Video: Helmet cam shows what it’s like to go by bike

October 27, 2011 at 10:30 am | In Alaskan Way Viaduct, West Seattle news | 16 Comments

A WSB’er just e-mailed to note that despite traffic highs and lows for drivers and to some degree bus riders, bicycling is in his view “easy, free, clear, and very consistent. The best no-hassle commute.” Which brings us to the video above – transportation reporter Mike Lindblom from the Seattle Times (WSB partner) used a helmet cam to create a time-lapse video of his commute from West Seattle via bicycle yesterday, including a stop at the Cascade Bicycle Club/WSDOT station by the “low bridge” (we noted a cameo by Alki Bike and Board’s Stu Hennessey). In the second half of the clip, Mike slows it back down to real-time pace for a narrated tour past the Viaduct demolition. P.S. Cascade says it’ll have a station by the bridge on Monday too, 6:45-9 am, just to keep people motivated to keep commuting by bike.

16 Comments

  1. Is Mike a Hummingbird?

    Comment by jns — 11:09 am October 27, 2011 #

  2. Use caution when watching this. I got a little seasick from the camera motion. Funny but I don’t get seasick biking the same route.

    Comment by losarayas — 11:47 am October 27, 2011 #

  3. Have a look at this video from over a week ago.
    http://tinyurl.com/3pmbxu4
    It was taken by a West Seattle cyclist on the commute to downtown. It shows the lack of thought and coordination put into these hastily created detours during construction, and the lack of law enforcement that accompanies it.

    Fortunately as a result (and only as a result) of this video’s circulation, WSDOT made the needed changes to create turn lanes for the trucks to prevent this from happening again.

    Where are the rest of the death traps on this commute?

    Comment by Harper — 11:55 am October 27, 2011 #

  4. I understand why it’s time lapse – but it would be great to get a better understanding of where you cross from the east side to the west side of the street in the commute in. I have been commuting only to the water taxi more recently since the path issue seems so confusing.

    Comment by raincity — 12:24 pm October 27, 2011 #

  5. Would he be able to provide a map of the route he takes?

    Comment by Michelle — 12:48 pm October 27, 2011 #

  6. Raincity – I couldn’t agree more. I imagine this guy knows somebody with some video editing skills. If he could slow it down in key spots and describe what he is doing (kind of like he did on the loopback under the bridge, but he just wound up speeding through that, too), then it would be a great tool for novice bike commuters.

    Comment by Andy — 12:49 pm October 27, 2011 #

  7. Neat! Thanks for sharing.

    Comment by austin — 1:02 pm October 27, 2011 #

  8. Michelle, it is the same route that google maps will give you if you want directions from west seattle to downtown and set it to bicycle.

    Comment by andrea — 1:07 pm October 27, 2011 #

  9. At minute 1:05!!! Thank you for mentioning that. Just this morning I was east bound on top of the bridge and saw a biker in the middle of the east bound lane going against the light to cross the street at the intersection that you warned us about. I AGREE!…thank you!. This biker has cars slowing behind her and was stepping her bike forward hoping for an opening to get across the rest of the intersection. Remember, she’s in the east bound lane and it’s black outside. I thought the biker was a newbie and absolutely clueless on the safer way to get to the other side of the street. Any how….I caught her at a light and thought I’d be kind to inform her of the safe way to cross the street, by going around and under the bridge…again …30 seconds of your time. She stated she knew about the cut back, but said, “I won’t do it”. Yup…”I won’t do it”. How lazy to not go an extra 30 seconds/250 feet and be safe.

    Comment by Cowpie — 1:12 pm October 27, 2011 #

  10. Here’s a link of a similar ride but this one is to pac place.
    http://www.mapmyride.com/routes/view/2964383

    Comment by wsea — 1:14 pm October 27, 2011 #

  11. I’m not a cyclist, but I wished more cyclists would wear a helmet cam and put their videos of aggressive drivers online. A little public humiliation and perhaps evidence in a courtroom would be a good thing.

    Comment by NFiorentini — 1:16 pm October 27, 2011 #

  12. I have been biking to work along this route every weekday for the past 10+ years, rain or shine. I guess I’m one of the “macho” guys that goes straight at the bottom of the bridge. I know it’s a tricky spot, transitioning from separated bike path to street with traffic coming from behind and sometimes turning right across my path, but because of this, I do not make this move cavalierly — I always check my back and never cross against the light (unlike the runner that was critically injured there a couple days ago, who apparently crossed against the light).
    .
    That being said, going straight at this intersection puts me in a much better position for the remainder of my commute along Spokane and then north along Marginal. If you know the route or watch the video closely, after the rider loops around under the bridge, he then has to cross two separate lanes of heavy morning truck traffic at uncontrolled crosswalks. Later, he rides the sidewalk north on the west side of Marginal, but then crosses over to the on-street bike lane, across BOTH directions of traffic where there are no traffic controls, then later back again across both lanes of traffic at an uncontrolled crosswalk, and finally through the signaled intersection at the very busy truck entrance to Terminal 46 (which, by the way, rarely has a policeman directing traffic as depicted in the video).
    .
    My decision to go straight at the bottom of the ramp cuts the number of uncontrolled traffic crossings from 5 to 2, as I am always on the right side of the street moving with traffic. It is these uncontrolled intersections that present the greatest safety issues. I would only recommend my route, though, to the seasoned cyclist who is comfortable interacting with motor vehicle traffic on the street.
    .
    My point is not to debate which route is the best (that is best left up to the person doing the riding), but to illustrate that the primary bike commuter route from West Seattle to Downtown is incredibly piecemeal and inherently unsafe. It is desperately in need of a comprehensive overhaul from Admiral Way to Downtown — not one that *reduces* these trouble spots, but one that *eliminates* them altogether.

    Comment by bike2work — 6:04 pm October 27, 2011 #

  13. Curious as to the actual “clock time” – how long did the 8 mile commute take?

    My guess would be something like 35-40 minutes – which is less than many/most people take that stay in shape by working out at a gym – and less than many people took pre-ViaDoom to get to work.

    My experience as a fair weather commuter from West Seattle to Renton Boeing is about 17 miles and a hair over an hour – at 5am. And I feel great when I arrive.

    Comment by Eddie — 6:52 pm October 27, 2011 #

  14. B2W agreed on your assessment of the east end of the bridge. I think the video poster was trying to reinforce the don’t make a left there though. I see a number of cyclists do that every morning on my ride in. It just doesn’t help us when folks cut across traffic like that

    Comment by Dawson — 8:03 pm October 27, 2011 #

  15. Seasick yes! Better to mount the camera on your handlebars. Then it’s not constantly twitching and you can use it as a tripod. Here’s a short film I made awhile back using this method with a very basic camera.

    Be sure to turn sound on.

    http://tubulocity.com/?p=68

    Comment by Eric in West Seattle — 9:38 pm October 27, 2011 #

  16. Bike2Work,

    I agree with what you say, but with a few comments. I’ve been riding to work since 1988. The 2 crosswalk crossings you speak of are both heavily marked with Pedestrian and Bike signs on both sides. I find the drivers always stop when I’m at them. I’ve gone straight like you a few times, but found the morning sun in my eyes and hard to see. If I have problems seeing then so do the texting/calling cell phone people coming up behind me at 45 mph. It doesn’t feel safe to me, so I stick to the loop under the bridge….that’s just me.

    You don’t need to cross Marginal Way South like in the video. Seattle law does allow you to ride on the sidewalk if you feel unsafe in the road. You can stay on the west side sidewalk all the way into town.

    Comment by Cowpie — 8:23 am October 28, 2011 #

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