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A tale of two blocks

In Seattle, on a small stretch of 14th Ave NW, a group of local citizens campaigned for, and got, a reworking of a two-block stretch.

Before

Before, 14th was a wide street, with two lanes of travel, parking on both sides, and a central strip of additional parking.

Car-centric 14th Ave NW

Cars travel fast along this road, as a shortcut to the busier 15th Ave NW the next block over. You’ll see the occasional bike going down it, but it’s a little dicey with high speeds, impatient traffic, the door zone, and plenty of hazards. Pedestrians are rare.

After

Now, for a two block stretch, the street has been reworked and the results are amazing.

Green space 14th Ave NW

There are still two travel lanes for cars, but all the on-street parking has been removed and replaced with a wide sidewalk, a bioswale, and plenty of green grass. Bikes and pedestrians are separated from cars with a wide margin.

The biggest surprise has been the impact on social activity in the area. Most days there are kids playing in the green space, from toddlers as young as two, to teenagers practicing stunts on their razor scooters. Parents meet and chat as their kids make instant friends, invent games, and run around like crazy. It’s been an instant hit in getting people to connect. The results could not have been more positive, and it looks beautiful in comparison. I hope they extend this scheme to the rest of 14th.

We need more of this. Let’s get rid of state-sponsored car littering (free parking), and make our streets places for people again.

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