Streetsfilms posted this video, which clearly leaked through a dimension split of some kind. It comes from a parallel universe where a moment of reckless driving that almost seriously injures some cyclists spurs public outrage and a series of angry opinions from the local media condemning the potentially harmful act. The driver’s license is suspended, and he is required to take three days off work to attend a driver safety course. The local paper then does a series on dangerous intersections in the city, highlighting areas that need safety improvements in order to protect cyclists.
Apparently, this strange world is called “The Netherlands,” whatever that means. Sounds like a land from a Tolkien story to me…
In all seriousness, I know Seattle is not in the Netherlands, and I don’t want it to be. As bike advocates, we have a tendency to elevate the great European bicycle cities to mythical status. I love our city, but there are lessons we can learn from these cities that have a lot more experience moving lots of people on bicycles. Their infrastructure is mature, and much of it can be adapted to our city. No need to reinvent the wheel if someone else has already solved some of the safety problems we face currently.
But this video sure made me jealous of their city’s public concern for cyclist safety. The outrage makes it clear that the safety of all road users is far more important than the rapid movement of motor vehicles. The people of Seattle value safe streets, but we are sometimes afraid of change. The idea of not having a rapid car corridor where the Alaskan Way Viaduct currently stands frightens people. The idea of reducing a neighborhood’s underutilized four-lane road into a street with two general traffic lanes, a left-turn lane, safe crosswalks and bikes lanes frightens people. We need to get over all this fear. We don’t need to become Dutch or Danish, but we can make bold changes to allow our city to evolve into a thriving walkable and bikeable city of its own kind.