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August 20, 2013 at 7:32 AM
Superb example for Seattle businesses
In my July 14 op-ed piece in The Seattle Times, “Building a Bicycle Renaissance in Seattle,” I specifically called on Seattle’s business community to support improvements in cycling conditions as evidence of their commitment to environmental sustainability, public health and the economic future of Seattle.
Thus, I was pleased to read on the front page of The Times that Amazon is investing in both protected bike lanes (cycle tracks) and improved bike parking. [“Amazon goal: safer, easier cycling,” page one, Aug. 16.]
Amazon has given a superb example for other Seattle firms, both large and small, to follow. It is now time for the rest of Seattle’s business community to step up to the plate and show they really care about the future of Seattle and the environment.
This is especially true for Seattle’s corporate giants, but even smaller firms can play an important role by providing good bike parking for their employees and customers. Heath-care firms have a special responsibility to promote active travel modes like bicycling, which promote public health while reducing health costs.
I hereby challenge the responsible business community of Seattle to follow Amazon’s example of investing in bicycling for daily travel. Although I live far away from Seattle, in the New York City metro area, I plan on increasing my purchases of Amazon products as a thank-you for their support of bicycling.
John Pucher, professor at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, N.J.
July 29, 2013 at 7:25 PM
No room on the road
Riding bicycles is fun, healthy and nonpolluting. It would be even better if bicycle riding could help solve Seattle’s traffic problems. [“Around the Northwest: Full recovery likely for injured cyclist,” NW Sunday, July 28.]
However, more bicycles on Seattle streets is proving to be an unworkable, maybe disastrous, solution. Seattle’s traffic problems are problems of geography: The lakes, the Sound, the hills and the ship canal dictate a traffic grid that can’t get better.
All this is exacerbated by the location of Interstate 5 right in the middle. Today, the grid we have is stuffed full of cars and new-car sales are booming.
When designers insist on superimposing a traffic grid for bicycles on top of an already unworkable traffic pattern, the result is predictable. There simply isn’t room for safe-bicycle lanes that usurp the already overcrowded Seattle streets.
I wish it weren’t so.
Larry Lowry, Seattle
July 24, 2013 at 11:49 AM
Keep your head safe
Danny Westneat, I enjoy reading your articles, but I thought that your one about bike helmets today is a bit off the mark. [“Helmet-free Paris lights the way,” NW Wednesday, July 17.]
I have lived in Amsterdam and Southeast Asia, where, as you referenced, many people bike. The difference there is that drivers actually pay attention to bikers and share the road (or bikers have their own dedicated roads).
I do not believe that Seattle has the same culture, so as a biker I am not taking the risk. I wear a helmet. Not wearing a helmet is, in my opinion, a sign of vanity and stupidity in our car-obsessed culture. It is a bit like playing Russian roulette.
While having a helmet law may impede the city’s program, I wonder if there are more creative solutions than ditching a law that is meant to save people’s lives?
Elizabeth Kaehler, Seattle
July 22, 2013 at 7:29 PM
Ideals collide with danger
I disagree with Danny Westneat’s assertions about going the French route with bike-rental programs for Seattle [“Helmet-free Paris lights the way,” NW Wednesday, July 17.]
Seattle is bike-riding hell, as far as I’m concerned, and helmets barely scratch the surface. Downtown road surfaces are rutted, full of parked cars, and rife with rain-slick manhole covers. Add earbudded pedestrians and distracted drivers to those liabilities, and you have the makings of a fatality.
I speak from experience. I biked for a month through Seattle’s waterfront streets, proud to call myself a member of the green crowd. Three crashes later, I am never getting on a bike around there again. I had errant cars forcing pedestrians to scamper in front of me and large, worn-down manhole covers with no grid marks left, causing the my first and second crashes. The third crash was a combination of everything.
Seattle should be ashamed of its waterfront routes.
Southbound riders near Spring Street and King Street are forced to ride in vehicular traffic, or face oncoming riders, curbs and disappearing lanes if they attempt to ride in the northbound lane.
Seattle needs to get past this whimsical, politically correct bravado it has about saving the Earth with a bike, and realize someone is going to get flattened.
If I want to feel better about the Earth, I’ll just recycle my wine bottles.
Laura Pierce, Kent
July 22, 2013 at 7:11 AM
Cyclists pay their fair share
I’m hoping the school-bus driver who complained about bicyclists breaking traffic laws is no longer in her job, because she is clearly either blind or driving with her eyes shut. [“Northwest Voices: Bicycle safety,” Opinion, July 14.]
She insists she’s seen more cyclists breaking traffic laws than drivers. Really? There are thousands more drivers than there are cyclists, and just in my daily five-mile drive to work, I regularly see those drivers roll through stop signs, pass on the right, change lanes or turn without signaling, cut other drivers off, exceed the speed limit … the list goes on and on.
The letter writer just hates bicyclists.
I’m tired of people complaining that cyclists don’t pay their fair share of gas tax in support of transportation projects that include bike lanes and other bike-related projects. I drive plenty, and so do all the other adult cyclists I know.
Besides, transportation amenities, like bike lanes, contribute to the overall livability of the entire community, which has all sorts of benefits to every single one of us — even those who never get out on a bike and ride.
Kasia Pierzga, Olympia
July 19, 2013 at 7:07 AM
Guerrilla action was irresponsible
Can this be real? A guerrilla bicycle advocate group redesigns a city street without a permit. [“Seattle embraces idea of Cherry Street bike-lane buffer,” NW Wednesday, July 17.]
Merely a couple of days after this unauthorized citizen recharting of a busy downtown street’s traffic, Mayor Mike McGinn commissions his city engineer, Dongho Chang, to mimic this demand and make it even better.
What’s next? Will McGinn offer to reimburse the rogue group for its expenses to reallocate our city traffic without a permit? Isn’t there a fine to redirect traffic by unauthorized citizens? Is this not vandalism?
A more serious question is, who would have been responsible if a serious accident had happened due to the confusion of this sudden recharting that the daily, commuting drivers knew nothing about?
It would be more community-friendly if this guerrilla group and others like the bicycle clubs would push for bicycle license and registration to earn the right to demand lanes.
Dee Tezelli, Seattle
July 16, 2013 at 11:22 AM
Editorial was delusional
I just read John Pucher’s guest column, and I must make two points. [“Building a bicycling renaissance in Seattle,” Opinion, July 14.]
First of all, maybe Pucher should read the letter in the next column of the paper that day. [“Northwest Voices: Bicycle Safety,” Opinion, July 14.]
Secondly, where does he get off saying 60 percent of Seattleites want to ride bikes?
If anybody truly believe people — en masse — are going to give up their cars, they are delusional and should be riding bicycles so they won’t hurt anybody with a car.
Gordon Knuth, Seattle
Those were very interesting pieces in Sunday’s Opinion section.
One was positive, with constructive ideas on how to promote bike-riding and make biking safer and easier for all ages and genders.
The other piece, a letter to the editor, was the more negative and confrontational side, suggesting taxing and registering all bikes so we can tattle to the police.
What a contrast.
I’m OK with the taxing to help improve bike lanes that John Pucher suggests, which actually could be accomplished when a bike is sold; maybe an additional 10 percent tax on all bike sales could go exclusively to providing greenways for bikes. I could see many bike riders and bike shops being in favor of a tax for this purpose.
However, I find it ironic that we would require bike registration when bikes harm no one other than the bike rider if there is an accident, yet not require registration of hand guns, which have the sole purpose of harming or killing others.
John Whitmore, Maple Valley
Bikes must be regulated for cyclists’ safety
Not only do bicycles need licenses, but the riders also need to have some proof that they have passed a test on the rules of the road, in addition to paying a fee for the privilege.
How about requiring insurance? If bicyclers want the same rights as drivers and want to share the road with them, then they need to accept the same responsibilities.
Then there is the issue of real safety helmets, not little aerodynamic riding caps. Effective lights, sturdy frames; all of these things are codified on other vehicles that use the roads. Why not bicycles, which are by far more vulnerable?
Life for a bicycler was simple when they used off-street trails and the empty streets of the suburbs, but it has to change when so many of them now share the highways and busy streets of cities.
Susan Terry, Seattle
May 23, 2013 at 11:16 AM
Vote no on ‘missing link’
I grew up practically welded to bicycles and rode them over many a railroad track [“A Plan B for the ‘missing link,’ Opinion, May 16]. One of the first things I learned was to cross at a 90-degree angle.
Even to a 10-year-old, this is not rocket science. But it seems to be beyond the capabilities of the adult bicyclists of Seattle, who are demanding their own red carpet through Ballard.
Remember, these are people who are not required to register their bicycles, obtain safety training or pay a road-use charge for each vehicle like the rest of us. Yet they constantly demand that car drivers pay for new bike facilities.
Seattle’s local government encourages this kind of selfishness. Mayor Mike McGinn and the Seattle City Council view automobiles as wallets on four wheels to be pickpocketed, while caving into every possible bicyclist’s demand and never asking them to pay anything at all, let alone their fair share.
Voters need to say no to the Ballard grab, and more generally, to local politicians in thrall to bicycle-pressure groups. City government needs to be reminded who pays the bills around here.
Charles Pluckhahn, Seattle
April 29, 2013 at 8:04 AM
Safety regulations must be taken into consideration
Before we all get euphoric about 450,000 riders commuting merrily on their 500 bicycles, abandoning the alternatives of cars and buses, Puget Sound Bike Share executives first have to assure us of this program’s safety element [“Puget Sound Bike Share to roll out with 500 bicycles,” NWTuesday, April 23].While the program was uber innovative with helmet dispensers for safety, nowhere was it mentioned that riders will be liable if they violate the rules of the road.
Steve Durrant and Holly Houser, the key players in this program, must recognize the need to display license plates (front and back) so bikers can be identified. It should be a prerequisite to carry adequate coverage in cases where either bikers or others incur property damage or injuries due to the their violation of traffic laws.
In brief, it’s already a sad fact that many bikers do not obey traffic stoplights. It has long been a concern that due to the absence of a state bike-license requirement, no injured party has a case to claim compensation from a bike rider if he or she flees the scene.
So, Puget Sound Bike Share, we urge you to legislate a license requirement for bicycles before dropping 500 more wheels on to Seattle streets.
Dee Tezelli, Seattle
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