Between 128th and 145th Streets in the Bitter Lake neighborhood, Linden Ave. North is languishing. There are few sidewalks, curbs or storm drains, and the shoulders are gravel. The asphalt is a mess, and marked crossings are nowhere to be seen. The street in this part of town doesn’t even meet Americans with Disabilities Act standards, and that’s a problem, because hundreds of seniors and people with disabilities live in the neighborhood.
On Monday, Sept. 27, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn released his proposed budget for 2011 and 2012. Within that budget, $13 million over the next two years is allocated to the city’s Walk Bike Ride initiative, which includes dedicated funding for bicycle, pedestrian and transit improvements.
Of the $13 million, up to $2 million would go towards the Linden Ave. North Complete Streets Project over the next two years.
Of great interest to our readers is the fact that the project provides bicyclists with a buffered bike lane — what some would call Seattle’s first-ever cycle track. But Linden Avenue improvements go far beyond bike lanes.
The project’s overall goal is to improve pedestrian safety along Linden Avenue North. Other goals, as stated on the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) website, include keeping the neighborhood thriving and vibrant, as well as improving aesthetics along the corridor.
Neighbors in Bitter Lake gave the project a warm reception at the Aug. 20, 2010 SDOT Open House. Among the 65 attendees were patrons of the Bitter Lake Community Center and residents of the New Haven Apartments, a Senior Housing Assistance Group (SHAG) location. In particular, open-house attendees appreciated improvements — such as enhanced street lighting and the separation of cyclists from parking areas — that increase the safety of all corridor users.
There is no doubt that Complete Streets projects like the one proposed for Linden Avenue North directly benefit cyclists, but projects of this nature also contribute to the safe mobility and accessibility of the elderly, children, people with disabilities and everyone who walks or uses transit.
The Mayor’s budget for 2011 – 2012 totals $3.9 billion. At $13 million, the money dedicated to pedestrians, cyclists and transit riders is an incredibly small piece of the pie. Yet the funding benefits many more people than you might think.
Bitter Lake residents, including those who live in the New Haven Apartments, have been waiting a long time for the city to make Linden Avenue safer. Without the $13 million in dedicated funding, those residents will have to wait even longer.
Want to help shorten the wait?
Write the Seattle City Council or attend the Oct. 26 budget hearing to urge the Council to approve dedicated funding for bikes, feet and transit:
Tuesday, Oct. 26, Seattle City Hall, Council Chambers
2nd floor, 600 Fourth Avenue, 98104
Sign-in at 5 p.m. Hearing starts at 5:30 p.m.