Seattle is the best city in America to ride a bicycle in, according to no one ever in the history of Seattle until the editors of Bicycling Magazine airdropped in this week to give us that proclamation.
The nationwide cycling magazine used a bunch of quasi-quantitative numbers on a 100-point ranking system to arrive at the conclusion that "the Emerald City doesn’t check the boxes, it crushes them... you can ride a protected bike lane from the Space Needle nearly two miles to Pioneer Square..."
Wow! Our city has a two-mile bike lane! Amazing! Someone give us a trophy for trying—oh wait! Bicycling Magazine just did!
I guess those writers have never tried to ride a bicycle anywhere outside the tiny swathe of downtown that isn't terrible on two wheels. Try riding from Columbia City, Greenwood, Lake City, or West Seattle, into downtown and they would quickly learn that it is completely fucking ridiculous to say that "it's easy to be a bike commuter" in Seattle.
Honestly, they don't even need to ride the bikes they claim to own to figure this stuff out. A bit of Google searching will show you how fucked up Seattle is over cycling. Remember that time some citizen activists implanted improvised explosive devices to construction equipment on a project that would improve bicycle access in Northeast Seattle? Or how finishing a missing 1.4-mile stretch of the Burke Gilman Trail, the city's longest dedicated cycling route, has been plagued in 20 years of court battles from obstructionists?
Or how about how the city has consistently delayed its $250-million Bicycle Master Plan from the moment voters gave it money in 2015, including the latest update from the city that left Ryan Packer writing for The Urbanist that even though funding remains stable for the program "without additional funding, we are going to need to lower our targets, dramatically."
Bicycle Magazine's editors pointed directly to the 60 miles of bike lanes promised in this plan as a reason for Seattle beating out other cities. They should have done some research on whether these bike lanes were going to become a reality or just remain promises.
The magazine said they prioritized safety over all other reasons, which is confusing to me. Outside of riding in that one protected bike lane downtown, I never feel safe riding in this city. Check out this interactive map from a local law firm that used bicycle accident information to find the 35 most dangerous places to ride a bicycle in Washington. Guess where nine out of the top ten most dangerous places are? Seattle.
And it's worth noting where you don't see accident dots on that interactive map. Main travel arteries in Seattle like Rainier Avenue, Lake City Way, and Fauntleroy Way, have almost no collisions because cyclists have all given up on even trying to navigate those parts of the city with two pedals.
The magazine for some reason ranked Seattle over San Francisco, Minneapolis, Fort Collins, Colorado, and Eugene, Oregon. I have no fake-quantitative scale to reference, only my personal experience cycling in those cities, but I can tell you putting Seattle over those towns makes no fucking sense. Minneapolis is one of the friendliest places to ride in America. San Francisco, despite its steeper-than-Seattle hills, is overall not terrible, certainly better than our city. My car blew a head gasket in Fort Collins one summer, rendering my combustion engine worthless but the bicycle strapped to the roof helpful, and after doing everything on two wheels for a month I decided the city was a delightful place to commute with pedal power (the amazing breweries didn't hurt, looking at you Funkwerks).
And Seattle is more bike friendly than Eugene? Riding a bicycle in Eugene is as carefree as taking a huge hit of homegrown Oregon pot as you sit along the Willamette River and listen to the Grateful Dead.
The national nonprofit People For Bikes recently gave Seattle a 2.3 out of 5 for bicycle friendliness, putting 50 cities ahead of us. It seems like Bicycling Magazine's editors should leave the quantitative ranking systems to nonprofits and instead get out on their bicycles a little more. If they happen to ever ride in Seattle, they'd understand how ridiculous it is to anoint Seattle as the best bike city in the country.