The Washington State legislature has officially passed the 2023-25 budget, which includes significant increases in traffic safety funding as well as new e-bike incentives.
Washington Bikes celebrated the budget news, calling the investments in biking and walking “unprecedented.” The appropriations (PDF) for the three-year period include $175.5 million for “active transportation” projects and programs, including safety grants, complete streets, Safe Routes to School and school-based bicycle education.
The state also includes $5 million for an e-bike rebate program, allowing anyone to apply for a $300 rebate when purchasing an e-bike in the state. Residents in households with incomes at or below 80% of the county’s median income can qualify for a much larger $1,200 rebate. The and $2 million to help employers, governments, tribes or nonprofits establish e-bike “lending libraries” to help lower the barrier to entry for e-bikes, which are typically more expensive than pedal-only bikes.
The budget also includes funding for a statewide sidewalk analysis project that the Disability Mobility Initiative and Front and Centered promoted. The state does not currently have comprehensive record of where sidewalks do and do not exist, and there is definitely no comprehensive data on which sidewalks have accessible curbs. This is boring work that is extremely important. We can’t effectively fix the problem if we don’t know where the problem is. This is the first step to a complete statewide sidewalk network.
The budget passed with unanimous bipartisan support (98-0 in the House and 46-3 in the Senate). State Democrats, who control both chambers, highlighted these safety investments:
- increasing safe routes to school
- mapping sidewalk gaps
- improving busy intersections
- introducing grade separation on rural roads to prevent serious crashes from lane departures
- directing the Traffic Safety Commission to study and respond to alarming safety trends
- addressing the section of Pacific Avenue at 134th St. in Parkland that led to the death of 13-year-old Michael Weilert, who was struck and killed while riding his bike at a crosswalk at that intersection in July 2022