The Seattle Department of Transportation recently published three walking maps (one each for the central, northern, and southern parts of the city), featuring “recreational” routes that, according to SDOT, “follow sidewalks, shoulders on quiet streets, and park trails.” The maps came out just in time for the annual Walkscore ranking, which named Seattle the eighth-most walkable city in the country.
That certainly isn’t true in my part of town, Southeast Seattle, where SDOT’s map quite obviously violates many of its own stated guidelines. The suggested “recreational” routes on the South Seattle map include a small, sad-looking loop around the perimeter of Georgetown, along with major, high-speed arterials like Rainier, Orcas, and Graham in Southeast Seattle. None of the charming, walkable streets inside any of Southeast Seattle’s neighborhoods make SDOT’s cut as paths for walking, and even Seward Park doesn’t make the cut. Contrast that with West Seattle, where a neat grid outlines the many neighborhood blocks considered suitable for walking, and it starts to look like something very odd is going on.
I have a call out to SDOT to find out what criteria they used to determine which routes to mark as pedestrian paths, and I’ll update with their response.
In the meantime, I’m putting out a crowdsourcing request: If you see any routes in your neighborhood that you think shouldn’t be marked as walking routes (just an observation: SDOT has really gone all-in on cemetery perambulations), or if you think the maps are great as-is, let me know by commenting on this post or tweeting at me @ericacbarnett. And thanks.