Washington is poised to get its own scenic bikeways program

Updated: Washington Bikes recently helped pass 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 we supported the nearly unanimous vote to bring a Scenic Bikeways program to Washington. The program 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.

Via a press release from House Democrats: “On Thursday, April 2, Gov. Jay Inslee signed the bipartisan legislation to designate and promote the use of scenic bikeways across Washington. The program is modeled after a successful program in Oregon which generates $12 million in revenue from 90,000 scenic bikeways program users each year.

“Washington State is filled with some of the most beautiful and engaging landscapes anywhere in the world. A scenic bikeways program will encourage cyclists to visit and enjoy what our state has to offer and will support local business along the way,” said prime sponsor Rep. Alex Ramel, D-Bellingham.

“The legislation had broad support, passing 96-1 in the House and 46-2 in the Senate.”

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.

At this time, as Washington state is under a “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order due to COVID-19 concerns, Ramel says, “Once Washington’s health emergency has passed and our economy begins to come back, the scenic bikeways program will become an opportunity for tourism and recreation.”

The new law will take effect on June 10, 2020.

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