{ ride a bike… everyday, everywhere }


Here’s a rant for you. Regarding the latest article in the P.I. about the protest bike ride up Stone Way. In all honesty, the article makes it sounds like a bunch of namby-pamby whiner cyclists not getting what they want.

I think it should be known that this article does not represent the entire population of bikers in the city of Seattle. I actually don’t like bike lanes on Stone Way; I don’t like bike lanes anywhere really.

What do I want? I want the whole lane of traffic. I want motorists to see me and to not be surprised by my presence when I am no longer in a bike lane. (Is there going to be a bike lane on every street in the city?) I want to be seen by motorists. And I want to be seen by motorists as a realistic and viable user of the public streets that we are all sharing.

The ironic thing is, I already have the whole lane. It is my understanding that I can already legally ride in the lane of traffic by my definition of what riding as near to the right (or left) of the through lane “as is safe.” Is my ability to define what is safe for me being questioned? Are we not able to determine this for ourselves?

RCW 46.61.770

RCW 46.61.755

RCW 46.61.110

RCW 46.61.120

“Sharrows” in my opinion offer a decent amount of “education” to all users of the roadways without the explicit segregation and separation of a bike lane. This education is in Sharing the Road. We all pay for it, we all own it, we all have to share it. Simple as that. Whatever happened to signs indicating the same: Share the Road. Why not do a better job of educating everyone on cyclist’s rights and their presence on the road?


All this whining for bike lanes may get the cyclists in Seattle a bunch of things we don’t really want or need. More contempt and aggression from motorists most likely; with any “success” with bike lanes, more road segregation likely giving way to legislation diminishing our rights to the entire road (i.e.: it being illegal to ride outside of designated bike lanes); and perhaps the eventual licensing and further taxing of cyclists (they’re free to ride for a reason!). All I’m saying is, be careful what you wish for, especially when it concerns others getting it too.

Let’s assert the rights we already have and take the lane! Ride like you mean it! Ride like we belong—because we do! Honestly, does the bike lane provide you with any protection from motorists who may or may not see you riding in it? The bike lane will not protect you when they absolutely don’t see you and turn through it?


Filed under: Cranked Magazine, Select

12 Responses

  1. Lee says:

    While I agree with you in principle, bicycle climbing lanes are actually really smart and probably the correct use of bicycle lanes. Stone Way, with it’s few intersections, is a prime location for a climbing lane northbound.

    It’s unfortunate that the ‘message’ of the Stone Way protest has been somewhat muddled or lost in translation – hopefully some of the interviews from the protest last night helped clarify that it’s honestly not about trying to get bike lanes put everywhere and dissing sharrows

    In fact, it’s not even really about the bike lane on Stone Way, it’s about the whole road diet and making it a better thoroughfare rather than just slapping down a couple of sharrows and removing the crosswalks from a four-lane arterial and calling it ‘complete’ or ‘bicycle-friendly’ or ‘pedestrian-friendly’. Reducing it from four lanes to three and a bicycle lane makes it easier to cross for pedestrians and less dangerous for left-turning bicycles and motor vehicles. They’ve already done that north of 40th, and it seems to work well.

    It’s also about the city’s apparent willingness to back down from their own Complete Streets Ordinance and the Bicycle Master Plan whenever it’s inconvenient. Yes, not everything in the BMP is the best solution, but it’s a good set of compromises from a bunch of people who have put some thought into it. The city needs to respect that, and not go around making back-door deals and doing things half-assed.

    While I’d love to live in a city where my right to the lane went unquestioned – oh Lord is it constantly questioned – even in that city I think there’s still a place for additional helpful treatments and laws that help ameliorate some of the inbuilt differences between bicycles and cars.

  2. Chas says:

    Indeed, the law clearly states you have the right to the entire lane. The law also states you have no legal obligation to ride in a bike lane. The best the police officer had to offer me was that it was illegal to hold up more than 5 vehicles, to which I retorted that there were only 3, and they had just caught up to me–at a stop light.

    As for the BMC, no matter what happens it is a step in generally a right direction. I have my qualms, as I would most all bicyclists would. I am glad folks like Lee and ELBs are activisting, no matter how poorly the PI fucks up the article (let alone the commentors).

    So Mike–I give you full permission to take the full lane. Enjoy it. Don’t let the bastards get you down.

    Lee, I much agree that climbing lanes are the best excuse for a bike lane.

    Whomever keeps putting sharrows on the far right of the lane: stop it, put it in the middle.

  3. Biff Torino says:

    I completely agree, that unless Seattle can overnight make lanes as thorough, well designed, and integrated as those in Holland, that it will give us a false and incomplete sense of bike safety to piece meal it.

    Dont settle for anything less than comprehensive ubiquitous bicycle integration.

    Michael is right that we should not accept half-baked solutions which are inherently dangerous.


    Biff Torino

  4. crankedmag says:

    All I’m saying really is that in my mind, bike lanes are merely a poor substitute to what we all really want: ease of travel with the entire road. Bike lanes are just a simulacrum of safety, they’re an imitation of a travel lane, and really just placating pablum on the whole.

  5. Lee says:

    I completely agree that bicycle lanes and bike boulevards and basically any modern bicycle treatment is a pale shadow of what the perfect cycling environment would be. That doesn’t mean I think it’s acceptable to let even this weak implementation – the BMP – be thrown aside. It’s not settling, it’s compromise – and a compromise that gets more cyclists out on the road is another step towards that cycling utopia.

    Furthermore, bicycling climbing lanes are a good idea. Just like truck climbing lanes on interstates, they help regulate traffic that’s moving at different speeds up a steep grade. It’s not unreasonable if done correctly.

  6. crankedmag says:

    There needs to be proper education; spending money on educating drivers and all users of the road could potentially eliminate the need for bicycle lanes. But, at best, without educating everyone on their rights and responsibilities while on the road these desired bike lanes will remain just as ineffective and dangerous as the existing ones are.

    But that’s not my entire point. I absolutely do not want my right to the entire road to be questioned now or in the future. They [the city] have already scrapped parts of the promised bike lanes on beloved Stone Way. What’s stopping them from scrapping other parts of the BMP that people are fond of? What’s stopping them from scrapping our rights to the road? It’s the same mentality that’s scrapping our crosswalks all over the city.

    Our rights to the road already exist. We have it good in Seattle. It is touted as a progressive city, I’ve lived and biked in other cities and the motorists mentalities there are not easily swayed by mere stripes on the road. I don’t believe our motorists will be either.

    I’ve read blogs and have heard people’s reactions to cyclists on the roads. Progressive my ass. People in this city are already griping that this BMP is a gift to cyclists that they do not want to pay for. Without the proper “education”, I only expect more aggression from drivers when I’m not in my so-called allotted space in the street. Just down the road from this will be the eventual limitation of our rights to the entire street.

    Lines are being drawn for sure, but sadly these lines are only in the sand.

  7. jack@the Hub says:

    Michael you are right on the money, but the other day I had a rare interaction with a motorist that gives credence to the benefits of signs and stripes. Read about it here: Here in Providence,

    Its basically a free for all due in part to a lack of public maintenence dollars and a lack of political will on the part of the mayor and everyone else who takes the opportunity to give a speech at Bike to Work Day about how much the support bicycling in our city. As it stands now, we have no infrastructure in the city that would indicate that “support”, but the promises are many.

    As someone who has been cycling around this city everyday for the past 15 years, I’ve gotten to the point where I fear more a badly executed BMP than the nothing we’ve been getting. Signing and striping won’t change my habits a bit and I fear the extra regulations you mention that may accompany such a half-baked plan would kill my below-the-radar buzz.

    Seattle is a great cycling city. In our case, I believe that if people are waiting for effective and safe bicycling infrastructure in our current political climate, they’ll be stuck in their car on on the bus for a long time. Get out there and take your lumps. You’ll inform the process of political change for the better.

  8. Lee says:

    Yes, I’d love to see education, but I’m still not convinced it’d help. I’ve been talking with folks about requiring mandatory retesting at license renewal, but frankly it only helps if people want it to. Watch how your typical educated driver interacts with any vehicle that they perceive as impeding them and it’s apparent that it’s not a lack of knowledge but a lack of respect.

    I think the BMP is going to get more cyclists out on the streets. I think the BMP is about more than just bike lanes – it’s about signalizing, road diets, wide outside lanes, and in general small changes that will help encourage people to get off the fence and start riding.

    I think leaving Stone Way as a discouraging segment of roadway—what else do you call a four-lane arterial on a hill with significant left-turning vehicles and some truck traffic?—is going to do exactly that, discourage people from riding. I don’t see that as a good thing.

  9. columbus says:

    yes, the below the radar buzz! There’s the head of the nail!

  10. Chas says:

    What’s stopping them from scrapping our rights to the road?

    Your rights to the road are governed by the State of Washington, not the City of Seattle. Seattle governs whether or not you have rights to ride on the sidewalk.

    If you’d like to ‘officially’ let (shithead) motorists know the rules of the road for specifically bicycles, head to a WA DOL office and grab many copies of the pamphlet on Bicycle laws. It’s clearly states in common language your rights, including your right to the full lane.

    • “People hold contradictory values and desires (which is a good thing – and the key to working for change). In our ‘motoring persona’ we want traffic to go faster. In our ‘resident persona’ we want traffic to go slower (or stop altogether). Second generation traffic calming is built on working with these internal contradictions and helping people find a more creative way to balance these contradictory needs. These contradictory desires are not a bad thing – in fact they make large-scale cultural change relatively easy.”
    • “I think the future of transportation in our cities is slowing down the roads,”
  11. Dewey says:

    I’ve been living in Seattle for over 20 years now and have seen a lot changes in the traffic and the drivers attitude around it. It’s becoming a rat-race out there, where there is little respect for all who use the streets. What I do to try when biking or drive the beast is to obey the laws. Meaning when I bike I stop at stop signs, I signal when turning or stopping, acknowledge when a motorist gives me a break, and generally try not to be unnecessarily aggressive. That does not meaning being passive to my rights on the road. I also call fellow bikers on the stupid moves they might pull. I seen some real dumb things out there, as we all have. I also think we should all carry a camera with us and use it when involved in an accident or witness one.
    I also wish we could get our mayor out on a bike and get him on our side. Maybe we should present him a swank commuter. He could get a police bike escort to work and he could lose a few pounds and no longer be called a certain cartoon character (Porky the Pig). My two cents. Cheers

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