Biking the John Wayne Pioneer Trail East to West

Image by @RodHuntress shared on Twitter. Palouse panorama at harvest time, seen from the John Wayne Pioneer Trail. Shot between the ID border and Tekoa, WA.

Image by @RodHuntress shared on Twitter. Palouse panorama at harvest time, seen from the John Wayne Pioneer Trail. Shot between the ID border and Tekoa, WA.

Every time someone bikes the John Wayne Pioneer Trail it creates a new source of information for people planning a future trip. In August, people following @SheRidesABike or @RodHuntress on Twitter got a series of insights into the east-to-west trek, shared here with their permission.

If you’re thinking of biking the trail someday, check out our round-up of other blog posts and information sources on the John Wayne Pioneer Trail.


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Ian Mackay’s Journey for Accessibility

Ian-Mackay-on-Olympic-Discovery-TrailIan Mackay undertook a journey many people would find too daunting to consider: from his home in Port Angeles with a quick visit via ferry to Victoria, British Columbia, and then heading from Anacortes through the length of Washington state to Portland. And what a ride!

To help Ian plan his route we sent links to maps for bike events like Seattle to Portland and RSVP; mailed print bike maps for counties and cities that have them available; and reached out to bike groups all along the way to find expert route advice and ride-along friends, and they responded.

Ian and crew tweeted, blogged, and posted on Facebook all along the way, as did friends and supporters. We rounded up the social media and mainstream news coverage in a Storify so you can experience a bit of the ride as it unfolded.

When Ian got in touch with us originally, he said he wanted to highlight the need for accessible, complete connections for all. He has certainly done that, with stories on TV, in newspapers, and on, where the story has already been shared over 13,000 times.

Ian also said he wanted to donate funds raised to support the state advocacy efforts of Washington Bikes to improve and complete trails and connections. If you think we need to do a lot more to create safe, complete, accessible networks for all of us no matter how we roll, join Ian in supporting our work.


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Rolling Through Washington: Ian Mackay’s Ride Is Coming Up

Pulling maintenance on one of the two chairs Ian will use on his trek.

Pulling maintenance on one of the two chairs Ian will use on his trek.

Ian Mackay is getting ready to roll later this month on his quest to traverse Washington by wheelchair and highlight the need for safe, accessible, complete connections. You can see the planning process and shoutouts to those helping make this possible on his ride blog.

He could use your advice to improve his route, in particular passing through Seattle. While he has daily maps planned now for the whole trip, route details and destination cities are all subject to change with your help. Steepness is not a problem; extremely bumpy roads and heavy traffic areas with little shoulder space are the biggest concern. Email suggestions on the routes below to Ian and comment here for others who will appreciate your tips and insights.

Ride along! Ian welcomes people to ride along for any portion of the trip so let him know when and where you’d like to share the journey.

Ian reports that fundraising has been going well. He has raised enough to cover all expenses; any additional donations will support the work of Washington Bikes to fight for increased investments and policies that support safer streets and trails.

Maps and Projected Schedule

Ian notes that he has allowed 14 days in case the schedule has a hiccup along the way, so watch for an update if you plan to ride along for a segment.


The Sequim Lions Club is supporting Ian's ride with a generous donation.

The Sequim Valley Lions Club is supporting Ian’s ride with a generous donation.

Many thanks to the individuals and businesses making Ian’s ride possible. The Peninsula Daily News did a nice article on the journey, and check out the video below.

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John Wayne Pioneer Trail: Comments for Commission Meeting

Riding toward the east portal of the Boylston Tunnel in the Yakima Training Center grounds. Photo by Mike Sorensen (used by permission).

Riding toward the east portal of the Boylston Tunnel in the Yakima Training Center grounds. Photo by Mike Sorensen (used by permission).

Washington Trails Association and Washington Bikes wrote this joint letter to the State Parks and Recreation Commission that will be shared at today’s meeting in Clarkston concerning the John Wayne Pioneer Trail and recommendations of the Advisory Committee on which both organizations have been represented.

Dear Members of the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission:

As organizations that collectively represent thousands of members who ride and hike on Washington state’s trails, we are writing to urge continued support of the John Wayne Pioneer Trail.

Representatives from Washington Bikes and Washington Trails Association were appointed to Washington State Parks’ John Wayne Pioneer Trail Advisory Committee. Over the past seven months we have worked with State Parks and other trail stakeholders to develop recommendations for addressing a variety of trail issues. We thank Washington State Parks for its commitment to working with group like ours on this important process.

Through Washington State Parks’ public outreach process to develop recommendations for the future of the John Wayne Pioneer Trail, a spotlight has been put on the trail. Our organizations have heard from many hikers and bicycle riders who value the trail and would like to see it developed to its fullest potential as the largest cross state trail in the country.

Clearly significant work remains to fully realize the vision of the John Wayne Trail, including trestle and trail surfacing improvements and the development of critical trail infrastructure such as trailheads, campsites and water provisions along the trail. Prioritizing investments for development of the eastern portion of the trail is critical to the trail’s future success as a national cross state trail that not only draws Washingtonians to travel it, but those who are eager to travel the trail’s length from around the country. In addition, enhanced coordination between State Parks and Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to develop both the Beverly Bridge crossing over the Columbia, as well as DNR-controlled properties immediately east of the Columbia is necessary.

Our organizations urge the Commission to harness the energy and public interest of the John Wayne Pioneer Trail planning process and prioritize project investments that will greatly benefit the trail now and in the future. We recognize and appreciate that Washington State Parks has a number of project priorities across the state, but also recognize that due to the statewide interest in this Trail, the time is now to prioritize investments to get the ball rolling for the long-term development and use of this unique trail of statewide significance. Washington Bikes and Washington Trails offer our continued support and assistance in helping State Parks achieve success around the state for recreation and trails.



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A Different Set of Wheels: Ride with Ian Mackay

Help Ian McKay plan and ride his expedition


From Ian’s Blog

Here’s the plan. I’m setting aside two weeks. August 13-27, 2016.  I intend to travel Washington state from north to south.  Along with a support crew, I plan to navigate through the state on multiuse paths and roadways, all the while posting about my experience on social media. The idea is to find out firsthand and share with the public how accessible our state is for nonmotorized users, specifically people in wheelchairs. I’d also like to help a worthy cause.

The Journey

Ian Mackay is setting off on a journey that would be a challenge for anyone. He plans to ride his electric wheelchair from Canada to Oregon. Along the way he hopes to ride with people who want to share a piece of his journey, people who care about making our streets and roads safer for people on bikes, people who share his love of multi-use trails in particular.

Trails are especially important for Ian, who uses an electric wheelchair since a bike crash at age 26 that left him paralyzed from the neck down. To learn more about Ian read his blog.

Route Planning and Ridealongs

Ian is looking for people to help him work out the best route, which needs to include a stop about every 30 miles to charge his chair. He’s hoping members of bike clubs along the route might want to share their expert advice and that riders and city planners and engineers will look at their local routes with accessibility and safety for all kinds of riders in mind.

If you’re interested in helping with route suggestions or riding a part of the route with him, get in touch with him via email. If you have maps with details so much the better. Ian’s been using Strava to track his travels; in the last couple of years he’s put in over 5,000 miles.



Riding for a Cause

Ian is looking for sponsors and donors to help cover the cost of his trip. In-kind donations will help keep costs down–anything from a place to stay to a tank of gas for his support vehicle will help. Anything he raises over and above trip costs, estimated at around $3,000, will be donated to Washington Bikes to support our statewide work for better connections that are safe, accessible, and available to everyone. Legislative advocacy and investments in trails and safe routes are important to Ian; that’s why he sought us out.

Sponsorship benefits include, but are not limited to, signs on support vehicles and Ian's wheelchair, recognition in social media, and mentions in any media interviews or podcasts he does. We're on Ian's team to amplify the thank-yous. To learn more download the sponsor brochure.

Follow Ian's journey on his blog.

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John Wayne Pioneer Trail Study Recommendations Coming Out

Marilyn Hedges on the John Wayne Pioneer Trail. Photo by Mike Sorensen (used by permission).

Marilyn Hedges on the John Wayne Pioneer Trail. Photo by Mike Sorensen (used by permission).

Not many people in Washington know about the Channeled Scablands, created 15,000 years ago by an epic glacial flood sending water the equivalent of the five Great Lakes through Eastern Washington.

Fewer people yet know that the longest cross state trail in the country, the John Wayne Pioneer Trail (JWPT), winds through the heart of the Channeled Scablands. The JWPT starts at Rattlesnake Lake, near North Bend, WA and continues for 285 miles to the Idaho border. In those 285 miles it crosses the Cascades, high desert country, the Scablands and eastern Washington’s Palouse. The JWPT, the former Milwaukee Railroad, is a rail to trail jewel in Washington State’s growing network of trails.

In the fall of 2015, 135 miles of the eastern section of the John Wayne Pioneer Trail was nearly given back to adjacent landowners — saved by a typo in the bill. This secretive attempt by Washington 9th District lawmakers to close the trail created a public outcry that led to three contentious public meetings and a series of Washington State Parks CAMP planning meetings.

These meetings started at the beginning of 2016, included meetings for public input and established an ongoing Citizens Advisory Committee with representatives from numerous stakeholders: weed control (important in eastern Washington), bicycling, hiking, equestrian, adjacent landowners, agribusiness, utilities, railroad history and tourism. The final meeting of the Advisory Committee was held in Moses Lake, WA on Monday, June 27, 2016. The proposed final Recommendations Report (a long term plan for the preservation, improvement and maintenance of the JWPT) was presented… but there was additional news!

Peter Herzog, Assistant Parks Director, and Daniel Farber, Parks Policy Director, introduced a (new) potential Washington Parks Policy Revision declaring that the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission “Affirms its commitment to long-term development and operation of Washington’s cross-state trail system including the entire length of the Iron Horse State Park Trail Corridor (the JWPT) between Rattlesnake Lake and the Idaho border.” Further, “The commission authorizes the Director to work with private and public entities towards achieving the Legislature’s and the Commission’s shared vision of a Washington cross-state non-motorized recreational trail system extending from the Pacific Coast to the Idaho border and connecting to a national network of rail-trails.”

Riding toward the east portal of the Boylston Tunnel in the Yakima Training Center grounds. Photo by Mike Sorensen (used by permission).

Riding toward the east portal of the Boylston Tunnel in the Yakima Training Center grounds. Photo by Mike Sorensen (used by permission).

Now, the potential future closure of the eastern JWPT is unlikely, potential funding for improvements to the eastern section of the JWPT is more likely, and the future of a system of rail-trails in Washington State may be one significant step closer to becoming a reality.

In addition to the potential change in policy for the JWPT and Washington rail-trails, Washington Parks is prepared to seek $6.2 million in capital and grant requests for the 2017-2018 biennium and an additional $11.3 million in future biennium requests. These funds will be used for repair and construction of JWPT trestles, bridges, the roadbed, access/camping/water facilities and more.

To be clear, these funds are yet to be awarded, but this is truly good news for the citizens of Washington State and for those who have worked so hard to save the JWPT and to bring the promise the JWPT holds to eastern communities like Beverly, Lind, Warden, Malden, Rosalia and Tekoa. Organizations like JWPT Wagons and Riders, Tekoa Trail and Trestle, Washington Bikes, Washington Trails Association, Cascade Rail Foundation, Pullman Chamber of Commerce and Friends of the JWPT have worked hard with Washington Parks to make this happen.

If you live in eastern Washington, or feel like a road trip, the next Washington Parks Commission meeting is July 21, 2016 at 700 Port Drive, Clarkston, WA from 9am – 5pm. The final Recommendation Report will be presented at this meeting. Among the recommendations for the JWPT is the likelihood that the trail name will change.

Mike Sorensen on the John Wayne Pioneer Trail near Lower Crab Creek. Photo by Marilyn Hedges (used by permission).

Mike Sorensen on the John Wayne Pioneer Trail near Lower Crab Creek. Photo by Marilyn Hedges (used by permission).

If you haven’t done so, put the JWPT on your bucket list to walk, mountain bike or horseback ride. You can get help in planning your trip by visiting the Friends of the John Wayne Pioneer Trail  website.

Guest blogger Robert Yates serves on the board of Friends of the JWPT, a nonprofit organization.

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We Are Traffic: Court Says Cities Must Maintain Streets for Bicyclists

This isn't the crack that led to the fall in Port Orchard. (Wikipedia image licensed for noncommercial reuse.)

This isn’t the crack that led to the fall in Port Orchard. (Wikipedia image licensed for noncommercial reuse.)

The ruling made headlines across the state as once again it was announced that bikes are traffic.

Cities have a responsibility to maintain streets for bicycling to the same standards that apply for other traffic, a Washington appeals court held in a recent ruling. Defining bicycling as “ordinary travel,” not a purely recreational activity, the judges wrote in O’Neill v. City of Port Orchard, “Bicycles are an integral part of Washington’s ‘statewide multimodal transportation plan.”

The ruling by the Washington State Appeals Court came in a lawsuit filed by Port Orchard rider Pamela O’Neill. The city argued that the requirement to maintain streets in reasonable condition for ordinary travel did not apply to travel by bicycle. Their ruling sends the case back to the lower court for further disposition of the original suit.

The ruling does not require cities to make streets perfectly smooth for ideal conditions — some irregularities in surface are a given. It does, however, reinforce the standing of bicycles as transportation already established by the Washington State Supreme Court in Camicia v. Howard S. Wright Constr. Co. (2014) and Pudmaroff v. Allen (1999). The latter is the suit in which the Bicycle Alliance of Washington filed an amicus brief arguing that a bicyclist in a crosswalk has the same rights, duties and obligations as a pedestrian.  Washington cities have a clear duty to maintain roadways that are safe for bicycle travel.

The court noted in its ruling, “Falling is an inherent and necessary risk of the activity of cycling, and O’Neill assumed the general risk that she would fall off her bicycle and injure herself. She did not, however, assume the enhanced risks associated with the city’s failure to repair an alleged defective roadway of which the city allegedly had constructive notice” (“constructive notice” means that the city, in the ordinary course of maintaining the street, had plenty of prior opportunity to observe and correct the fault even if it hadn’t been formally reported. In fact, they had applied some patching but that had occurred years ago, with no formal record.) 

The ruling received extensive coverage across the state. A Walla Walla Union-Bulletin editorial noted, “Cities across Washington state should view the roads they maintain with bicycle riders in mind. In addition, they should expect growing bicycle traffic on their roads and should plan for maintenance accordingly. Bikes are an increasingly popular mode of local transportation — for work, errands and recreation. In doing so, it will make roadways safer for all. (Cities have responsibility to maintain roads for bikes; An appeals court ruling this week in Washington state rightly sends that message, July 1, 2016).

The Kitsap Sun article provides more information on the suit: Lawsuit from bicyclist against Port Orchard can go forward (June 29, 2016).

Report Hazardous Street Conditions

The Port Orchard public works director stated in his deposition that the city fixes roadways on a “complaint-based system” and the city had not received complaints about that stretch of road. Let’s make sure street conditions reports are on record in your town.

We’re compiling a resource page with our partners at Cascade Bicycle Club with information on how you can contact your town’s street or public works department to report hazardous conditions. Email us with a link to the page with your town’s reporting process or app and we’ll add it to the list. This selection of towns gives you an idea of the different systems you may encounter–everything from downloading an app and using it to emailing the public works director directly. This is in no way a comprehensive list. When we have the resource page established we’ll replace the list here with a link to that page.

Bainbridge Island: See Click Fix

Bellevue: MyBellevue app or issue reporting page

Clark County: Report road condition

Kent: 253-856-5600 or via email at or service request form

King County: See Click Fix

Olympia: 360.753.8333 or send email to

Pacific: Email the Public Works listed on this page

Seattle: Use the Find It Fix It app or submit a service request

Shoreline: See Click Fix

Spokane: At https://my.spokaaccount/report/ (must create login)

Tacoma: Submit request (have to create log-in if you want to track progress of the request)

Tukwila: See Click Fix

Vancouver: Public Works service request, MyVancouver app

Walla Walla: According to the pothole page, email or call 509-527-4363.

Yakima: Click on “New Report” on the Yak-Back web page


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New Washington Bikes Board Members

New Washington Bikes board members have been elected by the board of Cascade Bicycle Club. Chosen for their experience, geographic representation, and the balanced perspectives they bring to both the policy and political work of the organization, the new board members will serve one-year terms. They will be adopting a new strategic plan in the next few weeks.

Leda Chahim, Seattle

Leda-ChahimChahim serves as Government Affairs Director for Forterra, where she is in charge of developing and advancing state and federal proposals aimed at creating livable, affordable communities and conserving working farms, forests and natural lands across the state. She serves on the boards of the Washington Association of Land Trusts and the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition. She’s also a member of the International Living Future Institute’s inaugural Cascadia Congress and is an appointed member of the Forest Resources Coordinating Committee, a federal advisory committee to the Secretary of Agriculture. Leda holds degrees in Political Science and Conservation Biology from the University of Washington.

Paul Dillon, Spokane

Paul-DillonPaul Dillon serves as the Public Affairs Manager for Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington and North Idaho. Previously he was the legislative assistant for Senator Andy Billig of the 3rd Legislative District of Spokane and co-founded an environmental news site published by the Spokesman-Review called Down To Earth. He was the board president for Pedals2People, a former community bike nonprofit in Spokane, and serves on the board of the Center For Justice. Dillon holds a bachelor’s degree from Eastern Washington University.

Jane Hague, Bellevue

Board Secretary

Jane-HagueHague served on the King County Council 1993-2015. Prior to joining the Council she served as the Manager of Records and Elections for King County, and was an elected member of the Bellevue City Council. She has served on the King County Boys and Girls Club Board of Directors, was elected President of the National Association of Counties, and was one of the founding members of the board for Sound Transit.

Haley Keller, Seattle

Board Treasurer

Haley-WoodsKeller is co-founder and co-owner of Peddler Brewing Company in Ballard, which opened its doors in 2013. A graduate of the Cascade Bicycle Club Advocacy Leadership Institute, she is a leader in the Connect Ballard neighborhood advocacy team and continually seeks ways for Peddler Brewing Company to support the bicycle community. Keller received her BS in Mathematics and Master in Teaching from Seattle University and taught math at Lake Washington High School in Kirkland.

Ron Sher, Medina

Ron-SherFounder and CEO of development firm Sher Partners, Sher devotes considerable time and energy to creating community gathering spaces. He owns Third Place Books, with locations in Lake Forest Park,  Ravenna, and Seward Park. He redeveloped the Crossroads Shopping Center and developed other retail properties.  He holds a PhD in agricultural economics from Washington State University, serves on the board of Washington Conservation Voters, and is a former member of the board of the Project for Public Spaces and Cascade Bicycle Club.

Daniel Weise, Kirkland

Board President

Daniel-WeiseDaniel Weise is an ex-academic (PhD MIT, Assistant Professor at Stanford University, Microsoft Research group leader) who, for the last decade, has been a community volunteer. He serves on the boards of several nonprofits (including Climate Solutions and the Washington Environmental Council), on various other advisory panels and for-profit boards, and he assists technology start-ups. In his spare time he is a recreational cyclist, gardener of edible plants, and angel investor. His favorite investment, though he will probably never make a nickel from it, is the DailyKos.

Washington Bikes Organizational Structure

In September 2015 the board of Washington Bikes, then a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, voted to merge with Cascade Bicycle Club. Under new bylaws for Washington Bikes, now a 501(c)(4) nonprofit, Cascade Bicycle Club is the sole member of Washington Bikes and as such elects the board. An initial board consisting of Cascade executive committee members was chosen to provide oversight in the initial phase of the merger implementation.
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Willapa Hills Rail-Trail Links Chehalis to Pe Ell

Projects like these represent the culmination of our work to grow investments in trails to record highs. With each trail project we come a little closer to having a connected network of safe, accessible bikeways across the state.

Willapa Hills Trail, Adna Bridge, railroad trestle. Picture by Discover Lewis County.

Washington State Parks staff have opened up the trail just west of Adna, where it had been closed since late 2015 due to restoration work on a 923-foot trestle known simply as Bridge #5. The previously unsurfaced bridge was the final gap in the Willapa Hills Trail between Chehalis and Pe Ell after two other bridges further west over the Chehalis River were completed last year.

The Willapa Hills Trail is a rails-to-trails project that, in all, extends 56 miles from Chehalis to South Bend in Pacific County. Five miles of the trail between Chehalis and Bridge #5 are paved, while the stretch from Bridge #5 to Pe Ell consists of ballast that is suitable for just about any bicycle tire except for thin road tires. Beyond Pe Ell, however, much work on several segments and bridges needs to be complete before full rideability of the entire trail is achieved.

The 22 miles between Chehalis and Pe Ell being fully open now means big things for west Lewis County. For one, bicyclists don’t have to drive out from Chehalis or Pe Ell to a trailhead miles away to reach a point on the trail; they can ride out straight from town and head back at their own leisure, forgoing a four-wheeled vehicle trip. Secondly, the trail encounters very little cross traffic all along, and its rural scenery along the Chehalis River and several pastoral farmlands makes it a beautiful option for people wishing to enjoy a long ride on Washington’s newest rail-trail — again, with the option now of originating their route from a population center.

Bikepacking is sure to be a hit with people combining the experience of bicycling with minimalist camping along the trail. And speaking of camping, Rainbow Falls State Park is a perfect spot to pitch a tent, located just off the trail in Dryad. It’s first-come, first-served, so check in at the park entrance, pay the required fee and claim your spot.

The town of Pe Ell stands to benefit, as it is home to the trailhead with the most amenities — restrooms, running water, bike racks, horse trailer parking, interpretive displays and more — and several establishments such as Evey’s Cafe, Kettle Creek and the Pe Ell Pub, among others. Stop into Pe Ell and say a friendly hello to the folks there!

As for the new bridge itself, contractors Tapani Inc. of Battle Ground, Washington recently put finishing touches on the upgrades, which include a concrete surface, safety railing and bridge stability improvements. The project lasted roughly six months, culminating with a final walkthrough on the last day of May.

If you want to experience the new bridge for yourself, the Adna trailhead off Dieckman Road is the best place to park (remember your Discover Pass!). Walk about a mile west and you’ll be among the first to experience this beautiful crossing of the Chehalis River that trains once roared over daily a century ago.

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Tell USDOT We ALL Count #MakeMeCount

Little girl on bike seen from te back, wearing helmet, others biking/walking in street.The Federal Highway Administration has once again ignored bicyclists when determining performance measures for our transportation system. We need you to speak up now.

With passage of the FAST Act signed into law December 2015, Congress just instituted a Complete Streets policy for the National Highway System (which is much more than highways; it includes main streets, arterials and other major roads). Yet despite this FHWA wants to measure performance of the system using a measure for drivers only. Their draft performance measure rules would measure congestion by measuring delay for drivers, conflating performance for all traffic with travel time reliability for motorists only. Speeding up motorists on Main Street doesn’t improve performance for people biking or walking!

We need an additional measure that measures performance or reliability for those outside of cars, whose concerns are much more around measures of access, comfort and safety. We know that what we measure, matters. If governments are not directed to measure performance for non-motorized transportation, they have no incentive to invest in improvements.

Incentivizing states to speed up drivers may result in significant danger to people biking or walking. If these draft rules are implemented, they will hinder the ability of local governments to implement Complete Streets, build protected bike lanes, and improve transportation for all people. We need to speak up now before these rules are adopted as final.

We’ve done it before. With your help we convinced FHWA to include a safety performance measure for biking and walking. We need your help again.

IRONY ALERT: Adding insult to potential injury, USDOT recently rolled out “Every Place Counts,” a design challenge aimed at undoing highway-building mistakes of the past that tore communities apart and created barriers to safe, active transportation. And USDOT Sec. Anthony Foxx has issued a 30-year plan that explicitly encourages multimodal transportation choices. Yet their own proposed rules would encourage high-speed barriers to active transportation, not discourage them.

Shouldn’t federal rule-making support federal policy goals? We think so. Act now(Deadline for comments is mid-August but don’t wait. Spread the word; share this link on Facebook and Twitter and via email.)
Not only does the draft rule propose incentives that put drivers first, everyone else dead last, the rule also sets goals for measuring air pollutants from transportation but doesn’t include greenhouse gases. Our clean transportation choices apparently don’t count either.
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