Monday, September 17, 2007

Who is Subsidizing Who Here?

The last couple weeks in the Spokesman Review there have been a few letters to the editor going back and forth about cycling and how the roads are for car drivers. I can't remember if the typical (and completely wrong) argument of "car drivers pay the taxes to drive on the roads and cyclists should not be there" was used or not. It doesn't really matter. I've heard this a bunch of times; I know it's false, but I don't have the specific data to retort it.

Luckily, a guy named David Neiwert does have the data and the time and the eloquence to answer this oft-cited bit of misinformation. Take a look at this beauty at the Seattle PI Opinions page (note: this is a site that does not require you to sign in, which is the way it should be).

The bottom line: cyclists (especially those that own cars) heavily subsidize car drivers.

Mr. Neiwert cites a report, "Whose Roads?" by cycling/transportation advocate Todd Litman.


David Blaine said...

I assume when someone puts forward the energy to argue against other people choosing not to put another car on the overcrowded streets they have either not thought the whole thing through or there are other issues in that person's life that have nothing to do with transportation. It is like railing against your neighbors recycling because you don't like the sound of the recycling truck. Those people are so pathetic it isn't worth engaging them in discourse.

Jason Gilman said...

John, I forgot to mention yesterday at the p2p garage that half the Sherman part of the Southeast Blvd resurfacing project was done when I was riding home yesterday. They embedded some kind of permanent plasticy lines for the bike and parking lanes directly into the pavement. That was cool, but as I eyeballed the street it sure looked like the two lanes for cars up the middle of the street were going to be pretty tight and the parking and bike lanes were somewhat wider than they needed to be.

Jason Gilman said...

Okay, good news. After work I rode home on Sherman again and the east side is strictly bike lane only with no parking. Nice to know there won't be any danger of getting doored for bikes descending down the hill

John Speare said...

Yeah, my buddy Joe, who lives on SE gave me a call today and told me they were striping.
The semi-permanent striping is called durable striping, and has an average lifespan of about 3-5 years -- compared to paint, whcih is at most, 2 years around here.
As for lane widths: total lane width is 14 feet -- and 5-6 ft go to bike lanes. So yeah. Your looking at about 9 feet for car traffic. (thanks to City Engineer, Bob Turner, for schooling me on these facts).
There is a compromise on the lanes/parking. Althought this route is specified as a bike lane on the comp plan, a few residents in the area (22 out of 140 or so houses) complained about taking the parking off the street. So sections of SE where there is room for both parking and bike lanes get both. So, you still can get doored on certain sections. Feel free to take the lane when you feel unsafe around doors. Lane or not. That's the law.
Which brings me back to the original thread here: why do I, as a tax payer have to subsidize parking too? If you buy a car, part of the cost of owning a car is storing/parking it. Parking on the street is not an entitlement. errg.

Ken Paulman said...

Some of the houses don't have any side street/alley access. The city actually paid to build three driveways for houses that would have been cut off.

It's subsidizing parking, sure. But on the other hand, taking the street parking away from these homeowners would generate a lot of anti-bike-lane animosity.