We believe everyone should be able to move in our communities, without fear of harassment or police violence, or physical barriers like inadequate sidewalks or crossings. We need essential services located in every community. We need safe ways to roll or walk everywhere. We need reliable, low-cost and accessible public transportation.

Our goal is to organize a broad coalition of people who lack access to cars from communities throughout Washington State. We believe in a model of change that begins with sharing our stories with each other, and documenting these stories through photo, video and on social media. Our organizing and our stories will begin to shift the collective narrative that only drivers in Washington State have mobility needs worth prioritizing. As we realize we are not alone in the challenges we face as people without access to cars, we can organize together to demand changes that give us access to our communities.

From left to right: Photo of a person riding a bike through a neighborhood. Photo of a person using a wheelcair on a sidewalk with trees in the background. Photo of a person using a cane while walking on a sidewalk. Photo of a person using a wheelchair boarding a Pierce County Transit bus.

Why Us? Why Now?

Our country has been designed around the automobile as transportation, and for those of us who cannot drive or cannot afford to drive, this creates major barriers for us to access school, jobs, medical care, grocery stores, religious services and everywhere else we need to go in order to participate fully in our communities. 

We know that Black, Indigenous and people of color (“BIPOC”), immigrants, poor people, elderly and disabled people are much less likely to have a driver license or access to cars, we are more likely to be transit reliant and more likely to walk or roll for transportation

At the same time, BIPOC, disabled and elderly people, and people living in rural areas and on tribal lands face greater risks of being killed in traffic collisions because our communities lack accessible pedestrian and transit infrastructure. This is compounded by the suburbanization of poverty. People of color, immigrants and low-income disabled people are much more likely to live in areas with fewer sidewalks, streetlights, or crosswalks and less frequent and reliable transit routes. 

Even where reliable transit and safe pedestrian infrastructure exist, Black, brown and disabled people are forced into encounters with the criminal justice system through discriminatory enforcement of jaywalking and loitering statutes, and through fare enforcement on public transit. More broadly, because traffic laws and fare enforcement often are under the purview of police, traffic rule violations can escalate into violent and deadly conflicts. And traffic/fare enforcement compounding fines, court fees and mandatory court appearances disproportionately harm poor members of our communities. 

Our elected leaders and policy makers need to hear from people who don’t have access to cars about how we navigate our communities and what we need. This is particularly true as the pandemic wreaks havoc on public transit and transportation agency budgets, and as the movement for Black Lives focuses attention on the immediate need to change the way we keep our streets and transit safe. 

Priority campaigns: 

  1. Increase revenue for transportation options that serve those who most rely on public transit. Support legislation for sustainable, progressive funding for transit and walking/rolling infrastructure in the state legislature. Push transit agencies to take pro-equity actions that prioritize BIPOC, immigrant, disabled and transit-reliant populations when deciding how to allocate resources. 
  2. Reduce policing of pedestrians and transit users. Work with allies to decriminalize “jaywalking,” being a pedestrian in the roadway, and other behaviors related to transportation access and remove police from traffic enforcement. Work to reform fare enforcement and to create alternatives to fines and/or progressive fine structures. Long term, advocate for fare-free transit to eliminate enforcement disparities and the criminalization of poverty.
  3. Advocate for every community to have accessible sidewalks, crosswalks, and transit stops. Demand construction of sidewalks and curb ramps, installation of accessible pedestrian signals and appropriate signal timing for safe crossing, and the public maintenance of sidewalks and paths to repair cracks and remove debris and snow/ice. Push for funding and installation of bus shelters, benches, trash cans and lighting, prioritizing areas with low transit frequency. 

Additional work: 

  1. Eliminate Driver’s License requirements in job postings for positions that don’t require driving in both public and private employers. 
  2. New Mobility That Works for Disabled, BIPOC, Low Income and Immigrant Communities. Ensure on-demand transportation options such as ride hailing (Uber/Lyft), Via to Transit and taxis are accessible and inclusive for disabled and low-income riders and caregivers, provide equivalent levels of service for all users, and do not exploit subminimum wage immigrant and BIPOC labor. Ensure delivery robots and micromobility create benefits and new access points instead of additional burdens for and policing of disabled, BIPOC, low-income and immigrant Washingtonians.
  3. Fight for communities where everyone can afford to live and access essential services. Ensure that investments in expanded public transit access don’t create harms in existing communities. Push for essential services (low-income housing, groceries, childcare, healthcare facilities) in every community.

 

How to get involved:

  • Take our survey about your transportation/mobility needs.
  • Sign up for text message alerts about the issues you care about: Text Better to 21000
  • Join our Facebook group or Google discussion group to talk with other transit-dependent Washingtonians about our transportation needs.
  • Sign up for important transportation related email announcements from Disability Rights Washington

Want better sidewalks, bus stops, and accessible transit services? Text BETTER to 21000