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November 18, 2013 at 6:30 AM
Cyclists in Seattle are self-selected
In response to Michael Hosterman’s letter [“Bikers provide a source of justifiable revenue,” Online, Nov. 12], I would like to offer a counterpoint.
As a cyclist, I hear the same complaint from motorists over and over. The bicyclists they see take extreme risks disregarding their own safety. Many of these motorists don’t understand the reality of braving traffic with little protection save a pair of blinking lights.
Even the most cautious rider takes on significant risk when he or she hits the road. Everyone is comfortable getting behind the wheel of a car, but many people don’t feel safe biking in Seattle. In the Netherlands, where there is bicycle-friendly infrastructure, one is likely to see diversity among bikers. In Seattle, the bicycling population is mostly self-selecting: risk takers will be risk takers.
I don’t consider myself to be a risk taker, but I do bike to work. A recent AAA study estimates the yearly cost of owning and driving a car to be $8,776. By bike commuting, I am saving myself money to pay down my student loans while also saving the environment by reducing emissions. Despite these benefits, many are still unwilling to risk biking every day.
As there are so few cyclists, I doubt the effort it would take to implement and enforce licensing would justify any licensing fee. As it is, cops can and do ticket reckless cyclists. Punitively enstating bicycle licenses will only result in fewer opportunities for those who need low-cost transit most.
I would like everyone to have access to low-cost transportation, but unless the roads are equally acessible to cyclists, people will remain in their vehicles.
Johanna Robertson, Seattle
August 8, 2013 at 7:42 PM
Safe routes needed for bicyclists
I was thrilled to see The Seattle Times’ editorial on bicycle safety. [“Seattle is playing catch-up on bike safety,” Opinion, Aug. 8.]
As a 64-year-old woman, I want to be able to bicycle safely to the grocery store instead of driving one mile to the QFC.
Supporting greenways and cycle tracks is a start to providing safe routes for bicyclists. I have had the opportunity to bike in Portland and Vancouver, and it was a joy.
I hope we can make Seattle a joy for biking as well. I look forward to the City Council showing its support for safer biking in Seattle.
Patty Lyman, Seattle
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 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
July 1, 2013 at 4:30 PM
Licenses not the answer
So let’s see here; if I pay and have a license attached to my bicycle, the drivers in Seattle will, all of a sudden, give me room on the road and not complain? [“Northwest Voices: Step up and pay,” Opinion, July 1.]
Sounds too good to be true — sign me up!
Douglas Brusig, Seattle
Walking can be dangerous too
With all the press we have seen this week regarding bicycling safety, I would like to mention that Seattle is not a very safe place for pedestrians. Much of the city does not have sidewalks, and pedestrians are forced into the streets, to compete with car and bicycle traffic.
I have lived in North Seattle for the last six years, and I have found walking around on busy side streets to be a dangerous undertaking, especially on the streets with roundabouts, which force traffic into narrow driving lanes and decrease visibility.
It has been nice to see so many bicycle lanes recently. Perhaps it’s time to focus on sidewalks, especially around our city’s schools, where children’s safety is at risk.
Mary Varnum, Seattle
June 27, 2013 at 4:30 PM
Seattle can do better
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
June 26, 2013 at 8:00 PM
Cyclists should pay nominal license fee
So, Seattle streets are not safe for cyclists. [“Worse than Manhattan?” page one, June 26.]
This, despite our mayor, who is an avid cyclist himself, is supported by the Cascade Bicycle Club and who hired its former advocacy director to work with the Department of Transportation, to the tune of $95,000 a year.
This certainly has to count as another failure of our mayor-in-training.
He might have garnered more general and enthusiastic support for cycling as a serious transportation mode in Seattle if he had pushed for all cyclists to pay a nominal license fee. Although this would only be a fraction of the costs required for more safety measures, as in many other aspects of the community, this would signal that we’re all in it together.
Paul Gutowski, Seattle
Bike expert was not riding safely
I noticed the picture used for this story on bicycle safety shows the Rutgers professor (”and scholar of bike safety”) and his friend riding two abreast in the bike lane down Dexter Avenue North.
I don’t think bike lanes are designed to safely accommodate two riders in such a manner.
Neil Marck, Bainbridge Island
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