The vast majority of Seattle voters support the city’s safe streets efforts, including pedestrianized streets, on-street café seating, bus lanes and bike lanes. According to a recent survey commissioned by the Northwest Progressive Institute in partnership with Seattle Neighborhood Greenways, it’s not even close.
The survey, conducted online by Change Research (methodology), asked likely voters in Seattle how much they support various value statements, infrastructure changes and policy ideas. And the results are very vindicating for the city’s safe streets movement. Opinion is not actually very split about many concepts that people assume are controversial, such as bus lanes, bike lanes and even fully closing streets to cars. People are confidently for them. I wish we had survey results for these questions from 10 years ago, because I think public opinion has massively shifted.
Among the infrastructure questions, support for protected bike lanes was the most divided, but even those had 71% support versus 26% opposed. Of course that 26% can still be very loud, which is why organizing to support bike lane projects is still so important. But it is important to understand where the majority opinion lies.
Interestingly, people were also very supportive of moving traffic enforcement duties from the Seattle Police Department to the Seattle Department of Transportation. 73% supported the idea while only 17% opposed it (10% were not sure). Many instances of police violence start with a simple traffic stop, whether it’s “jaywalking” or biking without a helmet or driving with a broken taillight. It is very encouraging that Seattle is ready to make a dramatic change to the way we enforce traffic safety laws. I hope Mayor-Elect Bruce Harrell and the City Council see this result and are encouraged to take bold action.
From the Northwest Progressive Institute:
QUESTION: Seattle has important decisions to make about its transportation future over the next few years. Thinking about how Seattle could fund and allocate space on our streets, please indicate how important each of the following values are to you.
VALUES & ANSWERS:
Safety: Everyone should be safe no matter how they get around on our streets.
Important: 96% Not Important: 4% Not sure: Very Somewhat Not Too Not At All 1% 81% 14% 3% 1% ———
Accessibility: Seniors, people with disabilities, and others who are unable to drive should be able to get around comfortably and with dignity.
Important: 94% Not Important: 4% Not sure: Very Somewhat Not Too Not At All 2% 73% 21% 3% 1% ———
Affordability: People should have affordable transportation options to get around.
Important: 92% Not Important: 6% Not sure: Very Somewhat Not Too Not At All 1% 72% 20% 4% 2% ———
Convenience: People should have convenient transportation options that get them out of traffic and save time.
Important: 91% Not Important: 7% Not sure: Very Somewhat Not Too Not At All 2% 63% 28% 4% 3% ———
Kid-friendly streets: Kids who are old enough should be able to safely and independently walk or bike to school, parks, and friends’ houses.
Important: 89% Not Important: 9% Not sure: Very Somewhat Not Too Not At All 2% 61% 28% 6% 3% ———
Racial equity: Communities of color deserve safe streets.
Important: 88% Not Important: 9% Not sure: Very Somewhat Not Too Not At All 3% 75% 13% 3% 6% ———
Clean environment: We must reduce climate-damaging emissions and air pollution.
Important: 88% Not Important: 10% Not sure: Very Somewhat Not Too Not At All 2% 74% 14% 6% 4% ———
Health: It should be easy for people to build exercise into their daily routine and lead healthier lives.
Important: 82% Not Important: 15% Not sure: Very Somewhat Not Too Not At All 3% 54% 29% 11% 4% ———
Happiness: People should have options to get around town that bring them joy.
Important: 73% Not Important: 23% Not sure: Very Somewhat Not Too Not At All 4% 44% 28% 16% 7% ———
QUESTION: During the pandemic, many cities across the country, including Seattle, made changes to their streets to create more space for walking, biking, and outdoor dining. Please indicate whether you would support or oppose making each of the following changes in your neighborhood as the state recovers from COVID-19, even if it means removing a lane of traffic or parking spaces.
IDEAS & ANSWERS:
Safe walking and biking routes for kids, parents, and teachers to get to schools
Support: 84% Oppose: 14% Not sure: Strongly Somewhat Somewhat Strongly 2% 56% 28% 9% 4% ———
More space for outdoor dining and retail to support small businesses
Support: 84% Oppose: 14% Not sure: Strongly Somewhat Somewhat Strongly 2% 55% 29% 7% 7% ———
Wider sidewalks and planting strips to give people more room to walk and plant more street trees
Support: 78% Oppose: 19% Not sure: Strongly Somewhat Somewhat Strongly 3% 47% 31% 10% 9% ———
Giving buses their own lanes to speed up bus trips
Support: 74% Oppose: 23% Not sure: Strongly Somewhat Somewhat Strongly 3% 41% 33% 15% 8% ———
Bike lanes that are physically separated from cars to make everybody safer
Support: 71% Oppose: 26% Not sure: Strongly Somewhat Somewhat Strongly 3% 46% 24% 13% 13% ———
QUESTION: Seattle has ambitious climate, health, equity, livability, economic, and safety goals. Do you support or oppose making the following changes to get us closer to these goals?
IDEAS & ANSWERS:
Providing for more homes, retail, and neighborhood amenities in order to create a city where people can walk to all their daily needs in fifteen minutes or less.
Support: 81% Oppose: 14% Not sure: Strongly Somewhat Somewhat Strongly 5% 49% 32% 6% 8% ———
Allowing shopping streets such as the street next to Pike Place Market to limit vehicle traffic to loading and unloading so that people can walk comfortably and safely.
Support: 81% Oppose: 15% Not sure: Strongly Somewhat Somewhat Strongly 4% 53% 28% 7% 8% ———
Shifting the enforcement of traffic laws from the Seattle Police Department to the Seattle Department of Transportation to allow police to focus on other priorities.
Support: 73% Oppose: 17% Not sure: Strongly Somewhat Somewhat Strongly 10% 51% 22% 7% 10% ———
Creating low-traffic, low-speed neighborhood streets where people can safely walk, bike, run, and play in the street — and car traffic is limited to deliveries and local access only.
Support: 67% Oppose: 28% Not sure: Strongly Somewhat Somewhat Strongly 5% 37% 30% 15% 13% ———
Allowing schools to close their adjacent streets during the school year to create a safer environment for kids to get to and from school.
Support: 55% Oppose: 38% Not sure: Strongly Somewhat Somewhat Strongly 8% 27% 28% 22% 15% ———
Requiring property owners to repair sidewalks when they sell their property to make the sidewalks safer and more accessible for people with disabilities and the elderly.
Support: 45% Oppose: 47% Not sure: Strongly Somewhat Somewhat Strongly 8% 23% 22% 19% 28% ———