By Joe Veyera
Students attending Whitman Middle School next year will have a safer route to get to class with the opening of a new biking and walking corridor.
Seattle City Councilmember Mike O’Brien was on hand on Wednesday morning for the unveiling of the new “Wildcat Way,” a trail that connects 17th Avenue Northwest to Whitman, providing a safer alternative to pedestrians traveling to and from the school that would have previously taken the busier 15th Avenue Northwest.
Alongside O’Brien was parent Amy Brockhaus, Shannon Koller from the Cascade Bicycle Club & Ballard District Council, the Seattle Fire Department, The Seattle Channel, and Selena Carsiotis from Crown Hill/Ballard Greenways, who launched the pathway project and organized the event.
The opening of the path is the culmination of several years of work by neighborhood groups. In 2012, Sidewalks for West Crown Hill and the Crown Hill Neighborhood Association submitted a Neighborhood Park and Street Fund (NPSF) application to improve pedestrian safety for neighborhood students to get to school. The project was prioritized by the Ballard District Council and the funds were allotted to pave a gravel pedestrian path to extend 17th Avenue Northwest and to connect Northwest 89th Street and Northwest 90th Street.
Next year, the Cascade Bicycle Club will organize bike trains to Whitman using this path.
According to the Crown Hill Neighborhood Association, more pedestrian and biking improvements are in the works, with efforts currently underway to secure funding to complete a greenway on 17th Avenue Northwest from Northwest 58th Street to Northwest 90th Street. That greenway would use the pathway to the play fields and Whitman Middle School. Another NPSF proposal is being reviewed for funding to put a pedestrian activated signal at 17th Avenue Northwest and Northwest 85th Street to allow safer street crossings.
Photo Courtesy of Seattle Neighborhood Greenways