Category Archives: traffic

My Bike Commute = Daily City Immersion

Space Needle through the xtracycle barsOne thing I like about bike commuting is the opportunity to experience more of my city. In the morning, I might see a single scull or kayak slip under the University Bridge, the rising sun reflecting on the Olympic range, or a familiar landmark partially obscured by fog.

Of course, the downside of such an immersion is a heightened awareness of Seattle’s runaway construction projects. I rant about the state of our roads because I’m all too aware of how poor they’ve become. As I daily dodge cement trucks, impromptu street closures, and poorly patched pavement—a victim of heavy equipment or new-utility runs—I can only wonder about the sustainability of Seattle’s current development choices.

In the morning, I worry if Seattle knows what she is doing. Continue reading

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Bike SLUT Issues Overblown, Says Non-Riding Mayor

I meant to post this before the Portland bike show but ran out of time. I was just going to let it go, but then I came _this_ close_ to crashing on the South Lake Union Trolley (SLUT) tracks on my way home tonight. So…

Old Tracks Make the New SLUT tracks even more dangerous

The Seattle Times is on a roll with cycling-as-transportation articles these days. I normally prefer the PI (mostly because the Times-owning Blethens are idiots obsessed with the estate tax), but these cycling articles in the Seattle Times are nice because they lack the PIs pathetic “Sound Off” public forums—normally a magnet for bike haters.

The article “New streetcar lines should be in center of road, council member says” reports that Jan Drago (and other council members) calling for bike-friendly future trolley development. Overall, good points were made. I must cross SLUT (south lake union trolley) tracks about four times on each way of my commute. It’s horrible. So far I’ve experienced no mishaps (knock on wood) but I have come close. Though the Xtracycles’ long wheelbase has saved my ass so far, I know it’s only a matter of time.

It’s quite obvious to anyone who has attempted to ride in SLU, that the city erred on the side of development (sidewalk boarding, even in the face of known bicycle hazards, was called for by Mr. Allen’s team and other property owners and approved by Mayor Nichols). As a result, bike advocates and now the council think the pendulum should swing the other way on future trolley development.

That’s a good start but it brings me to my beef with our beefy mayor. The article resurfaces a comment made by the Mayor in December where he said bike-trolley safety issues weren’t important. To me, this is the real story and calls into doubt the weight of this weighty mayors commitment to the Bike Master Plan.

In December, Mayor Greg Nickels complained in casual conversation that the bike issue was overblown. -P.I. article

Interim Route ON SIDEWALK?!?In case you haven’t been paying attention, Mayor Nichols has, shall we say, “put on a few pounds” while in office. As someone who is always fighting against weight-gain, I normally wouldn’t say a word about this. However, in this case I think his growing chin count illustrates how the mayor isn’t qualified to speak on the cycling-safety issue. Those puffy cheeks and straining Dockers make it painfully obvious the mayor hasn’t been piloting a bike around the Seattle traffic infrastructure on a regular basis.

So Mr. Mayor, please do me a favor — when you feel the need to talk about how something is not a cycling safety issue just SHUT THE HELL UP.

You have at least one expert on staff. Let them fill you in on the safety angle. If you can’t trust your staff, consider these other options:

  • Give voice to regular bike commuters to discuss their traffic experiences
  • Seek opinion from the Cascade Bicycle Club
  • Copy what they are doing in Portland (everyone else is)
  • Even lean on the folks who are in the trenches.

Yield to PedsPlease, Mr. Mayor, just do whatever it takes to keep your feet out of your mouth. Because until you make an effort to ride your talk and actually try cycling our pathetic infrastructure again, your opinion on cycling safety is worthless.

-Tim

More commute photos in the Car Free Days commute photostream at Flickr

Green Lanes Mean What?

Is this what a green lane will look like?

The Seattle Times this morning published an article on Seattle’s effort to increase cycling safety by installing green lanes — we’re the Emerald City, get it –on four dangerous intersections: Dexter at Denny Way, both ends of the Fremont Bridge, and North 145th where the new Shoreline Interurban Trail meets the city limits.

The article goes on at surprising length about the dangers of the “right hook” accident, about Mayor Nichols’ plan to triple cycling trips, and of course, about how we’re keeping up with Portland on the bike safety front (we’re not) by painting these lines. Continue reading

Neighborhoods and Bikes: Wallingford

wallingford

I had plans to meet my friend at a park in Wallingford the other day. It was a pretty cold day in Seattle – 41 degrees and windy: the weather report said it felt like 28. We were undeterred by the weather, we just bundled up and got ready to go, despite the howling wind. The four-year-old said he felt like a snowman – he could barely move because I put three coats on him.

I had a thermos of hot chocolate and sandwiches for lunch – we were ready to roll. But just as we were walking out the door, my friend called to say they weren’t going to make it. It was too cold and her daughter didn’t want to go (in the CAR!!!). My son doesn’t take well to changes in plans, so we went without them. Our kids are out in the weather all of the time – this is Seattle after all – if you wait for a nice sunny day to go outside, you’ll spend 10 months out of the year indoors. Continue reading

Yearly Budget

I’m doing the dreaded beginning of the year stuff – cleaning out the closets, getting rid of stuff and reviewing our budget. In the process, I ran across our 2007 budget – it was pretty amusing to read it. The budget contained a line item for gas – $200 a month. According to my girlfriend that’s nothing – she pays $200 a week. We’ve only put 2 tanks of gas into our car since the end of August. That’s a lot of walking around money!

In the wake of gas price increases, have you seen your gas expenditures go up or down?

 – Anne

30 Minute Load Zone

Preschool Load Zone

We parked in the load zone at preschool the other day and our four year old was very concerned we’d been there for longer than 30 minutes. He really didn’t want to get a ticket.

 – Anne

The Year of Living Car-lessly

I discovered Alan Durning’s series last year. It was my inspiration for trying to be less car dependent. When I first started reading it, I told myself, ” I could never do that.” (Insert all excuses here). But I was truly inspired. If their family of five can live without a car, I can certainly live with driving less.

We started small – eliminating un-necessary trips here and there, declaring carfree days once or twice a week, doing all errands on one day to eliminate daily short trips etc.

Then we got the Xtracycles. What a truly revolutionary invention. They have changed everything for us. All kid-and-stuff-hauling related excuses evaporated when they were up and running. Now – we barely drive. Maybe once every 2 weeks. Probably less. We’re hooked – wouldn’t go back. It’s so easy and fun.

Give Alan Durning’s series a read when you have a chance.

– Anne

Election Night Special Edition: Seattle Mayor DOES Want to Show Off His Rack

zoka SDOT rack

…at least the new one at University Zoka, spotted this morning by an eagle-eyed, pre-caffeine, carfree-Anne.

If you recall, I posted a while ago about the Seattle Bike rack program. One of my nominated locations was UZ. Low and behold, today we see a single, shiny new rack. Either someone SDOT reads this blog (unlikely), or I just got lucky.

Like any red-blooded, American urban cyclist, I ultimately lust after a nice pair (at least). The demand is there — at 11am. this rack was full, a Zoka-installed rack was full, and bikes were chained to the street trees. Still, I’m a sucker for almost any rack and can’t help but give a frat-boy-sized W00t! to this lopsided offering,

Dare I hope this is a sign of life to come in a post-Bicycle Master Plan world? Nah, I’m not that optimistic. Still, I won’t mind a bit if SDOT proves me wrong.

SDOT text on zoka rack

-Tim

Cycling Style

Biking in High Heels at Cycle Chic

(photo from Cycle Chic — Copenhagen Girls on Bikes)

If non-cyclists could get past the “cycling gear” barrier – do you think more people would use bikes as a mode of transportation? Maybe that’s the Tipping Point.

Continue reading

Hey Seattle: Park that damn SUV and take your kids to school on a bike!

Park that damn SUV group on Facebook

Walking up the hill to a preschool meet-and-greet this morning we witnessed the first of the season’s auto laziness in bloom — the lady with the mercedes who lives on 29th but drives to the school on 34th (and she actually parked on 33rd… meaning she drove FOUR blocks) was apparently all geared up for another school year via car.

We watched an endless auto parade all last year. At a time of global warming, high gas prices, traffic from hell, peak oil, and a childhood obesity epidemic it’s beyond me how people justify driving their kids less than a half mile to school.

Mostly we observed and kept our mouths shut, but still heard plenty of excuses: “I have somewhere to go after this” or “my kids don’t like to walk” or “it’s raining,” or… (insert excuse of the day).

I think people are guilted into confessing something when they see non-driver out there day after day (oddly enough, nice days inspire the most excuses). I’ll admit some reasons are valid — I’ve been there myself. But when you see the same people loading their kids into the car every day as you walk by their house, see them at drop-off, and then see them pull up at home as you walk by toward your house five blocks further from school, you just have to call bullsh!t.

So duly inspired by the first day of school tomorrow I decided to create a group on Facebook called: “Hey Seattle: Park that damn SUV and take your kids to school on a bike.” I have no expectations for this group. Mostly it’s an outlet for me one step above screaming “get out of your car, a**hole!”

Luckily Anne has talked about beginning a campaign at our local elementary (Bryant, near Seattle’s University District) to see if we can get some more locals to park and walk or bike. I’m sure her methods will be less polarizing, more inviting (can you believe she vetoed my slogan idea: “One less fat kid: Bike to school.”), and ultimately more successful. For now, though, this is all I’ve got.

How about you? Wanna walk or ride to school tomorrow?

 -Tim