The People’s Manifesto: “A Better Way Forward”

We stand as a community facing significant choices about our cityís streets and neighborhoods ñ choices that will affect our future economically, environmentally, socially, and aesthetically. After decades of ever increasing automobile use, we now squarely confront the consequences of our past choices, and the promise of an entirely different approach.

If we continue the policies of the past, we guarantee the burden of high fuel costs, unsafe and hostile streets, congestion, pollution, and an increased contribution to global climate change.

If we adopt a new approach for our community, we have the opportunity to save money, increase neighborhood vitality, reduce pollution, and enhance the beauty and livability of our communities.

Our fine city is at a tipping point. Rising fuel prices have led many to leave their cars at home, overwhelming our local transit systems. Many households do not, or cannot, own cars (Currently 15% of Seattleís households). Neighborhoods throughout the city complain of being overwhelmed by auto traffic, making our streets unsafe for children, seniors or those with disabilities. And the genuine needs of business and freight are overwhelmed in a sea of cars.

We as a community have begun to respond. We have adopted a Bicycle Master Plan, and more are bicycling for transportation. We have adopted a ìComplete Streetsî policy to promote walking, biking and transit. We are starting a Pedestrian Master Plan. We have initiated plans for new streetcars and buses, and some of our communities will receive light rail. We are seriously contemplating replacing our waterfront highway by using our transit and streets better. These are promising signs that the public and elected leaders see the potential for a better way forward.

But we also know that these changes are just the start, and will not succeed if as an community we do not truly embrace the need for change. Now is the time to commit to using our public rights of way for a broader range of needs for a healthy, vibrant and sustainable city. Now is the time to accelerate the transition from a car-dependent transportation system to a truly affordable transportation system that meets our vision of a prosperous and just city.

Therefore, we agree on these principles:

  1. The public right of way belongs to all of us, and it should be reclaimed as multi-functional space that is safe and inviting for everyone, helps to build community, and enhances our quality of life.
  2. Walking, biking and transit are the ìnew normî, not ìalternatives.î Seattle residents should be able to live ìcar freeî and meet all their daily needs conveniently and safely by walking, biking, or taking transit.
  3. All our neighborhoods should be connected with frequent, reliable transit service-there should be no gaps in service anywhere! Seattle is made up of diverse terrain; therefore our approach to transportation should be creative and diverse. If the question is, ìlight rail or streetcars or buses?î The answer should be, ìYes. Plus, water taxis, aerial trams–whatever the best solution for the corridor in question may be.î
  4. Bus riders should be treated with dignity, which means
  • Buses should be frequent
  • There should be room for everyone to sit comfortably
  • Buses should be better designed, offering easy and efficient boarding, spacious seating, and plentiful light and air circulation.
  • Bus stops and waiting areas should be pleasant, comfortable, and safe, and offer accurate digital time schedules and route maps
  • If street design requires a choice between moving a full bus or a single occupancy vehicle, move the bus
  • Riding the bus should be more affordable than drivingóeven for those with subsidized parking

5. Finally, we canít afford to continue subsidizing automobile use. Our policies should reveal the high cost of automobile use borne by our communities.

We believe that taken together, these principles will lead to the transformation of Seattle into a better city. That is why the undersigned organizations support the ìStreets for Peopleî campaign, a sustained effort to reclaim our public rights of way for more sustainable, equitable and enjoyable modes of travel and enable the transportation investments to make our great city all the more livable.

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