Tag Archives: politics

Promoting Walk – Bike – Ride, in the Seattle Style

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn unveiled a multi-year Walk, Bike, Ride campaign yesterday at the Beacon Hill light rail station. Initial reaction locally was mostly lukewarm, with many observers pointing to the plan’s lack of funding as a major obstacle to success.

Paul Andrews of Bike Intelligencer summed up the announcement and the campaign eloquently with his post Walk, Bike, Ride, yes. Spend? Um, err….”

Where’s the money, Lebowski?

The opening line from “The Big Lebowski” kept rolling through my mind as Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, King County Council member Larry Phillips and a supporting cast of street activists rolled out a new “Walk Bike Ride” campaign at the Beacon Hill light rail station this afternoon.

Andrews is a seasoned newspaperman and professional writer. And it shows. In contrast to many bloggers (yes, bike bloggers, too. This one included), Andrews can really write. In a, concise post, he covers both the good of the plan (The mayor, who biked to the press conference, wants to encourage a city-wide shift away from driving), as well as the bad (uh, how are we going to fund said shift)?

It’s worth popping over to Bike Intelligencer and getting the full poop.  But while you are here, you might as well know that The Car Free Days’ take on  the plan is a qualified  “Bravo.”

Sure, presenting the plan in tandem with a big-ass bucket of money would have been nice, but we’re reasonably happy with the overall message.  If we can instill the city’s collective mind with the idea that “bicycling is a normal option for normal people,” we’re on our way to change. Continue reading

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Ideas for Seattle

Seattle Skyline from jarnott at Flickr

It must be a lot of pressure to take the helm of one of the world’s smartest cities.

Car Free Days has high hopes that Mayor-Elect Mike McGinn will continue to listen to the citizens of Seattle while taking Seattle to the next level.

We have a feeling it’s going to be a little harder to connect with the citizens of Seattle as mayor than it was as candidate. As candidate he just had to listen. As mayor he has to listen, and then act in a way that pleases everyone. The pressure of trying to make everyone happy is enough to make a mayor wall themselves off behind grumpy power-broker staffers (Nichols) or crawl into a hole (Schell).

Still, being the optimists we are, we’re willing to look for positive signs that the new mayor will keep lines of communication open, such as his recent (and apparently ongoing) series of town hall forums. We’re also pretty stoked about the new Ideas for Seattle website. Continue reading

Seattle Ride of Silence Deserves our Respect

Heading out with a small group on the 2009 Ride of Silence

Heading out with a small group on the 2009 Ride of Silence

As I mentioned, Wednesday was the 2009 Ride of Silence. Having been impressed by last year’s numbers  and the diversity of participants, I was really looking forward to paying my respects by riding with an even larger group this year.

Upon arriving at Gas Works Park, it was quickly apparent that I was a bit optimistic. In fact, riders were  so sparse, my first thought was that I missed the roll out and had showed up at a Cascade evening group ride.  Last year’s rider count was in the mid-hundreds (Wednesday’s ride leader mentioned “600” in past years), this year I counted 43 or 44 riders TOTAL.

I’m just going to come right out and say I’m really disappointed by Seattle cyclists. While other cities had growing numbers of riders, Seattle fell flat (Portland drew about 75 for their 2009 ride). Continue reading

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

NY Times ♥’s Portland Bikes

NY Times Loves Portland Bikes Picture from my kitchen -some rights reserved

I opened my Gray Lady this morning to find I wasn’t the only one smitten by the bike. This time, it’s the Times with an early November Valentine for our neighbors to the South. It is a good read and don’t have a lot to add, other than:

  1. I’m Jealous: Why can’t my city do better? Why can’t we live in Portland?
  2. My friends know how to get to me — four of them sent me this article.
  3. The article is pretty shallow. The article emphasizes high-end frame builders and how Nike and Columbia sell cycling products, but lacks info about the large number of cool shops, amazing resources like BikePortland.org, and the other businesses who cater to regular cycling folk.
  4. It’s the Times’ most-emailed article. Hey, you crazy politicians take that. The nation is indeed interested in bikes as modern transportation alternatives.
  5. The PDX buzz is nearing an unsustainable level and I’m concerned about a hype fallout. I remember when all the college kids were moving to Seattle in the early 90s because of the music (and later, the dot.com scene). I got so sick and tired of meeting people from Virginia whom had moved to Seattle because they heard it was cool. And then they decided it wasn’t, but hadn’t got around to moving to the new IT town.
  6. At least we had jobs here, back in the day. I think the reality of BYOE (Bring Your Own Employment) in Portland might not be so kind to this generation of hype gypsies.

  7. If you think I’m dead wrong on #5, keep in mind #1. Envy isn’t always fair or rational or …

-Tim