Tag Archive: streets

Right-of-Way Declaration of Independence & Bill of Rights

Cathy Tuttle
July 4 2015
Cross-posted with The Urbanist

Declaration of Right of Way Rights

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all people are created equal, whether they are rich or poor, black or white, young or old, and that we are endowed with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

  1. We the people recognize that the ownership or use of a private vehicle does not imply the sole ownership of the public Right-of-Way.
  2. We recognize that there is no such thing as free parking, and that our collective community pays to subsidize free car storage on our public Right-of-Way.
  3. We recognize the rights of people, in particular our most vulnerable elders and children, to freely walk on and across our public Right-of-Way without fear of injury or death by people in moving vehicles.
  4. We recognize that when separated sidewalks are provided as part of the Right-of-Way, they must be wide, uncluttered by street poles and furnishings, and minimally punctuated by driveways in order to be functional for people who walk.
  5. We recognize that people riding bicycles have the right of way on our streets, and that the movement of people on bikes, particularly families riding bikes, shall not be limited on our Right-of-Ways unless their movements represent a danger or obstruction to people walking.
  6. We recognize every public Right-of-Way that does not provide separated sidewalks and protected bike lanes is a place where “cars are guests” and where people who drive should go no faster than three times average walking speed (ten miles per hour).
  7. We recognize the highest and best use we can have for our vehicles, our Rights-of-Way, and our fossil fuels, that are all subsidized by our common wealth, is to move our goods, provide emergency services, and provide transport for our most vulnerable people.
  8. We recognize that our public Rights-of-Way are maintained through extraordinary investments of our collective energy and capital.
  9. We recognize we have built more public Right-of-Way than we will be able to maintain in the future.
  10. We recognize that we live on a finite planet with limited resources and that the fuels and battery energy needed to power our vehicles is heavily subsidized with our collective money.
  11. We recognize we are at the start of a centuries long climate crisis, and that every opportunity to maximize tree planting on the forty percent of our city land that is currently paved is an investment that future generations will thank us for.
  12. We recognize the potential for beauty, gathering space, and places for people in our public Right-of-Way.


Should you be lit up like an airport runway to cross the street?

by Glen Buhlman, Kirkland Greenways
October 17, 2014

Should you need to be lit up like an airport runway in order to cross a street without getting hit by a car?

Be_Safe_Be_Seen_Day_Release_5.jpg.662x0_q100_crop-scalePublic Domain Road Safety Authority Ireland

This expectation is becoming common in our region. Rather than focus on the lack of safety on our streets and committing the required funding and staff resources to engineer safer streets, we too often look for cheap ways to make ourselves feel like we have solved the problem, all the while continuing to spend the bulk of our transportation budget (your tax money) “improving” our roads for cars to go faster. It is a vicious cycle that makes many people feel it is too unsafe to walk or ride bicycles or get to transit and instead drive, further exacerbating the traffic problems.

The Northshore Utility District is handing out the exact same safety vests as those pictured with Santa to local school children. The City of Kirkland puts flags at crosswalks for people to wave at cars when they cross the street to try to shame the people driving the cars into stopping.

To be clear, Kirkland Greenways is not opposed to stopgap and immediate solutions to try to save lives while we do the hard work to make our streets safe for people who walk and bike. But the Kirkland flag program has existed for almost 20 years!

How long does Northshore Utility District expect everyone who walks anywhere to wear a reflective vest? How long before we have flags and vests, maybe also with motion activated flashing LEDs and sirens on them, hanging at all crosswalks in our region? How about we engineer our streets to make them safe for people rather than engineering people to make them safe on our streets?

At Community Future Day in Kirkland on Apr 26, 2014, residents were given play money in the amount of the city’s budget and asked how they would spend it.  Residents chose to spend 25% / 26% / 27% on pedestrian/bicycling/transit respectively and only 21% on automobile projects.

We all own these streets. It is up to all of us to decide how we want to invest in and use our streets. There has been a big change, at least in Kirkland, Washington and Kenmore, Washington, and the change has been pretty clearly in favor of making our streets safe for people to walk and bicycle.

Let’s invest in more than vests and orange flags, shall we?