crankedmag

{ ride a bike… everyday, everywhere }

Public Transportation

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Personally, I can’t say I disagree with the complaint entirely, but I don’t agree with the method of protest. Personally, I think lawsuits might get better attention when the time comes and that a lawsuit would be a less potentially misunderstood message for the city. Simply riding in alongside a train will likely confuse the intended message of “safety for cyclists”. Wouldn’t riding in front of a trolley whose driver has likely just finished training, close to the tracks, while chanting, portray blatant idiocy and a staunch lack of common sense? In other words: being perceived as riding dangerously while advocating for safety seems rather contradictory at best.

I agree, the new streetcar system, initially dubbed the S.L.U.T, does need some safety measures added, urgently. I call for signs, as well as striping the streets better; get a load of those yellow diagonals as “buffer” zones around the tracks—fill the lane with them. It’d probably be good to slow the speed limit down there too for motorists. The sharrows suggested are good—bring heavy awareness of cyclist’s presence to motorists and trolleys. Having adequate safety signage is basically CYA for the city in my mind, preventative medicine against lawsuits—just make sure the engineering is logical and safe.

These laws (RCW 46.61.755 and RCW 46.61.770) state that cyclists are allowed to ride as far to the right as is safe. My logic tells me that riding in the right-hand lane with tracks present would NOT be safe, in which case, I’ll ride in the left-hand lane sharrow or no; and if I need to, I’ll find another route and just grin and bear it.

Seattle drags it’s ass on many things, including public transportation, I’m not saying this S.L.U.T. is the best presentation of mass transit—it is far from perfect—but I do see it as a start. Let the city make it safe (stripe it, sign it, and sharrow it), and embrace the S.L.U.T. with all of it’s imperfections, eventually maybe it’ll spread wider. And with that width, increased safety. Let’s hope to see more mass transit and fewer cars on our roads and not deliver a potentially confusing message that might hamper other cyclist’s image or limit the positive direction the S.L.U.T. might take us. Give it time, it’s only just begun.

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Filed under: Cranked Magazine

5 Responses

  1. Mark says:

    Thank You Michael- I agree with your post. Just as this city is too car-centric, I think that we are too bike-centric at times as well. Two extremes and no middle ground. It is necessary for us to start thinking in terms of what is best for the community, and not ourselves. Putting individual interests before those of the community is what has created this car-head world in the first place.

  2. crankedmag says:

    Besides, it’s not like train tracks are something new. Tracks in the street have been a part of the fabric of the urban setting virtually since both streetcars and bicycles were invented. Crossing them at anything less than 90˚requires great care but this is something that urban cyclists have been dealing with for a long time. Wrecking on tracks in the street should be an error done only once—it’s not a mistake that should easily be made again. I agree signs and paint should be implemented, but honestly, how much attention are you paying to the road you’re riding on if you’re not aware of tracks in the street? Like I said, the signs and paint are really just CYA for the city, we as cyclists do still have to know how to ride safely.

  3. Southern Exposure says:

    Be thankful you live in a city where this is a major issue and you have a venue to air your grievances. Here in the South we are still dodging cars that think hitting us is a fun past time. Definitely jealous of your situation.

  4. crankedmag says:

    I am thankful no doubt. I’m familiar with how lucky we are in Seattle to be able to have such pedestrian issues to complain about—could be much worse.

  5. Chas says:

    , but honestly, how much attention are you paying to the road you’re riding on if you’re not aware of tracks in the street?

    Hey man you know around here there isn’t always enough sun to bright up the road. They surprised me once so far. Paint away.

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