May 15, 2015

Seattle's Erratic Support of Bicycle Commuting

Today is Bicycle Friday, the day that Seattle's bicycle commuters celebrate and goodies of all kinds are found near local commuting routes.

But all this celebration does not cover up an important truth:  Seattle does not have a consistent and effective policy for making bicycle commuting an enjoyable and safe mode of transportation in the city.

The evidence of Seattle's halting, inconsistent, and sometimes wasteful policies are easy to demonstrate.   There are also been a few success stories that show what the city can do when it tries.

Fact Number 1:  Seattle is incapable of keeping its main bicycle superhighway, the Burke Gilman Trail, in decent condition.

Thousands of bicycle commuters use the trail every day. I blogged in depth about the sad state of the trail earlier, with heaving roots, cracks, holes, and broken edges.  After my and other complaints, Councilwoman Jean Godden (the only councilperson who seemed to care about the problem) and representatives of the Park's Dept. met with me on the trail.  They promised action.     Some work was done, but many of the worst sections have not been fixed (see pictures) and dangerous, slapdash plywood "repairs" on the 35th Ave bridge have not been taken care of.   When they do some repairs they are cursory and not permanent.  Repair work has now stopped completely.  What will it take to get the Parks Department to take Burke-Gilman trail maintenance seriously?

Fact Number 2:  There are no protected bicycle routes into the city from the North End.  Or the south end.

Many folks living north of the Ship Canal would like to commute into the city by bicycle. Amazingly, the city has not established a single route whereby a cyclist can commute without serious and dangerous contention with cars.  I have tried it several times....I am still shaking from the experiences.  If Seattle is serious about fostering bicycle commuting there MUST be protected bike routes.  It is as simple as that.

Fact Number 3:  The city has wasted large amount of money on feel-good, PR-rich schemes that have not helped the situation.

The first was the lame scheme to paint bicycle symbols (sharrows) on busy streets.  Somehow that supposed made the streets safe for cyclists.  Tens, if not hundreds of thousands, of dollars were wasted on this dangerous and ill-conceived scheme.  And many cyclists are hit by cars and opening car doors on sharrow-painted streets.

Really safe!  LOL

Perhaps the biggest waste of money on feel-good schemes is the Pronto bicycle rental stations placed around the city.   Millions of dollars were spent to acquire the bikes and the docking stations.  And Pronto reports the cost of the enterprise is about $110,000 a month.   I have seen only ONE Pronto bicycle being ridden around the UW or on the Burke Gilman trail.  The usage statistics show dismal popularity.  For example, in 2014, each bicycle was used for 1/2 a trip per day.  You read that right. ONE HALF a trip per day.  Want to use a Pronto bicycle for a day.  That will be $77.00!    Their whole pricing structure pushes short rides and discourages extended use by tourists or folks wanting a longer ride.  At some docking areas (e.g., Children's Hospital), there is almost no usage.   The Seattle media has not touched this disaster yet... perhaps Danny Westneat of the Times will take it on after he deals with the pesticide-spraying shellfish industry.

Lonely, but expensive bikes with no where to go

When will the political class take bicycle commuting seriously?

Imagine if the city created FOUR absolutely protected bike routes into and out of the city (form NW, NE, SW, and SE Seattle).

Imagine if the Burke-Gilman and other bike paths were properly maintained?

Perhaps it is time for city officials and councilmembers to stop taking PR opportunities for things they can't change (like kayaking around Shell Oil drilling platforms) and do something that will really help reduce carbon usage and greatly enhance the livability of the city (like dealing with the bicycle commuting problem).  There is so much talk in the city for living green and having a low-carbon footprint.  Yet, the city seems powerless to plan and execute a bold plan for making safe, effective bike commuting a reality.   Really sad.

There are some reasons for hope.  Some safe bicycling areas have been created downtown, like the second ave protected bike lane (see pic)

And near U. Village, some of the crossings of the Burke-Gilman Trail have been made much safer:

And some innovative new companies, like Rider Oasis, want to revolutionize bike maintenance and make bicycle-oriented products available 24-h a day.

We have waited long enough to see Seattle becoming a truly bicycle-friendly city.  The increasing traffic and density of the city calls for making bicycle commuting a viable alternative.  Does anyone have the vision and leadership to make this happen?  Kayaking around Shell Oil platforms and riding around Pronto bicycles might get a lot of press, but someone has to do the real work that will make a real difference.

Announcement:  On June 3, I will be on the Seattle Channel's Civic Cocktail with Governor Inslee.  If you would like to be in the audience, you can get tickets at :  They charge, but you get appetizers with their no-host bar.


  1. Portland is an interesting contrast. Biking there has had lots of support with effective and mostly safe bicycling routes, rider awareness, etc. Yet one difference I note from the 1970s and 1980s when I lived and biked there and now are the many more fatalities that occur compared with the past. Some of this might be due to the increased population. But I suspect some of it is due to cell phones and other distractions, not to mention bigger and bigger vehicles with poorer driver visibility. It might also represent more bicyclists who have no regard for or are blatantly unaware of the traffic laws. Portland also has its share of bike paths to nowhere, poorly designed paint on streets. The 205 bridge places the bike/pedestrian path right in the middle between the two fast lanes - rather than being on the sides where you can see the river better.

    Seattle's streets are narrow - I am nervous sometimes driving my car through some of these. When I lived in Crown Hill though, I did find safe routes that were better than the arterials. Going north and south was easy. East and West and you have several glacial striations to overcome!

  2. The "sharrows" also teach motorists that the correct place for bicyclists is the "car door zone" at the very side of the street. If you're not risking getting doored by a car and riding in the middle of the lane a lot of them lose their minds and will do incredibly dangerous passing stunts (with oncoming traffic in the opposing lane) in order to exercise their god given right to immediately pass you. Waiting a second behind a cyclist until they can get by parked cards and move over is unacceptable.

    There needs to be better education that the place for bikes may be smack in the middle of the lane and cars behind a cyclist need to be patient. And the 'sharrows' give the wrong message that the cyclist 'should' move over and get out of the way no matter what. They're just dumb and should be painted over.

    1. Properly placed sharrows go in the center of the travel lane, not the door zone. SDOT finally agreed to this last year, but it will take many years to fix the legacy of improperly placed sharrows.

  3. I was in Louisville, KY, last week and was surprised to see bicycle repair stations - small stands that offered arms to hold a bike, a selection of tire irons & wrenches, and air pumps! More for recreational cyclists than commuters, sure, but Seattle could use more recreational cyclists. More cyclists, even if not Lycra-clad speed-demons, could help swing more support for changes as suggested in this blog post.

  4. The 2nd Ave bike lane is a death trap. They still have us riding on the wrong side of the road, but now we're hidden behind a line of parked cars. Before we had to be wary of turning cars and passenger doors. Now we're hidden from cars, we have to be on the look out for driver side doors, and the drivers and passengers that just hang out in the bike lane while paying for parking. Pedestrians at crosswalks hang out in the lane to see around the parked cars. Turning cars can't see us at all. The new signals are confusing and hard to follow. And the bike lane is now two way, where as all other traffic on 2nd is one way. So bikers and cars alike aren't expecting a northbound rider.

    A coworker has been hit twice on 2nd since the new lane has been installed because of the signals and turning cars. And I had the misfortune of riding past a recent accident involving a young woman and lots of blood that will haunt me every time I ride that street.

    And now, it the city's infinite wisdom, they are hiding more bike lanes behind parked cars like on Dexter. It has some of the same issues, but cars are still trying to park on the curb, people double park them in, and now bikers have to pop out of a hidden lane into traffic to navigate around. Don't forget that the bus stops right in the middle of the lane as well.

    I can't wait for the water front to be complete so I can hopefully ride a little further out of my way but do so on a safe road. That is if the city gets it right.

    Also, please fix the BG trail. The bumps, dips, and pot holes may not seem like much to a driver, but on a bike they are a serious hazard. I would love to see one of those bike counters installed somewhere on the BG much like the Fremont and West Seattle bridges. There is a lot of traffic on that trail, and there could be more.

  5. Pronto bikes are meant for quick in-city transportation, for tourists or locals. Other far less bike friendly major cities have bikeshare programs for this purpose, and they're wonderful for when you visit a city. While they can be used for commuting, that's hardly the primary business case. Plus, I see people on Pronto bikes frequently around Lake Union. The only reason I don't use it more myself is that they haven't expanded into Fremont yet.

  6. Protected lanes are of course the best (BEST!), but just to be clear: you're in much greater danger of being hit by a car door when you're sandwiched into a narrow bike lane (one that's invariably shoved right up against the driver's side of parked cars) than when you're out in sharrow-land with the rest of traffic.

  7. Sharrows aren't great, but in many places I prefer them to bike lanes--they tend to be further out into the road, and thus further away from the door zone, than bike lanes.

    To complain that it would cost $77 to rent a Pronto bike for a day is to completely miss the point. The idea behind the Pronto bikes is to facilitate short trips or 30 minutes or less, ensuring maximum turnover and availability of bikes. Though the coverage area of Pronto needs to be expanded, when you are using the Pronto system as intended, it's wildly convenient. You get on a bike and go, and then dock it and don't have to worry about locking up, your bike being stolen, etc. In fact, if you're using Pronto as intended, the cost to rent a Pronto bike for a day is just $8 for the day pass. If you want a bike to explore the central city, it's great. If you want a bike to take a day-long ride on in the region, go rent a bike from one of the many bike shops--it'll cost slightly less than $77.

  8. It's also embarrassing that other cities are doing more. Shoreline has done a great job with the Interurban Trail, which is a great ride.

    Viably extending that southward from north Greenwood would go a long way toward filling in a large gap on the Seattle bike map. But good luck designating one of those north-south streets as largely a bike path!

  9. Being a cyclist myself, I agree the City can and should do MUCH more to make it a bike friendly city. But, the 2nd Ave project is a disaster. Taking away two traffic lanes (effectively - because the left lane of traffic can now ONLY make left turns) during rush hour is stupid. Particularly when the right lane is already reserved for buses.

    All it does is create huge traffic jams and make commuter (nearly all of who, whether cyclists like it or not) take buses or drive, resent hate cyclists. How much pollution are all of the cars and buses sitting in traffic for an extra 20 to 30 minutes a day creating?

    At a minimum, they should have waited until they finished the waterfront tunnel or whatever it ends up being before proceeding with the bike lanes. Or they should have done it in a way that does not snarl traffic so much. It's not just drivers; I know cyclists don't like it either.

  10. The "Second Ave is a death trap" comment is a good example of why some of these problems exist in Seattle: they're hard to solve. Some people prefer bike lanes, some prefer sharrows, no solution is perfect, any of them will alienate some people, and that leads a lot of politicians to take the perfect as the enemy of the good.

    Of course, there's no excuse for the BGT.

    Is Pronto a private company or a city program, or what?

    I've seen people using Pronto bikes around South Lake Union and on the section of BGT between the U Bridge and Gas Works. More than once. But they still stand out because they're so uncommon. I considered "renting" pronto bikes occasionally to introduce my girlfriend to cycling but found, as you say, that they're wildly expensive.

  11. Cliff, had to chuckle about your comment on City leaders. Last night at the SIFF opening, the Mayor made a cameo speech which included not one, but two references to the Shell drilling platform (and nary a word about bikes).

    Reeves, I quite agree with your comments about 2nd Ave. I work on 2nd Ave and regularly suffer the remarkable muddle of the bike lane which has morphed from the single most dangerous piece of traffic design I've ever seen to something that remains both annoying and risky. Now that the second lane from the left is the first driving lane, except during rush hour, vehicles may be parked in it. Drivers headed south on 2nd who want to make left hand turns face the conundrum of figuring out if the car they are coming up behind is waiting to make a left hand turn or simply parked. This results in considerable last moment lane changes that are dangerous for drivers and distract from the concentration needed to safely make a left hand turn without threatening bikes. The stead red arrow ordinarily would allow a left hand turn after a full stop (e.g. RCW 46.61.055 (3)(c)), however, the red arrow is trumped by the signs stating "no turn on red." Woe to the divers (and cyclists) who fail to grasp that. I often see cars making left hand turns on the red arrow as the through traffic receives the green light. This all fuels the endlessly discordant relations among drivers and cyclists and results from the City's determination to shoehorn a bike "solution" into a context that is fundamentally flawed in terms of providing safety and clarity to all road users.

    Similarly, the sharrows are a bad solution to a dangerous condition and only serve to increase ambiguity and frustration for all. It's remarkable that in a City with so much intellectual horsepower there is such a dearth of basic, collaborative planning around a widespread problem.

  12. A nice alternative into downtown from NE Seattle is across the Montlake Bridge to the I-90 tunnel via the signed arboretum bypass. I ride the I-90 trail up to the Pac-Med building and across the big green bridge over Dearborn, then into the ID. It's low traffic, a pretty ride and a couple of extra hills as a bonus.

  13. I am utterly fed up with both the arrogance of this city's bicyclists, and their freeloading. My vote is "NO" on every single thing any bicyclist wants. To me, bicyclists are nothing but pests. I wish they weren't here.

  14. Something else to say about Seattle bicyclists. Their behavior on the Burke Gilman Trail is just atrocious. If I had the decision making power, I'd withhold repairs there for no reason other than to punish the rsmpant misbehavior of bicyclists on that path.

    Bicyclists vastly underestimate how much bad will they've accumulated in recent years.

  15. Cliff,

    I certainly respect your meteorological genius, but you are wrong about bike commuting.

    I have been riding for more than 40 years, and so to start with, I do love cycling.

    But it is completely irrational to expect that there will ever be a significant population of bike commuters to warrant massive expenditures, and as you note, already a lot of money has been wasted putting bike lanes in very dangerous places.

    Seattle's terrible transportation management decisions fueled by what I call Biktivism is deadly because it:

    1) Puts cyclists in harm's way by putting them on major arterials such as through Elliot Bay where they have little chance against fast moving autos, buses and trucks.
    2) Confuses automobile drivers with poor signage and transit exclusivities usually reserved only for mass transit that pit them against cyclists who are also single occupancy vehicles.
    3) Visibly allocates a ridiculous amount of city resources and dollars for what everyone knows is a tiny, tiny percentage of the realistic commutes of all residents of Seattle and the Greater Sound. And this further angers drives struck in gridlock caused by other poor transit planning. How's that four lane tunnel replacing a six lane viaduct going to work out?
    4) Puts a target on the back of recreational cyclists like myself who are then equated with anarchist biktivist nuts who scream loudly for all of the above. This creates a lot of resentment for the average Joe driver who can rationally discern that bicycles simply do not warrant the same allocations as mass transit, automobiles and trucking which deliver nearly all of our commuting goods and services.

    Put on your meteorological hat and look out the window. It's cold, miserable, gray and rainy for a lot of the year here in Seattle. And you are never going to convince most people to move close enough to work so they can get sweaty, cold and wet a significant number of days per year to move the needle on Puget Sound transit problems.

    End Biktivism, so that real cyclists will not get killed!

  16. Here's a strategy for requesting repairs:

  17. There is a bike counter on the Burke-Gillman. It does not have a local display but it looks like they upload the data once in a while and you can see it here:

  18. Great points Cliff. I wish non-biking people would understand that most of the folks riding bikes are just trying to get from point a to point b. There isn't a vast cyclist conspiracy to make driving less pleasant.

    If anything, non-cyclists should want more folks on bikes because more bikes going from point a to point b means fewer cars clogging streets.

    Totally agree that Seattle needs to do much more to improve biking safety. Living in Northeast Seattle, I can see that the Burke-Gilman is marginally less bad than it was before and the Greenway on 39th is pleasant.

    A not horrible bike trail and a pleasant side street designated as a bikeway isn't enough.

  19. The plea for bike trail maintenance would be convincing if:

    1. The streets weren't in such terrible shape.

    2. People paid a road use fee for their bike.

    Until #1 and #2 are addressed, I consider bicyclists just one more group of people in this city with their hand in my pocket.

    Oh, and every time I hear the words "Cascade Bicycle Club," I want to spit at someone. They did more damage to bicyclists than anyone, with the possible exception of our last mayor, whose name I can't utter without including an expletive.

  20. Placeholder... wow. Your first misperception is that there exists a separate class of people called "bicyclists" who are not also walkers and drivers. Second, that people on bikes are somehow more scofflaw and dangerous in behavior than people behind the wheel of a car. When's the last time you honestly saw a car come to a full stop at a stop sign on a residential street? For me, maybe 20 years ago, but that doesn't mean I think that therefore all "drivers" are lawbreaking pests who don't deserve any funding for their use of the streets.

    As for the idea of a road use fee for bikes: the idea that bike users somehow don't pay their share is a common misperception that has been roundly and repeatedly demonstrated to be false. First the vast majority of bike riders are also car drivers, and cars do exponentially more damage to pavement than bicycles. Bike riders also pay the same property and sales taxes as everyone else. We could just as well propose a tax on shoes to pay for the damage they cause to sidewalks (which, however, is none. And same for the impact of bikes on pavement.)
    To quote from one of many articles which address the bike-tax fallacy "Todd Litman of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute has calculated that since cyclists require so little lane space and parking room, and impose so little wear on roads, they actually deserve a rebate of around $250 a year on our taxes, if they don’t also drive."
    This article here:
    Another good one here:

    The long and short is that most bicyclists *already* pay most of the fees and taxes that fund road and street infrastructure, and if (like me and many other bicyclists) you pay license and registration fees and local sales and property taxes but then ride your bike more often than drive your car, you are actually subsidizing the road usage of the full-time drivers.

  21. I know it's impossible to bring facts to Seattle bicyclists. They are too good for mere facts. They are too superior to obey the rules, or to pay their own way. Bicyclists think they are better than everyone else.

    But what the hell, I'll give it a shot anyway.

    1. Wherever anyone has seriously surveyed bicyclist behavior, they've found that the majority of bicyclists routinely ignore the traffic rules. Some examples:

    2. Bicyclists justify their refusal to pay vehicle fee on the grounds that bikes do no road damage while cars do. One problem with that argument is that cars don't do any damage to roads either. So are bicyclists going to push for repeal of car tab fees?

    3. Bicyclists like to point out that they pay taxes too. Yes, that's correct. Everyone who lives here pays taxes. But bicyclists pay no road taxes for their bicycles. All other users of vehicles on roads pay separate vehicle fees.

    4. We are all commenting on an article written by an angry bicyclist who's demanding that everyone other than bicyclists pay for pavement damage to bike trails.

    There is absolutely no end to the obnoxiousness of this city's bicyclists. All they ever do is make demands. They never step up to the plate to pay a dime. They act as if they are God's gift to everyone else.

    You are building bad will everywhere you go. I constantly see bicyclists breaking basic traffic rules, including one who's life I quite literally saved after he ran a stop sign. And who gave me the finger in thanks.

    Try to at least learn the basics. A specific example is the idiots who fall off their bikes while crossing the RR tracks in Ballard, and then whine about the city being at fault.

    I was basically glued to my bicycle as a kid. Where I lived, we were required to display a license tag on the seat, and to get that tag we had to listen to a safety lecture and pass a short test.

    One of the things we learned is that you cross RR tracks on the perpendicular. Another thing is to use hand signals for turns. I know more about bike safety when I was 10 years old than the average oh-so-entitled, freeloading "adult" Seattle bicyclist.

    I really have no sympathy at all for you people. You cost money, make demands, ignore the law, and get in everyone's way. I wish you weren't here. You are a net negative in this city.

  22. There needs to be better education that the place for bikes may be smack in the middle of the lane and cars behind a cyclist need to be patient. And the 'sharrows' give the wrong message that the cyclist 'should' move over and get out of the way no matter what. They're just dumb and should be painted over.

    At the very least, why don't you people decide just what it is you want? It was the Seattle bicyclists who demanded the stupid "sharrows," just like it was the Seattle bicyclists who demanded that 2nd Avenue be torn up for something they now refuse to even use.

    By the way, state law requires bicyclists to ride on the right. (That would merely be the law, which every single motorist knows means little or nothing to most bicyclists.) Want to start blocking cars by driving in the middle? Okay, but don't be too surprised at the results, or at the lack of sympathy.

  23. Car drivers, did you know that your roads take up nearly 30% of the entire city? That land is worth billions of dollars by now! Imagine what we could do with that if we sold it all off.

    I really have no sympathy at all for you people. You cost money, make demands, ignore the law, and get in everyone's way. I wish you weren't here. You are a net negative in this city.

  24. I will start to take bicyclists seriously when they follow he law:

    1) No riding up the center of an arterial thereby blocking all traffic.

    2) They STOP AT ALL STOP SIGNS along the Berk Gillman Trail.

    As to the latter, I consider any bicyclist who chooses to run stop signs fair game and open season.

  25. It's true Seattle cyclists demanded sharrows. But it was SDOT that refused to install them properly until the 2014 Bicycle Master Plan update specifically required that they be installed in the center of the travel lane, where they should have been all along.

    The purpose of sharrows is to get bicyclists further left, out of the door zone, since that's the most dangerous part of the street.

    SDOT refused for years to move them any further left than the bare minimum allowed for the narrowest of lanes, meaning Seattle has many lane miles of sharrows in the wrong place, selling bicyclists to risk their lives both from the doors of parked cars and from overtaking cars squeezing by without changing lanes.

  26. By the way, state law requires bicyclists to ride on the right. ... Want to start blocking cars by driving in the middle? Okay, but don't be too surprised at the results, or at the lack of sympathy.

    That misconception is one of the reasons Seattle cyclists wanted properly-centered sharrows. Where lanes are too narrow for a car to safely pass a bicycle within the lane, "as far right as is safe" is far enough left in the lane that motorists clearly can't even try to pass within the lane.

    SDOT has failed to install the signs that are approved to accompany sharrrows, "Bicycles May Use Full Lane", MUTCD R4-11, sometimes supplemented with "change lanes to pass"

    Where a lane is less than about 15 feet wide, people on bicycles should not ride to the right, the law says they should ride in the center of the lane, and drivers should change lanes to pass.

  27. I would simply note that no group of people - those in cars, those on bikes, those walking, follow the law to a T.

    But those using 3,000 pound vehicles that endanger others have a special responsibility.

    And when Vancouver, BC recently did a study, they found that when right of way could be determined in crashes, 93% of the time the driver was at fault in bike-car collisions.

  28. But those using 3,000 pound vehicles that endanger others have a special responsibility.

    I think those who weigh 100-200 pounds have a special responsibility to themselves to get out of the way. Unless they're like a lot of bicyclists and have a death wish.

  29. The bloodthirst and entitlement of some of the drivers here is quite spectacular. Am I to read "fair game and open season" as an active threat? As my bones are crushed by Don Carter's sweet ride after I run a stop sign will Placeholder stand beside me without sympathy as I bleed out?

    With monsters like these on the road it's no wonder Cliff is calling for better protected infrastructure!

    As for the stop sign thing, have the bike haters ever seen a 4 way intersection used by cars anywhere ever?

  30. Cliff,
    it is unrealistic to expect the Parks and Recreation Department to be able to reasonably maintain the BGT when they are perpetually underfunded for basic maintenance and operations needs citywide. Citizens and city council members do not see the necessity and value of the parks department facilities and services and as a result we have the BGT we have. I know this will further enrage the anti bike faction but the Seattle Department of Transportation should be required to support the maintenance of all transportation facilities within the city regardless of which agency has ownership of it. Yes, transportation includes all modes, including biking and walking and yes, the Burke gilman is a multi modal transportation facility.
    Finally, the most reactionary cyclists and drivers both need to understand that neither is going away and they and everybody else would be better off focusing on consideration and empathy instead of their own entitlement. Otherwise it just makes every driving trip en exercise in frustration and turns what should be the best part of the day, a bike ride to or from work, into a stressful waste of an opportunity to enjoy a ride.

  31. "As to the latter, I consider any bicyclist who chooses to run stop signs fair game and open season."

    You realize you are talking about MURDER, right?

    When I was 10, my parents accidentally cut a woman off in traffic. She followed us home, attempted to run us off the road, then barricaded our driveway. She ran up to our car and started pounding on the windows. I still remember how her fingerprints and spit covered the window. When she took a break, we ran inside, I hid, and my parents called the cops.

    When I was 18, I had to pull my father off a man in a parking lot over some kind of traffic incident. He was beating that man's head into the pavement.

    That's what "fair game and open season" looks like. That's what assault and attempted murder looks like. Are you engaging in hyperbole, or is that actually what you want to do? Kill people because they inconvenience you on the road? Is that really the kind of person you want to represent yourself as being?

    Hyperbole = jerk
    "Open season and fair game" = psycopath

    Think about it.

  32. I wanted appreciate this article and agree, but I wanted to voice a parallel concern that I think requires equal attention. Walkers needs safe and pleasant pedestrian routes equally if not more than bicyclists. I appreciate the bike enthusiasts who cover many miles in rain or shine, but I'll be frank. I see many more pedestrians on my commute to work. Slogging through the rain and noisy intersections. In addition to fostering the more aggressive and diehard cyclist community, we should take a hard look at the walking experience as well. I argue that walkability and the pleasantness of enjoying a city on foot is the beginning of everything good.

  33. Thanks for the data on the Burke-Gilman. I have a kid who has just started biking to get to places. It gives a wonderful sense of freedom, and the data on the BG is useful, because we try to keep him off the trail at the peak commuting times, and I've just been guessing what those are.

    Bicyclists do need to follow the rules, though, including the stop signs. As an example, I don't know the decision making behind putting the stop sign on 65th & the BG where they did, but, at that stop sign, in some cars, with the vegetation the BG, drivers cannot see riders on the BG (you're too far back on the road, to see bikers travelling north until they come close to the road). If bikers zip through without stopping, going fast, they can easily enter the intersection after a car has stopped and moved into the intersection.

    and, my car always comes to a full stop at every stop sign.

  34. As my bones are crushed by Don Carter's sweet ride after I run a stop sign will Placeholder stand beside me without sympathy as I bleed out?

    I won't run you over. After all, I'm the one who saved a bicyclist's life and got the finger for doing it. If you run a stop sign and get killed, I'll call 911. And while the ambulance is on the way, I'll stand over you and ask you if you're happy now.

    If you die, I'll tell the TV crew what you did, and your family. And, yes, I will do it without a shred of sympathy. But I won't do it with any joy.

  35. Placeholder - it is beyond me why Cliff allows you to use his blog to make public your pathologies. The topic of how a modern metropolis deals with bicycles is one worth discussing. Your posts add nothing to that discussion.

  36. My, what a divisive topic. I had no idea.

    But no one can argue with the fact that cyclists are helping limit carbon output and keeping themselves in better shape- which keeps them healthier.

    It would help if we were more like Portland and had more protected trails.

    As a cyclist I have been in two accidents. Both times it was commuting, both times it was the motorist's fault, and both times I collected. So if you drive, drive carefully.

  37. The Sharrows on Juanita Drive are a welcome addition along with the signs "Cyclists may take whole lane" -- or something like that. No room for interpretation.

  38. Placeholder, a friend of mine once ran a stop sign. She probably didn't see it due to trees, or maybe she let herself get distracted by her child in the car. Regardless, she ran it just like cyclists sometime run stop signs.

    Her car was hit. She was killed. Her four-year-old child was a coma for a few weeks. Her teenage daughter lost her mother, and her younger daughter lost the mother she barely got to know. She had family and friends that loved her.

    Why would you want to go tell her family that she run a stop sign, with no sympathy, even if there's no joy? Do you think that they wouldn't be told that in the police report anyway? What would it prove, besides your need to be right and hurt an already-devastated family to prove your point?

    The callousness here actually truly hurts my heart. I will pray for you to open your heart to others and learn to forgive their mistakes (especially when they do not affect you).

  39. In my experience most motorists fail to come to a complete stop at many stop signs and 4-ways. Many practice a complete disregard for laws over who has right-of-way.

    And there's the legions of drivers who can't manage tight left-turns without keeping their vehicle properly aligned.

    And how about keep-right-except-to-pass on interstates, LOL.

    Cars and SUVs weigh thousands of pounds and along with those massive commercial trucks cause all the potholes and damage to the streets.

    They also pollute the air, spewing poison. Maybe they outta be assed an air-pollution tax. And a watershed-damage tax because the pavement required to accommodate these cars, SUVs and trucks have totally obliterated watersheds.

    How about a new luxury tax on new vehicles over $60,000 to help fund street and highway maintenance?

    I favor a fat-ass-mthr-fckr tax on massive SUVs over 4,000 lbs, especially the pigs over 5,000 lbs.

    It's idiotic and ludicrous to call for licensed cyclists or pay a user-fee. Look, next time a cyclist slams into a SUV killing the driver with the cyclist unscathed, then we can implement bike license and bike user fees. Until then, how about keeping your mouth shut and letting the adults in the room discuss public policy?

    Jerks like Placeholder comparing these motorists and trucks to cyclists show their idiocy and psychopathy with essentially every word from their mouth all day every day.

  40. The Sharrows on Juanita Drive are a welcome addition along with the signs "Cyclists may take whole lane" -- or something like that. No room for interpretation.

    WA state law requires bicyclists riding slower than traffic to be as far to the right as possible. Not that obeying the law ever once mattered to the average bicyclist.

  41. I personally love the 2nd Ave bike lane. I am a recreational cyclist and must commute by carpool for my job - but on weekends, I can now bike into the city with confidence that I don't have to get off my bike once I hit downtown. I feel very comfortable on it and love it. Personally I think we need more of this - have you biked in Vancouver BC recently? I was a cycling commuter there for years (same grey, wet weather) and it was okay - today thanks to a progressive pro-bike mayor it is WONDERFUL. The entire city/downtown is connected and you can safely get all over - in a very busy, congested town. We would do well to study Vancouver which at least has more in common with our topography than Portland.
    I'm on your side, Cliff

  42. Placeholder,

    WA State law says, "Every person operating a bicycle upon a roadway at a rate of speed less than the normal flow of traffic at the particular time and place shall ride as near to the right side of the right through lane as is safe." (RCW 46.61.770). In other words, you can (and should) legally give yourself enough space between yourself and the obstacles on the road - be it the curbs, debris or parked cars. On a typical roadway in Seattle, it means riding in the centre of the lane.

  43. In other words, you can (and should) legally give yourself enough space between yourself and the obstacles on the road - be it the curbs, debris or parked cars. On a typical roadway in Seattle, it means riding in the centre of the lane.

    If you want to be a typical freeloading jerk on a bicycle in Seattle, you can try.

  44. Placeholder,

    In other words, you consider me a jerk for riding a bicycle in a legal manner for my safety. Actually, I don't "try." I "do" as, again, I'm legally allowed to.

  45. You are not legally allowed to take the lane as a matter of course. Not that the law, common sense, or minimal courtesy ever meant anything to the average Seattle bicyclist. You want to know why there's so much hostility toward you on the streets? Go look in the mirror and have a conversion with the law-breaking, self-righteous freeloader who will be staring right back at you.


Please make sure your comments are civil. Name calling and personal attacks are not appropriate.

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