What Happened to Bike Activism in Seattle?

With the Decline of Critical Mass and the Changes at Cascade Bicycle Club, It's Not Clear Who's Going to Stand Up for Cyclists


Ugh, let's rehash the same tired talking points that have been discussed and rebutted. Let me know when Critical Ass returns and then we can discuss the merits of the War on _______ (cars, bikes, drugs, Nickels, McGinn, Sasquatch). So sad that bikes have lost their in-house lobby - just know that the other 90% of us are quite pleased.
3 out of 4 of those routes have a safe alternative one block over. why do you feel the need to demand space on the same major arterials used by cars? The mayors most recent plan is the most sensible: separate the uses.
What tax do you want on bikes to pay for the 240M improvements? Step up and pay your own way.
The idiot "I hate bicycles because - BIKES! THINK ABOUT THE CHILDREN!" team really showed up swiftly to begin their crying pity party. I think yer anti-vaxxer pals need you in some chat room somewhere, elsewhere.
@4) I suppose that should read, "I hate bicycles because - BIKES! THINK ABOUT THE POOR AUTOMOBILES! PARKING IS MY DREAM!"
@4 & 5 not me asshole. I'm fine with making entire streets bike only. It just doesn't make sense to try to mix bikes & cars on the same street when there are alternatives that work better for both.
Wow a lot of anti bike comments here. I was recently reminiscing about the old Critical Mass days, seems like a good time to reboot and advocate for bicycling safety; separation sounds like a viable option, but I wish the haters would learn to tone down their hubris and get ready to work for change. This is a city, there must be room for all modes of transport, on equal terms.
@6) Yes, you.
We got bike lanes, greenways, and Mayor McSchwinn in office: there seemed less of a need to let the general populace know that we're here and part of traffic by jamming up downtown once a month.
@9 Please cite your numbers.
@9 I follow those rules and have still managed to have many near-death experiences. That's how I know your post is bullshit.
I am a big advocate for safer and more extensive bike lanes ins Seattle. But, I think us bikers have responsibilities as well. First and foremost, we need to wear appropriate gear that allows cars and pedestrians to see us. My rough statistic says that more than 50% of the bikers and >80% of runners and walkers on the Burke Gilman Trail DO NO use lights and reflective gear in the dark, which is super dangerous. Get lights people, and then we can talk about improving our infrastructure!
As a delivery driver and transit user, I so agree with #13...bikers, you have no idea how hard you are to see once the daylight starts to fade. Even with a blinking headlight, if there are auto headlights behind you, they glare out your light, making you practically invisible. I hate feeling like it is just a matter of time before I hit a pedestrian or biker DRESSED IN DARK CLOTHING and clueless about how hard they are to pick out from a mass of cars around them. And when it rains—which happens sometimes around here—you are all sitting ducks.

I have long wished for some roads in Seattle to be set aside for bikes only...this is the only way to truly have a safer city for bicyclists—think 3rd Avenue downtown between certain hours that is bus only. If we could do something like that I'd feel less foreboding when I'm out driving at that "getting dark" and night time each day.
Bikes ARE traffic- 30%, more than cars! Demand PARITY, not a small share of streets expenditures...
I ride a bike in Seattle, but there is no way I would ride downtown. If there were bike only streets, I would ride there more often. as it is, we tend to take Lyft instead of riding, as we did last night to the Triple Door.
As a rider, nothing pisses me off more than the folks who blow past me when I stop at a red light, refuse to use the bike lane, but rather sit in the middle of the street about 3 feet from the bike lane, or otherwise act like the car world owes them a blowjob.
I'm glad that critical mass is no longer mass or critical, because their antics downtown added a good deal of evidence that car folks use to stoke the war on cars.
What percent of the newcomers cycle to work?School?On the weekend?Seattle is more expensive than ever, do most cycling activists have the amount of wealth to stay?
Loving all the "I ride a bike in Seattle..." comments where it's obvious the author means "sometimes on sunny weekends I take my walmart bike to greenlake and peddle flaccidly around to the Starbucks to get the 600 calorie 'coffee' I just earned"
Get a car, hippies.
Motorists who 'hate bikes' for whatever fantasy reason should be 100% FOR investing more in bike infrastructure. This will help separate the two commuting methods and keep them out of each others' (perceived) right of way. No places to build more roads for cars in Seattle anyway.
And next time you feel like shouting at a cyclist from the safe confines of your auto, consider A) how very stupid you look & sound while doing it, and B) that cyclists are not listening to you/ don't care. If part 'B' further incenses your inferiority complex you are more pathetic than you think.
I blame Lance...
I walk along the Broadway cycle track every morning, lunch and evening, between James on 1st hill, and Pike and I think maybe I've seen 1 bicycle using that track in the last week. Do the cyclists all use 12th instead?
I'm not sure why cyclists (who, by and large are motorists) should engage with motorists who don't own a bicycle or care to bicycle. Because, in addition to lacking empathy, pretty much are ignorant. Still, here's a quick summary of what's wrong with the above comments:

@2 Usually arterials are much faster because there's less stops and cross traffic to deal with. In other words, faster. Drivers understand this, and usually feel it's okay to break the law (i.e. speed) their way to work.

@3 Where does money to build city roads come from. Property taxes. What about pedestrians? Aren't they allowed to use sidewalks even if they don't own a car?

@9 Drivers don't obey the law. This is why many of them kill themselves and others in car crashes that could have been prevented by obeying the speed limit and paying attention.

@16 Good cyclists know that bike lanes can be pretty dangerous, mostly because drivers aren't really paying attention when opening their car door, turning, or whatnot. Drivers love to be distracted and they end up hitting cyclists. Also many people stop (UPS, e.g.) in bike lanes. So that's why you see them sometimes outside the bike lane.

@23 The Broadway cycle lane isn't really that safe or well maintained. See @16.
Fuck your bikes.
The argument that bikes should pay their own way is commonly based on the argument that car infrastructure is payed for by user fees. In fact, less than 50% of car infrastructure funds are payed by user fees:


These figures don't account for other large subsidies extended to automobile owners, such as free parking, or vast amounts of public land used for automobile infrastructure. Donald Shoup, a professor who researches the economics of parking, estimated that free parking accounts for 1.2 to 3.7% of the total US GDP (Shoup, The High Cost of Free Parking).

In comparison to the immense amount of spending on automobile infrastructure that non-drivers must pay for, the amount of spending on cycling infrastructure really doesn't merit scrutiny.

@24 & @26 You both are awesome. I am a person who bikes, drives, takes busses and walks. No matter what transportation I use, I try to be respectful of other users, aware and cautious. It is shocking how many aggressive people I have encountered behind the wheel of a car, whether it's when I'm on foot or bike, or because I am obeying the posted speed limit. I get a lot of fingers flipped my way and I don't know why it still shocks me.
Blame me.
After I jacked up the Smart Car, reinforced the bumpers, and put really quite pipes on it, those slack jawed jackanapes have fallen prey to the Beast.
Bikidots will have some say, once they start paying for it.
>What happened to Seattle cyclists taking over the streets to demand change? Our local Critical Mass movement appears to be all but dead

@23, the new bike lane on 75th Street NE is barely used as well. Interestingly, had they put that lane on 65th Street it may have been better used.

I think the real problem is the bike lanes we do have aren't connected as a system throughout the city. It's like having an interstate system with huge gaps throughout. It's just not that affective
What happened to bike activism? Y'all fired all the former activists for bikes off the Stranger staff, that's what!
@29) "Bikidots" - this is the clever word your brain invents? Speaks volumes.
Chinanski - Right on, I am an avid cyclist/road racer and am fortunate enough that my commute takes me east to Totem Lake away from the city but it always baffles me when I see cyclist trying to commute on what should be car only streets (Aurora/Lake City Way/MLK/Raineer) all of these road do have more bike friendly options a block in any given direction. I dont think that us cyclist have the right to demand that every thoroughfare should have a bike track. Its up to us as commuters to also have the understanding that if we try to commute on Aurora, we have a waaay higher chance of getting hit then if we go one or two blocks up.
Also anti bike commenters you guys sound like fourth grade tools, head over to the Seattle Times with those comments. Your not adding anything to this discussion and just sounds like a bunch bitter fucks that cant drive. "Oh no a cyclist slowed me down on my way to work and it totally took like two minutes longer" B O O H O O we live in a city, get over yourselves and share the road.
@2- Stop and start traffic along a congested residential street isn't a safe alternative. Maybe if the city turned them into one way streets and banned parking along one side they would be safe alternatives. It'd also be great if the city started enforcing the rule against parking the wrong way on residential streets.

In the meantime a bike lane on an arterial works much better as a way to get from point A to point B and has the advantage of making drivers expect bikes.
Here's the real question, when is there going to be a "bike tab" added? Tax those fuckers.
@34- I'm curious, what do you think is a more bike friendly route a block over from Lake City Way? Because I live in that neighborhood and you're on crack.
@36 residential might not be a fully safe alternative but it is 100% better than trying to run the gauntlet of a more busy street. In a perfect world yes bike lanes on arterial would be great if we all commuted in 65 degree weather, but when you see people trying to commute at 7 in the morning in February on Aurora it makes you wonder, I do not think this is safe at all. No matter how much viability you have on your bike you are still sharing that road with someone that just rolled out of bed and is most likely multi tasking in their car. I would much rather take the residential option in times like this. At least on the residential streets the car speeds are slower and limited in comparison to MLK or Aurora.
visibility not viability
@17- The cost of maintaining a car would force me out of Seattle. Fortunately I've got a bike so I can afford to live in this expensive town.
@39- I commute year round and in the past that has involved going down Lake City Way during morning rush hour. The majority of it has a super wide shoulder and good visibility at every intersection while in the the heart of Lake City the traffic is slowed down enough that it doesn't matter. Going up Lake City way there's a bus lane most of the way. On Aurora you can use the bus lane.

Getting t boned by a car going 25 while I'm going 15 is about as bad as getting rear ended by a car going 40 while I'm going 20, but you're much less likely to get rear ended. Most bike/car accidents happen at intersections and on arterials the intersections are better controlled and more often allow both drivers and cyclists to see what's coming.
@42 Totally hear you, and if you got the where with all to keep your head on your shoulders, have great bike handling skills and are cognoscente of the traffic around you by all means commute on the busier streets. All I'm saying though is you never hear about major bike accidents/fatalities on the inter urban trail or residential roads, yes people get doored and bumped but they are not dying.
@37) "when is there going to be a "bike tab" added" - this comment shows just how uninformed you are. Learn about the topic before issuing your brain farts.
Over the past few years there has been substantial new local investment into bike infrastructure while our public transportation system has increased fares and failed to keep pace with demand. The local cyclist lobby is well funded, effective and has universal support from city officials.

This is great, but the fact is their efforts rely on regressive taxation that benefits a (mostly young and able-bodied) minority. Of all the competing progressive interests at City Hall I am the least concerned for the bike lobby.

Most cyclists I know (myself included) are more concerned with their lack of adequate health insurance than they are with a lack of bike lanes.
You can always count on the anti-bike neanderthals to start pounding their chests in reaction to a post like this. I'm glad they didn't disappoint. Of course those of us who ride bikes get our natural revenge by spending far less money on transportation than the nut cases who pay through the nose to spend hours of every day in a metal box, being in far better shape, having lower blood pressure, enjoying better sex lives and just having the confidence of knowing that we are always on the right side of these "arguments."
@46) As an aside to your comment, my commute DECREASED by OVER 15 minutes when I began biking to/from work. This includes the times I previously commuted by bus.
@46 you can have it both ways, I love bikes and love to commute when the weather is cooperates but I also love my car and drive when I don't feel like slogging it through soup. Your statement only furthers the divide between the two camps.
Whatever happened to David Hiller? He was kind of an ass, but at least Seattle had a smart, hard-working, LOUD pro-cyclist spokesman who was wiling to call bullshit on the anti-bike crowd. After he went to work with McGinn at City Hall, I really haven't heard squat from him.
Okay. So if half the roads budget is user fee, lets extend that to bikes. So you and your pals pony up your 120 million half of the citys 240 million dollar budget, all right? And while we're at it, the percent of taxpayer money spent on bike infrastructure should equal the percent of commuters using bikes to do so. Fair enough?

As to the other numbers non drivers benefit from roads. Freight traffic, emergency services and on and on and on all benefit non drivers directly. People coming into Seattle for work, shopping or tourism make the place economically viable- and they aren't cycling in so they need parking and sufficient road room to make it worth the trouble.

Arrogant cyclists ignoring traffic laws to pretend their childrens toys are viable transportation options? No benefit to anyone but their narcissistic selves.
I'll support bike commuters when they stop trying to go up hills while blocking lines. I get that you're able to bike in the road, but consider not being a jackass and realize you're holding up everyone. Maybe i should start doing the same in my car, barely moving at all and when a biker tries to pass me swerve or open my door to block them. If there weren't such assholes on bikes, i'm sure there'd be more support for bike lanes.

I do think bike commuting makes a good deal of sense, but at the same time in order to close streets to cars and install bike lanes it'd probably be a good idea to get some of the cars off the road by improving public transit from the suburbs to Seattle. Or we can go with the plan that's currently in place, install bike lanes and just hope that cars stop wanting to use the road.
I am excited to hear the suggestions of where new tax revenue is coming from for more road lanes from all the bike haters. Triple the gas tax? income tax? Registration by weight?
@52 its simple, just put in red-light cameras which catch all the bikers that just roll on through.
@53 Oh good, now we can finally use them for something, cause no cars ever run red lights.
Our local Critical Mass movement appears to be all but dead.

Maybe there is a god?!? JAYSUS BE PRAISED!
I lost some of my faith in the Bike Club endorsements when they endorsed Conlin.
@43- You don't hear about accident fatalities on residential streets often because there aren't that many people on them because they don't take you where you're going very quickly. That's why people in cars aren't commuting via them, and that's why they also make bad bike routes. You're a lot more likely to die in your car on them as well, but I bet you drive them.
In response to @50 regarding the BMP -
Seattle's bicycle master plan is $240 million over 10 years, or $24 million a year, if fully funded (currently it is not funded at this level). This is about 5.7%, while current bicycling rates are 4.1%. If you add in WSDOT spending in Seattle, I'd be very surprised if the percentage allotted to cycling expenditures wasn't under the 4.1% cycling rate.

The other reason for not supporting bicycle infrastructure through user fees is that the cost of collecting said fees would be very high relative to the amount needed to support the infrastructure. This is why we have sales/property taxes, etc, which cyclists pay.

For full disclosure, I will admit that I got my cycling rate from Wikipedia, so the math here may not be completely accurate. Feel free to update my math with more accurate numbers if you are interested.


Licensing bikes wouldn't require a large investment. We already have a state agency that does exactly that . Enforcement wouldn't require a large investment. Just as with a car if a road driven bike has no license plate an officer pulling someone over to investigate that absence would be easy.

If a bicyclist can keep up with traffic, obey laws and lower the admittedly high public cost of building and maintaining traffic infrastructure that's fantastic. But if they can't building separate facilities BECAUSE bikes are poor options for commuters? That seems like a waste of time and money.
@50: You idiot, cars put wear and tear on roads that bikes don't. See all those potholes? They're not from 30 pound bikes! Roads are designed to bear the weight of automobiles, which commonly weigh 2 tons or more, and I'm not even talking about freight vehicles. The effect of bike traffic on a roadway is nil.
Demanding that cyclists and motorists pay similarly for roads is like saying that health insurance rates should be the same for clean-living twenty-somethings as for forty-year-old chain smokers.
Bicycles always lose. It has ever been thus, and always will be.
Even if it wouldn't take a large investment to start registering bicycles, the overhead involved would likely consume a large portion of the relatively small amount of money to be raised. Not to mention the problem that the DOL operates as a state agency and bicycle improvements are payed for at the municipal level.

Secondly, the main reason for registering vehicles is not revenue, but to be able to track them for enforcement, which is necessary because motor vehicles are dangerous. Bicycles are orders of magnitude less likely to cause death or injury to people other than the cyclist.

If you can come up with numbers (such as overhead vs revenue for DOL) to support your theory that bicycle registration would be a suitable revenue generation strategy, I'd like to see them. (I even basically got you started on where to look). But I'm guessing any numbers you find will undermine your own case.

I'm looking forward to seeing you make up more nonsense in your reply!
What's changed in the world of biking in the years since Critical Mass? I'll tell ya what happened.

The cheapest rusty bike at Goodwill is $20. The cheapest new bicycle at Walmart is $80 The cheapest "nice" bicycle at Gregg's is $250. And that's before tax... don't tell me "bicycles aren't taxed".

I used to commute by bike, but got run over by yuppies on their thousand-dollar bikes (trying to make it back to their SUV before it rained). Don't be surprised that normal people don't have the $ for all the Xmas protective gear. I got hit at noon walking my bike across a crosswalk with the walk signal.

I don't see why I should still commute by bike every day at 5pm in the dark, getting soaked, just so someone thinks I'm a "real" rider. And I don't see why we can't have well-lit intersections like every other American city. The recession is ending - turn the lights back on already!
I drive now - hey, there's no jobs in Seattle, there's no shoulder in the suburbs, the bus fare keeps going up and the buses keep not showing up. I still wish I could magically float across the street to the parking lot, so unless you can do that, I guess we're all pedestrians. Unless you have a garish wardrobe, you're probably a hard-to-see pedestrian too.
Let's just agree we all need and deserve better traffic planning, and maybe mass HIGH_SPEED transit, while we sit downtown in a jam for no good reason, instead of fuming at the guy who decided whether to take his car or his bike that day. If I feel I have to stay in my car all day because I have to drive it every 48 hours and I can't park anywhere until after 8pm and I don't dare park anywhere except in front of my destination - well then I'll gain weight. Maybe I'll bike since it's nice. Oh wait - I only have $25. Guess I'm too poor.