5. Between 2010 to 2018, downtown Seattle added over 85,000 jobs. During this time, we have seen a major shift in how the majority of people get to and around downtown, with percentage of people driving alone to their jobs shrinking to roughly 25%. Still, as the regional transportation and economic hub, downtown street space is at a premium. What steps do we need to take over the next two-to-four years to ensure that people can access downtown and that our streets work well for all users?
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It’s a balance of interests as a truly multi-modal city. With limited road space, we absolutely need to prioritize public transit, not just through downtown, but throughout Seattle in order to access downtown. We need to ensure that cyclists and pedestrians have safe facilities.
To make public transit a viable option for those not already using it, we need to solve the first mile/ last mile to access it. Beyond car-sharing and bicycle-sharing, an idea to improve mobility which is non-polluting is electric scooters. I’m glad the city is interested in a pilot project. In the cities where they are allowed, they are extremely popular. I had the opportunity to use them in L.A. They would not only lower our carbon footprint, at the same time, they’d offer a new low-cost and convenient transportation option. Of course, safety is an issue, so we need to encourage helmet use. Scooters shouldn’t be allowed on our sidewalks to interfere with pedestrians, so they’d be used on our streets and in our bicycle lanes. We also need corrals for docking so we don’t clutter our pedestrian right-of-ways. As more people use scooters and bicycles, hopefully, fewer people will drive.
We are likely too early to consider congestion pricing until our regional transportation network is more robust. Once it is, it’s worth considering. It will no-doubt be controversial at the beginning, just like the U-Pass was at the UW when I advocated for that as student body president in 1990-91. Now it’s replicated all over the country. In time, we may come to embrace congestion pricing. To address equity concerns, why not implement a sliding scale for commuters based on income and type of driver with different structures for freight, delivery vehicles, work vehicles, carpools, and standard commuters. And perhaps only charge for peak times? If drivers utilize a “Good-To-Go” pass, it enables us to introduce a sliding scale payment structure. Seattle needs to move forward carefully. We don’t want to discourage people from coming downtown.
I’m glad that the City is moving forward with the Center City Connector. We need to have a long-range vision to move not only the people of today, but the people of tomorrow and those numbers are growing beyond expectations.
I’m excited by your Third Avenue Vision and its focus on an activated, pedestrian-friendly corridor with improved infrastructure, added safety and cleanliness, and much healthier and more vibrant streetscapes. I agree that electric buses need to be prioritized to mitigate pollution, noise and our carbon footprint.
If elected, I’ll look to your organization for more ideas so we can make commutes for workers downtown easier, and so we attract more visitors, diners, shoppers and residents downtown while easing congestion on our limited roadways. I agree with your focus on improving pedestrian safety and prioritizing people-centered mobility
For my parent’s generation the car and ability to drive was a signal of freedom and for my generation – not relying on driving a car is our signal of freedom. We need to look to international cities for models on how we streamline downtown streets so that cars, trucks, and people can keep moving. When we have gridlock, everyone gets stuck.
This means enforcing blocking the box violations, providing safe places for people to bicycle and scoot, ensuring transit doesn’t get stuck in traffic, and keeping traffic moving for people who have no choice but to drive.