Last year, transportation money was flying all around the state legislature. As usual, it ended with billions for new and wider highways (boo!). But it also included significant increases in Safe Routes to School funds and other trail and bike/walk access projects (not to mention the needed Sound Transit 3 authority, though heaven forbid the state actually fund regional transit).
Without a transportation package on the table this year, the WA Bikes strategy is a little different. Primarily, they are looking to protect funding already gained, protect trails (including the John Wayne Pioneer Trail), get the state to study the economics of bicycle tourism, and encourage stronger distracted driving laws (like, you know, making it illegal to look at Facebook while driving. That’s right, you can legally do that now because we live in a crazy world).
Investments that get Washingtonians where they want to go
Washington Bikes continues to support transportation investments that focus on smart investments in successful programs that provide safe and healthy routes to schools for our children, complete streets for Washington’s main streets and business districts, as well as investments in trails and bikeways that improve mobility and spur economic development in rural and urban areas alike.
- Ask: (1) Retain historic funding levels made by 2015 Legislature for the Safe Routes to School Grant Program, Bicycle Pedestrian Safety Grant Program, Complete Streets Grant Program, as well as the bicycle and pedestrian project list.
Protecting Trails Statewide
Washington state has some of the longest and most iconic trails in the nation for biking, walking. Washington Bikes is committed to keeping trails open and accessible. Washington Bikes will monitor and explore the potential for additional investments that connect and improve trails for neighboring residents, visitors, and neighboring communities that benefit from the economic opportunities that trails bring via the $3.1 billion that bicycle riders spend in Washington state.
Growing the Multimillion Dollar Bicycle Travel & Tourism Industry
Bicycle travel and tourism is big business. According to a 2015 Economic Impact study from the Governor’s Task Force on Parks and Outdoor Recreation, Washington state bicycle riders spend $3.1 billion annually. An improved understanding of bike travel and tourism in Washington state is needed to make smart choices for growth statewide, particularly in rural areas.
- Ask: Funding for a study of the economic impact of bicycle travel and tourism by the Department of Commerce will help quantify the industry and improve strategies to grow our state’s economy.
Strengthen Washington State’s Distracted Driving Laws
Following Washington Bikes successful lobbying in 2010, this Washington Traffic Safety Commission (WTSC) agency request legislation improves upon the current law by broadening the definition so that any person (with much narrower exceptions) operating a motor vehicle while holding a personal wireless communications device is guilty of a traffic infraction. It closes loopholes such as being able to use one’s phone while stopped at an intersection or stoplight (currently legal), it also expands the definitions of handheld uses to ban texting and email use on smart phones. Additional violations receive twice the penalty, plus violations go on one’s driver record for insurance purposes. Finally, distracted driving would be included in Department of Licensing exams (currently they are not).
- Ask: WTSC agency request legislation.