Excerpts I wrote for mayoral candidate Andrew Grant Houston:
…Right-of-ways—usually that random grassy space typically between a sidewalk edge and the curb all the way to the same thing on the other side of the street—take up 26% of Seattle’s land. A quarter!
Most of it isn’t space taken up for people, it’s space we give to cars.
Mostly for free.
In a climate crisis.
So we will shift our use of the right-of-way from a space of (mostly) storing and moving giant metal boxes to places where we prioritize people.
It’s time to retake the Right-of-Way.
How exactly do we retake the ROW?
- Expand sidewalks. Wide enough for multiple people walking and rolling simultaneously and, of course, putting in sidewalks where there currently are none.
- Outdoor seating for restaurants and small businesses. It’s been a huge hit during the pandemic, so we should continue the program and make permitting easier too.
- Fully protected bike lanes and bus lanes. I’m talking about painting the town red and green.
- Replacing pavement and asphalt with bioswales, native vegetation, and trees. This is crucial for saving our salmon and orca—and I have a plan for that!
- Maintain and create new Stay Healthy Streets. Kids can once again play together in the streets and foster community in car-lite and car-free spaces.
- More space for P-Patches. We have a p-patch waiting list to eliminate!
- Public restrooms. Because humans need places to “go” and we shouldn’t rely on small businesses to play that role (more here).
- Plazas and Superblocks.
So as you can see, there are a multitude of other options for our publicly-owned land, but at the end of the day, the priority is clear: we must shift our public space to serve people in a way that makes them linger and interact with their neighbors, and not just dodge the next approaching vehicle. That’s how we retake our Right-of-Way and ReVision Zero.