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Listen to KPLU’s fantastic story about cycle tracks

IMG_1431KPLU’s Paula Wissel has a fantastic story about cycle tracks this morning. You can catch it online here.

I met Paula next to the Linden Ave cycle track recently, and we chatted for a while, watching folks roll by.

Her story this morning reflects what she saw and heard: The protected bikeway (the first of its kind in Seattle) appeals to a wide array of people, and the new safe crosswalks and sidewalks have dramatically increased street activity in the neighborhood.

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From KPLU:

How about the stated goal of these new bikeways—to get the old and young, the less-than-fit, the people who don’t see themselves as cycling enthusiasts to view biking as a real transportation choice?

On a recent visit to the Linden Avenue cycle track in the mixed income Bitter Lake neighborhood in North Seattle, I saw a variety of users, not just speedsters, riding sleek bikes while decked out in Lycra.

There was a young man in baggy jeans and a baseball cap on backward. Another guy rode by, smoking a cigarette. A couple of older gentlemen appeared to be out on a leisurely ride. And, most surprising, a cyclist zipped by with three little children on his bike—a toddler and a baby in a bike trailer, and another kid on a handlebar seat. He rode back by some 15 minutes later, apparently having dropped off the children at daycare.

But this might be my favorite part:

Now, with a place for walkers and bikers, [neighbors Fred] Colby and [Barbara] Madden say they’ve noticed a change in people’s behavior.

“It’s marvelous how you see so many people you didn’t see before. They’re enjoying the sidewalks and the bike lanes,” Colby said.

“And it beautifies our city and it just makes it homey. And you get to meet all kinds of wonderful people who are your neighbors,” Madden added.

Complete streets don’t create great neighborhoods, they allow a great neighborhood to be itself.

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18 responses to “Listen to KPLU’s fantastic story about cycle tracks”

  1. Patty Lyman

    Step by step the longest march can be won..

  2. Mike

    “not just speedsters, riding sleek bikes while decked out in Lycra”

    I hate that this is a bad thing. When you go to Greenlake, do you complain about all of the runners decked out in running gear?

    1. Doug Bostrom

      Some people find it confusing. “Is a bike sporting gear, or is it a tool for living?”

      Both, of course, but for some folks lycra suggests “playing in the roadway.” And honestly, if you’re a B-G user it’s fairly easy to see that some people do play in the wrong places. As usual, a few bad eggs set the tone for general perceptions.

    2. adot

      I would, if they consistently were the only group who were always passing within inches, over speed limit on a MUP with no bell or call out.

    3. Two things:

      1. As a runner and a cyclist (having, when I choose, all the major visible formal elements of cycling gear), I’ve seen how runners are about their gear and how cyclists are. Cyclists are a hundred times worse.

      2. The gear can be a marker of identity and elitism… it’s pretty common for people generally to jealously believe their interests are being ignored for someone else’s special interests; if all people riding bikes set themselves apart by equipment, this reinforces the idea in the minds of people that don’t ride: that public money, space, and attention paid to this space is for some other special interest.

      And that doesn’t mean that people shouldn’t wear the gear they want, or that people wearing lycra are bad… just that if the city invests in cycling and the only users are people that set themselves apart in this particular way, it lends credence to the idea that cycling is a special interest, that public investment in cycling benefits a specific few.

      1. Gary

        The complainers who lump bicyclists into the “lyrica clad” are two faced whinners who can’t see the subsididies given to our auto centric city. It’s a statement of “It’s not fair that you got something that I didn’t get!” coupled with the false belief that we didn’t pay for it.

        What’s interesting is who comes up with this nonsense, and why.

        Thus it appears to me to be an argument used to make us hate each other rather than those who are really ripping us all off.

      2. ODB

        It is well established that many of the most vehement lycraphobes are in fact secretly spandex-curious.

    4. Gordon

      Everyone should ride how they feel most comfortable, but that doesn’t mean the lycra clad racing style is appealing or relatable for people who do not yet bike for transportation.

    5. Gary

      Or soccer players wearing nylon jerseys, or fishermen wearing hip waders, or UPS drivers wearing brown shorts & shirts…

      Bicyclists wear lycra (and wool) because it works for them. Until someone figures out how to make jeans without a crotch seam, that breath, don’t get caught in the chain, don’t make you sweat…. etc… The form follows the function.

      BTW, I have rediscovered knickers as a good option for warmer wet weather commuting.

      1. Joseph

        Gary: +1, and that goes for the knickers too!

        Lycra-deriders: Have you ever tried to ride 20, 30 miles in jeans and a t-shirt? Riding-specific gear just works much better. If I need to ride just a few blocks, sure, I’ll just hop on the bike in my street clothes. But when I go on longer rides I’ll dress appropriately for that.

        Not to mention that colorful, eye-catching gear just makes you more visible. I don’t really care what you think of what I’m wearing; I do want you to be able to see me.

      2. Sea

        I’ve ridden in lycra and I’ve ridden in jeans and a shirt. I’ll take the jeans any day, including on multi day hundreds of miles tours, normal daily commutes as well as a roll around lake Washington after work or on the weekend. It’s ok that you want to present a certain image of yourself on a bike but it’s not for everyone despite marketing or what you perceive.

      3. Doug Bostrom

        It ain’t about the lycra, it’s about what you do in the lycra. Same as “bicycle non-specific gear.”

        For me, the difference on the B-G often comes down to this: the two fully oblivious people riding abreast in non-bicycle specific gear are going maybe 10mph while the two quasi-oblivious people in lycra and riding abreast are going 20mph.

        E=1/2 mv^2

        The lycra pair are much more energetic and prone to causing destruction in a collision.

        As well, while the lower kinetic energy people are usually completely oblivious, more guileless in a twisted kind of way, the endorphin-soaked pair with the much higher destructive potential are frequently quite aware of challenging oncoming riders for space and deference, as demonstrated by eye contact.

        So there’s something about lycra that offers at least a hint about attitude. Not a 1:1 correlation by any means, just a tendency. Multiple cyclists in matching lycra are a reason for increased caution.

        As to choices about apparel and all the rest of it: biking in this country is subject to a frenzy of marketing energy. Lycra’s yet another thing to buy, another business plan in need of support. Look at bike commuters elsewhere and you’ll see what happens when marketing has reached a better state of equilibrium with actual necessity.

      4. Dave

        I used to think the lycra outfits were for the tour wannabes. However I found that to commit to bike commuting year round, every day, jeans didn’t do it. I need to be able to change out of rain-soaked clothes, and lycra sure dries faster.

    6. Tom Fucoloro

      Look, y’all, it doesn’t matter what you wear. If you like Lycra and find it useful or comfortable, that’s great. If you don’t want to wear it, that’s also great.

      I also get frustrated when folks “decked out in Lycra” are used as a quick and cheap way to turn them into a group of “others.” People in Lycra are people, too.

      On the other hand, sometimes cycling (especially before recent years) is presented as a thing only to be done while dressed in Lycra, ready for distance riding or racing. This image is not appealing to the vast majority of people who do not currently ride bikes, but are interested. To think about it in marketing terms, many in our target audience (people who might consider cycling for transportation) cannot see themselves wearing Lycra to get around town and don’t relate to that message.

      So long as it is not presented (on purpose or accidentally) as though someone MUST wear Lycra if they want to be a REAL bicyclist, then I don’t see why anyone would care if someone else prefers wearing it. It’s a pointless division. Wear what you want, and don’t assume that what you wear is what everyone else should wear.

      1. Doug Bostrom


        Lycra’s employed as a dog-whistle to inflame emotions but at the end of the day it’s just another apparel choice. Très sportif, more comfortable, not required– all of those things. We’ve got big brains, so we can see all of those modes at the same time.

    7. daihard

      I don’t go to Green Lake anymore, at least not for riding. All those “runners decked out in running gear” occupy the wheel lane, making it impossible to ride there.

  3. I just watched the documentary Urbanized, and while there’s useful info from the Dutch, my favorite part was former Bogotá, Colombia mayor Enrique Peñalosa, who’s also featured in this short on Bogotá’s “Ciclorutas”.

  4. Brian Bothomley

    Most days I ride my bike in what I consider normal clothes for me. I have a part time job as a Bike Ambassador with Cascade Bicycle Club and I ride my bike to most of the events that I attend. These events can be from 2 miles to more than 25 miles away and I will almost always wear a pair of cargo pants and tee shirt and probably fleece type shirt or jacket. In the winter or rain I wear a waterproof jacket and all manner of fleece, vests, sweaters and jackets. I will admit that before I retired from full time work I had bike commuted from Ballard to downtown for over 11 years and I did wear Lycra shorts and tights and tops, because they do dry quicker and I hated going home in wet clothes.
    But now I go slower and I seem to stay dry most of the time when I get to an event that I am attending. I am a big believer in bicycling as a life style. I am able to ride where I want and not look out of place or feel uncomfortable. I ride to shop, work and for enjoyment. For me, riding a bike is not just to get exercise but it is part of my life and by doing it I do get exercise and a lot more. Recently I discovered the wonderful joy of riding with music playing from a little player on my front rack! I found that reggae has a perfect beat for my 66 year old body to ride with. I am constantly meeting people that want to ride but feel intimidated by the traffic, other riders, what to wear and where to ride. If the protected bike lanes will allow these folks to get on a bike and ride then I am all for them, and the sooner we get more of them installed the better.

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