Washington citizens interested in transportation issues converged on the State Capitol in Olympia on Tuesday for Transportation Advocacy Day 2013. Attendees “walked the talk” as they carpooled, biked, walked, and rode transit to the event. Participants traveled from as far as Walla Walla to speak up for balanced transportation funding, safer streets for biking and walking, funding for Safe Routes to School, and making health a goal for transportation policy.
Advocates gathered at United Churches in the morning to listen to speakers address the challenges of creating a balanced transportation funding package and learn about the status of key bills of interest to the group. Breakout sessions were held to provide attendees with more in depth information on effective advocacy, bicycle and pedestrian policies, transportation policy priorities, a primer on the transportation budget, and passenger train legislative challenges.
Then the real fun began! Participants were dispatched to Capitol Campus to meet with their legislators, attend transportation committee meetings and testify at public hearings. Transportation advocates met with over 70 legislators throughout the day. Public hearings were held on two bills that were of special interest to bicycle advocates: HB 1233 – establishing a health goal within statewide transportation planning, and SB 5564 – a safe passing bill.
I had the pleasure of meeting with my legislator Representative Joe Fitzgibbon and thanking him for his support for bicycling and transportation choices. Representative Fitzgibbon sits on the House Transportation Committee and is a co-sponsor of the Neighborhood Safe Streets bill. He proudly displays a letter he received from elementary school students in his district supporting Safe Routes to School.
The Bicycle Alliance of Washington was the lead organizer of Bicycle and Transportation Alternatives Lobby Day in 1997. Today, Transportation Advocacy Day has more than a dozen sponsoring organizations that bring 200 citizens to Olympia annually in support of transportation solutions for healthier, safer and livable communities.