Here's the new cycle track that opened today on Broadway:
The track is open from Union Street to Denny Way, but it will soon run a mile south to Yesler Way. The lanes are clearly marked and, most important, physically separated from traffic by concrete curbs through much of the route.
This is obviously great for cyclist—and drivers.
The fear of accidentally hitting a cyclist contributes to the animosity some drivers have felt towards people on two wheels. If the lanes are clearly delineated—and even separated by a barrier—I think that anxiety fades and more folks feel comfortable driving near folks on bikes. It also makes cyclists safer. Cycle tracks will help avoid accidents like this one I witnessed on Second Avenue, which left the driver and rider both obviously shaken. And the less fear we have of an accident, the less anger we have about transportation.
Politicizing bikes like they're some new scourge is stupid. They've been part of every city's transportation scheme since they were invented. But... obviously, some folks have some feelings about bikes. They've become a political wedge in the mayor's race. While this Broadway cycle track was built under the leadership of Mayor Mike McGinn, his opponent, Ed Murray, is taking a pretty strong stance against bicycle lanes. Just today Seattle Bike Blog reported that Murray opposes North Seattle bike lanes because, he says, they "got rid of all street parking." Seattle Bike Blog politely points out that's a "factual error"—they didn't get rid of all street parking. But that sure makes bike lanes sound scary!
In another comment that made bike lanes sounds scary, Murray said finishing a missing link on the Burke-Gilman Trail would be "potentially dangerous." Murray then added a clarification that he'd been "overly skeptical" but still said a "cycle track is not ideal."
Murray is raising money on this anti-bike platform. As we mentioned last week, the driving force of a fundraiser in early October "Paid for by Ed Murray for Mayor" were people who sought to "oppose Mayor McGinn's cycle track" on Westlake Avenue. "This is a narrowly focused event," said an invitation to Murray supporters by Peter Schrappen of the Northwest Marine Trade Association. Murray hasn't yet provided comment.
Here's the reason this anti-bike anger is backwards: The anger is being used to oppose bicycle infrastructure—the very bicycle infrastructure that will make drivers happier and cyclists safer.