Are you tired of dealing with a complete an utter lack of convenient, inexpensive parking in Seattle? Are you sick of rising gas costs? Do you want to do something that’s good for the environment while improving your own health? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you should consider ditching your car and taking your bicycle the next time you need to go out.
Seattle may not have a reputation for being car friendly, but it sure is bicycle friendly. According to the Seattle Department of
Transportation, approximately 36 percent of Seattle 520,000 citizens ride a bike for recreational purposes; between 4,000 and 8,000 people use their bicycle for transportation on any given day. Seattle’s Urban Trail system provides bicyclists with miles of safe paths, wide shoulders, and bike lanes.
Seattle buses are equipped with bicycle racks that can hold two bikes. This is great for bicyclists who have a long commute and want to ride their bike for part of the commute and ride the bus for another part. It’s also convenient for bicyclists ride to work under great weather conditions but decide to take the bus home when the weather turns foul. Occasionally, both spaces in the bike rack are filled, and bicyclists need to wait for the next bus in order to transport their bike; however, this is fairly rare. Seattle also has several bicycle racks throughout the city, providing bicyclists with a reasonably safe place to store their bikes. Some rack locations also have lockers where bicyclists can store helmets and other equipment. If you would like a new rack installed, you can make a request with Seattle’s Bike Spot Program.
Although bicycling is a great option, riders should be aware that there are certain risks. According to the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute, in the United States more than 600 bicyclists die and 540,000 bicyclists visit the emergency room every year. Two-thirds of the deaths are the result of brain injury; many of these deaths could have been prevented by wearing a helmet.
In Seattle, the weather and the terrain can make bicycling more difficult. Seattle has a lot of steep hills. Going up hill can be
exhausting, and bicyclists going down hill could lose control of their bike. Seattle is also known for its rainy days. Heavy rain can reduce visibility for both bicyclists and nearby drivers; even light rain can make the roads more slippery.
In order be as safe as possible, bicyclists need to ride with the flow of traffic and stay as far to the right as possible. Bicyclists should avoid riding in a car’s blind spot. Bicyclists should also avoid riding on roads where there simply is not enough room or where traffic is especially fast and accidents are common. At intersections, bicyclists should be very cautious and obey the standard traffic laws. According to the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute, in 2003, 35 percent of bicyclist deaths on roadways occurred at intersections.
Bicyclists should also avoid riding when visibility is poor or roads are slippery due to rainy weather. Even if the bicyclist is able to maintain control, other drivers may not be so capable. And, of course, bicyclists should always wear a helmet.
Although it is important to be safe, bicyclists should not feel that they are taking any extraordinary risks. Yes, bicyclists can be injured, but so can people riding in cars. In fact, according to the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute, only 1one percent of the people who die in motor vehicle-related deaths are bicyclists. So enjoy your bike ride!