Today is the 40th anniversary of Federal Express, now known as Fed Ex. Although UPS started in Seattle as a bike messenger service, we have Fed Ex here too, as shown below, parked in a bike lane…
Interestingly, when Fed Ex trucks park in bike lanes and open their doors, their logo reads “FX”, which is also an abbreviation for “FRACTURE“…
In more positive news today, a woman from the US is doing good things in Afghanistan. Her good deeds include setting up women there with bicycles, the riding of which is still, according to Human Rights Watch, “generally considered immoral.”
Seattle’s Mayor McGinn was elected using his “Mike Bikes” campaign slogan. His detractors sometimes call him Mayor McSchwinn. And yet, despite the rhetoric, Seattle remains a dangerous place for bicyclists and pedestrians.
The Stranger was instrumental in electing McGinn and has been pushing him to embrace the bicycle-focus on which he was elected. Bethany Jean Clement’s recent piece calls for bike-only streets running north-south and east-west through the city. A Modest Proposal for Mayor McGinn: “I Know You Like Bikes” | Slog.
Ms. Clement’s idea is worth talking about, but in the unlikely event that the City actually made two bike-only arterials, it would probably just increase tension between motorists and those who have reason to fear motorists. Instead, Seattle should improve our laws to protect pedestrians and bicyclists everywhere in the city. We could do this without closing down routes to cars. How? By changing the burden of proof to determine who is at fault when a motorist hits a bicyclist or a pedestrian.
The burden of proof should be changed so that drivers are presumed to be at fault if they hit a pedestrian or a bicyclist. It is already the law that bicyclists are required to yield to pedestrians when riding on the sidewalk. That is a good idea. We should extend this concept. For instance, it is also the current law that drivers must yield to pedestrians and bicyclists in crosswalks. Yet, many people, including far too many Seattle Police Officers, are unaware of this.
What we need is a simple concept that everyone can understand. Here it is: Protect the vulnerable. Bikes should yield to pedestrians on sidewalks because bikes are faster than pedestrians and pedestrians can be injured if bicyclists fail to yield. The same should go for our streets: Divers should yield to both pedestrians and bicycles because cars are faster and are far more likely to seriously injure or kill people than the most crazed bicyclist on a sidewalk.
I’ve talked about changing the burden of proof against motorists who hit bicyclists and pedestrians at the Road Safety Summit in 2011 and wrote about it in the King County Bar Bulletin in 2009. This is the handout I’ve provided to Mayor McGinn and others. My proposal is not perfect, but it is doable. Numerous European countries have similar laws. I have reached out to Cascade and to the Bicycle Alliance of Washington on this issue but they have yet to bite. I’ve heard nothing from our mayor. Interestingly, in 2012 the League of American Bicyclists contacted me to help work towards these laws nationally.
Seattle could and should lead the US in protecting bicyclists and pedestrians. Clarifying our laws to protect bicyclists and pedestrians could prevent numerous injuries and deaths. Let’s not just be known for digging big holes… let’s be the city that best protects bicyclists and pedestrians.
There’s a new PSA out from AAA, the American Automobile Association, which has been described by the Sierra Club as “a lobbyist for more roads, more pollution, and more gas guzzling” that actually seems pretty good.
What do you think?
Remember Rodney King?
Now that AAA likes bikes, will this be next?
Commute Seattle is about to release a study on commute modes in Downtown Seattle.
More people ride transit (43%) than drive alone (34%). This is good.
But more people “telework/flex” (4%) than ride bikes to work (3%). Who wants to bet which workers are more productive? Yahoo anyone?
Perhaps the take-home on this is that driving to work downtown is no longer doable… 50% of people did it in 2000.
We most definitely do not recommend this approach to driving to work.
Bike Lanes are getting press again in NYC. A recent poll found that 66 percent of New Yorkers said bike lanes were a good idea while 27 percent called them a bad idea. Mayoral candidate Christine C. Quinn said she placed bike lanes “in the category of things you shouldn’t discuss at dinner parties,” alongside money, politics and religion. Not talking about transportation safety is probably not the best approach.
Here in Seattle we’ve got some bike lanes we ought to discuss. Like the bike lane on Second Avenue in front of our office. Do we need a bike lane on a one-way street going downhill? Assuming we do, should it be on the left? If it should be on the left, should there be parking to the left of it? What about the left turn lane to the right of the bike lane?!
Bill de Blasio, New York’s public advocate, apparently annoyed bicyclists recently when he said where bike lanes have worked, “great, let’s keep them,” but “where they haven’t worked, let’s revise them or change them.” That seems to makes sense there and here.
New York Times