New city program hopes to help cars and bikes coexist

SEATTLE -- A new program taking shape in Seattle hopes to tackle the age-old problem of getting cars and bikes to safely coexist on local roads.

As part of the Neighborhood Greenway Program, the city will alter some existing roads to make life easier for bike riders and pedestrians.

"Well, they're non-arterial streets with low traffic volume and low speeds that we improve for bicycle and pedestrian travel," said Sandra Woods of the Bike Master Plan.

Not surprisingly, the idea for the program originated in Portland.

"In Portland, they started five years ago, so they're five years ahead of us," said councilwoman Sally Bagshaw. "And they now have a 60-mile network."

Greenways are simply neighborhood streets with improved crosswalks, more speed bumps and lower speed limits.

While some resident might be unhappy with the program, many say they support the idea.

"I'm Ok with it," said Jenny Berg. "I think that having an area where bicyclists can safely ride their bikes is important."

The first proposed Greenway is at 43rd and Stone, but there could soon be many more in places like the University District and the Central District.

In the next year, the city will create seven miles of Greenways and they'll be linked together. The project costs $150,000 per mile and is being paid for by the "bridge the Gap" levy passed in 2006.

Bagshaw said the idea isn't to let cyclists take over your commute, but to get them out of the commute.

"A lot of people, they say, 'I want bicycles out of my way,' and I have heard that even within my own family," she said. "So if I can say to the naysayers and skeptics, if we could get bicyclist, skateboarders, pedestrians out of your way, wouldn't that be a good thing for you?"
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