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Why More People Don’t Ride Bikes

2011 May 20
by dan bertolet

The video below shows what its like to bike commute through Capitol Hill on a typical evening in Seattle. Traveling east on Pike Street, there is no bike lane or sharrow, but it is a popular route nonetheless—I’ve ridden it more than a thousand times, no exaggeration.

My guess is that to a sizable chunk of the populace, riding through the city in a scenario such as the video shows is not an appealing prospect. Here’s my mom’s Facebook comment:

Did you film that? I was getting nervous watching it and then realized that was probably you right behind in that traffic, and wished I hadn’t looked at it. Don’t need first-hand experience of the dangers.

Tell me, is it crazy to do a commute like that on a regular basis? I’m not a good judge because I’m so used to it (sorry mom, I shot the video riding with one hand as I held the camera in the other).

As I wrote in the previous post, the most powerful deterrent to biking in the city is the safety risk—both real and perceived. But we know very well how to design streets that ameliorate that risk. It doesn’t cost very much and it typically has little impact on car travel. All that’s missing is a shift of priorities. And though City of Seattle government has been making progress, as a community we still have a long way to go.