The Vision

Rendering courtesy by Pam Emerson

Hey Sally, my mom and I are going to bike to the park and we’ll be going right by your house in 10 minutes, want to come?

Oh that sounds great. I’ll bring my brother and his friend too. They have these awesome new skateboards and say skating on our new Neighborhood Greenway is great!

Oh, good! My mom loves the new Neighborhood Greenways too! Before,she used to never bike didn’t feel safe letting me bike either. Only my older brother felt comfortable biking, but he always wears spandex and goes so fast. Now with the new Greenway, my mom got her old bike out of the garage, tuned it up and we bike together all the time!

My dad still drives to work but he says the Greenway hasn’t lengthened his commute at all. Although we live right on the Neighborhood Greenway, he just keeps his eyes out for other,s when he is on the Greenway, and then heads towards other neighborhood streets and connects to the arterial. Plus, he can’t stop talking about how nice it is that our neighborhood streets are once again being used as public space, with slower traffic on some streets and everyone feeling safer to play and commute on our new Neighborhood Greenways. Dad also says local businesses are doing better with more and more people feeling at ease traveling to our local shops.

Yep, even my grandmother now feels safe going to the library. Can you believe she used to have to wait for someone to drive her? Now, she practically goes there everyday and on Wednesdays she takes the Neighborhood Greenway to the Farmer’s Market and buys me peaches! But what she really likes most are the new raingardens! She says not only do they help calm traffic on the Greenways but our waterways are ultimately becoming a lot healthier too! And seeing all the greenery and butterflies on our streets re­ally makes her smile. OK, mom’s calling, I’ve got to go get my helmet on. See you in 10 minutes!

See you on the Neighborhood Greenway!”


What a Neighborhood Greenway means

Neighborhood Greenways ensure a comfortable and enjoyable experience that safely connects community services and amenities. A number of benefits will be seen across the city, neighborhood, street and human scale, such as: efficient traffic and fewer accidents, increase in local economic activity and real estate values, more fitness opportunities leading towards better public health, reductions in CO2 emissions, an increase in native habitat and biodiversity and a more pleasant and beautiful street. A fantastic place to be!

Great neighborhoods bring residents together, to live in close proximity with each other and to develop a sense of community. In many Seattle neighborhoods it is already possible to get to local destinations in a relatively short walking or biking distance, yet people still choose to drive. A Neighborhood Greenway for a community can significantly improve the safety and experience of getting from homes to where people want to go. This is not only a means of transportation but also a way of enjoying and choosing to participate in the neighborhood.

Diagram of Neighborhood Greenway at the street scale

Neighborhood Greenway at the street means that cars, bicyclists and pedestrians share the roadway, all having the equal right to make use of the space. For each street the physical elements used will act and perform differently but, together, vehicular traffic will travel at low speeds or may even choose to take another route. Suddenly, new functions can be introduced to help manage stormwater and encourage bicyclists and pedestrians to use the space in new ways.

4 Responses to “The Vision”

  1. Robin Randels July 28, 2011 at 3:42 am #

    Yes! Let’s put some energy into this worthy cause.

  2. Justin S November 16, 2011 at 4:41 pm #

    What an excellent consideration for maximizing use of existing urban right-of-ways.
    In Vancouver, there are several neighbourhood greenways in place already ( In their case, communities take the lead with the City providing guidance, design, and implementation help. The crux of the partnership is that the community is responsible for maintenance and as such, successful and lasting implementations usually are built on the foundation of strong communities. I think you will see this trend move into other cities as urban density increases via aging/retiring baby boomers moving into more walkable/cycling friendly communities along with a strong presense of young families and Gen Y/Millenials.


  3. Hannah Avrin November 17, 2011 at 10:05 pm #

    To whom it may concern or Blog Administrator:
    My name is Hannah Avrin and I am a student at UW Seattle. I am working on a group project in a Sustainable Transportation class about greenways with three other students. We are creating a table of key neighborhood leaders involved in greenway ideology. What’s most important about this table is the connection of the shared knowledge between different groups. We were wondering if we could have access to post this on your blog, once it is in an attractive visual display. Please email me back at if you have any interest, questions, or concerns! Look forward to hearing from you.
    -Hannah Avrin

  4. Alan Carter January 24, 2012 at 1:09 am #

    I’m curious as to whether the people living on a street which may be considered for becoming a greenway are consulted first as to whether they wish for this to happen, or are they simply presented with “Congratulations! The city has decided that your street is going to become a Greenway! Lucky you!” My personal interest is that I live on East Capitol Hill and the next street below me (25th Ave E.) runs parallel to 23/24th Ave and so, on paper at least, would be of interest. But…its already a one lane street (no way to have two cars pass each other) and adding some new structure to it would make things more difficult. There’s also no where else for people to park except on the street.
    The Greenway sounds like one of those wonderful ideas that may not work on just any street.

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