Mike McGinn, Mayor
5/11/2010 2:00:00 PM
Aaron Pickus (206) 684-4000
What is Walk Bike Ride?
Walk Bike Ride is a multi-year initiative that will support projects and programs that make walking, biking, and riding transit the easiest ways to get around in Seattle. It will serve all people, regardless of age, income, ethnicity, or ability. It will use transportation investments to create quality places. And it will reclaim our streets for communities. Our long term goal is an interconnected network of walkways, bike paths, and transit routes that allow all residents to easily get around Seattle without a car.
We know that many will still use cars as their first choice for years to come, and that we need to ensure freight mobility for the success of our maritime, commercial and industrial sectors. We also believe that we can transition with a balanced approach that accommodates all users and enhances our economic competitiveness.
We have already made progress toward this goal. We have adopted pedestrian and bicycle master plans. The first Link light rail line is up and running, with plans to extend the system north and east.
But we also have a long way to go. We have not yet demonstrated the ability to make tough choices. We are currently planning for over $8 billion in major highway projects in Seattle. That's a lot of money. It would go a long way toward building out a citywide light rail system. It could buy a lot of bus hours.
And that's important - because right now, we have to fight just to keep what we have. Metro transit is facing a looming budget crisis that could cut 600,000 annual hours of service by 2015. Revenue shortfalls may lead Sound Transit to delay projects or push a future transit measure further into the future.
The City's budget is also severely constrained, with a long backlog of basic maintenance needs. We have to live within our means and focus on the basics. Even so, we will work hard wherever possible to make the choices to prioritize our limited resources to fund bicycle, pedestrian and transit improvements.
Here's what we'll do right now to begin realizing these long term goals:
- Update the Transit Master Plan: We will start this summer to update our Transit Master Plan. This Plan will set a long term vision for expanded transit service in Seattle. It will look at transit corridors and prioritize different modes for each corridor, including local bus service, bus rapid transit, electric trolleys, light rail and streetcars. It will also study the feasibility of expanding light rail to Ballard and West Seattle.
- Early Implementation Projects: We will use existing resources to focus aggressively on early implementation of projects that will improve walking, biking, and neighborhoods. Rechannelization, pedestrian improvements, and bicycle improvements along Nickerson Street are a good example of this.
- Public Engagement: We will engage with the public. Elected officials have an important role to play, but they can only do so much. This kind of change must come from the bottom up. It will take a major grassroots effort to convince elected officials in the city and the region that we need a real emphasis on walking, biking and transit as the backbone of our transportation system. We have scheduled five initial community meetings, beginning with a Health, Equity, & Transportation Forum Wednesday, May 26.
- Future Funding: We will work to develop a budget for 2011-12 that will focus on maintaining local streets, which are key for walkers, bikers and transit and will look to live up to the City's commitment to expand opportunities for funding the bicycle and pedestrian master plans.
- Protecting and Expanding Transit: We will work with other regional leaders on expansion of funding opportunities at the federal, state and county levels - to protect Metro service, improve the quality of bus service and fund faster implementation of light rail.
- Focus on Places: We will integrate Walk Bike Ride principles into neighborhood planning in the Bitter Lake/Broadview and Rainier Beach Neighborhoods, as well as future neighborhood planning efforts. We will promote sustainable and transit-oriented communities with thriving business districts through other means.
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