Five Solutions to the "War on Cars" Madness


Interesting, but I have to ask a question. This past Friday I biked from work to home in Ravenna. And along the way I end up taking Eastlake Ave until I get to the U-District. Why won't the city put a committed bike lane on that particular stretch of road that I am pretty sure I am going to get killed on given the way drivers behave.

And a point I'd like to make in addition: when I made it to the bridge I headed down 11th to 65th; four vehicles (one a SPD squad car BTW) decided that they could drive in the committed bike lane while I was trying to use it.
What we need are "Five solutions to the 'War Of Automobile Aggression" madness".
"Can't we all just get along and be friends?" is not a solution to every single policy problem, Sally, much as you seem to wish it to be.
Rule 1. Car drivers stop being a.holes.

Rule 2. Cops arrest, strip search, sell cars for victim fund, and imprison Lawbreaking Criminals who blow thru stop signs and red lights.

Rule 3. Repeat.
Unfortunately it is already war. The whole "can't we all just get along" is an immature wish for someone who does not understand. The people out there committing hit and runs are not listening to this kind of argument. Thankfully the vast majority of drivers are not this way but the point is that nicely asking for peace won't get to the people we need to get to.

The only answer is proper city planning. Articles in a local blog don't change anyone's behavior. Stop the rhetoric and make real changes.
One thing about pedestrians being on the sidewalk when the don't walk sign starts flashing - some walk signals, instead of flashing, show a countdown timer. The ones that flash do not. Try walking across a busy downtown intersection - WALKING - and getting safely to the sidewalk on the other side before the red hand starts flashing at you. If pedestrians followed that logic, at some intersections there would only be a span of a few seconds to get across the street.

I really appreciate having someone on the City Council who supports building cycling infrastructure. I wish I was optimistic about the chances of Seattle building this infrastructure to the extent that Portland or NYC has--let alone Copenhagen! I'm not though. I've been here 10 years and a few things have been accomplished but it's really pretty minimal. And drivers freak out at any investment in anything related to cycling. So I'd love to be proven wrong, but I think it's hopeless.
It's only a war to the minority of asshats on both sides who conflate their transportation choice with some kind of vital identity.

These seems like implementable and reasonable solutions.
#3, that is the Seattle way: express sympathy and request that all sides act cordial, but do absolutely nothing to fix the fundamental problems--in this case a lack of safe path infrastructure for biking.
So to fix this problem, people should follow the rules of the road?
@6 I think she means don't enter the crosswalk when the light is flashing or counting down. The problem being that making a turn in areas with high numbers of pedestrians is not easy when people keep entering the crosswalk when its flashing.

I'd rather just not have the light change when the walk sign does. Seems much easier than changing behavior. I know they do that already in some places downtown.

The law says that you're not supposed to *start* walking across when the hand is flashing; a law that few pedestrians downtown actually follow.
@10 nah, that would require cops to actually do their jobs ...
>pedestrians must stay on the sidewalk when the Don’t Walk signal is flashing.

I'm not standing on the corner watching the signal count down the amount of time I could've spent walking across the street before it stopped blinking.
@13 "nah, that would require cops to actually do their jobs"

No, it requires people (drivers, cyclists and pedestrians) to follow the rules and if they fail to do so, the cops would have to step in. All a pedestrians have to do is not jaywalk, cars and cyclists have a much longer set of rules to follow.
Anything that costs money is not going to happen. Bagshaw certainly should know that, since the Council is going into its budget cycle and will soon get the Mayor's budget to complain about. This isn't Copenhagen and we can't afford to make it Copenhagen.
@6: I have never seen slower moving pedestrians than Seattle downtown. I think calling the way people move across the street "walking" is being extremely generous.
This Sally is doing it right. This Sally is doing it wrong.
On Eastlake, the situation for cyclists would be improved if we can reduce the number of subsidized parking spaces ("street parking") and increase the available road for drivers and bicyclists. On Eastlake it can be quite tricky for a cyclist to ride between moving cars and parked cars. Cars can't really pass safely if you ride out of door range. It's also visually quite confusing for drivers, since a cyclist blends in a bit along line of parked cars.

Interestingly, it's quite easy to ride Eastlake during certain times that parked cars must be moved. The southbound right lane is No Parking 7-9AM, and 3-5PM northbound.

I'd be interested to know if the city is really be willing to reduce on-street parking for the sake of cyclists. (Businesses might not like it, but I suspect a lot of the people on Eastlake are simply car commuters who might want to consider alternatives, like paying for parking.)
Passing Prop 1, moving forward on the Pedestrian, Bicycle and Transit Master Plans and supporting the transportation safety summit proposed by Mayor McGinn are a fantastic start on making a city that works for all of us.
I wish I could find something to bitch about with Sally Bagshaw's post, but I can't (except for maybe the middle finger part).
@14, gets a big YUP. I'm walking unless it is a solid Don't Walk.
@14 - 22 - Given the number of vehemently anti-pedestrian intersections around town - mandatory button pushing - no light if you don't get there a bit before the cycle starts, very very short cycles compared to cars - every pedestrian is in their right to ignore the blinkenlights.
What @23 said.

Until cars have to wait as long for a crosswalk light (or green) as pedestrians do, the War on Pedestrians is not even close to equal.
@19: You're spot on. Removing parking on Eastlake would go a long way toward promoting bike safety. It would also increase vehicle speed, though, so the city would have to invest in traffic calming and a buffer between the vehicle and bike lanes.

I don't even want to think about how many accidents have happened at Eastlake and Lynn over the years. I personally saw three car on bike incidents there, and one of my coworkers was walking through the crosswalk - legally, I might add - and got hit by a car and dragged fifty feet. She survived, thank his noodly appendages, but she can predict the weather now in her joints.
The problem isn't that the laws are incomplete. It's that too many people break the laws. Legislatively, we need a law making it illegal to break these traffic laws.

You're welcome.
#26 Haha :)
@22 So you're one of those assholes that screws things up for everyone. If you start walking while the sign is blinking you have effectively eliminated ANY chance that cars can make a safe, legal right-hand turn. Therefore they end up having to try to sneak through at some other, less-safe time -- putting more people in danger.

I believe one can find all the answers here:…
*does a little dance* Gotta say ... this time it took a whole single post before it became a flame war. Impressive .... well not really. Aside from the anti-fat people language in part of it, why is it so hard for people to take a middle ground? Why is it unreasonable to expect everyone to obey the law? Why is it so damned hard for people to be polite, at least when it's actually something important?
If you enter the crosswalk as a pedestrian or bike when it is showing a flashing or solid "don't walk" then you are breaking the law.…

So if laws don't apply to you, carry on.
#22, Then you're going to get almost grazed for your illegal crossing by me, Mr. Irate Commuter Who Follows The Rules Of The Road.

1. People need to know the rules of the road.
2. People need to follow the rules of the road.
3. Barring actual enforcement, (which will never happen in this passive-aggressive city with 1/4 of a police force) peer pressure must lead the way.

If you jaywalk in front of my right of way as I drive or cycle, you will get a honk or a yell, and a close shave if I can manage it.

If you drive blithely over the crosswalk I am visibly and obviously trying to cross, spit might hit your side mirror.

If you open your car door without looking as I'm cycling, I might shoot my water bottle into your driver's seat.

If you cycle without proper lighting front and back, you might get crushed under my car because I didn't see you. (unintentionally of course)

Drive/walk/cycle with courtesy and attention. Drive in the correct lane for your speed. Do not look at a phone screen in moving traffic, no matter whether using legs, pedals or wheels. Be attentive, value the time and safety of others, and I will be the most courteous driver/cyclist/pedestrian on the road.

Or be undisciplined and suffer my wrath.
So your legislation to fund, place, design and build the first five miles of protected bike lanes between neighborhoods is gonna be posted to SLOG this week, right?
Stop lights with non-automatic pedestrian signals don't pick up on their vehicle weight censors for bicycles. Man I hate that. Even just changing that would be an improvement. Easy one.
@32 Sad. You must not have many friends.

I feel that we can't really live in a major city unless pedestrians have complete right of way. Drivers and cyclists should always be responsible and must always yield. The successful easy transport of walkers must take priority or else we turn Seattle into Bellevue.

It's also sad that we count on drivers to safely time the lights based upon the pedestrian countdown, regulating their speed and arrival to coincide with the light changes, but we don't seem to trust pedestrians to regulate their own speed across a street using the same information. Are drivers that much smarter? Does speeding up to 40 to make a light using the pedestrian countdown make sense but a pedestrian scooting across 5th with an eye on the counter is breaking the law?

Why do drivers get the lenient treatment?

As for dedicated bike infrastructure, that's fine and good, but whoa be unto that cyclist who has to get to a place that is not served by dedicated infrastructure when a driver feels that they should be on a trail or side street. The anger flares like a rocket. Besides, the arterials are flat in this town and the side streets are hilly and lack connectivity. SDOT and its overlords at the city council need to do better.

As for Bagshaw (and Clark), she (they) doesn't seem to recognize that other people would logically choose a different way of doing things. Or is that the Seattle way?
I am getting real tired of people gripping about pedestrians jaywalking. Is this a real city or some bastion of former hall monitors. The lights are to control cars, if nobody is coming then cross the street. I walk a lot and if I stopped at each street I would pretty much double my walking time, as all the lights consider drivers over walkers, which is fine so long as I can jaywalk without getting honked at by some asshole who I am not even slowing down. Not to mention that in a lot of areas there are no crosswalks for blocks at a time, or the "push to cross" button is just for appearances and does nothing. There are some crosswalks signals that won't change unless a car approaches the intersection, oh, and should I miss the light rail because the light won't change in time.
@36 It is strange how pedestrian law breaking is out polling bicycle law breaking for moralist punishment in this thread.
don't separate bike and pedestrian safety from the safety of car drivers and passengers. The result of that separation is that "car safety" is improved by fortifying automobiles and designing roads for high-speed safety - which endangers bikes and pedestrians, who remain invisible in this paradigm.
Slowing traffic and creating appropriate infrastructure for bikes and pedestrians reduces the risk to drivers too - taking people out of cars, onto their feet and their bikes, opens up the roadways for people who really need ("need?") to drive.
Pay attention to people who die in cars! There are too many of them to mourn each individually in public (what a luxury for bicyclists - so few fatalities that we can feel each one personally!). But don't forget them.
I'm all for more cycling lanes and whatnot, but don't most fatal cyclist crashes happen at intersections? Unless you have a completely separate bike path, I don't see how you can avoid those, and other than 'everyone please obey the law', I'm not sure what in the above proposals reduces the risk of collisions at intersections.
but pedestrians must stay on the sidewalk when the Don’t Walk signal is flashing.

This is only easy if you have all day to get where you're going. Many pedestrian traffic lights in this city are only fully green for less time than it actually takes to cross the street (see Summit & Olive). Not starting to cross on the flashing signal means you have sometimes as little as seven seconds to cross, or have to spend as much as two and a half minutes (Summit & Olive again: I've timed it) waiting for a new green light. I can walk a city block in one minute. Even at a more typical light, like the ones downtown, stopping for flashing reds (rather than solid reds) could as much as double my travel time. And, unlike drivers, I'm not sitting down on a padded chair in a climate controlled environment while I wait.
Why don't y'all support a simple measure that will ensure fair investment in bicycle and pedestrian facilities? There's a reason the writer mentions Portland: it's been Oregon law that at least 1% of transportation project $ gets spent on bikes and pedestrians (…). It's simple and creates the right incentives and funding.
@36 I'm getting sick and fucking tired of fellow pedestrians thinking that they can break the law. The jaywalking laws are not just to protect the pedestrians, but to protect everyone around them. Again, a car cannot just stop or spin around and avoid a moving obstacle, it has to swerve, losing control, and put the rest of us in danger. You jaywalking puts ME in danger as well. I'm selfish, I really don't want to get hit by a car, I get mad at cars that break the law, and cyclists, and pedestrians .... If you want to put your life in danger, take up sky diving.
@40 If you're only crossing the street, yeah then it would double your travel time. Seriously, it's (I believe) a whole 30 seconds between light changes ... seems like forever when standing there yes, but it's not. Bring some music to listen to and you don't notice the time as much.

-Signed: A lifetime pedestrian for 36 years.
War? I find myself exchanging friendly words with more motorists than fellow bicyclists on a typical bicycle commute through Seattle. That is not to say I have never been honked at for making a mistake but I hear "Great weather for a ride" or "Thanks for signalling back there" from motorists all the time. Seems every time I have something nice to say to a fellow bicyclist it falls on deaf ears (headphones). Way to go Seattle drivers! The kindness and courtesy you show to me while bicycling never goes unnoticed and I will continue to reciprocate in kind.
@34 -- traffic light sensors don't work on weight, they work on electrical conductivity.

An aluminum bicycle rim all by itself is enough to trigger the signal IF you line up your wheel with the tar-sealed slots over the buried wire of the sensor loop. Sit off to the side even a few inches, and you're out of luck.

State law requires the sensor loops to be marked if the most-sensitive part of the loop isn't centered in the lane. I haven't seen any intersections in Seattle that comply with that law, but it's only a couple of years old, so maybe the city will eventually comply.
#35, I appreciate the insult. I just got back from a great night out with my friends...thanks for asking.

Fair warning: if you're one of those innumerable douchebags downtown who starts crossing on a flashing orange signal, you are stealing the right of way from turning vehicles who have the green. As a ped, you have a lot more to lose than a driver.

Eventually your luck may run out as you end up as a red streak on the pavement. I don't wish that upon you, but hope you learn that complying with the law is also in your interest. There are already crappy drivers out there; why tempt fate further with your illegal actions?

a car cannot just stop or spin around and avoid a moving obstacle

Unless it, you know, has breaks.

Anyway, so much hate being slig around here over such mundane things.

Can't we all-- motorists, cyclists and pedestrians alike-- set aside our petty differences and agree that the real enemy here is the rich?

a car cannot just stop or spin around and avoid a moving obstacle

Unless it, you know, has breaks.

Anyway, so much hate being slig around here over such mundane things.

Mundane things? What other truly life-and-death matters do you consider to be mundane?

Give us all a, you know, brake.
ADMIT that the design of pedestrians, and cyclists having to share passageways with automobiles was a dumb, stupid, thoughtless design
"Gee, officer, the guy just zipped right through the red light on his bike. I tried to stop but there wasn't enough time."