Bicyclists are a small fraction of Seattle commuters, but they’re a visible and vocal presence in the local discourse.
Seattle loves to talk bikes.
And more often than not, all that talking seems to become citywide debate.
Most recently, the city’s recent decision to purchase Pronto brought piles of advocates to City Hall — and, as of 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, about 500 comments to The Seattle Times’ story about it.
About a year ago, Times columnist Jonathan Martin wrote that despite former Mayor Mike McGinn’s reputation (remember the nickname “McSchwinn”?), Murray is “the real bike mayor of Seattle.” Murray’s bike-lane-building transportation pitch, Move Seattle, was the topic of plenty of healthy discourse throughout the year.
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Sometimes context gets lost in conversation. Here are eight things to know about biking in Seattle and Washington state:
• Although they inspire outsize chatter, cyclists accounted for just 3.7 percent of 2014 commuters in Seattle, according to Census Bureau estimates. That’s one of the highest figures in the nation, but it still lags behind cities like Minneapolis.
• About half of Seattleites have access to a bike, according to a 2013 survey for the Seattle Department of Transportation.
• Helmets are required in Seattle, and one Seattle cop has been particularly dogged about enforcing that rule.
• With about 15,000 members, Cascade Bicycle Club claims to be the nation’s largest statewide bicycle organization.
• Bike thefts are rising across town. Last year, Seattle police counted 1,561 bike thefts in the city. University of Washington police counted another 221 bike and bike-part thefts. But one vigilante is on a roll in getting the bikes back to their owners.
• When city voters approved the Move Seattle property-tax levy last year, they committed about $250 million to bicycling and pedestrian projects.
• Six U.S. Bicycle Route System paths travel through Washington state, including five bike corridors, and a route sanctioned by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. That path, route 10, travels across northern Washington and through the Methow Valley. It sounds hard.
• Pronto, Seattle’s newly purchased bike-sharing system, is used mostly by men: they comprised 77 percent of Pronto riders in a tally of 2014-2015 data.