As people around the world are self-distancing at home and practicing good social distancing behavior in public, the city of Seattle is making permanent the temporary closure of some of its streets to allow residents to use them for outdoor exercise opportunities while maintaining their distance.
Continuing on after Gov. Jay Inslee’s stay-at-home order is lifted, the closures will provide a much-needed resource for residents of the city, specifically families, to safely enjoy activities outside their homes as the weather warms up and residents seek the gentle summer Seattle is known for.
The city announced the pilot for what it calls the Stay Healthy Streets initiative on April 16, which closed a number of streets to through-traffic to allow for safe walking, running and biking. Local traffic from residents, fire and rescue, garbage collection services, and routine deliveries are still permitted. The Seattle Department of Transportation said it selected the streets based on their limited access to open outdoor spaces, as well as low car ownership and food delivery numbers, as well as other essential services.
“We are in a marathon and not a sprint in our fight against COVID-19,” said Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan in a statement. “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.” Durkan added that the traffic-free streets “will become treasured assets in our neighborhoods,” with expanded routes coming in other areas of the city.
The program, rolled out in phases, has been implemented in the Aurora-Licton Springs, Ballard, Central District, West Seattle, Greenwood, Othello, Rainier Beach and Beacon Hill neighborhoods.
It is not known how or if these local restrictions will be enforced.
According to the announcement from Seattle Department of Transportation, roads that will be closed include the 20 miles of Stay Healthy streets in Seattle, full closure of SR99 Tunnel, closure due to the paving work on N 50th St. and N 40th St. in the Green Lake and Wallingford neighborhoods, closure on NB I-5 off-ramp to NE 130th St. (exit 174) and others. More information about the list of roads scheduled to be closed can be found here.