Cyclist Rant

Home Forums West Seattle Rants & Raves Cyclist Rant

Viewing 17 posts - 1 through 17 (of 17 total)
  • Author
    Posts
  • #908063

    westseattle7
    Participant

    Seeing as this is Seattle, and complaining about bicycles is a time-honored tradition among motorists, I thought maybe I could offer a cyclist’s perspective.

    I live near Alki. I work downtown. My bicycle is my primary mode of transportation, exercise and recreation. I do not own a vehicle. In fact, I moved to this part of town in part because I wanted to integrate cycling into my commute. Like most cyclists in this neighborhood, I use the Alki Trail, which keeps me away from cars who don’t want to share the road with cyclists anyways. So far so good, right?

    Well, apparently not. Just yesterday I passed a jogger on the trail (which is fine, it’s mixed use), who snidely remarked “why don’t you slow down?!” to me as rode by. I was so taken aback by this absurd comment that I actually circled back to talk to the guy. He apparently saw me coming back, and quickly high-tailed it across the street (in true Seattle, passive-aggressive fashion). I wasn’t planning on intimidating him, I honestly wanted to answer his question face to face, because this is a constant annoyance for me.

    Yes, I do need to go fast. I have a tight commuting schedule and when I bike for exercise I also need to ride fast. Usually I cruise about 15 mph, sometimes up to 20 while on the trail, but rarely faster than that because there are just too many people not paying attention. What’s more, this is my right as a cyclist. Car drivers are constantly complaining that bike riders are still on the street ignoring the nice new cycle tracks and bike lanes. Well here I am. A genuine cyclist using a bicycle path for biking. Who woulda thunk?

    So let me go ahead and shout this out loud: That trail is a ROAD for cyclists. We have no other route to go from Alki. That is it. So for those of us who truly commute (or just choose to recreationally bike), we need to go fast on that trail. Yes, it is a “mixed use” trail, but its primary and original function of that path was as a dedicated lane for bicycles (there are walking paths on the side). To tell a cyclist to slow down on a bicycling path is like jogging in the middle of the street and yelling at the cars to go slower. If you jog in the bike path, you’re going to have bike zipping by you at 10-20 mph. That’s. What. It’s. For.

    Now, since everyone likes to complain about cyclists breaking traffic laws, sliding past cars, blowing stop signs, etc., let me share with you the things I see on a daily basis on that trail: people walking in the bike trail, sometimes spread out over the ENTIRE path, moms with three strollers wide blocking most of the path, people walking dogs, letting the dog’s leash extend all the way over the trail (a dangerously common sight), families spread out over the trail letting small children run all over it, people jogging / walking / rollerskating on the wrong side of the path, creating bottlenecks, people walking in the middle of the path, rollerskating moms with two strollers and a dog taking up the entire path, giant groups of tourists hogging the whole trail, etc. etc. etc.

    I mean I could go on forever. Mostly these people are 1) not paying any attention to their surroundings, 2) have headphones or earbuds in, 3) have no concept that they are on a bike route and need to yield space for cyclists to pass. Meanwhile, I am expected to shout “on your left” or ring a bike bell to everyone else on the path (whether they should be there or not), even if make no effort to ever look behind them. I’ve had to dodge dog s***, broken glass, needles and unsupervised toddlers left to wander unattended on the trail. On more than one occasion I’ve had small children run straight in front of my moving bike and nearly crashed trying to avoid them. Would you let your kids just run out into the middle of the street? What would people say about parents who were that neglectful?

    But whatever, I mostly don’t complain because what’s the point? Who to even complain to? It’s just one of those things you shrug and sigh at, but move on. All I can do is keep cycling.

    And this is what I want to say to that jogger (and to anyone else who thinks bikes go “too fast” on the Alki Trail): I am not slowing down and I’m not taking guff from people like you who think the trail belongs to them alone. There is no speed limit on Seattle bike trails, and nor should there be. Cyclists have the right to commute and recreate at velocity. It’s called a bike trail for a reason. Learn the etiquette, stay on the right, pay attention, and you will be fine. But you’re going to have fast bicycles zipping by you if you run in the bleeping BIKE TRAIL. This is the only piece of pavement we have in this cyclo-phobic city that is completely at level grade and on the water, and it is the only bicycle connection from Alki to downtown.

    So if you want bikes off the road, then they need to be on bike trails. And they need to go fast for trips to be efficient. We’re not going anywhere. We’re not slowing down for you. Get used to it.

    RANT OVER. Thanks for reading!

    #908115

    mark47n
    Participant

    As a cyclist who battles for space on the local roads I would say that 20mph on the bike path may be a trifle excessive. Hell, cruising among the peds at 15mph feels dodgy. If I’m cruising around Alki at those speeds I’m on the road. I feel this is not just for the safety of other, it’s for my safety. I know, I know, I’m selfish, the problem I continually run into (get it?) is that if I slam into a pedestrian or a stroller is that I’ll not only be liable, in spite of the clearly marked demarcations and physical divisions between bike path and pedestrian path, is I’ll get hurt. I cope with that by diving into the road way and taking my chances there. In my experience drivers are predictable. That mom walking her stroller and lab while jabbering on her phone via earbuds and slurping down some Starbucks has no awareness that I’m coming up on her in spite of my bellowing “ON YOUR RIGHT!!!” at the top of my lungs. When she veers suddenly or her dog bolts or the child leaps out of the stroller to make a break for it I’m sucking pavement and I’ll be liable.

    There are places where the bike path is the way but around Alki? Probably not.

    #908116

    TSurly
    Participant

    As someone who rides everyday, I think you are severely misinformed. The Alki Trail is a multi-use trail, not a bike trail. As such, you are required to yield to pedestrians, even if what they do pisses you off. It is not a place for hard charging. If you want to ride 20 mph, ride in the street with the rest of us. Your rant is nothing but an entitled whine that makes cyclisst sounds like jerks.

    #908129

    AJP
    Participant

    Oh my gosh, 20 mph on the Alki trail? I never go more than 7, if that. If I need to go that fast I’m on the road. I agree that drivers are jerks and want us off the road, but pedestrians always have the right of way. We must always slow for them. Having grown up in So Cal, I think of Alki as the closest thing we have to a boardwalk. Boardwalks are for cruising. Having cycled a lot in the Netherlands, I know what a dedicated bike path looks like, and Alki is not it. You can find some protected bike lanes in other parts of Seattle (not in West Seattle , grr) that are obviously bike lanes. Mixed use means mixed use. Also, the Myrtle Edwards trail is also flat and along the water. It’s also mixed use.

    #908185

    westseattle7
    Participant

    Mixed use means mixed use, but there are clearly marked, separated paths for pedestrian and wheel based traffic. Mixed use doesn’t mean anything goes. And you’re right, Myrtle-Edwards is level and on the water, but that example proves my point exactly. On the waterfront trail, bikes and pedestrians are siphoned onto separate paths (like on Alki but with better median separation). During rush hour that trail is a major commuter route for bicycles who routinely cruise at 15-20 mph (I used to pedal this route daily and people would pass me going at that speed). No one bats an eye at fast cycling on the centennial trail, even though it meets all your requiremnents for a “boardwalk.” But “boardwalk” is not a legal concept, except in the minds of some. These are crucial bicycle highway routes with separated paths and bike bicycle symbols painted on the pavement. Yes others can use the bike path too, but then there should be a reasonable expectation if you do so bikes will be whipping by (and signaling and yielding appropriately). It’s not for some to declare this trail is for “cruising” because that’s what they use it for. I use it for commuting. I shouldn’t be forced off a marked bike trail because some are uncomfortable with the path being used as legally intended. I’m not trying to be an a-hole here, just trying to live my life safely and exercise my legal ability to pedal at speed on a marked bike path I’ve been cycling on since I was a kid.

    #908194

    mark47n
    Participant

    No one is forcing you off of a marked trail. It’s being politely suggested, by other cyclists, that you not go flying down the paths around Alki at 15-20mph if there’s a mob of pedestrian traffic. In spite of the separation and markings you’ll be screwed if you plow into someone. I’ve gone flying through Myrtle Edwards, the Centennial, Burke-Gilman, etc at high speed without incident but the trail along Alki gets crowded. Your tight commuting schedule may just have to get less tight. You sound like the drivers around here how get furious about crossing the bridge.

    #908210

    KBear
    Participant

    There may not be a specific speed limit on the trail, but the law DOES require you to “operate at a rate of speed no greater than is reasonable and proper under the conditions existing at the point of operation, taking into account the amount and character of pedestrian traffic”. That means the more pedestrians there are, the slower you MUST go.

    #908212

    newnative
    Participant

    As someone who mostly walks, I completely agree with westseattle7’s rant. the actual speed isn’t really the issue here. It’s the lack of awareness people have for multi-use paths and sharing etiquette. Heck, I have gotten yelled at for jogging past walkers. I have gotten stink-eye from people standing in the middle of the running track because I had the nerve to use it for running! People want to walk wherever and stand in the way and not keep track of their dogs, kids, shopping carts or whatever it is they’re dragging around. There is nothing wrong with walking, riding, running at different speeds but slow traffic should always keep to the right and always be aware of your surroundings. Why do people get so defensive about this?

    #908214

    mark47n
    Participant

    I don’t agree, newnative. The OP claims that the bike path is a road for bicycles and is complaining because he wants to travel on it at 20mph. To compare being grumped at for running on the path to complaining because you can’t travel at 20mph because there are pedestrians is rather unreasonable.

    Yes, people are going to complain and pedestrians tend to congregate on the paths in inopportune and inconvenient locations, especially around the beach but, guess what, no cop is going to ticket a pedestrian for standing on the sidewalk, or what amounts to a sidewalk. What it comes down to is that it’s just not safe to count on being able to cruise at 20mph on that particular path. It’s not safe for the cyclist or for the pedestrian. As a fairly responsible cyclist when I want to travel that fast I default to the road unless I’m traveling on more removed trails such as the aforementioned trails. Many of them, in fact, have speed limits in stretches that run through heavily populated regions due to those pesky ped/cyclist collisions.

    So, I find the rant to be entirely unreasonable. Speed is always an issue due to conservation of momentum and to say otherwise is disingenuous.

    #908223

    melissa
    Participant

    In the spots where there are two paths, pedestrians and dog walkers and so forth should stay off the bike path and cyclists should be able to zoom along. If that’s what the op is talking about, I certainly agree. However, on the part of the path that we all share, cyclists should go slower out of respect for walkers and in the interest of safety (unexpected actions by kids, dogs, and — yes — the occasional adult). And cyclists should use shared path etiquette like announcing themselves. If they want to zoom in that section, then they should use the road. Also, I believe it’s the law that on shared paths cyclists should go no faster than either 12 or 15 mph.

    #908167

    westseattle7
    Participant

    Let me clarify: I do always yield to pedestrians on the trail, and I have never collided with anyone. I also will sometimes hop onto the street to avoid the worst bottlenecks (at duwamish head for example). I only hit 20 going on the longer straightaways where ped traffic tends to be nil (east side of trail), and when there is heavy summer tourist traffic I do cruise slower.

    That being said, the attitudes expressed here are exactly the ones I’m fighting against. To TSurly, yes I am an entitled cyclist, as in I am ENTITLED to use designated trails on a bicycle, by the law. Go ahead and check out the Seattle Municipal Code. There is no speed limit for bicycles on city trails. SDOT has the Alki Trail in bold green on their bicycle map (indicating a major BIKE route). I’m not going to be shamed or called a “jerk” for exercising my legal right to ride by bike on a bike trail.

    Yes, it’s mixed use also. No one disputes this. Like with the waterfront trail downtown, there are clear delineations between where cyclists and pedestrians should be. In fact, the downtown trail completely separates the two by wide park space. Everyone rides fast on that trail. People commute on it. Speeds up to 20 mph are common. No one is going to question a cyclist’s right to commute through the downtown park at speed, because it’s a vital route folks need to use.

    Some people see the Alki Trail as a boardwalk. That’s fine if you do, but know that it is B.S., and a concept that exists in your mind, not legally. For me, that trail is a vital commuting corridor, no different from the Burke, the Interurban, or any other mixed use trail in Seattle. These are highways for cyclists, and my commute is long indeed, so I have a need to travel at speed.

    I know many cyclists on Alki prefer to take the road. Good for you. I am not one of you. I don’t feel especially safe on Seattle streets mixing with multi-ton vehicles, and for that reason take trails whenever possible. Alki Ave SW has other hazards, like people racing in the street, and traffic becomes abysmal in the summer with everyone looking for parking and cruising around.

    So it’s not for me. I choose to take the trail instead. That’s my right to do so, and no one is going to shame me out of it because the bourgeoisie have decided in their mind that trail is for strollers and tourists.

    I’ve been riding my bike on that trail since I was a kid. I’m not going to start risking my life on the road because some folks feel they get to decide arbitrarily what the best usages are. Oh, and BTW when I ride on the road, I get constant shit from drivers who are pissed I’m not on the nearby trail. You can’t win as a cyclist in this city. People will criticize you no matter where you ride. So I’m sticking to the trails.

    #908166

    westseattle7
    Participant

    Let me clarify: I do always yield to pedestrians on the Alki trail, and I have never collided with anyone. I also will sometimes hop onto the street to avoid the worst bottlenecks (at duwamish head for example). I only hit 20 going on the longer straightaways where ped traffic tends to be nil, and when there is heavy summer tourist traffic I do cruise slower out of a sense of safety.

    That being said, the attitudes expressed here are exactly the ones I’m fighting against. To TSurly, yes I am an entitled cyclist, as in I am ENTITLED to use designated trails on a bicycle, by the law. Go ahead and check out the Seattle Municipal Code. There is no speed limit for bicycles on city trails. SDOT has the Alki Trail in bold green on their bicycle map (indicating a major BIKE route). I’m not going to be shamed or called a “jerk” for exercising my legal right to ride by bike on a bike trail.

    Yes, it’s mixed use also. No one disputes this. Like with the waterfront trail downtown, there are clear delineations between where cyclists and pedestrians should be. In fact, the downtown trail completely separates the two by wide park space. Everyone rides fast on that trail. People commute on it. Speeds up to 20 mph are common. No one is going to question a cyclist’s right to commute through the downtown park at speed, because it’s a vital route folks need to use.

    Some people see the Alki Trail as a boardwalk. That’s fine if you do, but know that it is B.S., and a concept that exists in your mind, not legally. For me, that trail is a vital commuting corridor, no different from the Burke, the Interurban, or any other mixed use trail in Seattle. These are highways for cyclists, and my commute is long indeed, so I have a need to travel at speed.

    I know many cyclists on Alki prefer to take the road. Good for you. I am not one of you. I don’t feel especially safe on Seattle streets mixing with multi-ton vehicles, and for that reason take trails whenever possible. Alki Ave SW has other hazards, like people racing in the street, and traffic becomes abysmal in the summer with everyone looking for parking and cruising around.

    So it’s not for me. I choose to take the trail instead. That’s my right to do so, and no one is going to shame me out of it because the bourgeoisie have decided in their mind that trail is for strollers and tourists. I’ve been riding my bike on that trail since I was a kid. I’m not going to start risking my life on the road because some folks feel they get to decide arbitrarily what the best usages are.

    Oh, and BTW when I ride on the road, I get constant shit from drivers who are pissed I’m not on the nearby trail. You can’t win as a cyclist in this city. People will criticize you no matter where you ride. I’m sticking to the bike trails, whether the car-centric transplants who move here like it or not.

    #908253

    mark47n
    Participant

    There doesn’t have to be a posted speed limit to be considered reckless.

    I think you are acting entitled in the negative sense.

    You are hung up on the “legal sense” It all goes out the window when you act like it’s your path and other users are in your way.

    I don’t care if you’ve been riding on it since you were a kid in short pants or since last week. It’s. Not. Your. Path.

    This trail is only marginally similar to the Burke-Gilman and not similar at all to the Interurban.

    I think I’ll stick with being the cyclist who occasionally blows a stop sign rather than the guy who rants because there are walkers on the multiuser path.

    #908259

    TSurly
    Participant

    Mark nailed it. Your entitlement to ride on the trail as you see fit ends where the safety and wellbeing of pedestrians begins.

    There is an inherent risk with cycling in a urban environment. If you think riding on Harbor Ave and Alki Ave bad, how do you handle riding downtown or elsewhere? If you feel unsafe riding in the street, use your legal right to take the lane. Thats what I do on around Alki to avoid being doored by people exiting there vehicles and to control the traffic behind me. If that isn’t a viable solution for you, then perhaps you need to reevaluate your choice of having a bike as your primary source of transportation.

    Blaming dogs, kids and women with strollers is weak.

    #908402

    JanS
    Participant

    wow,Westseattle 7…” bourgeoisie” ? HAHAHAHA….privilege, much?

    https://www.traillink.com/trail/alki-trail/

    notice this part:
    “Trail activities: Bike, Inline Skating, Wheelchair Accessible, Walking” Whatever privilege you, as a cyclist, think you have, you don’t.

    I don’t need a response. I’m disabled, can’t ride for damned sure, and no longer walk it. I’ll be staying out of your privileged way.

    #908518

    jm18
    Participant

    Westseattle7, wow. You mentioned you circled back to only talk to the person, not intimidate them. After listening to your rants and your tone, I certainly don’t believe you. You are coming across as entitled and angry, for petes sake, get a car!

    #913423

    Michael B
    Participant

    Late to this thread, I know. Every time I use the path, I’m amazed how few people understand the basics of “multi-use.” Five-across walkers, center-of-path pedestrians with earbuds who can’t walk/run a straight line, riders of the four-person canopied bikes (bonus points for riding those two-abreast and going slower than a fast walking pace), and cyclists going 15mph or more who can’t bother with “on your left.” I run within 24 inches of the right edge and at least weekly get brushed by a cyclist passing without warning. A little courtesy and common sense can go a long, long way.

Viewing 17 posts - 1 through 17 (of 17 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.
WP-Backgrounds by InoPlugs Web Design and Juwelier Schönmann