Mayor Mike McGinn, with the ceremonial giant scissors, cuts the ribbon marking the official opening of the Ballard Greenway – and unleashing a horde of bicycling children.
Ceremonial snip marks beginning, not end, for Ballard greenways
When Mayor Mike McGinn cut the ribbon with a classic pair of giant scissors to celebrate the grand opening of the Ballard Greenway on NW 58th St on Saturday, Sept. 7, the snip marked the beginning, not the end.
“The purpose is not to have just two pretty miles here,” said Ballard Greenway member Jennifer Litowski, a Ballard resident of over six years. “You see the value in (the greenways) when they are all linked together.”
Councilmember Sally Bagshaw, who chairs the Parks and Neighborhoods Committee, concurred. “I want to see this integrated network within the next four years.”
The Ballard Greenway comes after much conversation, scouting, planning, designing and debate. It modifies residential roads along NW 58th St from 4th Ave NW to 32nd Ave NW and then down to Seaview Ave NW.
The greenway utilizes speed bumps, curb ramps, signs, sharrows and more to calm traffic and make the roads more accessible for bicyclists.
While the city supported the effort, the greenway likely would have never happened if it wasn’t for the community interest stirred by the Ballard Greenway group – a group of residents who had an interest in making streets safer and more accessible for bicyclists and pedestrians alike.
Bagshaw said there are now over 20 such groups in various neighborhoods around the city also sparking an interest in their own greenway.
During community discussions in the past, some residents protested to the greenway, saying that it would bring a stream of bicyclists through their neighborhood. Others said it made the streets safer for families and children. People at the grand opening said that already cars were driving slower.
A few people have also raised the bicycles vs. cars trope. During his short announcement at the greenway grand opening, the bicycle-friendly McGinn poked fun at the claim, especially relevant considering that Ballard is home to the never-not-provocative “Missing Link” debate.
“We all know that sometimes biking is a little controversial in this city, he said. “Sometimes!”
But, he said, in the end this was about having people and especially children having safe ways to their destination, no matter the mode of transportation
In Ballard, there are already plans in the works to extend the neighborhood greenway, forming what is called a “Ballard Box.” The Ballard Box would connect the 58th route with Loyal Heights and Crown Hill, using north/south routes on either end and having an east/west route on top, around – though very likely not on – NW 85th St.
Ballard Greenway member Chris Saleeba said that he hoped Ballard, which is one of the first neighborhoods to complete a greenway, could demonstrate the possibilities and opportunities to the rest of the city.
“I think it’s a great first step to demonstrate what a safe street is, for all users, whether walking or bicycling,” Saleeba said. “The end goal is to have streets like this all over the city.”
Follow Ballard News-Tribune on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/ballardnewstrib
And Twitter at http://twitter.com/ballardnewstrib
Photo gallery for this story