2024 is off to an exciting start! Here at Transportation Choices Coalition, we’ve been busy onboarding our new Executive Director, Kirk Hovenkotter, and supporting safe, sustainable, and equitable transportation in the legislature. Our jaywalking reform bill made big moves this week — more on that below.
We’re also gearing up for a big year in Washington State transportation: We’ll be celebrating two new Link light rail project openings, working to renew the Seattle Transportation Levy, and helping to defeat a statewide initiative that threatens to repeal the Climate Commitment Act and slash funding for transit. We’ve got our work cut out for us, but we know we have a strong community behind us. Thank you for the many ways you support us!
Read on for a note from Kirk, engagement opportunities for youth, a new messaging resource to win more transit, and so much more!
– Transportation Choices Coalition
WHAT WE’VE BEEN UP TO
Our team visits with State Senator Rebecca Saldaña in Olympia before a press conference.
A Note from Our New Executive Director
I’m Kirk Hovenkotter, the new Executive Director of Transportation Choices Coalition. I am thrilled to lead the organization that gave me my start in transportation advocacy and to work with such an incredible staff, board, and community of supporters. Together, we will achieve our mission to secure safe, sustainable, and equitable transportation across Washington.
I love this work because we get to make meaningful change in the place that I call home and address some of the biggest challenges facing our State, from climate change to affordability. Building more just and accessible communities through our streets, trails, and transit is what gets me out of bed every morning.
Thanks to the advocacy of many of you, our “Free to Walk” bill to reform Washington’s jaywalking laws was voted out of the Senate Transportation Committee this week, pulled from the Rules Committee, and is on the Senate floor calendar! Thank you to everyone who signed in PRO and emailed legislators to help make this happen.
SB 5383 would limit police enforcement of jaywalking to situations where people have put themselves or others in danger. Lawmakers amended the bill to apply only to roadways of 35 MPH or less, and our preliminary analysis suggests that this would still curtail approximately four-fifths of jaywalking stops that occur at present.
In January, our team held a press conference in Olympia to release a first-of-its-kind research report showing that Black and unhoused people are disproportionately targeted for jaywalking. The bill and report have now been covered by KOMO, The Chronicle, UW’s The Daily, The Washington State Journal, KIMA, and StreetsBlog USA.
We’ll Be Digging Into the Data on Street Safety
Our Communications Manager, Natalie Lubsen, was recently selected to take part in a new Dangerous by Design Technical Assistance program offered by Smart Growth America. Natalie will join 14 other individuals from across the country to build skills around data and storytelling to advance safer streets. She’ll bring these skills back to TCC in order to strengthen our communications and advocacy for safe streets across Washington.
Read more about the program and participants.
What We’ve Learned About the Transit Workforce Shortage
A strong transit workforce is crucial to keep our communities moving — transit workers connect people to jobs, education, healthcare, and essential services. But right now, transit is facing an unprecedented workforce shortage.
Check out our new blog post to read about the roots of the shortage, our policy research, and how transit agencies are taking action.
WHAT’S COMING UP
New Kids On the Bus: Youth Mobility in Tacoma
With more young people choosing to opt out of driving, it’s important that we understand the needs and wants of youth as they navigate our cities. Join Tacoma’s Downtown On the Go for a panel exploring how youth get around Tacoma, why they make the choices they do, and how this can influence the way we think about transportation and city design. The panel includes our own McKenna Lux, Events & Engagement Manager at TCC!
Friday, February 23, from 12 – 1 PM
University of Washington in Tacoma, Milgard Hall Room 110
Zoom option available!
Register here whether you plan to attend in person or via Zoom.
Save the Date for a South Downtown Hub Workshop in Seattle
On the evening of Wednesday, February 28, Sound Transit will host a workshop to develop concepts for the transit hub and community connections around the South Downtown neighborhoods of Chinatown-International District and Pioneer Square. The goal is to partner with the community to develop, evaluate, and advance improvement projects and public transit connections in the CID and Pioneer Square area and find ways to increase public access to Union Station.
Wednesday, February 28, 4 – 7 PM
Union Station, 401 S Jackson Street, Seattle, WA 98104
More event details coming soon! Learn more here.
Learn About Transit Trekking
Join Kimberly Huntress Inskeep, author of The Transit Trekker Manual, a guide to help nondrivers more easily access the outdoors. Discover the joys and benefits of navigating local trails as well as planning a trip to Alaska using public transportation! Kimberly will share insights, tips, and real-life experiences that will inspire and empower you to embrace the convenience of public transit. This Travel Talk is hosted by Redmond Library in collaboration with Move Redmond.
Wednesday, March 6, 6:00 – 7:30 PM
Redmond Library, 15990 NE 85th Street, Redmond, WA 98052
Apply to Join Kitsap Transit’s Community Advisory Committee
Kitsap Transit’s Community Advisory Committee is now accepting applications for two-year terms starting in 2024. The 20-member Committee acts as a sounding board for Kitsap Transit policies and plans, provides a communication link between residents of the service area and Kitsap Transit’s Directors, and recommends plans, policies, and procedures to the Kitsap Transit Board of Commissioners.
Learn more and apply by February 19.
Young Adults: Apply to Serve on the Governor’s Environmental Justice Council
There is an incredible opportunity for an individual between the age of 18-25 to sit on the Governor’s Environmental Justice Council and have a significant influence on state policies, programs, and budgets to benefit low-income and BIPOC communities!
The Youth Representative position is open to a passionate and dedicated individual with lived experience, academic experience, or work experience with environmental justice. If you or someone you know has a desire to help Washington agencies incorporate environmental justice, apply here.
Teens: Become a Member of King County Metro’s SaFE Equity Workgroup
King County Metro is looking for young people from ages 15-19 to help shape the future of transit safety in King County. Metro’s Safety, Security, and Fare Enforcement (SaFE) Initiative wants to ensure the voices of youth are part of our SaFE Equity Workgroup, the panel that works with Metro to plan, prioritize, and evaluate projects to improve transit safety. The Equity Workgroup wants to add 3-4 young people to the group.
Learn more and apply by February 16.
K-12 Students: Participate in a 2-Line Safety Video Contest
There’s still time to submit an entry to the 2 Line Safety Video Contest hosted by Sound Transit and Move Redmond. K-12 students in the Bellevue and Lake Washington School Districts are invited to submit a vertical format video on the theme “Practicing safe habits around light rail.” Selected winners will receive a cash prize and have their videos displayed on Sound Transit’s social media.
View full submission guideline here. Entries are due by February 16.
WHAT WE’RE READING
Voters to decide on repeal of Washington cap-and-trade program — Washington State Standard
“Thus far, funding has gone into the purchase of electric school buses, free public transit for youth, air quality monitoring, and electric vehicle chargers.”
Why Jaywalking Reform Is an Unhoused Rights Issue — StreetsBlog USA
“In what may be the first statewide analysis of the housing status of pedestrians stopped for crossing against a signal, walking on the roadway, or otherwise using their streets in an unsanctioned way, researchers at Transportation Choices Coalition found that unhoused folks were involved in 41 percent of all stops between 2000 and 2023.”
Eastside light rail trains to start ‘practice runs’ between Bellevue and Redmond — King 5
“On Puget Sound’s eastside, the promise of a future light rail has had commuters chomping at the bit for years. However, we’re learning the future may not be so far away.”
South Sound on-demand ride service is now easier to use — KIRO
“An on-demand micro transit service called Runner is now available as part of Pierce Transit’s all-in-one app.”
It’s always nice when people make your job easier. That’s how I felt when our friends at TransitCenter released a new messaging handbook, How to Talk About Transit in a Way That Inspires. With a goal of increasing and broadening public support for transit, TransitCenter partnered with ASO Communications to develop and test race and class-conscious transit messages. The new handbook shares the results of that work, including a four-part narrative framework that can be adapted to different state and local contexts: 1) Lead with shared values–not with problems, 2) Emphasize the positive benefits of transit, 3) Name villains and expose their motivations, and 4) Close with a vision, desired outcomes, and call to action. As we head into some big campaigns to protect and expand transit funding this year, I’m excited to put this framework to use!
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