Seattle to Permanently Close 20 Miles of Streets to Cars to Encourage Residents to Get Healthy

The streets were initially selected by the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) based on areas that had "limited open space options, low car ownership and routes connecting people to essential services and food take out," according to the SDOT's blog.

Since 15 miles of streets were officially closed in April, SDOT said it's noticed a 57 percent decrease in vehicle traffic volumes for cars heading toward downtown Seattle.

Officials hope to maintain that number, in part by adding three more miles to the Stay Healthy street closures in the Rainier Valley and Alki areas this weekend, giving pedestrians a total of 23 miles to bike, walk, jog and skate on, according to the press release.

"Just like we must each adapt to a new normal going forward, so, too, must our city and the ways in which we get around," Seattle Department of Transportation Director Sam Zimbabwe said in a statement. "Despite the many challenges we face, 2020 will remain a year of thoughtful, forward progress as we build a safer, more livable Seattle for all."

That wasn't the only safety measure officials recently implemented to keep the city's residents safe amid the pandemic.

The mayor also revealed in the press release that beginning on May 8, she would be closing all regional parks by 8 p.m. instead of 11:30 p.m. to "ensure residents do not gather and create a public health risk" at outdoor events such as BBQs and bonfires.

To enforce the rules, more than 60 Social Distancing Ambassadors along with the Seattle Police Department will be patrolling the parks, which include Alki Beach, Cal Anderson, Discovery Park, Golden Gardens, Green Lake, Washington Park Arboretum, West Seattle Stadium and Woodland Park.

The announcement comes ahead of Mother's Day weekend, which Durkan said is one of the busiest times of the year in the parks.

"I want to remind everyone — the best thing you can do for your mother or grandmother is stay home. Please do not gather at our parks," Durkan said. "We are not out of the woods, and we owe it to our moms and grandmas to fight COVID-19 with the only tool we have: social distancing."

As of Friday, there have been over 1.2 million cases and at least 76,527 deaths attributed to coronavirus in the United States, according to The New York Times. In Washington, there have been at least 17,334 cases and 903 deaths reported, according to the Times.

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