In what is sure to be disappointing news to many readers, King County has announced that it will begin limiting the number and types of bikes allowed on its Vashon and West Seattle water taxis.
Bikes and water taxis go together extremely well, especially since driving to the water taxi makes very little sense and transit service is very limiting. In fact, that’s the problem. Biking to the water taxi has become too successful, and King County did not design the vessels with enough space to meet demand. So they will now be limiting each sailing to 26 bikes.
They also did not design the vessels with larger family and cargo bikes in mind, which is a pretty big problem for people who rely on those bikes since you can’t just park it at the dock and check out a Lime cargo bike when you get to Seattle (though wouldn’t that be cool?). This is a bit of a bummer for West Seattle users, but it’s potentially a huge problem for Vashon users. Family bikes don’t just carry multiple people, they also carry all the stuff that comes with them. They are larger than most one-person bikes, sure, but are they much larger than two bikes (one “bike” per person)? Three bikes? Two bikes plus a stroller? Sure, blocking the ramp like in the photo above isn’t good, but banning them entirely feels a bit extreme. I hope they exhausted all other options before arriving at this decision. We’re in the midst of a family biking boom in this region, and this rule change makes it harder for folks to use them.
As for overflow bike parking, obviously storing bikes in ways that block access to exits or railings is not an acceptable solution. But making the bike/water tax combo less dependable is also problematic. About half of West Seattle users and 30 percent of Vashon users surveyed said they have biked to the water taxi, which is pretty remarkable. And considering the region’s goal of increasing walking, biking and transit, this problem should be considered a good problem to have. Continue reading