With the outbreak of the Coronavirus, Seattle instituted a Stay Healthy street program, which restricted more than 23 miles of residential streets from through traffic. On May 7, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkin announced that most of those changes would be permanent. Sam Zimbabwe, Director of the Seattle Department of Transportation, commented to the Seattle Times “Some of the responses are going to be long lasting, and we need to continue to build out a transportation system that enables people of all ages and abilities to bike and walk across the city.”
The actions in Seattle are part of a broader trend across the country. New York City restricted traffic on 100 miles of “open streets;” Oakland, CA’s “slow streets” program restricted traffic on 74 miles of roadway;” and Minneapolis’ Open Streets” program closed more than 18 miles to cars.