Should people on bikes exit ferries last? Let the state know what you think

A review of the state’s ferry system yielded one recommendation that caught our attention: Let motor vehicles unload before bicycles.

We wrote about this review back in September, but if you have not voiced your concern, now is the time. The Bicycle Alliance has issued a reminder that the comment period on the review ends November 15. The Alliance suggests emailing Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond to voice your opposition to this unresearched, poorly thought-out recommendation.

Here are some of the Alliance’s points:

  • Ask them where the Passenger Vessel Association panel of experts found the data or proof backs up the recommendation that bicyclists slow unloading?
  • What evidence demonstrates that cars and trucks are faster than a bicyclist when unloading?
  • Why make a recommendation that bikes and cars not share the road which is entirely counter to our “share the road” message as authorized by the state legislature?
  • Where is the data that proves that safety is improved if bicyclists load/unload last?
  • How does this recommendation meet the Washington State goal of increasing the number of people bicycling?
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8 Responses to Should people on bikes exit ferries last? Let the state know what you think

  1. Sam Hill says:

    One thing to note is that the recommendation is for a “trial project”, not just for instituting the changes right away.

    Quoting the report:

    “The Panel recommends that vehicles be unloaded ahead of bikes.
    Safety is of the paramount importance with efficiency second. The Panel recommends that a trial project be undertaken to change the loading/unloading sequence with bicycles being loaded last and unloaded last. This allows better separation of vehicles and bicycles and gives the Mate more control over the space allocated to bikes. Bikes are also slower than cars and can slow the disembarkation of those they are in front of. By holding back bikes, it also avoids the need for bicyclists to move through the car deck with their bikes in order to get to the front of the vessel. By off loading after the vehicles, bikes will not be sharing the road at the same time as the disembarking vehicles, allowing for a margin of safety.”

  2. Sam Hill says:

    Also, her email address is listed incorrectly, it’s

  3. Steve A says:

    Personally, I’d rather exit the ferry after the cars. While I’d be able to get off the boat quicker by going first, I’d rather not have the dweebs in the the gas guzzlers then catch up to me. You exit last and things are much more pleasant all round. In this case, the Ferry guys have it right, albeit probably for the wrong reasons.

    • mike archambault says:

      You have that option right now.
      Anything that provides a disincentive to carless alternatives of riding the ferry likely means longer lines for cars. It’s not in your quoted list, but for people who regularly drive on the ferry, this is the single biggest reason to be terrified of this idea.

  4. Merlin says:

    I sure don’t like the idea of waiting in the midst of all those idling drivers breathing their fumes.

  5. Steven says:

    Reasons to allow cyclist to board first and to disembark first:
    * Motorists are already very confused about cyclists’ rights to the road. There’s no need to feed the monster.
    * The speed at which I CAN disembark a ferry and exit the dock by bicycle is greater than the speed at which the law allows anyone (including motorists) to disembark. I.E., the speed limit limits the speed of motor vehicle departure more than do the limits of human power.
    * Until motor vehicles become a secondary means of transportation for the general public, I’m going to encounter motor vehicles on the road. It really doesn’t matter if this includes the ones that shared my ride across the sound.

    ** ASIDE **

    Sam Hill states above that “[t]he Panel recommends that ***vehicles*** be unloaded ahead of bikes.” Sam seems to not understand that “Bikes” are “vehicles”. Just one more example of the degree to which the bias has permeated society.

    • Steven says:

      Rather, Sam Hill QUOTES not “states”

      The quote also states “[t]his allows better separation of vehicles and bicycles…”. We don’t need “better separation of” motor vehicles and pedaled vehicles. We need motorists to understand and respect cyclists rights as vehicle operators.

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