What is a Greenway

Greenways are slow, low-traffic streets connecting parks, libraries, schools, and businesses for pedestrians and bicyclists who need safe and comfortable routes through the City.

Continuous and clearly marked routes on a low-volume street with a low speed limit helps pedestrians and cyclists find their way and directs drivers to go slow and yield right-of-way.

Wayfaring and traffic signs inform all users what to expect: pedestrians and cyclists can see where the “path” leads, and motorists know to go slow and yield right-of-way.

Greenways allow for vehicular traffic and parking, but call for a slower go of it.  Slower speeds are proven to decrease traffic injuries and fatalities.

When the population of the city is trained to understand what greenways mean, cars avoid greenways if they want to go fast, and cyclists avoid arterials because there is a safer option. People who live on these streets love greenways, because they get the best of both worlds:  a quiet street and a place to park.


Why a Greenway?  Don’t we already have bike paths and sharrows?

Cycling has increased in this city, yet many people are afraid to ride.  They perceive they would not be safe on streets built for speed.  Painted sharrows do not motivate everyone.  And think of the next generation:  when kids learn to ride a bike,  parents scratch their head trying to figure out a safe transition from sidewalk to street riding.  Elders want to be able to cross the street without risking their lives.

Let’s face it:  there are not many places in this town a cyclist or pedestrian can feel safe.  The connections between places we want to go are not there–yet.


Greenways are designed for safety, convenience, and fun

Greenways are designed for convenience.  People use greenways to visit their friends, go to the grocery store, the park or the library.  Why not make a day of it exploring the city in a slower, friendlier way?  We favor the slow-go option, canopied by trees, listening to birds, breathing the air, saying hello to cats on the doorstep, having a chat with a neighbor.

Imagine people coming out of their cars for a neighborhood ride, to walk side-by-side, and have a good time.  That is our vision for Seattle.


What makes a Greenway?

  • low traffic volumes
  • low traffic speeds
  • protected ways to cross arterials such as traffic lights
  • Signs, street, and pavement markings designed to help pedestrians and cyclists find their way and to inform drivers what to expect.
  • Greenways can be planned to create a park-like setting in the public right-of-way, with green infrastructure features such street trees, community gardens, and bio-swales.  Think of a linear park.  It’s happening in Portland right now:  by 2015, 85% of Portland residents will live within 1 mile of a greenway.