With a few additions, 2020 could be a solid bike-friendly budget year
The Seattle mayor's proposed 2020 budget has some good news for people who bike. As it heads into council’s hands, we're asking for a handful of small changes. Join us October 3 to share why safer streets and a protected bike network matters to you.
After months of internal number crunching, the City of Seattle’s public budget process kicked off Monday with the release of Mayor Jenny Durkan’s proposed budget for 2020. Next up: Council picks up the Mayor’s budget to finesse and adopt.
There’s some good news in the mayor’s budget. $10 million in additional funding will help build out Seattle's bike network by advancing underfunded projects in the Bike Master Plan Implementation Plan, adopted earlier this year. Some more notables: full funding of the Northgate Ped/Bike bridge will provide much needed east-west alleviation across I-5; and funding for Safe Routes to Schools will be held stable, thanks to new school zone traffic camera revenue. We’re advocating that Council retain those changes, as well as advancing policies, programs and projects that will help people across Seattle get around safer and more seamlessly by bike.
In other words, there’s more to do. Cascade and our partners, including the MASS Coalition, are advocating for a handful of additional items in the final budget. Will you join us at the first budget hearing on October 3 to speak up for bike and pedestrian priorities?
Complete Streets Reform -- In 2007, Seattle led the nation when it adopted one of the first Complete Streets ordinances. Twelve years later, it’s time to revisit this policy and make sure it’s a functional tool in rebuilding Seattle’s streets so that they are safe for all people, regardless of how we get around. Recent legislation, in the form of the safe streets ordinance, was a step in the right direction to ensure the city is adding planned bike lanes to repaving projects, but this year’s cancellation of planned bike lanes on 35th Ave NE left many feeling broader reform was needed. We agree and are asking council to work with SDOT to reform Complete Streets.
Dollars for Key Unfunded Connections in the Bike Master Implementation Plan -- We anticipate new revenue for BMP projects in the mayor’s budget will go towards making critical connections throughout Rainier Valley, Beacon Hill, Georgetown, and SODO, and completing the Basic Bike Network (great!). However, additional funding is still needed to truly realize those connections. We’re asking Council to dedicate specific dollars to several projects, in order to do authentic community outreach, design, and construction. Cascade is particularly focused on funding the design and construction of these projects which were identified in a recent Council resolution that passed with unanimous support:
- Georgetown to Downtown via SODO
- Martin Luther King Jr. Way
- Beacon Ave S
- South Park to Georgetown Trail
- 4th Ave
Fund Proactive Bikeway Maintenance -- Poor maintenance of Seattle’s bikeways is making them hard to use, unwelcoming and – in some cases – functionally obsolete or absent. This leads bike facilities to often feel dilapidated and unsafe, particularly for people who are not confident biking with vehicle traffic or who aren’t biking along familiar routes. Currently, SDOT does not have a strategy or dedicated funding for maintaining its bike lanes. Subsequently, many of the bikeways that caring neighbors like you fought hard to get on the ground are fading and unmaintained. We’re asking council to add money to the budget to fund proactive bikeway maintenance.
- Traffic Camera Revenue for Safe Routes to Schools Capacity and Coordination -- The revenue generated from school zone traffic cameras is directed to the School Safety Traffic and Pedestrian Improvement Fund (SSTPI), and revenue generated from red-light cameras is directed to the General Fund. However, prior to 2018, 20 percent of the revenue generated from red-light traffic cameras was directed specifically toward transportation safety improvements. In 2019, Mayor Durkan and the Council moved that revenue to the General Fund.
Because one significant purpose of traffic cameras is to change traffic behavior, our ask is that 50 percent of the revenue from red-light cameras (~5M total) be redirected back to transportation projects in order to change the feeling of our roadways, foster safe traffic behaviors, and implement traffic calming strategies. We’re asking Council to direct 20 percent of that revenue ($~1M) to Safe Routes to Schools operations (e.g. including a SRTS Coordinator, and capacity improvements for SSTPI), and 30 percent (~$1.5M) to Vision Zero projects. This breakdown would be a step in the right direction to empower our youth and intentionally think about safety throughout our communities.
- Implement the Transportation Equity Agenda -- In 2017, SDOT convened a Transportation Equity Workgroup consisting of members from marginalized communities to help develop recommendations for solutions to eliminate racially disparate outcomes related to transportation in Seattle. The workgroup members collaborated with SDOT through facilitated engagements in order to provide community-guided suggestions to inform our transportation equity goals. Now that the agenda is developed, the City should dedicate funding to implement the Transportation Equity Agenda that was produced by the workgroup in partnership with key City agencies.