Monday, February 18, 2013

Bicycling for the non-political

I am a faithful, if not very active, member of the Cascade Bicycle Club and an enthusiastic reader of Tom Fucoloro's excellent Seattle Bike Blog, both of which keep me informed on the state of bike-related legal developments, funding, news, and controversies. I cheer when bicycle activists succeed in forcing a rethinking of access to the Northgate Light Rail Station; I howl in frustration when another roadblock is thrown in front of the long-delayed Burke-Gilman Missing Link. I've even spoken at a public hearing when my own city of Lake Forest Park tried to impose draconian limitations on the portion of the Burke-Gilman trail running through it.

But at heart I'm not a political being.

I just want a nice place to ride my bike in safety. I don't want to fight about it.

And that, by and large, is what I do. When my commute was bicycle-friendly, I biked. Now that it isn't, I don't. It would be really great if there were a decent route physically separated from auto traffic between Lake Union and the International District, because then I would bike again, but there isn't. I can't bring myself to expend much effort in trying to change things, so I just accept reality and adjust.

Does this make me an irresponsible biker?

Actually, I think it makes me a typical biker. I have a full life; if I were to devote the time it would take to make a difference in our local political arena to support biking improvements, I would have to stop doing some other equally valuable activity. Modesty prevents me from listing the things I do devote time and energy to, but suffice it to say that my conscience is clear on this point.

As in most socially beneficial activities, it is the few that do most of the work on behalf of the many. So let me take a moment to acknowledge the hard-working folks who are making a real difference in Seattle's bicycling community.

Thank you.

For every one of you making yourself heard at public hearings and badgering our local politicians, there are hundreds or even thousands of us who benefit. And despite the occasional setback, we're on quite a winning streak right now in Seattle. It seems every time I venture into a neighborhood I haven't been in for a while I notice a new bicycle-related improvement. More trails and bicycle lanes in Mountlake Terrace, sharrows in Maple Leaf. It's amazing, really, how it has taken off in the last few years. It's no fluke that Seattle consistently ranks near the top in lists of bicycle-friendly cities, and we're still improving.

Hopefully someday we'll even have a decent route through downtown. It may come too late for me, but I will still rejoice when it does come. I, and thousands of other non-political riders who you won't see at any city council meeting or in the hallowed halls of Olympia.

Once again, thank you.