As Mayor, I’ll Tackle the Root Causes of
Seattle’s Traffic and Transportation Challenges
9/27/17: Traffic is one of the biggest growing pains in our city. Lack of transit options forces workers to drive, compounding congestion and frustration on our streets and increasing carbon emissions. Our city should offer people convenient, fast alternatives to driving that get us where we need to go – including home, where we can spend time with family and friends. We need to focus our investments in safe streets, reliable transit, walkable neighborhoods, an all-ages bike network and a strong freight and delivery system.
Cities are my professional focus and personal passion. I switched careers in the mid-nineties to devote myself to building livable cities. Since then, I have been an advocate for compact development and smart growth and consistently promoted transit, biking and pedestrian investments in Seattle. As one of the early leaders of the effort to reclaim 22 acres of city owned waterfront land as a public park, I built support for a vision of great public space integrated with excellent biking, walking, and transit facilities. And as a member of the One Center City Advisory Board, I worked to ensure we are allocating the limited street space downtown to the right balance of modes. (One Center City project is a partnership between the City of Seattle, KC Metro, Sound Transit, and the Downtown Seattle Association (DSA).)
I am proud to be endorsed by leading transportation leaders and experts including The Urbanist, Transit Riders Union, Washington Bikes, Seattle Subway, Sierra Club and Washington Conservation Voters.
As Mayor of Seattle, I will utilize my extensive experience in urban planning to shift our focus to providing transportation choices, and ensure we use an economic and race and social justice lens as we allocate resources so lower income communities — who tend to be most transit dependent — are first in line. By focusing on expanding transit, walkable neighborhoods, a bike network for all ages and abilities, and pedestrian safety, we can keep becoming the sustainable, safe and inclusive city we hope to be.
1. Increasing Access to Light Rail And Bus Transit
Access to transit is closely tied with our housing crisis. We need to address housing costs and transit access together; working people are being pushed out of the city to chase affordable housing, which means they spend more money on transportation and more time away from family. Many low income families spend more on their cars than on food. Communities of color and low-income people are hit hardest by displacement, as forced relocation cuts of them off from services and community support. While some of us need to drive and cannot use alternatives, as a city we must optimize our system to provide viable transportation choices to as many users as possible. We must prioritize community-driven, equitable transit-oriented development as the central objective.
As mayor, I will:
- Use our bonding capacity to help fund Sound Transit 3 (ST3) construction sooner (in other words we will loan Sound Transit the money to move this forward and Sound Transit will pay us back).
- Speed up delivery of ST3 by optimizing the design and planning process and effectively managing the city’s permitting process.
- Pursue ST3 cost savings whenever possible to protect the funding we will need for the bus rapid transit lines from Ballard to the University District and the West Seattle Junction to Burien.
- Work closely with Sound Transit and communities to implement equitable Transit Oriented Development around the existing and new stations as they come online.
- Working with KC Metro, use an economic, race and social justice lens to allocate our transportation investments so that communities with the lowest incomes have good access to reliable transit service.
- Provide ORCA cards to all Seattle Public School students under the age of 18 to make sure they can get to school, as suggested by Nikkita Oliver during the primary campaign.
- Expand funding for ORCA LIFT to increase transit access for low income adults.
- Prioritize projects that connect those who depend on transit to economic and educational hubs, including community colleges and high schools.
- Make our bus system more reliable and cost effective by increasing bus only lanes and giving buses priority at busy intersections.
- Make sure we intentionally plan where and how ride-share vehicles operate, to ensure our streets are prioritized for public transit, people and goods .
- Collaborate with SDOT staff and advocacy groups to evaluate SDOT’s mission, vision, and 10-year action plan so we reassert our commitment to reducing carbon emissions, complete streets, and Vision Zero.
2. Making Our Streets Safe for All Users
I have lived mostly car-free since 1994 when I made a conscious choice to do so. I use Zipcar when needed, but more often take transit and walk. (And I have city bike that is equipped to carry groceries and can handle the Seattle terrain and weather.)
But we need to make biking a safer alternative for Seattleites. Right now our bike lanes are useful for the brave bike commuters in spandex, but can be daunting for others including women, young people and other more casual users. An extensive, consistent and connected network of protected bike lanes would attract a broader range of bike users and become easier for drivers to recognize and navigate.
Frankly, our city spends too much on car convenience – that’s why there are too many cars on the road. We need to keep shifting the culture of SDOT towards expanding choices for people and goods, and safety for all users –and away from “level of service” targets for cars. And unlike my opponent, I will always put the safety and needs of pedestrians before drivers.
As mayor, I will:
- Implement a comprehensive bike network, connecting the infrastructure that already exists, to provide safe cycling for all ages by 2020.
- Enforce the new speed limits and educate Seattle drivers on how lower limits improve overall safety of our community.
- Expand the Let’s Go program that helps teach elementary school kids in Seattle Public Schools how to safely ride a bike.
- Emphasize Vision Zero when designing streets to encourage slower speeds, greater awareness of other road users, and greater safety for everyone – especially in South Seattle along Rainier Avenue and MLK Jr. Way.
- Focus on adding sidewalks on streets near transit and schools
- Improve pedestrian facilities like curb cuts, complete sidewalks and intersection designs that are essential for seniors and people with disabilities.
- Require SDOT to examine the pedestrian/bike and car conflicts that happen at the worst intersections and identify solutions to reduce conflicts.
- Ensure that school zone speed camera revenue is being used to fund new crosswalks, signage and other safety enhancements for schoolchildren.
- Manage the usage and success of the bike-share programs currently underway.
- Work with our Olympia delegation to break down silos in our transportation funding because the funding that is allocated strictly to highways reinforces the convenience of cars over all other modes.
3. Centering Access to Jobs and Freight Mobility
We need bolder and more innovative solutions to keep downtown humming and flowing. Our rapid growth, along with the expected shifting of buses from the downtown tunnel to surface streets next year, and the eventual opening of toll lanes in the SR-99 tunnel which will drive more cars on to city side streets, demands that we prioritize the most space efficient modes – all while ensuring we have excellent delivery and drop off facilities.
We could have – and should have – gotten ahead of the congestion problems we have now in South Lake Union by requiring a better balance between housing and commercial buildings from the beginning of the area’s explosive growth, and adding more transit as we grew. Newcomers are moving here for many reasons, we must do everything we can to better accommodate increased demands on our system.
As mayor, I will:
- Prioritize improving our street network for local freight mobility, essential for retaining family-wage jobs and keeping goods flowing in our industrial economy.
- Mitigate the impact of street construction on local businesses, especially small and minority-owned businesses.
- Balance curbside space for deliveries, passenger drop-off zones, and short-term parking. In this challenging time for small business, we must ensure they can move goods via curb loading and also offer space for short-term visitors.
- Incentivize transit use by employees and students via employers and institutions — let’s expand the work being done by Commute Seattle to encourage choices other than driving alone.
- Match plans for housing / commercial growth with capital infrastructure planning.
- Evaluate using impact fees to provide additional funding for transportation infrastructure.
The transportation sector itself provides a lot of family wage jobs, and many of those will be at risk if autonomous vehicles gain traction. We need to proactively evaluate the benefits of new technology and analyze how to prevent adoption from potentially replacing thousands of hard working men and women. I will support family wage jobs — not at the expense of progress, but in a way that balances advances that make our lives better with protecting good jobs for working families.
As Mayor of Seattle, I will guide us into being a national leader with a 21st century sustainable, efficient transportation system. There are multiple benefits of transforming the transportation sector to provide choices: we can reduce emissions, create safer streets, increase transit reliability, reduce costs, serve more equitable growth, increase retail activity, and improve access for seniors and disabled folks. Let’s work together to achieve more robust investments in the walking, biking and transit solutions our communities and our small businesses desperately need.