The city of Seattle is no stranger to the bicycle commuters who choose to ride on two wheels each day instead of four. But cyclists citywide are preparing for some changes to the area that, although should improve safety for the masses, could create a much different setting than we are used to today. And for a state that was recently rated the most bike-friendly in the country, the safety improvements have the potential to carry the momentum forward and create an even more efficient environment for all commuters.
Bikers Welcome Here
Although it dropped to tenth place in the recent League of American Bicyclists rankings, Seattle has always been known as a bike-friendly city. The fact that Washington State was named the top bike-friendly state in terms of the safety of bicycle commuters doesn’t hurt either.
But city officials aren’t simply looking to cater to the Seattleites who already bike to work every day. Many of the proposed improvements to the city would be aimed at inviting newcomers to make the transition to becoming a regular bicycle commuter.
“We want to make sure we’re building infrastructure for people who are eight or 80 [years old],” and not just for experienced riders, says Blake Trask, policy director for the Washington Bicycle Alliance.
This year alone, officials have set out to add seven miles of walking and biking areas in five different Seattle-area neighborhoods, and more are likely to come in the following years. Cities such as Portland have already adopted these models to make walking and cycling a more realistic option for those who want to transition away from driving everywhere without the risk of being seriously injured in a bicycle accident.
Safety Improvements for Bicycle Commuters
In addition to the proposed added lanes and walkways throughout Seattle neighborhoods, bicycle commuters in the area could see a significant amount of safety improvements with the new plan. A safety feature called cycle tracks, which are essentially individual lanes that separate the cars from bicycles and are very common in European cities such as Amsterdam, has recently been introduced in a number of cities throughout the country.
But some of the city’s residents aren’t as pleased about all of the attention on improving the roads for bicycle commuters. Cycling gets a lot of positive attention and support with Mayor Mike McGinn at the forefront of bike awareness and advocacy here in Seattle, and drivers are starting to feel as if their needs are being neglected.
“We don’t have a problem with the city investing in bike infrastructure [for bicycle commuters],” says Michael Ennis of the Washington Policy Center. “It’s just when it’s at the expense of auto lanes, then we start running into issues of fairness.”
But the numbers don’t necessarily back up the claims from Ennis and other like-minded people. In fact, a majority of Seattle’s transportation budget funds are spent on street repairs and other improvements; the city has spent just approximately $9 million each year over the past four years on improvements for bicycle commuters, a relatively small percentage of the total transportation budget of $300 million.
What do you think about both the current and future status of Seattle as a bike-friendly city? Do you think the safety of bicycle commuters should be the focus of the city’s new bike plan? Share your thoughts and experiences with us in the comment box below.
Seattle Bicycle Accident Attorneys
The attorneys at Davis Law Group have handled a number of high profile bicycle accident cases. We work closely with the criminal prosecutor to make sure that all avenues, both criminal and civil, are being pursued. If you have been the victim of a bicycle accident in Washington State, contact the attorneys at Davis Law Group today by calling 206-727-4000.