In early January, the Washington State Legislature will convene for a “long-session” of 105 days, all in-person for the first time since 2020. Between Jan. 9 and April 24 state leaders will be humming to the tune of Schoolhouse Rock (or is that just us?) as they work to pass bills into law.
We are excited to work with Bike Champions in the Senate and House Transportation Committees and across the Legislature to advance policies in four areas to make biking safer and more accessible for all.
Invest in safe places to walk, bike, and roll for transportation and recreation:
Lower Washington state’s legal blood-alcohol limit for driving to 0.05.
Make dangerous intersections safer by outlawing right turns on red in urban areas and locations with high foot and bike traffic.
Require driver education as a condition of getting a license, and fund equitable access to training.
Raise fees for the deadliest vehicles.
Grow the number and types of people who can bike:
Lower barriers to electric bike ownership. E-bikes are an efficient and affordable car-replacement due to their pedal-assist that enables longer rides, makes it easier to climb hills, and provides power to carry groceries or children. E-bikes are bicycles with superhero powers. Seventy-six percent of trips taken by e-bike owners would have been car trips prior to owning an e-bike. By reducing car trips, e-bikes can help Washington state meet its transportation congestion and climate goals.
Build climate resilient communities connected by bike
Support legislation that updates the Growth Management Act by including climate resiliency strategies, and which provide everyone with safe, seamless and affordable transportation options. Safe and seamless biking infrastructure reduces motor vehicle miles traveled, and it should be a core goal of county and city comprehensive plans. Increasing the number of people who bike, walk, and roll reduces greenhouse gas emissions, decreases air pollution, improves public health, and boosts the economy.
The full slate of WA Bikes’ endorsed candidates secured seats in the 2023 Legislature in this November’s general election. We’re excited to roll up our sleeves alongside them this coming session to advance policies that make streets safer for all.
The full slate of WA Bikes’ endorsed candidates secured seats in the 2023 state Legislature in this November’s general election. We’re excited to roll up our sleeves alongside them this coming session to advance policies that make streets safer for all.
This November, all across Washington State House and Senate seats were on the ballot. More specifically: half of the Senate’s 49 seats and all 98 House seats were up for election. With numerous incumbents stepping down, 2022 marked a big election year, an opportunity for new leadership to move biking forward, and many new voices on the ballot.
Four things to know about the election results:
All 30 of Washington Bikes’ endorsed candidates won their races, with champions like Senators Marko Liias and Emily Randall headed back to Olympia to continue their important work, and new candidates like Representatives Julia Reed, Sharlett Mena, and Darya Farivar whom we’re excited to work with for the first time to advance our shared agenda.
Transportation Committee Leaders understand the needs and importance of active transportation. Chairs Sen. Marko Liias (21st – Everett) and Rep. Jake Fey (27th – Tacoma) retain their leadership roles. These two architects of the Move Ahead Washington package, which included monumental investment in active transportation investment, are important voices in the transportation committee and delivered legislation that reflects the values of improving safety and creating an inclusive, multimodal system. In the Senate Transportation Committee, newly appointed Vice Chairs, Senator-elect Sharon Shewmake (moved over from the House) and Sen. John Lovick are committed champions of transportation and mobility access. The House is yet to announce committee assignments.
An increasingly diverse legislature at this critical time: In particular we were excited to connect with and endorse Darya Farivar (46th – North Seattle). Farivar is the youngest state Legislature member and the first woman of Iranian descent elected to the state House in Washington. A breadth of perspectives among our legislature is essential to passing laws that support the needs of all – not just those who’ve been given the most access historically.
More Bike Champions take on leadership roles. Several Senate Bike Champions have new leadership roles.
Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon (34th – West Seattle) is now the House Majority Leader. Fitzgibbon was the prime bill sponsor on WA Bikes’ priority legislation in 2020 to enact the Safety Stop (allowing bikes to yield at stop signs when safe, which has been enacted in several other states since).
Sen. T’wina Nobles (34th – incl. Lakewood & Tacoma) is now Senate Majority Caucus Whip. Nobles is a vocal advocate for safe biking and walking infrastructure and has been a key ally as we work to make Washington state a safer place to bike, walk, and roll.
Sen. Emily Randall (26th – Bremerton) is now Deputy Majority Leader. Randall has been an important voice for active transportation connectivity, including lead sponsoring the Vulnerable Road User law passed in 2019. During Move Ahead WA negotiations Randall helped ensure that Kitsap County’s Gorst Bottleneck – the biggest mobility issue in the County – includes dollars to study a long-sought and long-stymied bike/ped connection.
Posted in News | Tagged 2022, Elections | Comments Off on Election Results 2022: Bike Champions Head to Olympia!
Washington Bikes announces its legislative and policy agenda for reducing traffic violence and protecting vulnerable road users.
Restrict right turns on red, lower the legal blood-alcohol limit, mandate driver education, speed up investments in sidewalks and protected bike lanes, and raise fees for the heaviest and deadliest vehicles.
Washington Bikes and a coalition of bike and pedestrian safety advocates, elected officials, and family members who have lost loved ones to traffic violence held three press conferences Monday (Nov. 21) to demand state and local action and policy changes to address the growing public health crisis of motor vehicles killing people bicycling and walking.
Speaking at the events in Seattle, Everett, and Pierce County, Washington Bikes called on legislators to approve four policy changes:
Lower Washington state’s legal blood-alcohol limit to 0.05.
Make dangerous intersections safer by outlawing right-on-red turns in areas with high foot and bike traffic.
Require driver education as a condition of getting a license.
Raise fees for the deadliest vehicles.
Speakers at the press conferences included:
Amber Weilert, whose 13-year-old son, Michael, was killed by a motor vehicle in a Pierce County crosswalk in July;
Claudia Mason (pictured above), widow of Robb Mason who was killed by a hit-and-run driver while bicycling in Seattle in July;
Other speakers included Seattle City Councilor Teresa Mosqueda (pictured below); Everett City Councilors Paula Rhyne and Liz Vogeli, Snohomish County Councilor Megan Dunn, Tacoma City Councilor Kristina Walker, Pierce County Councilor Ryan Mello, and representatives from the Washington State Department of Transportation, as well as advocates including the Snohomish County Transportation Coalition and Tacoma’s Downtown on the Go.
Executive Director Lee Lambert and Policy Director Vicky Clarke spoke on behalf of Washington Bikes. In addition to policy changes, speakers talked about the emotional trauma of losing loved ones, highlighted data that shows a deadly upward trend of preventable fatalities, and called for greater public awareness and media attention to traffic violence.
The three press conferences came one day following World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims on Sunday, Nov. 20. Following the Seattle press conference, a group of people on bikes pedaled to City Hall, where Seattle Neighborhood Greenways representatives set out 190 pairs of shoes to represent the 190 people who have died in the city in vehicle crashes since 2015, when the city adopted a goal of zero serious injuries and fatalities by 2030.
Deadlier Roads Statistics
Motor vehicles have killed at least 17 people walking and bicycling so far this year in Seattle, with a spike in hit-and-run deaths and injuries.
190 people have died on Seattle streets since the city announced its Vision Zero commitment.
Statewide there were 159 fatal crashes involving people walking or bicycling in 2021, the highest number in a decade, according to preliminary data.
Pierce County saw the worst increase of any Washington community in traffic violence from 2020 to 2021, with more than 98 people dying. 22 pedestrians died in Pierce County in 2021.
There have been 40 fatal crashes within Snohomish County this year as of Nov. 3, marking an upward trend since 2013. Seven fatal crashes including five fatal crashes involving pedestrians occurred on the SR99 corridor–the most in a decade.
Washington state traffic deaths in 2021 were the highest they’ve been in two decades. In 2022 the state is on pace for the highest number of traffic deaths in 30 years. Deaths are rising fastest for people walking and biking. Between 2020 and 2021 we saw a more than 30 percent increase in deaths of people biking and walking, with a larger increase in fatalities of Black, American Indian and Alaska Native individuals.
Factors Driving Increased Fatalities
Washington Bikes has identified multiple factors causing the epidemic of traffic violence:
Worsening driver behavior including an increase in speeding, distracted and impaired driving, hit-and-run incidents, road rage, and a breakdown in the norms of safe driving.
Poorly designed roadways that lack safe infrastructure for people biking and walking, and which prioritize the fast-movement of motor vehicles.
A proliferation of larger and deadlier vehicles that are more likely to kill people biking and walking.
Washington Bikes Policy Proposals
Washington Bikes will work with legislators and local elected officials to push the following policy proposals:
Point-Zero-Five Saves Lives: Lower the legal blood-alcohol limit for driving to 0.05 percent.
Roughly half of crashes involve drunk or impaired drivers, and that number is rising. Utah implemented this change and saw an immediate reduction in impaired driving. More than 100 countries have a 0.05 limit, or lower.
Wrong on Red. Eliminate right turns on red in areas with high foot traffic and alongside bike lanes.
Intersections are the most dangerous places for people walking and biking. More than 80 percent of crashes in Seattle occur at intersections, and more than one in five crashes statewide.
Educate Young Drivers: Require driver education as a condition of getting a license.
A third of fatal and serious injury crashes involve drivers under the age of 25. Washington residents are allowed to skip driver education if they get a license after the age of 18, and fewer than half of young drivers have received driver education in our state.
Heavier is Deadlier:Increase fees for larger, deadlier vehicles to pay for safety education campaigns.
Claudia Mason, pictured above with attorney Bob Anderton holding a photo of Robb: “Since Robb was killed my life has been devastated.”
Seattle City Councilor Teresa Mosqueda: “We are trying to encourage more people to be able to get to the places they need to go using a bicycle and alternative modes of transportation. And we need to make that choice safe. Because right now for so many people who don’t have the option of owning a vehicle or reliable transit, we are forcing them onto unsafe streets. We are forcing them into situations where they are risking their lives everyday.”
Vicky Clarke: “This is a statewide problem, and that is why in 2023 we are calling on the state Legislature to enact the policy changes that we know will alleviate the leading causes of crashes.”
A new law that went into effect July 1 requires Washington state highway planners to implement “Complete Streets” designs on projects over $500,000.
Learn more about this huge shift in how we design state highway projects to make Washington safer for biking and active transportation during the Washington Bike, Walk, Roll Summit.
They’re known pejoratively as “stroads,” poorly designed city roads that favor high-speed traffic over bikeability, walkability, and safety.
Washington state, and communities across the United States, are filled with stroads due to outdated transportation policies that prioritize motor vehicle traffic over active transportation.
But a huge change is coming that makes Washington state a national leader in the movement to transform unsafe stroads into Complete Streets that enhance safety.
A new state law that went into effect on July 1 requires state transportation projects costing more than $500,000 to incorporate Complete Streets principles into their design. The goal is to improve safety, mobility, and accessibility for all road users.
On Sept. 28, officials from the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) will explain the impacts of this new law during their presentation, “Complete Streets Requirements for State Transportation Projects.” City planners, transportation consultants, biking and walking advocates, academics, and all concerned citizens are invited to attend the free session, which will be presented by WSDOT staff members Celeste Gilman and Kenneth Loen.
State Transportation Secretary Roger Millar will give a welcome address on Monday, Oct. 4, followed by a workshop with state and federal transportation officials titled “Show us the Money,” which will offer advice on how communities can tap state and federal dollars.
What’s a Complete Street?
Complete Streets are the antidote to dangerous, ugly, and expensive “stroads” and incomplete streets.
“Incomplete streets are the result of a process that fails to consider the needs of all people,” according to Smart Growth America and the National Complete Streets Coalition. “The end product is a street that spans a spectrum from uncomfortable to downright deadly for those not using a car.”
Think of Aurora Avenue in Seattle, State Route 7 in Pierce County, and the Gorst bottleneck between Bremerton and Port Orchard in Kitsap County–or the many state highways that bisect communities.
The Complete Streets requirement was included in the Move Ahead Washington transportation funding package approved by the Washington State Legislature in early 2022. With a “historic and unprecedented” $1.3 billion in spending for protected bike lanes, multi-use trails, Safe Routes to Schools, biking and walking infrastructure, and a new statewide school-based bicycle safety education program, Move Ahead Washington makes Washington state a leader in the effort to make bicycling safer, easier, and more popular.
The Complete Streets requirement is among the most impactful measures in the Move Ahead Washington package. It directs WSDOT to “improve the safety, mobility and accessibility of state highways” through the incorporation of Complete Streets principles into projects costing more than $500,000.
“This directive will accelerate and enhance WSDOT’s efforts to become more multimodal. And it puts Washington at the forefront of the Complete Streets movement,” says Vicky Clarke, policy director for Washington Bikes and Cascade Bicycle Club. “We look forward to working with WSDOT and active transportation advocates across the state as the projects influenced by this new policy are built.”
This requirement applies to state highways–also known as State Routes that have an SR designation in their name–which pass through population centers. Learn more on the WSDOT Complete Streets landing page.
“It’s really exciting work we are getting to do here,” says Gilman, strategic policy administrator in WSDOT’s Active Transportation Division. Gilman stresses that there will be no one-size-fits-all approach, but rather that each project will differ and include direct input from communities in terms of the infrastructure they desire.
“The solutions will look different in each location. We are going to look at the context of the place and identify gaps in our walking and bicycling facilities and fill them in,” Gilman says.
A National Movement to Reduce Traffic Violence
The new state requirement comes as the Complete Streets movement gains momentum nationally. Earlier this year, the Federal Highway Administration delivered the report, “Moving to a Complete Streets Design Model,” to Congress.
The Complete Streets movement also comes amidst a rise in traffic deaths both in Washington and nationally that highlights the need for better road and highway design.
Vermont is the only other state with a Complete Streets mandate.
Register for the free virtual Washington Bike, Walk, Roll Summit to participate in this session, and check out the full Summit agenda, which will include 14 sessions with a theme of Building Just and Resilient Communities.
Washington’s Olympic Discovery Trail is a key segment in the 3,700-mile Great American Rail-Trail.
Plans are underway to complete the “Western Gateway” to the Great American, and fill gaps on the Olympic Peninsula.
A new study shows the economic benefits of completing these long-distance bike trails.
A “huge milestone” is coming for Washington state’s Olympic Discovery Trail and the 3,700-mile Great American Rail-Trail that spans the nation.
In just a few years, people will be able to bike on a new trail from the timber town of Forks, Wash., to the oceanfront tribal community of La Push. The trail connection will provide an economic boost to the region and state by connecting the Olympic Discovery and Great American trails to the Pacific via a new “Western Gateway.”
Construction on the 11-mile segment of paved, multi-use trail from Forks to La Push should be completed within the next three years, says Jeff Bohman, president of the Peninsula Trails Coalition. Building this westernmost segment of the Great American and Olympic Discovery trails will offer people on bikes a car-free, epic start or finish to a bike ride across the Olympic Peninsula–or across the nation.
“Completing the Western Gateway will be a huge milestone that connects the Great American Rail-Trail to the Pacific Ocean,” Bohman says.
That’s good news for the state’s economy. Long-distance bike trails not only provide healthy recreational opportunities and adventure. They are a major economic engine.
A recent study says the 3,700-mile Great American Rail-Trail, which is more than halfway built, will generate about $25 million in spending and 1.6 million trips within Washington state when completed.
“The return on investment is huge,” says Kevin Belanger of the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, a nonprofit that is leading the effort to create the Great American Rail-Trail. “People on bikes buy food and water and supplies and lodgings, and there are many towns that need economic development that would benefit.”
People from around the world, as well as the 50 million Americans who live within 50 miles of the Great American, will come to bike, walk, ride horses, and explore America’s diverse landscapes when the trail is completed, Belanger says.
The Great American crosses 12 states and will be the nation’s first cross-country biking and walking trail when completed. It is more than halfway completed, with about 88 gaps to be filled, including some in Washington state.
A Bike Trail Across Washington
Washington state’s longest segments of the Great American include the 289-mile Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail, which travels from the Idaho border to the Puget Sound region, as well as the Olympic Discovery Trail.
About 92 miles of the Olympic Discovery Trail are completed along a route that will eventually be 135 miles long, Bohman says. “Trail segments are being added almost every year.”
Progress is also continuing on the Palouse to Cascades. In central Washington, the state opened the Beverly Bridge, a key trail link over the Columbia River. The 3,000-foot bridge, which opened in April to people biking, walking, and riding horses, unites the eastern and western halves of the Palouse to Cascades, the longest rail trail in the nation.
From the western terminus of the Palouse to Cascades trail in Cedar Falls, a variety of trails in King County enable people on bikes to pedal into Seattle. Connecting to the Olympic Discovery Trail and the Pacific is the next big challenge.
The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy says it has identified a route across the Kitsap Peninsula from the Bainbridge Island town of Winslow, which is reachable by ferry from Seattle, to Hood Canal Bridge. Work on this route across the Kitsap Peninsula–named the Sound to Olympics Trail–is underway. Currently, however, people bicycling must largely travel across the Kitsap Peninsula on roads.
Trail planners are now “route scouting and exploring connections” to get from the Hood Canal Bridge to the Port Townsend area and the Olympic Discovery Trail, Bohman says. The Peninsula Trails Coalition has identified four potential trail routes, he says.
Progress on the Olympic Discovery Trail
Most recently, “a truly signature piece” of the Olympic Discovery Trail opened along Lake Crescent following five years of work, Bohman says. A collaboration between Clallam County and Olympic National Park, the multi-million-dollar Spruce Railroad Trail project included opening two abandoned railroad tunnels.
The Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe is now working to complete a section of trail paralleling U.S. Highway 101 near Sequim Bay. “It has been a singletrack but the tribe is upgrading it to a paved trail with gravel shoulders,” Bohman says.
A big priority for the Peninsula Trails Coalition is closing trail gaps between Port Townsend and Sequim. From Port Townsend, people can now pedal to the Four Corners area on the Larry Scott Trail. But from here, bikes must travel on a dangerous stretch of SR20 to continue westward. Bohman urges people to avoid this stretch of highway.
To eliminate these trail gaps, the Peninsula Trails Coalition joined Jefferson County to complete a study that has identified an 11-mile trail route from Four Corners to Discovery Bay. The county adopted the study and hopes to fill this gap in three phases, starting with a three-mile segment that will connect Four Corners to Anderson Lake State Park, Bohman says, with construction to be completed in two to three years.
From Anderson Lake State Park, trail planners want to build another trail segment along a water line corridor. The third segment of trail between Four Corners and Discovery Bay “still needs more homework,” Bohman says.
“Further west in Jefferson County, we are looking at an abandoned segment of the old State Highway 9 that was discontinued when Highway 101 opened between Discovery Bay and Sequim Bay,” Bohman says.
Building trails takes time. Funding must be obtained, routes must be studied, and agreements must be reached with property owners, government entities, and tribes. “It’s the hardest trail sections that get left for last,” Bohman says.
Trails Require Partnerships
The Peninsula Trails Coalition was founded 34 years ago with a mission to build and maintain the Olympic Discovery Trail. It has helped complete 90 miles so far and hopes to have 110 miles in four to five years, Bohman says.
The Peninsula Trails Coalition works with 14 separate jurisdictions–from tribal, county, state, and local governments, to federal agencies including the U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Park Service.
“Our pledge to communities and the 14 jurisdictions we pass through is: ‘We will maintain and take care of the trail if you build it.’ We donate thousands of hours of volunteer work to take the load of maintenance off the shoulders of communities,” Bohman says.
Cascade and Washington Bikes are proud to be a part of the large coalition of people committed to building safe places to bike, walk, and roll across our state
“Cascade and Washington Bikes salute the hard work of the Peninsula Trails Coalition to make Washington state’s Olympic Peninsula one of the premier bicycling destinations in the nation,” says Lee Lambert, Cascade and WA Bikes’ executive director. “Long-distance bike trails not only boost our economy, they improve the quality of life for all Washington residents.”
Washington has been No. 1 in the League of American Bicyclists state-by-state comparison since its inception more than a decade ago. In its 2022 ranking, which is based on 2021 data and a new scoring methodology, the League puts Washington behind Massachusetts and Oregon at No. 3. While the ranking has some merit in terms of highlighting where Washington can do better, the 2022 scorecard has been announced shortly after the Legislature approved and Gov. Jay Inslee signed into law the largest funding package for bike infrastructure and education in state history. So we encourage everyone to take this ranking with a grain of salt. Here are seven things to know about Washington’s Bike Friendly work, and our take on the League’s scores.
Washington is improving. Perhaps most useful in the rankings is to look at how a single state is performing year on year. The last rankings were pre-pandemic (2019). Since then, Washington has improved on many scored areas, including statewide active transportation plans, environmental justice, and multimodal transportation revenue. WA receives an “A” score in three of the five scored areas:
Adopted WSDOT Active Transportation Plan–a framework for ensuring there is an active transportation network across Washington state.
Passed the Healthy Environment for All (HEAL) Act, which defines ‘environmental justice’ in state law, and outlines how agencies should consider community needs and environmental justice (EJ) in their work. This requires that WSDOT use an equity framework in all project and funding programs to ensure that communities most impacted by transportation projects are prioritized.
Passed the Climate Commitment Act (CCA) which created the first-ever large revenue source dedicated to funding multimodal transportation projects.
2. 2022 Legislative wins aren’t considered. The Bike Friendly State scores are based on 2021 data, meaning massive investments in active transportation won in the 2022 legislative session weren’t factored in. Washington got a “C” grade for Infrastructure and Funding even though our Legislature approved the largest funding package for bicycling in state history in the form of Move Ahead Washington in March. Here are three huge legislative wins that were not considered:
$1.1 billion in active transportation funding going directly towards better biking, walking, and rolling infrastructure across the state.
$216 million going towards statewide youth bike education, giving kids the skills to bike for fun and transportation.
Requires WSDOT to build Complete Streets when advancing any project over $500,000 (which is the vast majority of WSDOT projects).
Those legislative wins will trickle down into results on the ground, which will improve safety and ridership–the core metrics for a bikeable community.
3. The new scorecard includes less emphasis on proactive bike legislation–a strength in Washington, and one of the keys for safer bicycling. The League’s new methodology means Washington got fewer points for implementing important laws such as the Safe Passing law, the Safety Stop, Distracted Driving measures, and a Vulnerable Road User law. These important laws didn’t raise our score this year despite their importance.
4. Emphasis on inaccurate federal data. The folks in D.C. who crunch federal biking data state very clearly that this data should not be used for state-by-state comparisons (i.e. scorecards), but unfortunately, with no other consistent cross-state data source, this is the data the League relied upon. It’s unclear if the federal mode-share data is an accurate reflection of Washington state bike ridership.
5. Much to celebrate, but so much more to do. Much of the influence over safe, accessible, comfortable, and convenient biking in a given state comes down to state and local planners and the elected leaders they report to. The state Legislature will look different in 2023: every member of the Washington state House of Representatives will be on the ballot this November. With a slew of representatives and senators stepping down, there will be some seat shuffling, and more than a typical number of open seats up for grabs. Washington Bikes is looking forward to the 2022 Election with gusto. Our state needs more elected bike champions who see the connections between biking, transportation, climate, and health.
6. Does a ranking even matter? At the end of the day, it’s people’s experience on bikes in communities across Washington (and the entire US) that are the real litmus test for “bike friendliness”. Do you feel comfortable putting your kid into a bike seat and pedaling them to the store with you? Do you have to white-knuckle through portions of most of your rides? These are the questions that get to the heart of whether a state is bike friendly. A country-wide evaluation based on high-level, and sometimes inaccurate, data won’t answer these questions. All in all, take this new methodology and ranking with a bit of skepticism.
7. Oregon and Massachusetts: Let’s talk! For all its shortcomings, the rankings show which states are innovating and having success improving safety for people on bikes–and thus where Washington, too, can learn and grow. We’re excited to have some competition in this ranking, despite its faults. We want to know what policies and practices we can put to work that are leading to success in other states. We are eager to collaborate with and share knowledge with Massachusetts and Oregon to identify policies and practices that make bicycling safer and more equitable for everyone.
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“This trail is a national asset, a family asset, the past connecting with the future,” says Gov. Jay Inslee.
The 3,000-foot bike bridge over the Columbia River unites the eastern and western halves of the 289-mile Palouse to Cascades Trail, the longest rail trail in the nation.
Drone photo courtesy Mike Sorensen/Marilyn Hedge
On a windy spring day in Eastern Washington, we joined a group of happy people riding bikes and horses and hiking across the Beverly Bridge.
The bridge’s opening on April 8 is a milestone achievement in the development of the 289-mile Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail that spans from Cedar Falls on the eastern slope of the Cascades to the border of Idaho. Washington Bikes was instrumental in securing funding from legislators in Olympia to complete the bridge project. The Beverly Bridge provides users a beautiful, car-free opportunity to cross the Columbia River, from the safe perch of a multi-use trail 70 feet above the water’s surface.
“The Beverly Bridge is one of the most exciting new pieces of bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure in the country,” says Alex Alston, state policy director for Washington Bikes.
Biking across the bridge with the Washington Bikes policy team, the wind whipping our hair beneath our helmets, felt like a movie scene. Desert cliffs and deep blue water filled our vision as we pedaled over the majestic, 3,000-foot long bridge that in earlier decades carried trains. A celebration awaited us at the south end of the bridge, where marching bands, politicians, and trail enthusiasts mingled. All were excited to celebrate the culmination of a years-long project that will bring economic development to the region as more bicyclists, hikers, and equestrians come to enjoy the views.
Thanks to the dozens of organizations and committed citizens that worked tirelessly to fund and complete the trail, the Great American Rail-Trail that spans from Washington, D.C., to Washington state is now 53 percent complete, according to Rails-to-Trails Conservancy Project Manager Kevin Belanger.
A dozen speakers shared their contributions to the trail, including the Buck family, members of the Wanapum Tribe, whose ancestral home includes the riverbanks from Beverly to Pasco. “This is an old trail for our ancestors. It was built and widened for the wagons,” Johnny Buck said. “The opening of this trail connects us all now as one people. This bridge can help us cultivate relationships, grow our economies, and re-invest in our ancestral trails.”
Gov. Jay Inslee shared his pride in the connection that the Beverly Bridge makes possible across the state. “With the Beverly Bridge opening, there’s no Western Washington, there’s no Eastern Washington, there’s just one Washington,” Inslee said. “This trail is a national asset and a family asset, the past connecting with the future.”
Photo courtesy of Mike Sorensen/Marilyn Hedges.
Located in central Washington, the former railroad bridge cost $5.5 million to retrofit with added railings and decking that make it safe for people biking and walking.
“Absolutely spectacular” is how Fred Wert, chairperson of the Palouse to Cascades Trail Coalition, describes the Beverly Bridge. “It is one of the few places where you can ride over the Columbia River that’s not on a highway. It’s peaceful and quiet, with huge terrain all around you.”
“People will come from around the country to use this new bridge, both for short- and long-distance trips,” said Belanger.
Cascade Bicycle Club and Washington Bikes are members of the Palouse to Cascades Trail Coalition, and Washington Bikes pushed for full funding of the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (WWRP) that pays for trails including the Palouse to Cascades. Washington Bikes also supported a $5.7 million appropriation to the Department of Archeology and Historic Preservation to fund the Beverly Bridge repairs.
“Our goal is to create cross-state multi-use trails that improve rural economic development, attract bicycle tourists from around the region and world, and allow people to ride through Washington’s magnificent landscapes on off-road routes free of vehicle traffic,” Alston says.
The Palouse to Cascades Trail
The Beverly Bridge is part of about $10 million of work underway or recently completed on the Palouse to Cascades trail, which at 289-miles long is among the longest rail-trails in the nation.
At its westernmost point at Cedar Falls, near the town of North Bend, the Palouse to Cascades trail connects to the 30-mile Snoqualmie Valley Trail. The eventual goal is to connect the Palouse to Cascades to the many trails and routes that cross the Puget Sound region.
Other construction highlights on the Palouse to Cascades trail include:
Completion of the Renslow Trestle that crosses over Interstate 90 just east of Ellensburg. Opened to bikes in 2021, it eliminated a long detour.
Completion in 2022 of the two small Crab Creek Bridges that burned in 2020 and 2021.
Repairing two small bridges and resurfacing the trail between the small towns of Malden and Rosalia.
The addition of decking and railings to the Tekoa Trestle (pronounced Tee-Ko), a dramatic bridge about six miles from the Idaho border that passes through the middle of the town of Tekoa. State Parks officials hoped the work would be completed in 2022.
Washington’s Five Long Distance Trails
The Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail is one of five long-distance biking and hiking trails managed by the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission.
The Willapa Hills trail spans 56 miles from the agricultural lands of Chehalis to the coastal habitat of Willapa Bay. Read the Cascade post, “From Farmlands to Oyster Beds.”
The 31-mile Klickitat Trail that runs north to south between the towns of Klickitat and Lyle. The trail passes through the oak and pine forests of Swale Canyon, as well as rural farmlands in eastern Washington. Learn more on the state parks website.
The Spokane River Centennial Trail spans 40 miles between Spokane and the Idaho border, where it connects to Idaho’s North Idaho Centennial Trail that travels all the way to Coeur d’Alene. The state is resurfacing about 12 miles of asphalt on the trail, which has more than 40 historically important sites, according to the state parks website.
The 130-mile Columbia Plateau Trail is a work in progress with major potential for long-distance bike touring but no funding yet to complete the work. Running between Cheney, home to Eastern Washington University, and Pasco, at the confluence of the Columbia and Snake rivers, the trail has some rideable sections but is, for the most part, a hiking trail due to the rough and rocky conditions. The Columbia Plateau Trail intersects with the Palouse to Cascades, which provides impetus to efforts to make it rideable.
To continue progress on these trails, Washington Bikes will support full funding for the WWRP in 2023 when legislators take up the next biennial budget.
Until then, go ride over the Beverly Bridge. Bring a bike with fat tires for the gravel and sandy sections on either side of the bridge.
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Move Ahead Washington funds will benefit bike infrastructure statewide and speed up completion of key segments on the 42-mile Eastrail, including making two former railroad bridges bikeable and extending the trail into Renton.
The Eastrail bike and multi-use trail has received $29 million in state money to accelerate work and close gaps in the regional 42-mile route.
When completed, Eastrail will enable people to bike from Renton in the south, through busy Bellevue, Kirkland, and Redmond, and onward to Woodinville and Snohomish County. While many segments of Eastrail are rideable now, multiple expensive bridge projects along this disused railroad corridor must be completed to link these trail segments into a continuous trail.
Work on two of these bridges will be fast-tracked thanks to $29 million included in the Move Ahead Washington Transportation package approved by the state Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Inslee this spring. The package includes a historic $1.3 billion in funding for biking and walking infrastructure projects and programs.
Washington Bikes played a crucial role in securing the funding by working with legislative leaders and the legislation’s sponsors to ensure passage.
Funds allocated for Eastrail will be spent on bridges in Bellevue and Woodinville, as well as for planning and land acquisitions to extend Eastrail into downtown Renton from its current southern terminus.
Photo courtesy of King County Parks
$18 million will be used to complete work on the Eastrail corridor through Bellevue, with more than half of the amount spent to convert the steel railroad bridge, above, that crosses over Interstate-90 into a bike and pedestrian bridge.
Photo courtesy King County Parks.
$5 million will be used to retrofit a trestle over State Route 202, above, as the first step in connecting Eastrail to downtown Woodinville.
Photo courtesy Eastrail Partners.
$6 million will be spent on planning and land purchases to extend the trail from Gene Coulon Park, where the trail end, into Renton. From Gene Coulon Park the Eastrail would link to other regional trails in South King County that converge in Renton.
“This historic level of funding from the legislature for Eastrail and bike and pedestrian projects across Washington state will make bicycling safer and more accessible for many more people,” said Vicky Clarke, policy director for Cascade Bicycle Club. “It’s great to see momentum to complete Eastrail grow. This progress builds from years of advocacy and organizing by Cascade to encourage trail owners to expedite rail removal and get the trail open to the public to use and enjoy now, not just someday. It’s great to see the state fund these two bridges. Bridges are the big ticket items along the corridor, and sharing the costs means getting the trail open sooner.”
“Eastrail is all about connecting communities, and this state transportation funding helps shorten the to-do list of Eastrail projects needing funding as we build a fully connected, safe, and accessible trail for all,” said Eastrail Partners Board President Edna Shim, who thanked state Rep. Vandana Slatter, governmental partners, and nonprofits who advocated for the funding.
More Trail Segments Opening this Summer
In addition to the above projects, work on Eastrail is ongoing with monies from other public and private sources. This summer, King County Parks will open two new miles of hard packed gravel trail between Kirkland and Woodinville.
The City of Woodinville is working on a dedicated off-street path that will connect Eastrail to the nearby Sammamish River Trail, enabling people to bicycle south toward Redmond or north toward the Burke-Gilman Trail that travels around the top of Lake Washington and down into Seattle.
In Kirkland, construction is scheduled to be completed this year on the new Totem Lake Connector bridge. One of the biggest projects ongoing is the conversion of the historic Wilburton trestle in Bellevue into a bike and pedestrian bridge. Eastrail Partners has secured $9.5 million from Amazon, Meta, and REI to retrofit the Wilburton Trestle and complete the Northup Connector that will link Eastrail to the SR-520 bike path.
In the big picture, Eastrail will be a major artery in the Leafline trail system, a region-wide effort to connect trails in King, Pierce, Snohomish, and Kitsap counties. Eastrail will tie together the east-west SR-520 bike path and I-90 bike path that both cross Lake Washington to Seattle. It will also enable folks to pedal onto the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trail under construction between Bellevue and North Bend. When completed, the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trail will connect to the 290-mile Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail that runs through an old railroad corridor all the way to Idaho.
“These funds come to our Eastrail projects at a great time,” said King County Parks Director Warren Jimenez. “This helps us move forward with progress at key connection points in Renton and Bellevue, making more of this truly transformative community asset available even sooner than we would have hoped. Our shared vision of an integrated regional trail system with easy connections to light rail is getting closer every day.”
More Eastrail News
Read an in-depth interview with Eastrail Partners Executive Director Katherine Hollis on The Urbanist.
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.”