UPDATE: It would appear this letter was soooo persuasive, the King County Council announced they would pass the $20 charge within an hour and a half of this post…. Good work everyone who battled to get this done without going to the ballot. Now, let’s concentrate on getting Seattle’s Transportation Benefits Fee passed.
Buses. They can be smelly and scary at times, especially the diesel ones when they pass you on an uphill. But a full bus is dozens of cars off our roads, and a significant decrease in the King County Metro budget would have a horrendous effect on the quality and safety of bicycling in Seattle and King County.
Transportation for Washington has set up a handy tool for you to send a letter to the members of the King County Council, urging them to pass a measly $20 Vehicle License Fee in order to prevent massive cuts in transit service county-wide. As people working to make our streets safer for bicycling and walking, it is imperative that we support transit (yes, I know trolley tracks are dangerous, but don’t let that influence your drive to maintain much needed bus service).
I modified the pre-drafted letter from TFW to directly address some of the ways bicycling in the region depends of transit service. I have certainly not addressed them all. My letter is copied below. Add your thoughts in the comments below (and, of course, send them on to the King County Council).
Dear King County Council:
I am writing as a bicycle advocate to urge you to adopt the $20 Congestion Relief Charge on behalf of those who choose to move around in King County via bike.
Riding transit and bicycling are an odd pair, but it’s a combination that works. As a means of moving people and goods through the county, they go hand-in-hand and serve the residents of King County in different ways. But each would be hurt by a significant reduction in use by the other, and our county would be desperately weakened if its residents were left with fewer transportation options.
Our roads cannot safely handle the influx of added motor vehicles that would result from a decline in Metro service. A recent study showed that 36% of King County commuters use the bus. Cutting bus service by 17% would mean traffic congestion, increased pollution and roads more hostile to people walking and bicycling throughout King County’s neighborhoods and commercial centers.
King County is a leader in the region, showing a combination of riding transit, walking and bicycling can reduce our region’s dependence on oil to complete everyday tasks, whether that’s going to work or to the grocery store.
Failing to pass this charge would make every transportation option more difficult, including driving alone. It would make our roads more intimidating to people who are interested in riding a bicycle, but are afraid of the danger posed by motor vehicle traffic.
A significant increase in motor vehicle use on our roads would increase the likelihood of a collision between a person driving a car and a person riding a bike or walking across the street. Fewer people would get the exercise they need to remain healthy, active members of their communities. There would be fewer interactions within the community, weakening the social fabric that makes King County a great place to live, work and explore.
For county residents whose homes are separated from other neighborhoods by infrastructure unfriendly to or inaccessible by walking and bicycling, such as the 520 bridge, a decrease in transit service will make the the gap between these communities significantly wider.
The majority of residents in King County do not want to drive, and we have approved transit measure after transit measure to prove it. Many people in King County commute for miles and miles by bicycle every day to save money, stay healthy and enjoy the beauty of our land, water and people. We do not want to spend more time inhaling exhaust from the car in front of us while we sit in separate little boxes crawling down a congested highway that looks just like every other highway in the United States.
Please, do not make the people of King County vote on this measure. It is expensive and exhausting to take an initiative to ballot. The right thing to do is clear: Approve the charge by a two-thirds vote through the council.