As summer draws closer, and cabin fever truly starts setting in, people are turning their attention to spending as much time outdoors as possible. In Seattle, Mayor Jenny Durkan recently announced that the city will be permanently closing 20 miles of streets to vehicle traffic, as part of the Stay Healthy Streets initiative. The goal of the program is to encourage exercise and outdoor activity while also allowing for social distancing.
In a press release, Durkan said, “We are in a marathon and not a sprint in our fight against COVID-19. As we assess how to make the changes that have kept us safe and healthy sustainable for the long term, we must ensure Seattle is rebuilding better than before. Safe and Healthy Streets are an important tool for families in our neighborhoods to get outside, get some exercise and enjoy the nice weather. Over the long term, these streets will become treasured assets in our neighborhoods.”
Although the initiative started in April and was meant to be temporary, the street closures will become permanent. Only vehicle traffic from delivery drivers, first responders, sanitation crews, and residents will be permitted, as the streets are primarily intended for walking, jogging, and biking.
According to the Seattle Department of Transportation, “We’ve witnessed a 57% drop in vehicle traffic volumes accessing downtown Seattle during Governor Inslee’s Stay Healthy, Stay Home order. Finding new and creative ways, like Stay Healthy Streets, to maintain some of these traffic reductions as we return to our new normal is good for the planet, but is also good for our long-term fight against COVID-19.”
Plans for an expansion of bike infrastructure are also in the works, to give residents even more space to enjoy the outdoors as possible.