PubliCola reports that Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn is going to announcing something called “Walk Bike Ride” next week. According to a Facebook event:

Please join the Streets For All Seattle coalition at Mayor McGinn’s announcement of the “Walk Bike Ride” Initiative to make walking, biking and transit the easiest ways to get around in Seattle.

How exactly this all relates to the Streets For All Seattle group, if at all, is unknown. That group is looking for $30 million in annual revenue to improve pedestrian, bicycle, and transit access throughout the city. Right now, concerned citizens can feel important and sign an e-petition.

PubliCola has more details on what McGinn may roll out:

However, McGinn’s staff has briefed council members on the proposal—kind of. Council sources say McGinn’s staffers haven’t put anything on paper or narrowed down specifics of the initiative (not surprising, given the current tension between the mayor and the council over transportation), but that they have mentioned a menu of possible funding mechanisms. Those that could be passed without voter approval include an increase in the commercial parking tax, a $20 fee on vehicle licenses (the maximum possible without going to the voters), and higher parking fees or extended parking hours. Any other tax increase would require a ballot measure, which is also reportedly a possibility.

McGinn will also reportedly announce next week that, as part of “Walk, Bike, Ride,” he will hold four community meetings in different parts of the city, do “instant polling” of citizens, and a request for proposals for teams to come up with a Transit Master Plan for the city.

This could be some exciting stuff for Seattle residents. We’ll report what the Mayor announces when the word drops next Tuesday.

29 Replies to “McGinn to Announce “Walk Bike Ride” Initiative”

  1. $30M in annual revenues? From new city funding sources?

    So the big question for McGinn would be, “Does this $30M in annual revenues include at least $750K for the Aloha Extension?”

    This might be a good idea, but with numbers this big certainly the mayor could find $750K to at least fund the study phase of the Aloha Extension so that it is shovel ready.

    1. Just for readers of the article who are a bit confused about the blog post: it’s unknown whether McGinn will propose $30 million in new revenues. That’s just what an interest group wants.

    2. I too hope any new revenues for transit would be used for not just buying more bus service hours, but also making multiple streetcar lines shovel-ready. We need to improve our bus service, but we should also invest in the future of transit in Seattle, which means rail.

  2. McGinn needs to stop grandstanding and do something.

    Cars in downtown are pestilential.

    If he really wants to make a point then he should:

    1) Create car free days for all of downtown.

    2) Pass ordinances against the right turn on red.

    3) Even better, have an “all free” style crossing at each intersection just like at Pike and 1st…in this way, pedestrians can be sure that all cars, from all directions, stop moving.

    4) Provide subsidies to those of us who do use transit to get downtown.

    5) Make sure that existing and new LINK stations get adequate free parking so that LINK can be used more, and people can leave their cars outside downtown, while at the same time not having to pay for parking.

    Mike — stop posturing and start making it happen.

    1. Mcginn currently has a budget hole he is trying to close. Give him time.

      As for idea #5, that’s a good temporary idea, but areas as dense as the actual city of Seattle need to spend that money on bike and ped improvements.

      #4 is already done to an extent. The rest are great ideas

      1. I agree, great ideas John…except 5. Free parking is not so hot. However, having nominally charged parking spaces at stations that have not and are not ready to redevelop is probably a good interim measure.

    2. The lack of Link parking was very deliberate. We want to encourage density, not parking lots.

      1. “We want to encourage density”

        Isn’t it enough to encourage use of public transit?

        Why does transit have to be linked to density — most people want a full house with a yard…transit gives them the ideal way to do so, and get to good job, and reduce their CO2 footprint.

        Why does a simple engineering feat (transit) have to be linked up to an ideology that most people don’t subscribe to?

      2. Have you ever looked at the little houses with yards on N 80th Street, 31st Ave S, and NE 55th Street? Would those be suitable for you or are they too small? That was the standard house size through the 1950s. Then the size essentially doubled, and current zoning laws won’t allow you to build houses like that. Sad.

        Low density means fewer people at each transit stop. High density means more people at each stop. That makes transit more cost-effective. Of course there should be a mix of houses, duplexes, low-rise apartments, and towers.

    3. I actually agree with most of this. #3 with “all free” crossings for the intersections with large amounts of pedestrian traffic would be very helpful. A huge problem downtown, on Capitol Hill and in the University District is conflicts between turning vehicles and pedestrians.

      As for #5 I’m against Sound Transit building any more parking at Link stations in the city of Seattle beyond what is currently planned. I’d say it is ok to allow lot owners in the area to offer all-day pay parking if they want to but I’d block adding any new parking capacity that wasn’t attached to a business or residence.

    4. I don’t want a bunch of ugly parking lots taking up space in my neighborhood next to the Link station. If I wanted that, I would move back to Lake City. #5 is a terrible idea, which would make our neighborhood less walkable and more polluted.

    5. I still think the airport parking lot is underutilized. Until it is fully utilized, why should ST build more parking lots?

  3. Sounds like classic McGinn: some grand idea drawn on a napkin, with no details, no pricetag, no planning, no chance of ever happening.

  4. I would hardly call this ‘exciting’, John – sounds like the same old pointless stuff we are coming to expect from the mayor. How on earth is Seattle expected to become some bike nirvana with its topography? Sounds like McGinn would have been a huge fan of RH Thompson and his city regrade movement back in the early part of the last century!

    This is not going to get us anywhere and even more pointless – more ‘instant polling’

    1. Sorry, Tim, but I couldn’t disagree with your more. Funding our pedestrian and bicycle master plans should be a priority. A lot of talented people put a lot of hard work into them, they weren’t cheap, and they’re both nationally recognized as great initiatives. There is absolutely nothing pointless about providing better funding to execute them.

      1. I am not against bikes per se, but rather the policy of making some kind of shrine out of the things. The mayor should just go ahead with his bike ideas – those that ride them will like them, those that don’t won’t care. Either way, it is hardly worth the effort to have a press conference on, anymore than they had one for all of those colorful directional signs that have made downtown Seattle nice for tourists and locals alike. Bikes are part of an improved quality of life, but to sustain that quality of life we need major economic initiatives to strengthen the Seattle economy – the walking and the riding are symbolic of the success of those initiatives, but not really the cause of them.

        I am all for a walking city of Seattle more than I am for riding bikes around the place that for the most part get in the way and run people off sidewalks and endanger car traffic. Then again, I don’t have the physical structure to ride a bike for any length of time so they don’t interest me very much.

    2. Um, Tim, you are aware that Seattle is #3 nationally for bike commute share, right? In spite of the topography? Sure Portland is #1 and the topography is more favorable, but we’re no slouches. (sorry, I don’t remember the #2 off the top of my head, I think it may be SF which doesn’t exactly have favorable topography either)

      I’m not sure how Seattle does for non-commute trips, but anecdotally there sure seem to be a fair number of people out on the bike trails on a sunny day or making runs to the grocery store.

    3. Hilly Bern Switzerland had several times our current bike mode share before Europeans started riding e-bikes in any numbers. The whole OMG hills! thing is just silly. Ever biked through the insane headwinds the Dutch routinely deal with? (“No one will ever bike here in Amsterdam, it’s too windy. The Mayor is an idiot!”) Or how bout the winter snow in Copenhagen (“No one will ever bike here in Copenhagen, it’s too snowy. The Mayor is an idiot!”) – it’s time for folks to get real.

      I’m in my forties and I bike a lot in Seattle up and down all sorts of hills. I’m not Lance Armstrong and somehow I manage to do it anyway.

      With the US Joint Forces Command worrying about a 10 million barrel per day shortfall by *2015* we should be focusing our limited resources in improving the resilience of our transpo infrastructure. We need to move *now*. Better bike infrastructure ought to be a no brainer.

      And electric bikes let anyone go up hills, anyway. The Chinese are building so many of them that they’re driving up the price of *lead*. Time for us to get in the game, too.

    4. McGinn comes from Central Long Island (despite the beard).

      He knows more than anyone how people moved there, away from the central city, to have a better, cleaner life with bigger houses and bigger yards and more parks and low density so kids could ride bikes.

      He should take the lessons of the LIRR to heart. Each station has a large adequate parking lot throughout the Island. This allows low density life to continue and yet for business people to head into “the city”.

      Although, more and more, the city has subdivided into various nodes inside each community so that driving is reduced even less. Still this mix of railroads with plenty of parking, low density lifestyles and big houses has created on of the most desirable places to live on earth.

      Mike, you should know better.

  5. The problem with taking a city-oriented approach to transit improvement is that it does well for the central city, and has limited options for funding edge city improvements.

    I can’t get the city to fund more runs to downtown out of my neighborhood because all the downtown routes head out of the city. So, we have ten buses per hour that pass through South Park, only two of which head downtown, both by circuitous routes.

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