On October 17, 2022, Snotrac hosted a "Lessons from the #WeekWithoutDriving" panel of Snohomish County community leaders to discuss their experiences and perspectives they gained from participating in the Week Without Driving. Organized by Disability Rights Washington, community leaders pledged to go a week without driving to experience what it is like for the approximately 25 percent of Washingtonians that cannot drive due to age, ability, or access to a vehicle.
<iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/MU156sSfvOw" title="YouTube video player" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe>
The seven panelists were:
Ric Ilgenfritz, Community Transit CEO
Tom Hingson, Everett Transit Director
June Robinson, State Senator
Shelley Kloba, State Representative
Megan Dunn, Snohomish County Councilmember
Paula Rhyne, Everett Councilmember
Liz Vogeli, Everett Councilmember
When asked about their usual modes of transportation, most if not all of the panelists stated that they used driving as a main mode of transportation. Because of that, when asked about the biggest barriers of the week, many of the panelists highlighted the amount of time it took to get to their destinations. Senator June Robinson succinctly stated that, “it just takes longer - that's what I always learn. I've done this #weekwithoutdriving twice, and one of the big takeaways is the amount of time that it takes to get from point A to point B when you're not driving.”
Additionally, some of the panelists described the inability to use some forms of travel such as biking and even walking because of the lack of safe infrastructure. Councilmember Paula Rhyne described the hurdles that arose biking such as unprotected bike lanes. When it came to walking to her nearest bus stop, Councilmember Megan Dunn pointed out that sidewalks were either too narrow or even nonexistent. Later on during the panel, Councilmember Vogeli told an anecdote about crossing the street with her children and the danger that came with doing so.
The panelists were asked about how the Week Without Driving made them think about their own mobility access/privilege and, even without driving, how that privilege manifests itself. To this, Ric Ilgrenfritz highlighted that he was a “walking billboard for privilege” and that even his ability to bike “reflects some advantage.” He further stated that his ability to “purchase an ebike, and I can use it to get out of the neighborhood” was another form of privilege even without driving.
With the recent shifts to make things remote, one may think that working from home is an accessible option for those unable to drive. However, Rep. Shelley Kloba highlighted her ability to attend virtual meetings stem from the access to broadband – something that a large portion of people have little to no access to.
Ben Watanabe, who also participated in the Week Without Driving, wrote an article published in the Everett Herald about the panel discussion.