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…
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
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.
Please, 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.
More commute photos in the Car Free Days commute photostream at Flickr