Bike Parking Outside 12th Ave's Cafe Presse. Photo by SDOT.

The faux-war between ‘cyclists’ and ‘drivers’ has gotten depressingly out of control, even though it is being fought almost entirely in the media.  The 900+ comments in Danny Westneat’s recent Seattle Times column (“What’s With All the Bike Bitterness?”) reveal that the mutual acrimony has grown past the absurd into a parody of itself.

A simple truth:  cycling is not an inherently political act.  When a person is on a bicycle, they are just cycling, a verb whose adverbial embellishments (recklessly, quickly, safely, cautiously, etc…) have a short shelf life and extend only to observed behavior.  When people insist on twisting you into a noun – a Cyclist, a Motorist – you become not a person doing something, but rather a category expressing some fundamental defining value.   By definition, categories are constraining, and they make it easier to load transportation choices unnecessary moral weight.  As transit advocates we also do this to “Drivers” – and it’s just as unfair to “them” as to “us”.

This intellectual laziness provides the framing material needed to animate call-in radio shows, network news segments, and (to a slightly lesser extent) print and social media.  As the Fundamental Attribution Error rears its ugly head, we lose our ability to handle complexity and begin thinking in binary.  “Cyclists do X, Motorists react with Y,”  as though cyclists never drive, drivers never cycle, and that the two have a necessarily adversarial relationship.  Worse, each time we do this we risk losing the crucial ability for integrated systems thinking, descending into both mode-based and region-based parochialism.

Our current investments in bicycling and pedestrian infrastructure are modest, they are appropriate for bicycling’s mode share, and they can only be seen as radical in the context of a cultural expectation for complete car dominance.  When you build your city for its largest scale mode, smaller scale modes are precluded and society actively engineers your mode choice upward toward cars. In a depressing segment Monday on KOMO Newsline AM, John Carlson affirmed as much when he suggested that bicycles be banned from any road with a speed limit higher than 20 mph.  When you build for cars, they become the only permissible game in town.   When you build for choice, all modes are enabled and respected (including cars!).

I would hope that we could all grow up already.  Modal fetishism is immature whether it’s bikes, trains, buses, or cars.  Ultimately, transportation infrastructure should become not a product to be marketed but a public utility matching people’s needs with appropriate tools.  (Something tells me that there is no marketing budget to get people to use I-5!)   As a transit advocate, I simply want more tools in my toolbox.

So when you feel yourself jumping towards the ad-hominem, take a moment and reflect upon inertia, individual economic incentives, the cumulative effects of all the poor decisions that have come before us.  Hopefully this would produce fewer culture warriors and more sober problem solvers.

For more on constraining terminology – see Jarrett.

75 Replies to “Mourning the ‘Bikelash’”

  1. Bravo! Well said!!!

    I’m too old and fat to ride a bike, but I have nothing against cyclists. While I sometimes get annoyed by them, I find it’s usually more of a neighborhood-based thing. The kids on Capitol Hill, for instance, are pretty careless, but I attribute that more to youthful exhilaration and the feeling of invincibility than any “agenda”

    I firmly believe that drivers need something to “slow us down” at times, and cycles fill that void. The people who whine about how cyclists break the law are just tiresome bores who live to be offended and annoyed. They love to be victims. There’s some cyclists like that also, to be sure, but their complaints are usually a bit more valid.

    1. I don’t know your particular situation but unless you have issues with balance or physical strengnth you never are “too old and fat” to ride a bike. Sure you may not be doing the STP or winning any races but even the fat and old can ride a bike comfortably.

    2. I doubt you are as old, or as fat as the guy I see on a recumbent cycling up the Factoria hill. He starts in Kent, and rides the spring/summer/fall. With all that riding I don’t see how he maintains that humungous lump of a gut but there he is. Oh yeah, his hair is a salt/pepper look so I’d guess he was in his mid 40s’.

      As of being old, I met a guy who was 80 and still riding the STP. With the right bike, you are never too old, or too fat. And if you ride for the rest of your life, it’s likely you not be too frail either.

  2. Lower the default speed limit in Seattle to 20mph and add a comprehensive network of bike paths/cycletracks mirroring Seattle’s arterials and I’m fine with John’s idea. In this aspect, separate but equal, might not be so bad. That said, I’m not holding my breath. All the fuss over re-channelization should prove that.

    1. As I’m sure you’re aware, a pedestrian is actually likely to survive a collision with a car going only 20mph. Any higher and the probabilities quickly switch to far more likely not to survive. I don’t see how it’s manageable though, as much as I think it would be a good idea, as the overwhelming majority of limits in Seattle are already 30 or 25 and I doubt compliance is very good [1]. They manage such low limits in parts of Europe but we (as a culture) just don’t have the same attitudes about driving.

      Sigh

      Rachael

      [1] I can’t actually find hard numbers! It’s frequently cited on SDOT pages and news and other sites, but no one seems to have numbers. I live near Rainier Ave and I know most drivers speed – when you intentionally adhere to the speed limit and are passed constantly you know you’re not typical. But it would be nice to see numbers. Does SDOT regularly measure 85th percentile speed on various roads and publish that? Considering that, according to SDOT’s traffic calming pages, the degree to which 85th percentile speed exceeds the legal limit is a major contributor to whether calming will be done, you would think they have to be measuring it!

      1. I think the real drop off in survival rates is somewhere around 30 but I don’t recall precisely.

        Seattle’s default speed limit is 25 mph for non-arterials and 30 for arterials. If it’s not marked, that’s the speed limit. That said, University Way in the U District is unmarked and thus technically has a 25mph speed limit. I’m lucky if I can feel safe driving 20 through that stretch but I have the constant concern of not being able to stop in time to avoid ripping somebody’s door off.

        Europe’s speed limits aren’t really all that different, except for Germany’s lack of limits on the Autobahn. Give or take 5mph, they are roughly equivalent to what you’d find here. What is different is the number of very dense areas where speed limits are 20 or even lower.

        Over time, street designs need to be altered so that drivers naturally adhere to a posted speed limit. The rechannelized versions of Nickerson & Stoneway have done this while also giving buses more room to maneuver and bikes a place to ride relatively safely. (Although, sadly, still in the door zone – Better than nothing I suppose)

      2. Racheal- I know that SDOT does measure items such as volumes and speeds throughout the city. Some are likely done on a regular schedule (probably around every 3 or so years) but some may be done more frequently if they are monitoring a specific segment for some reason. When they converted Stone Way to a three-lane road with bike lanes, they were monitoring the side streets pretty consistently. Best thing to do would be to check with SDOT on the roadways you are interested in.

      3. The difference between 30 mph and 35 or 40, not only in survivability but also braking (stopping) distance is dramatic!

        Here again are some PSAs from the rest of the English-speaking world, not run on TV in the USA because we can’t handle the truth about our auto-addiction:

        (50 km/h = 31 mph; 67 km/h = 42 mph; 60 km/h = 37 mph; 65 km/h = 40 mph; 70 km/h = 43.5 mph

        http://youtu.be/wWh8OqncpfM

        http://youtu.be/SuY_VHzKdjc

        http://youtu.be/AU3TY3JmM64

        http://youtu.be/IN2D7p_kKa4

        http://youtu.be/5Z23CzSONiU

        http://youtu.be/CWwbAgmE3N4

        And my favorite, which USDOT and the Ad Council will never have the balls to run:

        http://youtu.be/Xhv6fSdz7vk

        Oh, and stop texting too!:

        http://youtu.be/R0LCmStIw9E

        (At least CBS had the fortitude to show part of that one: http://youtu.be/TsloQZQH7X8 )

      4. RE: hard numbers
        SDOT has a citywide arterial speed limit of 30 mph unless posted otherwise. Prior to the past couple decades, there was a lot of spotty record-keeping at the city, so it’s not unreasonable to believe that SDOT doesn’t /have/ hard numbers for what speed limits are posted where. There’s an awful lot of traffic-control signs in the city that were hung in the 60’s, never added to any sort of master-plan document, and never revisited.

        Also they generally only do speed measurements in areas where there’s a statistical high-accident area or if they’re doing a significant road project in the area; there’s no regular full citywide traffic-speed survey. They do measure arterial traffic volumes on a regular schedule, and do regular speed surveys on important congested areas and chokepoints, but nothing as comprehensive as what you’re talking about.

      5. Watching those videos should be required for getting your license renewed. Man that was rough.

    2. The only way separate but equal could ever be somewhat equal is if every road with a speed limit over 20 mph had bike lanes or adjacent trails.

      The reality is that the cost of the land and the money to build such a network is way beyond society is willing to pay. (Yes, I realize the irony that in many cases, the land and money that could be used for this is instead spent on providing parking spaces for cars, but that’s the reality we live in).

      The result is that any rule preventing bikes from using an arterial street because of the inconvenience of motorists trying to pass is essentially saying that you can use a bike for recreational rides around the lake, but when you actually want to get somewhere in a reasonable amount of time, you are unwelcome to the street if you bike, and therefore, must drive.

      Because of this, shared travel lanes between bikes and cars and will continue to be inevitable.

  3. Bikes should be allowed to ride on the Link light rail tracks through Rainier Valley. That would keep them out of traffic. Since there is only one Link train every 7.5 minutes there is not much train traffic for bikes to slow down.

    I am sure Link riders won’t mind going only 10 mph behind bikes on MLK Jr. Way.

    Right?

    Share the tracks!

    And the SODO bus lane should be shared with bicycles as a bike/bus lane. Those bus riders won’t mind traveling about 10 mph behind bikes through SODO, I’m sure.

    Share the bus lane!

    1. Helpful as always, Norman. You really come across as a miserable human being some times. I hope you have something you enjoy in your life more than belittling and mocking others who are just trying to find a way to work.

      FYI: There is already a bike path that parallels the SODO Busway. Ideally we would have dedicated separated infrastructure like this everywhere in the city. I’m sure the vast majority of cyclists would be perfectly happy with this idea.

      1. Hey, did anyone notice the President of Bellevue C-College, after signing the East Link “get on with it” letter last week, immediately left to take a job at an Online University sponsored by the State.

        Maybe Norman has something there.

    2. You’re onto something, Norman, but there’s a better way to do it. About 20 years ago, I saw a photo in a German transit magazine of a flatcar full of bike racks coupled to the front of a light railcar.

      As long as LINK is running one or two-car trains, should be plenty of platform space. In future, maybe a four-car train could carry one car for bikes. Maybe even small freight like the old interurbans used to.

      You’re serving useful purpose: every half-baked idea can always be put back in the oven.

      Mark Dublin

    3. Y’all realize the guy’s a troll, right? He lives for the sorts of replies you’re giving them.

      Even this reply will likely give him a minor buzz.

  4. Here’s my story:

    I work as a motorcoach operator. I work in Portland (the reason I am posting here is I am from the Puget Sound area) and I ride my bicycle to work because I do not own a car.

    I sort of transcend the Driver/Biker gap. I can see both sides of the equation. As I sit in my seat that is above (vertically, not figuratively) above all of the usual drivers on any road anywhere I go I can see people doing dumb things. I see people talking on phones all the time still, even after there are laws against it in Washington AND Oregon. I see drivers roll stop signs. I have nearly gotten hit (in a big giant bus) by those drivers. I have been cut off, blocked, and honked at for trying to be polite (A recent example: I put on my 4-ways to alert drivers behind me that I was stopping because I could see ahead that traffic was stopped and I needed to stop, and a car comes whipping around me honking and giving me a one finger salute).

    On my bicycle I try to get home (or to work) I try to get there as quickly and safely as I can. I specifically picked my place of residence because it is on the Fanno Creek Trail. About half of my ride is not on main roads.

    Yet, when I am riding, I see these same behaviors that I have listed above. I go through a 4 way stop on my way in or out and I am always fearful that I am going to be hit when a driver decides that I am somehow less than they are and they have the right-of-way that is actually mine.

    I really am tired of the elitist attitude that drivers have. I also despise the elitist attitude that a lot of cyclists take. Why can’t all roads have the facility for all road users, Car, Bike, and Pedestrian alike?

    1. So you transcend the Driver/Biker gap by not only grouping them into seperate categories but then making generalizations about the attitudes of both of those groups? Nice.
      Great piece, Zach.

  5. It’s not a faux war. Everyday, bicyclists endanger the safety of motorist by forcing them to swerve into oncoming traffic to avoid the bikes on their right-hand side. This really happens on a daily basis. Many motorists (I’m not one of them, I like bicyclists), are angry at the bicyclists for endangering their lives.

    1. Xenophobia creates the misplaced fear and anger in car drivers. Statistically, they should worry about the deadly effects of cars—32,000+ slain per year in road carnage, lungs pumped full of toxic exhaust, limpid muscles weakened by a lack of exercise—than a minority of outsiders to their way.

    2. Funny, I’ve always figured the anger is related to a fear of killing the cyclist.

      A cyclist, you know – the one that gives us all a bad name, buzzed up on my right side on Stewart Street and swerved in front of my bus when the car in front of him stopped suddenly. I tapped the brakes hard enough to make folks grab onto the hand bars and just missed him. Of course, I’ve had just as many BMWs and Lexus SUVs do nearly the same thing over time so I recognize the common factor is the impatient and reckless vehicle operator, not the vehicle they happen to be operating.

      1. That’s exactly the point. The problem is the person committing bad behavior, not the mode they choose to do it in.

      2. I’ve never had a car drive right at me on the street to make me stop so he could put his auto on the bike rack. I have had cyclists do it. Not to attack all cyclists with this but it did happen. I’ve also had cyclists ride around in circles on Olive Way making me stop my full trolley to avoid hitting him. I waited a good 5 minutes until he was done showing what a good rider he was. There there were the cyclists on the viaduct Friday night holding up traffic while staking their claim to going wherever, whenever. Of course it is safe for cyclists to run stop signs and lights because they are cyclists. Even have consultants saying so. If they get hit doing so no doubt the motorist is to blame.

        Listen this was a reasoned and reasonable article. I support cyclists right to ride. There are plenty of stupid drivers out there who haven’t a clue. Here is what I think, feel free to call me a troll but I think cyclists should have to take training courses to ride on the street, they should be licensed and ticketed for failing to follow the rules of the road. I also think drivers should have to prove they know how to drive on a regular basis.

        It’s a two or three way street out there. Better behavior by drivers, cyclists and pedestrians would make for a safer and more civil environment for all.

      3. Sorry, Bubba, but I’ve had plenty of cars dive in front of my bus to prevent me from pulling out. They then drop off a passenger who begs to get on my bus. (Mercer Island P&R is a notorious location for this risky behavior)

      4. Again that’s stupidity but riding straight at a coach at night in order to force the driver to stop and let you on is beyond stupid. It’s downright Darwinian. And then to get upset when you’re told that that might not be the wisest thing. He then proceed to lecture me on how intelligent he was, how he was getting his degree and only idiots drove buses. In any case I think my point is that there are badly behaved people using all modes of transportation. There are badly behaving bus drivers as well.

    3. Actually the swerve is a driver choice.

      If they’re feeling endangered it’s because they made a bad decision as to where to pass. No different than on the highway.

    4. i bet the cyclist is still in greater danger of the car not swerving.

      mass and speed and seatbelts and enclosure.

    5. Everyday, bicyclists endanger the safety of motorist by forcing them to swerve into oncoming traffic to avoid the bikes on their right-hand side.

      I have absolutely no idea what you mean here. No idea at all.

      If you mean putting 2 wheels over the centerline to pass a bike on a 2 lane road, that’s not a legal maneuver at all. You have to wait behind the bike for a gap in traffic and completely vacate the lane (yes, all 4 wheels) while passing. If (And only if) more than 5 cars are being held up, then the bicyclist has a legal responsibility to pull completely off the roadway and let them pass – just like a slow car or truck.

      This cuts both ways, bikes and motorcycles are not legally allowed to ride 2-by-2 in a lane either. 1 vehicle per lane, single file.

      Maybe your talking about oncoming bikes in your traffic lane?

      I’m having a hard time figuring out what situation you’re describing.

    6. Anyone who “swerves into oncoming traffic to avoid bikes” is doing it wrong.

    7. Thank you for this post! A nice breath of fresh air in the otherwise poisoned atmosphere of online bicycle discussions (at least on non bicycle oriented websites). Too bad for the fools who read this post and immediately started in on what you’re decrying.

      As a committed commuting and touring cyclist who drives a car as often as once a week, I’ve never understood why I’m a feckless asshole riding to work, but an upstanding citizen when driving to IKEA. I am the same person who makes similar decisions regardless of vehicle choice, after all.

  6. “That’s exactly the point. The problem is the person committing bad behavior, not the mode they choose to do it in.”

    what is a ‘faux-war’ that is ‘going on’???

    people have bad behavior and people make errors. a bicyclcle will generally comeout on the losing end of driver error or bad behavior.

    why isnt there a share the rail??? cause cars lose to locomotives.

    crosswalks are painted for pedestrians to make cars stop before the line. additional bike lanes can help do the same for bikes when the infrastructure cant be completely separated right away.

    1. There are certain types of rail that share their track with cars (SLU Streetcar for one)
      Freeways share right-of-way with nothing, Cycle tracks are the equivalent of freeways for bikes, likewise light rail, freight, and heavy rail are freeways for trains.
      Every mode has its own dedicated system, and then every mode can (and will at times) use city streets.

  7. The media loves to pick fights- especially to do with anything around transportation. Also a serious question who cares what John Carlson says about anything.

    I think that in Europe, it’s common for the law to require a license for bicyclists- which can be lost for bad cycling. I remember that in fifth grade or so, the local chief of police would visit schools and make it clear that we bicycle riders were required to obey all traffic laws, including signalling turns and having bikes lighted.

    Still and all- loved watching Hitler go apoplectic over his one attempt at bicycleship result in his bike being stolen. That clip was best comment of all on the bicycle war.

    Mark Dublin

      1. same here….i have never heard of bicycles be liscensed. probably not true.

        how did hitler get into this discussion.

        i regularly do not obey traffic when i feel unsafe. if i sense a car approaching me from behind at fast speed and an intersection is clear..i go thru it. if a road way has cracks wide enougth to get my tire stuck i hop on the sidewalk. i dont like sitting on mu bike in the middle of the road at intersections…so i minimize that by going thru them when clear.

      2. “i regularly do not obey traffic when i feel unsafe.”

        Ahhh, the old “Obeying traffic laws makes you unsafe argument”. Now we can really get this discussion going.

        Shall I draw a comparison to running a red light with my bus to avoid throwing my passengers around to really fan the flames? :)

      3. @velo: It’s pretty hard for someone on a bike to follow all the road laws sometimes, especially those related to lights. How many stoplights have sensors that a bike doesn’t trigger? It’s true for pedestrians, too — how many lights stay at “Don’t Walk” when their turn comes in the cycle (i.e. cars alongside have green) unless someone has already been waiting there to press the button?

        There is one thing and one thing only that keeps me safe on a bike and on foot: my senses. The law is just one thing to know and the lights are just one thing to watch. If I went when the light was green and stopped when it was red I wouldn’t just be late for stuff, I’d be dead.

        But, though I sound like I’m defending breaking the law on a blog, you won’t see me do what really bothers you — force someone with the right of way to stop. If you can run a red light in your bus and be absolutely sure you’re not in someone’s way, I have no problem with that (I am not, however, a police officer). But you’ll probably have to stop (and thus jostle your passengers) to do this — just about every time I go through a red light on my bike I come to a complete stop before the crosswalk first.

      4. Nearly every stoplight in Seattle has a sensor that a bicycle will trigger. You’re just not patient enough to wait for the light cycle. See that little “T” sometimes painted on the pavement near the stop line? That’s where you’re supposed to put your front wheel to trigger particularly stubborn signals. And SDOT would like you to report any light that a bike does NOT trigger; it needs to be recalibrated.

        I can’t count the times in my delivery job I’d see a bike run a red a few blocks ahead… and then the light would change and hold me up, while it gave a green to a bike that was already gone. Jaywalkers are the worst for this. Push the button, then run across – 15 seconds later red light. IF YOU’RE GOING TO JAYWALK ANYWAY, DON’T PUSH THE FUCKING BUTTON.

        Saying you come to a complete stop before proceeding across a red light puts you in the minority, though. SDOT says it’s fine to treat a light that won’t change for you as a “malfunctioning signal”, a.k.a. a 4 way stop. You just need to be certain it’s not seeing you, first. Most bicyclists seem to be more worried about conserving momentum and/or not having to unclip their shoes than about safety, though, and just blithely roll on through.

      5. “you won’t see me do what really bothers you — force someone with the right of way to stop.”

        Frankly, that’s all I and anybody else should really care about. I don’t even get pissy about cars doing California stops any more – provided nobody else is around.

      6. @Lack: When I’m walking around my neighborhood I press every walk button in every direction at every corner. I cross, of course, when it’s safe to do so. I’m pretty sure this is more likely to clarify the situation for pedestrians behind me than it is to hinder anyone’s progress (I live in an area with pretty high foot traffic and a lot of stupid walk signals). YMMV.

    1. Mark, which countries are you thinking of? There are a lot of countries in Europe, of course, and I’ve only rented bikes in Germany, Austria, Belgium, Spain, and the U.K., and have never once been asked to produce any sort of biking license.

      But now that you mention it, in at least one of those countries, getting a license to drive a car requires hours of training from a certified driving school–and passing tough written and practical exams. I can’t say I’ve never encountered jerk drivers while biking in Germany, but in my experience, they’re far less common than in the U.S.

      1. No licensing. But the liability laws are written so that Ped v. Bike, Bike is automatically at fault; Motor Vehicle versus Ped or Bike, Motor Vehicle is automatically at fault. Changes operator behavior in a jiffy.

        Also, in Europe, Driver’s Licenses aren’t handed out from gumball machines as they seemingly are here.

  8. Well, after above discussion, what does everybody think? Seems to me requiring a license to bike, after ride-check by city or county police bicycle squad, would be a good thing, whether they do it in Europe or not.

    Also, visits by bicycle officers to elementary schools. And probably UW too.

    Hitler reference was fantastic clip somebody posted week or two back, where a scene from a well-known movie about Hitler was subtitled so a monumental tirade delivered by Hitler to his officers translated as a total meltdown over proliferation of bike lanes in Vancouver BC.

    Peak of the fuhrer’s rage was as he recounted that he himself had recently tried to become a bike rider- and his bike was stolen.

    Good commentary on current bikelash.

    Mark Dublin

  9. I think Seniors in powerchairs should be ticketed for using bike lanes. (I’ve seen it happen more than I want to believe – Tacoma…)

    What would drivers think if they saw that! (good thing N. 26th street isn’t very busy…)

      1. The over 50 age group is one of the fastest growing (not to forget obesity caused illnesses) in the US – cyclists and chair users OUGHT to be sharing peacefully and co-operatively

      2. You all need to head to Amsterdam for a while. What shocked me most there was that bicycles, mopeds, and the occasional power scooter all shared their bike lanes without any noticeable fuss. Additionally, the cars & bikes would occasionally be forced to share a roadway, say when a bike needed to pass a slower cyclist, again with virtually no fuss. I was there for 5 days and remembered hearing a car horn only once or twice. (And believe me, I was listening for them) They seem seriously mellow about the chaos.

        The problem that I see is that we Americans are too wound up about getting somewhere NOW. Maybe if we introduced a bit of Paxil or Xanax into the water supply things would be different.

        Not trying to point fingers here, I’m guilty of this behavior too, but Metro’s brainwashing, err.. I mean training, is starting to work. I’m getting pretty zen about hanging out and acting as a 30-ton wingman for cyclists that I could safely pass but know that they’ll just pass me again when I get stuck at the red light.

    1. Shared lanes for bikes and golf carts, if done right, seems good to me. For people with limited mobility, a golf cart provides essentially the same mobility as a car for short trips, but at much smaller cost in terms of money, land, and impact on the environment.

      Currently, the notion of driving a golf cart to the grocery store may seem crazy to most people, but I can’t think of a rational reason what’s wrong with it, other than the fact that people simply didn’t think of the idea when designing streets that could accommodate them. Given sufficient demand, some major streets could even have three categories of lanes – car, golf cart, and bike.

      Another benefit of people choosing to own $5,000 golf carts rather than $20,000 cars is that these people become a natural market for transit for longer trips that take too long at 20 mph.

      1. I’ve thought about the golf cart argument myself and I go back and forth as to practicality.

        Most automobiles seem oversized for their tasks. 40 percent of all trips are 2 miles or less, so do you really need a vehicle that can go 80 mph and travel 300 miles for that job?

        Imagine a town full of golf cars (well, I guess that would be “The Prisoner”, but imagine a good town). Suddenly even biking becomes safe as the streets are full of low impact, slow moving vehicles. Who needs to drive 50 mph to get to Top Food and bring back two grocery bags?!

        But then, at some point I think, how about the Mom or Dad who has to drive 10 miles to a daycare center, then soccer practice, then a health care clinic…and then it starts to thunderstorm.

        So, we’re back to the traditional car being the best overall vehicle.

  10. “i regularly do not obey traffic when i feel unsafe.”

    Ahhh, the old “Obeying traffic laws makes you unsafe argument”.

    i dont consider it an argument…i avoid car traffic that way and potential mass and speed conflicts. no flames to fan pal. unless they are your own.

    Shall I draw a comparison to running a red light with my bus to avoid throwing my passengers around to really fan the flames? :)

    you can…but it will be a poor drawing.

  11. I completely disagree.

    Most of the ideologues in this blog have already admitted that much of “transit” is really social engineering. Light rail is not built to get people from point A to point B in the way they would like, so much as to reconfigure their living patterns in the way planners and downtown real estate owners would like. Of course, urbists rejoin, highway planners do the same thing, favoring car manufactures and mall developers. Point taken. We all agree.

    So now you say that pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure is already “proportionate” in that it is so small a composite of “transit”.

    But I say, proportionate in who’s universe? In the same way that people who make cars, want you to use cars, people who manage transit, want you to use transit. They define “walkability” by how little you need to walk to the nearest subway station.

    I posit a alternative that bases a society on more and further walking and bicycling. Imagine a Pedestrian-Bicycle infrastructure where one can walk or cycle for 10, 20 or 50 miles with no impedance from motorized traffic? I completely independent network of roadways, bridges, paths, parallel lanes.

    Think about it this way. Suppose you wanted to walk from Everett to downtown Seattle? Think about how hard and unpleasant it is right now. Think of how many traffic lights you would have to wait at. Think of how many wide car conduits you would have to ford and intersections with heavy traffic you would have to cross.

    No…if Social Engineering is the game, then let’s let everyone play. For people who want to walk and walk far, and bicycle far, we need a road of our own.

    1. OR we need a change in attitude from a great number of motorists (not all, probably not even most, but certainly a great number) recognizing our right to be on the road and recognizing the reasonableness of the proposition that passing a cyclist can and should be done safely and easily.

      I agree with VeloBusDriver above that most of the anger is probably related to fear about hurting the cyclist (Not necesarily out of concern for the cyclist so much as the huge inconvenience it would cause to the driver).

      I don’t particularly want a lot of separate infrastructure. I’d be overjoyed with well paved roads and lawful and courteous fellow road users.

      1. A vehicular cyclist may not want an independent infrastructure, but you represent only a small percentage of the people who do or would like to ride bicycles.

        Most bike riders don’t want to be anywhere near cars and that is why they will put their bikes on their car racks and ride to a place like Soos Creek Trail and ride up and down away from traffic.

        In the model bicycling cities like Amsterdam, they have evolved away from bike lanes to cycle tracks. Even when paralleling roads, bike lanes are segregated from roadways and even on the same side of the parked cars as pedestrians.

        This is what most people want. This is what would turn bike riding back from a specialized activity to regular form of transport much as it is in Amsterdam and Copenhagen.

      2. An independent infrastructure is great in theory, but if we actually want to cycle to places, rather than just around in a loop, an independent infrastructure is not practical because the land and monetary costs of building it are too great.

        Trails are great, but I think a good analogy is to think of them like a freeway, but for bikes. Trails are great for cruising long distances without having to worry about car traffic and can take you a lot of places. However, the space required by a separate trail guarantees that the trail network will never be as complete as the road network, requiring some amount of street riding for every trip, just as driving requires some amount of travel on surface streets for every trip, even though, for many trips, a freeway can cover the bulk of the miles.

        A statement that biking should be done on trails, not streets, is actually a statement that going biking is an end-activity that you drive to, not a way to actually get somewhere. This attitude is unfortunate, since bikes are great for actually getting places and, in addition to the exercise value, with good infrastructure, biking can be much faster than busing and can often be at or close to parity with driving.

        For example, not long ago, a group of co-workers and I were traveling from Redmond to downtown Bellevue to watch a movie. The trip is 6 miles down 520 and 405 and Google estimated 10 minutes by car or 30 minutes by bike. I decided to try an experiment and rode my bike to Bellevue while my co-workers drove.

        The result: we left at the same time and we arrived at the same time. Even though traffic on the freeway was light, whatever time the others gained by going 60 mph down the freeway I gained it all back by parking right in front of the building while they drove up and down the Lincoln Square parking garage searching for an available space.

      3. I agree with John Bailo here in at least one sense. The percentage of the population that is willing and eager to bicycle on shared roads with motor vehicles, even on well-paved roads with courteous fellow road users, to steal a phrase, is still quite small. The percentage of the population willing to bicycle on cycle tracks separated from the cars, and on neighborhood greenways designed to slow down cars, is significantly higher. You want to see a higher bicycle mode split in Seattle? Go after those folks. Vehicular cyclists are simply not a majority; having more people biking, over time, leads to a better biking environment for everyone.

    2. “Most of the ideologues in this blog have already admitted that much of “transit” is really social engineering.”

      Pot calling the kettle “black”, no?

      1. Uh…yes…I mean no.

        I mean…what is your point?

        I felt I chastised both sides in second paragraph…or did you not read that far?

      2. Ideologue: “An adherent of an ideology, esp. one who is uncompromising and dogmatic”

        I’d put you in that group as well – That’s my point. That said I probably shouldn’t have replied as this is heading way off topic. Feel free to respond if you must but I’m done here.

  12. Most bicyclists seem to be more worried about conserving momentum and/or not having to unclip their shoes than about safety, though, and just blithely roll on through…….

    maybe you should ask them and things and things may seem different.

    when i go thru interestions on red it is only when the perpindicular way is clear.

    and if it is an interesection i dont feel comfortable sitting in the middle of on a bicycle while cars come up from behind or right beside me. i dont run stop signs and lights to make other cars slam on brakes to avoid me….i avoid them by getting out of the middle of the road. and that to me SEEMS safest for all.

  13. I can’t count the times in my delivery job I’d see a bike run a red a few blocks ahead… and then the light would change and hold me up,………..

    if the bike ran the red wouldnt it still be red whether a bike was there or not??

    wouldnt you ustill have to stop??

    1. You misunderstand. The example bike running a red is crosstraffic. My green, their red. By the time I get to the light, it’s changed to give them a green and me a red, even though they’re long gone. This is an issue where a major street crosses a minor one, and the signal changes on-demand only, rather than an intersection with constant traffic in all directions.

      1. Time to update the signal demand system.

        Use video cameras that focus on stopped vehicles not simplistic asphalt sensors.

      2. Nah, @Lack, you misunderstand. If the cyclist had waited for the light you’d still have to stop at it. Instead of complaining about stopping for nobody you’d be complaining about stopping for somebody on a bike. I can only wonder why. In the end, the only problem is that you stress out too easily and like to complain.

        If there’s really nobody there, you can always just run the red light yourself. Alternately, you can stop worrying about things you can’t change.

  14. But you’ll probably have to stop (and thus jostle your passengers) to do this ……

    do slow bumps jostles passengers?? curves in roads??

  15. I note a lot of the posts start with “Most cyclists want/don’t want/obey/don’t obey/do/don’t do…” something.

    How do you know? Of course it’s not practical to cite data for every assertion, and most data is collected (even if is unconsciously and anectodqally collected) to confirm or justify an existing hypothesis: last week at two in the afternoon I saw a hipster riding no hands down the middle of the lane on Leary Way no hands while eating an apple – so therefore Most Cyclists are unemployed inconsiderate show-offs, right?

    This isn’t an original thought, but how about id we just say “people on bikes” rather than “cyclists”? Most people on bikes want to get where they’re going. (so do most people in cars and most people riding transit.)

  16. Seems to me that those who ride bicycles come in two basic flavors: The ones who identify with cars and want the same rights and privileges, and those who identify with pedestrians and want to have as little interaction as possible with cars (I myself am more comfortable in the latter category).
    Regarding rude and inconsiderate behaviour: I think it is a basic ‘me first’ ‘get-out-of-my way’ personality trait that causes this rather than the mode of transportation used, be it feet, bike, or car. A few examples I have observed: The pedestrian who steps suddenly into a busy crosswalk, causing motorists to slam on brakes, possibly causing bodily injury to both drivers and their passengers; the bicyclist who insists on riding up the steep hill to UW campus when there are far better alternatives available, nevermind that he is holding up four or five buses behind him; the bicyclist who rides fast on the sidewalk and does not stop or even slow down at a bus stop full of people, even when wheelchairs and strollers are present. And of course the car drivers who think the roadway is all theirs. Come to think of it, I have even met this type of personality while doing laps at the IMA pool…..

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