FILE — Downtown Seattle traffic

Traffic in downtown Seattle.

(The Center Square) – Redmond, Washington-based Northwest Progressive Institute (NPI) trumpeted a recent poll showing Seattle voters favor pedestrian-friendly streets, as opposed to roads geared toward automobiles.

The three-question query showed respondents in favor of expanding outdoor dining and retail space, widening sidewalks, and protecting bicyclists from motor vehicles.

In the first question, Seattleites were asked to respond to a series of statements on allocation of city funds and space on its streets by answering “important,” “not important,” or “not sure.”

The second question asked about ideas to improve streets as the city recovers from the pandemic, with respondents asked if they “strongly support,” “somewhat support,” “strongly oppose,” “somewhat oppose,” or are “not sure” about the various ideas presented.

The third question asked people to respond to climate, health, equity, livability, economic, and safety goals in the same manner as the second question.

“Vibrant, healthy cities need people-friendly streets,” said Andrew Villeneuve, NPI founder and executive director, in a Wednesday press release. "Seattle has already taken steps towards making its streets less car-centric. But there's an opportunity to do a lot more. And we must do more together as a society – quickly – if we are to meet our climate action, livability, and equity goals. We're really happy today to partner with Seattle Neighborhood Greenways (SNG) to unveil data that shows that Seattleites are incredibly enthusiastic about improving the Emerald City's streets.”

SNG Executive Director Gordon Padelford agreed.

“Despite the emerging narrative that Seattle is deeply fractured, at least when it comes to transportation issues Seattleites are surprisingly united,” he said in the press release.

According to the results of the survey taken by 617 people – conducted between October 12 and October 15 – more than 80 percent of those responding were in favor of safe walking and biking routes to get to school, creating more space for outdoor dining and retail establishments, providing more nearby pedestrian-friendly amenities, and limiting motor vehicle traffic for the comfort and safety of walkers.

Mariya Frost, director of the Coles Center for Transportation at the Washington Policy Center, threw cold water on the survey and its results.

“This survey is totally dishonest,” she said “Everyone supports safety, accessibility, affordability, kid-friendly streets, racial equity, and so on. But to suggest transit, walking, and biking infrastructure achieves those outcomes is nonsense, and not supported by data in any meaningful way.

“The reason they ask vague questions about whether people should be safe is that they know if they ask people to support the agenda they want, it will lose badly, even in Seattle. Here’s a suggested question for their next poll: ‘Given the city’s inability to maintain bridges, how much faith do you have that they can manage the transportation system in the future?’”

Frost said the poll was “shamefully manipulative and shouldn’t be taken seriously by anyone who cares about actual mobility, equity, safety, or access to employment.”

Staff Reporter

Brett Davis reports on Washington state government for The Center Square. He previously worked for public policy organizations the Freedom Foundation and Washington Farm Bureau, as well as various community newspapers.