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July 16, 2015
On two days in September, Seattle will turn 10 miles of streets in Ballard and the Central District into parkways where people can bike, play, walk and run.
A three-mile route, totaling 46 blocks, in the Central District will be closed to through traffic from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sept. 12. A seven-mile route, or 131 blocks, in Ballard will be closed to through traffic Sept. 19, also during those hours.
The event is being called Seattle Summer Parkways.
The city and neighborhood groups will have activities in parks along the routes — from skateboard demos, to art projects to food truck dining. The city is encouraging residents along the routes to host events, such as barbecues that may spill over to the streets, said Nicole Freedman, chief of active transportation and partnerships for the Seattle Department of Transportation.
She said that over half the space owned by U.S. cities is dedicated to streets.
The goal of the event is to let people see that streets are a public space, Freedman said. Organizers also want to show people how easy it is to get around neighborhoods without a car — by biking, walking, jogging and rollerblading — and to make local parks more inviting.
“People will start to see their neighborhoods completely differently,” she said. “It all becomes connected instead of these islands of places.”
She said there will be activities in several Ballard parks: Loyal Heights Playfields, Salmon Bay Park, Ballard Corners Park, 14th Avenue Northwest Park Boulevard, Ballard Commons Park and Sixth Avenue Pocket Park. In the Central District there will be activities in Judkins, Pratt and Powell Barnett parks, and Garfield Playfield.
Summer Parkways is a partnership between the city, Seattle Neighborhood Greenways, Cascade Bicycle Club and other organizations.
The city said in a press release that it hopes Summer Parkways will become an annual street festival. It said the event builds on the city's 50-year history of programs such as Bicycle Sundays and Seattle Summer Streets. Similar events are held Portland, San Francisco and Bogota, Colombia, the city said.
Freedman said the upshot of Seattle Summer Parkways might be that more people discover their neighborhood parks, and start walking and biking more.
“It's about opening people's eyes and experiencing Seattle the way they never have before,” she said.
Lynn Porter can be reached by email or by phone at (206) 622-8272.