Support policies for better biking during the Washington Bikes Week of Action

February 1 to 5, community members from around Washington are joining together to advocate for critical bike, pedestrian, and climate legislation. Join us to build safer, more equitable, and more resilient communities across the state.

A staggered line of bicyclists glides down the tree-lined street beside the Capitol building in Olympia as the sun grazes the horizon

February 1 to 5, Washington Bikes is hosting our first ever virtual Legislative Week of Action! Join us because we are stronger together when we advocate for: safe, healthy communities connected by bike, addressing inequities in transportation funding and infrastructure, securing funding for bike and walk pathways, and investing in solutions to climate change. This week will be a powerful opportunity for advocates across the state to raise our voices together in support of new policy and funding to increase safety and accessibility for biking, walking, and rolling – at the exact moment that our elected leaders are considering proposals and focusing on these important issues.

Below is the calendar for the WA Bikes Week of Action. Registrants will also receive reminder emails each morning during the Week of Action that will include information on all action items and call information for events happening that day.

Register for the Week of Action

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Tuesday February 1: Legislative Lunch and Learn 1 p.m. – 2 p.m. (ZOOM INFO HERE)

We’ll kick off our Week of Action with a Legislative Briefing from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m, featuring WA Bikes State Policy Director Alex Alston and other special guests. Get caught up on the legislative lay of the land this year and prospects for WA Bikes’ legislative priorities this session.  Bring your questions, and leave prepared and motivated to advocate throughout the week – and beyond! 

Wednesday, February 2: Take action – Support Transportation Funding! (Link to come)

Add your voice in support of legislative action on  transportation funding, including Safe Routes to School, E-bike incentives, and Reconnecting Communities. Connect with your elected officials to advocate for the issues that matter most to you and your community.

Thursday February 3: Letter to the Editor training 12 p.m. – 1 p.m. (ZOOM INFO HERE)

Join Sara Kiesler, WA Bikes’ Communications and Marketing Director, for an in depth training on how to educate your community through letters to your local newspaper editor and change the narrative on the issues you care about. Sara’s LTEs have been published in various news platforms across the Pacific Northwest.

Friday February 4: Take action – Support Growth Management Act (GMA) legislation! (Link to come)

Changes to the WA State Growth Management Act will have far reaching implications in support of environmental justice, housing equity, and action on climate change. Let your elected officials know why they must pass GMA reform this session.

Saturday February 5: Share your story (Phone2Action Story Link)

A final opportunity to add your voice during the Week of Action! Let our elected leaders know why better transportation infrastructure, GMA reform, and e-bike incentives matter to you and your community. Your advocacy and experiences are critical in helping our elected officials understand why they must act to protect our climate, invest in multimodal infrastructure, and build safer, more accessible, and more connected communities across Washington.

Now is a critical time to make change in your community and make Washington a safer place to bike, walk, and roll. We can’t wait to advocate alongside you in service of creating safer, healthier, and more equitable communities across Washington.

 

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2022 Washington Bikes Legislative Priorities

The 2022 legislative session begins Monday, January 10. With just 60 days to complete the legislative session, and last minute format adjustments  due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it will be a sprint to get bills through both chambers and to the Governor’s desk. We are excited to work with our legislative champions, including state Sen. Marko Liias as the newly appointed Senate Transportation Committee Chair, to grow investments and enact policies to increase access to safe biking for transportation and recreation across the state of Washington.

 

Grow bike and pedestrian funding in the multimodal account 

  • Ask: Protect and grow investments for bike and pedestrian grant funding in the state transportation budget or through new revenue investments. The multimodal account dedicates funds for modes of transportation other than motor vehicles, such as rail, ferries, transit, biking and walking. These investments include the Safe Routes to School grant program and the Bicycle and Pedestrian grant program and project list. By protecting and growing funds for these projects, we can improve safety and accessibility for people of all ages who bike, walk and roll.

 

Prioritize funding to address inequities in transportation

  • Ask: Leverage Washington’s Active Transportation Plan equity analysis to prioritize active transportation investments that will improve safety and access in low-income communities, communities of color, and areas of historic under-investment. Prioritizing these communities will help address inequities in Washington’s transportation system, which has led to disproportionate incidents of crashes, according to traffic injury and fatality data. 

 

Support measures that will incentivize e-bike ownership 

  • Support: Establish measures that will incentivize or lower barriers to e-bike ownership. E-bikes provide an efficient way to bike due to the pedal-assist that allows for longer rides, ease of traversing hills, navigating busy intersections, and carrying groceries or children. 76% of trips taken by e-bike owners would have been car trips prior to owning an e-bike. More people e-biking means less people in cars, which helps meet Washington’s transportation congestion and climate goals. 

 

Support modernizing the Growth Management Act (GMA)

  • Support: Pass House Bill 1099, which updates GMA requirements to include climate resiliency strategies as well as plans for people in communities across Washington state to have safe, seamless, and affordable transportation options. Ensuring counties and cities are planning to reduce vehicle miles traveled in their comprehensive planning equates to investing in active transportation networks. When more people bike, walk, and roll, not only are Green House Gas emission reduction benefits clear, but there are also significant health, mode-shift, and economic benefits. Read more about this bill, and it’s impacts.

 

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Safe biking requires climate commitments written into city policies across the state

 

Written words and plan documents represent promises that advocates can hold leaders accountable to, and cities must identify funding to realize. That’s why Washington Bikes has joined Futurewise in the effort to ensure counties and cities are planning for climate-resilient, multimodal communities that make it easy to bike, walk, and roll. This legislative session we are part of the #WashingtonCan’tWait campaign.

Cities across Washington must update their Comprehensive Plans (a 20-year land use, transportation, and housing plan) by mid-2024. Many communities are poised to launch their planning processes in early 2022. Comprehensive Planning can feel academic and detached from the reality of how we experience our neighborhood streets, transportation options, housing affordability, and proximity to open space. But a Comprehensive Plan is where communities put a stake in the ground of the direction their community is moving towards, and the investments they plan to make to realize it (even if the realization is years away). 

That’s why the Futurewise-led push to update requirements that cities plan for – to include climate resiliency strategies, and for people to have safe, seamless and affordable transportation options – is so important during the 2022 legislative session. Ensuring counties and cities are planning to reduce vehicle miles traveled in their comprehensive planning equates to plans and investments in active transportation networks. When more people bike, walk, and roll, not only are the GHG emission reduction benefits clear, but also the health, mode-shift, and economic benefits as well.

Building on 2021 legislative progress

During the 2021 legislative session Washington Bikes supported HB 1099, a bill championed by our advocacy partners Futurewise. Unfortunately, the bill took some unexpected moves through the legislative process, passing through the Senate Housing and Local Government and Ways and Means committees, only to end up dying in the Senate Transportation committee. In a last attempt at getting part of the policy through the 2021 session, a proviso was approved in the final operating budget that funded the Department of Commerce to start the work on setting up the programs needed to implement the Growth Management Act climate change element that HB 1099 creates. The work of Futurewise and HB 1099’s legislative champions have the bill poised to pass in the 2022 legislative session. Washington Bikes stands ready to help make this a reality.

Key components of HB 1099

HB 1099, prime sponsored by Rep. Duerr (Bothell – 1st LD) updates and modernization to the Growth Management Act will include:

  • Adding the goal of climate change mitigation to the list of goals within the Growth Management Act
  • Adding a climate change and resiliency element to the list of elements that must be included within the comprehensive plans certain counties and cities must adopt under the GMA.
  • Requiring the Department of Commerce (Commerce), in consultation with other state agencies, to publish guidelines that specify a set of actions counties and cities have available to take related to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions and vehicle miles traveled (VMT) reductions.
  • Requiring the climate change and resiliency element of the comprehensive plan of certain counties and cities to identify actions the jurisdiction will take, consistent with guidelines adopted by Commerce, to reduce GHG emissions and VMT.
  • Requiring the climate change and resiliency element of the comprehensive plan of certain counties and cities to address the adverse impacts of climate change on people, property, and ecological systems.

Stay tuned to hear more about the #WAshingtonCantWait campaign and how you can get involved to help make sure this landmark legislation passes. It’s time for cities across Washington state to plan better for climate and multimodal transportation options.   

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The top wins of 2021 for people who bike

As we reach the end of 2021, we are taking a look at some of this years’ biggest wins for people biking around the state! Washington has been consistently ranked the #1 Bike Friendly State since 2008. Our top 10 highlights underscore how our state has increased investments in biking for recreation and transportation, which yield more — and safer — places to ride. 

  1. Major progress on three segments of the Palouse to Cascades Trail
Photo courtesy Palouse to Cascades Trail Coalition.

During the 2021 legislative session, we advanced huge wins for Washington’s longest bike trail in coalition with the Palouse to Cascades Trail Coalition, legislators in Olympia, and Washington State Parks. The Renslow Trestle, Beverly Bridge, and Tekoa Trestle are among the trail sections that received funding this year. In addition to increasing access to the long-distance route, these renovations will become destinations in their own right, spurring local use, tourism, and recreation.

2. 2021 Washington State legislative session yielded new dollars for active transportation

Legislative building in Olympia

This January, session was heavily focused on the COVID-19 crisis and response. While the transportation budget saw declining revenues, the Legislature did appropriate modest increases to Washington’s active transportation grant programs. Additionally, the state Legislature was successful in passing new policies to address climate change. The Climate Commitment Act establishes a cap and invest system that will steadily reduce carbon emissions and air pollution while investing in green infrastructure, multimodal transportation (including biking), and environmental justice. Washington Bikes looks forward to advocating to increase multimodal and active transportation funding in the 2022 legislative session. Save the date now for our Jan. 7 Legislative Briefing to learn about Washington Bikes’ priorities for the 2022 session.

3. New electeds bring support for biking to the table statewide

I Bike. I Vote.

This year, voters around the state elected exciting new bike-friendly candidates across Washington state. When they take office on January 1, these new electeds will bring with them fresh ideas, perspectives gained through a diversity of lived experience, and a commitment to championing policies that will make biking safer and accessible in their community. We are looking forward to working with new and re-elected leaders, holding them accountable to their commitments to safe and connected infrastructure, advocating for active transportation funding, and supporting bike programs around the state.

4. The Tacoma Pipeline Trail is complete!

Tacoma Pipeline Trail
courtesy of Pierce County

This year, after years of advocacy, the eastside of Tacoma got a great new trail. The third and final phase of the Pipeline Trail was completed in June and provides an ADA accessible trail for people of all ages and abilities throughout one of the most racially diverse areas of Tacoma. The trail will eventually be part of a 15-mile trail extending from the Tacoma Dome Transit Center to South Hill in Puyallup. From there, it will link to the Nathan Memorial Chapman Trail, and eventually all the way to Mount Rainier National Park.

5. The pandemic “bike boom” is here to stay

Three people ride bikes (a Latino man in a red jacket, a large-bodied woman in a black jacket, and a white man in an orange jacket).

Two years into the COVID-19 pandemic we’ve experienced many challenges and hardships, but a silver lining has been the explosion of bike sales and ridership across the United States and beyond. In the US alone, bike sales increased by 65% between 2019-2020, and the data for 2021 shows that the bike boom is here to stay. As more people discover (or rediscover) the joy of biking, the need for safe, connected infrastructure becomes even more clear. To accommodate these new riders and our existing communities, it’s crucial that we continue to advocate for safe streets and equitable infrastructure.

6. The 2021 Washington Bike, Walk, Roll Summit hosted conversation, debate, and ideas from around the state and beyond

2021 Bike, Walk, Roll Summit logo in blue and green

Along with our partners at Cascade Bicycle Club, we hosted the 2021 Bike, Walk, Roll Summit, focusing on issues from climate justice to disability rights to investments in safety across the state. Over 300 advocates, engineers, and community members joined us to discuss these issues and learn from experts in the field. We’re already looking forward to the 2022 Summit, and we hope you’ll join us there!

7. Federal support for people biking, walking, and rolling

A Black child, Black man, Black woman, and Asian man stand next to their bikes beside a white woman walking. All are waiting to cross an intersection while wearing masks.

After years of advocacy and months of development, the Build Back Better Bill passed through Congress this November, and President Biden signed it into law. It’s a huge piece of legislation, with clear line items to make biking safer and more accessible on road and trail, and our partners at the League of American Bicyclists worked hard to shape and advocate for the cornerstone elements that will improve biking all across the US. In the coming months, we will be working with state and regional partners to keep them accountable for incorporating key components of the bill as soon as possible.

8. Progress continues on the Eastrail Trail

In November, we celebrated a new development on Eastrail, a trail that will eventually extend 44 miles from Renton to Woodinville. While there is still more work to be done to complete this trail, funding is now in place to complete the entirety of the main spine, and additional segment openings are expected as soon as 2022!

  1. Advocates from around the state stood up for people biking, walking, and rolling at our 2021 Virtual Lobby Day
Four people smiling on a Zoom screen

Over 60 people in communities from Spokane to Gig Harbor joined our virtual Lobby Day to advocate during the 2021 legislative session. Together we let our elected officials know why safe, healthy communities connected by bike matter! We’re already looking forward to gathering during the 2022 session.

10. New Light Rail stations connect the Puget Sound region

In October, three new Light Rail stations opened from Seattle’s University District to Northgate. The stations include enclosed bike lockers and bike cages for rent, and new or improved bike lanes on surrounding streets make the stations comfortable and convenient for folks to access. These implementations serve as a great reminder of the ways in which bikes and transit complement each other, and of how we can build our region to support people biking, walking, rolling, and using transit to get where they need to go. We can’t wait for the further development of Light Rail stations to extend across Puget Sound.

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Election Results 2021: Washington Bikes Wins Across the State

Washington Bikes is excited to begin collaborating with newly elected and re-elected public leaders to build connected and safe bike/walk routes that get people where they need to go. These officials will advance policies that make our streets safer for all.

This November, voters elected 90 percent of Washington Bikes’ endorsed candidates,  who support healthier and safer communities through better bicycling.

Voters’ continued support and engagement with Washington Bikes made these election wins possible. We plan to work with these new and re-elected leaders starting from their first day in office, holding them accountable to their commitments to safe biking and walking infrastructure, active transportation funding, and support for bike tourism. Thank you for making your voice, in support of safe biking and walking, heard at the ballot box! 

A handful of impressive new candidates to elected office won their race. When they take office January 1, they will bring with them fresh ideas, perspectives gained through a diversity of lived experience, and a commitment to championing policies that will make biking safer and accessible in their community. 

Election night highlights: new elected officials to celebrate

    • King County Council: newly elected Councilmember Sarah Perry made transportation options for connecting rural, suburban, and urban communities a central focus of her campaign. 
    • Renton City Council: newly elected Councilmember Carmen Rivera is looking to prioritize low carbon mobility options and build out multimodal options for city residents.
    • Everett City Council: newly elected Councilmember Mary Fosse brings energy to advocate for safe multimodal and pedestrian-friendly infrastructure, and safe routes and sidewalks to schools. 
    • Port of Seattle: newly elected Port Commissioner Hamdi Mohamed is eager to advance safe bicycle routes and connections between the airport and downtown Seattle for increased ridership, and to bolster bicycle tourism.
    • Sammamish City Council: newly elected Councilmember Karen Howe brings her experience advocating for a connected trail system throughout the Sammamish Plateau, where connected, accessible active transportation routes are needed.  
    • Yakima City Council: newly elected Councilmember Danny Herrera wants to bring more recreational opportunities and safety improvements to Yakima, including sidewalks and bike lanes.
    • Vancouver City Council: newly elected Councilmember Diana Perez will bring new energy to connecting Vancouver communities and the surrounding areas by multimodal trails.
    • Tacoma City Council: newly elected Councilmember Sarah Rumbaugh is eager to address climate justice issues as well connecting Dash Point State Park to downtown Tacoma via a safe bike route.
    • Bellingham City Council: newly elected Councilmember Skip Williams connects to active transportation issues as an avid cyclist, he’s poised to help convey the public benefits of how Bellingham could prioritize public space such as removal of parking spaces for biking and walking infrastructure, which bolsters economic activity and more hospitable public spaces. 

Washington Bikes is excited to begin collaborating with newly elected and re-elected public leaders to build connected and safe bike networks that get people where they need to go. The work starts now.

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Washington Bikes 2021 General Election Endorsements for East King County

By many measures, transportation on King County’s Eastside is changing. By 2024 EastLink Light rail will be open, with stations that will make connecting to Mercer Island, Bellevue and Redmond easier than ever. Also by 2024, Eastrail, the Eastside’s north/south trail corridor and “bike network spine” will be completed between Woodinville and Renton, connecting Redmond, Kirkland, and Bellevue by bike. How well people on foot and travelling by bike can access transit and trail on opening day is down to funding, vision and political will. Thanks to advocates and elected leaders, some progress has been made in recent years. But there’s more to do, especially considering the disturbing trend in some Eastside cities of increasing death and serious injury crashes involving people walking and biking on our streets. Along with potential for connectivity, Eastside cities must do more to address this transportation-related public health crisis within their jurisdictions. 

During Washington Bikes’ endorsement process, we asked candidates for office in each of the below races how they would champion solutions to make their community safer and more accessible for people who bike – or want to. Read on for Washington Bikes endorsements, and a deeper dive into issues in key Eastside cities. 

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Washington Bikes 2021 General Election Endorsements for City of Seattle

In Seattle, City Council and Mayor each play vital roles in advancing transportation policy and funding. The results when we have champions in office? Progress towards our vision of neighborhoods connected by bike. Over the next four years, Seattle politicians will have lots of opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to making biking an intuitive and safe transportation option for all.

In Seattle, City Council and Mayor each play vital roles in advancing transportation policy and funding. The results when we have champions in office? Progress towards our vision of neighborhoods connected by bike. Over the next four years, Seattle politicians will have lots of opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to making biking an intuitive and safe transportation option for all.

During Washington Bikes’ endorsement process, we asked candidates for office in each of the below races how they would get Vision Zero on track, and reverse the trend of increasing deaths and serious injuries of people biking and walking on our streets. We asked for their commitments to grow investments in a connected, protected bike network as the Levy to Move Seattle expires and its successor’s funding strategy is shaped by council, mayor and community for a vote in 2024 (which means a lot of work to shape the funding package ahead of time). And, we asked candidates if they would champion and hold the line on key biking projects where the biggest hurdle is political will, not funding. We’re excited to announce our Seattle endorsed candidates, and we encourage you to give them your vote.

Among the many other important elected positions on Seattle’s ballot, Washington Bikes also endorsed in the Port of Seattle and County Executive races.

District 8 (Citywide) Seattle City Council: Teresa Mosqueda

Washington Bikes believes Teresa Mosqueda is the right choice for Seattle City Council Position 8. Teresa has demonstrated leadership on bike safety issues while on council, and she is an important voice that deserves a second term. Whether it’s helping evolve the advocate narrative around who we must build the bike network for (must watch video about the ALEGRA bike network) or leading budget negotiations to increase funding for much needed bike safety projects, Teresa backs better biking. Teresa has committed to working to grow funding for bike safety projects in the city budget and next transportation Levy, and supports key projects in the city where political will, not funding, are the biggest hurdle.

From Teresa:

“We don’t have connected bike lanes or connected sidewalks. That infrastructure must be prioritized, and we must keep our commitment to voters and carry through on our Move Seattle and Vision Zero promises. Creating road diets, and ways to get cars to slow down and physically removed from areas where pedestrians and cyclists are is crucial in order to ensure that our children can safely walk and bike to school. This will involve investments in creating safe bike lanes and pedestrian corridors, which is already underway through the Seattle Pedestrian Master Plan. But additionally, we must make sure these investments are equitable and placed in the communities that have been marginalized and have the greatest need for infrastructure improvements.

Read Teresa’s questionnaire responses


District 9 (Citywide) Seattle City Council: Nikkita Oliver

Washington Bikes believes Nikkita Oliver is the right choice for Seattle City Council Position 9. It is clear that Nikkita understands how bicycling fits into the broader issues of mobility, climate, and economic justice. Having recently started biking again for the first time since childhood, Nikkita understands first-hand that Seattle has a long way to go before people of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds will feel comfortable on a bike. Nikkita knows that prioritizing active transportation improves community safety and well-being. They are committed to advancing policies that make bicycling safer, more accessible, and welcoming for all communities. Nikkita has committed to working to grow funding for bike safety projects in the city budget and next transportation levy, and supports key projects in the city where political will, not funding, are the biggest hurdle.

From Nikkita:
“Investing in the community is a top priority for our campaign, especially when it comes to measures that create safety. More public space for people walking and rolling is very important, not only for helping people thrive but also for physical safety… I support completing and expanding Seattle’s protected bicycle network…”

Read Nikkita’s questionnaire responses

 

Mayor of Seattle: M. Lorena González and Bruce Harrell (Dual Endorsement)
M. Lorena González

Washington Bikes endorses M. Lorena González for Seattle Mayor. Reshaping Seattle as a 15 minute city is a central element of Lorena’s campaign platform. That’s because Lorena understands that multi-modal transportation and land use fit together hand in hand – and are necessary to reach the city’s mobility, climate, and economic goals. We know that Lorena will hold the line on key projects needed to advance Seattle’s citywide bike network, including bike lanes along Eastlake and completing the Burke-Gilman Missing Link along Shileshole Ave NW. We look forward to working with Lorena as she brings her record of supporting safer biking to the Mayor’s office to grow investments in completing a connected bike network citywide – especially in historically under-resourced South Seattle.

From Lorena:
“We must finish the Bike Master Plan and provide for sidewalks in every corner of Seattle. It’s no mistake that South Seattle has the highest concentration of people of color in the city, has some of the least complete sidewalk and bike infrastructure, and is home to the most dangerous streets and highest pedestrian injury and death rates—it’s the result of a legacy of underinvestment we must rectify. Dedicated bike and walking lanes, road design to discourage dangerous driving and speeding, and other measures will reduce conflicts between road users, increasing safety and encouraging more to walk and ride—it also will help everyone get where they’re going faster.”

Read Lorena’s questionnaire responses

Bruce Harrell

Washington Bikes endorses Bruce Harrell for Seattle Mayor. Bruce indicated strong support for growing investments for biking, as well as holding the line on key projects needed to advance Seattle’s citywide bike network – including bike lanes along Eastlake and completing the Burke-Gilman Missing Link along Shileshole Ave NW. As Mayor, we look forward to working with Bruce as he builds on his council record of votes in favor of building Seattle’s bike network. Throughout our endorsement process, Bruce committed to using the Mayor’s office to make biking safer and more accessible across the city – especially in South Seattle.

From Bruce:
“Reducing transportation emissions is crucial to our mission to defeat climate change. I absolutely support reducing the number of car trips we take through better planning and access to transit, sidewalks, and bike lanes… We have to look at transportation comprehensively – investing in a variety of solutions like safe sidewalks and bike lanes, electric charging infrastructure and expanded access to e-bikes, and connections to large rail projects, like expediting ST3 and making Cascadia high speed rail possible. For too long automobiles have been the top focus – in our transportation system priorities locally to the transportation packages passed at the state level. During COVID, we’ve seen how transitioning some parking spaces into outdoor seating areas has revitalized our neighborhoods, and I would look for other opportunities to creatively repurpose car-focused infrastructure – making our streets more people, pedestrian and cyclist focused.

Read Bruce’s questionnaire responses

 

 

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Washington Bikes 2021 general election endorsements

Washington Bikes announces our 2021 general election endorsements for candidates for office in communities across Washington state.

Washington Bikes & Votes: Vote for these bike-friendly candidates in the upcoming general election on Nov. 2

Elected leaders who prioritize connected, comfortable and safe places for active transportation and recreation are critical for creating safe, healthy, and thriving communities. That’s why Washington Bikes makes candidate endorsements in races across the state. Read on for Washington Bikes’ 2021 endorsements. 

Our criteria: Washington Bikes endorsed electeds who led or partnered on efforts to create safer streets for all, increase accessibility to trails, improve healthy communities and health outcomes, and contribute to the economic vitality of Washington’s communities. Additionally, Washington Bikes has endorsed first-time candidates who share our vision of neighborhoods connected by bike. 

We’d like to thank all of the candidates, endorsed or otherwise, for taking the time to participate in Washington Bikes’ endorsement process. 

The Washington Bikes endorsement speaks to thousands of engaged Washingtonians statewide who care about a range of issues. From wanting more connected trails, to safer and more equitable neighborhood streets, to more opportunities for physical activity, Washingtonians are looking for leaders and policies that will advance these priorities. 

Endorsement cheat sheet

With less than four weeks until Election Day, we are in the final stretch! Are you ready to vote? Register if you are new to WA or have recently moved through the Washington Secretary of State’s office. If not, you have until eight days ahead of Election Day to register online or by mail. You can also register in person until the close of business hours on Election Day! 

Curious what will appear on your November ballot? Check out your sample ballot at Ballotpedia. Lastly, Washington is a vote-by-mail state, so expect your ballot in the mail around Oct. 15.

 

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One year later: How the Safety Stop Has Improved the Lives of People Who Bike

Washington became the fifth state to legalize the Safety Stop on Oct. 1 of 2020, allowing people who bike to treat stop signs as a yield if the coast is clear. As the anniversary nears, we spoke to people who bike about how the law is improving their rides.

Before the Safety Stop became law, Sal Ponce remembers riding his e-cargo bike through Beacon Hill neighborhood streets with his daughter in tow, diligently stopping at every stop sign even though there was no traffic. Though he would often yield at the block-after-block stop signs when biking by himself, he wanted to demonstrate proper behavior for his kids–but all his daughter felt was whiplash.

Sal Ponce rides with his daughter on his e-cargo bike“My cargo bike is a bit of a boat, so my daughter started asking me, ‘Daddy, why are we stopping again?’ Being able to check intersections, keep a reasonable speed, and not have a jarring stop every block is one great result of the Safety Stop.”

The Safety Stop, which went into effect statewide on Oct. 1 of 2020, is an intuitive law that allows people who bike to treat stop signs as a yield, similar to the “Idaho Stop.” The law was Washington Bikes’ priority legislation during the 2020 legislative session because it helps prevent crashes at intersections, the most dangerous place for people on bikes.

The Safety Stop received overwhelming bipartisan support in Olympia because it is practical and seamless for how people already ride, and it keeps everyone safer on the road. When a similar law passed in Idaho in 1982, bicycle injuries dropped by 14 percent.

People on bikes are extremely vulnerable to being hit by distracted drivers when stopped at an intersection. In addition, people on bikes have an unobstructed view in all directions, unlike people in cars who have “blind spots.”

For Noelle “Bunny” Lindemann, the law ended her worry about being ticketed by police for riding in a manner she knew was safer. “I biked this way for a while, but I was always scared if a police officer saw me, what the repercussions were,” she said.

“Now, I am able to see what is coming and go or wait, and to stay at a better speed,” Lindemann added. “I don’t have to stop and start, and I don’t have to surprise drivers who aren’t looking for a cyclist to be starting and stopping.”

Here’s how the Safety Stop works: people on bikes are required to slow down to a reasonable speed at stop signs, a speed that allows them to stop if necessary. They must stop completely if there are vehicles or pedestrians in the intersection, if they are behind a school bus with a raised stop sign, and at railroad crossings when a train is near. If the coast is clear, they can roll on through the intersection, maintaining momentum and keeping traffic behind them from catching up or coming too close. The law actually improves the flow of traffic for cars, making it a win for everyone on the road.

Check out Olga Lucia Herrera practicing the Safety Stop in Spokane. Notice how the car behind her doesn’t have to get too close because she can roll through the intersection.

Video of Olga Lucia Herrera practicing the Safety Stop

In addition to Washington and Idaho, Delaware, Arkansas, and Oregon have legalized a law similar to the Safety Stop. Oregon’s law passed in 2019 after several attempts. Due to the strong bipartisan support for biking in Washington state and WA Bikes’ ability to pass practical, safe, and smart legislation, the Safety Stop was passed on its first try. It was sponsored by Sen. Andy Billig (D-3rd) and Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon (D-34th).

“There’s a reason this law received huge support from both sides of the aisle in Olympia–it makes sense and it makes the roads safer,” said Alex Alston, Washington Bikes’ state policy director and lead lobbyist in Olympia. “The Safety Stop was approved so swiftly thanks to our supporters, advocates, and legislative champions.”

As Washington Bikes prepares to release its 2021 candidate endorsements, we will also be planning our 2022 legislative agenda. Stay tuned for info on electing bike champions statewide for more great bike safety laws, and for our upcoming legislative priorities.

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Effort to Repeal Helmet Law Advances in King County

  • Washington Bikes and Cascade Bicycle Club 100 percent encourage people to wear helmets, but we believe it should not be a criminal matter.
  • Helmet laws have been shown locally and nationally to disproportionately harm Black, Indigenous, and People of Color communities.
  • King County officials are expected to vote on a repeal in October.

An effort to repeal the mandatory bike helmet law in Seattle and King County due to racial bias in enforcement, as well as the targeting of individuals affected by homelessness, has taken a big step forward.

The King County Board of Health has directed its staff to draft a formal repeal of the bike helmet law, which has been on the books since 1993 and has been enforced by Seattle since 2003. The board is expected to vote on the repeal at its October 21 meeting at 1 p.m.

Washington bikes and Cascade support repealing the law and have worked in partnership with multiple community organizations to encourage the King County Board of Health to strike the ordinance from its books. 

“Cascade and Washington Bikes 100 percent support voluntary helmet use, and we encourage everyone to wear one, but we do not believe it should be a criminal matter,” says Executive Director Lee Lambert. 

In advance of the King County Board of Health’s vote, Cascade and Washington Bikes are encouraging their members who live in King County to contact the Board of Health to urge repeal.

Repealing the King County ordinance would eliminate enforcement in all unincorporated areas of King County, plus 22 cities and towns including Seattle that either lack their own helmet laws or adopt the county’s law in their municipal code, according to Ethan Campbell, a University of Washington doctoral student who conducted a countywide analysis of helmet laws for Central Seattle Greenways.

Seventeen other communities in King County have their own municipal bicycle helmet laws that would be unaffected by a Board of Health repeal, according to Ethan Campbell, a University of Washington doctoral student who conducted analysis for Central Seattle Greenways. Campbell’s research showing that Black and Indigenous people have been disproportionately targeted for ticketing helped convince us to support the repeal effort. 

Helmets Yes, Helmet Laws No   

We believe the best way to protect people riding bikes from death or injury is by creating safer streets through public policy measures such as reducing motor vehicle speeds and building more protected bike infrastructure that separates people on bikes from fast moving vehicles. 

“Creating safer streets means creating places where people of all ages, abilities, races, and ethnicities can access public space equitably and comfortably,” says Tamar Shuhendler, Cascade’s community organizer. 

Motor vehicles are the biggest threat to people on bikes. Bike helmet manufacturers have stated that they do not design their helmets to protect people from the devastating impact of being hit by a speeding motor vehicle. Bike helmets, which are effective at protecting people’s heads in self-induced crashes or falls–such as from hitting a pothole or curb–are no match for a speeding car.

“Public agencies that want to encourage greater helmet use should consider programs that provide free or reduced-price helmets to individuals who want them but don’t have the means to acquire one,” says Vicky Clarke, Cascade’s policy director. “Making helmet use a criminal matter has led to increased interaction with law enforcement for marginalized communities, and that’s something we oppose.”

People who would like to learn more about why Cascade and Washington Bikes are pro helmet but opposed to helmet laws can read our blog post, “Helmets Yes, Helmet Laws No.

Using Our Head and Changing Our Mind

Cascade supported the King County helmet law when it was enacted in 1993, a time when helmet use was far lower than today. Much has changed in the nearly three decades since then, however. Most notably, a study of Seattle Municipal Court records showed that Black people were ticketed in Seattle at a rate nearly four times greater than white people. Reporting has also shown that the law was used to target people affected by homelessness. In addition, there is now widespread awareness that bike helmets are a wise choice. 

The 17 communities in King County with their own municipal helmet ordinances include Auburn, Bellevue, Black Diamond, Burien, Des Moines, Duvall, Enumclaw, Federal Way, Issaquah, Kent, Lake Forest Park, Maple Valley, North Bend, Pacific, Renton, SeaTac, and Snoqualmie, according to a list compiled by Campbell. Efforts to repeal those municipal laws could begin once King County’s law is stricken from the books. 

Statewide, more than 30 Washington communities have bicycle helmet laws, according to the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute. A list of bicycle helmet laws nationwide compiled by the institute shows that 40 states including Washington have communities with some form of bicycle helmet law, often for minors.

Our effort to repeal the law is guided by our Commitment to Anti-Racism and Cascade’s Mission, Vision, and Values statements that commit us to pursuing equity and inclusion in bicycling and in Washington state. Cascade requires everyone participating in its events and rides to wear a helmet, and it provides them for free to youth and adults in our educational programs.

The message is clear: Wear a helmet, but don’t punish and criminalize people who don’t–or who can’t afford one.

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