I rode the new 2nd ave protected bike lanes in Seattle yesterday. These were put in over the past weekend to improve safety on a notoriously sketchy street. I applaud attempts to make things better for bikers, and hope we continue this. I really want to like these improvements, as well.
Some constructive criticism: I would appreciate it even more if it wasn’t only funded for several blocks in the middle of the city. To use this path, you still have to get to it. C’mon Seattle – first it was the worlds shortest trolley route, and then the excruciatingly slow rollout of light rail. Now we are slow-rolling bike infrastructure. Can we sacrifice a few feelings to get stuff done occasionally, people? Please???
Here’s an idea – close down the inner core of Seattle to car traffic. Set it up for bus/train/trolley/bike/ped only. Here’s another idea – if you want to fund a corridor, do it for all, not just a few folks who live in a 8-block radius in the inner core. I am sure city planning, getting funding, and dealing with all the politics is tough (and it should be), but doing things like this halfway can hurt more than help.
Case in point – there are more pissed-off drivers now who see these short bike paths as merely a restriction on the lanes. It seems obvious that the funders weren’t serious about safety, as they didn’t make the lane the length of 2nd – at least get up to the top of the hill? It’s like a new bottleneck in the central core which is not what anyone needs.
Now on the plus side, I saw a very happy biker riding north on 2nd today – happy smiling face as she crossed the intersection in front of me. She was obviously very happy to be heading north and felt more protected. I also appreciated the folks volunteering on the path yesterday during the first day. They were attentive, and helped bikers and drivers with some of the changes.
Tonight near 2nd and Madison as I was leaving the office, I was flipped off and honked at by a white van for what, I don’t know, until after 2 more intersections I had been waiting at, he drove up next to me and told me to “follow the rules of the road”. I asked him what I had done, and he said I blew a red light (which I hadn’t – I stopped at all of them on the way down the hill and waited patiently for the green light). When I told him I stopped, he railed on about how “all you guys are the same…” at which point I rode away. After a mile down the beautiful Myrtle Edwards trail along the waterfront, I remembered that he was probably just having a bad day, and had seen too many bikers doing this before. Probably just karma from all the times in the past that I actually had blown through lights.