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November 05, 2007

Portland Moves Forward with City Bike Plans, Now it's Seattle's Turn

Seattle's Bike Master Plan finally comes up for a vote today in the city council. It adds about 200 miles of bike paths and trails and lots of other amenities that will make biking in the city safer. In the last month we've see two tragic bike-related incidents -- one where a biker was killed in a collision with a dump truck on Eastlake, and the other happened last weekend when a biker was shot through the lung with BB pellets as he rode home to West Seattle. One of the pellets narrowly missed his aorta, so he's lucky to be alive.

In a road-rage incident last week in Fremont, an SUV driver tried to intimidate a cyclist by following him from the bridge onto 34th towards Stone Way and driving straight for him. He tried to hit the biker twice but when the police questioned him he claimed it was all the biker's fault.

Hmm. SUV vs. bicycle. I'll let you be the judge.

If you spend any time at all reading through comments in the P.I.'s Soundoff sections you'll find ample evidence that some very sick people live among us. Apparently, they feel so annoyed and inconvenienced by having to share the road with cyclists that they actually cheer when someone is injured. They think it's teaching those dirty bike riders a lesson. Well, I warned you they were sick.

Hopefully, city officials will put the stamp of approval on the plan and hopefully, they'll do something to prevent the mayor's office from further altering elements of it. It's well past time for some leadership and vision. While we listen to them debating between sharrows and actual bike lanes on Stone Way, our neighbors to the south, in Portland, have already made the commitment to a city bike plan that has lots of fans. People use the system, and businesses benefit as well. According to Sam Adams, Portland's commissioner for transportation, everybody wins. But Portland, like Seattle, is still grappling with safety concerns.

“Our intentions are to be as sustainable a city as possible,” Mr. Adams said. “That means socially, that means environmentally and that means economically. The bike is great on all three of those factors. You just can’t get a better transportation return on your investment than you get with promoting bicycling.”

Although the city has worked to help drivers and riders share roadways, two cyclists were killed in October when they were hit by trucks, and questions persist over whether enough is being done to protect cyclists.

Mr. Adams said he was preparing a budget proposal that would spend $24 million to add 110 miles to the city’s existing 20-mile network of bike boulevards, which are meant to get cyclists away from streets busy with cars. Doing so could “double or triple ridership,” he said.

If you have the time and the inclination, the Seattle city council will be meeting to address the Bike Master Plan at 2 p.m. today. They'll be taking public comment at the beginning of the meeting.

Posted by shoephone on November 5, 2007 at 12:35 AM in Washington Culture | Permalink


Portland is still having growing pains with the bikes,there is a lot of animosity yet to be ironed out and the recent deaths have not helped here either.
We do have a very large population of bikers, I am not really aware how many are in the Seattle area.

Thought I would stop by and say Hello to Shoephone, it has been awhile but I have not forgotten.

Posted by: Bustednuckles | Nov 5, 2007 1:45:14 PM

Hey Busted - nice to "see" you.

I don't have exact numbers, but from my anecdotal sightings of riders I see on the trails and on the roads, I think we've got an active community here. The animosity betwen drivers and cyclists seems to be coming to a breaking point. When I'm in my car, I always have my eye out for riders. It bothers me when I see someone without a helmet and proper gear, but that's no excuse for the aggressive actions of some drivers.

Maybe, once the bike plan is passed here, Portland and Seattle can exchange notes on how each city's plans are shaping up. We need more paths, but safety is always number one.

Posted by: shoephone | Nov 5, 2007 2:00:31 PM

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