Excerpts I wrote for Seattle mayoral candidate Andrew Grant Houston’s “Paint The Town Red And Green” campaign policy proposal:
…Bus-only lanes are significantly more effective when they have their own dedicated space and are clearly painted as such.
Data compiled by the US Office of Transportation Operations on all urban, red bus-only lanes shows that the lanes resulted in reduced bus lane violations; reduced parking violations; and most importantly, reduced travel times for buses. Their results also showed that red-colored pavement does not induce drivers to make turns from an incorrect lane. Not only that, but New York City studies show red bus lanes are quite durable and cost-effective.
We have many opportunities to expand bus-only and bike-only lanes to more places…the City’s Bicycle Master Plan, the City’s Transit Master Plan, or any other plan out there, we have the data necessary to roll out additional miles of both. And we will need to do so quickly if we have any intent to address the 60% of carbon emissions that come from Seattle drivers in cars.
We must prioritize transportation systems that move people much more quickly, safely, and sustainably than relying on driving everywhere. That means we must paint the town red with bus-only lanes and green with fully-protected bike lanes as quickly as possible.
Paint the town red
It’s not just that bus-only lanes improve how quick and reliable buses are, but red ones improve their effectiveness. A 2017 study by the San Francisco Metropolitan Transportation Agency (SFMTA) found that painting transit-only lanes red “reduced the number of [Transit-Only Lane] violations by 48%-55% depending on the time of day, even as total traffic volumes increased.” That same study noted a 24% decrease in police-reported injuries where there were red lanes, showing that painted bus-only lanes increase safety on our streets.
…not only can we ensure buses are on time, we can actually increase frequency on all lines by saving service hours where buses would normally be stuck in traffic.
Paint the town green
While it’s hard to get a concrete answer on how many bike lanes we have in Seattle—because most of them are actually sharrows or trails, if they exist at all—it’s clear that the City has not fulfilled the promises it laid out in our Bicycle Master Plan. In fact, the City backpedaled on more than 25 miles of its current five-year Capital Improvement Plan, in addition to delays and even the elimination of planned protected-bike lanes as approved through the Move Seattle Levy. The City was already behind on its levy projects in 2019, not meeting nearly a third of its goals, and the COVID-19 pandemic has also put Seattle behind on many of the goals originally slated for 2020.
…so all-ages and abilities feel safe while riding our streets.
Connecting the dots
There are definitely areas where both bus plans and bike facility plans overlap and intersect, and that’s why we need a Multimodal Master Plan that coordinates these items and more.
Still, through this process we need to be clear that when we prioritize moving people and goods efficiently, that means making space dedicated to more sustainable modes of movement, followed by freight and business vehicles, with personal cars as the lowest priority.
That’s how we safely and efficiently move more Seattleites across our city. That’s how we ReVision Zero.