Sept. 26, 2023
The King County Council on Tuesday 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. Air and water pollution reduction benefits aside, the week can help leaders in particular 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. I encourage everyone to participate in this eye-opening challenge to get a better understanding of how critical it is to invest in reliable, frequent transit and safe bike/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. And 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 - even if they do have a license, that’s a lot of people struggling to get around to jobs, healthcare, school and more.
“Even if you know you can’t go a whole week without driving, we encourage you to sign up,” said Anna Zivarts, director of the Disability Mobility Initiative with Disability Rights Washington. “Taking the challenge means reflecting on the question of how the places you need to go are and aren’t accessible for the nondrivers in your community, and what changes we must make to ensure everyone can be included.”
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.
“Week without Driving provides a glimpse into the life of non-drivers allowing elected officials and decision makers to understand firsthand the impacts of transportation investments, or often lack thereof,” said Kelli Refer, executive director of Move Redmond. “It takes a lot more time to navigate our region without a car. This challenge requires that decision makers think about their transportation needs differently. It also provides them the opportunity to understand the importance of frequent, reliable transit and safe, walkable streets.”
To learn more about #WeekWithoutDriving and to personally sign-up for the week-long challenge, visit Disability Rights Washington's campaign page: https://www.disabilityrightswa.org/programs/disabilitymobility/wwd/