Re: “Washington governor signs $17 billion transportation package” [March 25, Local News]:

With soaring gas prices and Washington’s new transportation package, Walk-to-Work Day (April 1) is well-timed. I’ve foot-commuted for a decade, and I recently co-led a study examining South Seattle community mobility. I know firsthand the pitfalls and promise of active commuting (walking, rolling and taking transit).

My 5-mile round-trip commute is filled with birdsong, kind strangers and exercise. 

But active transportation isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. Seattle’s infrastructure and policies enable reckless driving. Many streets lack curb cuts, crosswalks and sidewalks, hindering mobility for people with disabilities — and everyone. Gentrification and income inequality have displaced communities of color and those with low incomes from walkable neighborhoods. My commute often includes some bus-riding, and it’s clear transit access needs improvement.

Fortunately, Washington just committed $1.29 billion to active transportation. We should build on this momentum and invest the estimated $5.7 billion needed to complete the Washington State Department of Transportation’s active transportation plan. It will be essential for addressing disparities and climate change.

My commute’s first half-mile involves dropping my kindergartner at school. With each step, I witness his growing sense of community and attunement to nature’s rhythms, and I renew my commitment to help make our streets accessible for all.

Katherine Hoerster, Ph.D., MPH, Seattle, University of Washington Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences (views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the UW)