Cascade calls for more bike/walk station access funds in ST3

Way cheaper and more efficient than a parking garage

Way cheaper and more efficient than a parking garage

Sound Transit’s latest ballot measure draft would spend $661 million in transit funds to build car parking near stations. Seattle Transit Blog did the math and found that each new parking space would cost $80,000. To put that in perspective, a person could park their car at a station every day for 50 years and Sound Transit would pay them $4.38 per day to do it. That’s basically the cost of their round-trip fare.

The budget for new car parking at stations is double the budget for biking and walking access improvements to those same stations.

And not only will these biking and walking projects help people get to light rail safely and easily, they will also make the neighborhoods around the stations better places to be. Sound Transit can pay for the stations access and get the improved livability for free.

Cascade Bicycle Club has an action alert out calling on Sound Transit to increase the biking and walking access funds to $500 million. One way to fund this increase: Simply charge for parking at stations. This would have the added benefits of incentivizing people to get to stations by another means if possible and charging people more of their fair share.

Sound Transit already charges for secure bike parking, and bike parking costs a minuscule fraction of that $80,000 per car space.

This seems like a very reasonable change to the package that would also give the campaign to pass the ballot measure another big benefit to sell to voters who live near any of the proposed stations.

Here’s the text of the letter. You can send it or a modified version yourself using Cascade’s handy form:

Dear Sound Transit,

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the Sound Transit 3 Draft Plan. I urge the Sound Transit Board to increase investments in biking and walking (non-motorized system access) so that I can safely, affordably, and easily get to transit.

In the final Sound Transit 3 package, I would like to see the total walking and biking investments increased to $500 million dollars. This is possible by:

•Increasing R-05 (System Access Fund) to improve biking and walking to more transit stations, whether existing or to be completed in the future.
•Increasing non-motorized access allowances in individual projects.
•Making parking more efficient by pricing  parking and using a portion of the revenues to fund improvements for biking and walking around the station area.

Increasing biking and walking investments helps Sound Transit 3 get more people moving. The success of transit can often be limited by making it hard to bike and walk to a bus stop or light rail station.  It supports Transit Oriented Development and affordable housing around stations — It supports healthy, equitable communities — And, it provides low-cost, sustainable ways to give more people better options to get around the Puget Sound.

Sincerely,

[You]

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9 Responses to Cascade calls for more bike/walk station access funds in ST3

  1. Skylar says:

    Thanks, letter sent. I’m kind of amazed at the $80k/stall figure – IIRC, High Cost of Free Parking put even the most luxurious structured parking cost at $50k/stall. Is ST using gold dust in the pavement or something?

  2. William says:

    ST3 is beginning to sound like a transit version of the Boston’s Big Dig with every constituency demanding additional enhancements to an already overly expensive, slow and increasingly poorly focused effort. It is very unlikely that ST will cut the parking structures because I am sure they are there because the focus groups have shown them necessary to give ST3 a chance of passing the voter’s muster so basically we are arguing that we want to make the project even more expensive.

    I know that everyone is excited about the crowds flocking to the new light rail connection to Husky Stadium but given that ST couldn’t provide a sensible way of linking this to bus transit in NE Seattle (neighborhoods, Children’s hospital, NOAA etc.) can we really trust them to do something sensible with a vastly expanded effort. It is great to see the crowds walking to and from the station, but there are already conflicts between intersecting cycle and pedestrian paths that should have been foreseen when the expensive overpass and enhancements to the southern end of Rainier vista were designed.

    • Ints says:

      Conflicts between intersecting bicycle and pedestrian paths? Which ones?

      • William says:

        Pretty much all of them. There are a whole bunch of curved intersecting paths, some with poor sightlines, shared by pedestrians and cyclists going in different directions; unlike the Burke Gilman the average pedestrian is not to one side but rather wandering all over the place fiddling with their smart phones as they would in any pedestrian area; and many of the cyclists are going quite quickly especially downhill. The cyclists should slow down and weave their way carefully through the crowds but some will not. We would not applaud such poor design if it was cars and bicycles so why is it okay for bicycles and pedestrians?

      • Ints says:

        Yeah, getting to and from the station via Rainier Vista/Stevens Way is where I use my bell more often now than anywhere else I ride.
        With all of the traffic (bike and ped) on the new overpass, I have started using the old HecEd overpass to the north. I’m not a speedy rider by any means so this lets me avoid the fast cyclists at least.
        Hopefully users’ behavior will adapt to the conditions there and everyone will adjust their speeds and behaviors to improve the situation.

      • William says:

        And it is only going to get worse when the bike lane opens on 520 and other projects are completed. It is a classic case of form over function and it really makes me wonder what ST and the UW were doing when this area was redesigned. I single thoughtful cyclist could have told them it would not work and it would have been easy to separate cyclists and pedestrians except for a few well marked intersections.

    • RossB says:

      Well said. That is pretty much the problem with ST3. It has some good stuff, and with this proposal, it will have more. But for every dollar spent on something sensible (like a bike locker, or a station they should have added before) there will be a thousand spent on something really stupid (like light rail from Issaquah to Bellevue). It wouldn’t matter so much if the price tag was small, but it isn’t — this is huge.

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