The plan serves as a compass for charting new territory, where active transportation connections are incomplete or nonexistent, to create a path for others to use in the future, WSDOT says. The plan assesses the needs for accessible pedestrian and bicyclist facilities, highlights safety concerns, and provides the first-ever examination of state right of way and its suitability for active transportation.
More people than ever are walking and bicycling—according to WSDOT’s multimodal transportation dashboard—both as alternatives to transit use and to maintain physical and mental health during the pandemic. At the same time, vulnerable road users—people who walk, bike or roll—now make up about 21% of all traffic deaths, far out of proportion to the fatality rates for other modes of travel.
“Whether you drive, bike, walk, or roll, the state’s highway rights-of-way serve as the backbone of our transportation system,” WSDOT Secretary of Transportation Roger Millar said in a statement. “In the engagement for this plan, we heard very clearly that state routes need to connect people, not separate them. With this plan, we have new understanding to help us work with our partners to create complete, safer, and more accessible networks for each and every one of us, regardless of how we get around.”
The plan addresses the steadily increasing fatalities of vulnerable road users and identifies driving speed and roadway crossings as top factors.
WSDOT released the draft of the plan’s Part 1 in December 2020 and received more than 630 responses during the 8-week comment period. Those comments will help WSDOT identify policy topics in Part 2 of the plan, scheduled for release in 2021. In addition to relevant policy topics, Part 2 will include performance measures associated with the plan’s goals and next steps in developing an implementation and action plan.
SOURCE: Washington State DOT