The Future of Urban Highways

Forming a grassroots movement to re-think Aurora Avenue By Tom Lang The Aurora Reimagined Coalition is a group of activists, community organizations, businesses, and neighborhood groups working to improve the Aurora corridor. Among the founding members are Licton-Haller Greenways, Greenwood-Phinney Greenways, Green Lake and Wallingford Safe Streets, and Ballard-Fremont Greenways. A group of people wearing yellow reflective vests descends a stairway next to a 5 lane highway. In the foreground, a sign reads "Aurora Ave". The Aurora Reimagined Coalition leads a walking audit in Bitter Lake. In the past 10 years, 27 people have been killed biking, walking, jogging, and crossing Aurora. In 2020, during the first part of the Pandemic, when traffic volumes fell across the city, more people died on Aurora than ever before. Whether you live near Aurora, drive down, or walk across it, we can all agree that the street has many problems. Now is the chance to join other community activists to fix Aurora and make it a safer corridor that meets the needs of the 21st century. Learn more at In early 2021 a few local Seattle Neighborhood Greenways advocates first met to talk about the problem of Aurora Ave. Our intention was simple: how do we focus the community's attention on Aurora Avenue North and get elected officials to take action on one of the most dangerous roads in Seattle?  A group of people with jackets and masks stand under a banner that reads "Somos Mujeres Latinas". The Aurora Reimagined Coalition leads a Spanish language visioning workshop. We started small - public outreach events and meetings with transportation officials. We hosted visioning workshops, spoke with reporters, contacted city and state elected leaders, and shared a public survey with the community. We walked nearly every section of the highway and documented the challenges people face when using Aurora outside of a car. We’ve heard the opinions of many neighbors and business owners, talked with impacted and marginalized community groups, and encouraged everyone to imagine how Aurora could be made better. In less than a year the Aurora Reimagined Coalition has grown to a city-wide effort of hundreds to create a safer corridor through North Seattle, with real changes coming as soon as next year. A still from a video called N 130th Street Walk Audit. Text reads "Observing the conditions along Aurora at N 130th Street." Click here to see the video summary of the N 130th Street Walk Audit. In 2022, the Seattle Department of Transportation, with state and local funding, will launch a $2 million study to address Aurora's safety and guide its future. This, along with a recently announced $1 million dollars from King County Metro to study the E-Line, which runs the entire length of Aurora, is a very exciting development. Now is our time to influence the scope and vision of the city’s planning work. The Aurora Reimagined Coalition will be an active part of these studies, elevating the community’s interests and ensuring the agencies deliver tangible results. But Aurora Avenue is more than just a transportation corridor. We recognize that the best transportation plan is a great land use plan. For this reason, we are committed to addressing the neighborhood holistically. Zoning, housing, freight, crime, transit, parks and open space, stormwater management, urban forestry - all these issues are connected and relevant to a reimagined Aurora Avenue North.  Change will come gradually, in fits and starts, and may take 10 years or more of consistent advocacy. Now is the time to question the fundamental nature of our streets and ask ourselves: What is the purpose of the public right of way?  We invite you to join the next Aurora Reimagined Coalition meeting and help improve one of the most dangerous streets in Seattle. Learn more at A logo for the Aurora Reimagined Coalition. Text reads "99 Problems", for Hwy 99.