Seattle residents have been given 20 miles of space to freely exercise and bike without the dangers of thru-traffic. Mayor Jenny Durkin announced that these roadways will be permanently closed to vehicles, except to local drivers, even after the stay-at-home order is lifted by Governor Inslee.
The Stay Healthy Streets initiative first began in April as a temporary measure to give residents more space to safely be outside and active during the coronavirus pandemic. As city parks and other recreational areas fill up more than ever, Mayor Durkin made it official in early May that this community program will be permanent.
Seattle Department of Transportation is in the process of replacing the temporary closure signs with permanent ones, giving drivers direction to other routes. However, no through traffic is allowed in these designated areas.
“Some of the responses are going to be long lasting, and we need to continue to build out a transportation system that enables people of all ages and abilities to bike and walk across the city,” said SDOT Director Sam Zimbabwe.
The initiative has been successfully carried out in the following neighborhoods: Aurora-Licton Springs, Ballard, Beacon Hill, Central District, Greenwood, Othello, Rainier Beach, and West Seattle.
There are more streets being considered for closure as well, such as Magnolia Boulevard and Lake Washington Boulevard, but ones that are being used by public transit or where buses park for breaks will not be considered for the Stay Healthy Streets program.
On top of street closures, Mayor Durkin is moving forward in building new infrastructure plans to add more bike routes throughout the city.
“As we’re looking across our budget landscape, we’re doing everything we can to fill that significant deficit we have but we also know there are projects we’ve got to continue and accelerate to invest in the city we want to be when we come out of this,” said Mayor Durkin.
SDOT is also adjusting the time on crosswalks to give pedestrians more time to cross the street and avoid unnecessary grouping.
At some point, about 75% of the 600 crosswalk signals in Seattle will be automatic so people won’t be required to touch them.
Stay Healthy Streets is a community-oriented program designed to help residents abide by social distancing orders during Covid-19. Luckily, the new initiative does not require any major construction projects, only additional cones and signage throughout Seattle.
Mayor Durkin, SDOT and other city officials are working diligently to establish the most proactive measures that will help keep the Seattle community safe and healthy.
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