As pollsters queried Seattle voters to try to sort out who would win in the city’s hotly contested political races in November, they also asked about some of the ideas behind the policies including one concept once nearly unheard of in neighborhood business districts — should Seattle trade lanes of traffic and parking spaces to create safer, more active, and more walkable streets?
Gordon Padelford, executive director of Seattle Neighborhood Greenways, hopes the big winner from November’s election will take notice of the results.
“Seattle is challenged by having really bold visions while not being able to follow through,” Padelford said.
“Bruce Harrell, when he puts his mind to something and decides it is the right thing to do, he’ll back it.”
According to SNG and the polling work from the Northwest Progressive Institute, more than 80% of Seattle voters support safe walking and biking routes to schools, and more space for outdoor dining and retail to support small businesses. More than 70% support “wider sidewalks and planting strips to give people more room to walk and plant more street trees,” dedicated bus lanes, and separated, dedicated bike lanes.
The online poll surveyed more than 600 likely voters with demographics then weighted based on the city’s 2017 voter population. The reported margin of error was 4.1%.
The poll’s backers came to Capitol Hill’s 11th Ave before Thanksgiving to announce the results and call for more support for initiatives hoped to more quickly transform the city’s sidewalks and streets. The street is home to one of the more under the radar transformations in the city with a full pandemic-era closure to make space for seating for businesses from the nearby Chophouse Row and Café Pettirosso.
“11th Ave have done a pretty good job to create a pretty great space for people,” Padelford said of the location.
Earlier this year, CHS reported on the proliferation of Pike/Pine pandemic patios and an extension of the city’s emergency “Cafe Streets Program” through May of 2022.
Padelford and business owners hope the program could become permanent.
Also part of the COVID-19 response, the Stay Healthy Streets program has helped create what officials say are safer routes for biking and walking including in the Central District where the route passes along 25th S starting near Judkins Park north to E Columbia, E Columbia between 12th and 29th, and a new finger on 22nd Ave stretching north to E Howell.
Padelford thinks the incoming Harrell administration could have what it takes to strengthen those programs and investments in new efforts to address the takeaways from the polling citing the campaign’s talk about “a number of good projects” including investing in sidewalks and the increasing bike use as well as things like the street cafe and healthy streets program.
Harrell may not have used urbanist “15 minute cities” lingo, Padelford said, but he can fight for investments even if it ruffles a few feathers.
Padelford brought up Harrell’s time on the City Council and his part in bringing needed safety improvements to Rainier even in the face of some neighborhood business opposition.
“He got up in front of a gym of maybe 300 people and the PA system had died,” Padelford recalled. “He was facing an angry and grumpy crowd. But he stuck his neck out.”
You can review the full results of the SNG-NWPI poll here.
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