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Michael Medved

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Bicycling, again, is down in Seattle

(File, Associated press)

Despite placating militant bicyclist activists by spending millions of dollars and committing to bike-friendly infrastructure plans, the City of Seattle saw yet another year where bike ridership declined.

When combining this with data from Commute Seattle, this accounts for the fifth year of declining bike ridership.

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According to the Seattle Department of Transportation, bicycle volume decreased by 2.6 percent, even after installing better technology to track ridership. Of the seven spots where they continuously track bike ridership, six areas saw decreases, with four of those six experiencing dramatic declines.

The general downtrend of bicycling tracks with what we’ve learned from Commute Seattle surveys. Earlier this year, I relayed:

According to the 2016 Commute Seattle survey, Seattle bike commuting has again declined as a percentage of the total commuters.

In 2016, only 2.9 percent of morning commuters surveyed rode a bicycle; this is only .1 percent higher than 2008 numbers, before our investments. In fact, this number is concerning, given how much time the City spends on placating the small but vocal bicyclist community. What’s worse is that despite the investments, the numbers keep dwindling. In 2012, the number was 3.3 percent and in 2014 it was 3.1 percent.

These numbers are embarrassing for city leaders, like Councilmember Mike O’Brien, who foolishly ask for major infrastructure investments on a mode of travel that will never catch on much beyond what we’re currently experiencing. Seattle, with its wet weather and unfriendly hills, will only appeal to hardcore hobbyists who treat bike riding like a religion.

Do these numbers mean we ignore bike commuters? No, not at all. We should accommodate where it makes sense with a modest budget that reflects the small interest in cycling.

But we should definitely stop punishing drivers, put more money into transit where there is clear interest, install smart technology for pedestrians where they walk the most and stop listening to the small but loud cycling activists.

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