The state Legislature adjourned the 2020 legislative session. Here’s a look at what Washington Bikes accomplished in the short 60-day session:

Washington Bikes’ 2020 legislative agenda was laser focussed on enacting policies and protecting funding for people who walk and bike.

The 60-day session moved at a rapid pace and ended before the statewide response to COVID-19 kicked into full gear. We successfully passed a new policy to ensure safety for people on bikes (Safety Stop), and a new program to help people on bikes explore Washington (Scenic Bikeways). Funding impacts from the passage of I-976, which would significantly cut state transportation funding, loomed large throughout – but funding levels were preserved for this year. Read on for details.

#1: Investments Maintained for Safe Routes to Schools and Bike/Ped Grants

Washington Bikes is grateful to the House and Senate transportation leaders who devised a one-time solution to largely protect the multimodal funding account, through which Safe Routes To School and bike and pedestrian safety grants are funded. Lost revenue from I-976 has been backfilled for one year through project cost savings. Legislators have underscored that this is a one-time fix and that new transportation revenue will be needed in the 2021-2023 biennium in order to avoid significant cuts to state transportation funding. We will continue working with leaders to protect and enhance funding for people biking and walking. 

#2: Washington has a New Law to Keep People on Bikes Safer – The Safety Stop

Washington Bikes led efforts to pass the Safety Stop this legislative session. The result:  Washington will become the fifth state in the nation to allow people who bike to treat a stop sign as a “yield.” This change will increase safety at intersections by allowing a person bicycling to avoid waiting in the blind spot of a motor vehicle and to get out ahead of following motor vehicles, creating space and less likelihood for interaction between them. The law will be enacted in October.

#3: Washington now has a Scenic Bikeways program

Washington Bikes worked with Rep. Alex Ramel (40th LD, Bellingham) to pass legislation that will create a scenic bikeways program. The bill had almost unanimous support out of both chambers and will bring economic development, tourism, and outdoor recreation benefits to Washington.

#4: No movement of Health as a Goal in Transportation Investments

We are disappointed that legislation to include the concept of “health” in the state transportation system policy goals didn’t make it through this year. Rep. Marcus Riccelli (3rd LD, Spokane) prime sponsored the House version of the bill and it made it through the House chamber, but died in the Senate Transportation committee.

Thank you for your support of Washington Bikes’ work in Olympia and for those of you who joined Washington Bikes’ 2020 lobby day. We are proud of the progress made this year and are already looking towards the 2021 legislative session. 

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An intuitive new law, the Safety Stop, is coming to Washington

Washington Bikes is excited to report the Safety Stop bill (SB 6208) – Washington Bikes’ 2020 priority legislation – passed during the 60-day legislative session. Once it goes into effect this October, people biking will be able to treat a stop sign as a yield. 

Last Thursday, before the state’s coronavirus response was in full gear, the 2020 legislative session concluded with the successful passage of Washington Bikes’ priority legislation that will allow people bicycling the option to treat a stop sign as a yield (when the coast is clear and it’s safe to enter an intersection). Washington will be the fifth state in the nation to legalize the Safety Stop, following Idaho, Delaware, Arkansas, and Oregon. Unlike Oregon, which passed this law in 2019 after multiple attempts, 2020 was the first year that Safety Stop legislation was introduced in Washington. It’s swift passage underscores bipartisan support for biking, and Washington Bikes’ ability to pass practical, seamless, safe, and intuitive legislation. 

The Safety Stop, often recognized as the Idaho Stop (named for the first state to enact the policy in 1982), earned bipartisan sponsorship and votes as it moved through the Washington Legislature this session. We thank our prime sponsors: Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig (3rd LD, Spokane) prime sponsored the Senate bill and Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon (34th LD, Burien) prime sponsored the House companion bill. 

Live tweets about the Safety Stop during the House Transportation Commmittee hearing

The bill was signed by Governor Jay Inslee on March 18, marking the last step in the legislative process to turn the bill into law. October 1, 2020 is when the law will take effect. 

Because of this law, we at Washington Bikes know that approaching and traveling through intersections by bike will now be safer and more intuitive for all.

The legislation has two exemptions that are important to note. Stop sign signals on school busses will still require a complete stop, as well as the stop signs present at railroad crossings. Otherwise, beginning this fall, people who bike can recognize a stop sign as a “yield the right away.”

Washington’s yield protocol entails: 

    • slowing down to a speed reasonable for road conditions and, if required, to be able to safely come to a stop
    • The person operating a bicycle should yield the right of way to any vehicle in the intersection or approaching on another roadway that is close enough to present an immediate hazard

While session already feels like a lifetime ago, we’re excited for this new legislation and look forward to it taking effect.

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Washington Bikes update from Olympia

Great news! The “Safety Stop” bill and Washington Bikes’ other priority legislation to make biking safe, inviting, and intuitive are all moving forward. Next, committee hearings continue in opposite House and Senate chambers.

The 38th day of the 60-day legislative session marked an important deadline: House of Origin cut-off — when bills have to move out of their house of origin to continue along in the legislative process. This upcoming week, the state Legislature’s focus will shift to the budgeting process. We expect to see the supplemental operating, capital, and transportation budgets released early next week — when it will be critical to defend bike and pedestrian safety funding from potential cuts due to I-976.

Washington Bikes is happy to report solid progress for our priority legislation along with bills we are supporting in the 2020 short session in Olympia. While we’ve been busy working to advance key policies, we’ve also been working to protect and grow important investments in Washington’s transportation budget, specifically in Safe Routes to School and bike and pedestrian funding. Read on below to see the current status of important bills. 

SB 6208: Allowing people who bike the option to treat a stop sign as a yield, known as “the Safety Stop.” 

  • SB 6208 (Sen. Billig, 3rd LD – Spokane) passed out of the state Senate with a vote of 44-1. The bill has been referred to the House Transportation committee for further consideration.

HB 2461: Adding health as a Washington State Department of Transportation policy goal. This bill aims to improve the health of Washington’s residents by considering health implications and encouraging active transportation when designing, building, and maintaining Washington’s transportation system.

  • HB 2461 (Rep. Riccelli, 3rd LD – Spokane) passed out of the state House with a vote of 57-41.

HB 2587: Establishing a program for the designation of state scenic bikeways. This bill is modeled after Oregon’s scenic bikeways program.

  • HB 2587 (Rep. Ramel, 40th LD) passed out of the state House with a vote of 96-1. The bill has been referred to the Senate Transportation committee for further consideration.

HB 2197: Establishing an exception to the requirement that vehicle license plates be visible at all times for vehicles using certain cargo carrying devices (allowing temporary obstruction of a car license plate for a bike rack, trailor, etc)

  • HB 2197 (Rep. Thai, 41st LD – Bellevue) passed out of the state House with a vote of 96-2. The bill has been referred to the Senate Transportation committee for further consideration.

SB 6493: A technical fix bill for the legislation that created the Cooper Jones Active Transportation Safety Council.

  • SB 6492 (Sen. Liias, 21st LD – Mukilteo) passed out of the state Senate with a vote of 44-0. The bill has been referred to the House Transportation committee for further consideration.

HB 2684: Applies the rules for traffic control signals that apply to circular signal indicators when they are green, yellow, and red to traffic control signals like bicycle shaped traffic signals.

  • HB 2684 (Rep. Shewmake, 42nd LD – Bellingham) passed out of the state House with a vote of 66-30. The bill has been referred to the Senate Transportation committee for further consideration.

 

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Washington is poised to get its own scenic bikeways program

Washington Bikes is working to support HB 2587 to bring scenic bikeways to Washington. The bill is modeled after Oregon’s scenic bikeways program and will bring economic and tourism benefits to communities across the state.

Photo credit: Travel Oregon. Wild Rivers Coast Scenic Bikeway, year-round, 61 miles.

We know that bikes mean business – whether it’s increasing active transportation access to neighborhood shops, or through bike tourism, bikes bring in an annual $3.1 billion to Washington state. That’s why bringing a Scenic Bikeways program to Washington is a win for rural communities as well as the people who’ll use the scenic bikeway network to explore our beautiful state by bike. 

Broadly, Scenic Bikeways are official state designated routes that showcase incredible scenery. Washington Bikes testified before the Housing, Community Development and Veterans Committee in support of HB 2587 Jan. 31. This legislation is prime-sponsored by Rep. Alex Ramel, the newly appointed House member from the 40th legislative district. Ramel testified in support of the bill, “The scenic bikeways program supports rural communities, small business, healthy exercise, and low-carbon recreation.” The bill requires the Parks and Recreation Commission to establish a scenic bikeways program for the designation and promotion of bicycle routes of notable scenic, recreational, cultural, or historic value. 

How the Scenic Bikeways program would work:

  • Any person may propose the designation of a scenic bikeway route. The State Parks Commission will provide an opportunity for public comment on the proposed scenic bike route before determining a scenic bikeways designation.
  • The Parks Commission will review, approve, and locate routes in ways that encourage local economic development in proximity to the route. The Commission must prioritize designating scenic bikeways that will add variety to the geographic location, topography, route length, and difficulty, as well as cultural, historic, scenic, and recreational value of the scenic bikeway system or that will complete existing bicycling networks
  • The Commission must review proposed scenic bikeways in consultation with the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) and confirm that the proposed route meets the criteria as well as being a comfortable and logical route of travel for a person bicycling.

Alongside Washington Bikes, Todd Starnes of Bicycle Adventures testified in support of the bill:

“Bicycle tourism means business and the best kind of business. Bicycle tourism is supplemental to the economy – it brings new business to places that may not normally see tourism revenue…cyclists stay longer, eat more, drink more, and do more than the average tourist traveling by bus or car.” – Todd Starnes.

HB 2587 has just passed off of the full House floor with an almost unanimous vote of 96-1. Next the bill will be sent to the Senate for further consideration. Check the WA Bikes blog to see how the legislation progresses and how the Scenic Bikeways program is implemented.

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2020 Legislative Update: Bike Bills Roundup

Despite 2020 being a “short session” in Olympia, there is no shortage of bills that intend to increase safety for people biking through new policies, increase funding to connect communities by bike, or remove other barriers to biking. Read on for a rundown of bills, and how they are progressing through the state Legislature.

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This coming week marks the half-way point of the 2020 60-day short session in Olympia. Bills not related to the budget must have passed out of their committee of origin by Friday, February 7 in order to continue moving through the legislative process. Much of the short session thus far has been focused on policy; there will be a pivot to focusing on the budget in the coming weeks.

Washington Bikes’ priority legislation, the Safety Stop, (a potential new law similar to the “Idaho Stop” to keep people on bikes safer at stop signs) has cleared the first cutoff and is moving forward in the legislative process! Here’s an update on legislation that will improve safety for people who bike as well as improve Washington’s transportation system: 

Live tweets about the Safety Stop during the House Transportation Commmittee hearing

SB 6208/HB 2358: Allowing people who bike the option to treat a stop sign as a yield, known as “the Safety Stop.” Both bills have been amended to require a complete stop at a school bus stop sign signal.

  • SB 6208 (Sen. Billig, 3rd LD – Spokane) unanimously passed out of the state Senate Transportation committee February 3. The bill has been referred to the Rules committee where it is eligible to be pulled to the floor calendar.
  • HB 2358 (Rep. Fitzgibbon, 34th LD – Burien)  passed out of the House Transportation committee Jan. 29 with a vote of 24-7. The bill was pulled from the Rules committee to the floor calendar by Rep. Pettigrew Feb. 4. 

SB 6452/HB 2461: Adding health as a Washington State Department of Transportation policy goal. The House bill was the intended vehicle for the legislation; the bill would need to be scheduled for executive session by February 11 in order to move along in the process.

  • SB 6452 (Sen. Billig, 3rd LD – Spokane) this bill has not had a public hearing as the House version is the vehicle.
  • HB 2461 (Rep. Riccelli, 3rd LD – Spokane) had a public hearing in the House Transportation committee January 22. It has not been scheduled for executive session at this time.

HB 2587: Establishing a program for the designation of state scenic bikeways. This bill is modeled after Oregon’s scenic bikeways program.

  • HB 2587 (Rep. Ramel, 40th LD) passed out of the Committee on Housing, Community Development & Veterans and was referred to Appropriations for further consideration. The bill is scheduled for a public hearing in House Appropriations Feb. 8.

HB 2481: Establishing exceptions to trailer license plate display requirements (allowing temporary obstruction of a car license plate for a bike rack, trailor, etc)

  • HB 2481 (Rep. Thai, 41st LD – Bellevue) had a public hearing in the House Transportation committee January 22. It has not been scheduled for executive session at this time.

SB 6493: A technical fix bill for the legislation that created the Cooper Jones Active Transportation Safety Council.

  • SB 6492 (Sen. Liias, 21st LD – Mukilteo) had a public hearing in Senate Transportation committee Jan. 29 and was scheduled for executive action Feb. 5, but no action was taken. 

 

 

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Washington Bikes’ 2020 Lobby Day was a huge success for people who bike!

Advocates for better biking converged on the State Capitol in Olympia in January to engage their elected officials  and request support for legislation and funding for safe spaces to walk and bike across Washington. Read on to learn more about Lobby Day, and get involved with our 2020 priorities.

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Lobby Day 2020 took place during a fast-paced 60-day legislative session in Olympia. Washington Bikes’ advocates met with more than 30 legislators from districts in Pierce, King and Snohomish counties.

Participants in Washington Bikes' 2020 Lobby Day stand on the capitol steps in Olympia.

Community members spoke with leaders about the importance of investments in active transportation projects, advocated for the “Safety Stop” (a potential new law similar to the “Idaho Stop” to keep people on bikes safer at stop signs), and urged passage of a bill  to include health as a goal in transportation investments. 

Participants got to see the legislative process in action when, in the midst of Lobby Day, the Safety Stop bill went to the House transportation committee. Lobby Day participants had the exciting opportunity to sign on in support of the bill and watch committee proceedings. The Safety Stop bill, which allows people on bikes to treat stop signs as a yield sign, is priority legislation for Washington Bikes because it has been shown to sharply reduce injuries.

We are looking forward to finishing out the 2020 legislative session strong, and continuing to advocate for people who bike — or want to — throughout the year!

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Featured on KUOW: Drivers have to give cyclists more room

Excerpt’s from Vicky Clarke’s Jan. 2 interview:

This morning, KUOW aired a radio interview between Casey Martin and Washington Bikes Policy Director Vicky Clarke about the new safe passing law, which went into effect on Jan. 1, 2020.

Here are excerpts from the interview:

Starting this year, the state is telling drivers if there is more than one lane going your direction, you must get into the left lane when passing a bicyclist, just like you do when passing slower cars.

“The difference between a safe pass with someone slowing and passing at a distance and an unsafe pass is quite literally the difference between life and death,” said Vicky Clarke.

Vicky Clarke is with the advocacy group Washington Bikes. 

If there is only one lane going your way and there is no bike lane, the state says you must slow down and leave at least 3 feet of space between your car and the cyclist. This also applies when passing tractors and people on horseback. If you have trouble guessing how much 3 feet is, Vicky Clarke says “move over. When you see someone on a bike, just move over.”

You can listen to the interview streaming throughout the day on kuow.org.

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The Top 2019 Wins for Bikes

As the year nears its end, we wanted to celebrate some of the great successes for bikes in 2019. Here’s to riding into a future that is even brighter for 2020!

  1. Washington is the #1 bike friendly state for 11 years running!

Bicyclist on a trail in Washington

The League of American Bicyclists has released their ranking of bike friendly states, and for the 11th year in a row, Washington clinched the top spot. With improvements to safe passing laws, statewide Active Transportation plans, and investments in safe and accessible infrastructure, we are working to ensure that Washington remains the best place for people who bike!

2. The East Lake Sammamish Trail is finalized after decades of advocacy

Bikes and families sharin the East Lake Sammamish Trail

After decades of advocacy, the East Lake Sammamish Trail is being completed! For people who walk, bike, and roll, the completed East Lake Sammamish Trail provides a safe and connected path through the East Side, and marks the realization of a 20 year vision.

3. Our c3 affiliate Cascade Bicycle Club hosted the largest cycling event in the nation.

People on bikes ride across the now-defunct SR 99 tunnel with the Seattle Ferris Wheel in the background

In February 2019, Cascade hosted the largest cycling event in the nation, with 12,095 riders participating in the one time Tunnel Ride. This ride was the first chance for folks to ride the new SR99 Tunnel and the last chance to ride the Alaskan Way Viaduct!

4. Seattle’s Fremont bridge zooms past 1 million bike trips

A woman rides across the Fremont Bridge

This year, the Fremont bridge saw the highest yearly bike ridership count ever! Over a million people biked over the Fremont Bridge before Halloween, and the numbers have steadily grown since. This new record points to a larger trend in Seattle – there are consistently more people on bikes!

5. Historic investment in trails: $810 million over the next 6 years.

Girl and mom biking on a trail during the fall

This election cycle, a supermajority of voters in King County approved a milestone funding package for trails. This funding will go towards trail connections on the Eastrail, Lake to Sound Trail, and local connectors across the county!

6. New Safe Passing Law to keep people on bikes safer

Safe Passing Law Illustration - give 3 feet or a full lane to pass a vulnerable road user

During the 2019 legislative session, Washington Bikes led the effort to pass legislation protecting the rights of people biking, walking, and rolling throughout the state. This resulted in the passage of the Vulnerable user/Safe passing legislation! This bill passed with bipartisan support, and increased protections for people who are vulnerable on the roadway.

7. Seattle City Council funds $10 million in SE Seattle bike infrastructure and makes huge advances in the Basic Bike Network

Left: People riding and celebrating the new section of Seattle's basic bike network. Right: The South Sector Project Map

Left: People riding and celebrating the new section of Seattle’s Basic Bike Network. Right: The South Sector Project Map

Earlier this year, advocates in Seattle made a stand to reinstate Southeast Seattle plans for bike infrastructure. Because of advocates’ tireless efforts, during the 2019 budget session Seattle City Council set aside $10 million for a bike connection to Southeast Seattle. Advocates also ensured that SDOT expedited construction of vital downtown routes, connecting the area by bike and providing a center for larger Connect Seattle goals.

8. Seattle speed limits lower to 25 mph to advance Vision Zero goals

A graphic showing that 9 out of 10 people will survive a collision with a car going 20mph, while only two out of 10 people will survive a collission with a car going 40mph

Image courtesy of San Francisco MTA Vision Zero Action Plan, February 2015

In keeping with a public commitment to reduce traffic deaths in the city, Seattle is lowering the speed limits on all city streets to 25 mph. This change comes from data that suggests that on roads where speeds dropped to 25 mph, there was a 35% reduction in crashes. This is a crucial step in Seattle achieving its Vision Zero goals.

9. Eighteen communities across Washington renew or update their Bike Friendly status

Bicycle Friendly America logo

From Spokane to Port Angeles to Ellensburg, communities across Washington continued to prove their commitment to making life better for people who bike. In 2019 these bike friendly communities implemented bike infrastructure, Vision Zero policies, and public education to make biking safer, more accessible, and more fun to people across the state!

10. Funding for the Beverly Bridge connects Washington by bike

Photo of the Beverly Bridge on the Palouse to Cascades Trail

In April, the Washington State legislature approved funding to repair the Beverly Bridge. The previously closed bridge, which spans the Columbia River is a crucial link between the western half of the Palouse to Cascades Trail to the eastern half. Repairing this bridge allows trail users across Washington state to access the region by bike, and reinstates a historic connection.

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Introducing Washington Bikes’ 2020 State Legislative Agenda

The upcoming 2020 Washington state legislative session will be 60 fast and furious days short. Washington Bikes has a full legislative agenda, addressing top issues to make communities across the state safe and accessible by bike. Read on and save the date now for our 2020 Bike Lobby Day (Jan. 22) to help ensure our state legislators follow through on maintaining funding levels and passing laws that matter for people who bike.

Washington Bikes Legislative Agenda:

#1: Investments: Short Session, Mammoth Funding Issues to Address

Washington Bikes will be working to protect critical funding for essential bike and pedestrian safety projects now at risk due to the passage of I-976. Typically, the “short”, 60 day session – the second year of a biennium budget – would be focused on fixing adjustments or errors made during the previous big budget year. But, due to the passage of I-976 on the November ballot, Washington is facing dramatic uncertainties in funding for our statewide transportation system. The state’s approach to filling the funding shortfall created by I-976 is still in flux, but one thing is clear: I-976 will require state legislators to make hard decisions this session in order to cover an anticipated and significant hole in the multimodal transportation account.

The multimodal transportation account dedicates funds for transportation including rail, ferries, transit, biking and walking. It’s the primary state funding source for biking and walking investments and contains projects funded through the 2015 Connecting Washington transportation package, which allocated historic levels of funding for bike and pedestrian infrastructure, as well as Safe Route To School, Bike and Pedestrian grant programs, and the Bike and Pedestrian project list.

#2: Policy: A New Law to Keep People on Bikes Safer – The Safety Stop

Washington Bikes will lead efforts on new legislation to make a simple, intuitive change that will give people on bikes the right to treat a stop sign as a yield. “The Safety Stop” is sometimes described as a rolling stop or the Idaho Stop. The Safety Stop increases safety at intersections by allowing a person bicycling to avoid waiting in the blind spot of a motor vehicle and to get out ahead of following motor vehicles, creating space and less likelihood for interaction between them. Similar legislation has passed in Idaho, Delaware, Arkansas and most recently Oregon. Senator Andy Billig (6th LD, Spokane) and Representative Joe Fitzgibbon (34th LD, Burien) are the prime sponsors in the Senate and House. We’ll be sure to keep you updated as the bill is introduced and moves through the legislative process.

#3: Policy: Health as a Goal in Transportation Investments

This session Washington Bikes will support legislation to include the concept of “health” in the state transportation system policy goals. This effort will ensure WSDOT considers health outcomes in future transportation investments. We know that when people have the opportunity to bike to school or roll to the grocery store, it’s a boon for their health and the cumulative health of their community. Currently, 29 percent of adults and 12 percent of our 10th graders are obese, with significantly higher rates in populations with lower income and lower education. People who are active are more likely to maintain a healthy weight and less likely to develop chronic diseases.

Add Your Voice on Bike Lobby Day

We need your help to advance our 2020 legislative agenda! Wednesday, January 22 is Washington Bikes’ Lobby Day at the state Capitol in Olympia. Together we’ll let our state officials know why safe, healthy communities connected by bike matter. Join us for a fun, impactful day to ensure that your state legislators hear from you regarding critical issues like the funding crisis I-976 has created, and about how active transportation must be prioritized as budget cuts or project delays are considered. RSVP here to get updates ahead of Lobby Day and stay in the loop on what to expect.

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Election Day delivered mixed news for people who bike, walk, and roll

While voters approved Tim Eyman’s I-976 initiative, the majority of Washington Bikes’ endorsed candidates won their race, which means we have bike champions across the state who we are counting on to defend bike and pedestrian funding.

Bike friendly leaders across the state

This year, Washington Bikes endorsed its most robust slate of candidates to date throughout Washington state. We are pleased to report that the majority of Washington Bikes’ endorsed candidates are winning their races, with a couple too close to call ahead of the official certification, December 5th. Candidates names in bold are currently winning their races.

 

2019-general-election-cheat-sheet-1

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Washington Bikes looks forward to working with the newly elected and re-elected bike-friendly leaders and also thanks all endorsed candidates who ran for office, and articulated the importance of bike-friendly communities in their campaigns.

Future of funding for bike/ped projects at grave risk

Election day results delivered a huge blow to our vision of bike-friendly communities across the state. Voters approved Tim Eyman’s I-976 initiative, which promised dramatic cuts to vehicle licensing fees. In turn, this result means vastly reduced funding for transportation projects delivered by both the state DOT and local communities statewide. It’s clear the consequences will be far-reaching and include funding for bike and pedestrian projects. 

The state funds projects, big and small, to make biking and walking safer and more accessible all across the state through the Safe Routes to School and bike/ped grants in the state transportation budget. The historic Connecting Washington 2015 funding package also funded many important projects to connect communities by bike and keep us, our kids and our neighbors safe. Many of those important projects are now at risk.

We will share more information as we learn about the impacts of I-976. Here’s what’s clear: We will need you to help us protect the essential bike and pedestrian funding investments that our Washington leaders committed to, in order to make our communities safe. One place you can help advocate on behalf of bicycle funding at the state level will be Washington Bikes’ Lobby Day in Olympia during the 2020 legislative session. Save the date for January 22!

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