GUEST EDITORIAL: Why Burien Should Approve The Transportation Benefit District

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[EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a Guest Editorial by Joe Fitzgibbon, Planning Commissioner for the City of Burien:]

by Joe Fitzgibbon

The residents of Burien will have the opportunity this November to vote YES for investments in bicycle and pedestrian facilities. For the price of a half tank of gas, we can make our city safer for our kids and families walking and biking.

As The B-Town Blog has previously reported, a YES vote on the Transportation Benefit District and the proposed $25 vehicle license fee will enable the City of Burien build bicycle lanes, provide safer connections to schools, and repair inadequate sidewalks to increase the mobility of our seniors. I hope you will join me in voting YES to approve this levy to make our city safer for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Over 400 Burien residents helped shape what we want our city to look like through the Bike and Pedestrian Master Plans. All agreed that our city would be a better place if people could easily get around on two feet or two wheels. Since then, the city has completed some projects, but our progress has slowed because of the competing demands on the city budget — roads, parks, and public safety.

A YES vote on the Sidewalks and Bikes Levy will enable the city to keep moving ahead with some of the highest priority projects from the Pedestrian and Bicycle Facilities Master Plan–specifically, improvements to S and SW 136th St and 8th Ave S.

This is a great time for us to tackle these improvements. Construction projects are coming in under budget because demand for residential construction has declined. It is likely that we won’t ever be able to build these projects more cheaply than we are able to right now.

The benefits of better pedestrian and bike infrastructure are numerous and include improved home value, making students safer, and saving school districts money that can instead be used for teaching. It can save you money too. It reduces emissions and makes our air cleaner. It encourages healthy and active lifestyles.

Opponents suggest the cost of improving pedestrian and bicyclist safety is too high and this is not the right time to make our streets safer for walkers and bikers like students at Kennedy High School and Cedarhurst Elementary.

I disagree. The cost of this investment is less than seven cents a day, per vehicle. We must not sacrifice the safety of our children and our quality of life here in Burien.

And our community partners all agree; organizations including the American Heart Association, Washington Conservation Voters, and the 34th District Democrats have all endorsed the Sidewalks and Bikes Levy.

If you have any questions, please email me at [email protected] Let’s vote YES for a healthier and safer Burien!

(Joe Fitzgibbon is helping lead the Safe Sidewalks Now campaign and is the chair of the Burien Planning Commission).

[EDITOR’S NOTE: We welcome all viewpoints, and will print those that do not contain libel and that pass our standards. All we ask is that Contributors use their real names, not lie or libel/slander anyone. Please email your opinion/letter to the editor by clicking here.]

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6 Responses to “GUEST EDITORIAL: Why Burien Should Approve The Transportation Benefit District”
  1. Anne says:

    It seems to me that 7 cents a day is a great deal for sidewalks in our city.

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    • Ray says:

      There are plenty of trees. We can plant more. I have a small nursery. I’ll donate some. There is no where to walk after dark in the winter months. Nice towns have nice places to stroll. And nice places to ride a bike. Let’s make living in Burien a little nicer.

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  2. Eric says:

    While I am a cyclist (its performance art, I call it “Fat Man on a Bicycle”) and I love to walk, in my neighborhood sidewalks and or bicycle lanes would mean the cutting down of numerous trees on the public right of way. This deforestation and loss of habitat, in my view, is worse than the benefit that will be gained through sidewalks and or bicycle lanes. Since this appears to be a one size fits all solution I cannot support it.

    I have already seen the City cut down large healthy trees to make way for sidewalks when the trees could have been saved. I do not have the faith that this attitude will change soon. Therefore I plan on voting no on this car tab tax.

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  3. tripC says:

    It seems that with all the things city money is spent on these days this is a small price to pay for the huge gain received. These proposed improvements would not only improve the aesthetics of two of the city’s well travelled roads, but also improve safety, and access for pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers for the long term. I drive, bike, and walk both of these roadways on a daily basis for exercise, and to get to, and from work in S. Seattle. I am almost daily confronted with, and witness issues that could lead to some form of accident. Many children, seniors, and a few disabled walk, wheelchair, and bike both S. and SW 136th St., and 8th Ave. S. daily, – they will benefit the most. Drivers, will benefit mostly in the form of a safer driving experience. As a driver, I would much rather these groups have a safe designated path than have them in and out, and exposed to traffic. A large majority of the infrastructure in Burien, and a lot of areas like ours was last touched pre, and post WW-2. I have lived in Burien for most of my life, and have seen very little improvement to the pedestrian access until the city became incorporated, even more so recently. I believe the city’s’ plan for redevelopment of the N.E. area, as well as the forecast for further economic, and population growth in the city as a whole, will only further the need for better access for pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers alike. I am hopeful, that this measure will pass to fund projects like these, and many more like it in Burien. These types of projects will benefit ours, and generations to come.

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  4. Dale says:

    For seven cents a day Burien intends to install sidewalks in all of Burien and in the future unincorporated area also? Sounds like another Burien Square or whatever that boondoggle is called.

    Anyway I wish people would stop referring to us geezers as “seniors” implying we are in need of government help of some kind. I ran to work from my home in the Boulevard Park area to Boeing for many years and now that I am retired I walk every weekday four to five miles along 10th and 136th to toss booms in SeaTac Park and I would rather have my taxes Reduced rather than increased for any purpose.

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  5. Brooks says:

    I bike to and from work every day. For me it started as a quality of life thing… slowing down a pace of life that was moving much too fast. What I realized in the process is what people all over are seeing: that there are few things like biking and walking that are at the same time fun, healthy, save money, support local business and build neighborhood networks, and combat climate change.

    But the #1 thing preventing people of all ages from this kind of travel is safety. (i.e they’re scared of cars.) So now people are using tools like when evaluating neighborhoods they’re considering moving into. Forward looking cities get this and are now responding by investing in facilities – like the ones proposed here – that are going to continue to attract homeowners and keep consumer dollars in their community and all for a fraction of the money needed to subsidize roads. To me, this citizen-led planning group was looking at quality of life. I’m glad I live in a community that cares. And the returns on investment from this measure should come in many forms and dwarf what we get from the money we sink into roads.

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