some improvements at the north and south ends. It connects multiple parks, greenspaces, and recreational facilities. It is already a designated part of the Longfellow Creek nature trail, and will soon be an important link in the golf course perimeter trail. Neighbors would embrace traffic-calming measures which would make the street safer and more pleasant for pedestrians and cyclists of all ages. And we hope that someday, 26th ave SW will be an integral link in a network of greenways which stretches across Seattle.
Thank you for reading this and considering our ideas!
What’s next? For starters, the North Delridge Neighborhood Council will likely have the idea on a future agenda – it meets the second Monday of each month, 6:30, Delridge Library.