Seattle to permanently close 20 miles of roads to traffic so that residents can practice and ride on them

Seattle to permanently close 20 miles of roads to traffic so that residents can practice and ride on them

(CNN) – Seattle residents will have more room to exercise and pedal while the city plans to permanently close 20 miles of roads for most vehicular traffic, announced the mayor Thursday.

The Stay Healthy Streets initiative began in April to temporarily provide more space for residents to leave the house and exercise while keeping their social distance during the pandemic. Seattle Mayor Jenny A. Durkan said Thursday that the closings will be permanent.

“Safe and healthy roads are an important tool for families in our neighborhoods to get out, exercise and enjoy the good weather,” said Durkan in a press release. “In the long run, these streets will become valuable assets in our neighborhoods.”
The streets were selected to promote outdoor exercise opportunities in areas with limited open space options, poor automotive ownership and routes that connect people to essential services and takeaway food, according to the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT).

People are encouraged to skate, walk, run, ride a bicycle and roll around the closed streets. Access to vehicular traffic is only permitted by delivery drivers, rescuers, sanitation teams and residents.

“We saw a 57% drop in vehicle traffic volumes entering downtown Seattle during Governor Inslee’s Stay Healthy, Stay Home order,” SDOT said in a press release. “Finding new and creative ways, like Stay Healthy Streets, to maintain some of these traffic cuts as we return to our new normal is good for the planet, but it’s also good for our long-term struggle against COVID-19.”

The city also announced that it will speed up construction of bicycle infrastructure to provide more mobility options for residents as Seattle begins the reopening process.

“It is the kind of courageous action we need to encourage healthy options to recreate and travel in our city as we face our current crisis and discourage a return to high levels of traffic and associated pollution and injury as we move towards recovery.” the Seattle Advisory Board said in a statement. “All these actions together will help Seattle return as a safer, healthier and more climate-friendly city.”

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