Seattle Neighborhood Greenways throws in the towel
- April 1, 2015
Gordon Padelford April 1, 2015 Seattle Neighborhood Greenways has grown from a scrappy group of six neighbors who met in a church basement in 2011, to an advocacy powerhouse with 20 groups and hundreds of volunteers who influence how millions of dollars are invested in safe street improvements. But, we have decided it is time to throw in the towel. "It was a difficult decision" says Cathy Tuttle the Executive Director of Seattle Neighborhood Greenways, "But my garden has really been suffering because I've been spending so much time on our three citywide priorities; advocating for Complete Streets, Vision Zero, and a progressive transportation levy." Donald Brubeck from West Seattle Bike Connections said they had decided to quit advocating for safe crossings of 35th Ave SW and a parallel greenway and instead open a burrito stand. "The burrito traffic light video we made went viral, so we thought we should build on that momentum. Everyone likes burritos." Rainier Valley Greenways leaders realized it was time to give up when they heard making Rainier Ave South safe for everyone would cause up to thirty seconds of delay per mile to prevent hundreds of injuries and deaths: "I mean who has an extra 30 seconds? What's next - asking us to stop at crosswalks for the elderly?" Lionel Job from Montlake Greenways decided it was time to just let WSDOT build the highway without pesky neighbors asking for the SR-520 project to include safe walking and biking routes. "Being able to walk to the light rail station or bike to the UW is important, but think how much cooler the highway interchange will look without sidewalks and trails cluttering up the design." Mark Ostrow, who has been a champion in the past for family friendly standards, says the priority to upgrade the existing Wallingford Greenway doesn't make sense anymore. "I've been watching a lot of TV lately, and there's this one infomercial that I think says it best: set it and forget it!" Lee Bruch, the leader of Licton-Haller Greenways, says instead of spending their time advocating for safe routes for the 1,700 students who will be attending the Wilson Pacific School they are going to advocate for jetpacks. "It's 2015 for heaven's sake, why don't we have jetpacks yet?" said Lee. Ellen Buztel says Ballard Greenways decided to change tactics. Instead of advocating to make 6th Ave NW, including its NW Market Street intersection, safe enough for children to get to school "we are going to build on Ballard's maritime heritage and look at digging a canal along 6th Ave NW for kids to row to school." Catherine Hennings from Lake Union Greenways is no longer advocating for Thomas St and the Lake to Bay Loop to be safe for all people to walk and bike: "Amazon is developing a fleet of drones, so I see no reason to invest in E-W connectivity for groundlings. It's not like there is any other development happening in the neighborhood." "In the end," said Gordon Padelford, SNG's Neighborhood Support Coordinator, "our amazing volunteer leaders really shape the direction of this organization, and we heard from them loud and clear that people who want to walk across the street safely should really just suck it up, and sprint across wearing flashing neon clothing. Survival of the fittest seems like a much catchier mantra than safety for people of all ages and abilities."