Legislation to expand options for local governments to use money from impact fees to build bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure was signed into law today. The bill, SB 5452, was sponsored by Sen. Sharon Shewmake (D-Bellingham).

“Places for people to walk and bike are such an important part of a livable and vibrant community,” said Shewmake. “This bill will give cities and towns a new option for how they can fund this sort of good infrastructure for our growing communities. We can build better ways to get to work or school, run errands, and safely get some exercise, without raising taxes or fees. I’m excited to see what our local governments choose to build!”

Impact fees are paid by developers building new construction and are used to fund infrastructure to support that growth, like roads, schools, fire protection, and parks. Currently, transportation impact fees can only be used to fund bicycle or pedestrian infrastructure that’s part of a street or road, and not for separated bike lanes, even though those are typically safer, provide better service and can even cost less than trying to make a project fit along a busy road. This bill would allow impact fees to be spent to construct and maintain infrastructure intended specifically for bicycle riders and pedestrians.

The bill would not add any new fees or increase any current fees — it would only expand the allowable use of current fees to additional types of bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure.

The bill goes into effect on July 23.