Thursday, November 3, 2022

State Active Transportation Plan receives multiple awards

By Barb Chamberlain

If you were one of the voters who responded to our many reminders, thank you — it worked! Washington state's Active Transportation Plan has been named the winner of the People's Choice Award in the national 2022 America's Transportation Awards. The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, AAA, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce sponsor the annual contest. This represents the first time ever in the competition's 15-year history that an active transportation plan has won the honor.

All 12 finalists in America's Transportation Awards were eligible to win the People's Choice Award, which is based on total votes received through online voting. The totals are weighted by the state populations so bigger states don't have an unfair advantage over smaller states. State departments of transportation encouraged voting through a variety of means, from internal reminders to staff to playful messages on social media like this tweet.

AASHTO Executive Director Jim Tymon (left) and Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development Sec. Shawn Wilson (right) present WSDOT Secretary of Transportation Roger Millar with the AASHTO People's Choice Award and a check to be distributed among several charities.

The award brings with it a $10,000 check for the charities of our choice. We're splitting it three ways. One-third goes to our own WSDOT Memorial Foundation that preserves the memory of our workers who died on the job and provides assistance to active and retired employees and their families in times of need. The other two recipients are statewide nonprofits that participated in the plan's stakeholder steering committee, promoted involvement in the plan's outreach phase, and serve on the Cooper Jones Active Transportation Safety Council: Cascade Bicycle Club and Disability Rights Washington.

The ATP became eligible for the finalist round when the Western Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials named it as a regional winner in June, which moved it on to the national competition. As the People's Choice Awards voting was under way, the Washington state chapter of the American Planning Association also recognized it with an award for transportation planning at their annual conference.

Besides being the first active transportation plan to win the national award, the ATP is also the first-ever analysis of our state highways that looks at how well they work for people who need to walk, bike, or roll along or across them. It's the first effort to really quantify the features of the roadway, traffic volume, and traffic speed that tell us we'll make it better and easier to use active transportation if we make some changes. And it's the first time the state plan has been named in legislation as a resource to identify where improvements will make a difference, in the Move Ahead Washington transportation investment package passed in 2022.

Our State Active Transportation Plan continues to look for ways to improve
infrastructure for all modes of travel, like the SR 520 trail.

We're very proud of the work and the recognition it received. None of this would have been possible without the insights and efforts of advocates and professionals across the state as the plan came together. And we're not resting on our laurels! We're already reporting out performance metrics in the Gray Notebook, using the analytical tools in our decision-making around Complete Streets designs, and talking about which of the topics on the "Future Watch" list in Chapter 6 we should dig into next.

Speaking of the future, have an opinion on that? Here's the list from Chapter 6 (which gives you a brief description of how each of these relates to active transportation.

  • Technology and innovation
  • Electric bikes and e-mobility
  • Aging in place and human services transportation
  • Sharing economy
  • Urban freight mobility
  • Curb management
  • System resilience and disaster recovery
  • Education, encouragement, incentives
  • Land use, housing costs, and displacement
  • Funding