FEET FIRST HISTORY
In 1995, a group of transportation activists founded Feet First with a goal of promoting walking and the rights and interests of pedestrians in the Puget Sound region. Six years later, Feet First became an official 501(c)3 nonprofit, which fueled our growth and the start of several programs including the Safe Routes to School program and our Walking Audits. In 2007, a statewide Safe Routes to School Conference enabled Feet First to advocate for pedestrians across Washington State. Throughout the early 2010s, we established the Walk & Talk program, the Neighborhood Ambassador program, the Walkable Washington program, and the Sound Access for All advocacy efforts. Today, Feet First continues to make impacts through new programs such as the Walk With Ease and Statewide Advocacy Network. At a time where environmental, health, and equity needs are more important than ever, Feet First will continue to fight for a more walkable future for every Washingtonians.
Feet First Founded
Feet First is founded at a meeting of interested transportation activists attending the Alt-Trans annual meeting (now the Transportation Choices Coalition). At the meeting, the group decided to form a new organization dedicated to promoting walking and the rights and interests of pedestrians. The name “Feet First” was selected a few months later.
Summer - Fall 1996
Hosts First Crosswalk Actions
Feet First holds its first crosswalk action at the Hearthstone Senior Center in east Green Lake. Seniors had trouble crossing busy Green Lake Drive to get to the lake and wanted a pedestrian crossing signal. A group gathered with signs and began legally crossing the street back and forth to draw attention to the problem. The event got media coverage and was included in the Green Lake Neighborhood Plan.
A few years later, the Seattle Department of Transportation built a signal using early implementation funds. Subsequent crossing actions have been held at Ballard, Greenwood, Roanoke Park, and Aurora.
The Early Years
Despite plenty of enthusiasm, Feet First has trouble gaining traction as an all-volunteer organization. The group distributed brochures, published a newsletter, conducted walks, and held fundraisers. However, without a dedicated staff person to coordinate activities, it was difficult to sustain these activities.
Feet First Receives Nonprofit Status
Feet First receives official 501(c)3 nonprofit status allowing Feet First to apply for grants and provide tax-exempt receipts for donations.
First Walking Map Created
Feet First publishes its first walking map, the “Ballard Pedestrian’s Friend.” The useful map shows walking conditions throughout this Seattle neighborhood and general tips on safe walking and driving. Since then, we have produced popular walking maps in many other communities including Lower Queen Anne, West Seattle, White Center, Skyway, Central District, NE Seattle, Burien, Kirkland, Laurelhurst, North Beacon Hill and South Park.
First Pedestrian Summer Developed
Pedestrian Summer includes a series of events from May to October including guided walking tours and other events. The purpose of the events was to promote the “Education, Enforcement, Engineering, and Encouragement” of walkable communities. The campaign was spearheaded by City Councilmember Richard Conlin and had support from Mayor Nickels, the City Council, and many businesses and nonprofits in the Seattle area.
Robert Wood Johnson Grant Awarded
Feet First applies and receives a $200,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to promote Active Living by Design in selected neighborhoods around Seattle. This five-year grant provided seed money to hire Feet First volunteer David Levinger as Executive Director and to open an office in Downtown Seattle’s Joseph Vance Building. The hiring of a full-time Executive Director with an office provided Feet First with the organizational structure it needed to grow.
Seattle Goes to Vancouver, BC Tour
Feet First organizes an urban design tour of Vancouver, British Columbia. Sponsored by Vulcan Inc., dozens of planners, engineers, and other officials were invited to tour various urban design elements in the city.
Safe Routes to School Program Begins
Feet First launches the Safe Routes to School program (SRTS) with work at Baily Gatzert Elementary School, funded from the Washington State Department of Transportation. The centerpiece of this effort was the formation of walking school buses, whereby a family member would accompany children from a given neighborhood to school and back. This program would receive the 2006 Safety Superstar award from the Washington Traffic Safety Commission. Jen Cole was hired to run SRTS the following year. We have subsequently coordinated program efforts to encourage walking at various schools all over the Puget Sound Region.
Construction Begins on the Burke-Gilman Trail Extension
Feet First helps organize the groundbreaking ceremony for the beginning of the construction of the Burke-Gilman Trail extension to Golden Gardens after testifying at numerous city and county-wide events in favor of the extension. Feet First continues to advocate for extensions of both the Burke-Gilman and other walking trails in the region.
Feet First Wins Innovative School Project Award
Feet First wins the Innovative School Project award for their project at TT Minor Elementary. This project was a subset of the larger Active Seattle Project.
Feet First Identifies Rebecca Deehr as Interim Executive Director
Becca Deehr begins tenure as interim Executive Director, following David Levinger’s departure from the organization. During her tenure, Becca chaired meetings for the City of Seattle’s Pedestrian Master Plan Advisory Group.
Giant Steps – Feet First Goes Statewide
The first Statewide Conference for Safe Routes to School takes place in Lynnwood, Washington, in May 2007. The conference was organized by Feet First and the Bicycle Alliance of Washington in the joint role of the Center for Safe Routes to School in Washington. The conference featured 20 speakers and attracted 125 attendees from across the state. We followed up with a second statewide conference in Spokane the following year.
First Steps in Delridge
Following a 2007 Walking Audit for Sanislo Elementary School in Delridge, the Seattle City Council pledges to improve the outdoor stairway from Delridge Way Southeast to Southeast Myrtle Street, a major walking route to school. Some parents had their children skip school in the morning to join the press conference to kick off the effort that would result in pedestrian-scaled lighting and landscape improvement along the stairway.
Executive Director Lisa Quinn Hired
Lisa Quinn is hired as permanent Executive Director. Lisa was selected from a competitive nationwide search. She was previously Rideshare Manager for the San Luis Obispo Regional Council of Governments in San Luis Obispo, California. She brought a wealth of experience working on transportation issues in California and the Pacific Northwest.
Feet First organizes its first annual PARK(ing) Day in the Seattle area. Dozens of parking spaces are transformed into mini-parks where passersby participate in various fun activities. PARK(ing) Day is an annual one-day global event where artists, activists, and citizens independently but simultaneously transform designated on-street parking spots into “PARK(ing)” spaces: temporary public parks showing people what their city would look like if more public space was allocated for urban parks, recreation, social interactions, and other people-centric pursuits, rather than the movement and storage of cars.
Go Cart to Groceries Launched
The Go Cart to Groceries project focuses on physical activity and access to healthy foods. This project was the first of its kind in the nation to change behavior and increase the number of people who go by foot to shop. The cart project received media coverage and interest from other neighborhoods throughout the Puget Sound Region.
Seattle’s First Pedestrian Master Plan
Seattle City Council adopts the Pedestrian Master Plan, which was the first citywide action plan focused on walking. Feet First’s former interim Executive Director Rebecca Deehr and board member Chas Redmond served on the Pedestrian Master Plan Advisory Group. Feet First lobbies City Council for adoption of the plan.
Neighborhood Walking Ambassador Program Begins
Walking Ambassadors organize walks around their neighborhood. These walks are themed, interpretive events bringing neighbors together to explore the community. Examples may include a walk to visit a new park or pathway, an historical walk, a nighttime holiday walk, or a nature walk. Feet First has held two training sessions to educate dozens of residents on how to be Neighborhood Walking Ambassadors.
Mercer Middle School Walkway
The City of Seattle made major improvements to 16th Avenue S. leading to Asa Mercer International Middle School on Beacon Hill, including installation of a new walkway. This roadway is one of the main routes to school for many students and was often unusable due to puddling and mud from the adjacent hill. Feet First worked with the community on creating a walking audit that called out the improvements and worked with the school and city officials to ensure the project was prioritized.
Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW)
Safe Routes to School Bike and Pedestrian Safety Education Program
Feet First joins the Bicycle Alliance of Washington in a project sponsored by the Washington State Department of Transportation and the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. The task is to write a pedestrian safety education curriculum to accompany an already existing bicycle component, and then train middle school physical education teachers to use it in their classes. The eight lesson curriculum is taught to 175 teachers in twenty-five schools districts across Washington, reaching approximately 23,000 students by 2012.
First Walk and Talk
The first Feet First Walk & Talk tours the Seattle Waterfront led by Seattle City Council member Sally Bagshaw. Subsequent Walk & Talks visit West Seattle Junction (led by Seattle City Council member Tom Rasmussen), Yesler Terrace (Seattle Council member Nick Licata), Broadway (Seattle Council member Sally Clark), Houghton (Kirkland Mayor Joan McBride), and Redmond (Mayor John Marchione and artist John Fleming). These walks provide an opportunity for local residents, elected officials, developers, planners, engineers, and other interested persons to build awareness of how walking plays an intricate role in connecting people, places, and transportation.
Feet First Gets Moving in South Park
Feet First holds a Walk to School Day event at Concord Elementary School in South Park. The Concord program for Safe Routes to School was chosen by Seattle Mayor McGinn to launch the Seattle chapter of the Michelle Obama “Let’s Move” campaign. Guests of honor included former Seattle Supersonics James Donaldson and Shawn Kemp.
Feet First Receives Bullitt Foundation Grant
Feet First receives a $25,000 grant from the Bullitt Foundation to expand the Feet First Agenda City Program, develop a Communications Plan, and support four Walk & Talk events.
West Seattle in Motion
Partnering with Urban Trans North America through a contract from King County Metro, Feet First works to educate West Seattle residents about options for traveling by transit, bicycling, and walking as alternatives to driving on the Alaskan Way Viaduct in preparation for the viaduct replacement.
Duwamish Street Smart Study Completed
Feet First completes a two-year project conducting pedestrian assessments in Seattle neighborhoods SODO, Georgetown, South Park, and North Tukwila for the Duwamish Transportation Management Association (TMA). These assessments were part of the TMA’s Street Smart Study, which was completed in Fall 2011. The study includes recommendations for extending trails, adding sidewalks, and creating better signage for pedestrians.
Feet First Celebrates 10 Year Anniversary
On October 11th, 2011, Feet First celebrates ten years of working to ensure all communities in Washington are walkable. Over 100 people attend the event, which featured keynote speaker Matt Lerner of Walk Score.
Walkable Washington Program (Feet First Agenda City Program)
The Feet First board adopts the Feet First Agenda, which acknowledges cities across the state that are taking steps to make the places where people live, work, and play easier to get to on foot. Recognized cities in 2011 are Bellevue, Kirkland, Redmond, and Seattle.
Hand Truckin’ Earth Day
Walking advocates and beer enthusiasts alike celebrated Earth Day with a 10 mile urban beer hike hosted by Feet First to raise awareness of walkable cities and sustainable means of transportation. Two dozen volunteers trekked kegs of beer from Two Beers Brewing Co. in the Stadium District to Latona Pub in Greenlake. The beer hike ended at a reception at Latona Pub, where the proceeds from pints of “Hand Truckin’ Wheat Ale” benefited Feet First. According to Two Beers Founder and Head Brewer Joel VandenBrink, “this beer is a tribute to people powered beer transportation, Mother Earth, and Feet First’s continued efforts to save lives, improve health, and expand economic growth in Washington.”
Feet First Receives the Puget Sound Champion Award for its Watershed Walks
Along with four other organizations, Feet First is selected by the Puget Sound Partnership and Leadership Council to win the Puget Sound Champion Award for the Watershed Walks program supporting its Neighborhood Walking Ambassador program. The award is given to organizations that go above and beyond to fulfill the goals of the Puget Sound Partnership’s Action Agenda.
Sound Access for All – Northgate
In the summer of 2012, Feet First campaigned to create a better, more walkable plan for the Northgate Link Light Rail station. As a result, Sound Transit agreed to provide up to $10 million in pedestrian infrastructure funding in the area, instead of building a 900 car parking garage.
Beacon Hill Street Stories
After completing Central District Street Stories and the Rainier Beach Touchstones project, we partnered with the Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program of the National Park Service to bring the digital storytelling project to the Beacon Hill neighborhood of Seattle. Street Stories is a project designed to merge storytelling, technology, and neighborhood culture to creatively engage youth in understanding how a place for all people to walk contributes to the health, safety and vibrancy of a community.
On the first weekend of May we participated in Jane’s Walk, coordinating 13 free neighborhood walking tours in Seattle, attracting over 200 attendees. Jane’s Walk, an annual series of free, volunteer-led urban walks, was created in 2007 in Toronto by friends of the urban thinker Jane Jacobs to celebrate her work. This internationally-celebrated event bridges social and geographic gaps and creates a space for residents to talk about what matters to them in the places they live and work.
Stairway Walks Day
Stairway Walks Day featured 15 walks from Jake and Cathy Jaramillo’s new book, Seattle Stairway Walks, published by local nonprofit publisher The Mountaineers Books. For one day, for two hours, almost 300 local residents participated in Feet First Neighborhood Walking Ambassador-led free simultaneous stairway walks to celebrate the Puget Sound Region’s amazing elevation changes and the individual characteristics and historical context of our local stairways.
First Annual Walkable Washington Symposium
In April, Feet First held their first annual Walkable Washington Symposium at the Pike Place Market. It was a full morning of sharing ideas and building connections for collaboration among professionals and walkability advocates from across the state. Over 120 people attended. The Walkable Washington Conference has since become an annual event, with subsequent symposiums have been held in Redmond in 2015 and Bellevue in 2016.
Sound Access for All – Judkins Park
The future Judkins Park light rail station will occupy the site of the current Metro flyer stop on I-90 between Rainier Avenue S. and 23rd Avenue S. in Seattle. As part of our Sound Access for All campaign, Feet First has been working towards ensuring good walking access to the station, including the formation of a coalition of local stakeholders. In early 2015, Sound Transit agreed to provide a pedestrian bridge over Rainier Avenue S. to provide safer access to southbound transit stops along the roadway. In June of that year, we sponsored a Walk & Talk in the area which attracted over seventy-five participants. Feet First is working with the Lighthouse for the Blind to convince Sound Transit to ensure that the station design is safe and accessible for deaf and blind users.
Passage of Bill Creating a Pedestrian Safety Advisory Council
On Monday, May 11, 2015, Governor Jay Inslee signed into law Senate Bill 5957, which creates a Pedestrian Safety Advisory Council. The bill had earlier been approved by both the full House and Senate with bipartisan support. This advisory council will include experts in law enforcement, transportation, public health, and pedestrian safety. The advisory council will thoroughly review fatal and serious pedestrian collisions, examine collision data, and examine the relevant statutes, ordinances, and policies. Drawing on this information, the council provides an annual report recommending measures that could improve safety for people walking.
Seattle Waterfront Walk & Talk
In September 2015, Feet First organized a Walk & Talk along the Seattle Waterfront to discuss issues related to plans for the reconstruction of Alaskan Way. The walk included speakers from Office of the Waterfront, Friends of Waterfront Seattle, Pike Place Market, Mack Urban, and Daniels Real Estate. For many years, Feet First has been working to convince the City of Seattle to adopt a narrower road profile that would be less daunting to people wanting to cross the roadway.
First Annual WALKTOBER Challenge
WALKTOBER is Feet First’s annual statewide campaign to promote walking throughout Washington. Whether commuting to work or school, running errands, or just stepping out for fun and exercise, WALKTOBER provides people numerous opportunities to walk more and connect more. As part of this effort, Feet First sponsored thirty events. Over one-thousand people participated along with students at over one-hundred fifty schools.
Passage of Move Seattle
In November 2015, Seattle Voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition 1, a nine-year $930 million transportation funding measure. This includes money to fund city Safe Routes to School efforts, build 150 miles of new sidewalks, and improve pedestrian safety at 750 intersections across the city. The measure also includes $15 million for construction of the Northgate Pedestrian/Bicycle Bridge. Feet First endorsed the Move Seattle campaign and helped with doorbelling and phone banking efforts.
Sound Access for All – Funding for the Northgate Pedestrian/Bicycle Bridge Secured
Finding funding for the Northgate Pedestrian/Bicycle Bridge, which would connect North Seattle College with the future Northgate light rail station, had been a major priority for Feet First for several years. The passage of the 2015 statewide transportation budget along with voter approval of Seattle’s Move Seattle levy that fall secured a total of $25 million for this project. This money, combined with the $10 million already pledged towards the bridge, means that the project is now fully funded. The facility is currently scheduled to open along with the light rail station in 2021.
Passage of Sound Transit 3 Includes Funding for Nonmotorized System Access Improvements
Feet First was among the leaders in advocating for including a $100 million System Access Fund in the Sound Transit 3 ballot measure in 2016. Feet First recognized that the development of light rail is an historic and transformative event that can catalyze the growth of walkable urban centers in the areas surrounding the stations. In 2019, the Sound Transit Board of Directors would select $50 million worth of projects, providing full or partial funding for thirty out of the fifty-five specific project ideas submitted from local jurisdictions.
Walkable Washington Symposium
The 2017 Walkable Washington Symposium, held this year the Northwest African-American Museum in Seattle, provided attendees a dynamic platform to exchange ideas, plans, and processes to ensure that everyone in our state experiences safe, healthy, and vibrant communities. Speakers included Washington State Transportation Center Director Mark Hallenbeck, Excellent Cities program director Bas Govers, and Minneapolis transportation mobility consultant Alexander Kado. The symposium concluded with a short walking tour of the area surrounding the future Judkins Park light rail station.
Feet First Nominates Cities for TIB Nonmotorized Funding
Feet First was designated by the Washington State Transportation Improvement Board (TIB) as a nominating agency for their Complete Streets grants program. This new program is unique in that it does not award funding for specific projects. Instead cities are considered for funding on the basis of the relative strength of their general actions and policies aimed at promoting walking and biking – things like having an adopted nonmotorized plan, a complete streets policy, and a robust citizen engagement process. To help select cities for funding, the TIB has asked a number of agencies and independent groups such as Feet First to evaluate city applications and nominate cities that have strong nonmotorized programs. Feet First would later nominate cities for a second round of Complete Streets funding in late 2018.
Release of Pedestrian Safety Advisory Council Annual Report
The Pedestrian Safety Advisory Council (PSAC), established by the legislature in 2015 with Feet First support, brought together law enforcement experts, traffic engineers, and pedestrian advocates (including Feet First boardmember Julia Reitan) to examine the factors behind pedestrian fatalities and serious injuries and formulate practical solutions. Their efforts bore fruit in 2018, with the PSAC releasing a report containing fifteen specific policy proposals to improve pedestrian safety.
Station Area Planning for Link Light Rail to Ballard and West Seattle
Throughout 2018, Feet First participated in Sound Transit’s process for determining where to run their Link light rail extensions to Ballard and West Seattle. This included attending about a half-dozen Sound Transit-sponsored station area design charrettes. Feet First also sponsored a Walk & Talk to tour potential light rail station alternatives in West Seattle, including stations at West Seattle Junction, Avalon, and Delridge. This walk included community activists, agency officials, and elected representatives (including KC Councilmember Joe McDermott and Seattle City Councilmember Lisa Herbold) an opportunity to learn about the tradeoffs between the various site alternatives and howto ensure good walking access to the Sound Transit light rail system. Feet First would subsequently provide comments to Sound Transit including recommendations for station placement and urban design ideas for the surrounding area.
Sound Access for All – Wilburton
For over a year, Feet First participated in the City of Bellevue’s station area planning process for the area around the future Wilburton light rail station, located across the freeway just east of Downtown Bellevue. This effort produced a sweeping new vision for the area, envisioning a vibrant and walkable urban neighborhood developing around the station over the coming decades. Feet First pushed for several key aspects of this plan, including a pedestrian-friendly design profile of major arterials in the area, additional mid-block walkways to make it easier to get around, and an at-grade crossing of NE 8th Street at the Eastside Trail connecting to the new light rail station.
Feet First Walk with Ease Program Begins/Hiring of Program Manager Rachel Schaeffer
Fueled by a large grant from the Center for Disease Control, Feet First is partnering with the Washington Department of Health to promote and expand Walk with Ease, a community-based walking program developed by the Arthritis Foundation. It is geared towards adults with arthritis or other chronic conditions who want to introduce walking into their lifestyle as a way to stay healthy and exercise in a group environment. Studies done by the CDC show that this class leads to increased mobility and confidence in walking, and decreased pain, stiffness, and fatigue. To implement the program, Feet First hired program manager Rachel Schaeffer to oversee implementation.
North 185th Street Station Area Walk & Talk
In October 2019, Feet First organized a Walk & Talk around Shoreline’s future Link light rail station at North 185th Street. Attendees, which included transportation professionals, city officials, and engaged Shoreline residents, learned about Shoreline’s ambitious plans for improving the walking environment around the future station.
Groundbreaking for the Northgate Bike & Pedestrian Bridge
The Northgate Bike and Pedestrian Bridge – which will connect the future Northgate Link light rail station and North Seattle College – passed a major milestone as construction officially began at a groundbreaking ceremony on February 5th. This event is the culmination of eight years of work for Feet First and their coalition allies, including Cascade Bicycle Club, Sierra Club, local greenways groups, community councils, and engaged residents. This coalition convinced local decision makers to dedicate funding to build the bridge, including contributions from Sound Transit, the City of Seattle, and Washington state. This coalition continued to monitor and engage with the project as it proceeded through the design and engineering phase. The bridge is anticipated to open in late 2021.
Sorry, we couldn't find any posts. Please try a different search.