Seattle Budget Success Lays the Groundwork for Safe Streets in 2022

Rachel Schaeffer

Rachel Schaeffer

With the city facing a tighter than anticipated budget forecast, you helped ensure that essential investments in safe streets still made their way across the finish line. The 2022 budget directs funding increases to Vision Zero and other programs to protect the city’s most vulnerable road users - people biking and walking.

The 2022 Seattle budget process is complete, and with it, critical wins for safe streets and the people who bike, walk, and roll along them. With your help, the budget provides triple the funding for the city’s Vision Zero program; more accountability as the city replaces the Bike Master Plan; and funds for re-imagining Lake Washington Boulevard plus increasing free access to adaptive bikes.  

More Vision Zero dollars, for now 

Thanks to the scores of caring neighbors like you who spoke up at public hearings and sent letters to city leaders, funding for Vision Zero will be three times higher in 2022 than it was in 2021. That funding increase translates to more crosswalks, streetlights, protected bike lanes, and other life-saving safety improvements. Redesigning our streets using these proven, effective measures make them safer, more accessible, and more pleasant to bike, walk, and roll on. 

It’s about time. While the city committed to eliminating serious injuries and traffic deaths on Seattle streets via the Vision Zero framework in 2015, results haven’t materialized. Limited funding for Vision Zero projects has limited what’s been possible. As a result, this year more people have died walking and biking on Seattle’s streets than any year since 2006. We recently commemorated these tragic and preventable losses on Nov. 21, the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims. 

This year, between the Mayor’s proposed budget and amendments from council, new funding through the Vehicle License Fee and the Commercial Parking Tax could make a difference in getting Vision Zero on track. But let’s be clear: the city must keep finding new ways to invest in safer streets for everyone. This funding increase is not a universal solution, nor is the funding guaranteed beyond 2022.   

A new plan on the horizon to shape the future of Seattle’s Bike Network 

The Seattle Bike Master Plan has shaped bike network investments since 2015. Developing the plan required a sustained investment of thousands of volunteer hours. People dedicated time to show up, speak up, and voice support for investments toward a connected, protected bike network across all of Seattle. The on-the-ground perspectives and local knowledge that community members hold is vital to building a bike network that works for all of us.  

City planners are gearing up to replace the Bike Master Plan, with outreach beginning early in 2022. During the budget process, a provision passed that requires the Seattle Department of Transportation to report back to council before they finish developing this plan. 

There’s more. This isn’t a straight replacement of the Bike Master Plan. This is an ambitious endeavor that will incorporate all four modal plans - bikes, pedestrians, transit, and freight - into one. A lot of behind the scenes planning, mapping, and assessment will go into this plan, but the budget provision now ensures that the public won’t be left in the dark along the way. 

As this new plan takes shape, we’ll be calling on safe streets advocates and caring neighbors like you to speak up to make sure Seattle’s bike network is safe, intuitive and accessible for people of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities.  Sign up now to stay engaged and hear first about opportunities to show up and speak up. 

Other Budget Wins at a Glance 

In addition to Vision Zero funding and the Seattle Transportation Plan, several of our other priorities made it across the finish line: 

  • $200,000 for community outreach to improve public space along Lake Washington Blvd. for people walking, biking, and rolling

  • $25,000 for the Outdoors for All adaptive cycling program, which allows people with disabilities to rent adaptive bicycles for free

  • SDOT will formulate a plan to redesign the most dangerous portion of MLK Jr. Way to make it safer for everyone who travels along it 

  • SDOT will study how they could own the role of collecting street safety and crash data

The work doesn’t stop here. Now that the budget is complete, we’ll continue to hold the city accountable to their plans so that everyone who bikes - or wants to - can get where they want to go safely and easily. 


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