Following up on our recent post on the founding of Puget Sound Bike Share, Zach Shaner at the Seattle Transit Blog argues that the system should not launch downtown unless there are safe and inviting cycle tracks:
Simply put, cycling throughout downtown Seattle is unwelcoming for all but the boldest, most athletic cyclists, and arguably unsafe for all. Very high traffic volumes and minimally-protective facilities (sharrows and bike lanes) combine with moderate-to-severe grades and a complex one-way system to make riding in the roadway daunting even for those of us (like myself) who do it daily; and high pedestrian traffic makes riding on the sidewalk awkward, slow, and rude.
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Turning loose hundreds of assorted riders per day, most of them new to the vagaries of downtown Seattle’s traffic and terrain, all on heavy 7-speed upright bikes, is a recipe, at best, for lots of rotten rider experiences, and at worst for crashes, near-misses or even a fatality that could threaten the success of the entire enterprise. If bikeshare is to succeed in Seattle, we must do better.
I don’t know if I am willing to go as far as to say the system would fail if it launched without cycle tracks downtown or that we should delay the launch, but it would certainly have a harder time.
Given that bike share is now looming in the maybe-not-so-distant future, there is no doubt that cycle tracks downtown are bike improvement priority number 1 in Seattle. Our downtown frankly looks dated and silly with essentially no space dedicated to safe and comfortable bicycle travel. Let’s get working on the plans and outreach so work can begin next spring or summer.