Two months ago, early in the session, we called on the legislature for a forward-looking transportation revenue package that would at long last start to meet the needs of our kids walking to school, 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.
We opposed the proposal then on the table because it simply didn’t do enough, and at the same time it would add a bike tax—two good reasons to say no.
Today, a new proposal is on the table—one that starts to move us in the right direction.
We’re finally seeing numbers with another zero in them that begin to reflect the growing place of bicycling in the transportation system of the future. We’re seeing something we can support as a down payment on the $6 billion-plus backlog of projects (and those are just the ones we know about so far—we know there are more to add to our statewide project list).
The 12-year funding proposal from Rep. Judy Clibborn, chair of the House Transportation Committee, includes $100 million for Complete Streets grants and $15 million for specific trail projects, and it no longer includes the additional fee on the sale of new bicycles that we opposed.
Rep. Marko Liias is offering an amendment that would provide an additional $250 million for bike/walk projects: an immediate $100 million for projects around the state, another $100 million over the life of the proposal for additional projects as they’re identified, and $50 million for Safe Routes to School.
With the amendment, the proposal takes us from the $61 million in the original proposal to $365 million over 12 years—an increase of over six-fold, and numbers for bike/walk projects that finally reach into hundreds of millions, not tens of millions.
We said we could only support a revenue proposal that funds biking, walking, and transit as essential elements of the transportation system. Because we’ve been fighting ever since the first proposal came out for those investments, we’re starting to make progress.
Is it everything we called for in the Transportation for Washington campaign? No. That’s the reality of negotiations in the political realm of Olympia—especially when you’re talking about new fees and taxes.
Is it a move in the right direction that we can support? Yes.
What next? Contact your state representatives right away to speak up for biking/walking.
By phone: Call 1-800-562-6000. The operator will route your message. You’re calling about HB 1954 in support of the Liias amendment that invests in walking and biking.
By email: 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.
Points to make:
- I support Rep. Marko Liias’s amendment to HB 1954 to add investments for biking and walking projects.
- Biking and walking projects make streets safer for everyone from children to grandparents and enable more people to bike, walk, and take transit.
- This funding is a start toward helping working families save at the pump by making healthier choices available.
- 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.
- As a taxpayer and a voter, I can only support the idea of additional fees and taxes to fund transportation if the package includes significant investments in biking and walking projects like what Rep. Liias’s amendment provides. Without the amendment, I can’t support the bill.
It’s never easy for legislators to take a vote on a tax bill. But we can’t get a more connected transportation system for our future and fix the roads we already have without making an investment.
They need to hear from you that you support a revenue proposal–if and only if it includes the amendment that supports biking and walking.