Safe And Sustainable Transportation For All
For far too long, Seattle has played catch-up on transportation instead of leading the way. We need a transportation system that provides people with equitable, safe, reliable, affordable and climate-friendly travel choices. Whether it be by foot, transit, bike, or car, we should spend less time traveling and more time where we want to be. While in recent years Seattle has successfully reduced single-occupancy vehicle travel, we can do better. We will connect communities to each other and to more educational and employment opportunities with clean, reliable and convenient buses and trains, and safe walking, biking, and rolling options. This starts with integrating transportation and land-use, recognizing the best and most sustainable transportation system is one where you live close to where you need to go.
A world class city with a high quality of life requires a safe and equitable transportation system. A robust array of sustainable choices is a hallmark of such a system. As mayor, I intend for Seattle to be that world class city—that is world class no matter your age, ability, or mobility needs.
Putting Safety First
I believe every transportation death is a preventable death. In 2019, Oslo and Helsinki became the first major cities to demonstrate that all traffic deaths can be prevented, and also showed how their efforts led to improved sustainability and quality of life as well. In Seattle, we have experienced 15-25 tragic deaths on our roads per year over the past decade. For pedestrians, it has gotten much less safe. We only had two pedestrian deaths on our roadways in 2011, but by 2019, that had increased 650 percent to 15 deaths. We know the solutions to prevent this; Oslo and Helsinki point the way. We need leadership with the will to take the steps necessary to achieve success for a safer city.
Unsafe streets put our most vulnerable at risk, including children, older adults, and people with disabilities, and have a disproportionate impact on BIPOC communities. We are blessed to be situated in a beautiful environment. A city that is safe and enjoyable for people to experience outside, without their cars, will be a healthier and more sustainable city with a higher quality of life for all Seattleites. Twenty deaths per year and 150 serious injuries on Seattle streets are unacceptable, preventable tragedies. We have the solution; now we must act.
What we will do:
- Create Safe Routes to Every School, Park and Grocery Store – When life’s essentials are easy to reach without a car, we reduce traffic and improve health. We will build 100 blocks of sidewalks, install 100 miles of protected bike lanes, improve 100 crossings, and create 100 miles of Stay Healthy Streets, resulting in safe routes to every school, park and grocery store in the city. A vibrant and safe Seattle enables our children to walk or bike to school, eradicates food deserts, and enables people in all communities to walk, bike, roll or take transit for convenient connections to essential services.
- Ensure Safety by Design – Poor street design encourages high speeds. Lowering speed limits is a start, but we should create spaces where safety is by design. We will engage our neighbors in context sensitive design to redesign the most dangerous streets in every neighborhood, including the 10 streets with the most crashes citywide. For example, we will bring special emphasis to projects in South Seattle around Martin Luther King Jr Way S, Rainier Avenue, and Beacon Avenue where communities of color have been asking for safe transportation routes due to disproportionately high fatalities and injuries.
- Reduce Reliance on Armed Officers for Traffic Enforcement – Design solutions can also reduce bias from policing while better controlling unsafe auto use. Focusing on equity, I will use my experience in the state legislature to finally win authority to expand Seattle’s use of cameras for
speed, red-light and intersection or “block the box” enforcement to reduce our reliance on armed police officers for enforcing simple traffic laws. Cameras are not biased as long as we are fair and equitable in their distribution through the city, and they reduce police interactions which
too often become violent.
Investing in an Equitable Transit System
In the history of our cities, including Seattle, transportation equity and racial equity are inextricably tied. Transportation has been used as a tool to both create and support inequality. The Federal and local government build highways by destroying Black neighborhoods. Highways were also used as a way to segregate Black Americans from white Americans. Buses themselves were sites of segregation. Rosa Parks’ famous refusal to accept that injustice served as a pivotal moment for the Civil Rights movement, demonstrating that public transportation also presents us with opportunities to address past wrongs and achieve a more equitable future.
We have yet to fully seize this opportunity. Our current commuter-centric transit network is not designed to serve the needs of the majority of low-wage workers, BIPOC communities, and people with disabilities. Transit is not affordable for many people in these communities, and even when people in these communities live near transit, they do not feel that it consistently got them to where they needed to be on time. I will ensure that everybody benefits from transit investments, in particular people from marginalized communities. Research also shows a disproportionate amount of transportation investments have been made in white neighborhoods, leaving communities of color with broken sidewalks, broken sidewalk lamps, arterials that are deadly to cross, and few options for biking and walking.
What we will do:
- Prioritize Investments and Expansion According to Community Needs – There is a mismatch between our current transportation investments and the needs of low-wage workers, BIPOC communities, and people with disabilities. As I did when leading Pierce Transit’s effort to
preserve critical transit service for marginalized communities in the face of a 30% service reduction, I will work with communities who have been neglected by City Hall to prioritize our transit investments to meet their needs. We will rely on community organizations who have the relationships with and trust of these communities to tell us where and how to best reconcile that mismatch, empowering those most in need of more reliable public transit to shape the City’s transit policy.
- Institute an Equity-first Priority Policy for Transportation Investment – We will prioritize transportation investments for those communities who have been actually harmed by prior transportation investments like I-5 cutting through the International District, or those communities who have not received enough investment in the past like Southeast Seattle’s lack of bike infrastructure. Furthermore, as King County Metro is assessing how it prioritizes its routes, we need to ensure that equity is its first criteria, while recognizing productivity and geographic value as other important criteria to consider.
- Build Affordable Housing around Transit Hubs – A more diverse and inclusive city is one where families of every income level are able to raise their kids and older households are able to age in place in housing that is affordable with easy access to fast, reliable transit. I’ll build the 70,000 additional affordable housing units we need across the city centered on our 54 transit hubs, with robust anti-displacement policies and programs to create alternative pathways to homeownership.
- Create Affordable Alternatives to Car Ownership – Cars are often the second highest cost for many households after housing, and yet the bus or train may not work for all trips, and not everyone is able to ride a traditional bike in our hilly city. With this in mind, I will ensure everyone in Seattle has convenient and affordable access to an electric bike or scooter to make it easier to safely travel around our city without the high cost of owning a car.
Ensuring People Can Easily Access Everything Needed for a Healthy Life
Living in a city is about having access to all the amenities we need, including housing, medical care, and fresh food. A great city ensures everyone can access those needs no matter their mode preference or mobility needs. We will bring amenities closer to housing, bring new housing closer to transit, and ensure we have an array of safe and usable transportation choices for all community members. Trips that are easy for an able-bodied person can be filled with impediments for people with disabilities. This creates huge barriers to access schools, medical care, groceries, work, and fully participating in the community. We will make our city more accessible so everyone can safely and conveniently reach their destination with dignity.
What we will do:
- Improve Walkability – More than 25% of all trips are less than a mile. We will ensure short trips are easy, safe and enjoyable with non-vehicle travel by improving sidewalks, building new crosswalks, and expanding Stay Healthy streets.
- Build Transit-oriented Housing – With ST3 for Housing, we will ensure new homes are affordable and near transit and amenities, so they do not create new car trips and allow people of all income levels to live in our city.
- Increase Accessible Transit – Many people with disabilities rely on transit to get around but have difficulties standing for long periods of time at bus stops or difficulties getting to stations safely and easily. We will make our bus stops more accessible with bus shelters, benches, and loading platforms. We will ensure elevators are operating at light rail stops and that people can get to the stations safely through sidewalks, crosswalks, and other transit. Transit isn’t truly accessible unless our paratransit options enable everyone in Seattle to conveniently get where they need to go, and our investments in making Seattle’s transit system more accessible must necessarily include making paratransit options more accessible as well.
- Build and Maintain Accessible Sidewalks – People with disabilities should be able to get around their neighborhood safely without having to roll into the street to avoid broken sidewalks, or get stuck on a street with no ramp. We will build more curb ramps, more crosswalks, and fix broken sidewalks. We will expand government programs to clean debris, and in the event of another snow storm we will institute emergency measures to assist Seattleites with disabilities in clearing snow and ice from their sidewalks.
Expanding Transit to Support an Equitable Economy
Transit is the backbone of any great city. As Seattle continues to grow, we need to make sure the infrastructure is in place for the city to continue to thrive in an equitable and sustainable way. The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted everyone’s lives but it has disproportionately impacted people of color and low-income communities. Transit is a lifeline in those communities for access to work, school, family, and essential services. During the pandemic, our public transit system transported essential workers who keep our city functioning. We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity for a fresh start on transit expansion by focusing on those that need it most to provide a safe, equitable and efficient transportation system in Seattle. To support the equitable development of communities neglected by public investments from City Hall for decades, our transit system must efficiently serve needs beyond downtown-centric trips.
What we will do:
Getting Back to Basics: Bridges and Infrastructure
In the past few years, the Mayor and City Council have not prioritized identifying long-term, reliable and equitable solutions to maintaining our streets, bridges and sidewalks. We are losing ground on basic safety and maintenance work, and now face a backlog totaling nearly $2 billion. We must reaffirm our commitment to maintaining and improving our existing transportation system, while continuing to create a system that gives people safe and reliable choices to get where they need to go. Seattle continues to fall behind on maintaining our core system and we’re lagging behind other major cities in making our transportation system safer for all users.
I will be a Mayor who isn’t afraid of making tough decisions. It is unacceptable that more than a year has passed since the West Seattle Bridge unexpectedly closed, cutting off reliable access to 20 percent of the households in our city. The communities in West Seattle have struggled with longer travel times, challenges getting to necessary medical appointments, and more difficult commutes. Surrounding communities, including South Park are bearing the brunt of the diverted traffic congestion funneled through their neighborhood. With quicker decision-making the bridge could have re-opened by now.
What we will do:
- Identify a Funding Strategy – We will work with partners and community stakeholders to identify a long-term strategy to adequately fund and maintain our bridges and other infrastructure. We will be able to plan for the future replacement needs of bridges now so we don’t wait until they fail. We will look toward the future transportation levy renewal and consider a broader range of funding solutions that can more adequately meet our bridge maintenance and replacement needs.
- Maintain Sidewalks – In addition to being a critical safety concern for people with disabilities, we must focus available resources on sustainably growing the maintenance investments for important needs like sidewalk maintenance and crosswalk markings to ensure our city’s most basic infrastructure serves everyone’s needs.
- Make Quick, Data-informed Decisions – A failure to identify reliable funding for infrastructure maintenance isn’t the only West Seattle Bridge-related delay we cannot afford to repeat. We’ll prevent another situation like the ongoing West Seattle Bridge closure with quicker
decision-making and action rooted in data to ensure maintenance occurs with as little disruption in service as possible.
- Explore New, Equitable Funding Sources – As Mayor, I will support the concept of studying equitable mobility pricing to not only help fund future bridge replacement, but also create a more equitable transportation system with investments in transit and neighborhood safety in disadvantaged communities
Building a City of Mobility Innovation
Seattle, a hub for so much of the world’s innovation, should be the center for “innovation done right.” We need innovation that promotes the values of our city and its communities and doesn’t distract us from our laser focus on the nuts and bolts which are critical to making our city vibrant, livable, and well-functioning. We can spend our time setting “targets” or we can get real about implementing policy. Seattle should know how much of a carbon reduction we would get from red-bus-only lanes on major arterials, and how much carbon reduction would come from a fully built out bicycle network, and what benefit we would see from densifying near transit. Understanding the baseline, we should implement the policies, knowing that there is not one silver-bullet to reducing greenhouse gases in transportation. After the policies are implemented, we should continue measuring the results and seek new innovations until the standing targets are met.
What we will do:
which we should reach out to learn from rather than expect it to show up at meetings. We will leverage technology and direct outreach to provide low-barrier points of feedback to overall quality of life as well as specific feedback questions.