Bike lanes are for cars

The opening of the 2nd Ave bike lane.

People do not need bike lanes to ride a bike. People driving cars need bikes lanes to protect them from intimidating or harming people on bikes.

The laws in Washington State are clear. Bikes are vehicles, so people are legally allowed to bike on any street or highway that is not a limited access freeway (I-5, I-90, SR 520, the Viaduct, the Battery Street Tunnel, the upper West Seattle Bridge). You can go out and bike down the busiest street in your neighborhood or downtown or wherever you want at whatever speed you feel comfortable going, and the law says you are doing the right thing.

Let’s wave a magic wand and change people’s driving habits so they fully respect the rules of the road and always pay perfect attention. In this world, even an eight-year-old kid can bike to school going eight miles per hour down 4th Ave or Rainier Ave or 1st Ave S or 35th Ave NE, and every person driving would slow down and patiently wait for opportunities to pass her safely. She wouldn’t be afraid to bike because everyone follows the rules so perfectly. And she wouldn’t need bike lanes. This is a wonderful “vehicular cycling” utopia. Unfortunately, it is fantasy.

In real life, you’ll likely be in for a stressful ride on these busy city streets. People might blare their horns at you. Some may even make a close pass to “teach you a lesson.” Others may pass closely or narrowly avoid hitting you because they are simply not paying attention or for whatever reason don’t feel they need to slow down and wait for an opportunity to pass safely. All these intimidating or dangerous actions are illegal, but the odds the person behaving this way will get a ticket are extremely low. Just because you have a right to bike there doesn’t mean people in bigger, more deadly vehicles will respect that right. For some reason, even otherwise friendly and loving people are capable of treating fellow human beings with such ugliness once they are behind the wheel of a car.

As you might expect, biking in these conditions does not appeal to very many people. In places where biking to get around requires you to bike on such streets, biking rates are very low.

This is where bike lanes come in. From one perspective, a bike lane designates space on a road for people to bike. From another perspective, a bike lane is just enforcing the rights of people biking to safely get wherever they are going without fear that someone driving a car will infringe on those rights. From yet another perspective, bike lanes are necessary mitigation for a destructive and dominating car culture that has overrun our public streets thanks to a century of unbalanced investments to prioritize car supremacy.

If there were no cars, we wouldn’t need bike lanes. Therefore, bike lanes are for cars.

But bike lanes are also for cars in an even more direct way. Collision data shows that streets that have bike lanes have fewer and less serious car crashes. People in cars are the primary beneficiaries of safety improvements when bike lanes are added to a street. A person’s odds of living a full healthy life improve every time the city builds another bike lane, even if that person never rides a bike. Because any change to a street’s design affects all the users of that street.

When there is too much space on a street for cars (too many lanes or lanes that are too wide, for example), chaos fills the voids. Making a left turn across two lanes is vastly more dangerous and unpredictable than turning across one lane, for example. And the faster people are driving, the more likely someone will be killed or seriously injured when the unsteady balance of traffic fails and kinetically-charged steel collides with flesh. Car collisions are a leading cause of death in the U.S., especially for children and young people.

But a bike lane is not enough. Just because a stripe of paint has designated a space of the street for biking does not stop some people in cars from parking there or driving in that space to pass other cars. Again, these behaviors are illegal, but the odds of a ticket are very low. Barriers are needed to protect those bike lanes from infringement and keep people driving in the appropriate lane. So, just as bike lanes are for cars, so are the curbs, planter boxes and plastic posts needed to keep bike lanes car-free.

But a protected bike lane is not enough, either. Because when someone biking in a bike lane and someone in a car turning across that bike lane reach an intersection at the same time, the person driving is supposed to yield. But as we know, people driving often do not. So we need traffic signals or other significant intersection changes to prevent people from illegally turning across a bike lane. Those traffic signals with pictures of little bikes on them? Yeah, those are also for cars.

I say all this because there’s this strange conversation going on in the press and at City Hall about the cost of downtown bike lanes. Mike Lindblom at the Seattle Times wrote a very good story about how the 2nd and 7th Ave bike lane projects ballooned in cost to something like $12 million a mile, a huge sum that SDOT leadership is citing as a reason the bike lane promises made to Move Seattle voters are in jeopardy.

But Lindblom’s reporting shows that a big percentage of the project costs have little to do with bike mobility or safety. The 2nd Ave project, for example, added new traffic signals to three Belltown intersections at great cost. These signals are for everyone, not just people biking. That’s why SDOT called the project the “2nd Ave Mobility Improvements Project,” not the “2nd Ave Bike Lane Project.”

But this is just an extreme example of investments made in the name of biking that really help every road user. It’s pretty absurd to have different pools of money for specific modes of transportation, since most investments in city streets are inherently multimodal. But that is how the Move Seattle levy was written. So we have to ask to what extent the pool of money for bike lanes should be charged for new street lights, new traffic signals that mostly help people driving cars or segments of bike lane that were raised to sidewalk level to help a hotel valet zone. If it is multimodal in action, shouldn’t it be multimodal in funding?

Vision Zero is supposed to be a core principle for all of SDOT’s work, not just a side project with a limited budget. Every SDOT investment should put eliminating traffic deaths and serious injuries as the primary goal. If bike lanes are the most cost-efficient way to achieve that goal, then bike lanes shouldn’t be limited only to one separate pool of funds.

The troubling conclusion of this story that bike lanes cost $12 million a mile is that it becomes a reason to build fewer bike lanes. The more stuff SDOT can bill to the bike budget, the fewer bike lanes they will need to build for the duration of the levy.

But that eight-year-old biking to school doesn’t care which SDOT funding pool paid for which parts of the street. She just wants to have fun getting to school safely on a bike. Our city’s leaders can either sit around and argue about internal budgeting or they can get to work creating a safer and more comfortable city for the people. It is far too early in the life of this levy to admit failure and give up.

Seattle needs to figure out how to deliver the safe and connected bike network it promised to voters. Obviously, a big part of the solution is to get costs under control. Another part of the solution is to stop putting projects into modal silos and start acting multimodal. Because bike lanes are for bike mobility and local businesses and walking safety and transit access and freight mobility and parks and schools and public health. But mostly, bike lanes are for cars.

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56 Responses to Bike lanes are for cars

  1. Fish says:

    Thank you for writing about the need for bike lanes.

    Perhaps a non-sequitur, but I don’t understand why we don’t try to compare bike lanes to sidewalks. Don’t they serve the same purpose? No one questions why there are sidewalks on parallel streets-they understand that without a connected network one cannot safely walk to their destination. No one would ever expect pedestrians to share the road with cars and it’s not like you’re more protected on a bike from a car collision. There’s obviously countless other similarities.

    • Charles says:

      Sidewalks are a great analogy. But let us remember that a huge portion of Seattle (including most of District 5) STILL HAS NO SIDEWALKS!! This is really unsafe for pedestrians, cyclists, and car drivers alike. Especially for children. My feeling is that at least some of the frustration that north end residents have expressed around road upgrades (e.g. 35th) comes from the fact that the overwhelming majority of north end streets are unsafe for pedestrians and nothing is being done to make them safer. (To be clear, I’m worried about my kid being hit by a car — not a bike.)

    • Evan D says:

      I think it’s because even the “War on Cars” types realize that they use sidewalks from time to time, but they believe that only a tiny minority bikes, or would like to. They can grudgingly accept that everyone has to get out of their vehicle at some point, but decry cycling as a outdated hobby practiced by a select few.

      Or, to look at it another way, people will still walk no matter how dangerous we make it, while we’ve been relatively successful at scaring away potential cyclists with inadequate infrastructure.

  2. Alkibkr says:

    Just adhering to the SDOT Complete Streets Policy would eliminate a lot of waste. Example: 4th Ave South between Spokane and Lander Streets is a major route between West Seattle and Georgetown and the SODO Light Rail Station and start of the SODO Trail to downtown. SDOT just completed a huge repaving on this section of 4th Avenue with 4 extra-wide general travel lanes, a center turn lane and zero painted bike lanes, while the sidewalks along this stretch were left seriously narrow with tripping hazards. There was plenty of room in the right of way for bike lanes, but now to address the need there will have to be separate projects. The alternative to wait until we can extend the SODO Trail south to Spokane street is now jeopardized by the next phase of Light Rail construction.

    • Jonathan Mark says:

      I agree, 4th Ave. South feels very unsafe for walking and biking. I do not see any speed limit signs which I think means that the speed limit is 25 mph, but obviously the road design leads to much higher speeds. Sometimes the narrow sidewalk makes me want to step off to pass people but the high speed traffic is very close.

      It is disturbing that the repaving projects are apparently a completely separate thing from the safety projects. And then SDOT says that safety is super expensive. I totally agree with this article.

    • Jesse says:

      Thank you for pointing that out Alkibiker. I think the problem,on 4th, and ALL the other north/south streets in Georgetown/SoDo with the the exception of 6th Ave S. is complete street ordinance Section 3: “Because freight is important to the basic economy of the City and has unique right-of-way needs to support that role, freight will be the major priority on streets classified as Major Truck Streets. Complete Street improvements that are consistent with freight mobility but also support other modes may be considered on these streets.” May, is the operative word here as so far the result is: if the street has a bridge over the train yard it is a major freight route. The street without a bridge = “you folks who want a safe place to ride a bike can figure out how to pay for that bridge”. Not one complete street exists between Spokane and Michigan, and everything in the BMIP that comes up for a turn at funding is ‘considered’ unfeasable, in compliance with the complete streets ordinance. The wording of that policy needs some work.

  3. Ragged Robin says:

    Nailed it. I bike 10,000kms a year and I would very happily NOT have any bike lanes whatsoever IF people in cars didn’t try to kill me every other day. In fact, I see bike lanes an nuisance and even an inconvenience for me to use: I have to sit behind or wait to pass slower riders, the “green” light is a lot shorter than using the regular lane to accommodate left-turning vehicles which means more frequent stops at intersections, I have to watch out for cars turning into adjacent parking garages without looking if any cyclists are passing, etc. Bike lanes slow me down. That said, I still opt to use them when they’re there as a courtesy to fellow road users and to avoid the frustration of insults and other life-threatening acts drivers will do.

  4. kDavid says:

    I wholeheartedly agree with the premise and point of this article. If SDOT is truly committed to supporting and promoting multimodal transportation, then every street modification, repair or enhancement should include (at least consideration of) upgrades to promote bicycle use as well as pedestrian use.

    Every. Single. Project.

    Tom, Thank You for writing this article. THIS sort of reasoned discussion relating to cycling in Seattle is why I am a subscriber to this site. ;-)

  5. Gordon says:

    Great piece. Love the “bike lanes are for cars” framing.

  6. Jim says:

    Thanks for writing this. This is the clearest demonstration of how the transportation universe appears to a person on a bicycle.

  7. Antonio Doblerueda says:

    Agree w/ 95% of this. Very well written. However…

    I’m not fully on-board with this sentiment: “But a bike lane is not enough… But a protected bike lane is not enough, either.” Call this the ‘maximalist bike lane’ approach: Every bike lane must be protected, every protected lane must have signals. (obviously, Tom is more nuanced than that…)

    So much of the city has zero bike infrastructure. If our bike leaders demand every project be ideal, complete and protected, the underserved parts of town will not get any (or not as much) new infrastructure.

    This is not a hypothetical risk: two years ago, SDOT took the pretty-decent Dearborn Bike Lane and made it a PROTECTED bike lane. This year, SDOT will take two decent, existing bike lanes on Alaska and Myrtle and turn them into PROTECTED bike lanes.

    As a result – hundreds of thousands of dollars will be spent on bike infrastructure, but SE won’t get even one block of NEW bike lanes.

    Complete Streets like 2nd Ave are fantastic – let’s build more like that in some places. But what is needed in Seattle’s underserved hinterlands is smart, cheap, plentiful bike lanes to connect vital routes.

    Let’s not make The Perfect into an enemy of The Way Better Than It Was.

    • Brock Howell says:

      I believe Renton Ave S recently got new or improved bike lanes. An east-west greenway was built near Rainier Beach, and a north-south Rainier Valley Greenway is being installed. But this still isn’t sufficient. We still need to add bikeways to Rainier Ave S; the street safety rechannelization isn’t enough.

      • Antonio says:

        You’re right about Renton Ave S (forgot).

        Rainier Ave S bike lane will never happen, we need to move on.

        Proposed stretches CCity-HillmanCity and South to RBeach would have been relatively easy. We couldn’t find the political will to get it done.

        The Dearborn to Mt.Baker stretch is much harder and more expensive.

        We need to move on from Rainier… Find smaller, cheaper, less politically-charged projects that actually have a chance of helping SE cyclists be safe and get to work.

        Alaska, Myrtle, Renton makeovers help no one. South Downtown, Wilson, Spokane, Lander, Holgate all would.

      • Alex Wakeman Rouse says:

        I live on Renton Ave S near Cloverdale and people definitely use the bike lane (including me!), but drivers speed constantly and frequently swerve into or park in the bike lane. I am glad for the bike lane, though, but I wish car safety and enforcement (i.e., red light cameras) was a bigger investment in addition to more bike infrastructure.

      • Rob says:

        I ride on Renton.

        I’ll tell the Major Taylor kids and others that Myrtle/Swift/Othello are useless and their presentation on its importance was a waste of time.

      • Antonio says:

        Renton: that’s great Rob and Alex, somebody really is benefiting from SDOT’s continual, modest improvements of existing bike infrastructure in SE Seattle.

        SDOT should probably devote all 2020-21 funds to turning Renton Ave S into a protected bike lane. I’m sure Major Taylor kids could do a great presentation on the benefits. :)

    • Aaron Pailthorp says:

      Does anyone have more recent information than the below about the completion of the Dearborn work? The diverter that is shown at the east side of the intersection of Rainier and Dearborn is still shown, but I have little confidence in SDOT for bothering to communicate via web pages with accuracy. https://www.seattle.gov/transportation/projects-and-programs/programs/bike-program/protected-bike-lanes/s-dearborn-st-protected-bike-lanes

      • Rachael L says:

        The state of Dearborn (and the 7th Ave S lane feeding into it) right now is nightmarishly confusing: https://fancybeans.com/2018/05/22/finding-bike-routes-home-again/

        I will never give up on bike lanes on Rainier. It’s the only flat, straight route through my neighborhood and connecting to all of my friends in adjacent neighborhoods.

      • Rachael L says:

        (Err apologies — this probably should have gotten replied in the other part of the thread — I didn’t realize that the comments here nested quite like that!)

      • Sean R-M says:

        @aaron the reason given for the delay in the diverter is that at the same time sdot was planning on installing the diverter they also granted a permit for the construction project at the intersection to use the very same space. Since the permit was granted the diverter had to be delayed until after the construction is done. I have heard a rumour that some community members are opposed to the diverter. I’m not confident that the diverter will be installed. However, other improvements are coming to Dearborn this summer, the street will be repaved and the bike lane will be improved with more protection and bike signals

      • Aaron Pailthorp says:

        @Sean R-N, interesting. First I’ve heard of that, and I’ve asked, see below. I’m not surprised about forming opposition, I just hope they get the diverter in before they open that new building. Right now, the lane is heavily used by cut through traffic from elsewhere on First Hill, trying to avoid traffic on Jackson. I fully expect the space will be yet again dedicated to automobiles, shortly after the new building opens. I’ve got a new inquiry out to Erin Kirkpatrick, the currently listed staff member. Do you ever get the feeling that SDOT managers don’t really know what the SDOT crews are actually going to do?
        —————————————————————-
        From: Schellenberg, Dawn
        Sent: Monday, September 25, 2017 1:07 PM
        To: Aaron Pailthorp
        Cc: Woods, Sandra
        Subject: RE: Status of Dearborn protected bike lane project 2017 work?

        To my knowledge the source is crew capacity. For example, delivering the new Pike/Pine protected bike lanes required significant resources.

        Dawn Schellenberg
        SDOT, Project Development
        O: 206-684-5189

        From: Aaron Pailthorp
        Sent: Friday, September 22, 2017 5:47 PM
        To: Schellenberg, Dawn
        Cc: Woods, Sandra
        Subject: Re: Status of Dearborn protected bike lane project 2017 work?

        Can you tell me what that emerging project is?

        The construction site at the NE corner of that location has been claiming the public right-of-way, forcing bicycles out of the painted bikes lane and into unsafe traffic.

        I hope that is not the source of delay for this badly needed safety improvement.

        –>Aaron

        On Sep 21, 2017, at 10:05 AM, Schellenberg, Dawn wrote:
        Hi Aaron- We rebalanced our crew workload, due to an emerging project. We’re still hoping to complete the median within a month, assuming weather holds. Dawn

        Dawn Schellenberg
        SDOT, Project Development
        O: 206-684-5189

        From: Aaron Pailthorp
        Sent: Tuesday, September 19, 2017 11:37 AM
        To: Woods, Sandra
        Cc: Schellenberg, Dawn
        Subject: Status of Dearborn protected bike lane project 2017 work?

        With respect to the project listed as:
        http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/dearbornpbl.htm

        Can you please update me as to the status of the work scheduled in 2017, in particular the addition of a “partial median on S Dearborn St at Rainier Ave S that will restrict westbound access at Rainier Ave S for people driving”?

        Thanks,
        –>Aaron

      • Aaron Pailthorp says:

        I mean, I can’t help but feel like SDOT crews decided that the emerging construction site made it not a great use of their attention to get the diverter in, so they punted until construction got going and are now rooting for the building project owners attorneys who know that residents of the building will not want to see any right of way dedicated to bicycles. I guess I’m cynical.

      • Aaron Pailthorp says:

        The area will be turned into a passenger loading zone for the new building at great hazard to the bicyclists who transit one of the few relatively safe routes through the area.

      • Sean R-M says:

        I share your cynicism. The bigger paving project went out to bid and the contacts have been awarded. The final plans for the paving project shows a small traffic circle similar to what used to be there (https://twitter.com/sean_roulette/status/980834904425418752?s=19) The diverter is to be installed by SDOT not by the contractor

      • Aaron Pailthorp says:

        Who gets to decide that a private building plan supercede posted SDOT bike trail plans? It will continue to be a cut-through for area traffic hoping to avoid Jackson. This is BS.

      • Dana says:

        So it seems like they will improve the buffered bike lanes when they re-pave Dearborn? In typical SDOT fashion they complete 90% then leave the critical connection pieces missing.

        Similarly, I also hope they fix the transition from Dearborn to 4th/2nd Ave.

  8. Brett says:

    Along the lines of your suggestion about the intentions of the Durkan administration, I think they purposefully released the cost/mile first, then made details available to the press later. This generated an uproar and gives them ammunition to cut planned bike projects to appease the anti-bike and fiscally conservative folks. There would have been much less uproar if they had release absolute costs and the details/breakdown. Nevermind that no doubt other sections of the basic bike network will probably cost less per mile.

    All that said, I support some value engineering in the way of maximizing use of precast concrete wherever possible and leaving slight gaps so they don’t have to re-do street drainage.

  9. Tracey says:

    Tom— you are an eloquent writer and your theory is well-presented and uniquely framed. I agree that bike lanes are important, but I’ve also learned that “taking the lane” can save your life, especially at intersections. While bike lanes may be protected, most intersections are not and I was hit while in a bike lane when a driver made the proverbial “right hook.” It was pointed out to me by various bikey friends that they ride in the street and take the lane— had I been doing that, I would still be biking today. I am looking forward to the type of intersections employed in Amsterdam and will vote again for any investment that will take us closer.

    • Marko says:

      The other piece–bikes in The Netherlands generally have the right of way over motorized traffic. Bike lanes are designed to minimize stops by bikes. This creates greater safety for all. It is something we should consider adding to the conversation–especially on bike paths.

  10. Alkibkr says:

    We had someone ticketed by the police for holding up traffic while biking on narrow Beach Drive (sharrows) in Alki. I think they fought the ticket and won, but unless you can bike the speed limit you are going to tick off some drivers, and a ticked-off driver does not always drive safely and can endanger you and everyone else around them. The point is to move all traffic safely and efficiently and that means a separated lane, painted or protected, for people biking. Granted, you can’t assume people won’t violate your lane and must be ultra defensive, especially at intersections. I am very sorry for your accident and wish you full recovery.

  11. Mitch says:

    Thanks for posting this. Here’s an instance of a driver nearly colliding with me on the much debated 35th Ave NE just the other week: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lkE6Iu1DCPE

    • joe says:

      do you know that 7 out of every 10 cars has a impaired driver, ie: medication,alcohol, opioids, etc. My cousin was hit on his bike by a guy texting and
      spent 6 months in a hospital. So as long and you know the dangers you know it can happen.

      • Tom Fucoloro says:

        I’m sorry to hear about your cousin. That’s terrible.

        Impaired driving is a big problem. 7 out of 10 seems a bit high, though. Do you have a link you were referring to?

      • Ryan says:

        I googled distracted driving and for what it is worth, an article claims 7 out of 10 people are distracted by the cell phone,texting,not paying attention. It also said 32 percent of the rest are impaired by alcohol,and drugs. Pretty scary

    • Evan D says:

      It never ceases to amaze me how difficult it apparently is for a driver to pass a cyclist on a 4-lane+ road with low traffic. After enough experiences like yours, I typically take the full lane when there’s more than one travel lane available, and cars *still* wait until the last possible second to get over into the other lane, or don’t fully get over and split the lanes instead. Likewise, the Prius in your case had plenty of room to merge into the other lane and still couldn’t be bothered. Why is this so hard?

  12. Micah says:

    Thanks, Tom! Once again another logical, well informed article by you. Glad you are back. Hope everything is going well with your family. We missed you.

  13. Betsy says:

    Best post ever. Thank you for this framing.

  14. John O. says:

    Bravo Tom!

  15. Gary S Anderson says:

    Great article! But, I thought bike lanes were for delivery trucks, Uber drivers, and taxis.

  16. Alexander Woloszczuk says:

    If the city would like to put some money in the general fund that would offset the cost per mile expense of bike lanes while simultaneously (maybe) improving the safety of bike-lane users, consider deploying bike-cops on bike commuter routes during peak commute times. Issue tickets to all those parked in bike lanes, blocking intersections (Dexter Mercer for example). A pipe dream, I know.

  17. Bob Hall says:

    Right on Tom, I’ve been thinking this for years. I use the analogy: Suppose a paint factory needs to be built on the lake so it can use fresh water. The factory starts polluting the lake, so the public, who has a fundamental right to use the lake, demands the factory takes measures to eliminate the pollution. So the factory buys equipment to do it. Would we call that equipment “swimming infrastructure”? Hello no. The paint factory introduced the hazard, so the equipment used to mitigate the hazard counts as “paint factory infrastructure.”

    The public’s right to access waterways and roads goes way beyond the WA state law you cited. This goes back to Magna Carta. Hilariously, most of the stuff you’ll find online about the right to travel down the road is used to argue against the requirement for a drivers license. People in this country just can’t get it through their heads that they don’t have the right to endanger other citizens, and efforts to minimize those dangers should be the responsibility of the people creating the danger in the first place.

  18. Marko says:

    Thank you, Tom, for this. I hope this piece gets wide circulation.

    The Seattle Times Danny Westneat editorial that preceded the Mike Lindblom article was deceptive and shrill, trying to perpetuate the myth that bike lanes are too expensive by not separating out the costs for rebuilding an entire downtown thoroughfare from the bike lane component. I do not know if lumping together those apples and oranges originated with Westneat or the city, but that editorial was the use of smoke and mirrors to rile up anti-bike lane sentiment.

  19. Don Brubeck says:

    Thank, Tom. Great article, and I, too, hope it gets wide circulation and attention.

    Would also like to see the Times comparing cost per mile of other types of projects (streetcar, bridge replacements and retrofits, Waterfront Project/SR99 viaduct/tunnel, SPU CSO tunnels, … 2nd Ave Mobility Project would look like a bargain.

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  22. Andrew says:

    Wow, this is a terrific piece. I’ve never seen things framed this way, but it’s unquestionably correct. It calls to mind what the civil rights advocate Stokely Carmichael said. A paraphrase…

    “I maintain that every bike lane in this country was passed for people in cars, not people on bikes. For example, I bike. I know that. I also know that while I bike I am a human being, and therefore I have the right to go on any public street. Drivers don’t know that. Every time I tried to go somewhere they threatened me. So some boys had to write a bill to tell that driver, “He’s a human being; don’t threaten him.” That bill was for that driver, not for me. I knew it all the time.

    I knew that I could bike and that that wasn’t a privilege; it was my right. Every time I tried I was harassed, abused, ran over or killed. So somebody had to write a bill for drivers to tell them, “When someone rides their bike on the street, don’t bother him.” That bill, again, was for drivers, not for people biking. So that when you talk about using the road, I know I can be anyplace I want to be. It is drivers across this country who are incapable of allowing me to be where I want to be. You need bike lanes, not me. I know I can be where I want to be. ”

    The original:
    “I maintain that every civil rights bill in this country was passed for white people, not for black people. For example, I am black. I know that. I also know that while I am black I am a human being, and therefore I have the right to go into any public place. White people didn’t know that. Every time I tried to go into a place they stopped me. So some boys had to write a bill to tell that white man, “He’s a human being; don’t stop him.” That bill was for that white man, not for me. I knew it all the time. I knew it all the time.

    I knew that I could vote and that that wasn’t a privilege; it was my right. Every time I tried I was shot, killed or jailed, beaten or economically deprived. So somebody had to write a bill for white people to tell them, “When a black man comes to vote, don’t bother him.” That bill, again, was for white people, not for black people. So that when you talk about open occupancy, I know I can live anyplace I want to live. It is white people across this country who are incapable of allowing me to live where I want to live. You need a civil rights bill, not me. I know I can live where I want to live. “

  23. kDavid says:

    Andrew – nice adaptation! ;-)

  24. orion says:

    Like many of us, I am a bicyclist and a driver, and need to adhere to laws and courtesies in both roles. What I think is missing in this dialogue is that the a lot of the ire aimed at us as cyclists is due to a small but very self-entitled minority of bicyclists who do not adhere to the rules of the road and create road rage.

  25. Peri Hartman says:

    Tom, I really like the perspective you put on this. Yes, bike lanes help cars.

    In fact, when someone is stuck behind me, I’m thinking: I wonder if you are opposed to bike lanes. You know, if there were a bike lane, you wouldn’t be stuck behind me. (And, I’d be happier, too.)

  26. ballardite says:

    The only problem with the data you show is – there is no data for all the streets around the road diet. For all we know, these streets may be seeing large increased in traffic due to cars trying to get around the road diet. These cars may be seeing increases in all those things you show in your graphs. Until this data is know – I wouldn’t call road diets a success.

  27. Ethan Klein says:

    In California, a car can only drive in a bike lane 200 feet before making a turn from that side of the road or when entering or exiting the road.

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  29. Robert says:

    Great article! Thanks for writing this article. Love the “bike lanes are for cars” framing.

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