What the 2011/12 Mayor’s Budget means for alternative transportation and the South Park Bridge

From the Mayor’s office, re-posted from the South Park listserv. Original message is here.

The mayor proposed his 2011/2012 budget on Monday, September 27 th. Currently, the City Council is poised to strip out a core piece of the Department of Transportation’s budget.

*We need your help.*
There are very few sources of revenue that will allow us to cover the budget hole and make investments in Seattle’s neighborhoods. Without an increase in the Commercial Parking Tax (CPT–which is a tax on commercial pay parking lots), we will lose out on support for walking, biking, and transit. Core services will also go unfunded. With an increase in the CPT, pay lot owners can choose to pass the increase on directly to consumers or absorb it within their prices. Given the competitive market for parking, it is more likely it will be absorbed as a cost. If it is passed on and you choose to use private parking, the increase is only fifty cents on a ten dollar fee. Fifty cents gets us a considerable amount of community benefit.

*What’s at risk:* – *Walking, biking, and transit projects.*
Though the need is far greater than the amount we’re proposing, these funds will provide a big benefit for neighborhoods across Seattle and support Walk Bike Ride, which will make walking, biking, and riding transit the easiest ways to get around in Seattle. These include more Neighborhood Street Fund projects in neighborhoods across Seattle, more sidewalks, pedestrian lighting, and bicycle crossing improvements (which speed implementation of our Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plans), a boost to big projects like Linden Avenue North, Lake to Bay Loop, the Mountains to Sound Trail, the Chief Sealth Trail, and the Ballard Bridge, and much more. Visit our website for details of Walk Bike Ride projects included in the budget.

*Core services that provide a big benefit*
The CPT gives us funding for things like neighborhood traffic services, bridge maintenance, freight mobility services, traffic operations, design and planning, and much more.

*Support for the South Park Bridge*
The city’s contribution to the South Park Bridge (through commercial parking tax revenue) puts us right on track to meet our $15 million commitment to bridge replacement. The future of these projects and services –*nearly $10 million in funding for 2011, and $10 million for 2012* – now lies with the City Council. They are currently taking public comment on what your priorities are. Please let them know that keeping the increase in the Commercial Parking Tax as proposed in Mayor Mike McGinn’s budget is important to you. –Make your comment online –Tell the City Council what’s important to you in person, at one of the two remaining public hearings they’ve scheduled.

  • *Wednesday, October 13*
    The Brockey Center at South Seattle Community College 6000 16th Avenue SW, 98106 5 p.m. Sign-in 5:30 p.m. Public Hearing
  • *Tuesday, October 26*
    Seattle City Hall Council Chambers, 2nd floor 600 Fourth Avenue, 98104 5 p.m. Sign-in 5:30 p.m. Public Hearing

Learn more here.

Ruminations from ECOSS’ bike nut

Last Spring I organized a small ECOSS team for Bike-to-Work Month, an annual competition that encourages employees of local businesses and organizations to commute by bike. It’s a well-timed event at the end of Seattle’s bike-unfriendly winter season, and it’s a great way of getting new riders on bikes since there is added safety in the increased number of cyclists on the road. The sponsoring organization, Cascade Bicycle Club, even calculates the amount of CO2 each team offsets by riding rather than driving to work. Last year, our ECOSS team of four avoided putting about a ton and a half of CO2 in the atmosphere. Imagine if every workplace in Seattle did the same or better!

I realize that not everyone loves bikes or biking as much as I do, but I think more people would enjoy it if they gave it a shot. It’s true there are many barriers to riding–safety, weather, experience, those darn Seattle hills–but for every barrier there are several solutions. Riding with a friend and wearing appropriate clothing are two actions that can address several of those challenges, and as for those hills, well, they’re a great way to get in shape. 🙂 So as the weather starts to loosen its icy grip and let the sun back in, I hope you’ll consider trying out biking to get around, or if you already bike, that you’ll take a newbie under your wing. The sustainability implications of biking vs. driving are obvious, but I think many will find that it’s more fun, too.

– Aldan Shank

Helpful links:
Cascade Bicycle Club – Fantastic resource for all riders.
Bike to Work Month – Learn how to start a team of your own!
Bicycle Alliance of Washington – Another splendid resource for riders; features a calendar of group rides and other events.
City of Seattle Bike Program – The City’s official website for making Seattle a great place to ride.
Maps! – Want to ride around those hills instead of over them? Links to maps with the best routes for two-wheeled, person-powered transport.
Seattle Bike Swap – Want a bike but need a bike? This is a great place to start. Amazing deals on amazing bikes. Check it out–it’s only days away (Feb 21st)!