Action Alerts

It’s crunch time in Olympia

Act now and let your legislators know it’s time to hold the line on critical biking investments in the statewide transportation spending package.

Legislators in Olympia have just days before a partial government shutdown begins. Months of negotiating transportation spending that will decide where billions of dollars go over the next 16 years could conclude in the next week. Will legislators invest in safer streets and better bike connections?

Tell your legislators to hold the line at the House Transportation Committee proposal. It sets a new foundation for biking and walking investments at approximately $236 million over 16 years.*

Take Action to hold the line on biking investments

It’s important that legislators hear from you today that it’s time to hold the line investments for school safety projects, critical regional biking connections, and important trail and Main Streets that grow local economies.

Cost-effective and important biking and walking investments are worth supporting because every person in Washington state deserves the chance to bike and walk safely on the streets of your hometowns and in between.

Join us at Washington Bikes today to ask legislators to hold the line.

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* Interested in more details about the House Transportation Committee proposal?

  • Here’s the House Transportation Committee bicycle and pedestrian project list, which currently has $80 million of proposed projects allocated and $20 million unallocated. It includes Spokane’s University District Bridge, Anacortes’s Guemes Channel Trail, the Northgate Bicycle and Pedestrian Bridge, and improvements to the Burke Gilman Trail.
  • Also, the House Transportation Committee proposal includes $56 million in new investments for the WSDOT Safe Routes to School grant program and $75 million for the WSDOT Bicycle and Pedestrian grant program. It’s important to note that these are additive investments to already-existing state commitments to these two grant programs.
  • Finally, $5 million is allocated to Puget Sound Bike Share (aka, Pronto!) expansion on the east side of Lake Washington.

 

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Posted in Advocacy, Alert, Funding/Policy, Infrastructure, Issues & Advocacy, Legislature, News, Safe Routes to School, Safety, Trails, Transportation, WSDOT | Leave a comment

King County Alert: Snoqualmie Valley Trail Closure

From King County Parks:

The contractor has begun work on the site this week for the Sinnema Quaale Upper Revetment Project of the Snoaualmie River. The project is requiring a stretch of the Snoqualmie Valley Trail to be temporarily closed until approximately October 31. The closure will extend from approximately 1 1/2 miles south of NE 124th Street to two miles north of the Stillwater Natural Area.

Temporary closures of the trail began on Monday where the trail will reopen in the evenings after the construction crew completes their activities for the day. Complete closure of the trail is anticipated to go into effect later this week. No detour will be available.

For more detailed information on this project and closure, visit the Sinnema Quaale Upper Revetment Analysis and Repair Project webpage where you can subscribe to project updates. You can also read the press release here.

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Take Action: It’s Time to Hold the Line

Right now legislators in Olympia are negotiating transportation spending that will decide where billions of dollars go over the next 16 years. Will they stay the course for safer streets and better bike connections?

Take Action

Unfortunately, there’s still a big risk that little-to-no new money will go to enable you, your children, and your aging parents to bike and walk with the safety you deserve.

It doesn’t have to be this way if you speak up now.

Write your legislators today to ask them to hold the line

Tell your legislators that it’s time to hold the line at the House Transportation Committee proposal. It sets a foundation for additional walking and biking investments at approximately $236 million over a 16-year timeframe. That includes $56 million for the Safe Routes to School Grant Program, $75 million for Bicycle and Pedestrian Grant Program, and $100 million project list that will fund major projects like the Northgate Bicycle and Pedestrian Bridge in Seattle and the University District Bridge in Spokane.

More would be better, and as your voice in Olympia Washington Bikes will keep speaking up for more. But as a baseline the House proposal takes a good step to invest in school safety projects, critical regional biking connections, and important trail and Main Street connections that grow local economies.

Over the past five months, the Senate and House transportation proposals have made important contributions and forward progress. But it’s still highly possible that the current negotiations will undercut that very progress.

Now it’s our time to tell legislators: Cost-effective and important biking and walking investments are worth supporting because every person in Washington state deserves the chance to bike and walk safely on the streets of your hometowns.

Join us at Washington Bikes today to ask legislators to hold the line

Write your legislators today by using the below letter writing tool. Thank you for growing bicycling statewide!

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Posted in Advocacy, Alert, Economic Impact, Funding/Policy, Health, Infrastructure, Issues & Advocacy, Legislature, News, Politics, Safe Routes to School, Safety, Transportation | Leave a comment

Action Alert: Take the Next Step to Invest in Our Children

The Senate and House transportation revenue package proposals each take important steps to investing in biking and walking connections across the state. Still more work can be done to take the next step to invest in locally driven school safety projects that make kids safe and healthy. Send your legislators a note of thanks that also reminds them work remains to take the next step to invest in our children.

Every child in Washington state deserves the chance to safely walk and bike to their school – it’s something an overwhelming number of Washington voters agree with. Recent surveys tell us what we already know – investing in safe walking and biking remains a priority across the state.

For over two months House and Senate transportation leaders have worked to craft new revenue proposals that include critical safe biking and walking investments. In February, the Senate proposal took an important step in recognizing the value of Safe Routes to Schools and Biking and Walking Safety grant programs by including them in their proposal. And on Tuesday night, the House Transportation Committee voted for a proposal that takes a great step forward in increasing funding in safe biking and walking connections across the state.

Let's give these kids healthy & safe routes to school!

Let’s give these kids healthy & safe routes to school!

The most recent proposal connects gaps in some of our biggest cities, including Tacoma, Spokane and Seattle, as well as smaller cities including Anacortes, Milton, and University Place. It recognizes that state walking and biking connections are critical by establishing a $100 million project fund. It also adds more investments, notably to a grant program that improves biking and walking safety. These walking and biking investments represent an approximately $236 million foundation over a 16-year timeframe.

These increases are important and worth supporting. Still, more can still be done to invest in the state’s Safe Routes to School grant program. Currently only 1 in 4 projects are getting funded. With a modest increase from the proposal at hand, we can enable more locally-driven school safety projects to reach completion. These school district and local jurisdiction-led projects make infrastructure and educational improvements that make kids safe and healthy.

We think it’s possible.

Now it’s your time to thank legislators and ask them to support the House proposal’s investment levels for biking and walking, and to remind the legislature that their work is not done. We are so close to making more school safety projects a reality.

Take 30 seconds today to send the below letter to thank your state legislators and remind them that every child in Washington state deserves the chance to safely bike and walk to school. Let’s take that next step to invest in our children.

Send the letter today!

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Posted in Advocacy, Alert, Funding/Policy, Infrastructure, Issues & Advocacy, Kids, Legislature, News, Politics, Safe Routes to School, Safety, Transportation | Leave a comment

Take Action: Make a Difference for the Next Generation of Biking

Let you representative know today that you want better biking in Washington state.

Let you representative know today that you want better biking in Washington state.

Right now in the House of Representatives budget negotiations are in full swing to spend billions of additional dollars on transportation.

Unfortunately, there’s a good chance that little to no new money will go to walking and biking connections and programs to help children walk and bike to school with the safety they deserve.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

Tell your Representative to make a difference for a generation by prioritizing funding for Safe Routes to School and Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety and Mobility investments.

Across America and around the world, leaders are prioritizing safer biking and walking because these investments are integral to building stronger economies, healthier communities, and transportation connections that work for you. Washington state leaders have the opportunity to prioritize these investments too, but they need to hear from you today.

This is real funding that will make a real difference toward providing everyone with the freedom to safely bike to get where they need to go. We can’t afford to miss this opportunity to invest for today’s children and generations to come.

Take action NOW to tell your Representative investments in safe, healthy transportation matter for you and for all of us.

At current funding levels, three of every four Safe Routes to School safety improvement applications go unfunded, leaving our most vulnerable most at risk. We’re asking legislators for $30 million per year with additional projects identified to jump-start these investments so people from 8 to 80 have safe connections to bike and walk.

This is our chance to make big things happen for biking and walking, but only if you speak up now.

Take one minute and tell your legislators today!

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Posted in Advocacy, Alert, Funding/Policy, Infrastructure, Issues & Advocacy, Legislature, Politics, Safe Routes to School, Transportation | 1 Comment

SB 5656: Strengthening Washington’s Distracted Driving Laws

By request of the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, Senator Ann Rivers (R-La Center) introduced legislation today to strengthen our state’s distracted driving laws. SB 5656 will help to protect those that walk and bike from preventable injuries and deaths caused by texting and talking while driving.

largenocellphones-png-mdPop Quiz I: What increases a driver’s crash risk by 23 times?

Answer: Texting while driving.

Pop quiz II: What increases a driver’s crash risk by four times?

Answer: Simply talking on a cell phone without a hands-free device.

Since 2010, when Washington Bikes helped lead the successful lobbying to start to reduce distracted driving, it’s even more obvious that distracted driving affects all of us. Distraction contributes to 26% of fatal crashes in Washington state.  SB 5656 will work to close loopholes and stiffen penalties to reduce this growing concern, especially as smart phones become more and more central to people’s lives. This legislation is a priority in the Washington Bikes 2015 Legislative Agenda.

It’s no surprise to most of us to learn that electronic distraction when driving is growing. A recent study by Harborview’s Dr. Beth Ebel shows that nearly one out of every ten Washington state drivers is engaged with a handheld device at any moment.

Senator Ann Rivers (R - La Center) is sponsoring a bill to strengthen distracted driving laws in Washington.

Senator Ann Rivers (R – La Center) is sponsoring a bill to strengthen distracted driving laws in Washington.

Like all traffic injuries and deaths, distracted driving is a preventable problem.

Reducing distracted driving helps create a culture of safety for drivers and the most vulnerable roads users – children, pedestrians, and bicyclists. The risks around distraction can be more intense because bicyclists and pedestrians – including children – are less visible and more prone to go unnoticed by distracted drivers, with tragic consequences.

SB 5656 improves upon the current law by broadening the definition so that any person (with much narrower exceptions) operating a motor vehicle while holding a personal wireless communications device is guilty of a traffic infraction. It closes loopholes such as being able to use one’s phone while stopped at an intersection or stoplight (currently legal), it also expands the definitions of handheld uses to ban texting and email use on smart phones. Additional violations receive twice the penalty, plus violations go on one’s driver record for insurance purposes. Finally, distracted driving would be included in Department of Licensing exams (currently they are not).

These are common sense fixes that provide law enforcement more tools to stop distracted driving and to stiffen consequences.

It’s now time to improve Washington state’s distracted driving laws. Keep in touch with us by signing-up to Washington Bikes’ alerts to help us pass this important safety legislation.

[Tweet “Thx @Senator_Rivers for making distracted driving laws stronger. I’m w/@WAbikes on this. #WAleg

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Scofflaw Biking Survey (Yeah, We Said It)

bicycle traffic signal greenWe’re not fans of the term “scofflaw” as applied to people on bicycles. It implies that riding a bike is associated with breaking the law more than people who drive. In fact, a 2013 study by Portland State University professor Chris Monsere found just the opposite.

So it caught our eye when the Washington Post Wonkblog ran a Jan. 9 piece called “Let’s talk seriously about why cyclists break traffic laws,” with a link to a Scofflaw Biking Survey. Reporter Emily Badger wrote,

“Most of us, whatever mode we travel, break the law at some point, Marshall points out, whether we’re driving five miles over the speed limit, or crossing the street against the crosswalk. And yet, we tend not to treat lead-footed drivers with the same disapproval as cyclists who ride through stop signs, even though the former behavior is potentially more publicly harmful than the latter. Which raises another question: Are cyclists really more prolific scofflaws than drivers anyway?

Prof. Wesley Marshall of University of Colorado Denver, one of the researchers leading the study, sees the word quite differently. When we asked why the survey wasn’t labeled something neutral that didn’t load the dice with presuppositions, he wrote,

“In terms of using the word ‘scofflaw,’ it was very intentional. If I had called it something more general like a ‘transportation behavior survey there is no way I’d have gotten even a fraction of the respondents that we have already.  It’s a long survey, and we don’t have funding to pay people to take it — so we had to rely on a somewhat provocative title to garner a strong reaction and some online attention.

“Also, I am using the word ‘scofflaw’ in homage to its origins with the bootlegging that occurred during Prohibition (the word “scofflaw” emerged from a 1924 contest held by the Boston Herald trying to come up with a term to describe somebody who flagrantly disobeyed the Prohibition law). The intent is to reference the fact that while some people were in fact breaking the law, social norms didn’t view these people as criminals. Same goes with scofflaw cyclist…. yes, they are breaking the law — but many people (including myself in many instances) don’t also see them as criminals (similarly to how society looks at someone that goes a few miles an hour over the speed limit).”

So are you a “scofflaw” or someone exercising judgment while negotiating a system not designed for bicycles? Take the study and invite non-bicycling friends to take it too; it includes questions about driving behavior.

The survey will take about 10 or 15 minutes to complete. It asks questions about respondents’ travel patterns and experiences as bicyclists under various situations, with photos to illustrate some situations.

The survey is part of a larger study intending to better understand our transportation system and what factors might correlate with different behavior patterns. The researchers say in the survey introduction, “Findings from the study could help create streets that serve many users comfortably, safely, and efficiently.”

Important note about device differences:

  • On the desktop the survey taker will have a comment box available with each question.
  • Mobile device users get a comment box only at the end. If you take the survey on a mobile device, we suggest making notes for your comments as you go.

Take the survey now!

traffic signal showing red lightTraffic Signals and Bike Detection

Speaking of laws that don’t accommodate people on bicycles, we’re working on a bill that addresses faulty traffic signals (meaning those that don’t detect bicycles the way they should under a law we got passed in 2009).

While we have you thinking about bike laws…

Sign up for our e-news and request your copy of our pocket guide to Washington state bike laws, “Drive Aware” brochure to share with your favorite driver who doesn’t understand why we sometimes control the lane, and other materials to help us all ride heads-up.

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Posted in Alert, Attitudes, Bike Culture, Issues & Advocacy, Legal, News, Research, Safety, Transportation | 1 Comment

Representative Rick Larsen Champions Biking and Walking Safety

Thanks to Representative Rick Larsen’s leadership, we’re about to learn more about the trends and causes of collisions involving pedestrians and bicycles and to make recommendations about improving safety on our streets.

Rep Larsen PhotoWhile most transportation fatalities and serious injuries in Washington state have been on the decline, our most vulnerable road users — those who walk and bike — have not been enjoying this safety dividend. In some cases fatalities are up. From 2009-2011 15.5% of all transportation-related deaths and 16.7% of all transportation-related serious injuries in Washington state come from those who walk and bike.

As most who walk and bike can attest, many streets and roads can be unfriendly places. It’s a reason that new design guides and innovative best practices around street engineering are beginning to take hold. Still, the majority of new street and road designs in Washington state take a conventional engineering approach, which leads to unsafe vehicle speeds and numerous biking and walking safety and mobility problems.

To begin to get to the bottom of these issues, Washington Bikes thanks Representative Rick Larsen (2-Washington) for spearheading a letter to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and supported by Representatives Norton (Washington DC) and DeFazio (4-Oregon).

“The safety of everyone on the road should be our top priority. Thanks to coordinated efforts, motor vehicle accident deaths are declining. But the same is not true for the most vulnerable people on our roadways – pedestrians and bicyclists. The GAO can give us a better idea of the reasons behind why pedestrian and cyclist fatalities are going up. We want to know what more Congress can do to ensure the highest level of safety for all of those using our roads,” said Larsen, DeFazio and Norton.

GAO will now conduct research to examine:

  • trends in pedestrian and cyclist crashes (including causes of such crashes), fatalities, and injuries in the last decade;
  • challenges that states face in improving pedestrian and cyclist safety (including roadway design speeds and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) guidelines for road design), and the initiatives states have undertaken to address this issue — with a focus on the effects of the common road engineering standard that sets speed limits at the rate 85% of drivers use under regular conditions;
  • the extent that federal initiatives and funds have been made available to assist states in improving pedestrian and cyclist safety, and additional federal actions that may be needed.

This GAO report will help inform US Department of Transportation and FHWA as recommendations and policy are developed as part of the “Safer Streets, Safer People” initiative.

Washington Bikes looks forward to the results of this GAO study also informing next steps for the Washington State Department of Transportation (particularly its Highway Safety Improvement Program) and Washington Traffic Safety Commission (and its Strategic Highway Safety Plan, Target Zero) as both agencies seek to become more multimodal and grow their focus on protecting the most vulnerable on Washington state’s streets and roads.

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Posted in Alert, Complete Streets, Federal, Funding/Policy, Issues & Advocacy, News, Politics, Safety | 2 Comments

We Did It! A Federal Safety Performance Measure for Biking & Walking to be Developed

Despite the drama surrounding the FY 2015 Omnibus, or “CRomnibus,” biking and walking just got a big win thanks to Washington state’s own Senator Patty Murray.

ty_patty_murray_12-15Tell Senator Murray thanks for her leadership in advocating for a non-motorized safety performance measure.

The win addresses the growing and persistent problem for the safety of everyone that walks and bikes. As most transportation fatalities and serious injuries in Washington state have been on the decline, our most vulnerable road users – those that walk and bike – have not seen a similar decline. From 2009-2011 15.5% of all transportation-related deaths and 16.7% of all transportation-related serious injuries in Washington state come from those that walk and bike.

During the development of the 2015 budget, Washington Bikes and the League of American Bicyclists worked with Senator Murray’s office to include a directive for the US Department of Transportation (USDOT) to develop a safety performance measure. This push for inclusion in the appropriations bill represents a continuation of an earlier push to pass legislation in both the US House of Representatives and Senate to require USDOT to establish a non-motorized performance measure.

The now final budget, specifically under the Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (THUD) appropriations, passed by Congress on Saturday includes a directive (see page 17) to the US Department of Transportation from Congress to “…to establish separate, non-motorized safety performance measures for the highway safety improvement program, define performance measures for fatalities and serious injuries from pedestrian and bicycle crashes, and publish its final rule on safety performance measures no later than September 30, 2015.”

What can we expect from this important advance for non-motorized safety? For one, this directive will require states to set a goal of reducing biking and walking fatalities in their state, and report back on their progress.

Additionally, the directive speaks directly to the federal Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP). While some HSIP projects in Washington state have included walking and biking improvements, they have also included other traditional street design considerations that make it challenging to comfortably walk and bike. Furthermore, HSIP in Washington state hasn’t had an explicit tie to walking and biking as its primary purpose is to address top-tier priority safety areas in the state’s Strategic Highway Safety Plan, Target Zero, and not overtly on walking and biking. This new directive’s rulemaking and reporting requirements will precipitate more accountability as to determine whether HSIP investments actually improve safety for those that walk and bike.

In the current Congress Senator Murray holds a leadership position in the Senate on transportation funding issues and advocated for the inclusion of this directive to make our streets safer for everyone. We at Washington Bikes can’t thank her enough for her leadership.

Please join Washington Bikes and thank Senator Murray for her invaluable help in making this significant change happen for everyone that bikes and walks. Thank her today.

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Washington Bikes 2015 Legislative Agenda: Health, Safety, Transportation & Strong Economies

As the dust settles on the 2014 elections, activity for legislative action in 2015 grows. The slim Democrat House majority (now at 51 seats compared to 47 for the Republican minority) and the Senate Republican majority (25 with 1 Democrat caucusing with the Republican majority compared to a 23 seat Democrat minority) face a challenging legislative session with budget realities that fail to match up with expected revenues. High priority issues will include meeting State Supreme Court decrees on education funding, addressing ongoing structural funding burdens, and determining next steps in upkeep of a heavily bonded transportation system.

Mom Tonya shared this with us, saying, "Kids out of school, cold & rainy, time to ride!"

Mom Tonya shared this with us, saying, “Kids out of school, cold & rainy, time to ride!”

To pass a state budget, most observers expect the 2015 legislature to go well beyond the scheduled 105-day “long” session. For as long as it takes this year, Washington Bikes will be in Olympia to help grow bicycling statewide. We look forward to working the issues, rallying supporters to write legislators, and advocating for better bicycling in Washington state.

Keep in touch by signing up to our email list and follow our blog, Facebook, and Twitter for action alerts and additional legislative news.

The 2015 Legislative Agenda

Washington Bikes Board of Directors and its Legislative and Statewide Issues Committee set a 2015 agenda to improve safety and health through smart investments and legislative improvements, highlight the benefits of efficient transportation investments, and grow the state’s economy via bicycle travel and tourism.

Investments that Get Washingtonians Where They Want to Go

Washington state continues to slip behind other states in making investments to grow biking and make safer streets. As the Governor and Legislature begin another round of discussions to pass a multi-year transportation-spending package, and as funding for school safety improvements are in doubt, it’s even more important that Washingtonians get the right investments for biking, walking, and making streets work for everyone.

In 2015 Washington Bikes will advocate to (1) Grow and stabilize state funding for the Safe Routes to School Grant Program; (2) ensure that biking, walking and complete streets projects are a component in any transportation revenue package; and (3) support the $97 million Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program Grant request.

US Bicycle Route 10 crosses the state and brings "wallets on wheels" to businesses statewide.

US Bicycle Route 10 crosses the state and brings “wallets on wheels” to businesses statewide.

Growing the Multimillion Dollar Bicycle Travel & Tourism Industry

Bicycle travel and tourism is big business. Annually Oregon receives $400 million in direct economic impact from bicycle travel and tourism. An improved understanding of bike travel and tourism in Washington state is needed to make smart choices for growth statewide, particularly in rural areas and in communities seeking to recover their economies after natural disasters, like SR 530.

Washington Bikes will be seeking state investments in a similar study to help quantify the industry and improve strategies to grow our state’s economy.

Updating State Law to Accommodate for Faulty Traffic Signal Detection

Riders in Spokane

Riders in Spokane

In 2014 state law was improved to allow for motorcycles to stop and proceed or make left-hand turns through traffic control signals that do not detect motorcycles or bicycles under certain very limited conditions with a specific protocol that is clear and understood by law enforcement.

Because this same issue affects bicycles and the 2014 law did not include bicycles, Washington Bikes will seek similar legislation would improve the 2014 law’s uniformity by including bicycles and providing a clear protocol for how to safely and legally make a left turn and a non-functioning signal.

Strengthen Washington State’s Distracted Driving Laws

Following Washington Bikes successful lobbying in 2010 to pass Washington’s distracted driving legislation, the Washington Traffic Safety Commission is expected to make agency request legislation improves upon the current law. Work is still being conducted to refine the legislative proposal to help address the crisis of one in every ten Washington state drivers driving distracted.

Washington Bikes will be supporting this agency request legislation to help protect bicycle riders on our streets and roads.

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Posted in Advocacy, Alert, Complete Streets, Economic Impact, Education, Funding/Policy, Health, Infrastructure, Issues & Advocacy, News, Politics, Safe Routes to School, Safety, Tourism, Trails, Transportation, Travel, WSDOT | 2 Comments