Blake Trask: End days in Olympia – What’s at stake for biking and walking? A lot.

Editor’s Note: Blake has been in Olympia all session working with the legislature to make the state safer and more accessible for people on bikes. In this guest post, he makes the case for why urgent action is needed to make sure vital funding for biking and walking projects secures its rightful place in the state’s transportation bill.

Washington_State_Capitol_Legislative_BuildingIn Seattle, where excitement is growing for the Seattle Bicycle Master Plan Update’s completion, one sobering fact remains: Funding remains short to get much done in growing a world-class network of bikeways.

In Olympia, as tensions rise in the waning days of the Washington State Legislature’s special session, critical investments are still in play that promise to jump start Seattle’s Bicycle Master Plan Update and simultaneously build hundreds of non-motorized safety and mobility projects statewide.

With all this promise and opportunity for bicycling in Seattle and statewide, we need your voice by this weekend to make it a reality (see below for instructions how).

The Bicycle Alliance of Washington – along with our partners on the Transportation for Washington campaign – need your help to remind your state legislators that walking and biking investments (as well as transit investments) create safer streets for our kids, expand our transportation freedom, and save money for taxpayers statewide.

Statewide Transportation Revenue Package

While the current state transportation revenue package has sparked considerable debate – in no small part because it could use additional investments to fix our aging roads and bridges – we’ve negotiated to get over $370 million of investments that could touch hundreds of walking and biking, livable streets, and school safety projects.

It’s more for walking and biking than any previous state transportation package and offers us a rare opportunity to make streets safer for our kids, improve cycling opportunities on trails and in cities, grow business, and create jobs statewide.

The proposed package offers an up-front investment in 134 projects statewide totaling $114 million. Projects on this list in Seattle total almost $14 million and include investments for the Burke Gilman Trail completion as well as the the SODO Trail (E3 Busway Trail); the Westlake Cycle Track, Northgate Light Rail Station Bike/Ped Overpass, and Downtown Cycletrack; finally, pedestrian improvements in Lake City, West Seattle, Capitol Hill Light Rail Improvement, and Beacon Hill.

Additional projects across the region and state will include completion of Anacortes’s Guemes Channel Trail, completing a missing link of the Mountains to Sound Trail in Bellevue, additions to the Centennial Trail in Snohomish County, revenue for Cross Kirkland Corridor, extending the Appleway Shared Use Path in Spokane Valley, as well as investments in the Lake to Bay Trail connecting Des Moines to Renton.

In addition to these upfront projects, over the course of the proposed 12-year package Safe Routes to School grant program will see $60 million in grants, and cities with Complete Streets ordinances will be eligible for $100 million in competitive grants. Additionally, safety grants for biking and walking for $99 million would be made. These investments will help local governments statewide meet the ever-growing need for residents and visitors who want to bike and walk more.

These projects matter to Washington’s economy, safety, address congestion problems, and make us healthier:

  • We want safer neighborhood streets for our families and kids. Overwhelmingly, these investments create safer crossings, new pathways to school, and address road safety issues statewide.
  • Bike projects create more jobs. In a December 2010 national study, including Seattle, University of Massachusetts-Amherst researchers concluded that trail jobs create up to 40 percent more jobs per million spent than the typical road project. Why? Trail construction projects are more labor-intensive than the typical large road project that requires more machinery and less workers.
  • Shifting student trips to walking and biking can reduce city and town congestion. Safe Routes to School Programs can provide an indirect benefit by reducing traffic congestion. It’s estimated that trips by parents and caregivers taking children to school account for about 10 to 14 percent of all rush hour traffic in cities and towns nationally. Imagine that traffic declining with more kids walking and biking to school.
  • State road projects are safety concerns for those that walk and bike. While state highways account for only 11 percent of all centerline miles statewide, and 10 percent of all pedestrian and bicyclist collisions, they account for a staggering 47 percent of all pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities.

Let’s get it done

We can’t thank everyone enough for your letters and calls to pass the Bicycle Alliance’s signature legislation, the Neighborhood Safe Streets Bill. Your calls and emails can again make a difference in securing investments for biking today and into the future.

What can you do? Contact your legislators with one simple message: I support a statewide transportation revenue package if and only if it includes the investments in Safe Routes to School, walking and biking safety, and Complete Streets currently included in Representative Clibborn’s proposal, and especially those investments included in the Liias Amendment.

About Blake Trask

Blake Trask is the state policy director at the Bicycle Alliance of Washington – Washington’s statewide bicycle advocacy and education organization that works to grow bicycling statewide. www.bicyclealliance.org
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8 Responses to Blake Trask: End days in Olympia – What’s at stake for biking and walking? A lot.

  1. Paul Deming says:

    Does this bill (the statewide transportation package with $370 million for cycling / walking) contain funding for the Columbia River Crossing? How many large multi $10s of Million road projects are in the bill? If it is still funding the CRC for $450 million or if any major freeway / interchange expansion projects are in it, just let if fail.

  2. Bellinghammer says:

    Tempting, but no. Just no. $370m in bike/ped and the ability to vote on a higher MVET for Metro isn’t enough to justify an automatic $8b in highway expansion. Give me a bill without CRC, without SR167 funding, with billions strictly for maintenance and preservation, with local options for transit, AND with $370m for bike/ped. That’s a bill I could vote for, even if 80% of it went to roads.

    • Paul Deming says:

      Yes, let it fail. It’s time to stop wasting $billions$ of free way exapansion projects that keep setting us backwards. The bike lobby is wrong to go to members asking for support on this one. I know you can’t vocally oppose it because the Democratic party has your nuts in a vice, but as a tax payer, a citizen, a motorist and as a cyclist, I don’t want any more freeway projects.

      • Paul Deming says:

        And BTW – I live in Vancouver WA and no I don’t want the bridge. I support Mass Transit, but the light rail with the bridge is the wrong system and a waste of money.

  3. The level in the proposal is orders of magnitude higher than anything ever proposed in the state’s history. Legislators have never talked about hundreds of millions of dollars for bike/walk projects. That’s groundbreaking in the most literal sense.

    That request for a specific bike/walk message leaves completely up to each individual what you want to say about the rest of the package and any given highway project. If legislative champions like Rep. Liias work to get high levels of investment in biking and people who ride bikes don’t take a minute to say that actually matters to them, what can we expect to see in the next proposal?

  4. Scott says:

    The Willamette Week analysis of the CRC from two years ago gives all sorts of good reasons to let this fiasco die. Pay special attention to the video that proposes a much cheaper and more logical alternative that can be done in stages:

    http://www.wweek.com/portland/article-17566-a_bridge_too_false.html

  5. Gary says:

    While I would support a light rail bridge over the Columbia the 3D drawings of this bridge are all out of proportion. Freeway driving is down, bicycling is up, transit it up, yet this new bridge increases the amount of auto traffic capacity. Let this proposal die. There has to be a better way to get everybody over and back across that river than this.

  6. Pingback: Senate transportation package ignores people who walk, bike or take transit | Seattle Bike Blog

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