On Friday the 16th of May 2014, Seattle and many other cities celebrated Bike to Work Day. Bike to Work Day is part of May which is Bike Month. Seattle had good weather and expected to set the record for their Bike to Work Day with over 20,000 participants. That is an impressive number. I rode the 25 mile round trip to work. I stopped on the way for some free swag and cookies. The event is meant to encourage new bike commuters. Bike commute rates have exploded in recent years as gas prices have increased and with the weak economy. Things are looking up for cycling in Seattle, however that does not mean that are not still some detractors.
One of the first things I found after my commute was a story on the local news network King 5. The image they posted on Facebook had a talking about Bike to Work Day and how to avoid the traffic caused by this event. What? They never did explain how removing thousands cars from the road would make traffic worse.
I admit that not all of King 5’s coverage was negative. Their coverage was actually pretty positive, even if it was a little strange. Here is a screen cap from a bizarre field report where King 5 and a bike shop decided it would be a good idea to set up in the middle of a bike lane.
The most interesting of King 5 pieces covering bike week was this guy riding and reporting from the back of a tandem. Frankly the video made me a little uneasy. However it did attempt to show what the experience is like from the cyclist’s perspective.
I admit that I was angry, though upon further reflection, the coverage was awkward, but overall it was actually pretty positive. So why was I so angry. It was the response to the first story on Facebook. The mention of congestion really brought out the anti-cycling trolls. We have all heard their knuckle dragging rants before.
- They should licence bikes. If they are going to use the roads, then they should pay.
- The roads were built for cars not for bikes.
- They don’t follow the rules of the road. If they want to be treated like a car, they should act like one.
- They are going so slow and make me so angry, they make good targets.
Yes, I know. This stupid attitude makes me so angry. I could not help myself. I spent far too much time Friday evening feeding the trolls. It did not help. Explaining that they are wrong and how they are wrong has no effect on the internet troll. I wasted my time.
So I wonder how to make the cycling non-believers see the light. Cyclists typically account for 3-4% of Seattle’s commute volume. That does not sound like much, but those small numbers have a big effect on Seattle’s already strained transportation system. Perhaps Seattle’s Ride Your Bike to Work Day should be followed by Drive your Car to Work Day. Lets see how much people people hate cyclists when they are stuck in even more gridlock. I suspect the impact will be a lot bigger than expected.