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Seattle to close 46 blocks for parkway, bike lanes

The City of Seattle will close 46 blocks in the Central District on Saturday between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Only limited local traffic will be allowed through. (SDOT)

Well, this is just excessive.

When I first saw that the City of Seattle was going to temporarily take over a portion of a neighborhood, transforming the area into a park and recreation space, I knew it was made for vilifying by the Department of Transportation’s critics (me being one of them). But given it’s temporary, it seemed like a fun idea. Space for biking, live music, buskers, skateboarding, and even Zumba classes sounds like a fun afternoon if the weather allows for it.

But then I saw the details.

The city will close 46 blocks in the Central District on Saturday between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Only limited local traffic will be allowed through.

Related: Is this Seattle’s most insane bike lane idea?

I understand the desire to get people in the community to come out and enjoy the space, especially if we have another beautiful day, but 46 blocks is exceptionally excessive, especially because the city will hardly provide enough activities to cover the entire space in a meaningful way. And it’s hard to get to know your neighbors and the community within 46 blocks.

The real reason they’re occupying so much space is to push bicycling; they’ll even be raffling off 10 free bikes at Garfield Playground, in partnership with a great local company, Bike Works. We’re about to lose out on the great Seattle weather, which is when it’s most undesirable to bike around the city (turns out, it’s onerous and can be dangerous to ride bikes up and down hills in the rain). So they’re making one last, desperate attempt to push bicycling before the weather turns.

Ultimately, the concept of closing down communities for these types of events is a good one; but this is way too big and poorly thought-out. If they’re expecting people from out of the neighborhood to come by (and I’m assuming they are, unless the City is now in the business of catering only to the select neighborhoods in the area they actually care about), one has to wonder where they’ll park, given they just close 46 blocks-worth of space for cars. Oh, they expect you to hop on a bus (or bike) with your young kids and spouse.

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