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Opinion Northwest

Join the informed writers of The Times' editorial board in lively discussions at our blog, Opinion Northwest.

November 11, 2014 at 6:40 AM

Lighting Seattle’s Green Lake park for safety

The Green Lake running path, in fog (Ken Lambert / Seattle Times)

The Green Lake running path, in fog (Ken Lambert / Seattle Times)

 

 

The 2.8-mile paved trail around Green Lake makes it Seattle’s most-used park. But in the low-light winter months of the sun-deprived Pacific Northwest, the trail, which is not lighted, is dark for up to 15 hours a day.

I was reminded how dark the trail gets from dusk til dawn when my wife, a frequent Green Lake runner, came across a chilling story about a female walker grabbed from behind on Oct. 10.

 

green lake 2

KOMO’s Kristen Drew interviewed the woman, who seemed to follow the textbook for staying safe: she had no ear buds in, carried mace, and knew self-defense tactics.

As chilling as that is (for a runner or her husband) it has to be put in context. For the volume of people at the park, Green Lake is not an unsafe place. The presence of other people diminishes risk.

But Google “Green Lake and attempted rape”. This story is not an anomaly. It seems to happen every few years. Darkness aids and abets these type of crimes.

So why is Green Lake not lighted? Joelle Hammerstad, a Seattle Parks spokeswoman, said it would be “really, really expensive” – likely millions of dollars. “There hasn’t been any hew and cry asking for lights around Green Lake,” she said.

Hammerstad accurately said that lighting city parks has been a “lightning rod” for controversy, but those efforts have usually involved big sports fields, such as Magnuson Park. That’s not what is needed at Green Lake.

It would be more in line with lighting added to Denny Park in South Lake Union, where residents helped raise money for lights, a dog park and a playground. It is now well used in the increasingly dense neighborhood.

It’s an idea the Seattle City Council and the newly formed parks district should consider. It would cost millions, but in exchange you’d get safer access to the city’s most-used park for more than just daylight hours. What do you think?

 

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