Tag Walkability

Posts: 3

Home Zone Pilot Moves Forward

Significant progress has been made since we originally introduced the Licton Spring's Home Zone Pilot back in August. Just recently the City passed $350K in funding for Home Zone Pilots (the Licton Springs pilot being the first such in North Seattle), following an article about the project on Crosscut. If all goes well, some of this funding will help to compliment the Small Sparks grant the community was awarded for the project as well as funding received from Seattle Neighborhood Greenways. All of which, was accomplished after the community gave valuable input, shaping what such a project would look like in Licton Springs.

After discussion with the community and collection of initial traffic counts, we've coalesced on some simple initial steps:

  • Intersection / Street Art
  • Planters placed along the roads without sidewalks
  • Pedestrian Wayfinding / newsletter signs
  • A professionally performed traffic study

Despite the progress that has been made - walking around the neighborhood, for the most part, everything still looks untouched. While the community has identified many locations that they believe would be suitable for street art, it is not feasible to paint the street during Seattle's rainy season, leaving such work to wait for next year. And, while there have been some areas identified as potentially suitable for planters, this work will not begin until permits are secured and impacted households are contacted and give their direct approval.

Meanwhile, there is at least one physical reflection of the project, as the first prototype wayfinding sign was installed at the corner of N 88th and Burke Ave N right before Halloween:

Prototype wayfinding sign

The sign was constructed by volunteers using basic material and equipment:

  • A standard pre-treated 4 x 4 inch x 8 feet post.
  • Outdoor & weatherproof resilience paint from the Licton Spring's Sherwin Williams (6797 Jay Blue, 6740 Kilkenny, & 7077 Original White)
  • 2 inch and 1 inch white vinyl letters
  • 2 1/2 x 4 x 8 Hemlock Boards cut into 2 foot sections (for the direction signs)

During the construction of the sign, which costs well under $200 to build, significant lessons were learned that will be applied to any future wayfinding signs:

  • The directions were painted on one side of each direction sign, with a solid color on the other, this can lead to the wayfinding sign seeming blank from some angles. Future signs will be 4 inches longer and have the locations printed on both sides.
  • Some of the direction wood pieces split slightly where they were attached to the main post. Having the directions not use the 4 inches where the connection needs to be made, as well as making pilot holes into the connection points, should remedy this issue for future signs.
  • Over-sized rubber bands are an amazing tool to line up letters.
  • Stencils tend to bleed, and even if they don't they have an amateur appearance. Vinyl letters are cheap, easy, and if done right, resilient.
  • A clear coat, such as Polyurethane, should be applied after letters are placed to ensure they stay in place and offer extra protection against the elements.
  • These really are fun to make!

Finally, to both this wayfinding sign and future ones, we will be adding a brochure box where community members will always be able to physically pick up a community newsletter and know about upcoming events and happenings in the neighborhood.

Want a wayfinding sign in your lawn strip?

As part of the Home Zone project, there is an opportunity to get a wayfinding sign installed on your lawn strip! If you are interested, please sign up here. This opportunity is available to any homeowner within Licton Springs.

Want to help out?

Want to help move the project forward? Have artistic ability or are willing to help build planter boxes or signs? Willing to reach out to neighbors or host a meeting? Please sign up here!

What's next?

Over the next few months expect to see the first prototype planter/traffic calming measure installed. Expect opportunities to provide feedback on the initial traffic calming measures, as well as initially proposed street art. Then as, weather permits, expect street art painting to begin.

What do you think about the Home Zone project? Have any feedback on the initial wayfinding sign? We'd love to hear from you in the comments below!

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Home Zone Meeting Gathers Valuable Community Input

Yesterday around 50 Licton Springs neighbors came together to provide input for the upcoming Home Zone pilot that targets the Southeast corner of Licton Springs.

Home Zone meeting draws in community

After a brief introduction about the desire of the pilot and the inherent limitations due to a small budget size, neighbors split up into groups to separately tackle traffic calming, community art, and wayfinding.

During the meeting the following existing areas of concern were identified:

  1. Significant and fast cut-through traffic through both Meridian and Corliss which, combined with lack of sidewalks, causes an impediment to pedestrian activity.
  2. Fast traffic is coming down the hill from 90th and Meridian to 90th and Burke. This area already has a lot of pedestrian activity, but speed combined with the lack of a safe intersection has already led to a collision and many near collisions with both pedestrians and other vehicles.
  3. Non-ideal crossing conditions at 90th and Wallingford. A child who attended the meeting shared their story of near collision occurring just a few days prior. Other areas near the school have flashing pedestrian signs, but this intersection lacks them. Proposal being explained

Proposal being explained

During the meeting, there was also concern expressed around a previous proposal to close Meridian off at 92nd with a "Do Not Enter" sign. Much of the concern centered around the fact that closing off the street could move the traffic onto other roads, in particular, Corliss, while not addressing walkability. This lined up well with much of the Anonymous feedback we received from our online survey:

  1. I don't understand the problem this is fixing. Closing Meridian does nothing for the 90th Street Burke hill, through which half the neighborhood drains out, will make the backup at 92nd & College worse, while causing daily irritation and delay for the other half of the neighborhood in getting home (or causing them to speed down the hill on 90th north of Meridian, too). Traffic calming on the Burke hill I'm all in favor of, but don't understand the benefit for the rest.

  2. With regard to the current proposal, at 92nd and Meridian I would prefer that it be a "local access only" sign instead of a one-way street / do not enter sign. I like the idea for the street planters, stop signs, speed bump at 90th and burke, and the street art at 88th and burke.

  3. The North Greenwood traffic calming maze is a nightmare. What do the residents over there think about having to drive many more blocks to get where they want or the increased east/west traffic down their formerly quiet residential streets? So I am skeptical about the proposed Home Pilot Program. The plan that the people living at the north end of Meridian to get home from College Way now, instead of a left turn, one block, right turn and into driveway, will be making a right turn, one block, stop, left turn 2 blocks, stop, left turn 2 blocks stop, left turn, weave among planters and finally home. Also, since I live on Corliss, I'm not happy at the prospect of increased traffic from cars trying to get to Meridian from the East. There are a LOT of pedestrians, (students, elderly, young families, dog walkers) that use our sidewalk-less street. I plan to make a count on a weekday to corroborate that statement. Are not the proposals to close off access to 85th at Meridian and put a stop sign at 90th sufficient to really cut down traffic volumes and speed? A Local Access Only sign at 92nd and Corliss is fairly meaningless. I hope you put the walking sign at the corner of the school grounds and not in someone's front yard. The speed bump crosswalk at N. 90th and Burke is fine if it is something the people in the houses at that corner feel is necessary. It is a residential intersection at the bottom of a steep hill with parked cars often making progress to Wallingford slow anyway. Cars SHOULD be crawling there. As for the proposed art, no comment until I see what and where.

  4. I like many of the ideas (stop signs and planters on Meridian Ave N), with the exception of blocking southbound access to Meridian Ave N at N 92nd street. The reason for not preferring this option is that in wintertime during snow conditions southbound access provides a safer route home (avoiding steep hills) and that blocking access would lengthen the drive through residential neighborhoods to get to my home. My observation is that most of the problem with fast cars driving through the neighborhood in the morning is due to northbound cars (not southbound cars). Thanks for your consideration.

After discussion, the community seemed to coalesce around the idea of working to limit speed on both Meridian and Corliss with inexpensive traffic calming measures, rather than entirely block access.

Many ideas were brought up to increase the walkability of the area including:

  • Intersection art at 90th and Burke Ave N. The hope is that this would clearly mark the intersection encouraging vehicles to slow down and yield for pedestrians.
  • Wayfinding signs in various forms throughout the neighborhood. Wayfinding signs
  • Traffic calming measures, such as strategically placed planters and/or chicanes, evenly applied on both Meridian and Corliss.
  • Setting up a weekly play street on one of the unsidewalked blocks.
  • Pedestrian activated crosswalk on 90th and Wallingford.

With the immediate next steps focused on art and wayfinding as traffic calming requires permit approval from SDOT and will take more time to put in place.

There is still plenty of time to provide feedback or get involved! To do so take the survey or email [email protected]. You can also keep up with the latest on the home zone at bit.ly/walkzone which I'll do my best to update as more input is gathered and proposals are modified or implemented.

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Licton Springs chosen for Home Zone pilot

We're excited to announce that Seattle Neighborhood Greenways has selected the southeastern corner of Licton Springs for its pioneering home zone pilot in North Seattle! Home Zones represent an innovative and inexpensive approach to increasing walkability, safety, and the sense of community in neighborhoods that lack full sidewalk coverage. The pilot will cover the area north of 85TH, south of 92ND, west of I5 and east of Wallingford Ave. N Below is a map of the area, as well as some of the ideas that have already been proposed for the pilot:

This area was chosen, in particular, because it represents a small well-defined area in which to prove out the concept. If the pilot is successful: it could be expanded both to other areas in Licton Springs and throughout greater North Seattle.

Why are home zones something to get excited about?

It is known by many that Seattle has a sidewalk, or rather lack thereof, problem. As shown in this map prepared by SDOT in 2015, over a quarter of Seattle is laking sidewalk.

Sidewalk Coverage

Most of the need is concentrated in North Seattle, predominantly north of N 85th. And while Licton Springs is lucky to have the best sidewalk coverage of any neighborhood this far North, it still has less sidewalk coverage than any of the communities immediately to the south of it.

There's an often repeated claim that Seattle promised all these areas sidewalk when they were annexed so many decades ago. And, while I haven't definitively been able to determine if that claim is fact or folklore, the city is slowly keeping that promise. The only problem: starting at around $500K+ per a single block, sidewalks are expensive. At the current rate of expenditure, it will take over 300 years for all of Seattle to have sidewalks.

What are Home Zones and how do they aim to solve this problem?

A Home Zone is an area that is protected from lots of fast moving traffic so that streets are safe enough to walk on. Home Zones keep local access for residents, emergency access, and deliveries while discouraging cut-through traffic. Home Zones can use a variety of street improvements to accomplish this but focus on improvements that have the best “bang for our buck” recognizing Seattle’s pedestrian budget is stretched very thin.

Home Zones are meant to:

  1. Make it safe and comfortable for people of all ages and abilities to walk in a neighborhood
  2. Reduce cut-through traffic and speeding by keeping this traffic on the arterials (not increasing traffic on other neighborhood streets), while allowing neighbors to get to their homes, emergency access, deliveries, etc.
  3. Enhance the quality of life for neighbors and strengthen our community (one way to do this is by integrating community art).

In essence: Home Zones aim to offer a drastically less expensive alternative to improve the walkability of currently unsidewalked streets, while also achieving a greater and more cohesive sense of community than can be made with sidewalks alone.

Can I donate to the effort?

Seattle Neighborhood Greenways which is a local nonprofit working to make every neighborhood a great place to walk, bike, and live, is currently supporting this project with staff time and resources. You can donate to help make this a reality at seattlegreenways.org. Or contact [email protected] for more information.

What happens next? How can I get involved?

If you live in or near the pilot area or want to give input on the very first North Seattle home zone, you can find more information about the details of this project here. Additionally, we encourage you to fill out the survey here or email us at [email protected] to be kept up to date on the project.

The first public in-person meeting to provide feedback will be held at the Meridian Health Center (10521 Meridian Ave) starting at 6:30 PM September 13th. If able, please register your intention to attend the meeting on Seattle Greenways home zone website.

We hope to see you there!

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