A Modest Proposal for Mayor McGinn: "I Know You Like Bikes"


Will in Seattle? Is that you?

The rights of cyclists are not advanced by pinhead ideas like this. Seattle is twenty miles long; where would you put that "one E-W street, and why would I care if it's miles from where I'm trying to cycle? That's ignoring the fact that there ARE NO true E-W streets that go the whole way, and only one N-S one, which is a state highway.

Leave the planning to the planners and the advocacy to the advocates. I know it doesn't seem like it when you take a five-second cursory look at the situation, but they kinda know what they're doing. You don't.
Working on it (sorta) already! Join your neighborhood greenway group: http://seattlegreenways.com/
"which as we know is a magnet to all those hip, educated, 20/30-somethings that are the lifeblood of a city’s future"

You know, white people! And not the poor trailer trash ones, the nice ones who got college degrees and parents with real jobs. None of those messy poor minorities who didn't learn about urbanism from a week's vacation in Amsterdam.
additional critique: I would hardly call a bicycle highway "safe" for pedestrians. ;)
Times are changing. Motion detective video games, Taco Bell prices are through the roof, holographic concerts and biking is becoming more popular.

In terms of my opinion toward the subject, I don’t care. Things that don’t affect me or have no bearing on my well-being are not on my list of priorities. However, it is becoming hard to remain neutral in the midst of such a controversial issue.
This is exactly what Seattle Neighborhood Greenways are trying to do. In Ballard, for examle, we're trying to make 58th St NW a Greenway.

I love this idea in principle. (I even just voted "HELL YES!")

But...does "...a standard, low-vehicular-traffic, two-way street that is centrally located" even exist in this city? I'm looking at the map and it seems to me that everything that isn't an arterial is discontinuous. Probably the closest thing would be 6th Ave, and it is an arterial south of the ID.

E/W is even more problematic, as Fnarf points out. And I'm leaving out most of the city, here...
Gosh, if only we could find some way to attract hip, educated, 20/30-somethings to Seattle we could pull the city out of its economic tailspin and create some jobs.
Maybe they could put elevated bike lanes along the old monorail footprint, and then hang a monorail below the elevated bike paths. If you're going to dream, dream impossibly big.
I don't really have a horse in this race (probably because of bicyclist and drivers' ongoing WAR ON HORSES), but I at least appreciate that the dude managed to write the letter without demonizing anybody or adopting a "this is what's convenient for me, so fuck YOU guys" attitude.

On the other hand:

cars are literally, literally everywhere in the US.

Literally, literally! Cars are double literally everywhere! I opened up the fridge to put my lunch in there when I got to work today and there were two cars in there already. Thanks a lot, McSchwinn!
I will say this for the writer: he knows exactly which of McGinn's buttons to push, and to push them all at once!
I am a huge bike proponent, I ride everywhere, I commute 21 miles by bike each way. I voted HELL NO. I am in favor of creating better infrastructure for bicycles, but as has been pointed out above, all this is calling for is putting up some signs and some paint on a street and calling it good.

I challenge you to name the two streets that would work. I don't believe there are two in Seattle that make sense.
If the intent is to bring people to/from the city core, then I'd take maybe Seneca for the E/W, Dexter for the N, switching at Bell or so to either an elevated bike freeway or bite the bullet and go for 5th. SoDo isn't terribly useful on the S side, so I'd run though RV, getting there via King St. We'd have to carve some lanes from Rainer at that point because nothing else goes through unless we hop up to 23rd or beyond, which is really out of the way.

Man this would be hard. But what the hell, I'm in.
This is a stunningly poor idea. Bicycles need to be able to go anywhere, with rare exception (cough-I5-cough), that a car can go, or they are useless as transportation. Rather than blowing resources on a few dedicated routes, we need an overlay of shared routes, with as much separation as we can afford on those routes and traffic calming where we can't impose separation. What we need is for average cyclists to be able to get to the grocery store and back, or even work and back, without a hospital stay in between segments. When we all live in a couple big condo complexes and work in a couple big office complexes- that is, never- then this idea will work.
does Mike even live in Seattle? laughable.
It's cute that this person thinks that a bicycle freeway would be pedestrian friendly.
@15 "Bicycles need to be able to go anywhere... that a car can go, or they are useless as transportation." I don't think Mike is proposing we restrict all bike traffic to these two roads.
Can we please stop using "A Modest Proposal" for proposals that are actually sincere? You are doing it wrong. Think for two seconds and come up with a real title that doesn't make you look foolish. Here's a hint: Swift did not sincerely advocate for cannibalism.
Need about three north-south and say ten east-west to make any benefit. I lived in Amsterdam for nearly twenty years. What you need here is more FLAT ...;-D
Redmond has and will always have Seattle beat by a mile when it comes to bike friendly cities. You can tell by the fact that you see very little bikes mixed with traffic, because there are dozens upon dozens of sperated trails that criss cross the city.

Cyclists fought for the right to use the road, so they should use it and stop complain about how unsafe it is. Pushing for a dedicating a road that only bikes can use, while they refuse to register their vehicles like everyone else, is completely unfair to the scooters, mopeds, vespas, motorcycles and cars.
Oh and the cost are not minimum, because tens of thousands of dollars were already spent to build those roads in the first place. Any maintenance for these bike only road would have to come out of the budget reserved for biking, which is very small.
Third Avenue is already dedicated to transit. I wonder if there is enough room on it to have two transit lanes and a dedicated bike area. Getting cars off the road altogether would speed bus traffic and the bikes would have an entire traffic lane for each direction.

This is as stupid as the urinals hooked up to video games.
I have a wide bike lane everywhere I go.

It is called a sidewalk.

But then I live in a low density suburb.

We just don't have crazy problems like you do.
@1 nope. I had nothing to do with this.

Even if it's the best idea since gluten-free organic fair trade hand baked artisan slice whole grain bread.
I'm imagining huge, empty streets on the first rainy day that comes along.

What we really need in Seattle is a subway. Biking is great, but it's not a realistic everyday option for families, the disAbled, the elderly, the obese, people that need to show up to work without being sweaty (read: many office and hospitality jobs), people who have to cart a bunch of gear to work. As much as I love biking, I recognize that it's not the most democratic transportation system; it excludes too many people. If we're going to create a special stree for a single form of transportation, buses would be the better choice.
Excellent idea. Now we'll know where to spread the roofing tacks.
You know, if we do end up realizing the Deep Borrowed Tunnel (SR-99) is really a massive disaster both in tolls and carbon emissions (which it is), we could always turn it into a bike and electric-only (no limos) tunnel and make it green again.

Bonus points: higher capacity, and all the drivers who can't afford the required $10 each way tolls (to pay for it) will be glad that cyclists pay part of the toll, since they'll never use it, if they're not rich and/or don't live in Seattle.
The county is cutting back bus service, while the city is eliminating parking and driving lanes for cars. Bicycles, while they have the right to ride, are best suited for healthy young urbanites. Bikes will not provide the reliable transportation that we so sorely need here (if you don't know what I mean, wait until you're middle aged, ill, or slightly disabled, and still trying to make it to work in the rain and on the hills). Kinda sucks all the way around. Get your act together Seattle!
@32 You get all of the other roads. Mike's just asking for two.
I don't believe (though I might be wrong), that "Local Access Only" is actually legally enforcable. So you could end up with cars on that road driving more than the requested 1/2 block anyway.
@34 there are many road engineering methods to deal with that - things that aren't a problem for bikes but are for cars and trucks.
Only idiots and Deweys ride on sidewalks.

Oh, Hi there, Bailo! Might have known.
Madison does go all the way from the Bay to the Lake, East-West. But the hill's a bitch.

I appreciate the sentiment, but the way to solve problems for cyclists isn't with this. Folks who point out that you need an overlay of bicycle routes (like Greenways is doing) make a lot more sense to me. That way you have safe routes for everyone, not just those who are comfortable riding on arterials at relatively higher speeds.

And no, not interested in giving up any space on 3rd Avenue, thanks; it's already very busy with buses, and bike-only lanes there are just asking for trouble.
cycling is my primary mode of transportation.

this is a stupid idea.

i'd really love a physically separated bike lane running alongside a street N/S into downtown from each direction, but this does not require converting an entire street to low-density cycling use.

sacrificing parking on one side of certain streets is controversial, but at least the outcome is useful for cyclists. using up an entire street is something else entirely.
You get all of the other roads. Mike's just asking for two.

He can start by registering his bicycle as a road vehicle, and paying the same road taxes as a motor scooter.

Yes, we need more separation. I'm a year-round bike commuter and I'm seriously thinking about quitting. Because too many fucking shithead drivers keep taking up the lanes that have been set aside for cyclists - in particular, when I'm in them. The roads could use some work, and bigger barriers are a must. But drivers, you need to wake the fuck up and clean up your act. You're gonna kill someone and I sure as hell hope it isn't me.
@39 You don't *buy* rights of way. We can argue about who should pay or less taxes, but regardless of what taxes you do pay it doesn't give you unilateral access to every single public right of way.

Could a billionaire just write a check and claim all the roads in North Seattle? "Sorry, you may pay car tabs, but now I pay way more than you so you don't get to drive anymore!", he might say. How would you argue against that?
We can argue about who should pay or less taxes, but regardless of what taxes you do pay it doesn't give you unilateral access to every single public right of way.

Bicyclists don't pay any vehicle taxes, so the selfish little whiners don't deserve their own streets.
@43 You still did not address whether money buys you access to roads. What if another group of people out-spends you? Can that group ban you from using public roads? If you go from getting taxed $0 to *something*, you magically gain access to what is already public?
I am a biker and I don't like this idea. Apart from the obvious drawback of the fact that there is NO east/west street in the city that provides access throughout the city, you would still have to ride to and from the major NS/EW street, which might be well out of your way depending where you are going. I also think it would just create more hostility from drivers when they encountered someone on a bike anywhere off of the designated bike streets. I mean, if the city takes away two precious streets to give to bikers, these drivers are likely to be aggravated whenever they see someone riding and not using them. Bikes are great because they are convenient. It might take you five minutes longer to get from Fremont to downtown on a bike but you more than make that time up in not having to find parking. I don't want to go out of my way to take the one street the city has deemed acceptable for riding (and you can bet that it won't be the most centrally located street in either direction) or have drivers expect that of me.
The Burke is already an East-West bike/pedestrian route from one side of Seattle to the other (except that bit in Ballard).

A similar route north-south would be nice, especially if it was just as flat and had just as few car crossings. Which is basically impossible.
You still did not address whether money buys you access to roads. What if another group of people out-spends you? Can that group ban you from using public roads? If you go from getting taxed $0 to *something*, you magically gain access to what is already public?

Bicyclists have access to roads already. Now the typical Seattle fuckwit who wrote the letter wants to ban cars, even though bicyclists don't pay vehicle use taxes.
@47 We *all* have access to roads because we are citizens. Again, you can debate the tax code and you can debate which transportation modes should be favored on which streets. But you still keep saying that bikes don't deserve access to anything until we pay registration fees. Where are you getting this from? Should pedestrians be disallowed to leave their house until we implement a shoe tax?

Maybe bikes should pay a tax. But whether they do or not is no basis for deciding whether 1% of roads should be allocated for their use. Show me the receipt the State, County, or City gave you when you purchased your car tabs that says your mode gets 100% of public rights of way everywhere.

The roads are a PUBLIC asset. Everyone should be free to use them, and nobody should be allowed to use them in a way that prohibits others from getting from Point A to Point B safely in whatever mode they choose. Setting aside a few roads for bikes would NOT prohibit you from driving your car from one destination to another -- it may even make it easier!
I would like Rainier to be the N/S road in the south end. It is relatively flat, and wide enough to share space with buses. As an old fart who gave up bike commuting right about the time I had my first kid (switched to primarily mass transit), I appreciate that there are many people that can't use bicycles. However, I think there are more people who could use bicycles to get around town than can use cars. That includes us old farts, children, teenagers, people with no cars, etc...

I was just talking to a friend today as we walked along Lake Washington Blvd. about engineering that road to make it a bicycle road with car local access (as we watched several near misses when cars attempted to go around bicycles). Road blocks for cars that make them have to repeatedly turn off the road, but that allow through access to bikes would work. It would work, but we need a more central road for the N/S corridor. And flat. I am so tired of the cars having the flat roads, and the bicycle designated paths winding circuitously through the hills. It just does not make sense.
the cutest part of this letter is the belief that Seattle needs more 20/30 year olds / hipsters. Don't we have all of them already?

an East / West bike-only road would be awesome, tho. Especially if I could start at my house at NE 137th St, ride directly west, and wind up @ Denny and Elliot. That'd be a huge time-saver.
#49, you and your fellow parasites want all the benefits and none of the responsibilities. You are children, and children need to be told "no."
Cyclists subsidize drivers. Seattle's roads are paid for primarily through sales and property taxes (which everyone pays), but bikes do no damage to roadway infrastructure.
#51, neither do cars, pickups, or SUVs, but they pay road use taxes.