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They shouldn't. But, if done properly, bike registration could be useful. In DC one registers one's bike with the local police precinct and gets a bike "license" sticker to affix to the bike which aids in recovery if it gets stolen. The police there also give out bike handbooks which - much like the driver's manual which DoL gives out - lists the do's and don'ts of biking and where it's legal to ride on the sidewalks and which roads are verbotten for bikes.

As mentioned, if done properly it could be a good thing. As far as money, most have already agreed whatever license fee was set up wouldn't cover the costs of administration so no one plans on charging for a "bike" license.

And, in your case, you're already paying for road use when you fill up the Flexcar tank.

Posted by chas Redmond | December 26, 2007 11:36 AM

Well, fat bicyclists put wear and tear on the roads, right? Solution: Tax fatter bikers until they bike enough to be skinnier bikers. Mandatory BMI exams for all. The rise in demand for BMI testers will create jobs. Win-win, Seattle.

Posted by Andy V. D. V. | December 26, 2007 11:37 AM

I'd pay a tax/liscense fee just so I can retort when caraholics say I don't.

Posted by seattle98104 | December 26, 2007 11:45 AM

Control and collect.
What else could you expect from a cancerous government intent on feeding itself?

Just another tool of harassment and manipulation they want in their arsenal of citizen defense weaponry.

The money collected, while perhaps onerous to some, will be incedental to the costs of implementation and maintenance of the program, and will make no contribution to separate lanes, safe bike racks, or other benefits to the bicycling community.

Happy New Year!

Posted by sceptic | December 26, 2007 11:48 AM

Car owners cause the sprawl and low density that make bikes and Flexcars necessary. Car owners should be required to buy bikes and Flexcar memberships for everyone else upon request.

Posted by jamier | December 26, 2007 11:52 AM

They had mandatory bike registration in the town where I went to college, and I actually got stopped and given a ticket for riding without one (for your registration fee, which was something like what Madison has, they'd give you a little license plate for your bike).

Aren't cars the most heavily subsidized form of transportation? Do the taxes that car drivers pay even begin to pay the costs of the wear and tear their driving causes? For instance, what about the environmental costs? Where's the asthma medication paid for out of gasoline taxes?

Posted by Emily G | December 26, 2007 11:52 AM

If registering bikes means more cyclists will be a bit more responsible about how they ride, I'm a fan. In View Ridge, I used to have to have to avoid getting run over by cyclists all the time--they'd just come racing down the sidewalk heading to the U Village and they'd would get angry at me when I would tell them that I had the right of way on the sidewalk and that they should watch where they were going.

Posted by Heidi | December 26, 2007 11:54 AM

While we're bragging, I haven't driven a car in over five years. And I don't own a bike, because bikes kill. Calvin & Hobbes teaches you everything you need to know about life.

Posted by Mr. Poe | December 26, 2007 12:02 PM

Bicyclists wish that they were lowering congestion and easing emissions and saving money, but in reality you're lucky if 3 or 4 percent of commuters ride bikes. How much of a return is that for dedicating a whole lane or half a lane to bikes? How much has it cost us to build all that bike infrastructure? What about all the dead and maimed bicyclists who discovered fragile human bodies in close quarters with big machines don't fare so well?

Instead of putting "bikes save us all money" in bold face type and expecting everybody to just believe it, why not print some data to back it up?

Posted by elenchos | December 26, 2007 12:03 PM

Over 50% of road expenses are paid for out of the general fund. So there is simply no argument here at all. It's simply ignorance of what is funded by what.

I'm tired of paying for roads I don't use. Start making direct and indirect road users pay for 100% of what they use and maybe another 10% to cover the nuisance of their noise, size, and emissions, and then you've got a world in which talking about bike licenses makes sense.

Posted by kinaidos | December 26, 2007 12:08 PM

I was happy to see the article mention that, in fact, most surface streets are funded by PROPERTY TAXES, which bicyclists already pay. In fact, they tend to live closer to their places of work than car commuters do, so they probably contribute a higher share of their proprerty tax to the roads they use than the average motorist, who may commute into the city from the suburbs.

Posted by Denny | December 26, 2007 12:10 PM

Bikers should be required to wear license tags.

Bikers who bite people or poop in other peoples yards should be confined to fenced areas.

Posted by RonK, Seattle | December 26, 2007 12:15 PM

@9: Over 40 thousand people die in motor vehicle accidents every year, and most of those folks are in cars, hit by other cars. Drunk driving is obviously a big culprit, but so is talking to another passenger, talking on a cell phone, eating while driving, fiddling with the radio, applying mascara, etc.

People are always worrying about me when I set out somewhere on my bicycle, but on my bike, I'm not going 70 miles an hour in heavy traffic being tailgated by an SUV with a high enough bumper to make any airbags irrelevant. Statistically, I'm much more likely to die in a car wreck.

Posted by Emily G | December 26, 2007 12:20 PM

MANDATORY bike licenses are dumb. Great if people want to voluntarily buy into them, get a handbook, and a hard-to-remove sticker that aids in recovery. But otherwise it is too much encroachment on our lives. Anyway, a bike license wouldn't pay for roads... the sample of fees in the PI article rest between $2-$10. Hardly enough. And there's no way you'll get bicyclists to pay a $300 license fee. There would be massive resistance.

Another point: Doesn't EVERYONE pay for roads via property and sales taxes? Surely WaDOT is not purely funded by gas taxes and car fees. Yes:
"Property taxes cover much of the costs of smaller roads and transportation facilities"

elenchos @9: Bikes obviously save us all money. No wear and tear on road surfaces, therefore less repair costs.
Also, "Bike Infrastructure" isn't comparable to car infrastructure, like the Viaduct, say. It largely consists of white lines on the road. Relatively cheap.

Now talking about better bicyclist education... we could certainly use something there.

Posted by treacle | December 26, 2007 12:28 PM

If you go to the grocery store, or eat at a restaurant, or drink at a job, or work in an office -- guess what, all those things depend on trucks that use those roads. In fact, those trucks that deliver goods to all those businesses do much more damage to the roads than passenger cars.

All of which supports both arguments: that bicyclists are indeed already paying for roads, but that they also benefit from those very roads -- even if they think they are holier than thou because they don't drive.

Posted by tomcat98109 | December 26, 2007 12:31 PM

We are holier than thou because we don't drive.

Posted by Or did someone forget to tell you? | December 26, 2007 12:35 PM

Cyclists shouldn't be licensed or made to register in order to pay for roads or road use - they should made to do it in order to give them motivation to follow the rules of the road. As the article states, cyclists can be issued tickets, but it doesn't go on their driving record. It seems like it would be very easy for cyclists to trash the ticket and forget about it, as they are so anonymous and there seems to be very little consequence for their traffic infractions.
How much more revenue could be collected for all kinds of good things if fines for cyclists traffic violations could be effectively issued and collected?

Posted by violet black | December 26, 2007 12:35 PM

Licensing bikes is dumb, dumb, dumb -- for one reason: They are NOT motor vehicles.

Now -- if this is a problem of how to generate revenue for safer, more bike-friendly improvements -- the answer is already on the books.

Tag bicyclists with the same fines for running red lights or stop signs, changing lanes without signaling, obstructing traffic, etc., etc., as motor vehicle drivers get, and you're a long way toward solving the problem without adding an unneeded layer of bureacracy.

It will help make the roads safer for all of us if the cops will just enforce the laws that already are on the books.

If any bicyclist who reads this thinks somehow that there is a god-given right for bicyclists to run red lights or stop signs without paying the penalty under law, or to ride two abreast on a two-lane highway without a shoulder, I would love to hear the rationale for it.

Posted by ivan | December 26, 2007 12:38 PM

Bike folks: you're right about being more moral and everything. But you're wrong, politically. Claiming the right to use the road without paying excise tax is "getting something for nothing" and this makes lots of others hate you.
(Don't try the property tax dodge; car owners pay it, too.)

Cyclists would gain so much politically by paying a registration fee: it would show willingness to help pay for what you use.

This confers moral standing to own part of the road -- and more and more as there are more cyclists.

If the fee is euqal to that of cars, the same % of value as car tabs, the burden will be tiny. And getting a booklet on safety, and having an ID number, etc. just shows cyclists are part of the responsible community of safety and theft-prevention and
-recovery folks.

It's like social security: You make people pay, then they own the system and no one can take it away. Compared to "government hand outs."

Now I think you're 100% right in realitiy because global warming costs of cars are not factored in to what they should pay, etc. You are right! But the car owners are not going to wake up one day and say "We are sooo bad ! We should pay more taxes so the morally superior bike dudes can have more of the road ! Where do we sign up to pay more, please?"

Awaiting that kind of realization would not appear to be a viable political strategy to get more of the roads for bikes.

Posted by unPC | December 26, 2007 12:41 PM

Social security? Psh. More like socialism security.

Posted by Mr. Poe | December 26, 2007 12:44 PM

heidi @ 7:

what? view ridge is like 3 miles north of the u village. i know cuz that's where i live. and the burke gilman runs the whole way.

they're riding downhill on sidewalks 3 miles? what street is this exactly?

Posted by max solomon | December 26, 2007 12:57 PM



Posted by unPC | December 26, 2007 1:01 PM

@13 Emily G -- Mile for mile, being on a bike is 25 to 30 times more deadly than a car. Just count up all the wrecks by the avid bicyclists you know. If anybody actually biked as much as they drove, the picture would look much different. But as I said, you're lucky to get even a few percent of people to bike, and that's why there are more total driving deaths, in spite of the high death rate of bicycling. Your points about how distracted drivers are just demonstrate that it is unrealistic to think you can put up a few PSAs and that will protect bicyclists from getting squished.

Of course, bicycling would be safer if there were not so many cars, but the way to get rid of cars is not by promoting bikes. Portland proved how hard that is to do. The only things that work are real rapid transit and segregated bike paths.

@14 treacle -- If it is so "obvious" that bicycling saves money, then you should have no trouble at all showing me how much money it saves. I'm sure the evidence of something so obvious must be lying around everywhere. Sorry I'm so dumb I can't find it. Please help.

Posted by elenchos | December 26, 2007 1:16 PM

All of you are missing a major point here. This is the fact that 50% of most roads in every neighborhood are used for car STORAGE not actual driving. If you own a car you should have to provide storage for it on your own property. Then there would be plenty of room for everyone on the roads. Why should my taxes pay for your parking? On street parking contributes to congestion and should be abolished.

Posted by Flash Gordon | December 26, 2007 1:36 PM

Yeah, well, this one time I saw this asshole on a bike run a red light. So... I think all bicyclists are assholes and they should all shut up and you should be allowed to hit them with your car.


Posted by JC | December 26, 2007 1:47 PM

Why do discussions about bike lanes etc. always end up as a polarized cyclist vs. motorist rant? Grow up, all of you.

There is no arguing that bikes do not damage roads, are much better for the environment, are better for public health and fitness, and can be as safe as commuting in a car.

But a bike is not suited for every trip. I use my bike to get to work, and buzz around to different downtown hoods and drive when the weather is horrid or when I have to carry things or go very long distances.

People should be encouraged to step outside their car and figure out what combination of transportation works for them. Drive less, ride bikes and use public transit more. Being a nazi either way is not encouraging anyone to do anything except be an asshole.

I'd be totally willing to pay 10 stupid bucks if that means the government has to be held to its promises to making the city safe and welcoming for cyclists.

Posted by Larry | December 26, 2007 2:08 PM

That PI article was so sloppy. It might even get the award as worst local news article of the year.

Why was it a top center article in the printed paper this morning? Seems like the PI just likes driving traffic to their SoundOff page (this story has 200+ comments thus far). They know that the cars vs bikes topic is what causes riots online.

Where's the graph showing how local and interstate roads get their funding?

Why is the FOURTH paragraph a quote from a frickin' Letter To The Editor?

Posted by stinkbug | December 26, 2007 2:27 PM

Do you even hear yourselves people? The economics of taxing bikers doesn't work out to the overall expenditure for the improvements to bike lanes. Every city needs to provide certain un-taxed amenities to its citizens for their overall enjoyment of the city, those being, sidewalks for walking, bike lanes for biking, buses for the carless and parks for playing. These are like basic untaxable food staples for any city. If you tax the bikers, then you might as well tax the sidewalk for walkers and tax the metro riders - even in the ride free zone. Oh, and let's not forget to tax little Bobby and Suzy too, even though they just ride around their neighborhood and not on any of the official bike trails, which would also be my case if I were ever to get a bike. I say we send this idea out on a barge in the Sound and have a good old fashioned tea party with it.

Posted by Messenger | December 26, 2007 2:28 PM

Not a good analogy.

Bike users want and deserve and should have designated parts of the road. Like cars have.

Everyone who gets a special or limited right to use the road should pay a tax.

The principle is more important than the economics. If the government can't make money off a nice $10-25 annual fee, then that's a different problem.
Prvate groups can make money this way; I am in lots and lots of organizations that have no trouble making money with little $25 annual membership fees, in exchange for a few newsletters, a decal maybe or even a gym bag (that was the Sierra Club).

As for walking, no, we don't have to tax walkers if we tax bikes. If we allow 18 year olds to vote, we don't have to allow 17 year olds to vote. We draw lines all the time. Not a big deal.

Posted by unPC | December 26, 2007 2:37 PM

@21 The last time it happened I was on 35th NE. I was walking down the sidewalk when a cyclist nearly hit me.

Posted by Heidi | December 26, 2007 2:41 PM

@ 30) Heidi

I'm so sorry this happened to you! Here, have some leftover holliwhatever cookies.

Wah wah wah.

While walking on sidewalks and designated intersections, I've been hit by cars, bicyclists, had a few near misses with pedestrians, and even been flipped off by a cop.

While driving, I've been hit by cars, bicyclists, and had near misses with pedestrians.

While riding my bicycle, I've been hit by cars, bicyclists, and had near misses with pedestrians.

What's my point?

It happens to everyone. Stop crying. Find a new point to argue.

Posted by louley | December 26, 2007 2:54 PM

Cyclists should definetly be required to register and display a decent-sized license tag on the rear of their cycle. My girlfriend got knocked down pretty hard by a cyclist, and had to take a day off work. The police were not able to find the cyclist despite numerous eyewitnesses.

A $2 license tag on the back fot eh bike would've fixed that.

Posted by supergp | December 26, 2007 3:02 PM

It's time like this when I enjoy pointing out one of the reasons bicyclist behavior is so different than cars or pedestrians. Walkers don't have much forward momentum to conserve, and cars have power to assist them in braking and accelerating. But bikes have to invest a lot of energy in getting up to speed. If they got any free momentum on a hill, they don't want to waste it. So you could try to sweet talk them into respecting crosswalks and stop signs and red lights, but they have a very strong incentive to ride on, oblivious to the other people around them.

For the same reason, it's hard to guide bike traffic to better routes because they have so much of a need to take the shortest route, even if it's dangerous or interferes with other people.

Just part of my usual rant about how bikes are fine fun for the rider but the don't play well with others.

Meanwhile, I was just over at Horses Ass reading how Goldy also thinks it is so inarguably obvious that bikes save us zillions of dollars that there is no need do point out the evidence for that. Where is the data?

By the way, I'd vote yes for a tax to buy segregated bike paths. I know it's extortion, but I don't care: I'd willingly pay to see fewer bicyclists on the road.

(Confidential to louley: You're a dick.)

Posted by elenchos | December 26, 2007 3:08 PM

elenchos a rare wrong call - louley isn't a dick he is the worst car driver, bike rider, and walker in history - ok he might be a dick as well.

and facts don't matter anymore, we can't afford them - faithed based that's the ticket.

Posted by whatever | December 26, 2007 3:28 PM

@ 33- If for some reason you require hard data to support the idea that a bike could save society money, you should look into the health benefits of exercise, how emissions from excessive automobile use contribute to the destruction of our environment, and how that destruction has effected the health and safety of people worldwide. Really, it isn't that hard to see.

Your analysis of the causes for bicyclist behavior in city traffic does not sound like it comes from someone who rides in the city on a regular basis, or even from someone who is a pedestrian very often.

In order to find out why riders do what they do, you should grab a bike, ride around during rush hour down town, and get some "hard data". Some cyclists are awful to have to drive around, I know. So are a lot of motorists. The point is that it would be easier and safer for motorists and cyclists if there was a good system of bike lanes.

Posted by Larry | December 26, 2007 3:40 PM

That's just an idiotic article. We should be doing everything possible to get people out of the cars - free scooter parking sounds good to me. The weather is already plenty of a discentive to biking or scooters.

Our 'green' mayor should think about bike sharing. On the PI site today, there was also an article about plans to test out a free bike exchange program on Governors Island (a stupid idea, but the Paris idea sounds good):

The bike share program mirrors one in Paris, which Mayor Michael Bloomberg visited in September. For a small fee, Parisians can pick up a public bike in one part of the city and drop it off in another. More than five million rides were taken in the program's first three months.

"You have to hand it to the people of Paris," Bloomberg said at the time of his visit. "They are willing to try new things. Some will work and some won't. This obviously has worked, and we have to do the same thing."

Posted by left coast | December 26, 2007 3:54 PM

Oh sure, Larry. IF large numbers of people would trade their cars for bikes. That's what Goldy said too. What I'm saying is, that's a big IF. Look how much Portland had to invest to get a measly 5% ridership.

It's a hippy Utopian pipe dream. Spending money on bike lanes is like spending money on that stupid toy trolley, the SLUT, and calling it "transit". Bicycling is boutique transit whose only purpose is to make people feel virtuous without changing anything.

Unless you have data that shows that the investment in bike infrastructure can do anything more than scratch the surface of the problem...?

Posted by elenchos | December 26, 2007 3:58 PM

Bicycle commuter shares

City / Percentage
Portland / 3.5
Minneapolis / 2.4
Seattle / 2.3
Tucson / 2.2
San Francisco / 1.8
Sacramento / 1.8
Washington DC / 1.7
Oakland / 1.5
Honolulu / 1.4
Denver / 1.4

Posted by whatever | December 26, 2007 4:18 PM

When I read this post, I didn't realize it was ON THE FRONT PAGE OF THE P-I! How LAME of the P-I to put that story above the fold. What, slow news day? Christ.

Second: This whole thing is SO STUPID it was linked on FARK.COM.

Ha Ha! Loozerz!

Posted by treacle | December 26, 2007 4:20 PM

Biking bad for environment - increased lifespans increase GHGs


Posted by whatever | December 26, 2007 4:29 PM

@ 33 & 34

I'm not a dick. (or a dude, for that matter)
I'm a cyclist.

On top of that, I'm sick and tired of nearly every other person with a keyboard and the ability to type bitching about cyclists on the road and then go on screaming about cyclists on the sidewalk. Some riders are douchebags and will run in front of cars and cut off pedestrians. Drivers to it to pedestrians and cyclists, as do peds do it to drivers and bikers ... etc.


That being said, the discussion needs to MOVE ON from this point to the next. What are we going to do to prevent pedestrians being pummeled by a cyclist cursing on the sidewalk? How are we going to prevent cyclists being killed by motor vehicles who can't be bothered to check their mirrors?

Why are we still whining about who's a dick?
This is hardly constructive.

Posted by louley | December 26, 2007 5:03 PM

OK. @ Elenchos and Whatever...

No one used to recycle or eat organic food either. A combination of education, legislation, and many individuals making a choice to modify their habits is what brought about these positive changes in the marketplace. "Hippie Utopian ideal" my ass. Oh and @ 40. Is that your term paper from undergrad? Please.

So would it change either of your opinions on bikes if we paid a registration fee? I kinda doubt it. It does not seem to be about that for you. So what is it about? What do you think we should do to improve transit in Seattle while helping combat global warming? Are you one of those that does not think it is happening?

Posted by Larry | December 26, 2007 5:19 PM

Trains, baby, if it ain't a train it ain't transit.

I think licenses would make bicyclists behave slightly better, but not enough to make it worth fighting over. And as I said, I'd pay to get them off the road and off the sidewalk. They don't deserve their own segregated paths, but I'd give them paths just to be rid of them.

Of course, with a fast train to ride, I wouldn't care what the bicyclists were doing as I zipped by.

Posted by elenchos | December 26, 2007 5:26 PM

As a bike commuter, I'll pay my share, as soon as the true cost of cars is evenly divided among all drivers. And as long as that cost includes the cost of fatalities, traffic accidents, increased insurance, road maintenance, police support, plows, environmental remediation (for the roads, the cars, and the network of petroleum refining and distribution to support it), and on and on and on.

Yep, once that's all paid for, I'll kick in so the city can paint a few more biker-guy stick figures on Ravenna Blvd.

Posted by podium cafe | December 26, 2007 5:30 PM


why don't you pay your share now? It's so minimal. And would help you get the caraholics to pay their share, too.

As for the details:
cost of fatalities - paid through insurance/civil liability.

traffic accidents, increased insurance -- ditto.

--road maintenance-- hundreds of millions in gas taxes.

--police support-- yes, should be shifted over to the gas tax fund from general revenues.

--plows: Seattle has like 2. Not a big cost. As for over the passes, included in WashDOT and paid for mainly by gas taxes.

--environmental remediation (for the roads, the cars, and the network of petroleum refining and distribution to support it), and on and on and on.

Um, you left out the cost of global warming and defense. So yes, let's slap a $2 a gallon gas tax on gas users.

But as long as you refuse to pay your share, however minimal, you have no moral standing to complain others don't pay their share, and you give them an excuse not to even hear you.

Posted by unPC | December 26, 2007 6:02 PM

Yes Larry, you genius, you've found me out - here's my home page:

Larry the issue elenchos and I seem to agree on is that one shouldn't take assertions as facts. Because you and others say that bicycling should be supported to reduce GHGs doesn't mean it is the best or even a good choice. Could it be that it would be better for the environment if bikers road the bus? This has to do with increased food consumption when riding a bike (read Ulrich).

BTW elenchos for one mile of LR we could buy 500,000 people a new $400 bicycle.

So Larry do you believe that we need to reduce GHGs? If so, did you support Prop 1? Since the project wouldn't be finished for at least twenty years when do you think it would have started to reduce GHGs?

Larry if I was spending $23 billion I'd be buying up alternative energy futures the way our forefathers did a hundred years ago with hydro. Then I'd build wind, geothermal, tidal, wave etc. I'd do everything to reduce car size and decrease energy consumption per mile (priority parking, HOV access, reduced sales taxes etc.). I'd discourage MSFT from putting 20,000 new jobs on the Eastside knowing that most of their young workers will want to live in Seatte.

What would you do?

Posted by whatever | December 26, 2007 6:07 PM

@ 43- I totally agree that trains are the best option for mass transit in Seattle and should be the backbone of any new system, and they are being built as we speak. Hopefully service will expand and people really will use it and drive less.

So why the animosity towards cyclists? Most of us are pretty responsible riders, just trying to get to work and not be fat. As I said, I drive a car too. But only when I have to. After trains are built maybe you will do the same.

Posted by Larry | December 26, 2007 6:14 PM

Hmm. Most riders are responsible, yet there is so much animosity towards them. What a conundrum! How could the fact that most of them are responsible be squared with the fact that neither drivers nor pedestrians have anything nice to say about bicyclists?

Well I don't know. Somehow these two facts are in conflict. Bicyclists are good, yet bicyclists are unpopular. Thinking of it makes my head hurt. I just can't find a way to make these two facts sit side by side.

They are both true, right?

Posted by elenchos | December 26, 2007 6:30 PM

OK Larry and elenchos,

Please show me proof that light rail is the way to go. My research into the light rail cities does not show greater transit ridership, reduced congestion, or less energy usage per capita.

The light rail cities of Denver, Minneapolis, Dallas, Portland, San Jose and San Diego were all able to build for 1/3 the cost of what it is costing in Seattle. With that in mind I look forward to the argument.

Posted by whatever | December 26, 2007 6:33 PM

@ 46- I agree you should not take assertions as facts.

The paper you sent a link to does not conclude that "Biking is bad for the environment" as you put it. Interesting that it looks at the raw energy that goes into different forms of transit, but when you try to look at human powered vehicles in that way it goes out the window as it has to do with diet and source/type of food consumed. If someone ate a vegan diet that came from entirely from local sources, it would have a much different impact on GHG's and the environment at large than someone who ate all beef shipped across the country.

As for what I advocate doing about it, I think we should do anything we can to get people from using their cars as their main transportation. Bikes, walking, mass transit.. yes. We should also get cars to run on something other than petrol... Hybrids don't do enough and have toxic batteries, fuel cell cars still have the batteries.. Biodiesel is a bad idea on many levels..maybe liquid hydrogen cars? But what about the extra water vapor they give off? It has to be studied. Yea, green energy sources like wind solar etc.. It is a complicated issue, and I am not trying to trivialize it or say that anything is the silver bullet that will solve this by itself. But bikes can help.

Posted by Larry | December 26, 2007 6:49 PM

Larry I posted the link with smile - it was just an example of the possibility that biking wasn't a priori good or the best. I'm not opposing the concept of more biking being good but I don't want every decision to be made on assertions, which is what's happening.

BTW electric cars seem to be the best short term answer. The battery technology is moving beyond the nickel combos. At $8,000 per household for bike enhancements, is it possible subsidizing electric or other low energy usage vehicles would do a better job of lowering GHGs?

Posted by whatever | December 26, 2007 7:25 PM

Increasing density and building mass transit are things Seattle can do. It might be expensive, but it works. People ride it. Unlike giving 500,000 people bicycles; people would not ride them, so you might as well give them iPods. But build a train and it will get used, and eventually it will convince them to build a whole system.

Raising fuel economy would work, but that's not Seattle's job, it's an issue for the federal government.

I'm not arguing that congestion can be reduced. By anything (short of maybe the Black Death reducing the population by a third). Congestion will get worse and worse no matter what, and a bunch of electric cars won't solve that. Bicycles could solve it, but people simply are not going to ride them. That leaves trains.

My biggest problem with bike infrastructure is that it is exactly like the SLUT: a cheap way to pretend to do something. It's all for show.

Posted by elenchos | December 26, 2007 7:52 PM

I would vote for elenchos for Mayor. Governor, even.

Posted by Big Sven | December 26, 2007 8:26 PM

@30: Anyone complaining about bicyclists in View Ridge is somehow blind to the fact that View Ridge is full of a disproportionate number of dickhead drivers. They're the ones I worry about.

Posted by Greg Barnes | December 26, 2007 8:48 PM


I'm a pedestrian and I have plenty of nice things to say about bicyclists and nothing nice to say about drivers. It amuses me no end that drivers go ballistic over bicyclists running red lights but don't seem to mind when drivers do it. Which is more likely to cause drivers harm?

Just remember, kids: it's wrong, evil even, for bicyclists to break the law or act recklessly. It's no big deal for drivers to do the same.

Posted by keshmeshi | December 26, 2007 10:00 PM

@ Elenchos and Whatever- I think you are cutting to the core of the problem in posts 51 + 52. What ways of dealing with reducing GHG emissions can city planners look at that are cost effective and will ACTUALLY BE USED by a significant amount of the public...and what are the motivations of politicians to implement some "solutions"?

Maybe a combination to give more options? Trains, bike infrastructure, increased density, pedestrian only areas and legislation to make it less appealing to drive than to use these options (parking regulation/limitation?)... Increase use of clean power plants to generate the electricity the trains and busses operate on? Subsidies to allow more people to acquire neighborhood electric vehicles?

I don't know the answer. I'm not a scientist, a civil engineer, or, as Whatever pointed out in 46, a genius. I'm just a schmuck trying to get to work and get around town. For me the simplest, cheapest, and environmentally sound way to do that without having to wait for future improvements is using my bike instead of my car when I can.

Posted by Larry | December 26, 2007 10:51 PM

You're absolutely wrong about the impact of cars on pavement. Cars only cause significant damage to roads when they've got chains or snow tires on them. The rest of the time, they may as well not exist as far as the pavement is concerned.

You know what damages roads? Buses. Especially the articulated buses. A single accordion bus full of passengers causes the same amount of damage to the road as 7,300 cars.

Trucks, particularly 18-wheelers, are another big damage-inflicting vehicle. Concrete mixing trucks are up there, too, with or without that little outrigger axle on the back.

More information here.

Posted by Greg | December 27, 2007 8:39 AM

elenchos - "But build a train and it will get used, and eventually it will convince them to build a whole system."

Right now the Seattle transit system carries a bigger percentage of trips than any of the "light rail" cities.

Congestion is less in Seattle than any city its size or larger except Philadephia. Most of the light rail cities have more congestion than Seattle even though they are smaller.

Posted by whatever | December 27, 2007 9:20 AM

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