The Online Voice of the Bicycle Alliance of Washington

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Tomorrow is PARK(ing) Day!

Tomorrow, September 21, people around the world will be transforming street parking spaces into mini-parks and public space.  Yes, it’s the return of International PARK(ing) Day!

PARK(ing) Day Tacoma - Downtown on the Go
PARK(ing) Day began in 2005 when Rebar, an art and design studio, converted a single metered parking space in downtown San Francisco into a temporary public park for two hours—the allotted time on the parking meter.  A photo of the temporary on-street park circulated on the internet and PARK(ing) Day was born!

Last year, metered parking spots in 162 cities in 35 countries were transformed into 975 temporary parks.  People were invited to use their streets in a fun and different way, and the public was encouraged to rethink the value of a metered parking space as public space.

If you live in Tacoma, check this map to find out where the dozen plus PARK(ing) Day mini-parks will be in your community.  They even suggest a PARK(ing) Day walk route for you!  Downtown on the Go and a host of others are the organizers for this year's events.

Seattle also has a dozen plus spots reserved tomorrow.  Here’s the map for Seattle’s PARK(ing) Day sites.  The Bicycle Alliance is co-hosting a Summer Lawn Party PARK(ing) Day site in Pioneer Square.  Drop by for some games, hang out in the lawn chairs, watch members of The Guardians put on a bike polo demonstration, and more!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Advocacy Update: Safe Routes to Schools in the Balance

As the new federal transportation bill, MAP-21, comes to life on October 1, the next two weeks are pivotal for Washington as Governor Gregoire will decide whether Safe Routes to Schools will receive direct federal investments to make it safer to walk and bike to school. /Mike Cynecki
In June we announced that a new federal transportation bill was poised to slash funding for projects that grow bicycling statewide and give kids the freedom to walk and bike to school. Since then the Bicycle Alliance of Washington has worked with local, state, and national partners to develop a strategy ensure that freedom with improved streets and crossings, options for physical activity, and tools and knowledge to safely walk and bike.

To recap, the new federal bill, or Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) as its authors call it, diminishes direct funding for walking and biking by a minimum of 35%. Unfortunately, those cuts could skyrocket to 70%, if Governor Gregoire chooses to divert federal funds to other transportation projects.

The funding stream most vulnerable to these cuts? Safe Routes to School.

Since the state began an innovative Safe Routes to School pilot project in 2004, Washington schools afforded these opportunities have seen a 34% increase in safe walking and biking to schools, better student compliance with safe crossing behaviors, more choices for healthy living, and no collisions occurring at completed project locations. In Washington, reducing bicycle and pedestrian fatalities just 5% per year over the next 10 years, consistent with our state’s adopted goal, will save us over $130 million.

If Governor Gregoire chooses to deplete Safe Routes to School investments by shifting previously allocated federal funds elsewhere, it would damage the state’s long-term commitment to walking and biking made at the start of her administration. Such a reversal could cut the state Safe Routes to School coordinator position, reduce the geographic equity in funding for this popular program, and would stymie the state legislature’s recent effort to grow Safe Routes to School funding in 2012.

To respond to reductions in Safe Routes to School, the Bicycle Alliance has mobilized to ensure Washington keeps making these critical investments. We serve as the Washington state coordinator on the Alliance for Biking and Walking and League of American Bicyclists efforts’ to maintain funding. We’re working with our friends on the Transportation for Washington Campaign to coordinate and make recommendations as Governor Gregoire moves to decide the future of Safe Routes to School in Washington. Similarly, we’re collaborating with our friends at the Safe Routes to School National Partnership on fact finding and information sharing to learn best practices and how other states are combating the threats to diminished Safe Routes to School funding.

This morning in Olympia the Bicycle Alliance and our partners under the Transportation for Washington banner, including Transportation Choices Coalition, Childhood Obesity Prevention Coalition, and Feet First attended the first of two steering committee meetings meant to provide the Governor recommendations for how to allocate MAP-21 dollars.

At today’s meeting, we offered our simple but compelling proposal to retain statewide funding for Safe Routes to Schools by using a small portion of new road safety funding, which doubles under MAP-21. This is an approach that California and Florida are taking to maintain their commitments to Safe Routes to School. This proposal to support Safe Routes to School meshes with what is contained in Washington’s own strategic highway safety plan for reducing pedestrian injuries and fatalities.

Bicycle Alliance Board member King Cushman gave compelling remarks to steering committee members on the state of safety for Washington roads. Walking constitutes the third leading cause for death for Washington kids, but cost-effective safety improvements and educational programming for safety, such as what Safe Routes to School provides can make all the difference to improve safety on our roads.

We heard other compelling reasons to support the proposal that we have made to the Governor to save federal Safe Routes to School funding and it’s clear from remarks made by many steering committee members that safer routes for kids are important to them, too.

The second and final steering committee meeting will be held next week and we’ll again be there to work with our partners to make our case for continued Safe Routes to School. The Governor will make her decision on MAP-21 allocations by October 1.

Want to help? Email Governor Gregoire now to keep Washington moving forward in its progress for Safe Routes to School and keep in touch by signing up to Bicycle Alliance of Washington action alerts for news and next steps about protecting Safe Routes to School.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Olympic National Park Opts for Better Spruce Railroad Trail Alternative

Thanks to public comments from citizens and advocacy groups like the Bicycle Alliance of Washington and Peninsula Trails Coalition, Olympic National Park has announced that an 8-foot asphalt trail with 3-foot gravel shoulders is the selected alternative for the Spruce Railroad Trail improvements.  This trail segment is part of the larger Olympic Discovery Trail.

This is a change from last fall when the park first identified its preferred alternative for trail improvements as a 6-foot paved surface.  Read our earlierblog post for more info.

Unhappy with the preferred alternative, the Bicycle Alliance and Peninsula Trails Coalition coordinated efforts to push for a safer multi-use trail design with 8-10 feet of paved surface.  A paved trail surface of 8-10 feet provides sufficient space for two bicyclists to pass each other and is consistent with the existing trail design.  It also meets the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) requirement to make this trail accessible and usable by people with disabilities. The park’s preferred alternative would not have met those requirements.

In an announcement released this week, Olympic National Park Acting Superintendent said:

This project illustrates the value of public and community collaboration, as important issues and concerns have been raised throughout the process and have helped shape the final decision.

We are pleased that park officials have listened to public comment and revised their final selection to reflect the safety concerns.  You can read the park’s announcement here.

A completed Olympic Discovery Trail will traverse approximately 130 miles of the Olympic Peninsula.  The trail begins at the Victorian seaport of Port Townsend and will end at the Pacific Ocean in the Quileute Nation village of La Push.  The segment utilizing the Spruce Railroad Trail through Olympic National Park will allow bicyclists to avoid a dangerous portion of Highway 101 along the shore of Lake Crescent.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

12 Million Miles Pedaled in National Bike Challenge

The Get up & Ride National Bike Challenge ended August 31 with 30,000 riders, representing all 50 states, pedaling 12 million miles!  While the NBC fell short of the 50,000 riders they hoped would participate, they exceeded their goal of 10 million miles.

This was the first year the challenge was organized as a national event.  Washington State had 594 riders participating in the NBC and logging in over 228,000 miles.  We had bike riders in communities large and small, urban and rural.  People logged their miles in Seattle, Spokane, Bellingham, Port Angeles, Tri-Cities, Vancouver, Pullman, Moses Lake, Walla Walla, Ellensburg, and more!

One of the cool things that emerged out of the NBC was the online encouragement and camaraderie.  Each state had its own Challenge page and Washington riders regularly posted questions, comments, and words of encouragement to each other.  Many are already looking forward to next year’s event.  Posted one participant:

I enjoyed riding with you all during this challenge. I am already thinking about next year and hoping to see our WA participation go to 1,000 or more. I hope we all keep riding and promoting bicycling in our great state.

The Bicycle Alliance also held a random drawing of prizes for August participants and the winners are:

Corrie Rosetti (Lewiston-ID-WA) – Tifosi sunglasses
Tammy Neslin (Tri-Cities) – Tifosi sunglasses
Josh Miller (Seattle-Bellevue) – AG wallet
Tiffany Ostreim (Longview) – AG wallet

Winners need to email Louise McGrody by September 15 to claim their prizes.