Washington Bikes Outlines 2021 Legislative Agenda

Washington Bikes will push to increase investments in infrastructure for people who bike, walk, and roll during the 2021 legislative session. Join us on Thursday, Jan. 7, for a virtual meeting to learn more about our legislative priorities.

The 2021 Washington state legislative session begins next week on Jan. 11, and we’ve spent the last several months preparing for a unique and challenging session. This will be a predominantly virtual session, with tight budgets and huge community needs.

Despite these challenges, we see several exciting opportunities to advance policy and funding to make it safer for people who bike, walk or roll.

Washington Bikes 2021 Legislative Priorities:
  • Grow bike and pedestrian funding in the multimodal account in the transportation budget. Washington Bikes supports new, flexible revenue sources to support active transportation. The multimodal transportation account dedicates funds for rail, ferries, transit, biking, and walking. These investments include the Safe Routes to School program and the Pedestrian and Bicycle grant program and projects. We are working to grow this dedicated funding to ensure that all Washingtonians, especially those who rely upon active transportation because of cost or ability, can get around safely and easily. Washington Bikes supports the additional $20 million investment in the Pedestrian and Bicycle grant program ($15M) and the Safe Routes to School Program ($5M) funded in the governor’s 2021-2023 transportation budget.
  • Protecting and connecting trails statewide. Trails are the backbone of many biking and walking networks statewide. Washington Bikes supports the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program’s (WWRP) $140 million funding request in the capital budget. WWRP projects include improving outdoor recreation opportunities, trail development, and enhancing state parks.
  • Support policies and funding to address inequities in transportation and policing. Washington Bikes will advocate for active transportation funding investment that prioritizes low-income communities, communities of color, and areas of historic under-investment. These locations regularly align with high incidents of crashes, according to traffic injury and fatality data. Additionally, as part of our commitment to racial equity, we are working in coalition to support policies such as decriminalization that emerge, leveraging the active transportation equity analysis, and ensuring funding is prioritized in racially equitable ways.
  • Support measures that will incentivize or lower the barrier to electric bike ownership. E-bikes provide an efficient way to bike due to the pedal-assist that allows for longer rides, ease of traversing hills, and carrying groceries or children. 76% of trips taken by e-bike owners would’ve been car trips prior to owning an e-bike. More people e-biking means fewer people in cars, which helps meet Washington’s transportation congestion and climate goals. Washington Bikes support measures that will incentivize or lower barriers to e-bike ownership.

Washington Bikes will work over the 105-day session to help create healthier communities and thriving economies by making streets safer for active transportation, and by working to connect and grow bicycle and trail networks throughout Washington. Stay in touch by signing up for Washington Bikes’ alerts.

Join us tomorrow, Jan. 7 at noon for a deep-dive into our legislative priorities. We’ll share how we can collaborate to advocate for funding and policies that will create easily accessible, connected bike routes, bolster Washington’s local economies and tourism industry, and ensure streets are safe for all.

RSVP here and we will send the Zoom link

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Washington Bikes 2020 General Election Outcomes + Announcing our 2021 Legislative Agenda

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, and advance policies that make our streets safer for all.

Last week, Washington voters turned out in force, breaking records for the most turnout ever in the state. Almost all of Washington Bikes’ endorsed candidates won their race, securing seats in elected office to work towards our shared goals of safer biking, walking, and rolling. Voters demonstrated overwhelming support for local transportation investment ballot measures and elected officials who support healthier and safer communities through better bicycling. 

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

Election night impacts:

  • In Seattle and Bellingham, voters overwhelmingly chose to approve ballot measures that raise money for increased transit service and bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure improvements.
  • At the executive level in Washington, we look forward to continuing to partner with Governor Jay Inslee on transportation priorities and with Public Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz on outdoor recreation and trail-related priorities.
  • 85 percent of the bipartisan slate of state legislative elected officials who have championed WA Bikes’ priorities in recent years will return to Olympia this coming session.
  • Washington Bikes endorsed Senator-elect T’wina Nobles will soon represent the 28th legislative district (Lakewood, University Place, JBLM). This election is notable as the 28th senate seat has been held by a Republican since the 1960s. Additionally, Senator-elect Nobles will be the only Black member of the Washington State Senate, and the first Black member of the Senate elected since 2010

Thank you to all of the elected officials and candidates who chose to run for office in a truly unique, maybe once in a lifetime, type of campaign cycle. The real work starts now. 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 and advance policies that make our streets safer for all. Among our priorities for the coming year:

  • Protect and secure transportation funding for biking, walking, rolling, and trails
  • Pursue measures to make e-bikes more affordable/accessible
  • Work with a coalition to end discrimination in transportation policing 

To pass these priorities and ensure our success in the coming legislative session, we rely on the generous support of Washington Bike donors, who help us hold officials accountable and continue to serve as the statewide voice for better bicycling. Please make a gift today to see this work continue. Donate here.

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Highlights from the 2020 Bike, Walk, Roll Summit!

We had a blast at the inaugural Bike Walk Roll Summit presented by Amazon this October. Refresh your memory, or learn anew what the Summit held — and how you too can now experience the presentations, panels, and keynote addresses.  

This October, Cascade Bicycle Club and Washington Bikes co-hosted our first ever virtual Summit – The Washington Bike, Walk, Roll Summit Presented by Amazon. The Summit is in its fifth year, and 2020 was our most successful Summit, by many metrics – including registration, engagement, and attendee feedback on content. During the five day event, over 600 attendees tuned in to 15 sessions on issues from racial justice in the cycling community to the technical skills needed to make active transportation infrastructure that works for all ages and abilities. We also heard from two expert keynote speakers, Charles T Brown and Anna Zivarts, on issues of Arrested Mobility and disability rights advocacy.


Highlights from the Summit Sessions:

During the Monday keynote session, Charles T Brown explained his body of work around Arrested Mobility, discussing the ways in which Black people and communities of color are policed in public space, as well as the ways in which we must address the impacts of policing on these communities. He also participated in a follow up keynote debrief, along with experts and community leaders Dr. Destiny Thomas, Dr. Edwin Lindo, and Yes Segura, on the ways in which we can achieve mobility justice in our communities.

YouTube link to Charles T Brown Session

On Wednesday, we were joined by disability rights advocate Anna Zivarts, who leads the Disability Mobility Initiative Program at Disability Rights Washington. Anna shared her personal experiences as well as professional expertise in disability justice. She discussed the ways in which we must move away from car dependency in our transportation systems, and how we must center equity and accessibility in our communities.

YouTube link to Anna Zivarts session 

Check out some more highlights! 


tweets from the summit

tweet from the summit

tweet from the summit

tweet from the summit

2020 has been an incredibly tumultuous and transformative year, as we respond to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the national reckoning and uprising against systemic racism and police brutality. The Washington Bike, Walk, Roll Summit presented by Amazon provided a space for advocates and professionals in the active transportation community to come together and reflect on how we can address our past failings, and step up to address the current moment and plan a more equitable future.

Our sessions included conversations about how we address and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic through equitable community engagement, organizational reform and redirection, and potential revenue streams for transportation funding into the future. Our expert speakers also discussed the need for racial equity in the cycling community, bringing together key voices in the active transportation community to speak to these issues and methods. 

The next Washington Bike, Walk, and Roll Summit will take place in Autumn 2021, and we hope to meet in person in Spokane. We are excited to continue the conversations we had at the 2020 Summit about racial equity, community engagement, mobility equity, and accessibility, and the ways in which we make systems that work for everyone biking, walking, and rolling. 

PS: If you missed the Summit, fear not! You can access each session recording here:  Summit session YouTube recordings

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The Safety Stop: Why it Improves Safety, and When You Must Still Stop

The “Safety Stop” law that went into effect on Oct. 1 allows people on bicycles to treat stop signs as yield signs, allowing them to roll through an intersection if the coast is clear. The new law was lobbied for by Washington Bikes. Read our news release.

The Safety Stop is a simple, intuitive law that gives people bicycling the right to safely yield at a stop sign-controlled intersection. This is sometimes described as a rolling stop.

Complete stops are still required when approaching a stop sign on a school bus, and for stop signs located at railroad crossings.

The Safety Stop allows a person bicycling to get ahead of motor vehicles behind them, creating space and diminishing the likelihood of collisions. Additionally, people riding bikes typically wait on the right side of the road near the stop sign. This is a frequent blind spot for people driving, leaving the person bicycling vulnerable and at risk, especially for drivers making right turns.

The Safety Stop encourages the use of streets regulated by stop signs, which are typically calmer and move at slower speeds. This lessens the amount of time people bicycling spend on busy, fast-paced streets, and also lessens the amount of time that bicyclists are exposed to risks in intersections, where the majority of serious crashes occur.

The Safety Stop legalizes typical riding behavior. People on bikes have no blind spots, unlike people in cars, and they can easily see if the coast is clear, which is why it is safe and intuitive for people on bikes to roll through intersections.

When a person on a bike stops, it takes multiple pedal revolutions to get back up to speed, which lengthens the time that a person riding remains in the danger zone. Stopping also slows down automobile traffic behind the bike rider. The Safety Stop allows a person bicycling to clear the intersection faster, enabling them to get ahead of motor vehicles behind them. This creates a smoother traffic flow.

The Safety Stop is not only safer, it is more user-friendly for people riding bikes and for people driving cars.

Washington is the fifth state, along with a number of municipalities, that have passed a Safety Stop law, improving safety and bicycle usability:

  • Idaho passed a Safety Stop law, called the Idaho Stop, in 1982. The year following enactment of the law bicycling injuries declined by 14.5%. Since then there have been no negative safety impacts documented.
  • Delaware passed a Safety Stop law in 2017, and in the 30 months since the law passed personal injury crashes involving bicycles fell by more than 20% compared to the previous 30 months.
  • Arkansas, Delaware, Oregon and a number of municipalities in Colorado have followed Idaho in passing similar laws.
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Washington Bikes & Votes: Vote for these bike-friendly candidates and ballot measures by Nov. 3

Washington Bikes announces 2020 general election endorsements

Endorsing Candidates for Elected Office

Our criteria: Washington Bikes endorsed legislators who have led or partnered on efforts to create safer streets, 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 for lowering the barriers to bicycling for all ages and abilities.

Washington Bikes works to secure funding for bicycle infrastructure and policies that increase access and safety. To make that happen, it matters who Washington’s elected leaders are and that’s why Washington Bikes spends time connecting with candidates and making endorsements.

Ballot Measure Endorsements

Washington Bikes and its affiliate, Cascade Bicycle club, have endorsed two local ballot measures, one in Seattle and one in Bellingham. The Seattle Transit Benefit District, or Proposition 1 on your ballot, will renew revenue sources that are set to expire in 2020; $50 million are raised annually though portions of sales tax and car registration to improve transit availability and access. At a time when vulnerable communities are already being left behind due to COVID-19, we cannot let people’s access to transit disappear due to cuts in funding. 

In Bellingham, the Transportation Fund, or Prop 2020-14, is on the ballot for renewal. The Bellingham Transportation Fund appropriates a portion of sales tax for citywide transportation projects. The revenue source was established in 2010 and is set to expire this year. The revenue funds street projects including, street paving, sidewalks, bike lanes and bus service. More Bellingham residents are biking than ever before, and this renewal will keep us walking, biking, and riding. 

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 neighborhood streets, to more opportunities for physical activity, Washingtonians are looking for leaders and policies that will advance these priorities. Check out the cheat sheet below. 

With just a few 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

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 in roughly two weeks. 

Because turnout is expected to be high this election, we recommend you drop off your ballot or mail it in as quickly as possible to ensure you are counted! 

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Washington ‘Safety Stop’ Law for People Riding Bikes Goes Into Effect Oct. 1

  • People riding bikes can treat a stop sign as a yield if the coast is clear
  • Priority legislation for Washington Bikes, the law makes intersections–one of the most dangerous places for people riding bikes–safer

OLYMPIA, Wash. (Sept. 28, 2020) — A new law aimed at making intersections safer for people riding bicycles goes into effect on Thursday (Oct. 1).

The “Safety Stop” law allows people on bicycles to treat stop signs as yield signs, allowing them to roll through an intersection if the coast is clear. The new law was lobbied for by Washington Bikes, a statewide bicycle advocacy organization affiliated with Cascade Bicycle Club. This change is important because people on bikes face the most danger at intersections, where they are vulnerable to being struck by inattentive drivers.

Washington is the fifth state to legalize the Safety Stop, following Idaho, Delaware, Arkansas, and Oregon. Unlike Oregon, which passed this law in 2019 after multiple attempts, 2020 was the first year that the Safety Stop was introduced in the Washington State Legislature.

“The bill’s swift passage underscores the bipartisan support for biking, and Washington Bikes’ ability to pass practical, safe and smart legislation,” says Vicky Clarke, policy director for Washington Bikes.

The law, which was sponsored by Sen. Andy Billig (D-3rd) and Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon (D-34th), requires people on bicycles to slow down to a reasonable speed that would allow them to stop if necessary. As is already the case, people riding bikes must yield to any vehicle already in the intersection. Also known as the “Idaho Stop,” named for the first state to pass the law, bicycling injuries in Idaho dropped by 14 percent in 1982 following enactment of the law.

“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,” says Alex Alston, Washington Bikes’ state policy director and lead lobbyist in Olympia.

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The Legacy of Cooper Jones: How a Family’s Loss Led to Washington’s ‘Share the Road’ License Plates

David Jones got the call he will never forget in the early evening of June 24, 1997, from an acquaintance who raced on the local bike club with his son, Cooper.

“You need to go to the hospital right away. Cooper has been hurt,” the caller said.

“Did he break his arm?” Jones asked.

The caller wouldn’t say. Jones and his wife, Martha, raced to the hospital, hoping for the best but fearing the worst.

The events of the weeks and months that followed would forever change their lives–and make an indelible mark on Washington state’s bicycle safety laws. This is the story of a boy who loved racing bikes, the parents who fostered that passion, their quest to make the roads safer for people riding bicycles, and the creation of Washington’s Share the Road license plates.

Cooper Jones took up bike racing in 1996 at the urging of his parents, who had watched him progress from speeding around their neighborhood to dropping them on long rides down the Centennial Trail in their hometown of Spokane. One day, they bumped into some members of the local Baddlands Cycling Club, and Martha convinced them to accept Cooper into their group.

“They were so kind to Cooper,” David Jones says. “Imagine being 11 or 12 and going on rides with adults who aren’t your parents and who think you are cool. He really got into it after that.”

Cooper was excited for the race on June 24, 1997, a time trial near Cheney, Wash. After only a year of racing he was among the points leaders on the team. David or Martha typically attended Cooper’s races, but this would be the first time he would compete without them.

Twenty-three years later, the anguish remains fresh in David Jones’ mind. “It’s still very hard to accept,” he told Cascade in an emotional interview.

According to Jones and media reports from the time, Cooper was pedaling westbound along Highway 904 when the driver of a Cadillac passed a group of bike racers, then slammed Cooper from behind. He smashed into the windshield, and when the driver hit the brakes, Cooper slid off the hood and was run over, pinning him underneath the car.

The driver, a 66-year-old woman, had poor eyesight and other health problems, according to David Jones. “I don’t think she knew what had happened.”

Cooper was eventually extracted from underneath the vehicle, allowing first responders to perform CPR and transport him by helicopter to Deaconess hospital in Spokane.

That’s when David Jones got the call.

Mother and father arrived at the hospital to find Cooper unconscious and hooked to life support in the trauma unit. Cooper never regained consciousness. A week later, on July 2, 1997, his parents made the heartrending decision to remove Cooper from life support. “There was no hope that he would ever recover,” David Jones says.

Their grief was compounded in the months to follow, when, after a three-month investigation, the Washington State Patrol declined to criminally prosecute the driver, instead determining that she was guilty of second-degree negligent driving. The fine: $250.

The Jones family decided against suing the driver. “I have empathy for her, but you just think, there has to be a bigger repercussion for negligently causing a death. It’s still incomprehensible.”

In the aftermath of Cooper’s death, there was concern that the state would cancel all bike racing–and even large group rides such as Cascade’s Seattle to Portland. “There were no protocols in place,” says Phil Miller, a transportation planner at the University of Washington and a certified bike racing official who was involved in discussions at the time.

The Jones family worked with the bike racing community to bring state agencies to the table in 1998 to create the Washington State Bicycle Racing Guidelines, which enabled bicycle events such as STP and other Cascade major group rides and events to continue.

Updated in 2010, these guidelines remain in effect today. “They have become a national standard,” says Miller, noting that at least six states have replicated Washington’s guidelines. “It’s much safer today.”

Hoping to prevent other families from suffering the same grief, the Jones family teamed up with the Bicycle Alliance of Washington (now called Washington Bikes) and convinced legislators to introduce a bill that was signed into law in 1998. The Cooper Jones Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Education Act, among other things, mandated that any driver at fault in a fatal crash must be re-tested by the Department of Licensing to ensure they are capable of driving safely. The driver who struck Cooper was “the poster child for someone who shouldn’t have been driving in the first place,” David Jones says.

The Cooper Jones Act also created a state commission, then known as the Cooper Jones Bicyclist Safety Advisory Council, to recommend safety and educational improvements to make the roads safer for people riding bikes.

The only problem: there was little to no funding for the commission, which remained largely toothless for many years, even taking a six-year hiatus until 2013 when it was reconvened. Today, it is known as the Cooper Jones Active Transportation Safety Council, and it advocates for the safety of people biking and walking.

“The Legislature was not very friendly to bicycling back then,” says Cascade member Don Martin, who is credited with coming up with the idea for Washington’s Share the Road plates. He had heard about Florida’s Share the Road license plates and felt they would be popular here. In the early 2000s, he convinced a state senator to introduce a bill to create a similar plate in Washington as a way to generate revenue for bicycle safety and to create a visual reminder for people driving to be alert for bikes on the road.

“Because of that terrible incident, and the fact the driver got away with it, I thought something had to be done,” Martin, now 92, says. “Nobody in the Legislature or the State Patrol had any idea how many bicycle riders there were in Washington, and we needed something to identify who we are.”

The bill failed to pass in multiple legislative sessions due to financial concerns. In 2005, a compromise was reached whereby supporters posted a bond to cover the costs of creating the Share the Road plate program, and in 2006 the plates went on sale–inspiring many other states to create bicycle advocacy plates.

Today, about half of U.S. states offer Share the Road license plates.

While demand was initially high, sales have waned in recent years.

Approximately 2,800 Share the Road plates were registered in Washington in August of 2020. Costing $77.25 for a passenger vehicle, each plate generates $28 for Cascade, which spends the money on safety, education, and policy measures meant to reduce collisions between people driving automobiles and people walking and bicycling. Last year, Cascade received about $85,000 from Share the Road plates.

The need for road safety and zero traffic fatalities of walkers and bicyclists remains great. Nearly a quarter of all traffic fatalities, and 20 percent of all serious traffic related injuries, were to people walking or biking, according to the 2019 Cooper Jones Active Transportation Safety Council annual report, which notes that the number of people killed while walking or biking was at its highest number in more than 30 years.

In light of these statistics, Cascade, as well as the Jones family, is urging its members and supporters, and everyone who rides bikes, to consider purchasing a Share the Road plate. Cascade hopes to double sales of the plates to boost revenue for its advocacy programs.

“We have them on all three of our vehicles,” David Jones says. One of those vehicles is a camper van that Cooper inspired his parents to buy. “His dream was to get a car that he could sleep in, so he could go to bike races,” Jones says. The van’s license plate carries the enthusiastic phrase that Cooper, the boy who “had it all,” wanted to have on his own vehicle: GOTITAL.

David Jones, now 70 and recently retired, looks forward to hitting the road in the camper van, exploring new places by bike as Cooper hoped to do.

“Things are better now but you never truly get over it,” David Jones says. “We see people that Cooper went to school with who are now in their mid-30s, and who have families of their own. It’s a constant reminder of what should have been.”

Cooper’s legacy lives on in the Cooper Jones Act, landmark legislation that, in addition to leading to the creation of the Share the Road plates, opened the door to many other initiatives that continue to protect vulnerable street users to this day, including:

Adding bicycle and pedestrian safety into the state’s drivers’ education curriculum;

  • Institutionalizing the Safe Routes to Schools program;
  • Elevating texting and cell phone use while driving to a primary traffic offense;
  • Passage of the Vulnerable User and Neighborhood Safe Streets bills.

In 2017, Washington Bikes pushed legislation that included dedicated funding for the Cooper Jones council, which was approved. Washington Bikes has a seat on the Cooper Jones Active Transportation Safety Council, and continues to push for stronger safety laws that protect people bicycling and walking.

“The legacy of the Cooper Jones Act is large,” according to Miller, who says it helped cement the “right to the road” for people on bikes. “It also established that providing safe personal mobility was part of the state’s responsibility. The Jones family never lost focus on making some good out of their pain.”


Order your Share the Road plate.

2019 Cooper Jones Active Transportation Safety Council annual report, which cites that in 2018 16 people on bikes and 103 people walking were killed by motor vehicles.

Link to an essay Cooper Jones wrote the year before his death, where he describes his desire to become an Olympic bike racer.

At least 24 states now offer Share the Road plates, according to a 2017 Bicycling story.

In 2019, the Legislature created Target Zero, which establishes that people who walk or ride bicycles are one of the highest priority populations for traffic safety. The Cooper Jones Active Transportation Safety Council and Washington Bikes are working to achieve Target Zero, which dictates that no deaths are acceptable on the state’s roadways.

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Dispatch from Olympia: Budget Shortfalls Could Impact Active Transportation Projects, Delay Scenic Bikeways Program

The Washington State Legislature adjourned its 2020 session in the beginning days of the emergent COVID-19 pandemic. The three months that have followed have been challenging in myriad ways. Here is an update on the impacts to active transportation that we are aware of based on budget shortfalls projected due to COVID-19.  

Washington State Revenue Forecasts & Budget Shortfalls

Forecasted shortfalls for the next three years will impact every Washingtonian. Beyond the operating budget, the transportation budget shortfalls spell potential trouble for vulnerable road users. A 2021 transportation revenue package could provide relief.

Significant losses in the state operating budget revenue are anticipated for at least the next three years. That likely means cuts to services, education, healthcare, natural resources and other programs funded via the operating budget. Transportation, despite not being funded in the operating budget, will not be spared.

Due to reductions in anticipated transportation revenue including gas tax, ferry revenue, rental car tax and toll revenues, the transportation budget has a forecasted shortfall as well. The June Transportation budget forecast reflects the impacts of I-976 (the Tim Eyman initiative for $30 car tabs which passed at the ballot last November, although is currently being contested in court) and the COVID-19 shutdowns resulting in lower demand for the transportation services that generate revenue.

Work on a potential 2021 transportation revenue package has already started, largely in the form of a Statewide Transportation Needs Assessment, which shows that there is not enough money to fund Washington’s current transportation system. Also of note, the transportation needs assessment was conducted without factoring in the impacts of I-976.

There is a possibility that the Washington State Legislature will convene a special session in late 2020 to address the operating budget revenue shortfall. However, Gov. Jay Inslee has said the state will be able to maintain current appropriation levels until January 2021 when the Legislature is scheduled to return. There will be more to come as the recession and budget scenarios play out. Washington Bikes will continue to advocate for funding that supports people who bike, walk or roll. Amidst the global pandemic, Washingtonians are choosing to bike and walk more frequently. We want to ensure there are safe, comfortable places and routes to do so. 

New Scenic Bikeways Program Faces Potential Delay

Due to COVID-19 impacts on the state budget, state agencies were asked to come up with a 15 percent reduction to their individual budgets, and many new programs that had yet to be implemented have been identified for delay. In response to the budget crisis, State Parks has proposed delaying the implementation of the state Scenic Bikeways program that was created in the 2020 session. We understand the need to conserve state resources at this unprecedented moment in time. However, this potential change can not be solidified until the Legislature convenes and amends the timeline. Meantime, we would love to hear your thoughts about what trails and routes you’d like to see designated scenic bike routes!

Safety Stop Legislation to be Enacted Oct. 1 

We are excited that Washington Bikes’ priority legislation in the 2020 legislative session, the Safety Stop, is just months from becoming law. The date people bicycling will legally be allowed to treat a stop sign as a yield is Oct. 1, 2020. Check back here for more information as we approach the Safety Stop enactment date!


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Changing Lanes: Converting Highway Lanes into Bike Lanes and Safe Spaces for Walking and Outdoor Retail During the Pandemic

A newly launched state DOT program allows communities across Washington to temporarily convert lanes of state highways into public spaces. These highway lanes can serve as “Main Streets” for the public to hang out, walk, pedal, roll or even dine outdoors–and some communities have already taken advantage of the program.

Walking, bicycling, and shopping on East Main Street in Pullman, Wash. will be easier and less stressful this summer, thanks to a new Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) program. This program allows communities to temporarily convert lanes of state highways that run through downtowns into spaces for the public to recreate, stroll, roll, or even dine outdoors.

“We know pedestrians buy things. Cars don’t buy things,” Pullman City Council member Brandon Chapman told Oregon Public Broadcasting. “And the merchants can certainly appreciate this. People need to be able to walk around.”

As in many rural communities, Pullman’s Main Street is also a state highway with three lanes of traffic that barrel through town and make the downtown core less safe and appealing to people walking, biking, or shopping. But this summer, one of those lanes has been closed to through-traffic and converted to a bike lane and angled parking.

The goal of the WSDOT Safe, Healthy and Active Streets Program is to make it easier for patrons of stores and restaurants to spill out onto the sidewalk, help customers remain socially distant, and help businesses stay open during the pandemic. The program has been compared to the Stay Healthy Streets and Open Streets programs that cities and towns across the United States and in Washington have implemented.

“A number of communities across the state have already approached us about opening parking areas or lanes in their city’s commercial district for increased open space and business access,” said Secretary of Transportation Roger Millar in a press release. “We’re pleased to collaborate with them to find safe solutions that work for all users of the roadway.”

Options include temporarily closing a portion of the highway while maintaining at least one lane in each direction, or even a “complete highway reallocation” that closes a segment of highway for a short period, such as a weekend event, with traffic detours.

WSDOT will work with local city or county governments to identify, plan, design, install, and maintain the temporary highway reallocations, which are limited to 90 days of operation. WSDOT Active Transportation Division Director Barb Chamberlain says 458 miles of state routes are eligible for the program, and the criteria requires that the highways must be in downtown areas and have speed limits of less than 35 miles per hour.

For people who bike, this means more space for riding to get to local businesses.

“The WSDOT Safe, Healthy and Active Streets program is a much needed tool for communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Existing space for people walking and biking is not enough when you factor in physical distancing needs,” said Vicky Clarke, Cascade’s Policy Director.

“The program is also an exciting opportunity to re-image Main Street’s across the state. In many towns, cities and unincorporated areas across Washington, most major thoroughfares are also state highways. For communities who’ve long-imagined reclaiming a little bit of Main Street from through traffic, for better walking, biking, and local access to our beloved small businesses, here’s the chance to experiment.

“And to advocates, I say, call your local council member, take a stroll through town with them. Imagine together how even just one lane of that state highway could better serve the local needs of the community – during the pandemic, and potentially beyond.”

Chamberlain says other interested municipalities include White Salmon.

In Pullman, the trial program, which will run through September, cost less than $5,000 to implement, according to The Daily Evergreen.

Read More:
WSDOT Supporting Low-Stress Streets and Pop-Up Commerce on State Highways During Pandemic. Urbanist
Take Your Horse (And Bike) To The Old Moscow-Pullman Town Road To See The Changes Oregon Public Broadcasting
WSDOT will reallocate space on some state highways for walking, biking and commercial use during the outbreak. Seattle Bike Blog
New plan would close some highway lanes to traffic, open them to pedestrians. KOMO
WSDOT Press release
Steal This Idea: Washington DOT to Give Lanes Back to People

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#3: Washington now has a Scenic Bikeways program

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

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

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

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

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