King 5 looks at Seattle’s move from bike lanes to cycle tracks

King 5 recently reported about the city’s shifting focus from bike lanes to cycle tracks. Linda Brill spoke with Cascade Bicycle Club’s policy staffers Craig Benjamin and Evan Manvel (hired recently) about why the shift is smart.

Unlike bike lanes, which still look too dangerous to use for most people, cycle tracks have a more broad appeal base. Basically, more people will look at a cycle track and think, “I would bike there.” Will that appeal be enough to dampen bikelash? We’ll see.

One small fact check on the otherwise good story: The city has not spent $35 million on bike lanes. That is the amount of money spent on all bicycle-related projects from 2007-2011. About $19 million of that went to projects that also serve people on foot, including projects like the new W Thomas St overpass and the Ship Canal Trail extension. That money also funds things like bike parking and bike signage.

In the end, SDOT says the total spent on bike lanes during that time was about $6.9 million. In transportation terms, that’s incredibly cheap (many road projects would cost that much just to study). And, as we have learned from some of the more poorly-designed bike lanes, we really should have spent a bit more to do it right. That’s exactly what cycle tracks aim to do.

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13 Responses to King 5 looks at Seattle’s move from bike lanes to cycle tracks

  1. Al Dimond says:

    Go figure: Seattle’s irresponsible mainstream media finds a way to impart negative spin on a cycling story by lying about the facts.

    Mentioning a dollar figure spent on cycling improvements outside the context of the whole transportation budget (including state and federal money spent in Seattle) is a lie of omission, designed to mislead people about how tax money is actually used.

    • Tom Fucoloro says:

      I would bet it wasn’t a lie so much as a bit sloppy or a misunderstanding. I just wanted to set the record straight. If the city had actually spent $35 million on bike lanes, can you imagine how bikeable our city would be?

      • Al Dimond says:

        The way this story reads to someone that doesn’t know what’s really going on is, “Seattle spend $35 million on bike lanes and they didn’t work, so now they want to take lanes off of 4-lane roads to try a new thing.” No part of that statement is true, in spirit or in fact. And that’s no accident, it’s the sort of fake journalism that divides people and gets them angry.

  2. Al Dimond says:

    The story also says that Linden “was a 4-lane road”, implying that the cycletrack is responsible for removing traffic lanes. But Linden was absolutely not a 4-lane road! I think some parking is being reconfigured or something, but they’re not removing travel lanes from Linden.

    King 5 just did a story that was sloppy at best, and at worst a deceptive attempt to incite more bikelash. They should be ashamed.

  3. daniel says:

    I’ve been passed by thrtee cars at a time on Linden. That street was a mess unitl recently. Parking between 138th and 143rd is still a mess. The barrier between the two is less than two inches above the yet unfinished asphalt and drivers are looking at it like it is protected parking. Last time I went by I moved one of the construction No Parking signs. http://www.kopald.org/kpod/2012/oct/23.html

    Daniel

    • Chuck says:

      I noticed that too. I am unsure why the separator in that section is not consistent with the rest of the cycle track. I have noticed that it is in no way preventing cars parking in the cycle track as it is now.

      Also, why does King 5 use “bike tracks” throughout this piece? They even interviewed a knowledgeable individual form Cascade who used cycle track but they still couldn’t get it right. Bike tracks just sounds sill, but maybe that is what they were going for.

      – Chuck

      • M.J. says:

        Please note that Linden isn’t yet complete, and isn’t scheduled to open until spring. We’ve shared the concerned comments posted to our blog with SDOT, so feel free to add to the conversation. The project manager is reading it. It’s important for everyone that this project is done well and as safe as possible.

        Per the KING5 story, yes, there is some sloppiness (is this the nature of the beast?), but the story is fairly positive. Off-camera, the reporter said even she would ride there. That’s saying something.

  4. Jeremy says:

    $35 million? For that money you could build a nice new ramp to nowhere in the Arboretum, or I guess a few feet of the deep bore tunnel. But what about the megaroad financing gap, you wonder? Will taxing vibrams and carbon fiber seatposts cover the shortfall? Tune in next year!

  5. Mike H says:

    Yeah, that was annoying listening to the term “bike tracks” but I’ve taken anything that the media reports regarding anything slightly infrastructure related bound to be full of errors, omissions, and general misinterpretations.

    That being said, I am still very leery of SDOT pursuing the 2-way cycle track on 2 way roads. Whether or not these prove to be actually safer, I will wait to see.

  6. Kirk from Ballard says:

    Despite the sloppy reporting and the inflammatory statement about “bike versus auto tensions”, I liked the story. But what really struck me was the outfit worn by Evan Manvel as he cycled around. It was all black. Urban camouflage. He nearly disappeared on some of the shots.

    • Evan Manvel says:

      Some of my outfit was gray! :) And FYI, when I ride at night or near high-speed traffic I have a yellow jacket that I usually wear.

  7. no traffic lights says:

    I’m gonna be bummed when people start yelling at me to ‘find a bike lane’ like they do in Vancouver.

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