I know you like bikes. So do I. I have a proposal for Seattle which could put it squarely in the spotlight as the most bike-friendly major city in the US (which as we know is a magnet to all those hip, educated, 20/30-somethings that are the lifeblood of a city’s future). And, as far as transportation infrastructure goes, it's really, really cheap.
It's called "1NS/1EW." One bike-only street that goes north-south and another that goes east-west. Cars get hundreds of streets, bikes should get one!
Cars have the right-of-way everywhere in the US. European cities often have big carless plazas and bike-only streets. But except for Mayor Bloomberg’s pilot in Times Square, cars are literally, literally everywhere in the US. Isn’t it about time we ask for one little strip of their domain?
This idea, by the way, is much different than a greenway. This isn’t a trail that skirts AROUND a city. And it isn’t tens of millions of dollars in cycle-track redevelopment. This is a NORMAL street.
We take a standard, low-vehicular-traffic, two-way street that is centrally located. We change it so that, except for major intersections, cross traffic must stop. Then we sign it so that it is “Local Access Only”—in other words, cars and trucks can still travel half a block to load/unload/park as needed. Then we tell the city and the world that Seattle just invented the first major bike-only street in America for the cost of a few signs and some green paint. Done.
Yes, it would be a small inconvenience for drivers, but it’s counterbalanced by the fact that it keeps cyclists "out of the way" of busier/faster streets. It’s like the “green streets” concept that Portland pioneered, only smarter.
I’m not a realtor, but I have a hunch it would be pretty cool to live or work on the bike-street. It’ll be quieter, safer and more pedestrian (aka shopper) friendly. I think property values would be driven up.
Hey, I’m a driver too. And I know that Seattle, with all its water, is hard as hell to navigate. But to me, getting cyclists safely off the thoroughfares and onto their own is worth the sacrifice of one street. Let’s try it. Let’s pilot it. And if it doesn’t work, it’s a song to undo.
Let me know what you think.
I say: Hear, hear! What do you say?
Shall the city of Seattle create one bike-only street that goes north-south and another that goes east-west?