Washington Bikes testifies today in support of the Washington State Senate transportation revenue package. The proposed package still needs additional improvements to grow active transportation investments but today’s legislation represents an encouraging start and recognizes the need for state-level investments in biking and walking.
Today Washington Bikes signs on in support of the Washington State Senate package proposal for additional state-level transportation funding and appropriations. We thank the bill sponsors for recognizing the value of state investments in projects that help accomplish many of our priorities:
- advance safety,
- improve health for all ages,
- revitalize main streets in towns and cities across the state, and
- grow the outdoor recreation economy, in which bicycle riders spend over $3 billion each year.
As is true of all its predecessors, this proposal is not perfect. The various transportation revenue proposals that have come out since 2013 have gone through many iterations and drawn various critiques, including widespread concerns about whether or not states are investing enough in maintenance, preservation and operations. Especially problematic, from 2009-11 Washington state was one of the leaders in focusing heavily on expansion and not fixing decaying roads, and we called for a “fix it first” emphasis in our work on the last round of transportation revenue proposals. Most recently questions have been raised about the shape of transit funding and how this proposal impacts some of the climate policy priorities of Governor Inslee, as well as provisions in the package that impact biking and walking investments.
Many of the recent issues raised go beyond the scope of Washington Bikes work to grow bicycling statewide. Washington Bikes and our over 40 coalition supporters in economic development, public health, and outdoor recreation recognize there is still more work to be done and larger investments to be made for this legislation to create a package that improves physical activity, makes safer streets, and improves economies statewide.
But put in perspective, this package represents a significant shift from discussions in the 2013 negotiations where active transportation investments were largely absent from the State Senate discussions. The current proposal includes a combined $281 million in the investments that Washington Bikes directly champions. This level of proposed funding represents an encouraging bipartisan start to supporting investments that foster healthy communities through biking and walking—the kind of investments that represent our top legislative priority.
Today’s Senate Transportation Committee hearing represents the beginning of a protracted legislative process with multiple opportunities for amendments and additional discussion about the priorities of Washingtonians. Those priorities were clearly expressed in a survey last fall that found overwhelming voter support for making streets safer for our children. Projects that support Safe Routes to School, bicycle and pedestrian safety, and complete streets must be a part of the legislative dialogue at every phase of the negotiations.
The projects we care about benefit Washingtonians. Safe Routes to School projects have made our children safer and more active in hundreds of schools around the state in places like Wenatchee, White Salmon, University Place, Vancouver, and Airway Heights. A bicycle and pedestrian project will let residents and visitors in Sultan safely walk and bike, while doing double duty as a utility corridor for water and sewer and a key emergency connector in the event that the seismically unfit US 2 bridge fails. The Whitehorse Trail will connect Arlington and Darrington through the SR 530 slide and will serve as a new economic development engine for the Stillaguamish Valley’s outdoor recreation economy.
Countless other examples around the state embedded in the projects we continue to advocate for show the benefit and strong return on state investment to residents and visitors alike.
As the transportation revenue debate unfolds, Washington Bikes looks forward to working with the Senate and House to grow these investments further. We will move forward with our coalition that continues to focus on expanding investments for healthy and active kids, as well as with the countless businesses and communities statewide that support investments that connect communities via biking and walking. We appreciate Senator King, Hobbs, Fain, and Liias’s intent and their good start with this legislation and look forward to advocating for the essential next steps to grow bicycling statewide.
Join us and sign the petition to fund bicycle safety and better bicycle connections!
Petition: Fund Bicycle Safety & Better Bike Connections
Getting more people on bikes is good for our personal health, local businesses, our towns, our economy, and the air we breathe.
That’s why we call on the governor and the state legislature to make safer bicycling a top priority and to invest in more bike lanes and trails to create a complete network of bicycle connections.