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Bicycle Alliance announces reformed strategic plan, vision

The Bicycle Alliance of Washington announced their reconfigured strategic plan for 2011-2016, and it’s chock full of citizen biking, safety and a focus on being inclusive. The release of the new plan, which has been in the works since spring 2010, comes just months after the Bicycle Alliance hired Blake Trask (of the Seattle Bicycle Advisory Board) as the organization’s new statewide policy director.

It’s good for anyone, Bicycle Alliance or not, to take a good step back every once in a while and create long-term goals. What do we want it to feel like to bike in our city or state ten years from now?

Below is the Bicycle Alliance’s vision. Do you have anything to add? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

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By 2020, bicycling is an everyday, mainstream activity in communities across Washington. Bicycling is recognized, accommodated and funded as a legitimate and essential mode of transportation. Washington residents embrace a healthy and active lifestyle that includes safe and convenient active-transportation options. As a result, Washington communities enjoy lower health-care costs, a cleaner environment and more transportation choices. Washington is a national model for innovative bicycle-friendly transportation facilities and programs.

The Bicycle Alliance of Washington advocates for a bicycle-friendly state, educates people of all ages to increase transportation safety, develops more inclusive communities for cycling, builds a coalition of organizations, and seeks to make bicycling accessible to everyone.

• Bicycling is healthy, safe, affordable, and fun.
• Everyone should feel safe while riding a bike.
• Everyone has a right to transportation choices.
• More people bicycling more often make roadways safer for bicycle riders.
• Education, legislative changes, and improved infrastructure increase bicycle ridership rates.
• The bicycle provides a simple, elegant and inexpensive tool to achieve multiple goals.

G-1 The Bicycle Alliance of Washington shall develop and implement strategies that effectively increase bicycle ridership and helps Washington State achieve the highest bicycle ridership rate in the country.

G-2 The Bicycle Alliance of Washington shall develop and implement outreach and communications strategies that: emphasize bicycling as an everyday activity, successfully encourage more people to “go by bike,” and make bicycling appeal to a broader segment of the public, so that bicycle ridership more closely reflects the state’s demographic diversity by 2016.

G-3 The Bicycle Alliance of Washington shall continue to actively develop and pass strong, relevant legislation on behalf of bicycle riders and pursue increased funding to improve the environment for bicycling in Washington.

G-4 The Bicycle Alliance of Washington shall cultivate strategic and mutually beneficial partnerships with: State, county and municipal governments and organizations that advocate on behalf of bicycling, active transportation, health, the environment, diverse communities and business by 2016.

G-5 The Bicycle Alliance of Washington shall aggressively take action to increase the organization’s membership and unrestricted revenue each year.

Also, if you head down to the First Thursday Art Walk in Pioneer Square today, be sure to check out the Bicycle Alliance’s headquarters and bicycle-themed art show.

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37 responses to “Bicycle Alliance announces reformed strategic plan, vision”

  1. Teacher

    There is no mention of the responsibilities that bicyclists have as road users, nor is there any mention of the need for truly mutual respect among bicyclists and motorists. In short, it is a one-way document proposed by a self-interested group. It shows little, if any, true community spirit. I am disappointed, but hardly surprised.

    1. Shane Phillips

      If the name of the organization were “Transportation Alliance of Washington” you might have a point about it being too bike-focused. It’s the Bicycle Alliance, so they’re going to advocate on behalf of bicyclists.

      Nowhere do they make negative comments, or even implications about other modes of transportation, they just focus on the great stuff about bicycling and how they’d like to increase it. You clearly have an axe to grind here, but I think you need to take a step back and consider for a second how ridiculous it is that you see this plan as aggressive or anti-community.

      You don’t like bikes, we get it.

      1. Teacher

        I was a bicyclist before I was a motorist, and have been a cyclist the entire time I’ve been a motorist.

    2. pqbuffington

      So, the line “…educates people of all ages to increase transportation safety…” does not, by default, call for responsible bicycling? But then, as I hastily read, the proposal does not specifically mention the responsibilities of motorists either, so what good is it?

      But why quarrel about syntax when we can enter the arena of false equivalency, or the “mutual” world, as you phrase it.

      As evidence clearly shows, motorists suffer from the errant actions of bicyclists, that is physically suffer, the same as bicyclists (and pedestrians) suffer from the errant actions of motorists…It is not like bicyclists and pedestrians are the people being harmed to any greater degree when said worlds collide…one-way indeed.

      This is not to say that you, Teacher, will not be killed by a fellow motorist while yourself motoring; the odds of that virtually nil. Far more likely that some ‘cycling scofflaw will strike your automobile with sufficient force to send you to the hospital, or even worse…I can only imagine the carnage a jay-walker might inflict.

      So yes, Teacher, the manifesto is a disappointment as it fails to even pay lip-service to the underrepresented automobile majority. I mean, really, if bicyclists and pedestrians cannot even respect that which can and often kills them, what chance the community?

    3. Todd

      I’m with teacher on this one. It’s the same reason I refuse to join any bicycle political action committee. Ooops. I meant club.

      1. Shane Phillips

        Can you elaborate? It seems like you have impossible expectations of such groups/organizations, but maybe you can articulate exactly what you mean by this.

        The only thing I read in Teacher’s account is that he’s angry about a certain population of cyclists not being chastised by this press release. But they’re not chastising motorists either – this is a positive announcement about goals and aspirations, not an exhaustive account of the “State of Bicycling Today.”

        I agree that this plan would be improved by including why all of these changes benefit everyone including motorists, but beyond that I don’t see how you can really find fault with a plan that basically consists of increasing bicycle ridership, increasing safety, and improving the demographic diversity of of Washington bicycle-users.

        I guess a simpler way of putting it is, What would you like them to have said?

      2. Todd

        Shane, I’ve got no problem with what was said. The content was fine.

    4. patty fong

      I agree with this comment; that was my initial reaction too. While I like the idea of less cars and more alternative modes of transportation, I see bicyclists violating the rules of the road all the time, racing with cars, sliding in and out of traffic aggressively, going against lights and riding without lights or protective equipment ALL THE TIME. Riding the road is a two-way arrangement. I also think bicycles should yield to cars for everyone’s safety.

      1. Shane Phillips

        A few serious questions for you:

        1. If you like the idea of more alternative modes of transportation, what is missing from this plan? You seem to be implying that because some bicyclists break the law, you do not support their plan. What would you change in what was written?

        2. Do you think we should not invest in improving or maintaining motor vehicle infrastructure because drivers frequently run red lights, speed, fail to signal, or otherwise drive aggressively?

        3. Why do you think bicycles should yield to cars, and not the other way around (since both would presumably decrease collisions)? What values or principles lead you to prefer the former arrangement over the latter?

  2. David

    I would change, “More people bicycling more often make roadways safer for bicycle riders,” to, “More people bicycling more often make roadways safer for EVERYONE.”

    Otherwise this looks fantastic.

    1. Making roadways safe for bicyclists make roadways safer for everyone, but to what extent does more people biking do that?

  3. Go Blake!

    So grateful to see the emphasis on inclusivity and making safe community bicycling a transportation choice that’s open to everyone. Now we just need these values reflected in Seattle’s own bike master plan! ;-)

  4. Todd

    Sounds like a bunch of hoopla to me. It also sounds like their first goal is to compensate those people who devise all the hoopla with grant money.

    1. kurisu

      A strategic plan is “hoopla?” Please enlighten us with your knowledge of nonprofit management, Mr. Palin.

      1. Todd

        I don’t have a problem with what was said. It’s just a bunch of hoopla. Let’s just see how they do with execution over the years. Please see my comment about grant money below.

      2. Todd

        Not red sorry. Not blue either Mr. Murray. I’m just not a sucker.

  5. Shane Phillips

    Hey Tom, do you have any information on the cost of bikeshare-style bikes?

    I imagine they’re fairly expensive since those things always tend to be, but in a way I was thinking that might be a good thing for a bikeshare program here in Seattle. I feel like I’m more worried about this than most people (probably just because I get sweaty from hills really easily), but if we really do push forward on a city-wide bikeshare program, I think we should consider electric-assist bicycles.

    I don’t know how much extra it would cost (in up-front capital and in maintenance), but if I can just ballpark the bikes themselves I’d guess they’re around $600-1000 each, and on a mass-scale getting them with electric-assist might be an extra $500 each? Seeing the success and almost immediate profitability of some bikeshare programs it seems like we could eat that extra cost and still be okay, plus you’d have the benefit of a much more accessible system. I don’t think it’d have to be 100% of the bikes with the electric option, but 30-50% seems like it could make a big difference for a lot of people who are wary of Seattle hills.

    Anyone have any thoughts?

    1. Nay-sayer

      Shane, I dont think there will ever be a successful public bike share program in Seattle. Correct me if I am wrong, but there aren’t any successful bike share programs in cities that also require helmets. People dont want to use a shared public helmet, nor will they start carrying them around just in case they might want to ride a bike later. Disposable options kind of defeat the whole point (environmentally and cool-factor).
      The electric-assist idea has some major drawbacks: high initial cost (also consider the cost of equipping the stations with charging bays), high upkeep costs, high replacement costs (people WILL steal the electric bikes and motors). Electric bikes offer a lot of power, and casual riders are not likely to understand that you need to shift to an easy gear, even with the assist motor (constantly running an e-bike in high gear wears out the drivetrain rather quickly, among other things). E-bikes are also a pedestrian nightmare, people buzzing along the sidewalk at 15mph, YOU BET!
      The fact is: bicycles are not for everyone, everywhere, and thats OK. Seattle should focus on developing and maintaining existing (and under-funded) public transportation options like buses, light rail and commuter rail, and work towards a city where the infrastructure is safe for bicycles and pedestrians. Then private entrepreneurial vendors with expertise in their field can roll the dice on schemes like city-wide bike rentals (e-bike or otherwise).

      1. Shane Phillips

        I appreciate the response. I disagree on a few points though.

        For one, the fact that we have a helmet law doesn’t mean we always will, or that we couldn’t revise it in some way. (I believe Tom has discussed several possibilities for making this work.) Without changes though, you’re right that it would probably have no chance of success.

        On the point about theft, I think that’s pretty unfounded. There have not been problems of theft, or even vandalism, in other cities with bikesharing. The issue of the electric motor is an added complication of course, but it seems reasonable that the bikes could be designed to have those parts safely contained to prevent theft.

        Your other points, particularly those of misuse (and subsequent degradation) of the hardware and the costs associated with that. I don’t think those are unsolvable problems, but they certainly make creating a successful bikeshare program more difficult.

        I think having a private company do the bikeshare thing might be difficult though, or even impossible. For one, I think a key to the success of bikeshare here would be its integration with the transit system, and ideally having it tethered to the existing ORCA card infrastructure. Then there’s the issue of using public space for bike storage. Upkeep could be privately operated, but I don’t think the service itself could be privately owned.

        I certainly agree with the points about transit though – I use it 80% of the time so it’s obviously very important to me and many others. I just think there are so many reasons to get people on their feet or on a bike that we should be trying everything we can to encourage it.

  6. Chris

    Its always going to be an issue for me: the BAW needs to toughen up and start advocating for a basic right for all cyclists: the right to ride without a helmet. I know, its a hot topic, but when an unemployed job-hunter (or anyone) is being popped with a $120 ticket for riding without a helmet, WTF? What is the public benefit of a mandatory bicycle helmet law? I ride with a helmet most of the time, but sometimes I dont. Whose business is it? The so-called “advocates” for bicycling are quick to offer up helmet-less riders as scofflaws/irresponsible riders, and even push FOR helmet laws. To me, this shows a huge disconnect between those doing the non-profit paperwork, and those actually out on the streets riding bikes. Do pedestrian advocate groups work to ban dark clothing? Does AAA recommend you cover your car in neon yellow and orange stripes with reflective polka dots? A lot of lives would likely be saved if we required all pedestrians and motor-vehicle operators/passengers to wear helmets, but we will never do that, because it would be ridiculous. Why is is so acceptable to mandate safety gear for bicycles?

    1. roy

      Agreed that helmets should not be required. As you state, pedestrians and motorists suffer head injuries more often than cyclists. People regularly slip and fall in their driveways on ice and die. Helmets would prevent that, yet we do not require them.

      I have read that helmets are seldom worn in the Netherlands, where cycling is extremely popular, except by cyclists in competition. Since there are so few bicycle-vehicle accidents there, apparently they just aren’t needed.

      There are so many situations where helmets should not be *mandated*. There are many times when they should be worn.

  7. MondoMan

    Chris, there is a mandatory helmet law here for motorcyclists. Since bicyclists, like motorcyclists, lack “cage” protection in case of an accident, and like motorcyclists, often travel fast enough to seriously injure their heads in a spill, the mandatory bike helmet law makes sense to me. Pedestrians OTOH rarely travel fast enough to seriously injure their heads in a spill.

    Since hospitals have to treat in injured motorcyclists and bicyclists even if they were not wearing helmets while crashing, we (the general public) are often financially on the hook and should have some say about riding rules.

    1. Brian

      A couple points in rebuttal MondoMan
      1) the CPSC (a federal government agency) tests helmets in ~12 mph impacts against a stationary flat plane. The helmets are not designed to protect the head in a high speed impact, and they are not designed to protect the head in impacts where rotational inertia comes into play, nor when the closing speed is greater than ~12 mph (e.g. a car and a bike traveling in opposite directions at 10 mph each). Helmets are not a talisman although the general public (and even Cascade Bicycle) endorses them as such.

      2) I need to track down my source, but based on average vehicle miles travelled, motorists are more likely to receive a head injury than cyclists. Yet we do not mandate helmets for car drivers, which is interesting.

      2a) Pedestrians die in Seattle at a rate close to ten times that of cyclists. Pedestrians fall and hit their heads all the time. And these are often low speed impacts, which are the kind that bike helmets are designed to mitigate. Yet we don’t mandate that pedestrians wear helmets. Why not?

      3) It is completely unclear to me that the net financial burden of head injuries related to cycling outweighs the positive environmental benefits of cycling itself, in the form of lower rates of diabetes, lower rates of air pollution, etc. ad nauseum. We have fairly strong evidence that compulsory helmet laws reduce cycling rates on a population-wide basis. Although you are right that the tax burden of public safety interventions should be included in overall benefit analyses, the cost of head injuries related to bicycle crashes is a drop in the bucket of our total tax burden. Consider for instance that ~35000 people are killed in this country every year in car collisions, and many more are maimed. Yet we continue to subsidize car use and ownership in this state and in this country. Moreover, cigarettes for example cost us massive amounts of money in the form of public spending to control the health costs associated with them. Cigarettes are of course legal though. Why bike helmets and not cigarettes? You have either not fully thought through what you are saying or you are intellectually dishonest in advancing your argument.

      I’m a physician, I take care of people who come to the hospital with horrible injuries, I’m a taxpayer, and I bike. I try to consider as many angles as possible when I’m making a decision on a medical treatment or considering the merits of particular interventions. From my perspective the compulsory helmet law is a mistake at best and at worst it is contributing to increased deaths among vulnerable road users.

      1. Jim Ewins

        Too often, physicians will try to force their idea of good behavior on others -” for their own good” . The elite know better than you.

      2. MondoMan

        Brian, thanks for your interesting comments (however, regarding my intellectual dishonesty, I’ll just note that you left out other, more likely options, which suggests that you might benefit from fully thinking through what you are writing :) ).

        1) I agree that helmets won’t prevent all head injuries, but it seems pretty clear to me that they do at least reduce the severity of many head injuries.

        2) As I wrote, motorists have substantial protection already in the form of their cars. We do mandate air bags, the use of seatbelts, and so forth.

        2a) I don’t hear about pedestrians falling and hitting their heads. Perhaps that’s just because such events aren’t publicized, or perhaps its because they don’t happen very much at all. Real data is the key here.
        Regarding your claimed cyclist vs. ped relative death rate, the units and data are key here for an apples to apples comparison, i.e. normalized for mileage, in the same area (City of Seattle), same days and times of day, and including only helmet-reducible injuries.

        3) Since we’re talking about bike helmet laws, I’m not sure of the relevance of most of this, but I will note that the current cost of bike head injuries in Seattle is in an environment where helmets are required, so the current cost isn’t the issue. Air pollution reduction by bicycle use in place of cars is minimal, given modern emissions-control systems. There are strong indications that it is healthier to walk a given distance rather than bike it, so to the extent that laws result in people walking instead of biking, health should improve. Finally, with the current high tobacco taxes, cigarettes probably bring in more money to the government than they cost in future excess health care costs to the government.

        I thank you for your service in healing, and salute your approach of trying to consider as many angles and approaches as possible. You’ve provided some new angles for me to think about; I hope I’ve done so for you.

  8. Counterbalance

    I lived for several years on the North Slope of Queen Anne and confidently say that Nickerson is a LESS comfortable street to bike on after the bike friendly improvements were made.

    Before, with two lanes, cars had no issue going around me … now I’m crowded in a lane of parked cars (i.e. doors) and busses.

    It is safe to say that focusing on bike routes that are separate from busy arterials will be a welcome.

    1. Jim Ewins

      It was found that motor vehicles and horse drawn vehicles could NOT co-exist on the same streets. Perhaps the same is true for bikes & pedestrians?

      1. Todd

        In my experience, bikers are as big or even bigger a**holes with pedestrians than cars are to bikers. I believe this because I was one of them before changing my own behavior. Ride the Burke-Gilman through the U-District at rush hour sometime and observe it yourself.

    2. Todd

      The opening of the Ship Canal trail extension is one alternative that will alleviate your individual ride through this area (or so I would think). If I can ride a trail — even if it’s a few minutes out of my way — I’ll do it because the undesirable event probabilities greatly reduce.

      1. MondoMan

        Yes, separating the different modes makes a lot of sense. I’m also looking forward to that trail extension finally being completed in the coming months.

  9. Jim Ewins

    This plan is a exact fit in 1984. You will get a choice of what kind of bike you WILL use for transportation.

    1. Shane Phillips

      Yeah, because it’s so hard to be a car driver these days. They’re taking away all your roads!! Right? Bike infrastructure accounts for such a miniscule amount of both public space and public spending that it’s laughable. The current system is the exact fit for 1984: Currently most people get a choice of what kind of car you WILL use for transportation.

    2. Blah blah, war on cars, blah blah blah.

      1. Todd


  10. I biked to work from north of downtown to Wallingford everyday for almost two years. When I read this: “bicycling is an everyday, mainstream activity in communities across Washington,” it left me wondering if anyone in the Bicycle Alliance has ever lived and biked in Seattle.

    Seattle’s winters have weeks of rotten weather, weather too rotten for biking as an “everyday, mainstream activity.” For big fans of biking who’re young, healthy and without many responsibilities (i.e. kids and a spouse), biking everyday year-round may be fine. That’s the situation I was in back them (the early 1980s). But as a universal activity, given our weather and the time constraints on people’s lives, it makes absolutely no sense.

    The Bicycle Alliance needs to rethink the scope of its mission. It should serve those who’re interested in bicycling and leave the rest of society (that “mainstream”) alone. Biking is merely one form of transportation and one form of exercise. It is not, for the great majority of people, the be all and end all of our existence. Sorry, but that is true.


    Also, I might add that Counterbalance is right in his comment. Turning four-lane arterials into two lane streets plus bike lanes and a center turn lane isn’t good for anyone, least of all for bicyclists.

    The real reason for these changes is a little-reported fad among traffic planners called “Traffic Calming.” Like many creations of bureaucracies, its intent is the opposite of its name. It’s goal is to drive those in cars into mass transit by slowing down and choking up traffic, hence the four-lanes to two. Bike lanes on major arterials are one of their schemes to do that. For them, a few dead cyclists is a small price to pay to get Susie Soccermom out of her SUV.

    Counterbalance is right. “Focusing on bike routes that are separate from busy arterials” is a much better solution. It’s insane to mix two-ton SUV doing 30 MPH with 20-pound bikes doing 15 MPH, particular during the dark and rainy commute hours of Seattle’s winters. I know. I spent two years dodging city buses on Eastlake.

    What I needed then and what we need now are bike routes that avoid heavy, fast-moving traffic. We should have dedicated bike routes when possible, otherwise we should have side streets especially set up to handle bikes, including stop signs arranged so that bike traffic can flow smoothly. And those bike routes should be done in such a way that the neighborhoods through which they pass eagerly support the idea. We shouldn’t pit bicyclists against everyone else.

    –Michael W. Perry, editor of Across Asia on a Bicycle (a book about two bicyclists who circled the world by bike in the early 1890s)

    1. Josh

      As a mid-40s coat-and-tie professional with a spouse and kids and numerous after-work commitments as well, I have to say, there’s nothing about Seattle winters that makes daily bike commuting impractical or unpleasant unless you’re looking for an excuse not to ride. (Now, I’ll admit my commute is only 30 miles, there are people with long commutes that just aren’t practical on a bike, but that’s more a function of land use and housing choices, not winter weather.)

      1. MondoMan

        Josh, how do you deal with the sweat-and-wet issue?

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