Washington Bikes Celebrates Passage of Largest Funding Package for Bicycling Infrastructure and Bike Education in Washington History

  • Legislation with $1.3 billion in spending for bike, walk, and roll initiatives headed to the governor’s desk for his expected signature.
  • “A historic investment in bicycling infrastructure and programs that show Washington deserves its reputation as the most bike-friendly state in the nation.”

Efforts to get more adults and children bicycling in Washington got a historic boost on Thursday (March 10) with the passage of nearly $1.3 billion in spending for protected bike lanes, multi-use trails, Safe Routes to Schools, biking and walking infrastructure, and a new statewide public school bike education program.

“This is a historic and unprecedented level of spending that makes Washington state a leader in the effort to make bicycling safer, easier, and more popular for individuals, families, and children across our state,” said Lee Lambert, executive director of Washington Bikes and Cascade Bicycle Club. 

The Move Ahead Washington transportation package containing the spending for bike, walk, and roll initiatives now heads to Gov. Jay Inslee for his expected signature. The $1.3 billion is a four-fold increase over the $320 million contained in the previous major transportation package approved in 2015. Washington Bikes and our State Policy Director Alex Alston played a critical role in securing this historic funding and worked nonstop during the short legislative session to ensure the legislation’s passage.

“Move Ahead WA is an investment in a healthy future for all Washingtonians,” Lambert added. “Funding for trails, protected bike lanes, and local infrastructure enables more people to get out of cars and onto bikes. Move Ahead WA will improve public health, advance equity, reduce air pollution and climate emissions, and create green infrastructure jobs while making our communities more livable and happy.”

In the past, funding constraints meant that only one in five applications to the bike/ped and Safe Routes to Schools grant programs received funding. That left many communities without the safe and connected bike routes they needed at a time when more people are biking than ever due to the pandemic bike boom and rising gas prices.

“We applaud legislators and the governor for investing in efforts that will protect our most vulnerable road users, and especially our children as they bike and walk to school,” said Vicky Clarke, policy director for Washington Bikes and Cascade Bicycle Club. “In particular, we thank Sen. Marko Liias, chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, and Rep. Jake Fey, Chair of the House Transportation Committee, for fighting on behalf of these unparalleled bike, walk, and roll investments.”

Move Ahead Washington includes the following spending for bike, walk, and roll programs: 

  • $290 million for Safe Routes to Schools; 
  • $278 million for the Bike/Ped Grant Program;
  • $50 million for a new Connecting Communities grant program to fund active transportation projects that undo harms in communities divided by highways and major transportation corridors;
  • $216 million for two new bicycling education programs–one targeting elementary and middle schools and a second for junior high and high schools. Inspired by Cascade Bicycle Club’s Let’s Go curriculum in Seattle and Edmonds, these school-based programs would be the largest statewide youth bicycling education initiatives of their kind in the nation.
  • $313 million for on-street bike networks, sidewalks, and trails projects to connect and fill gaps in active transportation networks. Highlights include:
    • $29M million to help complete the 42-mile Eastrail multi-use trail ($24M from the active transportation projects list, and $5M from the capital projects list).
    • $6.9M for the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trail.
    • $4M for the Liberty Park Land Bridge in Spokane.
    • $6M for a bike and pedestrian bridge of SR-500 in Vancouver.
    • $50M to improve biking and walking safety on Aurora Avenue in Seattle.
    • $5M for a pedestrian and bike bridge over SR 169 in Maple Valley.

Quotes in Support of this Historic Spending

  • Sen. Marko Liias (D–Everett), chair of the Senate Transportation Committee: 
    • “I’m excited about so many different investments included in Move Ahead WA that will help our neighbors across the state. This package will help our neighbors have safer and more efficient commutes to work, no matter how they’re traveling. Folks on bikes will see more bike lanes, and students across the state will benefit from a school-based bike program which will help our next generation of commuters learn best safety practices. Whether you’re walking, riding, or rolling, this transformative package will help you get to your destination safely.”
  • Rep. Jake Fey, Chair of the House Transportation Committee
    • “Move Ahead WA was possible thanks to the efforts of people from every corner of Washington—and it goes to work for every corner of Washington. This package invests in cleaner, healthier communities and represents a significant step toward new possibilities for our future. We’ve prioritized preserving and protecting the infrastructure we have without perpetuating pollution, traffic, or other harms in underinvested communities. I’m proud of this policy, from transit investments to green transportation projects, and I’m grateful for the partnership of transportation advocates and my legislative colleagues who shaped the final result.”
  • Alexandra Soderstrom of Spokane, cousin of Jeffery Valentine, 25, who was hit and killed by a drunk driver while crossing 3rd Avenue toward Liberty Park in Spokane in 2018, near the site of the proposed Liberty Park Land Bridge. 
    • “This bridge is long overdue. If a land bridge had been there in 2017 Jeffery wouldn’t have had to cross the road that day. Liberty Park is in a lower-income area of the city, and I’ve noticed that in these lower-income areas there aren’t as many safe places to walk or bike as in higher-income areas. Jeffery was the glue that held our family together, and since we lost him our family has been ripped apart. Losing him was devastating, and we are still all affected by it to this day.”
  • Eastrail Partners Board President Edna Shim:
    • “The 42-mile Eastrail is about connecting communities and giving people a convenient, safe, healthy, and sustainable option for traveling between South and East King County communities and northward into Snohomish County–all without a car. The $29 million in funding for Eastrail will accelerate the completion of several key projects including work on the steel bridge that crosses Interstate 90 in Bellevue, and retrofits to a trestle over State Route 202 as the first step in connecting the trail into downtown Woodinville. These funds will also be used to start the process of extending Eastrail southward into Renton from Gene Coulon Park. Eastrail Partners was honored lead advocacy for this funding with governmental partners, legislative champions like Representative Slatter, and other nonprofits like Cascade Bike Club.” 
  • Erik Nelson, SpoKat member, Spokane:
    • Passage of the bill signifies our state’s commitment to bridge our transportation inequity  gap by funding low stress bike lanes for the working poor and lower middle class. With rising gas, car insurance and car payments, automobile related costs are taking a bigger bite out of shrinking paychecks.  Requiring ownership of a car to work is forcing more people deeper into poverty. Having low stress bike lanes finally provides  a less stressful and less costly option to go to work, school and shop without further polluting our environment or adding more pain to the pocketbook, thus bridging our society’s transportation inequity gap.”
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