Election season is here

Monday marked the beginning of Filing Week, when hundreds of candidates in Washington officially begin their runs for the November election. Cascade Bicycle Club is one of only a handful of bicycle advocacy organizations around the country that endorse candidates for office. Members are notified by email, through the Cascade Courier and other communications about which candidates have been endorsed. Cascade members, staff and board also make voluntary financial contributions to candidates using Bike PAC.

You can contribute to Bike PAC to support bike-friendly candidates

Local endorsements are important because elected officials in our cities and counties have the most control over the safety and state of repair of the roads we use every day. Funding is a major challenge given the state of the economy and the fact that the gas tax has not kept up with construction costs. Local governments are forced either to delay repairs and new projects, or to raise new money to repair local roads. Since bicyclists are even more affected by potholes and other road problems than drivers are, we have a vested interest in local ballot measures like Seattle's Bridging the Gap levy in 2006 and may spend significant resources to ensure their passage.

The first step for candidates seeking Cascade's endorsement is to fill out an endorsement questionnaire using the following links as soon as possible. The questionnaire gives background on bicycle issues to educate candidates and allows Cascade to hold them accountable to their stated positions. It is is slightly different for:

1. Most jurisdictions;
2. Cities with Complete Streets Policies; and
3. Seattle.

More than the next shiny new trail, Cascade's priority is making sure decision makers -- and transportation and public works departments that build roads -- have the right tools to include bicycling in the planning process. Complete Streets is a growing movement around North America to design roads to encourage for all types of transportation.

Cascade Bicycle Club has developed a guide to Complete Streets for several King County cities, using examples of those like Kirkland and  that have policies in place. You can download it here (pdf). Governor Gregoire recently signed a bill that will create a statewide Complete Streets grant program, and cities from Spokane to University Place are developing local policies to be competitive and receive these and other potential funds.

Bike-friendly candidates often are not those who ride the most miles themselves. Cascade endorses those candidates who we feel will help get more people bicycling, more often, more safely. This means working with our organization on policy changes and seizing opportunities for new infrastructure.

Ballot measures can be crucial to keep roads from deteriorating and build bike infrastructure

Once questionnaires are evaluated, Cascade staff make a recommendation to the board of directors, who discuss and vote on candidates in accordance with Cascade's Endorsement Policies and Procedures (pdf). We expect to endorse a small number of candidates in the August primary election, the majority of whom may be incumbent office holders with bike-friendly records. Staff and board will have time to evaluate more candidates for November's general election.

Stay tuned for a first round of endorsements, and direct any questions to campaigns@cascadebicycleclub.org. If you know of bike-friendly candidates for office, please encourage them to proactively contact Cascade and seek support. And if you're thinking about throwing your own hat in the ring, remember to file with King County elections or your county auditor's office this week!