Being stuck in traffic is the worst. It harms our quality of life, our health, our economy, and our environment. A recent study showed the average Seattle commuter wasted 55 hours stuck in traffic in 2016, ranking us in the top ten nationally for worst gridlock. It wastes our time and money when we all have better things to be doing.
I’ve devoted my entire career to equitable transit and transportation policy, and it’s the reason I ran for office after my service as Executive Director of Transportation Choices Coalition. Throughout this time, I helped craft the legislation currently completing 520 and I-5 improvements and facilitated Sound Transit expansion. As Mayor, I’ll work to accelerate the delivery of light rail, meet carbon reduction targets, and keep our streets clean and well-maintained.
I’m the only candidate in this race with the track record, knowledge, and experience in transportation policy on both the neighborhood level as well as the regional and state level. I will bring my leadership and long-term vision to putting Seattle on track to have the most equitable, forward-looking public transportation system of any major urban center in the United States. This is my passion.
Ever since I commuted by bike to class at the UW from Lake Forest Park, I have always been an avid cyclist and bike commuter, and either walk, bike, or take the bus and light rail most places I need to go these days. With 47 percent of daily downtown commuters using public transit, and nine percent making their way by bike or walking, we need a truly seamless and integrated network of bus, rail, and paths as a real alternative for everyone. This means up-zoning, transit-oriented development, smarter approaches to parking, and an integrated mobility and transportation plan for Seattle and beyond.
First, I would accelerate the expansion of light rail to West Seattle, Ballard, and the East Side. With light rail stations as hubs for transit-oriented development, and increased bus service connecting them with the rest of the city, these expansions would strengthen the backbone of the public transit system -- we need this sooner rather than later. I have creative ideas to speed up the process, including streamlining permitting, as was done for the highway projects in the 2015 transportation package, and working with the state to make Sound Transit eligible for state funding again.
Second, we need to transform our pedestrian and bike infrastructure into a safer, more extensive, and truly interconnected network. I support investments in sidewalks, pedestrian and bike paths like the Burke-Gilman Trail, clearly marked bike lanes on neighborhood streets, and planning efforts that help communities identify and prioritize bike infrastructure.
An equitable transportation system can help level the playing field by decreasing the barrier of distance and increasing access to jobs, school, and cultural activities. This is why I plan to broaden access to lower-cost programs like ORCA LIFT to more low-income transit riders and extend the Youth ORCA program. I was one of the earliest and most vocal proponents of Seattle’s 2014 Prop 1, which invested $2 million per year in programs to improve access for low-income riders.
I support more investment at the state, local, and regional levels, and I have spent my career as a leader in making those investments happen. I have the track record and the relationships in Olympia, Seattle, and the broader metro region to wrangle all of the stakeholders for the good of our public transit system. I led the campaigns for Seattle Prop 1 and Sound Transit 2 and 3, and I will continue leading on this issue as mayor.
We also can’t talk about transportation without addressing safety as well. Beyond improving infrastructure for cycling and walking, we also need to continue to move forward on measures to increase safety from the driver’s side. As a state legislator, I passed the Distracted Driving Law, which will save lives. As mayor, I will pursue a data-driven plan to attack the problem from all angles to achieve Seattle’s Vision Zero plan to eliminate traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2030.