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Monday, March 15, 2010

City's Budget Shortfall Could Hinder Bike and Ped Improvements

Posted by on Mon, Mar 15, 2010 at 3:56 PM

Mayor Mike McGinn’s announcement last Thursday of serious city budget cuts coming in April, though unspecified at this point, is already sparking concern from local transportation advocacy groups that promised improvements for cyclists and walkers could face serious delays—or be abandoned entirely.

David Hiller, advocacy director for the Cascade Bicycle Club, says that while voters approved funding for both the Bicycle and Pedestrian Master plans with the 2006 Bridging the Gap levy, there are still over $100 million in unfunded projects promised under the Bicycle Master Plan (which the City Council passed in 2007). "There are very large capital projects coming down the pipeline that we foresee difficulty getting funding for [given the budget shortfall]," Hiller says. Examples include, "real improvements to the Ballard Bridge, and the overpass at 47th that connects the U-District to Wallingford."

Hiller and other urban transportation advocates also worry that citywide staffing cuts will seriously delay planned projects. At the briefing last Thursday, McGinn repeatedly stressed his desire to minimize mid-year layoffs, but also acknowledged that by the end of April, “everything will be on the table,” including notifying departments of staffing changes.

That's the problem, says Hiller. “If you lose engineers, planners, administration support, community outreach, the people who keep the wheels greased and running, it will delay the implementation of the plans.” Hiller adds that although bicycling and walking make up nearly 10 percent of all trips in Puget Sound, they generally receive less than two percent of capital construction funds. A loss of dedicated manpower for these projects could put a stranglehold on Seattle’s goal to become the nation’s most walkable city.

News of Seattle’s budget woes follow a legislative session that killed many bills championed by environmental and transportation groups. (Among the bills that died: The Complete Streets grant program (HB 2911), focusing on bike and pedestrian safety in driving schools (HB 3001), and the Vulnerable User Law (SB 5838), which would have imposed more stringent consequences on drivers who cause death or serious injury to cyclists and pedestrians.)

“At this point, we must raise revenue so these projects will continue,” Hiller says, although he can't say how just yet, or who "we" refers to. The most Hiller would say is that transportation and environmental groups are planning to approach the city council in April—around the time McGinn throws everything on the table—with concrete ideas for keeping Seattle's Biking and Pedestrian Master plans funded and on schedule.

 

Comments (18) RSS

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21
@20 "I am not a suburbanite. I wish I was though..." Then LEAVE. What's stopping you?
Yeah I looked at the tax code and I looked longer at the actual budget. The vast majority of local roads are paid for locally.
Posted by kurisu on March 17, 2010 at 11:31 AM · Report this
mrbombit 20
@ Will. You are intitled your own opinions, but not you own logic/facts.

Local roads are paid for by EVERY CITIZEN IN THE STATE. Look at the tax code instead of talking out of you ass.

And ps....I live on the hill jackass. I am not a suburbanite. I wish I was though, then I would own a house one a lot bigger than a postal stamp. But if hurling supposed insults is how you deal with people calling out your faulty logic, go right ahead. It seems to work for most people that dont know what they are talking about.
Posted by mrbombit on March 16, 2010 at 2:00 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 19
@17 - I stand by my statement.

Local roads are paid for by the citizens and property owners of the city - NOT you suburbanites.

Bikes own the roads - cause we live here.
Posted by Will in Seattle http://www.facebook.com/WillSeattle on March 16, 2010 at 10:58 AM · Report this
mrbombit 17
@Will. You are an idiot. Anyone that has a Washington State license plate, WA State registration, pays insurance to an insurance company, buys gas, or buy/sales their car contributes more to Seattle's tax base than someone who solely bikes(assuming they both live half ass normal lives and shop regularly). Living outside the city does not necessarily exclude your tax dollars from finding their way into the city. The State legislator factors in how many people travel to or through Seattle. That is why Seattle sees an unproportionate amount of tax dollars per capita for capital projects.
Posted by mrbombit on March 16, 2010 at 2:39 AM · Report this
16
"Hiller adds that although bicycling and walking make up nearly 10 percent of all trips in Puget Sound, they generally receive less than two percent of capital construction funds."

Huh, I guess cyclists don't use roads or sidewalks anywhere in the City anymore. How strange!
Posted by Cow on March 16, 2010 at 12:23 AM · Report this
emor 13
While those are some okay suggestions, everybody, I'm just going to keep on riding my bike whether or not the city spends money on "bike improvements." I have a hunch that might be the best plan.
Posted by emor on March 15, 2010 at 7:57 PM · Report this
12
slash tires - lots of them
Posted by kinaidos on March 15, 2010 at 7:06 PM · Report this
Super Jesse 11
@10 - Why not? What you don't think that people tend to walk and ride bikes more when they're broke?
Posted by Super Jesse on March 15, 2010 at 7:01 PM · Report this
10
Great, during a deficit like the one we have now our money should not be going towards bike lanes and pedestrian improvements.
Posted by tyweezie on March 15, 2010 at 5:43 PM · Report this
DOUG. 9
I'm guessing the unemployment rate in the construction sector is pretty high around these parts. Find the money and start building stuff, Mister Mayor.
Posted by DOUG. http://www.dougsvotersguide.com on March 15, 2010 at 5:36 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 8
All cyclists in Seattle are, for the overwhelming majority, citizens of Seattle or their dependents, and pay taxes locally.

The same can NOT be said for people using our roadways for their cars.

It's obvious where the cuts need to be - on the expensive cars-only parts, not the sidewalks or bike paths that are far far cheaper and used by we the citizens and our visiting tourists, not the suburban tax-subsidized car-using suburban wastrels.

(man I love hoisting tea baggers and libertarians by their own petards)
Posted by Will in Seattle http://www.facebook.com/WillSeattle on March 15, 2010 at 5:32 PM · Report this
Sargon Bighorn 7
The city's budget short fall could hinder pedestrian and bike paths. That's all? Just those two? Well jumped up Jesus! Of course more projects are going to be put on hold for the foreseeable future. That's why it's called a depression, oops too harsh, I mean recession. Which you would all agree is now over and things are getting better; because that's what the government says.
Posted by Sargon Bighorn on March 15, 2010 at 5:22 PM · Report this
Baconcat 6
@4: Sarc mark
Posted by Baconcat on March 15, 2010 at 4:50 PM · Report this
Andy_Squirrel 5
@3 about the time gas prices shot up and Toyota's started losing their ability to brake.
Posted by Andy_Squirrel on March 15, 2010 at 4:49 PM · Report this
theophrastus 4
@1 Great idea! but not fine enough in resolution. For instance, Ballard is too diverse a place to be on the receiving end of our excellent plan to redress the evil that is Leschi and Broadmore. So it must judged block by block. North of NW 65th and east of 24th Ave receives your redistributed largess while to the west of 24th: nothing! Each block and each house being judged by its intrinsic bike (and to a lesser degree "ped") friendliness. The goats upon the left the sheep upon the right! Oh there shall be a reckoning south of Aloha and east of 23rd there shall be...
Posted by theophrastus on March 15, 2010 at 4:45 PM · Report this
3
When did bike lanes become the most important economic-downturn issue in Seattle?
Posted by sarah68 on March 15, 2010 at 4:35 PM · Report this
Andy_Squirrel 2
did you mean overpass at 45th not 47th?
Posted by Andy_Squirrel on March 15, 2010 at 4:09 PM · Report this
Baconcat 1
Play hardball.

Cut certain funding for areas like Broadmoor, Madison, Leschi, far West Seattle, certain shoreline areas and so on and so forth. Pass the savings to places like Ballard, Capitol Hill, Columbia City, etc., including these bike/ped improvements.
Posted by Baconcat on March 15, 2010 at 4:04 PM · Report this

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