A recent survey commissioned by Cascade Bicycle Club found that a clear majority of Seattle voters support constructing safe bicycle facilities, even if doing so would require a reduction in general traffic lanes and/or parking.
I’m gonna give you all a second to read that first sentence again.
The survey, conducted by reputable firm FM3, also shows that a majority of Seattle voters already ride bikes, and want to bike more.
And if you ever read a story about Seattle’s supposed anti-bike fervor and were left scratching your head and wondering where all these people who supposedly don’t like bicycling are, you aren’t crazy. 78 percent of voters say they have a positive opinion of people who ride bikes.
Bicycling is clearly part of Seattle’s character, and a majority of Seattle voters agree. Not only that, but they want more.
Looking at the following table from the survey memo (posted in full below), you begin to see that there is about 20 percent of voters who simply do not like bicycling and oppose anything having to do with them. Then there is another 20-30 percent who are somewhere on the fence, depending on the issue. Then a clear majority in favor of improvements:
The Stranger’s Dominic Holden wrote about the survey this morning, but I held out to try to make sense of why some of these numbers appear to differ from a 2012 SDOT survey we wrote about recently. For example, the city survey found that only 40 percent of those surveyed said they had access to a “working” bicycle (the same survey in 2011 found 49 percent, suggesting the number is suspiciously volatile). The Cascade survey found that 71 percent have access to a bicycle.
After chats with Holden and Cascade’s Evan Manvel, we have some theories. For one: The SDOT survey was of all Seattle residents 16 and up, while the Cascade survey was only of Seattle voters. Another big difference is that the city’s survey asked if respondents had access to a “working” bike, while the Cascade survey asked nothing about its functionality. So perhaps people who have bicycles in the garage with flats they don’t know how to fix or other issues said no to SDOT’s question, but would have said yes to Cascade’s question.
But regardless of this difference, the message is clear that bicycling is popular among the city’s electorate. Even the city’s much lower numbers showed very high interest in cycling among the city’s residents. Cascade’s survey went the next step to ask about voter sentiment rather than only asking about current habits. And the answer is clear: We want more safe bicycle facilities, even if that means changing the shape of our streets.
So let’s do it!
Here’s the survey memo: