Target: Tom Rasmussen, Head of Transportation Committee – Seattle City Council
Goal: Build more protected bicycle lanes in the heavy traffic areas of downtown Seattle
Heavy vehicle traffic has been at odds with Seattle’s thriving population of bicyclists and bike enthusiasts for many years. Heated debates over who gets more asphalt have even rendered biking somewhat of a political statement, with spear-shaking spokesmen and columnists on either side. But no matter which end of the rope you’re pulling on, neither the bikes nor the cars are going anywhere, and they need to coexist.
Statistics surrounding the city’s drivers are certainly not doing them any favors – a recent national study by Allstate revealed that Seattle motorists are almost 30 percent more likely to get in an accident than the average driver. This figure is no doubt influenced by the prolific congestion in the area, as Seattle was ranked the 4th most congested city in the North American continent for winter quarter 2012. Bicyclists tend to be more aggressive as well in this type of traffic, so a physical barrier between busy vehicle and bike lanes would solve a lot of problems.
Transportation funding is hard to come by in Seattle, especially for bicycle-related transit. Amidst efforts to revamp the traffic system, only about one quarter of the city’s 10-year Bicycle Master Plan (created in 2007) has been funded to date. The mayor did plan to fund some protected bike lanes for 2013, but transportation budget cuts will require the Seattle city council to make tough decisions regarding which proposals make the grade. In terms of justification, the council could take a hint from New York City. Last fall, the Big Apple’s transportation department reported local businesses along streets with protected bicycle lanes earning a 49 percent increase in sales. The kind of increase in tax revenue generated by bikers could make up for Seattle’s construction costs on its own.
Political and economic conjecture aside, the safety of someone on a bicycle is just as important as the safety of any driver on the road. Cyclists are responsible for their own traffic conduct, but the conditions in Seattle have just gotten too dangerous. Support the rise of bicycling in big cities. Encourage an environmentally friendly way to get across town. Tell Tom Rasmussen clearly and powerfully to fund protected bicycle lanes in downtown Seattle, Washington.
Dear Councilman Rasmussen,
Seattle has a long history of heavy traffic and bad driving. Billions have been spent over the years trying to reshape the city’s roads and transit systems into something safer and more fluent. The problems of high traffic levels and high accident rates are never desirable and expensive to solve, but these kinds of issues could be addressed at a fraction of the aforementioned expense where the city concerns bicycle transportation.
If Seattle funds protected bicycle lanes, incident reports drop as an immediate result. Bicyclists will be safer, drivers will be more at ease, and these more desirable avenues for bike travel will undoubtedly work to decrease the sheer volume of cars on the road as more citizens opt to use their bicycles. New York City recently reported that local businesses along streets with protected bicycle lanes experienced a 49 percent increase in retail sales. In terms of budgeting, the increase in tax revenue has potential to repay construction expense on its own. The more protected lanes, the higher projected sales increase.
Seattle citizens deserve a safe way to get where they need to go, in their cars and on their bicycles. Promote health and reduced emissions. Ensure the safety of your city’s people. Fund protected bicycle lanes for downtown Seattle.
[Your Name Here]
photo credit: Ella Mullens via Flickr