Talking urban biking with Q13 News

A couple weeks ago, some folks from Q13 News strapped cameras on my bike and my head, then drove near me, filming me as I rode around South Lake Union narrating some of the trials facing people biking in our city. It was actually pretty fun, despite the fact that I’m generally nervous in front of cameras.

They stitched together the following report from our conversation, as well as conversations with the mayor and an outspoken biker in South Lake Union:
 
Going on TV is still unknown territory for me. I’ve been giving a fair number of interviews lately, though for some reason they never seem to get posted online, so I don’t get to see them. But in all it has been good practice.

We need more well-produced indy videos about biking in Seattle. Topics could range from bicycle safety to highlighting good/bad infrastructure to celebrating bicycle culture and people. If you’re into this idea and got those kinds of skills, let’s talk (email [email protected])

(And for the record, I don’t “hug the curb.” I ride as safely as I can, and that means taking the lane when there is not enough room for motorists to pass safely.)

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18 Responses to Talking urban biking with Q13 News

  1. Charlie says:

    Great job Tom! I’m impressed at the tone of this report. Really happy not to see the standard reactionary driver spouting about scofflaw bike riders.

    On the film front, I don’t have the equipment or expertise, but if anyone is interested in working on the idea, I’d love to volunteer. I’ve got some ideas for what we can/should do as well as writing experience to help with scripts, media relations or grant writing and I would love to be a part of the project.

  2. Gary says:

    “hug the curb” vs “take a lane” Looks like you were in the “parking lane!”

    You got the continual brush by which gradually pushed you toward that curb. No shame in staying alive.

  3. Brad Hawkins says:

    That guy Alan, went completely ballistic on me one day when I was riding in what he considered the wrong part of the Myrtle Edwards Trail (left side after passing some pedestrians; he was going down the middle and some other cyclists were on the west side watching the water so I stayed on the train side). He followed me for a while, yelling obscenities (he was originally going the opposite direction). Essentially, Alan did the work of the anti car crowd better than any bike hater could have hoped to do. Nice work though.

    Brad

  4. DrGeoduck says:

    I notice that Alan seems to have headphones and iPod draped around his neck. Hope he doesn’t wear them when he rides.

    • Al Dimond says:

      Between that and his insistence that turn signals are important (if your safety depends on cars’ turn signals that means you’re probably blowing by car traffic on the right), I can safely say (as a rather outspoken cyclist myself) that he doesn’t speak for me at all.

      • Tom Fucoloro says:

        Though I am blown away by how many people make turns without signaling. It’s just SOOOOOOO easy to use a turn signal.

        But yes, ride as though any car could turn without signaling at any turn. You should never depend on people using turn signals.

  5. barry Cross says:

    I’m doing the round trip from Northgate to downtown. It is exciting but I’ve noticed so many rolling stops from the bikers that I’m rather embarrassed to be part of this group. I don’t think anyone is going to take us that seriously until we cyclists start obeying the law. We have to start showing respect for the law that we expect from drivers. I absolutely hate coming to a complete stop after picking up my momentum. But that’s the law. When we show car drivers that we are reckless, they assume the worst of us.

    • Gary says:

      I’d rather we had the Idaho “bicycle stop” law. Until then, civil disobedience is the rule.

      http://www.stc-law.com/idaho_stop_law.html

      One of the easiest ways to get rid of a stupid law is to show just how stupid it is by the fact that nobody pays any attention to it. ie. Marijuana smoking, and possession laws.

      • Mike H says:

        I am of a mixed mind on the Idaho stop law.

        I think that we use stop signs way too much in this country. It seems like most people have forgotten what yield means or what to do at an uncontrolled intersection. So, over time, we’ve just ended up putting in a stop sign because at least people get that. Now, we have all these stop signs (some of which shouldn’t be there) but we can’t get rid of them for political reasons.

        Personally, I’d love to change out stop signs to yield signs where we can and then we don’t need to change the law.

      • Al Dimond says:

        Foot, bike, car, motorcycle, bus, streetcar, airplane… I don’t know why anyone should care about people rolling stop signs as long as they yield to whomever they’re supposed to yield to. I mean, there

      • Al Dimond says:

        (sry, keyboard fail) I mean, there’s real, important stuff to worry about in the world today. Wasting time on this silliness is just ridiculous.

      • Andreas says:

        Marijuana is still illegal under both federal and state laws, and in Seattle, where by initiative pot is the lowest law-enforcement priority, pot arrests in 2010 were the highest in a decade. And that’s not counting the submachine-guns-drawn raids on medical marijuana patients that don’t lead to arrests. It’s not really clear how the mere act of smoking marijuana has changed anything.

        Similarly, you may call running a stop sign civil disobedience, but most other road users would probably describe you as simply a scofflaw—a minor annoyance at best, and a potentially deadly danger to yourself and others at worst. Given how often I hear anti-bike folks begin their rants with something about how we always ignore laws, it seems plain that your Gandhi-esque ways aren’t really doing much to advance the cause.

        Off-topic: Pretty sure you mean e.g. (“for example”), not i.e. (“that is”).

  6. ODB says:

    Barry and Andreas use terms like “reckless” and “deadly danger” to describe not coming to a complete stop at every stop sign. It seems to me that in some cases these terms may be appropriate, but in other cases they would not be. I think reasonable motorists will respect cyclists who are courteous and conform their behavior to the situation. (Other people probably will probably find a reason to dislike cyclists no matter what.) For example, in my daily commute, I pass a stop sign in making a right turn from a residential street to a lightly-traveled arterial. Often, especially in the early morning, there is no traffic to be seen anywhere. In the absence of any cross traffic, it would feel silly to come to a halt and put a foot to the pavement before making the turn, so I don’t. I slow down, check carefully, and make my turn. If I see a car coming, I stop until it passes. I’m all in favor of “advancing the cause,” but I don’t think it is really advanced by pushing for Prohibition-like adherence to rules that were designed for cars and don’t make sense for a very light vehicle that has a low top speed, laborious acceleration, superb visibility in all directions and the ability to stop very quickly in an emergency.

    • MondoMan says:

      I think ODB is right. I will note, though, that bike acceleration is (at least initially) pretty fast, and a bike’s braking distance is not that much shorter than a car’s from the same speed.

    • Andreas says:

      I actually agree for the most part. If there’s no traffic at all about and I have good visibility, I usually roll through stop signs. Like, the BG through LFP? Unless someone’s tweeted about increased enforcement that day, I roll.

      The thing that gets me is my fellow cyclists who roll or speed through them with little apparent regard for other traffic around. And personally I don’t just stop when there’s cross-traffic, but parallel traffic too. With cross-traffic it’s a matter of safety; but with parallel traffic it’s a matter of ambassadorship. Even if you’re not putting yourself or others in danger, if there’s a driver next to you who does come to a stop, when she sees you roll through alongside, she rolls her eyes.

      This probably sticks in my craw mostly because I go through the intersection of 45th & 11th in Ballard more or less daily. Despite this intersection almost always having vehicular traffic, and despite most cyclists doing an illegal diagonal crossing (so all directions of traffic become cross-traffic), the vast majority of them don’t come to anything resembling a stop—full or rolling. I’m usually on foot when I go through this intersection, so it’s easy to see driver’s reactions as the cyclists ride through: it’s nothing but rolling eyes, thrown-up hands or middle fingers, mouthed (and sometimes audible) obscenities. Every time I see a cyclist ignore that stop sign and cross diagonally while four drivers politely but frustratedly wait at their stop signs, I think, there’s four more drivers who, if they didn’t already, now think that we don’t know how to abide by the rules of the road. Four more people who are going to be that much harder to convince to vote for or support pro-bike ballot measures or candidates. My saying that California stops hurt “the cause” may sound as overwrought as Gary calling them “civil disobedience”, but that’s how it seems to me.

      • Gary says:

        I wait my turn in the line of cars, when I get to the stop sign I’m slightly rolling, I look and go. If it’s my turn. If it’s not my turn, I put my foot down and wave my lime green traffic cop glove at the car whose turn it is to go, then I go.

        If I arrive at a stop sign and there are no cars behind me, in front or to the left or right…what does the sound of a tree make when it falls in the forest if there is no one to hear it?

        If there are only cars behind me, I slow way down, signal a stop with my hand, roll through and go. I’ll also signal a direction if necessary.

        That’s pretty much the Idaho law. It shouldn’t irritate any drivers as I’m waiting my turn, and I’m working hard not to impede their driving. And it’s civil disobedience.

        I too have no truck with cyclists who don’t wait their turn, or run red lights etc. And I usually chase them down and talk to them.

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