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Earth Day 2024 | Let’s take the next step together to address climate change through sustainable transportation

A RapidRide bus travels in Seattle. Photo: SDOT

Blog stats: 1,400 words | 7-minute read


  • We’re excited to take the next step together with you to make a difference and curb the effects of climate change in Seattle and beyond.
  • As we celebrate Earth Day today and every day, we want you to have all the tools and resources you need to take action in your everyday life.
  • This blog post highlights climate work by SDOT and the City of Seattle as a whole. It also details our ambitious goals for climate change and transportation as part of our Climate Change Response Framework.
  • We’re all in this effort together, and your daily travel choices matter. Thank you for being part of the solution with us!
  • At the same time, we’ll continue working with urgency to build facilities, implement policies, and offer programs to make it easier to travel sustainably, so we can tackle climate change head-on.

Climate change is one of the greatest challenges and opportunities facing our city, country, and planet as a whole. We are ready to rise to the occasion and take the next step together with you.

Our Climate Change Response Framework and Mayor Harrell’s 2022 Transportation and Climate Justice Executive Order set the stage and provide clear direction and ambitious targets that guide our work.

Here’s how you can be a part of Seattle’s climate solution

  • Think about the trips you take throughout your day. Could you walk, bike, roll, or take transit instead of driving for any of them? How can you Flip Your Trip to be a part of the climate response with us?
  • Tell your family, friends, and neighbors about all the sustainable travel options available to them! And then, take them along for the ride!
  • Join us in the conversation of how transportation impacts climate for you and your community.
  • Bookmark this page to learn about the latest news on SDOT’s climate response.  
  • Most importantly, don’t despair! Climate change can’t be solved by just one person, it will take all of us doing our part to make a difference. Each decision matters and you can be a part of the solution – one trip at a time.  
Several people board a RapidRide bus in Seattle. Large buildings and the Space Needle are visible in the background.
People board buses near the Seattle Center during an afternoon commute. Photo: SDOT
A large group of people takes a break while riding bikes in Seattle on a sunny day. Downtown Seattle is visible in the background.
Members of the Black Girls Do Bike and Rainier Riders make a short stop during their bike tour through West Seattle and other Seattle neighborhoods. Photo: SDOT

Our Climate Change Response Framework

The full framework document is available to read on our website – we encourage you to check it out. Some top highlights are also available in this previous blog post.

The framework lays out a series of strategies – 27 in total – spanning 6 central categories, which are:

  1. Create a culture of climate action and optimism
  2. Make short trips safe, affordable, and zero-emission
  3. Make it more convenient, reliable, and affordable to ride transit
  4. Enable use of climate-friendly travel choices
  5. Improve freight efficiency
  6. Electrify Seattle

Read more details here about each of these areas and the specific strategies identified for each one.

Graphic images showing people riding bikes, riding scooters, walking, and traveling. Green elements including trees, walking paths, and the earth are also shown.
The framework also identifies community benefits organized into four major areas: Climate Justice, Safer Streets, Healthier Communities, and a Thriving Economy. You can find additional details here. Graphics: SDOT

Did you know?

The framework closely aligns with our other long-range plans, particularly the recently-published Seattle Transportation Plan – the 20-year vision for the future of Seattle’s streets, sidewalks, and public spaces, informed by thousands of people who live, work, and play in Seattle. Read more here.

With the framework supporting the sustainability goals outlined in the Seattle Transportation Plan, our long-range planning is closely aligned with the urgency needed to address the climate crisis. These plans were central in informing the draft Transportation Levy Proposal. The draft proposal contains many projects and program ideas, such as funding for a People Streets and Public Spaces program, investments in urban forestry, electric vehicle charging infrastructure, low pollution neighborhoods, and more walking, biking, and transit options, all of which would help put us on a path toward meeting our climate goals.

“This framework lays out SDOT’s vision to intensify our work to reduce transportation emissions, by making it easier, safer, and more welcoming for people to walk, bike, and take transit. In addition, we’re committing to utilize city policy to help electrify trips and reduce the carbon emissions of all types of delivery and trucking.” – Greg Spotts, Director, Seattle Department of Transportation

Here are more ways we’re advancing sustainable transportation

Our entire team at SDOT works daily to advance a wide range of programs, projects, and initiatives to support sustainable travel all across the city. Some top examples include:

Transportation Access Programs

  • Our Transportation Access Programs provide affordable, safe, and equitable access to public transportation by providing transit resources and community-centered programming to diverse Seattle communities.
  • This includes numerous programs to offer free ORCA passes to Seattle’s essential workers, Seattle Housing Authority residents, seniors, and others who may need assistance.
  • Learn more on our website.
Several people smile while looking at the camera indoors. Several people are wearing masks.
Mayor Harrell, SDOT Director Greg Spotts, and Seattle Housing Authority residents and staff at an ORCA card distribution announcement event in 2023. Photo: SDOT

Projects large and small throughout Seattle

  • We are continuously building projects of all sizes to help Seattleites walk, roll, bike, and take transit to destinations all across the city.
  • Here are just a few examples:
    • Rainier Ave S bus lanes: We’re working in partnership with King County Metro to improve transit reliability in the Rainier Valley. Learn more here.
    • RapidRide G Line – Madison St: This project will bring new, reliable, and frequent bus service between 1st Ave in downtown Seattle to Martin Luther King Jr Way through the heart of Seattle. Learn more here.
    • Beacon Ave S and 15th Ave S Safety Project: In addition to safety improvements, this project includes a new protected bike lane and new bus stop islands at select locations. Once completed, it will be safer and easier to walk, bike, roll, and take transit in North Beacon Hill. Learn more here.
    • Route 44 Transit-Plus Multimodal Corridor: This recently completed project has improved safety and access to transit with new curb ramps, sidewalk and crosswalk repair, and new pedestrian light and signals. It also improved transit reliability and helped reduce transit travel times by adding 0.8 miles of lanes dedicated to buses and business access, and by updating signals and adjusting the layout of the street to improve traffic flow. Learn more here.
    • Learn more about our many projects funded by the voter-approved Levy to Move Seattle on our website.
Construction activities as a large excavator works to install a new bus shelter on a street. Orange cones, workers, and large buildings are also in the photo.
Construction activities as part of the RapidRide G Line – Madison St project in central Seattle. Photo: SDOT

Flip Your Trip campaign

  • Whether you’re traveling by land or sea, Seattle has a variety of transportation options to get you to your destination.
  • Flip Your Trip is your guide to getting around Seattle by walking, biking, rolling, scooting, riding transit, and taking a vanpool or carpool.
  • With every trip you flip, you’ll not only be making a positive impact on your community, but you might just find your new favorite way to get around.
  • Learn more here.
A graphic logo that says "Flip Your Trip" in yellow and white letters, with the City of Seattle logo in the upper left corner.
The Flip Your Trip campaign logo. Graphic: SDOT

City fleet electrification

  • Over the past year, we’ve advanced pilot projects to pursue all-electric vehicles and equipment.
  • This helps us complete essential work and keep Seattle’s streets moving, while reducing our overall carbon footprint.
  • In 2023, we launched the eBroomer Pilot Program to test an all-electric compact street sweeper.
  • We’re also testing other zero-emissions vehicles this year. This is all part of our vision to Right Size, Then Electrify our SDOT fleet and continue to modernize for the future.
  • Learn more in this blog post.
An electric sweeper vehicle parked outside on a sunny day.
SDOT’s newest all-electric sweeper, which arrived earlier this year. Photo: SDOT

Closing thoughts

  • Every trip made by walking, biking, scooting, or public transit helps reduce our dependence on driving and limit carbon emissions and air pollution.
  • Here at SDOT, we’re doing our part to make these choices easier and more convenient for you. We hope you’ll take the next steps with us, all summer and beyond!

Thank you again for your time, interest, and participation in this important effort. Let’s take the next step together!

Stay tuned for more updates from us this week as we celebrate Earth Day, Earth Week, and sustainable travel every day of the year.