On Sept. 26, the King County Council proclaimed the week of Oct. 2-8 as a “Week Without Driving,” encouraging people across the region to take part in the challenge to try getting around all week without driving.
Spurred in part by a now national challenge organized by Disability Rights Washington, the Week Without Driving is meant to put policy makers, elected leaders and transportation professionals in the place of those who don’t have the option to drive.
The week is intended to help leaders better understand how they can improve public transportation and make public streets, trails and sidewalks safer and easier to use for everyone.
“There’s no substitute for experience and a Week without Driving is a perfect way to understand how our transportation system works—and often doesn’t work—for non-drivers,” said King County Councilmember Claudia Balducci. “It takes extra time, planning, and energy even for basic trips when driving yourself isn’t an option and our current transportation system, which is built for and around cars, does not make it easier.
Balducci encouraged everyone to participate in the challenge to get a better understanding of how critical it is to invest in reliable, frequent transit and safe bike and pedestrian infrastructure.
Without a car, many areas of the U.S. – including many parts of King County – can become nearly impossible to navigate. Beyond the reach of robust public transportation systems, and streets that provide safe and accessible crossings and sidewalks, the prospect of going car-less could simply mean not going.
With a third of the U.S. population lacking a driver’s license – young adults, older people, and those with disabilities, largely – and others who may not have access to a car – including people of color, immigrants and those in poverty – the county says that adds up to be a lot of people struggling to get around to jobs, healthcare, school and more.
To better understand the barriers non-drivers face, Balducci and the rest of the Council join advocacy groups and other municipalities across Washington state and the U.S. to understand how our transportation system can meet better the needs of county residents who are non-drivers, while also benefiting our community and the environment.