Op-ed: Bicyclists should support I-1631, Protect Washington voter initiative

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following op-ed is written by Chris Covert-Bowlds, M.D., a person who bikes, is a member of Physicians for Social Responsibility, and supports I-1631.

Washington state bicyclists should support I-1631 — the Protect Washington voter initiative. With a carbon dioxide emission fee paid by the producers to tackle climate change, I-1631 will fund non-motorized transportation, healthy forests, and clean air, water and energy investments.

Seventy percent of the funding would be dedicated to clean air and energy projects, of which non-motorized transportation would be eligible, potentially resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars in walking and biking infrastructure.  In practice, these investments will go to multiple strategies, recommended by the board, but there is a preference for “strategies that reduce vehicle miles traveled.”

As a Seattle family doctor, daily bicycle commuter, and father of two 20-something-year-olds who bike frequently, I know we need safer roads for people who bike.

We also need clean air, water and energy, and healthier forests, to address the health dangers already caused by climate change.

A broad coalition of groups representing health care, the environment, unions, people of color, and tribes created I-1631 as an equitable way to tackle climate change.

I am gathering voter signatures for this initiative because it is very good for the health of the people of Washington, including our kids and grandkids.

If we gather 260,000 valid voter signatures by June 30, and voters approve it November 6, I-1631 will fund non-motorized transportation (think bike lanes, sidewalks, etc), and help us address wild fires, air and water pollution, and sea level rise, which are already killing us.

I-1631 will fund clean air, clean water, clean energy, healthy forests, help affected workers transition to sustainable jobs, and help affected communities and tribes address climate change impacts. The carbon fee starts at $15 per ton of CO2, rising by $2 per ton per year, until we reach our state greenhouse gas emission targets.

Climate change is the great moral and political challenge of our time. We can all can help gathering signatures to get I-1631 on the ballot.

For the health of ourselves, our children, grandchildren, and to alleviate the suffering of the people in our state already being affected by climate change, let’s lead the nation, with I-1631, the Clean Air, Clean Energy initiative.

To help, and for info, go to www.yeson1631.org.

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