On Tuesday, Feb. 12, around a 150 Washington residents traveled to Olympia to advocate for transportation choices. Some traveled as far as 250 miles to tell their representatives and senators to allocate funding for transit, walking and bicycling in their transportation budget.
While state legislators see lobbyists every single day, they really want to hear from you -- their constituents and neighbors. Transportation Advocacy Day was our chance to talk directly with our elected state representatives and speak out in support of a balanced transportation budget that promotes bicycling, walking, transit, rail, carpooling and more.
We were there advocating for bicycling. We spent the day learning about the policies and bills up for discussion, meeting with other transportation advocacy groups and talking to our legislators. We were live-tweeting throughout the day, so head over to our Twitter feed if you missed it. (Look for #TAD13)
We talked to various legislators and presented out three ask:
1. Money for bicycling:
The state transportation budget will be about $7 billion. That’s “billion,” with a B. Our ask is that if they're going to spend billions of dollars on massive new highways, they should invest at least a few million in making it safer to bicycle for the millions of Washingtonians who want to get around by bike.
• $30 million for Safe Routes to School projects across Washington.Our request is that $80 million (that's less than one percent!) go to three efforts that help make it safer to bike and walk:
• $20 million for Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety grants to local governments.
• $30 million for Complete Streets grants to local governments.
2. Local control over the Neighborhood Safe Speeds bill:
Provide local control over making neighborhoods safer by allowing communities to set speed limits on non-arterial streets without a costly engineering study.
3. Health in transportation goals bill:
When our state and local governments make transportation plans, they should encourage healthier ways to get around – like bicycling! We'd like for health to be considered one of Washington’s transportation goals to help save lives, improve community health and reduce health care costs.
This bill, HB 1233, sponsored by Rep. Laurie Jinkins, is up for a vote on February 14. Please contact your legislators and urge them to support it.
Here are some tidbits of Transportation Advocacy Day 2013 in pictures and quotes:
* “If you have a single message, tell them it's multimodal.” - Sen. Steve Litzow
* “Multimodal transportation is the backbone of healthy communities and economies and vibrant cities, “ voiced a young 43rd District voter during our meeting with Rep. Frank Chopp.
“You're preaching to the choir,” responded Chopp, who urged constituents to get support for the transportation package from local voters – so contact your representatives and let them know you want a balanced transportation budget with money for all modes of transportation.
* "Transportation is my favorite subject, much to people's surprise," - Sen. Ed Murray.
* “People are more willing to be taxed when they have jobs,” Sen. Murray.
* Sen. Murray shared with us that he feels strongly about the Safe Speed Bill for personal reasons. When he was 14, he was hit by a car while he was riding his bicycle and spent several months in and out of the hospital.
* On a lighter note, as we were leaving the conference hall, he shared with us that he was back on the bike (an upright, retro orange bike purchased at Montlake Bike Shop).
"Biking gets me a sense of freedom I don't get in my life otherwise," he said.
* “The 2005 [transportation] package was radical at the time but '05 is a long time ago and it's time to reinvest,” said Murray. “But it is going to take some effort to pull together the state around these issues, especially our friends outside of Seattle.”
* Senator Steve Hobbs stated he supports a proposed $25 fee on the sales of bicycles of $500 or more.
“We are still trying to figure it out, but if you want bike lanes, we have to find ways to fund them,” said Hobbs.
“Cascade is opposing the bike sales fee, and working to have it removed,” responded Evan Manvel, Cascade's Director of Policy, Planning & Government Affairs. “We’re concerned about impacts on small, family-owned bike shops”
* “We have a governor who really believes in biking.” - Rep. Andy Billig
* “Remember the bill isn't about healthcare, it's about health and making our communities healthier before they need healthcare." - Rep. Billig.
Julie Salathe, Cascade Education Director, and Peter Hallson, Edmonds Bicycle Advisory Group and Cascade Ride Leader