Anti-bike lane group tweets that single moms don’t bike. It backfires spectacularly

A twitter handle representing the “Save 35th Ave NE” group fighting against city plans for safer crosswalks and bike lanes posted a sexist tweet the other day saying that “single mothers don’t commute to work on bikes.” It backfired spectacularly when the many biking moms in Seattle pointed out that they do, in fact, exist. Many of them are 35th Ave NE neighbors.

The tweet goes on to bafflingly suggest that only “privileged ” bike, which is perhaps a wonderful insight into the minds of at least some of the people fighting these bike lanes. This poster has no idea who bikes, so they created some “other” group of people that they feel they don’t need to care about and bunched all people who bike together into that group. It’s just #techbros! Who cares if they die?

What’s depressing — beyond the blatant retrograde sexism, of course —is that this poster has lost sight of the fact that it’s their own neighbors who are trying to get around by bike. If your neighborhood organization relies on pretending that many of your neighbors don’t exist, then something has gone terribly wrong with your organization. The problem is right there in the name: “Save” 35th. Save it from what? Being a safe and comfortable place for people to bike? Just because you or your friends don’t bike doesn’t mean your neighbors who do bike are not worth caring about. That’s practically the definition of being selfish.

Bike lanes on 35th Ave NE would make make it safer and easier for more people of all ages, gender identities and income levels to get around without a car. More people biking is good for traffic, good for business, good for the environment and good for people’s health. In other words, it’s good for neighborhoods.

As of press time, that tweet has been up for 48 hours without any sort of clarification or retraction from the Save 35th group.

Below is just a taste of the responses people have posted so far. I hope that 35th Ave neighbors fighting the bike lanes take a step back and question some of their assumptions about who bikes and why these bike lanes might actually be good for their neighborhood. Read the tweet at the top of this post again and ask yourself whether that really represents the values you have for your neighborhood.

I would like to send a special shout out to all the biking mamas out there. You are awesome and powerful. And what I know after more than seven years writing this blog is that you are the strongest force behind advocacy for a safer and more bike-friendly Seattle.

About Tom Fucoloro

Founder and Editor of Seattle Bike Blog.
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30 Responses to Anti-bike lane group tweets that single moms don’t bike. It backfires spectacularly

  1. Andres Salomon says:

    They finally deleted that awful tweet.

    But they have plenty more unhinged tweets to respond to! This is a group whose red posters read “Save 35th Ave! Tell the city keep our parking!” Parking removal is their #1 concern.

    • Mouse says:

      I’m actually disappointed they deleted it. The responses were really inspiring and provided such a great rebuttal. I’m glad that Seattle Bike Blog had the foresight to screen cap them!

    • James says:

      Hmmm… yeah selfish being the operative word. Vancouver, which has one of the highest cycling mode shares in North America has invested heavily in separated bicycle infrastructure in the past 10 years. The result? A gender split moving from roughly 1/3 women to now close to 45% women. This gender shift is occurring in many cities as they build more purpose-build infrastructure for humans, not vehicles. Meanwhile, there are still an estimated 180,000 free public car parking spaces in the Metro Vancouver. This cumulative total area amounts to 4 times the amount of public space dedicated to the total bike lane network. If cyclists represent 10% of road users as they do in Vancouver should they not get 10% of the the road space and infrastructure investment? Well, they don’t even get 1/4 of the space dedicated to stationary two tonne chunks of metal, let alone the roads that are purpose built to aid and abet car that culture and create more demand for parking. Bicycle infrastructure undoubtedly benefits women and single families, it benefits people under 18 and the elderly who can no longer drive. When these groups are able to use the streets safely it makes the streets safer for everyone else too. Cars do not make roads safer or more accessible for all. You want to talk about selfishness lets have a look at the symptom of what you cherish so dearly.

      – Vehicles are parked idle for 95% of their life
      – Free parking at work or in the city? Publicly subsidised by those who don’t drive. Your colleagues don’t receive a subsidy for the free public good you’re getting either
      – One car park can fit anywhere from 15-30 bicycles in it
      – Parking is built into bylaws and building regulations in cities, businesses are forced to provide minimum parking rates even if it doesn’t benefit their business

      Do some research. Go to these business districts and find out how many people arrive to their businesses by car. Not how many in your head. When the Downtown Vancouver Business Association objected to a new separated bike lane a few years ago they asked angry businesses to provide data on the impact it had on their business. The BIA conducted intercept surveys with the city and it turned out that on average only 8% of their customers arrived by car. You might be shocked but it’s only logical. One car space outside their shop in 30 minute increments might be 20 customers in a day as opposed to the 100s and 1000s of bicycles riding by their shop windows every day if there is purpose built infrastructure for them to use.

  2. Brendan says:

    “Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. It gives women a feeling of freedom and self-reliance. I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel…the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood.”

    ― Susan B. Anthony

  3. steve says:

    Did they take it down? the link goes to a none exsistant page…guess they got scared that single mom’s really do bike

  4. Ben P says:

    That’s awesome! I grew up biking on 35th, so this issue is dear to me.

    Now I’m the cis male cyclist working in tech they offensively termed “tech bro”. I don’t support this lane for myself. I’ve long acclimated to the danger vehicular cycling. I support these lanes for the ten year old that I once was. I support these lanes for the geriatric I will eventually become. I support these lanes for every person who would like to ride safe and relaxed, including single mothers.

    Gender disparity in cycling and tech are both issues I take seriously. Not building the lanes because men are over represented in cycling would be like not running coding for girls programs because men are overrepresented in tech.

    These lanes are a step toward a safe neighborhood. I hope to ride in them with the whole neighborhood some day soon.

  5. Ditto: “I would like to send a special shout out to all the biking mamas out there. You are awesome and powerful. And what I know after more than seven years writing this blog is that you are the strongest force behind advocacy for a safer and more bike-friendly Seattle”

  6. Madi Carlson says:

    Yes, big shout out to the Seattle biking moms! It’s the attitude of that Save 35th Ave NE group that drives some bike-commuting single moms from your city. Stay strong!

  7. poncho says:

    The derogatory “Techbros” term is highly offensive and racist given the high number of people in tech from South Asia.

    • Law Abider says:

      I’m pretty sure they are still lumped in with the tech bro crowd. Tech bros aren’t necessarily white.

  8. Per Johnson says:

    This Twitter handle and the group behind it IN NO WAY speaks for the neighborhood groups around 35th Ave NE. This should go without saying, especially given the significant number of cyclists who not only were women and mothers and said they bike on 35th Ave NE. But, as you used the phrase “neighborhood organization” to describe this group, I wanted to make this explicitly clear to all. There is an equally passionate (and significantly more empathetic) group who supports bike lanes on 35th Ave NE.

    • Inga Manskopf says:

      Half of the neighborhood group that is advocating for safety improvements on 35th Ave NE, including bike lanes, are women. We don’t have a Twitter handle but people unfamiliar with our advocacy work can check out #Safe35th.

      And I will echo what Per said: the “red sign” group does not speak for the neighborhoods that include 35th Ave NE. They may represent some neighbors but not all neighbors.

      Our neighborhood, along with our city, is going through a great deal of growth and change. There is a fairly definitive split between people who are mostly embracing change and see it as an opportunity and people who are mostly fighting change. The #Safe35th group sees the SDOT project on 35th Ave NE as an opportunity to increase safety for all users, including parents and people who work in tech. The project will help our neighborhood accommodate more people so they may get around safely without a car.

      The photos and comments posted by women in response to that uninformed (at best) post, are inspiring. Posting on social media can sometimes be a harrowing experience for women, making the response even more powerful!

      • Greg says:

        This sort of One-size-fits-all characterization of people as either for change (good) or against it (and bad) is nonsensical. It’s also unhelpful. One can be for increased safety for cyclists and pedestrians and against wholesale demolition of existing neighborhoods to make way for luxury housing. Demanding ideological purity on behalf of rich developers will get safety advocates nowhere. Please make a note of it.

      • Inga Manskopf says:

        Greg, I think you need to go back and re-read what I wrote. I did not equate people against change as bad or people for change as good. I am not demanding anything, especially not any sort of “ideological purity”. I used the words “fairly” and “mostly” because there are indeed nuances. Please do not put words in my mouth.

        Embracing change does not equal supporting “wholesale demolition . . . to make way for luxury housing” and “rich developers.” Please make a note of it.

        What is useful is recognizing that these conversations our neighborhoods are having are in the context of rapid change that is happening in neighborhoods and in the city. The discussion about 35th is not happening in a bubble. What is useful is recognizing that we love our city but each of us has a different idea for how it should or should not change. When I write about bike lanes on 35th, I am highlighting that there are people who see this particular change as an opportunity for increasing safety for people who don’t drive cars.

  9. Bruce says:

    It looks to me that many others *do* get what a techboy is & don’t much like them either.

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  11. David Wiegand says:

    “That Twitter Page doesn’t exist” – perhaps the @Save35thavene group figured out they did not have a corner on the prevailing opinion?

    Let’s see some productive dialog and solutions that work for most, if not all of the users. We can do this, folks.


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  16. Ragged Robin says:

    That’s a hilariously misguided stereotype, pretty much every techbro I know drives their own car and commutes alone in it. In fact, some even brag about driving to one block away for lunch when it’s raining.

  17. Conrad says:

    People that don’t like to share the road are always saying things like that. Bikes are for kids. Bikes are for girls. Bikes are for MAMILs. Bikes are for poor people. Bikes are for tech bros. Guess what, BIKES ARE FOR EVERYBODY !

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  20. SounderTID says:

    Growing up in Shoreline, I rode my bike to school until junior high and then the vandalism was too much to deal with.

    I’m always jealous of my counsin’s neighborhood in an eastern suburb of Oslo called Lorenskog. The full network of protected paths (almost everywhere in Norway) for walking and >20km/h cycling (people training on their road bikes use the roads) makes it easy and comfortable to get to and from shops, parks, cafes, appointments and for commuting to school and work.

    It was great for the students, retirees and other’s who may have a hard time affording to drive.

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