Central Seattle Greenways looking for family-friendly routes — How about a Melrose Promenade?

The city plans to build 11 miles of family-friend walking and biking routes every year, and Central Seattle Greenways (CSG) wants to make sure the central neighborhoods are not left behind.

About 40 people squished into Central Cinema February 9 for the first CSG meeting. Residents from Capitol Hill and the greater Central District neighborhoods put their heads together to come up with some potential family-friendly walking and biking route ideas and discussed ways to promote them.


Neighborhood greenways are basically low-traffic neighborhood streets that are designed to prioritize walking and biking as a way to connect homes and important neighborhood destinations. They include traffic calming to slow motor vehicle traffic and safe crossings at busy streets so that walking and biking is easy, safe and efficient.

The Seattle Times created an interactive map showing bicycle-involved collisions between 2007 and 2011. Though bicycling has increased significantly since 2007, the number of collisions has stayed constant. This could mean that the more people bicycling, the safer it becomes. Perhaps not surprising, the map shows that the Capitol Hill streets with the most collisions are Pike, Pine, Broadway and 12th Ave.

360 image of February 6 meeting by Adam Parast

Central Seattle Greenways (which, full disclosure, I am part of) has the goal of providing routes for walking and biking that are further away from heavy car traffic. The group is now working to apply for a small Neighborhood Matching Fund grant, which can provide up to $20,000 to selected projects. Grant applications are due March 12, so a lot of work needs to get done before then.

To keep updated on those meetings and participate in other planning discussions, you can join the Google Group email list. Central Seattle Greenways also has a website, Facebook and Twitter.

From the Melrose Promenade Facebook page

The group is not starting completely from scratch on Capitol Hill. Mike Kent of the Capitol Hill Community Council presented planning work already under way for Melrose Ave. The Melrose Promenade would redesign the road, particularly north of Denny, so that it is more comfortable for walking and enjoying the excellent views. CSG embraced the plans, and general consensus was that the group should do whatever it can to move the plan forward.

To get an idea of what routes might work as neighborhood greenways, people split into three groups. Each group had a big map on the table, and people highlighted important neighborhood destinations — such as schools, big transit stops (present and future), parks, churches and commercial centers. They then drew on the maps to highlight neighborhood streets that could connect these destinations (see below).

Several Capitol Hill route needs became clear. There are several good options for an east-west route somewhere between Madison and Volunteer Park and good options for a long north-south route connecting Volunteer and Judkins Parks. All groups agreed that all of Federal Ave would be a good option, though it needs to be repaved (which could be costly).

In the CD, there was strong support for a route on Columbia Street connecting the First Hill Streetcar stop at Swedish First Hill to Madrona — stopping by Seattle U, Swedish Cherry Hill, Garfield and the Cherry Street commercial areas along the way. People also supported routes parallel to 34th Ave in Madrona and routes to help connect Montlake with the Hill and Madison Valley, to name a few.

The next step is to decide the best grant ideas. $20,000 is not really enough money to build a route (which cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $150,000/mile). However, it could be enough for design planning (a requirement for the Melrose Green Street project, for example).

Or it could be an opportunity to bring more people in the community together. One idea discussed would be a big cross-neighborhood street party, where a loop of neighborhood streets is turned into a big park for a few hours one weekend day. Organizations and individuals can host parties, music, exercise classes, food, etc along the way. Car traffic is limited, and police or volunteers are on hand to help people cross busy streets. Similar ciclovia-style events have been increasingly popular around the world (and, in fact, the idea has origins right here in Seattle with Lake Washington’s Bicycle Sundays).

The next two meetings will be about grant planning (6:30 p.m. February 27, location TBA) and a route-scouting neighborhood bike ride (2 p.m. March 4, meet at the Judkins Park Tennis Courts).

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10 thoughts on “Central Seattle Greenways looking for family-friendly routes — How about a Melrose Promenade?

  1. The stretch of Melrose south of Belmont Ave E is a no-man’s land with homeless camps, lots of litter, and a very unsafe feel, so “gentrifying” it is a great idea.

    It will be interesting to see the reaction of Federal Ave E homeowners if that street becomes a real possibility. That is one of the most affluent areas in Seattle and the people who live there are used to getting what they want. My guess is most of them will oppose their street becoming a “greenway.”

  2. When you mention ‘gentrifying’ what does that mean? And not the dictionary version. In my view that word has so many meanings, one needs to be careful how it is used. It could be positive or negative for some…more negative in my opinion.

  3. Totally applaud the effort.

    I’d suggest looking at connecting pockets of ecosystem, though. The routes don’t have to be linear and perfectly graded. Be like Olmsted. Don’t give in to R. H. Thomson syndrome.

    Specifically — I walked with friends from Imperial Lanes to Capitol Hill, almost entirely in parks. Starting at JPresby (Japanese Presbyterian Church), you past NAAM (Northwest African American Museum), through Jimi Hendrix Park, take the I-90 trail to Judkins Park, past Washington Middle School [20th Ave needs greenway treatment], past Vocational Institute, through Lavizzo Park, through Pratt Park, [Washington St needs greenway treatment], through the unlisted Japanese park, up 15th to Seattle U campus [15th or 14th could use greenway treatment], through Seattle U campus out 11th.

    We stopped at Fish Fry to counteract the effects of the walk, but the greenway should continue on Cal Anderson park [10th or 11th could use greenway treatment], and then on 10th or 11th or Federal as greenway to Volunteer Park, and you are done with a massive, massive greenway that links microclimates in various parks.

    The bugs and birds will be very happy, assuming we have continuous canopy. They don’t recognize the grid we’ve built.

  4. Regarding your Federal comment, if done right, these greenways will hopefully build a reputation that will have neighbors clamoring for them. The benefits of calm, inviting streets that are so safe even kids can play in seems like an easy sell.

  5. Happy to see our Hill, and other central neighborhoods, get behind this effort. One thing that would be really useful on the Hill, and was part of the Neighborhood Plan adopted years ago (and the now defunct Capitol Hill Stewardship Committee), was to try and connect the Broadway/15th(/possibly to 19th?) business/commercial districts. Something that would make it easier, safer and more appealing to walk/bike from one center to another would be a huge benefit to the Hill. While perhaps not a full-on greenway, a “micro-greenway” connecting the East-West commercial centers on the Hill would a great beginning project.

  6. Not true! I ride with my kid around capitol hill – where we live – all the time and wish it was safe enough for him to ride with me in the street instead of on the sidewalk. Even volunteer park is full of cars.

  7. I would love to see a greenway on a repaved Federal Way. Combined with the upcoming Broadway cycletrack it would give us a 3 mile hassle free route through the middle of the city.

  8. ej, my choice of the word “gentrifying” was not a good one…what I meant was to change that stretch of Melrose to make it safer and a place people would actually use. Now, it’s just a wasteland. But I should add that I fully support “gentrifying” our neighborhood in general(for me, it’s a positive word)….I don’t want Capitol Hill to be another Madison Park, but I’m glad we are getting away from some of the sleaziness of the past few decades.

    By the way, it would cost a fortune to repave Federal…the streets there are in very bad shape and would have to be totally redone.