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‘CROWDED PARKS LEAD TO CLOSED PARKS’ — Seattle reopens busiest parks, to add 15 miles of ‘Stay Healthy’ streets for walking, running, and biking

Seattle’s busiest green spaces including Capitol Hill’s Cal Anderson Park and Volunteer Park will be open to visitors this weekend following an Easter weekend shutdown due to overcrowding during the COVID-19 distancing restrictions. Meanwhile, the weekend will bring the debut in West Seattle and the Central District of a new effort to give more people more room to move across Seattle with the first Stay Healthy Streets welcoming walkers, runners, and bikers.

Mayor Jenny Durkan says the decision to allow use of Cal Anderson and the city’s other major parks comes with expectations.

“The Governor’s order is Stay Home – not stay out. The social distancing necessary to keep us healthy will mean a new normal for Seattle’s parks, farmers markets, and public amenities,” she said. “Stay home, but if you need to exercise or go to get groceries at the farmers market, please no crowds, no gatherings, and keep it moving.”

The city says staff will be “monitoring in real time” and said it is “prepared to close parks if there are too many gatherings or too many people.”

  • Stay Home. If you need to leave the house, visit your neighborhood park.
  • Keep it Moving. Keep walking, running, rolling or biking. That means no picnics, no BBQs, no sports, no gatherings at our parks.
  • Visit at Off Peak. Visit parks, greenways and farmers markets at off peak hours.
  • Crowded Spaces will mean Closed Spaces. If you see a crowd, go somewhere else.

Last weekend, Seattle shut down its most popular parks citing “continued gathering” as officials worried about the sunny holiday weekend drawing even more activity to the heavily used parks. A light presence of parks staff and signage informed people of the closures but many chose to walk through and use the parks despite the closures. Meanwhile, Seattle Police have been reluctant to respond to complaints about improper distancing.

Many parks resources and parking areas will remain closed to encourage people to stay closer to home.

To give Seattleites more room to get outside and spread out, the city is also rolling out new Stay Healthy Streets modeled on programs already in place in areas like Oakland, California to prioritize the use of selected neighborhood roadways for pedestrians, joggers, and bicyclists.

Seattle’s first Stay Health Streets can be found in West Seattle and the Central District:

Portions of neighborhood greenways along 25th Ave S and 34th Ave SW/SW Graham and Holly St/High Point Dr SW are opening to people living in the neighborhood for walking, rolling, and biking.

“To support safe social distancing while exercising or walking, rolling, biking to grocery stores or food pick-up, we’re converting portions of existing neighborhood greenways into Stay Healthy Streets over the next few weeks,” SDOT director Sam Zimbabwe said. “We hope the effort keeps people moving and enjoying the spring weather during this tough time.”

SDOT says it hopes to convert approximately 15 miles to Stay Healthy Streets in the coming weeks. Seattle has 196 miles total of bike lanes, trails, and neighborhood greenways, according to the announcement.

“People with destinations along Stay Healthy Streets – like residents, essential workers, emergency service providers, delivery providers, and garbage and recycling collectors will continue to have vehicle access,” the city promises.

Car-free streets, meanwhile, will take a step backward on Capitol Hill. In Volunteer Park, the road through the park has been reopened though the park remains on the city’s no parking list.

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2 thoughts on “‘CROWDED PARKS LEAD TO CLOSED PARKS’ — Seattle reopens busiest parks, to add 15 miles of ‘Stay Healthy’ streets for walking, running, and biking

  1. This is somewhat baffling to me why the city would prioritize open streets in a lower density, primarily residential neighborhood with low-traffic streets, vs. places like Belltown or downtown.

    Although when it comes to safe streets, I guess the city has traditionally done what’s easy rather than what’s most most needed or highest impact.

    (But, hey, I haven’t left my downtown Seattle apartment in 3 weeks ’cause you can’t socially distance on the sidewalks — so I would have no idea.)

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