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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

June 27, 2013 at 4:30 PM

Bike expert compares Seattle streets to Manhattan

Seattle can do better

A cyclist descends the hill at Gas Works Park as dark rainy skies blanket Seattle. [Ken Lambert, The Seattle Times.]

A cyclist descends the hill at Gas Works Park as dark rainy skies blanket Seattle. [Ken Lambert, The Seattle Times.]

As someone who commutes to work by bike every day along Dexter Avenue North and Second Avenue in Seattle, I can attest to the fact that riding the signed, left-side bike lane on one-way Second Avenue downtown can often be a harrowing, literally death-defying several minutes of my hourlong commute from North Seattle. [“Worse than Manhattan?” page one, June 26.]

With car doors opening on one side, impatient and distracted drivers drifting into the bike lane on the other side, and then abruptly turning left directly into the bike lane, it takes constant vigilance, proper positioning, and assuming drivers will do exactly what they shouldn’t, for a bicyclist to stay out of harm’s way.

In contrast, I thank the city every day for constructing the effective, buffered bike lanes and creative road redesign on Dexter Avenue North that make that part of my commute a real pleasure.

The bicycle expert quoted in Lindblom’s article, John Pucher, is absolutely correct. For a major city, Seattle has woefully inadequate north-south bike connections downtown. What we need are separated bike lanes such as a “cycle track” on Second Avenue and Fourth Avenue that the city could study and design.

Do we really want to be called “worse than Manhattan”? I think not. We can do much better.

Steve Kennedy, Seattle

Bikers need to be more focused on safety

I appreciate the June 26 front-page story regarding bike safety in Seattle. I agree that riders should not be in danger.

However, I rarely, if ever, read about the riders obeying the basic rules of the road: speed limits, stop lights and right-of-way rules. When I drive in the Jackson-Broadway area, I am constantly at risk of hitting a bike rider because they have chosen to not obey these rules.

The situation becomes worse when I take my daily walk on the Sam Smith Park pathway. I have been nearly hit by a biker five times this past year.

Gary Clark, Seattle

Bikers aren’t getting a free pass

Regarding the licensing of bicyclists that seems to be proposed every time a bicycle is mentioned in your paper, just who are we talking about licensing? [“Northwest Voices: License cyclists,” Opinion, June 27.]

Seattle residents, King County residents, Washington state residents, U.S. residents? What about someone who brings their bike for a ride from Portland or Vancouver, B.C.? Do they have to buy a day-use permit? Are we going to waste Police Department resources on enforcement, or create a bike police branch?

I can guarantee that a government agency responsible for bike licensing would spend much more money than it takes in from license fees.

On the subject of making those who are perceived to be getting a free pass pay up, I would point out that in 2009, for example, the Seattle Department of Transportation received 4 percent of its budget from gas taxes. Most of the direct funding from residents came from the “Bridging the Gap” property tax and the general fund.

The idea that cyclists are getting a free ride is simply not based in fact. Most of the federal and state money received from motorists goes to fund federal and state roads (seldom used by bicyclists) and public transportation.

Be careful what you wish for. You may wind up with one more bureaucratic entity that has no hope of funding itself and becomes yet another burden on the taxpaying public in general.

Dennis Schroeder, Vashon Island

Comments | More in Seattle, Transportation | Topics: bicycle, bicycling, bike

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