In the next few weeks, the Seattle City Council has the chance to fix a mistake and make our streets safer.
Last year the City Council zeroed out the 20% of red light camera revenue that was used to fund Safe Routes to School. Nobody saw it coming, but the city decided Safe Routes to School just wasn’t that big of a priority.
This decision was made despite the sad fact that in 2018 fourteen people died on our streets, and one-hundred seventy were seriously injured. Despite the city adopting a goal of zero deaths and serious injuries in 2013, over the last six years the city has made little progress and continues to delay Vision Zero projects.
The City Council is now adopting its 2020 budget, and here is how it can fix its mistake: Feet First is calling on the City Council to restore 20% of red light camera revenue to Safe Routes to School, as it was before 2018. We also believe that the Council should pass an ordinance to increase the percentage of red light camera revenue dedicated to safe routes to school and other pedestrian safety infrastructure by 20% a year until it reaches 100% in 2024.
The City Council did the right thing in 2016 when it passed an ordinance dedicating 20% of red light camera revenue to Safe Routes to School. This was an extension of its popular decision dedicating 100% of school zone speed camera revenue to Safe Routes to Schools. So it came as a shock that in these economic boom times the City Council would reverse direction. If the city is eliminating funding for safe routes to schools now, we fear the deep cuts that pedestrian safety could face during a potential recession.
That is why we are requesting that the city not only restore the funding cuts it made, but increase every year the amount of red light camera revenue that is dedicated to the safety of people using our streets. This would save lives, improve health, and enhance the quality of life in our city.
Fully dedicating red light revenue to safe streets would also respond to the skeptics who insist that red light cameras are just a grab for more city revenue. We know that’s not true; red light cameras by themselves increase safety. But when the City Council diverts revenue from red light cameras to the general fund, it feeds that public skepticism. In contrast, school zone speeding cameras enjoy broad public support because the public knows the revenue generated is being spent to keep our school children safe.