HOW CANDIDATES STAND ON WALKABILITY (STATEWIDE): 2015

 

The Feet First Policy Committee reaches out to candidates about their perspective on creating more walkable communities. This year 8 candidates responded from multiple statewide races.

 

General Questions

 

1) Safe Routes to School: The Safe Routes to School program has historically funded engineering (such as sidewalks), enforcement (such as speed enforcement and community safety patrols), and education and encouragement (such as walk to school campaigns, walking school buses, and safety education). Safe Routes to School education programs throughout Washington have increased the number of students practicing safe behavior as well as the percentage of students walking to school.

 

How would you support Safe Routes to School activities in your jurisdiction?

 

2) Government agencies: What government agencies do you consider key partners in promoting walkability in your area, and how would you bring these agencies together to make your jurisdiction more walkable?

 

3) Pedestrian fatalities: From 2003-2012, 678 pedestrians were killed in Washington. To eliminate pedestrian fatalities, the Washington State Department of Transportation has adopted a Safer Streets action plan, the state legislature passed Senate Bill 5957 to create a Pedestrian Safety Advisory Council, and cities across the country have adopted a Vision Zero approach to end traffic deaths and serious injuries.

 

What next steps would you take to reduce or eliminate pedestrian fatalities in your jurisdiction?

 

(Race-specific questions are included below the corresponding headings)

 

Links to Candidate Responses

 

Everett City Council

5, Scott Bader (incumbent)

 

Lynnwood City Council

6, Sid Roberts (incumbent)

 

Shoreline City Council

2, Keith Scully

6, Jesse Salomon (incumbent)

 

Snohomish County Executive
John Lovick (incumbent)

 

Tacoma City Council

7, Conor McCarthy

 

Yakima City Council
7, Holly Cousens

questionnaire2015

 

Everett City Council

 

Scott Bader, Position 5

 

1) Safe Routes to School:

I think utilizing our law enforcement agencies, both for education and enforcement, is the correct approach. Our police department has been very public about their efforts to do so.

 

2) Government agencies:

Public works, parks, transit, school district, all play key roles in encouraging folks to access walkable areas, make areas more walkable, and to get out and walk.

 

3) Pedestrian fatalities:

Tougher DUI laws are what I see as key. All the recent pedestrian fatalities in my area that I recall had to do with drivers who were under the influence.

 

Lynnwood City Council

 

4) Light rail: Sound Transit is slated to begin construction on the Lynnwood Link Extension in 2018, and to open the line in 2023. However, a frequent criticism of existing light rail stops, such as the Mount Baker Station, is the difficulty in walking between stations and other destinations including bus transfer stops. Feet First and our community partners are working to ensure the new light rail stations are accessible for all.

 

How would you support efforts to make light rail in your jurisdiction accessible to people on foot?

 

5) Crosswalk revision:The Washington State Department of Transportation recently undertook efforts to improve a pedestrian crossing on 164th street at I-5. What is your position on the revision of this crosswalk?

 

6) Transportation Benefit District measure:The Lynnwood Transportation Benefit District has considered a November 2015 ballot measure to fund transportation improvements and maintenance. If the measure were to pass, what percent of the revenue would you want to see spent on pedestrian improvements?

 

Sid Roberts, Position 6

 

1) Safe Routes to School:

I’m unsure how I would support it but at first blush it sounds good. I’m an avid walker and usually walk about 1.5 hours per day on Lynnwood City Streets. Safety for walkers is important.

 

2) Government agencies:

Our own healthy initiatives through the City of Lynnwood and Verdant.

 

3) Pedestrian fatalities:

I would need to study that but as time goes on, more and more people will walk and bike to get where they need to go. Safety is paramount for walkers. I personally like the crosswalks that stop traffic with a button and use flashing lights.

 

4) Light rail:

This is a big issue for Lynnwood. 20K riders will be using light rail in Lynnwood and I’m a little worried about how they will get there. Clearly some will walk and we need to be careful that they can safely do that.

 

5) Crosswalk revision:

That makes sense. The one on 196th is also dangerous.

 

6) Transportation Benefit District measure:

That is still to be determined. Our roads are in horrific shape and new funding mechanisms will need to be explored. 36th Ave W. is top on the list and will cost about 12 Million. The “sidewalks” on 36th are very narrow and dangerous now. Once developed, 36th Ave W. will have sidewalks on both sides of the street. There are virtually no crosswalks for people east of 36th, primarily those who ride the bus, to use.

 

Shoreline City Council

 

4) Light rail: Sound Transit is slated to begin construction on the Lynnwood Link Extension in 2018, and to open the line in 2023. However, a frequent criticism of existing light rail stops, such as the Mount Baker Station, is the difficulty in walking between stations and other destinations including bus transfer stops. Feet First and our community partners are working to ensure the new light rail stations are accessible for all.

 

How would you support efforts to make light rail in your jurisdiction accessible to people on foot?

 

5) 145th Street: The City of Shoreline and the City of Seattle are coordinating to address traffic and safety concerns along 145th Street. What would you do to make this corridor more safe and accessible to all?

 

Keith Scully, Position 6

 

1) Safe Routes to School:

The Safe Routes to School program has already funded significant sidewalk and safe road crossing improvements around several Shoreline schools. It’s a fantastic program and we should continue to push for more funding.

 

The School District is separately administered by an elected school board, and the education and encouragement component comes through them. The City is responsible for engineering and enforcement. Our biggest need is more sidewalks. It is one of my top campaign issues, and is by far the most-desired thing when I meet Shoreline residents at their doors or in the community. We have a patchwork of some pedestrian-friendly streets and a huge number of roads that have neither sidewalks nor safe road crossings. Improving those streets, starting with schools and then progressing out to as-yet unimproved arterials, is a top priority. We can ensure continued funding by demonstrating results, both in completed projects and by keeping statistics that these projects actually work to reduce pedestrian-vehicle conflicts.

 

2) Government agencies:

The Washington Department of Transportation, Federal DOT for Aurora, I-5, and potentially other major projects, Seattle and King County for 145th Street, and the Legislature for funding. The best way to liase with these agencies is to keep them involved in our projects and our needs. Like any other stakeholders, we can get the most cooperation by listening to their concerns and respecting that they have limited funding while at the same time educating and reinforcing that we have significant walkability issues throughout Shoreline.

 

3) Pedestrian fatalities:

I absolutely support Vision Zero and am familiar with its precepts—that in order to hit zero fatalities we have to design streets to be ped- and bike-friendly, and not rely on individual driver judgment to protect non-motorized travelers. In Shoreline, our biggest challenge is our incomplete pedestrian infrastructure. Improving it—through major reconstruction projects like we’re considering on 185th and 145th, and on smaller block-by-block improvements as we can find funding—is one of my top campaign issues.

 

4) Light rail:

I’m currently chair of the planning commission, and previously served on the planning commission’s light-rail station area subcommittee. I’ve been deeply involved in planning for walkability—and transit and bicycle access—from the start. On 185th, we’re focusing on building pedestrian improvements on 185th and the North-South arterials that feed into it. Those are Shoreline-owned streets, and the challenge is of course finding funding. Sound Transit will provide some, but Shoreline has to be prepared to fund a major portion of safe pedestrian access to the 185th station on its own—and probably long before we have significant impact fees from development.

 

145th is more complicated. 145th itself is currently a disaster for pedestrians. And it’s owned half by Seattle and half by King County, and is further dedicated as a State Highway. We’ve convened a stakeholders group containing all these players to plan for roadway improvements. Every proposed plan has walkability and pedestrian access to the station as a component, and I’ll fight hard to make sure that’s implemented. We also need to continue lobbying Sound Transit for a separate pedestrian bridge at 155th. Because of the golf course and school on the south side of 145th, most of the walkshed is to the north, meaning that we should accommodate pedestrian crossing of 155th near the housing and the station, rather than forcing a detour to 145th.

 

5) 145th Street:

As chair of Shoreline’s planning commission, I made the motion to delay upzoning anything around the 145th street station until the corridor study was done. I’ve closely followed the progress of the study group. 145th currently has totally inadequate pedestrian infrastructure—few safe road crossings, inadequately-sized sidewalks with power poles in the middle of them, and no barrier between high-speed, high-volume traffic and walkways. We absolutely must get ADA-compliant sidewalks on 145th, and safe road crossings. But I’m also convinced that we need to construct a pedestrian network to the north, on 155th, 5th, and other north-south and east-west streets. Most pedestrians are going to be coming to the station from the north, and we need to encourage pedestrian travel from existing and future housing rather than forcing a detour to 145th.

 

Jesse Salomon, Position 6

 

1) Safe Routes to School:

We have actively sought grants to fund and build sidewalks around our elementary schools in Shoreline. We have been very successful in this endeavor. I have supported setting aside significant grant match money from our general fund budget to be in position to quickly compete for any grant opportunities.

 

2) Government agencies:

We have been working with Sound Transit in siting two light rail stations in Shoreline. In addition I recently supported a rezone at one of the station areas. I am proud to say that because of that vote more people will be able to live near to and access light rail. The density allowances provided, and the planned action EIS (which proactively accounts for environmental impact and mitigation) will make density and a walkable community a reality much sooner than would have happened otherwise.

 

3) Pedestrian fatalities:

I lost my mother when she was struck by a car while riding her bicycle. I take this issue seriously. In Shoreline we have recently constructed bike trails with physical separation from roads and protection from cars. These new routes are designed to connect to major bike routes such as the Burke Gilman trail. We have also built more sidewalks and are adding on street bike lanes (which are helpful but not as good as investments in separated trails and lanes0. I am proud to have been endorsed by the Cascade Bicycle Club.

 

4) Light rail:

We are actively working with King County Metro to route busses to have frequent connections that bring people directly to the stations.

 

5) 145th Street:

We are currently looking at several designs including adding transit lanes, wider sidewalks that remove the current utility poles which prevent wheelchair passage, upgrading the pedestrian corridor to make it comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and adding bike lanes.

 

Snohomish County Executive

 

John Lovick, District 7

 

1) Safe Routes to School:

In my 2014 budget we started a program in Snohomish County called Safe Kids Improved Pathways (SKIP). We have built sidewalks and walkways at nearly all of the grade schools in unincorporated Snohomish County. Children no longer have to walk in traffic on their way to and from school. We had young children walking in the roadway prior to implementation of SKIP.

 

2) Government agencies:

I was a Washington State Trooper for 31 years and County Sheriff for 5 ½ years. Law enforcement agencies are big partners in promoting walkable communities. We need to not only be safe but also feel safe in our communities. Other agencies include The Department of Transportation, public works, school districts and the community at large. I would suggest a task force on pedestrian safety. With 5000 pedestrians killed and nearly 80,000 injured nationwide each year, this has to be a high priority in all communities.

 

3) Pedestrian fatalities:

Pedestrian safety is something I worked on during my career as a state trooper and as a legislator. To add value to my points below, in 2013, nearly 5000 pedestrians were killed and almost 80,000 were injured nationwide.

 

I few things I would like to suggest are:

  1. Reduce the width of lanes in suburban and urban areas and add opportunities for bike lanes. Wider roads mean faster cars. Reduce the speed limit in residential areas. There is no reason to drive 25, 30 and 35 MPH in a residential neighborhood. Treat residential areas like school zones.
  2. Make crosswalks more visible and reduce the length of the crosswalks.
  3. No right turns on red light at busy intersections. I investigated several car pedestrian collisions at busy intersections where the vehicle was making a right turn on a red light.
  4. Education, legislation and enforcement (ELE). Better education, good public policy thru legislation and strict enforcement of traffic laws. Zero tolerance for failure to yield to a pedestrian.
  5. Finally we should implement a pedestrian safety campaign in every communoty. Two minutes at each council meeting to talk about the importance of pedestrian safety. We should also have a conversation with federal officials about the utility of backup cameras in cars.

 

Tacoma City Council

 

Conor McCarthy, District 7

 

1) Safe Routes to School:

As a father with two small children (including one first grader and one in Pre-K), ensuring the safe walking transit to and from school for our school children is extremely important to me. As a former City of Tacoma Public Works’ employee who worked closely with the Traffic Engineering Division, I know that the City can make a significant impact in ensuring safe passage to and from school with a range of traffic calming and pedestrian friendly improvements (including but not limited to: flashing-light cross walks, pedestrian signage, bulb-out curb extensions, medians, speed bumps, traffic cameras, etc). I was reminded of how important this issue is just last week, when two young girls were injured on their way to Mason middle school, while walking across 21st street. This street is dangerous to cross for pedestrians and we need to address this problem now.

 

I would support Safe Routes to School activities by working closely with the school district and PTA’s of individual schools to identify and prioritize specific projects and investments the City can make into ensuring safe routes to school. Then, I will work hard to secure the necessary funding for these capital improvements which make it safer for our children. I will also work hard to ensure that our land use planning, zoning, and permitting codes and procedures support and advance safe walkability throughout our City, especially in proximity to our schools.

 

2) Government agencies:

The School District is a key partner in identifying and supporting safe travel to and from school for our children. Pierce Transit and Sound Transit are also key partners in ensuring that the City is supporting safe travel to and from our neighborhoods and business districts to our transit centers and bus stops. Likewise, MetroParks is a key partner in ensuring safe and seamless walkability from our neighborhoods to our parks. Also, ensuring the active participation and collaboration of the City’s Traffic Engineering Division and the City’s ADA coordinator is imperative in establishing policy, programs and projects which improve walkability throughout our City. I have collaborated and worked with all of these entities on a variety of projects, in my previous work at the City. With a common objective in mind to improve walkability throughout our City, I am confident that I have the experience and skill-set to bring these agencies together to champion a more walkable City with progressive projects which meet the unique needs of all our neighborhoods.

 

3) Pedestrian fatalities:

First of all, we need to make an investment in our residential road network. Historically, the City has not had a sustainable funding source or business model for adequately maintaining our roads. Our infrastructure projects are mostly built with state and federal grant funds. These projects are primarily major streets, leaving the residential network largely unimproved and under-maintained, with significant walkability safety issues for our residents. During the recent recession, the City’s public works’ budget and personnel were reduced significantly as the City tightened its belt to adapt to a decrease in revenues. The results are apparent to all of us. Our roads are in bad shape. While we must continue to improve operational efficiencies, the gap in funding is significant. This November the City will ask the voters to approve an investment in our roads. If passed, over the next 10 years, these dollars will pave 167 blocks of gravel streets, resurface 1500 residential street blocks, and increase maintenance of 4200 residential street blocks. Very importantly, these investments will include investments in ensuring safer pedestrian thoroughfares and travel ways.

 

Secondly, we need to work with our local communities, neighborhood councils, business districts, and school PTA’s to identify the most dangerous areas for pedestrian walkability. Then, we need to establish specific programs and projects to address these problem areas, include the projects in our capital facilities planning process, and fund and build the pedestrian safety improvements without delay.

 

Yakima City Council

 

4) Complete Streets: In April 2014, the Yakima Valley Conference of Governments kicked off a Complete Streets program to promote road safety and accessibility for all users. In 2015, the program won a competitive Walkable Washington Innovation Award. How will you ensure Complete Streets are adopted, funded, and implemented in more jurisdictions in Yakima County?

 

Holly Cousens, District 7

 

1) Safe Routes to School:

I would direct the city to take advantage of Feet First’s expertise to help us ensure that that we have safe routes to our schools.

 

2) Government agencies:

City, county, and state governments and transportation departments, school districts, parent teacher organizations.

 

3) Pedestrian fatalities:

I will identify the the steps we have taken, investigate additional steps, and work to implepent them.

 

3) Complete Streets:

I will work to ensure it’s fully implemented in Yakima.