Seattle’s Walking Maps: A Crowdsourcing Request

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The Seattle Department of Transportation recently published three walking maps (one each for the central, northern, and southern parts of the city), featuring “recreational” routes that, according to SDOT, “follow sidewalks, shoulders on quiet streets, and park trails.” The maps came out just in time for the annual Walkscore ranking, which named Seattle the eighth-most walkable city in the country.

That certainly isn’t true in my part of town, Southeast Seattle, where SDOT’s map quite obviously violates many of its own stated guidelines. The suggested “recreational” routes on the South Seattle map include a small, sad-looking loop around the perimeter of Georgetown, along with major, high-speed arterials like Rainier, Orcas, and Graham in Southeast Seattle. None of the charming, walkable streets inside any of Southeast Seattle’s neighborhoods make SDOT’s cut as paths for walking, and even Seward Park doesn’t make the cut. Contrast that with West Seattle, where a neat grid outlines the many neighborhood blocks considered suitable for walking, and it starts to look like something very odd is going on.

I have a call out to SDOT to find out what criteria they used to determine which routes to mark as pedestrian paths, and I’ll update with their response.

In the meantime, I’m putting out a crowdsourcing request: If you see any routes in your neighborhood that you think shouldn’t be marked as walking routes (just an observation: SDOT has really gone all-in on cemetery perambulations), or if you think the maps are great as-is, let me know by commenting on this post or tweeting at me @ericacbarnett. And thanks.



4 thoughts on “Seattle’s Walking Maps: A Crowdsourcing Request”

  1. Color me jaundiced, but I thought “walkability” wasn’t for recreational walking, but walking to, you know, actually do things, like pick up some groceries, or walk to work, or meet a friend for coffee or something. Leave the car parked as long as possible, and get things done on foot.
    Now I like a good post-dinner stroll, but walkability –to me– is about functionality, not just pleasure.

    That said, a long straight walking route along Madison avenue in the Madison Valley/Madrona area would be rather boring – again, it’s an arterial, and that route also directs one along 23rd, a rather unpleasant high-volume street. Neighborhood streets are much more pleasant, but rich people don’t want increased traffic, I can understand that. Why not make “walking routes” a minimum of one-block away from arterials? That’s what I do as a bicyclist.

    I do appreciate the Slope > 10% indicators though

    Methinks these route designers don’t actually walk the routes…

  2. The few routes in Queen Anne don’t use any of any of the stairs or bike/walk trails, or go by any park but Kerry. The loop they use in Upper Queen Anne goes along the main shopping street & one of the higher traffic E-W roads. These are safe for walking, but QA Ave is too crowded for fitness walking, and both it and McGraw/Boston are loud compared to residential streets 1 block either side.

    1. Exactly- QA loop? Did they use any Strava data ?

      Also there was a wonderful pedestrian crossing put up at Thomas street that makes for an almost useful route from LQA to the Olympic sculpture park. If only there were some better climbing routes from the DNA bridge crossing. Seattle can’t seem to connect it’s trails, sidewalks and path infrastructure together.

  3. Erica, in Lake City I did not see routes that should be taken off, but if these maps were put together more recently than, say, November, there is a glaring omission. The Olympic Hills Greenway, completed in October 2014, is not on the map. This route begins at NE 145th on 25th Ave NE, goes south to NE 140th, east to 27th NE, south along 27th to NE 127th, west to 25th, south to 125th. 27th Ave NE was a very heavily-used walking route even before the Greenway went in, and is even more so now.

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