Quite Possibly the Worst Bike Tour of Seattle (EVER)

On Saturday I went on a bike tour led by members of the Professionals Council for my Urban Planning program. This was supposed to be a tour of the city where we could get to know other people in the program and our professional mentor counterparts. We’ll be ranking potential mentors next week for a match based on shared interests.

The tour was set to meet in Volunteer Park. Almost instantly things went wrong. Students arrived expecting to rent Pronto bikes, as advertised on the sign up sheet. I took Creme (via the bus) but I assumed that we would meet near a Pronto station based on the flyer. No. In fact, the person leading the tour (John) didn’t know where the closest station was. He also didn’t understand the pricing structure, and failed to inform people about usage fees. He was under the impression that the bikes were per day. No one on the tour ever docked their bikes over the course of the next 4 hours. I imagine it was quite expensive. I explained it to several people.

It’s also worth noting that all of the members of the Professionals Council who attended were men. For a program that’s 50% women, this is a problem.

But back to the meeting location of Volunteer Park: sure, it’s a lovely example of an Olmsted park, but it’s also at the TOP OF A GIANT HILL. Which we promptly rode down. So why work so hard to point at one thing & have us head back down? Cruelty.

So we headed down from the park to Broadway where we rode in the uncomfortable sharrow zone for a few blocks until the protected bike lane starts. I noticed that most people were riding dangerously close to parked cars & kept swerving in & out of empty parking spaces. It made me uncomfortable that the ride leader didn’t have any sense of different skill or comfort levels.

So we’re riding along & stopping & more riding & stopping & at one of the stops the leader, John, decides to go on an anti-protected bike lane screed. He rants about how protected bike lanes cause people to be hit at driveways. He fails to explain how non-protected bike lanes solve this problem. Pro tip: they don’t. He asserts that there simply isn’t enough information about them. They haven’t been studied, he says. They’re a fad, he says. John apparently doesn’t know Europe & South America have been doing this for a while. And writing about their great successes. He should read more.

So then we do some more riding & stopping & John launches into another screed, this time it’s anti-streetcar. It’s an outdated technology, he says. It’s 18th century, he says. Apparently he doesn’t know when bicycles were invented. Or the all mighty combustion engine he thinks moves people better than the streetcar. It’s redundant, he says. We have Link now, he says. Well if redundancy is the mark of failure, we should start ripping up roads for cars RIGHT NOW, I think.

So we’re riding & riding & then we’re on YESSLER & isn’t that fun? It’s where numerous people riding bikes have been hurt or killed but yeah don’t give anyone any riding tips about streetcar tracks. LOLZ.

Then the PC members rant about density = bad. Growth bubble. BLAH BLAH BLAH. We should look at living in suburbs. Isn’t Bremerton nice? How about Everett? Just a short drive away. CAN’T HIDE CONTEMPTUOUS LOOK ON MY FACE ANY LONGER. AUDIBLY SNORT.

John wants us to bike up 4th until another PC member actually BEGS him to take us up the 2nd Ave lanes. He’s crotchety about this.

We meet at Pike Place Market & proceed to ride through it. On a Saturday. A FUCKING SATURDAY. PC members remark about the LOVELY example of a woonerf that is Pike Place. Don’t people driving massive SUVs on this street make it so INTERESTING? INSERT CONTEMPTUOUS FACE HERE. Pro tip: a woonerf only works on low traffic streets (for all modes) not a heavily touristed zone that sees massive hordes of dazed wanderers.

We then ride on a stroad with a sharrows & fast moving traffic. An exchange student in the program is almost right-hooked. I’m the only person who checks in to see if she’s okay.


We’re now on a true woonerf with John decrying bike advocates who want to add a contraflow lane. He’s basically comparing them to pro-segregationists. At one point he actually yells the word SEGREGATION. We ride on the sidewalk for 5 blocks because it’s a one-way street with no contraflow lanes.

Lake Union. More bitching about streetcars. NO ONE CAN GET HERE FROM I-5 so it’s a failed venue. FAILED GODDAMNIT. That’s why Amazon is here. Because it’s failed, John says. LOLZ.

We ride into South Lake Union Park to MOHAI. People ding bells at pedestrians. It’s a DEAF EVENT. About inclusivity. There are signs. I point this out. No one else says anything.

People search for a Pronto station to dock at. Bitching about the Westlake protected bike lanes removing parking from John.

I leave. Quickly, and with gusto. I know who won’t be making it onto my mentor ranking card.

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