Seattle is currently soliciting input until the end of February for phase 2 of their Transportation Plan engagement efforts: https://seattletransportationplan.infocommunity.org/ – Seattle should strive to become a city of 15min neighborhoods and if necessary use ultra-high frequency transit such as urban gondola lines, people movers, funiculars or 3min BRT lines on dedicated lanes to bridge the gaps.
Nat Henry did a great job mapping Seattle out in how close we are to the 15-minute neighborhood goal. If we continue to increase density and allow corner stores and retail on ground level, I expect that market forces will close some of the current holes. I’m concerned about the pending grocery mergers: the mayor may want to reach out to small-store grocery chains (e.g. Aldi) which focus more on walk-in customers rather than car users.
Nat’s map shows the current gaps clearly. For example, Georgetown, Alki, and Eastlake lack a grocery store. Other neighborhoods are far from schools.
I suggest Seattle consider the following measures in the Seattle Transportation Plan:
- Build ultra-high frequency transit to connect 15-minute neighborhoods to each other and their closest Link station. This “extends” the Link network to neighborhoods not immediately on it (like Lake City and Bitter Lake around 130th Station) and can extend the range of services available within a 15-minute trip, and turn a non-15-minute neighborhood into a 15-minute one. Connecting that way to Link effectively expands the walkshed of a light rail station and would provide high frequency transit to those neighborhoods. Kirkland is considering connecting their new TOD neighborhood along I-405/85th with their downtown restaurants/library etc. via gondola for that very reason.
- Middle and high schools often offer after-school activities which students can’t attend if they depend on a school bus and its limited schedule. College class schedules vary widely. Some colleges have good transit connections. Others lack them and force students to get a car. How about if we focus on safe walk/bike routes and – instead of funding school buses –we build out our transit network so we don’t need school buses, possibly via ultra-high frequency transit? That way students would get used to riding transit early.
- Colleges may not be in every neighborhood, but they must be well served by transit so that students don’t need to get a car. South Seattle College has facilities in West Seattle and Georgetown, both are difficult to reach in particular if you need to get from one class to another in a different facility. What if we would focus connecting them to each other and to Link either by very high frequency buses or ultra-high frequency transit?
- Hospitals are not in every neighborhood either, but should be easily accessible for employees, patients and visitors, not just by infrequent buses which may be difficult to board if you have mobility issues. How about if Northwest Hospital and Kaiser on Capitol Hill would be connected to the Link stations close by?
Please take some time to provide your input to the city at: https://seattletransportationplan.infocommunity.org.