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Mike McGinn favors turning 5th Avenue into transit only

(KC Metro)

Former Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn favors one idea to address the “total nightmare” that is Seattle traffic — turn 5th Avenue into transit only access.

“Downtown has become an incredible chokepoint,” McGinn told KIRO Radio’s Jason and Burns Show. “As we’ve added jobs, we’ve added a lot of cars with it. And it’s not working for anybody. And we have to re-prioritize the streets.”

“A bus can move a lot more people, so this is not an ideological thing, this is just a question of geometry,” he said. “We have to use the space on the street more efficiently.”

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McGinn, who is running for mayor once again, took part in a recent panel of mayoral candidates. All promoted turning 5th Avenue into transit only — an idea that has been previously proposed by the Seattle Department of Transportation.

He has been known to use his bike to get around the city. When it comes to crafting Seattle’s transportation needs, he puts pedestrians and bikes at the top of his list. He argues that giving cars priority is just not an option after considering the reality of traffic.

He is aware that there are people who need to be places more quickly or need to pick up their kids. But regardless of where they are traveling from into Seattle, they are all on the same roads.

“We know that emphasizing the automobile as the way to get in and out of town doesn’t work and it can’t be made to work,” McGinn said. “We can’t make 5th Avenue bigger and we can’t add capacity to downtown.”

“What we know right now is that 50 percent of the commuters come in by transit (to Seattle), and 25 percent come in by automobile,” he said. “And the buses get caught in traffic, too. So that person who needs to pick up their kids is also on the bus. In fact, there may be more of them.”

“When you get the street right for walking and biking and pedestrians, your businesses work better,” McGinn said. “A lot of things work better. And then you have places you can serve with transit if you prioritize the street for it.”

This story was corrected from a previous version which stated McGinn proposed that 5th Avenue be converted into transit only. It was originally SDOT’s proposal.


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