By Andrew Gospe, UW News Lab
Yesterday afternoon, a group of about 15 Ballard residents walked and talked about safety concerns and a proposed greenway installation.
The organized walk, held Aug. 5, followed NW 58th Street between 4th Ave NW and 24th Ave NW. Members of Ballard Greenways, who organized the walk, took questions as they stopped at major arterials like 8th Ave NW and 15th Ave NW.
The greenway installation will include traffic-slowing measures such as speed bumps. In addition, pavement markings will alert motorists to pedestrians and cyclists, and increased signage and a median island will enhance safety at the crosswalk at 24th Ave NW.
Because the streets are narrow, the greenway will use shared-lane markings called “sharrows”instead of bike lanes. Trees and shrubs are not part of this plan; the term “greenway” refers to optimizing the street for non-car (or “green”) transportation.
“We wanted to talk to more people in the neighborhood, share our concepts, hear they’re safe walking and bicycling through the neighborhood, and hear their concerns for where there are problems,” said Jennifer Litowski, founder of Ballard Greenways.
A concern for Mike Synder, who lives near the intersection of NW 58th Street and 20th Ave NW, was the safety of his neighbors. Synder said that because the intersection lacks a crosswalk, he often sees his elderly neighbors walk two blocks out of their way to cross 20th Avenue.
Aaron Solorzano, who moved to Ballard in June with his wife and young son, attended the walk to show his support for the project. He said the greenway will prove useful once his son is old enough to attend elementary school.
“We think that this is a priority for this community,” he said, “because it enables a safe route for pedestrians, for cyclists, for people with mobility issues, for drivers even, because then drivers would have the expectation that this is a corridor used by more than just cars.”
Work on the greenway is set to begin this fall. Its projected cost is $320,000, funded through a 2006 transportation levy.
Litowski said that the Seattle Department of Transportation is finalizing the project’s design, and that, after a well-attended community meeting on July 26, her organization has received a great deal of input from locals.
“There’s been a lot of people looking at [the Ballard Greenways] Facebook page and interest and inquiries,” she said. “It’s a continual process, and we’re happy to continue reaching out and talking to more people.”
Andrew Gospe is a student in the University of Washington Department of Communication News Laboratory.