BikeDenton goes to Seattle

Inspired by the Fortworthology report on Portland, OR bike-friendliness, we took some photos during a recent trip to Seattle.  Bicycling Magazine recently rated Seattle as the #4 Bike Friendly US city (behind Minneapolis, Portland, and Boulder).  So what’s all the fuss about?

high contrast bike lane merge zone

Seattle is expanding it’s cycling road infrastructure.  In 2009, they added 30 miles of new bike lanes and sharrows.  In this photos, high contrast bike paint commands attention at a dicey merge zone.

seattle bike route map

The Seattle DOT Bicycle Program seeks to “facilitate bicycles as a viable transportation choice” and “Link major parks and open spaces with Seattle neighborhoods”.

commuter hub and repair shop

commuter hub

Seattle Bike Port: 24/7 secure indoor bike parking and repair tools, for $100 a year or $10 a month.

typical Seattle commuter

Here’s a typical seattle commuter with fenders, panniers, and helmet.  Most people riding bikes seemed to be going to and from work or the grocery store, and we didn’t see any wacky anarcho messengers-of-doom running red lights.  Cycling isn’t a fringe activity in Seattle. We saw a good mix of gender and age groups riding around as part of normal, daily life.

Burke-Gilman grass relaxation

The beautiful Burke-Gilman trail runs on 27 miles of reclaimed railway corridor.  To get from downtown to Ballard, Google estimates that it’s faster to ride this trail than to take the bus.

Burke-Gilman grass relaxation

This-grass lined section of the trail looks over the water and is a great place to rest.  Also, notice the front basket.  We hardly saw a Seattle bike without baskets or panniers.

Burke-Gilman markings

Since we were on foot, these pavement markings helped us figure out where to walk and stay out of the path of bicycles.

lane AND sharrow

There are quite a few bike lanes downtown, and we spotted this indulgence of a bike lane plus sharrows.  Driver’s should not be surprised to see cyclists, whether in the bike lane or not.

sharrow next to defined parking zone

These well-placed sharrows keep cyclists out of the door zone, and the parking stalls’ outer stripe keeps cars out of the roadway.

contraflow bike lane, reverse back-in parking

Contraflow bike lane running opposite to car traffic. Also note the reverse-in angled parking for cars.  Reverse-in parking reduces collisions when cars would typically back out blind, it’s compatible with bike traffic, and it’s easier for drivers to load and unload trunks.

bike lane

Here’s a well-defined bike lane next to parking cut-out.

Fremont bridge signage

This signage on the Fremont bridge reinforces the yielding hierarchy of cars < bikes < pedestrians.


Fresh sharrows accompany newly developed areas of town, this one in the International District.

typical seattle neighborhood roundabout

A typical Seattle neighborhood four-way intersection lacks stop signs.  Instead, there is a forested roundabout that precludes t-bone accidents and allows cautious, uninterrupted traffic flow through the intersection.

neighborhood traffic flow restrictors

These bump-outs appear to calm and limit traffic entering this quiet neighborhood.

interesting bike racks

There are bike-racks aplenty in Seattle, especially at brand new developments like this one.  This innovative rack design stores bikes in less space than a normal rack.

artistic bollard

A simple galvanized, themed bollard rack advertises it’s purpose.

seattle parking cost, much higher than free

Unsubsidized parking in this particular neighborhood reflects the free-market value, so you can see the incentive to not drive.

delivery bike

This covered cargo trike delivers in style.


After visiting Seattle every two years over the last decade, we’ve seen a visible increase in the amount of normal, commuting cycling.  As the infrastructure expands, ridership appears to grow, and normalization of cycling with it.  This success is contagious, as Seattle’s former bike coordinator, Peter Lagerwey, is now consulting on the ambitious new Dallas Bike Plan.  And despite Seattle’s success, Portland has them beat with colored bike-boxes, proposed cycletracks, and bike boulevards.  If anything, we hope a friendly competitive spirit will motivate Seattle to rise even higher than #4 on the Bike-Friendly list.


One thought on “BikeDenton goes to Seattle

  1. Nina C. says:

    Wow. That was all very, very sexy. If Seattle is only #4, I’d love to see what the top cities are doing!

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