He may be a rock star, but Duff McKagan also drives a car and motorcycle, rides a bike, and runs. And he says Seattle is doing traffic all wrong.
“I see it from all different angles,” he told KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson.
From his experience on the road and living in Seattle, McKagan is frustrated with how the city continues to plan its roads, bike lanes and more.
“My thing about being in a rock band has so little to do with being a citizen of Seattle,” he said. “I remember coming down to Los Angles in 1984 and seeing the traffic down there and thinking, ‘Seattle will never be this bad.’ Now, it’s worse than LA in Seattle.”
“I’m not saying I’m more experienced or I know more, but I travel and keep my eyes open,” McKagan said. “Because Seattle has gotten so bad with traffic, I am really aware of what they do in other cities – London, New York, Sydney … traffic does flow there. I don’t see bike lanes in Sydney, clogging up the roads. And people bike there.”
Seattle rock star on bikes, cars and more
McKagan is not anti-bike. In fact, he uses his bicycle to commute around town as much as he can. But he strongly objects to Seattle’s logic of forcing bike lanes to compete with car traffic.
“I’m an urban assault attack bike rider, but I know the roads are for cars,” he said. “I grew up knowing that. You don’t ride with the cars, it’s dangerous. So I ride the streets that cut through, like over Capitol Hill. I don’t take 23rd, I take the streets that cut over.”
“I have nothing against proper bike lanes in cool places, but they should be in cool places,” McKagan said. “Those places that have less cars. Like the route I recently took, up over Capitol Hill – side streets … Seattle traffic is not just the bikes, or the bike lanes. It’s a car city.”
He doesn’t stop with the layout. McKagan cites political will overpowering logic as one core reason Seattle has laid out its traffic system as it currently is.
“I know it’s probably not politically correct to say anything about the Cascade Bike Club, but you have strong lobby, and that side of politics – we all know it,” McKagan said. “And the Seattle City Council, they’re inept. As a bike rider, I just don’t get the Cascade Bike Club angle. I know they have cars, too.”
Light rail is another issue that McKagan points out as a Seattle traffic folly. And again, it’s a form of transportation he uses. Yet, according to this Seattle rock star, planners got things a bit off.
“I take the train sometimes to a Seahawks game,” he said. “It lets you off four blocks away from the stadium, and traffic cops have to block traffic to let people from the train cross those streets. It’s a real head scratcher.”
“I’ve played stadiums in Australia and Japan, where they have transportation systems, and the trains come up to the stadium,” McKagan said. “We are relying on Sound Transit putting up new stations, and it’s cool. There’s one at Husky Stadium. I sort of live near there. But am I going to walk in the rain for a mile to that train station? It’s not convenient. In New York, it’s convenient. You walk a block over and there’s the 14th Street station.”