Cascade’s COVID-19 Advocacy Platform: A Call for Open Streets, Protected Networks, and An Economic Recovery That Centers Investments in Biking
We’re calling on leaders across the region to proactively support the needs of people who bike - or want to - during and beyond the COVID-19 dual public health and economic crisis.
COVID-19 has up-ended the world as we know it. In the last weeks, hundreds of community members have shared with us that they are biking more during the pandemic. That will doubtlessly continue in the coming months; social distancing and affordable transportation will be cornerstones of the “new normal” that we, the community, and our leaders must now proactively envision and create.
During COVID-19, some programs and practices communities have been inching towards for years, or longer, have been implemented in the blink of an eye. COVID-19, and the response to it, has exposed the truth that barriers to change can be broken down rapidly with collective will. Let’s not limit that response to just a reaction to this crisis, but also towards proactively shaping our new world as we continue to weather this crisis, and at some point, move beyond it together.
We’re calling on you to join us in sending a unified message to our city and regional leaders about how biking is – and will continue to be – a solution during this time. Biking is key to our physical and mental health during this pandemic. It is key to affordable transportation and mobility access for all. And it is key to solving urban congestion and the climate crisis caused by transportation pollution.
ADD YOUR NAME: Sign on to support the COVID-19 Bike Advocacy Priorities
- Open up temporary spaces for people biking and walking now, and as we edge out of lockdown so that we can all safely walk and bike with physical distance between ourselves. Communities must follow the lead of visionary cities, like Oakland, CA, which has rolled out a network of 74 miles of bike/ped priority Slow Streets across the city. Seattle’s Stay Healthy Streets, which opens 8 miles of streets to people on foot and bikes, with more coming, is a good start. Edmonds, WA, is planning for a 15-mile ped/bike priority network and started with opening an already popular waterfront lookout spot.
Prioritizing places where open space is scarce or where lots of people are already walking and biking will achieve the goal of relieving pressure on outdoor spaces, and provide equitable access to safe places to recreate and travel. More cities in the region must follow suit to create places for people to bike, walk, and roll. As summer inches forward, the need grows. City programs that have opened streets to people – like Seattle’s Play Streets, or Bicycle Sundays on Lake Washington Boulevard – must be expanded, not curbed.
- Complete bike networks faster, not slower, as we move around our communities more once again. Communities must ensure now that all people have a range of safe travel options available as more people across our region add trips back into their lives. Mass transit must remain viable and safe; connected bike networks must be expedited so that more people can choose to bike and free up capacity on buses and roadways.
We know that many more people would choose biking if safe connected, protected routes between destinations existed. Given the scale of this crisis, affordable transportation options are core to everyone being able to get around. Networks need to advance with an equity lens: communities must prioritize areas where new safe routes will support residents and workers from historically underserved and marginalized communities, who are most at risk of economic fallout, illness, and death during COVID-19. Temporary lanes; pilot projects, quick builds… everything needs to be on the table to help people get around.
- Open Streets events for the recovery. Public space is an incredible resource, as this pandemic has underscored. Open Streets events bring together community – including neighbors, businesses, and nonprofits – to experience art, culture, food, and movement together outdoors. Communities across our region should use Open Streets events to help reboot our local business districts, and local economies. Imagine Open Streets events that celebrate and safely bring together caring neighbors and the small businesses that make Main Streets across our region vibrant and unique. Cities across the US and beyond have already embraced the Open Streets concept. Now’s the time for our local cities – big and small – to do the same.
- An economic recovery centering - not sidelining - investments in biking, walking, and multi-modal networks. Economic stimulus funding for transportation must include substantial dollars for projects that advance trails and on-street bike networks. Right now, Congress is advancing much needed funding for business and workers, and capacity to fight the pandemic – and rightly so. But a transportation-based economic stimulus package is on the horizon. It’s essential that new funding supports investments in walking and biking that build the multi-modal transportation system people need and want.
Given the choice, leaders in our region must direct funding towards a transportation system of the future to advance our shared priorities of addressing the climate crisis and the public health crisis on our streets. We can do that by connecting trails and on-street bike networks, advancing policies like the Seattle Green New Deal, and applying Vision Zero principles.
In the weeks and months to come we’ll be advocating at the local and regional level for these priorities, and we’ll be stronger with you behind us: sign on now. Thank you for your continued support and belief in our vision; we cannot do this work without you.