It's a critical time to voice your opinion on the future of Aurora Avenue N through Seattle. (Seattle Department of Transportation)

My name is Lucca Murdoch Howard, and I am a member of the Aurora Reimagined Coalition. We’re a group that has been advocating for the city to present new ideas for the design of the Aurora Avenue corridor since we were founded in 2021. Originally we were just a couple of community members advocating for the city to make some minor traffic tweaks along Aurora after a string of pedestrian fatalities along the roadway.

Since then, we have become a coalition of groups committed to reimagining the design of Aurora to accommodate everyone that the current design ignores, and to make the road climate friendly. We have held events in cooperation with the City of Seattlemarches protesting pedestrian fatalities along Aurora Avenue, and educational walks to inform the community about the problems faced along Aurora.

Recently the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT), after some pressure, released new design ideas for Aurora Avenue. The coalition is thrilled to see how wide reaching these designs are, but we also feel that they are also lacking in a couple of key aspects. SDOT has released a community survey on new ideas for Aurora. SDOT’s new designs are below.

I would like to share the coalition’s recommendations with everyone to consider for your survey responses. Ideally, we want a continuous design that slows down cars, has a thoughtful bike route, center-running bus lanes, and has ample crosswalks to keep all non-drivers safe.

Aurora Avenue should have it all: trees, wide sidewalks, center bus lanes, and protected bike lanes. (@PushTheNeedle)

SDOT’s sketches are both exciting and disappointing, because none of them go far enough to achieve sustainability and safety. One of the proposals includes bike lanes, which would be a boon for businesses and reduce transportation emissions. Another proposal considers adding center running bus lanes, which would make for faster and more efficient transit on the most-used bus line in the state, and create the infrastructure that future light rail could use, which is very exciting.

Both of these plans are good for safety as well. The center running bus lanes and bike lanes would slow traffic, reducing the amount of pedestrian and motorist fatalities, which periodically happen along Aurora. However, there is no proposal that prioritizes walking, biking, and bussing at the same time, which we believe is the only way to ensure that Aurora is a safe and sustainable street. 

SDOT can combine all of these options, and they have the time to do it. Local activists, like ARC member Ryan DiRaimo, have already proposed designs that incorporate all of these forms. We ask that SDOT emulate the ideas of these community members. SDOT staff seem wary of change. If we don’t make these changes now, these life saving measures won’t happen at all. Seattle residents should be flooding SDOT’s public engagement, asking them to go above and beyond to achieve safe, climate-friendly streets. So I strongly encourage everyone to write in… and why not use the work Aurora Reimagined Coalition has already done?

Bus lanes and dropping a general purpose lane in each direction would turn Aurora Avenue into a much safer and more walkable street. (Image by Ryan DiRaimo)
Ryan DiRaimo proposed a tree-lined boulevard concept for Aurora Avenue in 2019, which Aurora Reimagined Coalition has also pushed, that would include bus lanes and would entail dropping a general purpose lane in each direction. It would turn Aurora Avenue into a much safer and more walkable street. (Ryan DiRaimo)

If you would like to help in getting SDOT to better understand our vision for our community, you can! Fill out the survey below to the specifications in the picture and then copy and paste this sentence into the comment box where you can add something they missed, using our recommended text: 

The Aurora Reimagined Coaliton supports most of SDOT’s ideas in the Aurora survey, except keeping the existing number of lanes on the street. (SDOT)

I want a segment design that effectively promotes safe vehicle speeds, provides a continuous bike route, includes center-running bus lanes, and offers additional safe crossing points. These measures are crucial to ensuring the safety of all individuals – whether they are walking, biking, rolling, or driving – and to provide an equitable and inclusive transportation network for all.

If you have a few more minutes, I would encourage you to write your own response based on your experiences on Aurora, or, tell SDOT in your own words why they need to design an Aurora that is safe, and bike and transit friendly. 

Article Author
Lucca Murdoch Howard

Lucca Howard is a college student who has been involved in local advocacy since 2022. He helps run the D5 community blog and is a member of the Aurora Reimagined Coalition's steering committee. After a brief run for the District 5 Seattle City Council primary and a position on the campaign of ChrisTiana ObeySumner, he was admitted as an undergraduate at the University of Washington, where he is today.