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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Light Bright

posted by on November 15 at 22:15 PM


I thought there was some sort of bike protest in Portland tonight—tons of brightly lit bikes, locking up multiple blocks downtown, with police cruisers escorting them through the center of the city. I took this picture on Broadway looking toward Portland’s Pioneer Square. The streets were dark and wet, but there were lots of parents with very young kids on the backs of their bikes—so not a “protest” crowd. Still, I thought it might be response to the recent deaths of two cyclists here. No, as it turns out, that protest is tomorrow, and it’s sponsored by the activist group Bike Portland. Tonight’s event was the Bike Light Parade, part of the Portland Department of Transportation’s “see and be seen campaign,” which encourages cyclists to light up their bikes for safety.

Anyway, it was an inspiring sight. Between Portland’s kick-ass light rail system and a city hall that actually listens and responds to the concerns of cyclists, well, Seattle’s got a lot of catching up to do.

RSS icon Comments


Enough about freaking Portland. It's depressing... and yet, strangely comforting...

Posted by Amelia | November 15, 2007 10:31 PM

Constantly comparing yourselves with others is a core tenet of hipsterism, right? Not everyone is motivated by the need to measure up with an imaginary competitor in an imaginary competition. I'm motivated, for example, by my need to (further) perfect myself.

Just thought I'd mention that. Carry on with your fantasy rivalry with Portland and Chicago, if you must.

Posted by elenchos | November 15, 2007 10:32 PM

what the fuck am i even doing here? i'm going back to portland!

Posted by adrian | November 15, 2007 10:36 PM

yuppies rule seattle. yuppies care not for bicycles.

Posted by matt | November 15, 2007 10:46 PM

Light rail causes sprawl, Dan.

Posted by Will of Horse's Ass | November 15, 2007 10:51 PM

Yay! Dan is visiting Puddleville! hehe I wish I would have known! I would have bought you a coffee or something! Not that you would ever meet up with some strange and freaky internet creepo who randomly leaves messages on blogs, but hey! hehe

Well, I would buy you dinner too, but I'm a little low on cash at the moment and it probably won't get much better seeing as how I just got fired. Oh well!

I think I'm getting carpel tunnel syndrome in my elbow from typing too many messages on the computer! Bye!

Posted by Kristin Bell | November 15, 2007 10:59 PM

Huh. I'm in Portland. Let's lez.

Posted by Mr. Poe | November 15, 2007 11:17 PM

Portland envy is so played. I need a new city to self-consciously compare my hometown to. Other than Austin. Fuck Austin.

Posted by tsm | November 15, 2007 11:27 PM

Key point: Seen and Be Seen.
For all you hipster dipshits on a bike, dressed in black, with no helmet... You will be hit: it is your own fault.
Motor vehicles cannot proceed legally down a street in the dark without proper lighting. What makes you so special?

Posted by Kat | November 15, 2007 11:40 PM

Oh. My. God. I'm glad somebody bought this up. During my stupid, stupid, stupid commute last night, in the dark and the rain, I ran into the following stupid, stupid, stupid pedestrians:

* An idiot in dark clothes CROSSING AURORA in the divided highway part, where there are Jersey barriers and no crosswalks, and an average speed of 50mph.

* An idiot walking up the middle of Hill Street (in my tasteful suburban neighborhood, which has sidewalks, by the way) in dark clothes

* An idiot standing in the middle of the Red Apple's parking lot, again in dark clothes.

* A poor unfortunate (whom I won't deride) who was hit by a car in the intersection of 23rd and Jackson. This wasn't due to the poor unfortunate's choice of clothing, obviously, but he/she was wearing - you guessed it - dark clothes.

The lesson here: When walking in the dark during rush hour, wear something reflective, use the crosswalks and STAY OUT OF THE ROAD! It's hard enough for people like me - who actually pay attention - to see you. Imagine what happens with the folks who don't care.

Oh, and cyclists: Yesterday morning, a young man without a helmet, but with a very nice ass, was weaving in and out among the traffic at 23rd and Madison. When the light changed, he started northbound up the hill there on 23rd, which held up all the traffic in the right lane. I was the car behind him, going 15 mph, and acting as his involuntary guide car, which didn't bother me that much, as I like the view. However, when the idiot behind me decided to pass me (I suppose on the theory that I was Just Dawdling), and almost took the cyclist out, it got scary.

Kids, if you can't keep up with the traffic, ride on the sidewalk.

And wear a helmet.

Posted by catalina vel-duray | November 16, 2007 6:27 AM

Oh my gosh, your world sounds just like mine. Idiots in dark clothing leaping out from between parked cars mid-block on dark rainy nights. And cyclists with no lights. And fools running across Aurora.

You know, a cyclist ought to be able to get a decent light -- and not one of those retarded flasher things, either, one that is BRIGHT and CONTINUOUS, like a motorcycle -- without having city hall hold an event for them. In fact, I'll bet that all of those Portland cyclists already had one. One ought to be mandatory with a bike purchase. In some countries, they are. You can get a great one for not much more than $100. And no, great bike lights do not run on AA batteries. You want a big, heavy rechargeable battery pack and a quartz-halogen lamp, or something similar like a Nighthawk. If you don't have one, you're an asshole.

Posted by Fnarf | November 16, 2007 7:07 AM

Not to criticize the valid points made here but the dark clothing comment cracks me up.
Aside from hipsters rocking 80's florescents, who's wearing bright clothes? Should we be wearing blinkers while walking (not riding, i'm not that cool) less brightly lit streets? Reflective whites? Jeans and black jackets are kind of staples here in the winter.

Posted by kate | November 16, 2007 7:20 AM

It's OK to wear dark clothing. It's NOT OK to wear dark clothing while walking down the middle of unlit streets, or jumping out from between parked cars.

People have this idea that lights, whether car lights or bike lights, are for helping you see. They are actually primarily for helping you BE SEEN.

Posted by Fnarf | November 16, 2007 7:34 AM

Fnarf doesn't seem to be a fan of the ninjas.

Posted by Mr. Poe | November 16, 2007 8:06 AM

Bikes should have one of those blinking front lights on at all times. This would help drivers when getting out on the drivers side see a bike as well as when a bike is in the bike lane passing on the right.

Wearing red blinkers on the backpack often ends up invisable on top behind a crease. Blinking rear lights under the seat should be required at night.

Can't wait for a bike warrior to explain that bikes don't need lights it only helps drivers see them to run them down.

Hail to Portland the greatest city west of the Dalles south of the Columbia and north of Eugene.

Posted by whatever | November 16, 2007 8:13 AM

It's NOT OK to always wear dark clothing it's boring as hell. Dark clothes on pale flushed out white people is just a depressing, scary sight!

Posted by mj | November 16, 2007 8:17 AM

that would be invisible

Posted by whatever | November 16, 2007 8:18 AM

Bike lights are good. Turn signals are too.

Posted by DOUG. | November 16, 2007 8:28 AM

@14 - but if a car hit a ninja, the ninja would win.

Posted by Ask a ninja | November 16, 2007 8:48 AM

I agree I am just sick of this comparing Seattle to other places. First of all we all know that Seattle is the bestest and greenest and nicest place of all! Our transit is the best our recycling is the best and our bike plans are the best! Why we even have a mayor who says we are leading on climate change! He even proposed a multibillion new viaduct tunnel highway to prove it (think of all the lowe carbon footprints of those folks using that waterfront park!)
So fuck all you comparison draw-ers!

Second, to compare us to Portland, a similar city in a similar region with a similar politics, you aren't fooling any of us! You are actually suggesting that we could actually do better here in Seattle! How dare ytou disturb my benign beneficient contemplative smile which is the reflection of my own internal positive thought patterns that we are the best and the greenest and the most green and compassionate place on earth. Why you are giving me knowledge that is a "downer" -- when we all know that thinking positive thoughts all the time is the way to go!

Just like Colbert says, no facts please, facts can change, but our opinion of ourselves will never change!

Posted by Lars Nativson | November 16, 2007 9:21 AM

Portland's terrain is also flatter and thus has a better developed and more adaptable street grid, even factoring in the rivers.

You love it? Move.

Posted by Gomez | November 16, 2007 10:01 AM

Seattle is special, I realize, Gomez, and nothing that works anywhere else could ever possibly work here. Because we're special. We have hills. And water. And no cities nowhere with no hills and no water and no lakes have no functioning transit systems.

I mean, look at the island Manhattan. Or London, with that huge, twisty river running through it. Or Paris--a river runs through Paris too.

Blah blah blah.

We're building a light rail line right now. The 50 mile light rail package we just voted on would've passed if it wasn't tied to a roads package. We'll be voting on more light rail lines soon, and they'll pass -- particularly after the line to the airport opens.

Posted by Dan Savage | November 16, 2007 10:08 AM


As to the guy standing in a parking lot, cars should not be driving through parking lots at high speeds. That's one of my pet peeves in this city, that and drivers that blast out of driveways and alleyways as though there's no fucking sidewalk intersecting them.

It would help if the city could commit to properly lighting our streets. I've noticed lately that it's impossible to see anything on many sidewalks round these parts. Factoring in the shitty state of our sidewalks and streets, it can be pretty treacherous even without any cars around.

Posted by keshmeshi | November 16, 2007 10:30 AM

Dan, I don't know how you get on this kick, but it's really stupid. London? Paris? Do you know ANYTHING about those cities? Do you know how big they are? Do you know how old they are? Seriously, this London-Paris thing makes me think you've never been off of 11th Avenue. It's just ridiculous.

It's a mental shortcut that signifies you are not hearing the argument.

Among the ten thousand other things about Seattle that are not remotely similar to London or Paris, or New York, our topography is one. It's not just "a river", it's the narrow waist between the bay and the lake, with the canal through the middle.

Why don't you ever compare Seattle to the other cities that are actually similar to it -- San Diego, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Phoenix, Cincinnati, Denver?

New York-London-Paris are also similar in this: NO ONE has ever created a city remotely like them in the past 100 years or more. And when you say "New York", you're always referring to the same couple of Manhattan blocks you know; "London" is the central bit by the river, etc. Have you ever been to Hackney? Yonkers? Croydon? Canarsie?

By restricting your understanding of how cities work to major world capitals, and a VERY restrictive list of those, you're demonstrating that you have no grasp of your own actual surroundings.

Posted by Fnarf | November 16, 2007 10:47 AM

Dan just likes to bitch about Seattle. I didn't even know who Dan Savage was before I moved to Seattle. At all. After a year of reading the Stranger, it has come to my attention that all Dan Savage likes to do is complain like a child in order to "make" his "point". If anybody takes anything Dan Savage says seriously, they're forgetting everything else he's ever said.

Posted by but we still wuvz him | November 16, 2007 11:05 AM

Fnarf @13:

Overview of Daytime Running Lights rules for cars, applies equally to pedestrians. Lights reduce traffic accidents by significant amounts, even in the daytime.

Posted by NaFun | November 16, 2007 11:11 AM

It would never occur to me to drive a car at any time of day or night without the lights on. It's just common sense. Just goes to prove my point -- it's not about seeing, it's about being seen. Maybe pedestrians should have big ol' lights. If you're going to run across Aurora you should.

Last weekend I saw a twit crossing Aurora, at the part with the Jersey divider, ON A BICYCLE. He made it halfway across, and was sitting on the divider with his legs on one side and his bike on the other. I didn't see him get hit, but it was a close thing with every car that passed. Just remarkably stupid. The suction off a fast car or worse a truck could pull you under the wheels easy as pie.

Posted by Fnarf | November 16, 2007 11:38 AM

Those cities also built their systems decades ago, Dan, when doing so didn't cost what it did now, and when said cities were in a more infantile state.

Posted by Gomez | November 16, 2007 12:12 PM

Last night I ended up talking with a lot of people at Hale's Ales about their commutes and how bad it was getting there.

And the lobbying for the ST2.1 vote and critical bridge/road repair/replace continues.

All is well in Seattle, even if we can't drive worth shiite.

Posted by Will in Seattle | November 16, 2007 12:21 PM

I don't condone running/biking across Aurora, but could we get a real fucking over/underpass from Cascade to Lower Queen Anne already? Mercer and Denny are gauntlets.

Posted by DOUG. | November 16, 2007 1:00 PM


Those cities were not "in a more infantile state" when they built their subways. New York was older when they built theirs than Seattle is now, and London and Paris were a THOUSAND YEARS older. Infantility, whatever that means, has nothing to do with it. New York's subway was for the most part cut through the middle of extraordinarily dense built up areas.

What does have something to do with it is low costs (almost free quasi-slave labor), no building codes, an enormous population to pay for it, and sufficient density to make it worthwhile. We don't have ANY of those conditions.

Posted by Fnarf | November 16, 2007 1:21 PM

What was the blog post about again? lol something to do with lighted bikes I guess. I think bicyclists should carry lanterns and strap them to their heads or backs! Yes, that's it!

Posted by Kristin Bell | November 17, 2007 1:39 AM

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