Burien Safe Sidewalks Now

Debunking falsehoods

October 27, 2009
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A recent letter to the editor of the Highline Times by an opponent of the Sidewalks and Bikes Levy made some not-quite-accurate statements about the projects.

  • “Joe Fitzgibbons [sp] suggested on the Transportation Choices Coalition Web site that this is a trial balloon to see if Burien can get residents to vote for this type of a tax.”  Nothing could be further from the truth.  It is true that the vote will allow us to see if residents will vote for a vehicle license fee to pay for needed transportation improvements–isn’t that the point of having a vote?   But that’s very different from the inaccurate and irresponsible claim that “this is a trial balloon.”  It’s likely that other cities around the region will be watching to see if Burien voters believe that safe walking and biking routes are a high priority, as I said on the TCC blog, but it would be pretty ridiculous to suggest that the City Council put it to the voters for that reason–something only suggested by the levy’s opponent in her letter.
  • “Burien is one of the highest taxed cities in King County.”  This statement is so ludicrous that it’s hard to know where to start!  It’s hard to debunk when the author makes no effort to cite where she got this idea.
  • “Both 8th Ave and South 136th have light use by both pedestrians and bikes.”  Huh?  During September’s statewide bike and pedestrian count sponsored by the Cascade Bicycle Club, I stood in the cold at the corner of 136th and 8th to count bikers and pedestrians and counted 37 between 4 PM and 6 PM.  I wouldn’t call that light use, especially when considering how many of them were students at Cedarhurst Elementary and Kennedy High School.  Does the author of this letter believe that those students don’t deserve safe walking and biking routes to school?  One wonders how she defines “light use.”
  • “no information was presented about: the projects costs, amount to be collected from this tax, what other grants/sources could help with the projects[.]”  This information wasn’t presented at the City Council meeting she references, but it wasn’t hard for me to find out!  I just asked.  Did the letter’s author ask city staff to provide this information?  It took me one easy email to find out that the projects would cost between $850,000 and $1,050,000 and that the city was also seeking an Urban Vitality Grant from the Public Works Board to help fund the project.

It’s clear that the opponents of the Sidewalks and Bikes Levy will try to confuse voters with an array of unrelated accusations in order to get them to vote “no.”  However, they won’t address the central question that voters must decide in this vote: are we willing to pay a little bit more (7 cents a day more) in order to have safe walking and biking routes in our city?  I hope the voters of Burien will see through the attempts to confuse and say yes.


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Washington Conservation Voters endorses!

October 6, 2009
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I’m happy to announce that Washington Conservation Voters, the statewide political voice for the environment, has endorsed the Burien Sidewalks and Bikes Levy!

WCV stands up for policies that reduce carbon emissions and build better cities, and they are one more strong environmental voice joining us to say that Burien can do better when it comes to transportation.

Passing this levy will take funding for pedestrian and bike projects away from the ups and downs of the city’s biennial budget process and will make sure that we keep moving ahead with projects.  It will keep pedestrian and bike projects from competing for funding with other city priorities, like parks, roads, and public safety.

WCV recognized this and gave us a strong endorsement.  Thanks, WCV!

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Statewide bike/pedestrian count

September 26, 2009
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If you’re interested in helping secure more data that can be used to back up efforts to improve bike and pedestrian facilities throughout Washington state, including here in Burien, consider signing up to participate in Washington’s first statewide bike/pedestrian count, organized by the Washington State Department of Transportation and the Cascade Bicycle Club (an endorser of the Burien Sidewalks and Bikes Levy!).  Follow this link to sign up.

In Burien, there are still 19 shifts that need to be filled, including several that adjoin the proposed improvements from the Sidewalks and Bikes Levy.  If you’re not able to contribute financially, this is a great free way to help out.

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Crunch time

September 23, 2009
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Believe it or not, the November 3 election is a mere 6 weeks away, and Safe Sidewalks Now is picking up the pace.  We’re getting ready to order our yard signs, and the number we order is contingent on how much money we’ve got in the bank.

Passing the Sidewalks and Bikes Levy will help Burien take a big step forward in building a walkable, bikeable, livable, and “green” city, and it will spur other suburbs throughout the region to pick up the pace on their own bike/pedestrian projects.  It will advance the goal of building “Safe Routes to School,” enabling kids to safely walk and bike to school.

But we can’t do it without your help!  Please make a contribution (see info in the sidebar) or share your endorsement in the comments.

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Establishing safe routes to school

September 23, 2009
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One of the most important reasons to vote YES on the Burien Sidewalks and Bikes Levy is the fact that it will provide safe routes to school for students at Cedarhurst Elementary School.  Cedarhurst, at 611 S 132nd St, is near the intersection of the two projects funded by the levy, a walking and bike path on 8th Ave S and sidewalks and bike lanes on S and SW 136th St.  These projects will enable kids from throughout the neighborhood to walk and bike to school on these two busy arterials without having to content with arterial traffic.

Safe routes to school are increasingly a hot topic, garnering interest from groups as diverse as public health advocates, urban planners, and education groups.  The Federal Highway Administration has a Safe Routes to School program, as do state and local transportation departments nationwide.  Promoting safe routes to school is now, as of 2009, an official goal of Washington state law.

Here’s why it matters. Enabling kids to walk and bike to school safely helps them develop an active, healthy lifestyle that means they are more likely to stay active and healthy into adulthood.  It saves their parents time and money often spend shuttling their kids to and from school and extracurriculars.  It saves school districts money on transportation, which is consuming an ever-larger slice of the limited money available to educate kids ($630 per pupil per year on average in Washington).  It reduces fuel consumption and air pollution.  Most importantly, it keep kids safer and makes them less likely to be involved in a car accidents.

Safe routes to school keep kids healthier and safer and are easier on parents and on school districts.  Providing safe routes to school is a smart investment that will provide dividends many times over.

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Seattle moves forward on Pedestrian Master Plan

September 22, 2009
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Our big neighbor to the north, Seattle, is moving ahead with the adoption of its own updated Pedestrian Master Plan.

As Slog and the PI both note, Seattle’s plan for building sidewalks and other pedestrian improvements may be encumbered by the lack of a dedicated revenue stream for implementing the Pedestrian Master Plan.  Burien and Seattle both have ambitious lists of projects to make getting around by foot and bike easier.  But these projects must compete with varying other city priorities, like roads, police, and parks.

By securing a dedicated revenue stream for pedestrian projects, Burien will be a big step ahead of where we are now and a big step ahead of Seattle.  We’ll make big progress on our to-do list, as opposed to the very slow progress we are making today.  One more reason to vote YES on the Sidewalks and Bikes Levy!

Plan to make Seattle more walkable approved by City Council

Will there be money in tough times to follow through?


The City Council on Monday approved the city’s pedestrian master plan, a resolution that advocates for spending up to $15 million a year in the future to make Seattle a more walkable city.

“This is a huge milestone,” said Councilmember Sally Clark. “This is about recognizing that transportation is truly multi-modal in Seattle.” …

City Council members are hopeful that when Mayor Greg Nickels presents his budget for 2010 later this month that it will include significant money for making the city easier to navigate on foot.

Seattle, like many governments, is facing budget problems. The city’s estimated operating deficit for next year is $72 million.

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September 16, 2009
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Many advocacy groups and elected officials are supporting the Sidewalks and Bikes Levy.

Some advocate for better community health and support the campaign because it enables Burien residents to adopt more active and healthy lifestyles.

Some advocate for the environment and support the campaign because it enables people to utilize new modes of transportation, like walking, biking, and transit.

Finally, our elected officials and the 34th District Democrats just want to make Burien a better place in general.

  • 34th District Democrats
  • Sen. Joe McDermott (D-34), strong advocate for kids and schools
  • Rep. Eileen Cody (D-34), chair of the Health Care & Wellness Committee and a strong advocate of healthy, active lifestyles
  • Rep. Sharon Nelson (D-34), strong advocate for building more transit-, pedestrian-, and bicycle-friendly communities and for environmental protection
  • Rep. Dave Upthegrove (D-33), chair of the Ecology & Parks Committee and the Legislature’s biggest supporter of efforts to reduce climate pollution

More endorsements are on the way.  If you endorse, let us know in the comments!

Posted in Endorsements

The worst part of a campaign…

September 16, 2009
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is also one of the most important.  We need some (not much!) money in order to help get the word out about the Sidewalks and Bikes Levy–for yard signs, mail pieces, and other voter contact.

We’re very grateful to those who have contributed already.  Safe Sidewalks Now has raised $250 since receiving our first check a week ago!

We will need around $1000 in order to get the message out.  Anything you are able to contribute would go directly towards the most effective ways to reach out to voters that we can afford.  Our most immediate need is to produce yard signs.

If you are able to contribute, please do so today.  The election is just 57 days away, and ballots will start arriving in mailboxes in about 40 days!

Checks should be made out to Safe Sidewalks Now and mailed to 615 SW Ambaum Blvd #204, Burien, WA, 98166.  Please include your job title, employer, and your employer’s address, so we can meet the Public Disclosure Commission’s reporting requirements.

Anything you are able to contribute will help.  Thanks!

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Walkability improves home value

September 15, 2009
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A recent study by CEOs for Cities entitled “Walking the Walk” demonstrates that:

More than just a pleasant amenity, the walkability of cities translates directly into increases in home values. Homes located in more walkable neighborhoods—those with a mix of common daily shopping and social destinations within a short distance—command a price premium over otherwise similar homes in less walkable areas. Houses with the above-average levels of walkability command a premium of about $4,000 to $34,000 over houses with just average levels of walkability in the typical metropolitan areas studied….

This research makes it clear that walkability is strongly associated with higher housing values in nearly all metropolitan areas. The choice, convenience and variety of walkable neighborhoods are reflected in housing markets and are the product of consumer demand for these attributes. The nation’s urban leaders should pay close attention to walkability as a key measure of urban vitality and as impetus for public policy that will increase overall property values – a key source of individual wealth and of revenues for cash-strapped governments in a tough economy.

This further shows how everyone in Burien benefits when our city becomes more walkable, not just those who will directly use the pedestrian and bicycle facilities created by the Transportation Benefit District.  Walkable communities are livable, sustainable, desirable communities!

Hat tip to City Parks Blog.

Posted in News

Blog post on Transportation Choices Coalition’s blog

September 15, 2009
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Thanks to TCC for letting us write a guest post on their excellent blog!

The post is titled Creating Safer and Healthier Suburbs, Starting in Burien.  As you might expect, the focus is on the importance of this specific project towards getting more and better transportation options all over the Puget Sound region.  Check it out!

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    Safe Sidewalks Now
    615 SW Ambaum Blvd #204
    Burien, WA 98166

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