Seattle Receives Mixed Reviews as a Bike City

Bicycling to work has economic advantages
Updated: Wed, 05/15/2019 - 14:52
 
 
  • Bicycling to work has economic advantages

Two new reports offer conflicting views of Seattle's status as a bicycle-friendly city.

A study by Berlin-based insurance company Coya ranked 90 major cities across the world for their bicycling cultures, based on accidents, theft, infrastructure and road quality. Seattle placed a lofty No. 49.

Another study by People for Bikes ranked Seattle No. 68 in the country based on five categories, including ridership, safety, access to bike lanes and a commitment to bicycling.

May is National Bike Month.

A League of American Bicyclists study touts the economic benefits of investing in bicycling infrastructure, saying that bicycling “breathes life” into cities. The report notes that bicyclists purchase bikes and gear, make repeat trips to local stores, save their employers money on health insurance costs and allow developers and cities to save money on parking infrastructure.

Despite its average rankings – the city received an especially dismal score for “acceleration” of its bicycling culture by People for Bikes – the city has undertaken several steps to encourage bicycling.

Commute Seattle, a public-private partnership funded by the Downtown Seattle Association and the Downtown Transportation Alliance, has for a decade encouraged alternative forms of commuting, including bicycling. Among other things, the organization works with companies and downtown property managers to install bicycle amenities such as showers, lockers and bike parking.

The city recently passed a Commuter Benefits Ordinance, which requires businesses with 20 or more employees to offer workers the opportunity to make a monthly pre-tax payroll deduction for transit or carpool expenses and encourages commuters to use transit options, including bicycles, rather than cars.

Seattle voters in 2015 also approved a nine-year, $930 million Levy to Move Seattle that provides funding for bike lanes and other travel options, but, as the Seattle Times reported last year, “the Seattle Department of Transportation says it might be able to afford only half the 50 miles of bike lanes promised” in the levy because of unanticipated costs.

The Coya study ranked Utrecht, Netherlands, as the top bicycling city in the world. The top U.S. city was San Francisco.

People for Bikes ranked Boulder and Fort Collins, Colorado, as the best bicycling cities in America. Portland, Oregon, ranked No. 8.

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