Recently Seattle’s Mayor Greg Nickels spoke on our local radio station KUOW to address environmental issues in the Puget Sound area. He discussed his leadership in the US Mayors Climate Protection Agreement which evolved from the current Fed decision to not participate in the Kyoto agreement. Nickels and many other mayors took matters in their own hands and decided to lead the charge by having their own cities live up to the Kyoto agreement’s mandates, and more. The goal continues to be to cut greenhouse emissions to 20-30% of 1990 levels by 2020–that being a watershed year for change, if it’s going to happen.
Everyone complains about their local government, and I’m not push-over for Nickels but this discussion on KUOW was encouraging. The main thing I took away was Nickels’ understanding of the recent election in which the people clearly voted: no more roads. His goal is to change behaviors around transportation and lifestyle habits–no small undertaking. But his approach is interesting: there will be sacrifice with ammenities. What does he mean by that?
Well, it won’t be easy or cheap to drive downtown. Parking rates have gone sky high, parking is simply not a priority anymore, there won’t be more pavement to get downtown so traffic isn’t going to get a lot better. On the other hand, he’s making it very attractive for companies to pay for employee transit options, downtown living has truly never been more attractive than it is now in Seattle, there are plans for more and better parks and recreation areas closer to dense living sectors, and access by bikes, scooters and pedestrians will be better than ever. I like that–and really hope it happens. Most encouraging, however, is simply the recognition that behavior has to change.
As for the 520 bridge, a big bone of contention as it is the main arterial to Microsoft from the west side of Lake Washington, Nickels couldn’t have been clearer: No More Pavement. Fix what we have, and focus on transit alternatives, mass transit that works for people and is actually an attractive alternative. There are lots of competing interests out there on this front, it will be interesting to see if they can come together for a smart decision that stands up to the environmental issues of our day.
Bottom line: nice to see an elected official talking about the hardest issue of all, behavior change. You can’t buy your way out of that problem.
Daily stats (Fri, Sat, Sun)
Car: 37 miles (about 5 errands, including a biz trip to Bainbridge island…gotta figure that one out but quick.)
Ped: 2 miles
potentially west seattle and ballard