We’re #2

More and more Seattle folks are biking to work. From Seattle Bike Blog:

Seattle rose to the number two spot among major US cities in terms of the number of people commuting to work by bike in 2010. The percentage of people using a bicycle as their primary mode of getting to work in Seattle increased 22 percent between 2009 and 2010, according to the annual American Communities Survey conducted by the US Census.

This data confirms the city’s 2010 downtown bike commute count, which measured an increase of 21.4 percent in the same time period.

Between 2005 and 2010, the percentage of people commuting by bike in Seattle increased 57 percent. Between 2000 and 2010, it increased 93 percent.

On top of what it says about the infrastructure improvements in the last decade or so, I think there is a cultural aspect that gets lost in the war on cars nonsense. And that’s that most Seattle drivers are perfectly willing to share the road with bikes.

Yes, there are asshole drivers. Yes, the recent spate of bicyclist deaths has been tragic. Yes, several media outlets have invested themselves in a story of a clash between driving and riding a bike. Yes, I’ve read the comment threads whenever there’s a bike story in the paper. But for the most part, drivers are willing to give you a bit of room and to slow down if they can’t. Speaking personally, I’ve had pleasant chats with people in cars with the windows down who just started talking to me when we were both stuck at red lights. Probably more than people yelling at me or honking their horns.

And while I don’t have any hard data, lots of Seattle drivers also ride bikes. There’s certanily some self interest for me when I’m driving and I see a bike. On top of wanting to make sure not to hit the person, I also feel that I’d better give room and slow down, etc. to put kindness to bicyclists out into the world.


  1. 1

    Pete spews:

    All this is true. And as someone who used to bicycle for all my in-town transportation but now (for health reasons) cannot, I echo the sentiment about wanting, as a driver, to extend every courtesy and set a good example.

    But that still doesn’t change the fact that the “57 percent” increase between 2005 and 2010 is only from 2.3 to 3.5 percent of commuters. That’s miniscule compared to the outsized appropriations bicycle facilities are getting in a time of city budget cutbacks, and the outsized influence of outfits like the Cascade Bicycle Club, which seems to have at least one representative on every mayor- or council-appointed transportation commission these days – including ones that have nothing to do whatsoever with bikes, like the recent commission named to study tolling on the downtown tunnel. It goes beyond McGinn, but he’s going to get excoriated for it in two years if it keeps up.

  2. 2

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Hmmm. Maybe I should commute to “work” by bicycle. It’s only 20 feet from the bedroom to my computer workstation, where I flip stocks, but a bicycle might be easier than hopping. Might be a little messy on windy/rainy days, though.

  3. 3

    ArtFart spews:

    I’ve personally come to the realization (I have to admit after many years) that most of the “problems” caused by both bicyclers and those getting around in motorized contraptions is the same: making it into a “sporting event” in which getting from Point A to Point B becomes a frenzied competition to prove who’s the bigger studmuffin. This also explains why some people have such a virulent hatred of public transportation–for them there’s no “thrill” in riding a conveyance in which everyone gets there at the same time.

  4. 4

    I live off the net spews:

    funny how this puff piece doesnt mention the asshole bike riders who decide they dont need to follow any of the laws of the road.

    bike riders are their own worst enemies.

  5. 5

    Michael spews:

    It doesn’t mention any of the asshole car drivers that drink and drive and run lights either. ;-)

  6. 6

    another cheap ass progressive spews:


    or asshole bike riders that get drunk or stoned and decide to ride around at night in traffic.

    I think a few of those types are regulars here.

  7. 7

    Chris Stefan spews:

    The amount of money the City of Seattle spends on bike facilities is miniscule compared to the amount spent on roads. I would be shocked if it was even 3 percent of the road budget.

  8. 8

    what? spews:

    100 percent growth over ten years is pretty slow growth. growth from a tiny base is often great, at first, but that means little.

    it would be nice if progressives didn’t bandy about numbers in a faux attempt to prove something. 3.7 percent is low. very low. it’s small. it’s tiny. sure, we want to raise it but not thru cheerleading with faux numbers.

    22 percent increase in one year is more like it, hopefully we keep it up. but that’s just one year. could be recession related or not realted to biking improvements.