It took them long enough, and while they’re not outwardly saying it, the City of Seattle is finally conceding that too many of the local bicyclists who choose to commute to work via bicycles are doing so irresponsibly.
The City installed a series of “speed humps” along the 2nd Avenue because riders weren’t keeping in mind that they share the space with cars, buses or people on the sidewalks. There were quite a few near collisions (and actual collisions) prompting the city to finally intervene.
This is a big step for the city which, for the longest time, pretended that bicyclists weren’t part of the problem; that it was solely bad drivers. Now, don’t get me wrong: drivers can be nuts in this city. But there are awfully inconsiderate bicyclists that will almost always lose if they cause an accident with a car; and they seem to ride with an entitled attitude as if they own the road because of some superiority complex.
Along with this news, the Seattle Times confirms what a lot of already knew — not many people use the protected bike lane in downtown. There are just 915 riders who use the 2nd Avenue bike lanes per weekday; the negative impact it’s had on the commute for drivers and bus riders is not worth the problems they’ve caused. The numbers are so low, even urbanist-activist Councilmember Mike O’Brien seems disappointed.
“I would like to see the numbers higher. That does surprise me,” O’Brien told the Times. He personally uses his bike for a commute, so he’ll help funnels tens of millions more into bike infrastructure only a little over 3 percent of commuters use.
Of course, there’s some spin when it comes to the low numbers. Despite bike commuting declining after spending and declaring tens of millions of dollars on bike infrastructure, the argument is still “if you build it, they will come” for some reason.
“We will see greater usage once we see expansions up to Denny, and down at the ID (Chinatown International District),” said Kelli Refer, Seattle advocacy director for Cascade Bicycle Club, to the Times. “To get to Second Avenue [right now] you have to be a fairly confident rider, to even reach the protected lanes.”
People aren’t biking because there aren’t enough options. It’s because most people don’t want to ride up or down a hill in the rain to get to and from work. In fact, I’m sure parents definitely would prefer to bike in tandem with their 9-year-olds to drop them off at school. If only they had more bike lanes!