Keep your Eyes on the Prize: It’s Time to Go Get the Transportation Investments We Need

On Wednesday, Rep. Judy Clibborn, chair of the House Transportation Committee, proposed a transportation revenue package that invests less than 0.5% of $10 billion in walking and biking.

Now we need you.

We need you to tell the legislature that you support a realistic, forward-looking transportation proposal that meets the needs of our kids walking to school, our seniors who need safer streets to maintain their transportation independence, and bicycle users who want safe, connected trails and roads to get where they need to go.

This package needs to go further. The current proposal keeps investments in walking and biking at a standstill. That simply isn’t going to build the transportation system we need for a safe, accessible, connected future for everyone whether you bike, walk, use transit, or drive.

Not since 2005 has there been an opportunity of this magnitude to grow investments in biking and walking. With approximately $6 billion in non-motorized projects waiting for funding—a figure that doesn’t even include every bike/pedestrian project at the local level—this opportunity is critical for improving safety and growing bicycling statewide. And yet the package in its current form could keep investments low until the 2020s.

How many decades will it take to right-size investments in the healthiest forms of transportation? That’s the real question we face.

We need your help now to let legislators know that waiting 10 more years is too long and that we expect the state’s transportation investments to make a real difference in everyone’s ability to travel freely and safely.

We need you to let them know that these investments just make sense—that projects to enable everyone from 8 to 80 to walk or bike will reduce maintenance costs for the streets, reduce air and water pollution, increase access to transit as another essential element in the mix, and improve the health and well-being of our people and our local economies.

That’s not just good for us as people who ride bikes; that’s good for us as the taxpayers who already foot the bill for a system that doesn’t do enough for us.

On Monday, the House Transportation Committee is poised to hear the proposal. We’ll be there to make the case that this package is a start but needs to get much better to invest in connectivity, safety, and livability—but we need you to make the case directly to your legislators.

Please write your elected officials right now to tell them that we can’t wait 10 more years for safer sidewalks to our schools, better paths to connect our neighborhoods and workplaces, and more complete streets for all roadway users. We can’t afford to settle for a package that doesn’t get us where we need to go—that’s what transportation is all about, after all!

If you’re with us and you would support a package only if it includes substantive investments in walking and biking, use any or all of the following points to send a note to your legislator now.

You’re with us on this. Now what?

Contact your legislator right away. Enter your mailing address on the district finder form (choose Legislative, not Congressional) and follow the instructions on the site to reach a contact form. Focus on your state representatives.

What your legislator needs to hear about supporting a package that invests in walking, biking, and livability—the package we and others in the Transportation for Washington coalition have been calling for over the course of the months leading up to the session—

  • Washington only works when all people have an opportunity to get to where they need to go, whether it’s by biking, walking, or using the bus, rail, ferry, or car.
  • The proposed package keeps investments in walking and biking at a standstill, which essentially means going backward over the 10-year time span. Not since 2005 have we seen a significant bump in state investments and walking and biking, and yet this package could keep investments low until the 2020s. In order to support a package as a taxpayer and a voter, I would need to see real investments in biking and walking included.
  • We need affordable transportation options like transit, biking, and walking so working families can save at the pump and spend more time with their loved ones instead of being stuck in traffic.
  • Those are smart investments by the state because it’s in our best interests as taxpayers to reduce wear and tear on the roads, reduce air and water pollution, and improve our health. We can’t afford to walk away from the return on investment that active transportation provides.
  • That’s why we need the following included in a transportation revenue proposal:- $150 million each year for bike/pedestrian programs, including bike/pedestrian safety grants, Safe Routes to School, and Complete Streets.
    - $50 million each year for a transit-oriented development fund.
    - $300 million each year for road and bridge preservation and maintenance.
    - A “Fix It First” policy for highway investments, and a “Finish It First” approach to the package’s project listprioritizing the projects already being built over new projects.
  • People who ride bikes also drive cars. We pay taxes in many forms that fund streets and roads at the same time we take a load off them by riding our bikes. We believe it’s both reasonable and smart for the state to invest in getting even more people biking and walking so the system works better for all of us.

————–

Before you write that note, one more thing—You’re reading a lot about a proposed bike fee in the mix of revenue sources—putting a tax on a behavior we want to encourage, not discourage! Let’s be clear, we don’t like it, but if we focus solely on that issue, we could win the battle and lose the war.

Let’s think big and be bold: What kind of transportation system do we want in this state? One that really works for all of us regardless of how we get around. That means serious money and we need to push hard for that.

So keep your eyes on the real prize: A package that takes biking and walking seriously as essential elements of the transportation system. Let’s go for it before we lose another decade—or two.

This article was posted in Advocacy, Alert, Complete Streets, Funding/Policy, Issues & Advocacy, Legislature, Safe Routes to School. Bookmark the permalink. Follow comments with the RSS feed for this post.Post a Comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

3 Comments

  1. chc
    Posted February 22, 2013 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

    Why aren’t bicyclists talking about the bicycle fee included in the proposal? Would funds generated by this fee be tracked and allocated only for bike/ped improvements? Also, overall, I’m not so sure I’m comfortable with the idea of a bicycle fee. First, most bicycle owners/riders also own/drive cars — therefore, they are paying twice and pay all the other car and gas related taxes, too. Second, $25 bicycle fee is a 5% fee (on a $500 bike) — way more than the 0.7% car tab fee (bicyclists would achieve parity eventually, since it’s a one-time fee, not annual, but why such a difference?). Third, why are bicyclists asked to pay twice, and at a much greater percentage, when cars contribute about 6 times more than bicycles to the need for road improvements?

  2. jah
    Posted February 25, 2013 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

    Hmmm….revenues of $1m from bike fees produces $5m in biking and walking (0.5% of $10B)improvements? Sounds ok to me…

  3. Paul Deming
    Posted February 26, 2013 at 11:14 pm | Permalink

    What, if anything, is Washington Bikes doing about the Columbia River Crossing debacle down south here in Vancouver? Are you lobbying Olympia to not pony up the $450 Million that will open the door to billions wasted on this stupid bridge?

One Trackback

  1. [...] Washington Bikes points out that less than half of one percent of the proposed $10 billion would go to investments that make it safer and easier to get around on foot and bike. This is simply unacceptable. [...]

Post a Comment

Your email is kept private. Required fields are marked *

*
*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>