Big Progress Coming on the Olympic Discovery and Great American Trails

  • 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. 

Washington Bikes was instrumental in securing state funding to complete the Beverly Bridge. Washington Bikes advocates in Olympia for full funding of the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program because it pays for trail projects.

From Seattle to the Pacific

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.”

Watch the videoThe Olympic Discovery Trail: Connecting Opportunity on the Olympic Peninsula

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2022 Bike-Friendly State Rankings Put WA at #3

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.

  1. 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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Come Ride the Newly Opened Beverly Bridge, a Key Link in the Palouse to Cascades Trail!

  • “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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$29 Million Will Fast-Track Eastrail Construction Projects

  • 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.

Read our previous post about new Eastrail trail segments that opened last fall.

Learn more about the Legislature’s spending package for bicycling improvements in the Washington Bikes press release: “Washington Bikes Celebrates Passage of Largest Funding Package for Bicycling Infrastructure and Bike Education in Washington History.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quotes in Support of this Historic Spending

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

Sign Up button

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! (Contact Your Legislators Today!)

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! (Contact Your Legislators Today!)

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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