Imagine our surprise as secretary of the US Department of Transportation announced a new direction in federal transportation policy, one that put the needs of other travelers on equal footing — pun intended — with the needs of car-users.
“Today I want to announce a sea change. This is the end of favoring motorized transportation at the expense of nonmotorized.”
–Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, My view from atop the table at the National Bike Summit, Fastlane.dot.gov, March 15, 2010
Now imagine crashing back to earth as our fears about the intransigence of our own Washington State Department of Transportation are realized in this one statement regarding the needs of pedestrians when compared to the needs of drivers in the Rainier Vista proposal at the University of Washington.
The state Department of Transportation says it has authority to approve or reject a new traffic light for pedestrians to cross Montlake Boulevard, a state route. It carries 45,000 vehicles daily. [Ed note: Montake Blvd. also transects the University of Washington, home to 65,000 students, faculty and staff and borders the UW Medical Center, which sees 333,675 clinic visits per year.]
“If it’s a new at-grade crossing, we have expressed our opposition,” said Mark Leth, regional traffic engineer. “It’s already a very congested route.”
Not to worry though. We’ll drag them kicking and screaming into a people-centered future.