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City of Seattle

September 14, 5:16 PM click here to comment > 52

Improving safety and responsibility on our roads

As part of my commute I bike the same route taken on Dexter Avenue by Mike Wang, a 42 year old father of two who worked at PATH. One afternoon, on his ride home just two blocks from his office, he was killed in a hit-and-run accident while crossing the intersection of Dexter and Thomas. I see the flowers and the white ghost bike, reading “A cyclist died here,” almost every day. While biking from KUOW to City Hall on Monday morning, I went to the intersection of University Way and Campus Parkway, where Robert Townsend, a 23-year old man who delivered sandwiches on his bicycle for Jimmy John’s, died after being struck by a car this past Saturday. I then rode to the spot on Fairview Avenue where Brian Fairbrother, who worked at Espresso Vivace, died after crashing on a set of stairs on August 30th.

Each of these incidents is a tragedy. It’s not just the person on the bicycle who has been affected. The victims’ families and friends are in mourning, and I share their grief. Everyone who uses the streets in our city – whether it’s in a car, on a bicycle, on a bus or train, or on foot – is a family member, a co-worker, a neighbor, a friend who is just trying to get home safely. No one wants to be the person in the car who gets in an accident. No one wants to have a friend or family member who is injured or even killed.

It’s time to stop finding fault with each other, and to start finding a remedy. There has been a lot of overheated rhetoric about cars versus bikes or bikes versus cars, and it’s not helping make our roads any safer. It’s not even accurate. Most people who ride a bicycle also own a car. Drivers will also park and walk across the street or on a sidewalk to get to their destination. A pothole is a danger to both cars and bicycles. And we pay the general sales and property taxes that help fund our road infrastructure. We need to take responsibility for not just our own lives, but for others too.

We need to look at what we can do to help people get where they’re going safely. That requires the public as well as city government to take new steps to address road safety. Here are the steps I am committed to taking:

Convening the community. My office will be convening a summit of community leaders, experts and elected officials to determine how best we can encourage an attitude of responsibility and empathy on the roads, and make it safer for all users. Seattle Department of Transportation Director (SDOT) Peter Hahn, Seattle Police Department (SPD) Chief John Diaz, and several members of the City Council have already agreed to participate. We’re working on the details of the summit right now, nailing down a time and a place, and will make an announcement soon about the event.

Expanding education efforts. Seattle has and will continue to invest in several education programs, including those who drive, bike, walk and ride transit, about the rules of the road and ways they can help to improve safety. We are going to spend some more money this year to continue or expand those programs. We’re also going to take a close look at whether there are ways we can improve these education programs to more effectively meet the public’s needs.

Improving enforcement. SDOT and SPD currently work together to target locations where safety concerns have been identified. We already focus on behaviors that contribute to collisions, such as speeding and failure to yield, and on impaired driving. We’re going to reexamine all of those efforts and find ways to improve and expand enforcement. And we’ll do so in a way that avoids scapegoating, but that reminds everyone that they are responsible for protecting each other by following the rules of the road.

Continuing to invest in infrastructure. We have been investing in facilities that make it safer to use our roads. With funds from the Bridging the Gap Levy, we have repaved more than 128 lanes miles of arterial streets in Seattle. Earlier this year we increased the number of pothole repair crews from 3 to 9 to deal with the unusually large number of potholes we had this winter. So far we’ve filled more than 20,000 potholes in 2011, more than in 2009 and 2010 combined. Since the adoption of the Bicycle Master Plan four years ago, we have installed 113 miles of new bike lanes and pavement markings. On Dexter Avenue, we are going to add buffers to the bike lanes between Mercer and Denny to provide bicycles with more room and to reduce vehicle speeds. We’re going to continue trying new approaches, such as neighborhood greenways and cycletracks that make it easier for cars and bicycles to share the road. Next year, we are updating the Bicycle Master Plan which will help us understand where safety improvements are needed. And we are asking the public to help us fund these projects.

These steps continue the focus I have had on improving road safety since I took office. That includes everything from filling more potholes to reconfiguring streets to reduce speeds and create safer conditions for all users. We’ve rechannelized streets such as Northeast 125th and Nickerson in order to make them safer for everyone by lowering speeds and improving traffic flow.

The evidence was clear that we needed to act. SDOT’s data showed that a high percentage of collisions (51%) on Northeast 125th Street resulted in injury, compared to only 33% on similar roads in Seattle. These are accidents between automobiles, as well as accidents involving pedestrians. We know that high vehicle speeds are dangerous. In 2009, speeding was a contributing factor in 31 percent of all fatal crashes, and 10,591 lives were lost in speeding-related crashes. Given this information, I accepted the SDOT recommendation and directed them to rechannelize Northeast 125th Street. I stood up for safety.

That decision was not popular with everyone, but I felt it was the right way to improve safety on that street. And I’ve received some letters from residents of that neighborhood who tell me that the rechannelization has made it easier for them to safely drive from their residential streets onto and off of Northeast 125th Street.

I made a similar choice on Nickerson Street, in this case to improve pedestrian safety. A pedestrian hit by a car going 40 mph has an 80 percent chance of dying from the impact, while a pedestrian hit by a car going 30 mph has a 40 percent chance of dying from the impact. Before Nickerson Street was restriped, 85 percent of the traffic was going 44 miles per hour or below eastbound, and 40 miles per hour or below westbound — while the speed limit on Nickerson Street is only 30 miles per hour. We went out and collected data in February to see how well this was working. The data shows that traffic speeds are currently 35 miles per hour eastbound and 37 miles per hour westbound. While speeds are not down to the 30 mile per hour speed limit, they are still safer.

Each of those projects helped make the street safer for everyone who uses it. Driving remains the most common form of transportation in our city, and all of our projects are designed to help people who drive interact more easily and safely with other users, giving drivers more peace of mind. More people are biking in Seattle – the number of people riding a bicycle rose by approximately 60% from 2000 to 2009. Everyone has the right to be on the road, and it’s our job to help people do so safely and responsibly.

Public safety has to be our top priority on the roads. If we all look out for each other, we can get where we’re going safely.

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Posted by: Mayor Mike McGinn

Comments

Comment from Will Affleck-Asch
Time September 14, 2011 at 5:21 pm

We need more sidewalks and more bike paths, not less.

Comment from Nigel Heinsius
Time September 14, 2011 at 9:30 pm

Hi Mike,

I commute every day by bike. We need two things: 1) traffic calming, or reducing car speed limits, on the most heavily bike trafficked roads in the city, and 2) physical dividers between cars and bikes on those same streets. That is alll it would take.

Comment from Carolynne Walker
Time September 15, 2011 at 6:32 am

Thanks Mayor McGinn for all of the great work you and your team are doing to improve our streets so we can all share the road.

Comment from John
Time September 15, 2011 at 8:28 am

Let’s license cyclists. This addresses your concerns in many ways:

- Cyclists get trained about the rules of the road formally. No exceptions. It becomes a requirement.
- Cyclists have a license plate on their bikes. That provides a means of accountability if they break the rules of the road.
- You’d get a license plate on a bike once the bike has been inspected and is found to be equipped with a standard, DOT approved lane signalling and brake indication device.
- Instruct police to ticket bike scofflaws who don’t follow the rules of the road. Set the fines to be the same as car fines. If you cross an intersection on a red light, that’s a $124 fine.
- Create legislation that puts the traffic violation riding a bike on the person’s car driving record. A person that drives a car responsibly should also be forced to drive a bike responsibly.
- The revenues collected from licensing bikes and bike traffic fines can go directly to pay for educational efforts and bike infrastructure. The higher the need for more infrastructure, the higher the license fee. Or, just base it on the price of the bike.

So how about this, Mayor McGinn? Put your money where your mouth is!

Comment from John
Time September 15, 2011 at 8:50 am

By the way, you didn’t stand up for safety when rechannelizing 125th Street. You stood up for the bike lobby, of which you directly employ the most zealous and myopic bike advocate of all directly on your payroll!

Pingback from McGinn calls for safety summit after bike deaths – Bazaar Daily News
Time September 15, 2011 at 10:18 am

[...] months.“It’s time to stop finding fault with each other, and to start finding a remedy,” McGinn blogged Wednesday. “There has been a lot of overheated rhetoric about cars versus bikes, or bikes versus cars, and [...]

Pingback from Even an Advance Warning Didn’t Save Cyclist’s Life | The SunBreak
Time September 15, 2011 at 11:07 am

[...] his post on improving road safety, Mayor McGinn echoes the sentiment: It’s time to stop finding fault with each other, and to start [...]

Comment from John T
Time September 15, 2011 at 12:36 pm

I like the idea of a safety summit, but to be truly inclusive representatives from a pair of distinct and important constituencies need to invited: scofflaw anarchist cyclists (I’m pro-cycling, but these people do exist), and bike-hating motorist troglodytes.

Without these important minority voices at the table no consensus or resolution is possible. It is the heated rhetoric and inflammatory actions of these small sub-populations that fuel this intensifying conflict. Who shall we nominate to attend and advocate for blowing through stop sign? Who shall come and offer justification for running other road users off the roads?

Without those voices any summit is pointless. But kudos to you Mayor McGinn for trying.

Comment from CURTIS
Time September 15, 2011 at 12:46 pm

HEY HOW BOUT BIKES GET LICENCED TO BE ON THE ROADS THAT WERE BUILT FOR THE CARS. THERE MIGHT BE MONEY THEN TO EXPAND THE ROADS FOR THE BIKES. O AND BIKERS SHOULD HAVE TO FOLLOW THE SAME RULES AS CARS, YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE.

Comment from Doug Nellis
Time September 15, 2011 at 12:47 pm

The death of Brian Fairweather was caused by a failure in infrastructure design, and could have been prevented. By creating a phony path around Lake Union called the Cheshiahud Loop in 2008, the Nickels Adminstration encouraged bicyclists to ride on sidewalks, through parking lots and along other pathways which poor or no markings. Such was the stairway on Fairview Avenue where Fairweather was killed.

Poor bicycle infrastructure design such as this exists all over Seattle. These areas need to be identified (I can name at least 10 right now) and fixed before another preventable bicyclist death occurs.

Comment from Russ Crandall
Time September 15, 2011 at 12:53 pm

Its going to be impossible to educate drivers on bike safety when so many cyclists choose to flaunt the rules of the road. Nobody is targeting cyclists in these collisions, they just happen because people make mistakes. Cars will hit cars or bikes, bikes will hit cars or pedestrians, you cant change this human behaivor, you must force cyclists to register their bikes, force them to adopt these safety standards because some think its fine to take a bike out that doesnt even have any brakes.

Comment from Erik Heino
Time September 15, 2011 at 1:06 pm

Thank you, Mayor McGinn. I am an occasional bike commuter and driver in Seattle, and I also use Dexter on those days that I bike. The majority of the time I take the bus from outside Seattle to downtown and then walk the final mile and a half to Lower Queen Anne.

My take is that we have two big problems: antagonistic attitudes and poor infrastructure. I think that improving infrastructure past a tipping point of use will take care of the attitude problems. I’m skeptical that a summit will help but with the current tenor discussing this issue it can’t hurt.

The main thing is slowing down speeds. On arterials like Dexter, people should be driving 30 MPH, not 40 MPH or more. The improvements there have helped but not enough; it’s possible that Michael Wang would have been hit even with more improvements, but I think that with a streetscape that discouraged speeding he would be alive and maybe unharmed today. Keep up the good work lowering arterial speeds and future lives will be saved.

But we also need a network of bikeways on lesser-traveled streets. Not every trip can take place on lower-traffic streets but we should support the ones that can. Even though I am comfortable as a vehicular cyclist I would use safer paths if and where I could, just because I don’t want to be the next death from inattention on the roads (whether mine, or more likely, that of someone driving a car.)

The main problem is funding, and that gets back to public attitudes as well as the larger budget problems. I realize this is not easy, but I commend you for trying. Hopefully there’s a formulation that will enable everyone to understand that safe streets are good for everyone, and that this isn’t something where people have to take sides.

Comment from Jolene
Time September 15, 2011 at 1:11 pm

What bicyclists need to understand is that weaving in and out of traffic is a huge problem. Everyday I drive the entire length of Madison and then through the arboretum and many bikers who “share the road” with cars are constantly weaving in and out of traffic. I refuse to pay additional tab fee’s to improve the road for cyclist. Cyclists should pay an annual bike tab fee to help fund bike lane improvements. Bikers need to feel less entitled and have more respect for motor vehicles, for which the roads are built for.

Comment from Not John
Time September 15, 2011 at 1:42 pm

Police are already enforcing traffic laws against bicyclists. I’ve witnessed SPD ticket multiple cyclists at once for running a red light downtown. Thus, there’s no need to separately license cyclists; there’s already accountability for scofflaw cyclists as much as there is for any other scofflaw on the road (e.g., speeding drivers). No one here is “getting a pass”.

Why do we need separate “DOT approved indicators for signaling and braking”? Installing that type of aftermarket equipment would cost more than the base price for many bikes on the road and it does seem to serve any necessary purpose. Signaling by hand is already taught in traffic class and used by most cyclists. Also,if you’re riding behind a bike, common sense (and existing traffic laws) should dictate that you not follow too closely, lest they slow down and you rear end them.

Comment from JB
Time September 15, 2011 at 1:54 pm

Hey Mikey (and your lackey Aaron) — John has some good suggestions. Equal accountability is a good start from all users of the road. Also Ravenna has been a piece of crap in the 9 years I have lived here and only getting fixed hopefully next year. How about fixing potholes instead of working on road diets, as I have to think that potholes injure cyclists as well? Duh!

Comment from Sam
Time September 15, 2011 at 2:10 pm

Thank you for this effort. I’ve ridden my bike in seattle for 15 years but no longer feel safe enough to ride. I feel a great loss in this especially since I don’t drive and am dependent on biking for more efficient healthy transportation. From a public health and law enforcement standpoint I would like to ask that the bike helmet and bike light laws are fully enforced. I also want everyone who gets a drivers license to have training on sharing space with bikes and pedestrians. And I would like required safety classes for bicyclists which could be funded by fines for violation of helmet and light laws. I also want all professional drivers like cabs and delivery trucks to get mandatory training. And I want city test bike drivers to slowly go through specific attempted routes and address and note issues at the source. I also want awareness of noise issues as gunning engines our loud motorcycles can be shocking to a bike rider. Please help make this city one in which I feel safe to bike in again. I love biking. My fear is real. we all can be part of the solution.

Comment from Lisa
Time September 15, 2011 at 2:32 pm

Please please!! Fix that interchange for bikers coming off the Ballard Bridge traveling southbound! There has to be a better solution there. Add that to you list of “Continuing to invest in infrastructure”…

Comment from Bill Pearson
Time September 15, 2011 at 2:39 pm

Cars are speeding up Denny trying to make the green light. I feel folks on bikes need to wear red, orange, or bright colors to let motorists view the riders. Riders without a helmet are in danger of life ending injuries.

Comment from Diane
Time September 15, 2011 at 2:47 pm

I see more cyclists running red lights, weaving through traffic, going too fast on the sidewalk, etc., then I do obeying the rules of the road. I think that one of the purposes of folks riding bikes is so that they can weave around traffic, create lanes where there are none, hit the street and then the sidewalk, whatever is most expedient. As a pedestrian, I fear more from getting hit by a bicycle then I do a car.

Comment from Fraser
Time September 15, 2011 at 2:53 pm

Everybody talks about how the cyclists aren’t obeying the traffic laws, etc. Stand at any traffic light in the city and count how many bikers run the light and also how many cars run the light. It’s not even close. Cars win this one every time. And who’s more dangerous? Cars win this one everytime.

Comment from Andy B
Time September 15, 2011 at 3:06 pm

Fantastic! Traffic calming, lower speeds, education, and enforcement. All sounds good to me. Let people drive fast on I5.

Comment from Tuoi To
Time September 15, 2011 at 3:28 pm

I ask for the side walk along my 14th Ave NW like the others streets close by. Thank you for your attention on this matter.

Comment from Charlene Whitworth
Time September 15, 2011 at 4:15 pm

I drive Dexter Avenue frequently. Westlake and Dexter are to narrow for two-way bike/car traffic. Westlake and Dexter need to be one-way streets from 3rd/Dexter/Nickerson to Mercer. One going north, one going south.
Also the bike lane should be between the curb and parked cars.

Thank you.

Comment from Hillman
Time September 15, 2011 at 4:30 pm

@John – You’re really on to something! While we’re at it, let’s go ahead and make pedestrians get licenses too! If those walkers are going to be using those dang crosswalks to cross my street while I’m drivin’ down it, they should have to take a class so they know how to do it without getting in my way! And each and every one of them should have to wear a license placard so we can catch all of the scofflaws. Think about it!

Pingback from McGinn planning bicycle summit – Bazaar Daily News
Time September 15, 2011 at 5:09 pm

[...] versus cars, and it’s not helping make our roads any safer,” McGinn said in a statement posted on his website.Details of the bicycle summit are still being worked out, McGinn said.  The event will include [...]

Comment from Mark
Time September 15, 2011 at 5:31 pm

Seattle is integrating bicycles into our traffic culture. Bicycles are recognized as one of several transportation options for Seattle and King County commuters. As their use increases bicycles should be regulated as cars, trucks, buses and rail transportation are regulated.

Bicycle owners/riders should be licensed and trained to ride safely in urban, suburban and exurban areas. Bicycle license fees can be used to defray light rail costs.

Bicycles and bicycle riders should be recognized as commuters – not racers.* Bicycle riders who speed/race should be ticketed/fined. Seattle city should provide opportunities for bicycle racers to practice their sport on city sponsored velodromes or parks.

Licensed bicycle riders should be issued a brightly colored, weather proof vest with their license number displayed clearly. The licensed rider can ride any bike – the license travels with the rider.

Licensed bicycle riders should be insured – as car owners are insured – for collision, damages, injury inflicted on received.

As vehicles bicycles should use streets – not sidewalks. Sidewalks are for pedestrians. *

*Licenses for joggers and race walkers are under consideration.

Comment from Jake Jackson
Time September 15, 2011 at 5:34 pm

Mayor McGinn, you have a 23% approval rating in Seattle, one of the more liberal cities in America. You are less popular than Richard Nixon during the depths of Watergate. You are less popular than Barack Obama in the ranch country of Eastern Oregon. You are the least popular mayor in this city’s history.

Why is that? Could it be that you are seen as a divisive individual who is going everything in his power to make this city inhospitable to people who drive motor vehicles — the vast majority?

I am glad that you went on a diet, but the “road diets” are rightly seen as the city’s attempt to harrass the drivers of cars. Your “safety summit” will surely be stacked with your supporters — what’s left of them, anyway — among the bicyclists, and perhaps the derelicts downtown, whose side you’ve taken against the businesses and customers there.

Mr. Mayor, if you have a shred of common sense, you’ll take a good, hard look at how you have conducted yourself in office. You need to realize that you won a close election within a city with serious issues to deal with, among them being the horrible condition of our streets that you have allowed to go unrepaired.

Get to work on our actual problems, or you’re likely to face a recall. We cannot afford to have a divisive amateur holding your position. If you aren’t up to the job, the honorable thing to do would be to admit it and resign. Give us a mayor who can get the job done.

Comment from paul kelly
Time September 15, 2011 at 6:48 pm

Please stop bicycle morons from speeding over
the Fremont bridge
I have been hit twice by a hit and run bicyclist
while walking across the Fremont bridge on foot.

We need to at least have speed bumps to slow down these reckless bicyclists who injure pedestrians and make real bicyclists look bad

Comment from Mark
Time September 15, 2011 at 7:15 pm

Bike lanes painted greeb between the curb and a row of parked cars is a great idea. They do this in Brooklyn. It raises awareness of drivers opening doors to get out of their cars that there are cyclists passing. Also physically segregates cars from bike traffic.

Comment from R B White
Time September 15, 2011 at 7:47 pm

It is PAST TIME for a CRACK DOWN on bke riders breaking the traffic laws in Seattle. As I have stated at two Town Hall meetings, the intersections of College Way North & North 92nd Street, and Meridian Ave. No. & North 92nd Street, continues to be a BIG PROBLEM. Bike Riders Blow Through the Stop Signs continually.

If you honk at them they will give you the FINGER and/or Curse at you.

When is the Seattle Police going to CRACK DOWN on these Law Breakers?

Comment from Becky Weisfeld
Time September 15, 2011 at 9:24 pm

Mr Mayor, I witnessed a fight between a cyclist and a motorist just yesterday on 5th Avenue between Olive and Pine streets so good on ya for trying to bring about a truce in the war between cyclists and drivers but have you given any thought to making the sidewalks safer and less difficult to navigate?

You know sidewalks — those concrete things built to walk on. Perhaps you never use them because you seem to favor the businesses who clutter the sidewalks with marketing over people who have the gumption to move from point A to point B without any contraption other than their own two feet. If you want my vote next election, you’ll eliminate sidewalk signs entirely. There is no evidence they actually help any business – other than the sign manufacturers. The current ordinance is unenforceable so to make life simpler and less expensive for everyone, be a leader and just tell everyone to get their damn signs out of my way!

Comment from Becky Weisfeld
Time September 15, 2011 at 9:39 pm

Also, Mr. Mayor, speaking of fighting on the streets, there does seem to be a lot of it going on these days. Just Saturday afternoon, I got yelled at by a motorist because I was trying to walk through a cross-walk in front of his car. No, I was not walking against the light. The light was green for me and red for him but because people consider the right-on-red to be a thing that must be done immediately, not merely an if-all-is-clear option, he was upset with me for being in HIS way. Of course, the Seattle Police are never on the scene when compulsive right-on-red-ers attempt to flatten me so, I think they should have the privilege taken away from. Eliminate the right-on-red in Seattle and I will not only vote for you, I’ll make a contribution to your campaign.

Comment from Jesus
Time September 16, 2011 at 12:09 am

Number one, there is no good bicycle infrastructure in this city. calling a white division next to parked cars a bike lane is bull. I’m an avid student cyclist who’s been “doored” twice, and sadly not by parked cars, but by morons getting out of their cars in mid traffic. As a cyclist I have to just “deal” with, yes, roads built for cars. You can’t go around licensing cyclists, it’s absurd to compare a 2000 lb death machine to a 20 lb or less piece of slender metal. Sorry vehicles, no argument. If licensing cyclists is the solution then might as well start licensing pedestrians, they jay-walk, cross on green for traffic. It’s all absurd, cars need to take the responsibility of watching out, just as much as cyclists need to keep safe and stay alive in such a crappy city for bicycles. Last, cars are a waste dollars, and for those who say increasing tab taxes on them is infringing on them getting to work and targeting the poor, then ride a bike. Not only does fuel have an environmental impact, and contribute to our countries dependency on fuel from the countries we’re in war with, it’s a honest waste. If you’re poor, join my band wagon and ride a bike. Get over yourselves and get real, use transit do whatever to save that dollar and stop being an overzealous gluttonous American we’ve been told to be all our lives.

Comment from Brenda Carlson
Time September 16, 2011 at 7:11 am

In my opinion, bikers should not be riding down the hiways. They should have there own bike lane. I cannot tell you how many times I have almost hit an oncoming car trying to go around a bike rider riding down the middle of my lane with no room to pass. I agree that they need to be held accountable.
Thank You

Comment from Ali B.
Time September 16, 2011 at 8:32 am

Mayor McGinn is correct: We need to stop blaming each other and work toward sharing the road. Cyclists aren’t going away—they are growing in numbers—and that’s a good thing! People should be excited, not resistant, to live in a energetic, healthy and happy city, and we all need to work toward making it more so. I welcome any efforts made toward making roads safer and more accommodating for cyclists!

Comment from Biker Busser
Time September 16, 2011 at 9:04 am

Why is it we keep insisting on charging more for activities that decrease traffic congestion and decrease fuel emissions? Bussers and bikers are helping solve our traffic problems by decreasing cars on the road. Let’s not punish their contributions to the solution by charging them a fee for the act.

I’m sorry there are bad bikers out there, but your argument that licensing bikers will improve this situation is faulty. There will always be people who choose unsafe behaviors. Licensing cars certainly doesn’t eliminate bad drivers who disregard the law. Parking laws don’t ensure everyone pays for parking. Crosswalks don’t ensure no one jay walks. Why would bike licensing be any better at ensuring cyclists road sanely?

Alternately, requiring cyclicsts to be licensed would detract from the freedom and accessibility of biking resulting in fewer bikers overall and likely increasing the concentration of rogue bikers (or scofflaws as you like to call them.) Why would bikers who already ignore laws and safety be any more likely to follow a law such as licensing their bike which causes them additional burden? Alternatley, conscientious, but occasional bikers may simply give up biking altogether rather than pay a fee for the priviledge. I have several friends who bike in lieu of driving both for the economic benefits and convenience. Making biking less convenient and less economically equal would discourage these riders.

Cycling is more accessible across economic classes than driving. An impoverished person who may be lucky to afford a 15 year old car with poor emissions and few safety features can afford a helmet and a bicycle. Riding is healthier, safer, and more accessible to this individual than driving.

The same is true with transit. Every time we increase transit fairs we make transit a little less accessible to those who arguably need it most due to poor socio economic condition. Additionally, we discourage those who elect to ride the bus even though they can afford to drive by decreasing the amount they save.

Tax breaks for businesses who support employees using alternate (non-personal car/truck) modes of transportation would do more for improving our traffic condition than attempting to make our roads a “pay as you go” service. We all pay taxes. We’re all already contributing to the services that you think some of us should now pay an additioanl fee because we happen to utilize.

Comment from Josh
Time September 16, 2011 at 12:10 pm

Licensing cyclists is a red herring that gets dredged up every time sharing the road is discussed. No state in the U.S., in fact no nation on Earth, requires cyclists to be licensed, and there’s a reason for that: it’s simply not a productive use of government resources. Cyclists aren’t killing as many Americans every month as 9/11, they aren’t wearing out our roads or filling our trauma centers.

And, by and large, cyclists know the rules of the road already.

An obnoxious minority of cyclists flout the law in a passive-aggressive reaction to the danger posed by scofflaw motorists, but the solution to that is even-handed enforcement of the laws already on the books, and infrastructure improvements that help both motorists and cyclists follow the law in safety.

Comment from Cyclefoo
Time September 16, 2011 at 1:52 pm

Ragin’ cagers: The law gives cyclists the same rights to the road as you. And we get tickets for breaking those laws just like you do. Let your fear go and understand that cyclists want to share the road with you; all we ask is that you respect our right and share it with us. Besides, if you keep crying Mayor McGinn just might take away all those “car lanes” and leave the roadways to us! Har!

Comment from Richard
Time September 16, 2011 at 2:21 pm

Reading these comments is a bizarre trip through holier than thou land. It’s not a good place to be. We need to look at our own behaviors and attitudes good or bad and ask ourselves what we can do to make it better because we all play a part. Is a cyclist flipping off a driver building a positive future for bike/car interactions? Is a driver crowding a bike off the road fostering respect between us? Is a car or bike speeding down our narrow roads making our city an acceptably navigable place for a pedestrian? We are all citizens in this great place. But we don’t act like citizens. We act as individuals. We need to be more respectful of other people. Period. We need to exhibit some empathy. I am a motorist, cyclist and pedestrian. I would expect most people in our city are at least 2 of the 3 too. I can point to behaviors while engaged in each of these activities that I wouldn’t be thrilled to tell my mother about. It’s a tragedy that people are dying on our roads. People, not cars or bikes. People. We can do better. We should expect better. A road with a bunch of paint may make things incrementally safer, but it isn’t going to change our world. Our behavior and acceptance of each other is what will ultimately change things. Until there is a community focused point of view from each individual, our city of selfishness will never achieve in building vibrant communities for each of us to pursue our dreams.

Comment from nat
Time September 16, 2011 at 9:13 pm

OH MY FUCKING GOD. YOU ARE SO LITERATE!

Comment from John
Time September 17, 2011 at 9:30 am

We license motorcycles and scooters over 50 cc’s in this state. In turn, every motorcyclist and car driver go through a qualification process to ensure they have gone through established training and testing before they can drive on the road. Each licensee can be tracked by their plate numbers and issued traffic citations if they flaunt the law in front of a police officer.

Bike riders do not have such requirements. Their equipment is not rated for safety. Any configuration of bike is currently allowed on the road. Unless electively equipped by the owner, bikes have no standard signalling device to indicate intent to turn or stop. Cyclists are not required to go through any standardized training and certification process to get on the road. Nor are they required to carry insurance.

Motorists that flaunt the law in the presence of law enforcement get tickets or get their authority to drive revoked. There is no mechanism to get bad cyclists off the road. That’s why there are so many complaints about bad riders – they’re back on the road every day, aggravating everyone on the roads!

Pedestrians don’t share the roads. They walk on sidewalks and pedestrian walkways. They don’t need licenses. Some people who think the logical extension of the argument to license cyclists to include licensing pedestrians need to take a basic course in logic. Perhaps this is the reason bike zealots are so disliked by those who use other modes of transport in this city.

Comment from Karen
Time September 17, 2011 at 2:52 pm

I agree that cars and cyclists blaming each other will get us nowhere. As both a cyclist (80% ) and driver (20%) I can see issues for both parties. I do agree that as cyclists we have a responsibility to follow the rules of the road as we are using the road. However, drivers are scary! I count numerous people talking on cell phones or texting…. which is also illegal! I just hope every day that the cars that are not giving me my 3 feet of space have both hands and eyes and their full attention on the road! Education for both drivers and riders may help increase understanding and decrease animosity. Also I urge every driver out there to get on a bike and ride to give them a little more understanding of what us riders experience. Weaving in and out of traffic can be due to pot holes, trash, and glass on the side of the road. There are the “renegade” cyclists that don’t obey traffic laws but I’ve found most of them respond to a gentle reminder that if we want the respect of drivers we NEED to follow the rules too. Not only that, but if we are riding consistently and in a way that makes sense to drivers, they are going to feel less nervous – thus gunning their engines as they drive past us. Thanks for adressing a topic that has affected so many people and their loved ones.

Comment from Selena
Time September 18, 2011 at 2:17 am

Road safety audit. Road safety audit. Road safety audit. Road safety audit. Road safety audit. Road safety audit. Road safety audit. Road safety audit. Road safety audit. Get it?

Comment from Jon Morgan
Time September 19, 2011 at 8:00 pm

Thank you, Mr. Mayor. We need to be much louder and clearer about the fact that EVERYONE is a pedestrian. We also need a police force that does more walking and biking, and less driving; that lives in Seattle and not Snohomish County; and that enforces safety laws when drivers break them rather than harassing bikes and pedestrians and giving out 3 jaywalking tickets per failure to yield ticket (2009). SPD still believes and enforces the notion that might makes right. It does not.

Comment from CB
Time September 22, 2011 at 11:48 pm

Hi, Mayor McGinn – I hear alot of talk about Copenhagen, with the separate car, bike, and pedestrian lanes, as a model we should follow. I agree that their infrastructure is great. But there is also a very strong common acceptance of each road user’s responsibilities towards the others that promotes safety at least as much as the bike trails. One way they achieve this acceptance is through education. When I was preparing for the Danish driving test, it was made very clear to me that if I at any point made a right turn or a move across the right part of the lane without first checking over my shoulder for a cyclist, I would fail the test. In the couple weeks I was prepping for the test, it just got to be a habit to check. Another way they support mutual responsibility is by having very clear rules of the road and punishing those who break them. Cyclists are routinely stopped for running lights, riding without lights, not yielding to pedestrians descending from busses (the pedestrians have to cross the bicycle path to get from the bus/car lane to the sidewalk). The same for drivers.

But probably the most important factor in building consideration for other road users is that cars are so, so expensive there that almost everyone spends significant time on bikes and on foot before they can afford a car. So when they become drivers, they know what it feels like to be the little, unprotected cylist. I think we will solve this problem when we get many more people to use bikes on a regular basis. Get the cops on bikes, get city workers on bikes!

Comment from David Bart
Time September 28, 2011 at 10:21 am

Cars are dangerous, loud, environmentally toxic, and vulgar displays of wealth in a time of economic hardship. When so many Seattlites now have to walk or take the bus in order to commute, why should we have to fear for our lives every time we attempt to cross a busy street? Why should we have to inhale lungfuls of exhaust fumes? And what about those too young or too old to drive a car, or those who face physical challenges preventing them from doing so? Should they have to dodge vehicles operated by drunken 20 year old rich brats from Bellevue?

Cars are also unnecessary. Public transit in desperate need of improvement, and those improvements will not come about unless people use the transit system that exists.

Comment from Douglas Brehm
Time September 29, 2011 at 8:27 am

There does not need to be a summit of any kind. When bicycles are on the pavement by law they are considered a vehicle and should obey all traffic laws. If the vehicle operator (bicyclist) does not wish to obey the traffic laws then they should not be complaining about fatalities, injuries or accidents. It’s pretty simple logic. If you want to disobey all the laws then just ride on the sidewalk where you would be considered a pedestrian. I have been a vehicular cyclist for longer than I can remember and the majority of bike riders in Seattle are totally obnoxious, unsafe and suicidal with their disregard to safety. Which is why I do not bike in the Puget Sound area as their mistakes could possibly put my own safety at risk. I have never seen such ignorance as in this city concerning bicycle scholarship and rider education. Many people may be opposed to this statement, but you need to realize these public safety laws exist for your benefit and you should not resist this form of authority despite your longing to do whatever you please.

Comment from Detail Wiz
Time April 9, 2012 at 1:55 pm

I guess its true: Common sense is not entirely common.

Comment from Nick
Time June 23, 2012 at 8:52 pm

I think in regard to cyclist and cars we need more public education.
Thank you

Comment from Anthony
Time February 9, 2013 at 5:31 am

Thank you Mayor McGinn for addressing this. As mentioned above, maybe licensing bicyclists ala cars would make sense on some level. It’s something we have to address as a community – more bikes alleviates traffic so I’m not sure where the opposition comes from.

Comment from Richard
Time August 12, 2013 at 12:13 pm

Thank you Mayor for talking about this. I think we’re making good strides in improving the safety for everyone by investing in the new bike paths. Less cars on the roads means less chances for accidents.

Comment from Florida Tinter
Time November 25, 2013 at 4:38 pm

I’m originally from Florida but recently moved my tinting business here. I think bike paths and sidewalks not only make the city safer, but add aesthetic value as well. I would like to see increased usage of public transit as well.