On a chilly Saturday morning, October 15th, a group of cyclists and interested people gathered along with Council Member Sally Bagshaw to discuss the idea of making 26th Ave SW, just west of SW Delridge Way, into a bicycle Greenway.
What is a Greenway? Neighborhood Greenways are dedicated residential streets with low traffic volume and traffic speeds. The street is an extended connection between parks or schools or neighborhood businesses. The connection provides a quieter, slower paced place where bicycles, pedestrians and neighbors’ safety are given priority.
A Greenway along this portion of 26th, even though fairly short at just under 2 miles long, would be welcomed by the community. 26th is used by cyclists to avoid Delridge, and drivers use it as a cut-through to avoid Delridge as well – creating a higher speed roadway at times than it’s designed for, for families heading to the four parks linked by 26th – including the new skate park. 26th is also already a part of the Longfellow Creek Legacy Trail and is planned as a link in the West Seattle Golf Course Trail.
Creating a Greenway would hopefully create a slower speed street, add sidewalks, add other traffic calming features such as speed bumps and improve intersections such as the problematic, busy intersection of 26th and Gennessee.
The main concern most attendees had as everyone rode 26th north to the end, past SW Juneau St and then to the lower West Seattle Bridge at the north end, was the importance of connections. At the south end there are currently no bike amenities connecting to the proposed Greenway. Cyclists would have to climb up steep hills and staircases to access High Point and to continue north cyclists would have to connect to Delridge, a notoriously difficult street to ride by even experienced cyclists standards, let alone for families and less experienced riders - and is what is partially driving this Greenway proposal in the first place. The north end connects to a rather haphazardly signed bike route, lacking any bike lanes or even miserly Sharrows, that accesses the lower West Seattle bridge and involves using the confusing (for cyclists) and busy intersection of SW Andover and Delridge and then figuring out that one has to use the sidewalk to travel to/from the bridge in both directions; or ride on the street that turns into a de-facto high speed motorist onramp to the West Seattle Bridge.
Council Member Bagshaw seems to understand just how important connections to the Greenway are. The City Council, Southwest Seattle community groups, cyclists, pedestrians, park users and drivers should all put pressure on SDOT to not only make 26th a Greenway, but to improve connections to it and from it. This seems to be important, several commenters on Seattle Bike Blog also stress the issue of connections. How will cyclists join the areas north/south of the “Greenway” that have little to no infrastructure whatsoever? Will that lack mean a lack of riders on the Greenway? What will draw cyclists to the Greenway? Connections cannot be ignored, and that’s what I, and many cyclists, see as a lack in the Seattle bikeway ‘network’ that exists currently, especially in the south end, and what needs to be included in the Greenway planning. Should another route, such as 21st Ave SW with direct connections to the lower West Seattle Bridge and locations further north? The Greenway plan will be either DOA or delayed for years however, if Proposition 1 does not pass.