Seattle mayor, Jenny Durkan, canceled plans for a protected bike lane in Seattle last week. The bike lane was a done deal, the contractor had already started work. It had been passed unanimously by the city council and approved by voters. But she bowed to pressure by a vocal group of home owners worried about car parking. Seattle Neighborhood Greenways put together an email campaign in protest, and one of their questions was “How would a safe, comfortable network of bike routes be meaningful for you?” Here’s my answer:
I ride all the time with my three-year-old daughter. We’ve been doing it since she was two, she sits in a seat mounted to my handlebars, and has so much fun, I couldn’t begin to describe to you how much she enjoys it. She’s growing out of that seat now and will need to move to a bigger one on the back. I also ride my bike into work every day.
I commute by bike, and ride with my wife and daughter, for some reasons that I feel are very important. First; I want to show my daughter the benefits of an active life. I don’t want her to spend all day sitting down and growing unhealthy. I also want to show her that you can’t let fear get in the way of doing the right thing. Second; I believe (and the science is overwhelmingly behind this) that climate change is the greatest threat faced by humanity for quite some time. I want to do everything in my power to make the future more survivable for my daughter. In years to come I don’t want to tell her the reason she is suffering is because I found it more convenient to drive.
So, I’m not going to stop riding, and I’m going to keep riding with my daughter, even as she grows and starts to ride a bike herself. That doesn’t mean I’m not worried about getting hit and killed by a driver. I’m terrified. I’m extremely terrified when I have my daughter on the bike.
A safe and comfortable network of bike routes is meaningful for me because I can continue coming home to my family each day. I can keep riding with my daughter and showing her the benefits of staying active and being healthy. And, as safety is the number one reason cited by people afraid to ride a bike, it means meaningful action on climate change, which is creating a better world for everyone. I challenge you to spend an hour sitting beside the Burke Gilman trail, and an arterial road like 15th Ave NW, and really think about whether cars or bikes are a better path forward.
If you live in Seattle, please send in your email too.