Seattle Cyclists Find Safety in Numbers

Here’s what’s happening around the Network today:

Seattle cyclists have more of a reason to smile: collision rates are holding steady even as bicycling booms. Photo: Cascade Bicycle Club

Safer Cycling in Seattle, and More Of It: Cycling is increasing in Seattle, but traffic collisions involving cyclists are not. That’s according to census data complied by a local newspaper and reported by Network blog Seattle Bike Blog. In the last three years, the cycling rate has grown a dramatic 55 percent, while crashes have hovered in the mid- to high-300s. It’s the old phenomenon that more cyclists means safer cyclists, says blogger Tom Fucoloro. “This means Seattle is seeing the same “safety in numbers” trend recorded in cities with growing cycling populations around the world. Basically, as more people in a city bike, the safer biking becomes for everyone.

Gas Prices Ramping Up Again: Gas prices are nowhere near the highs we saw in 2008. But get ready, says Khal at Los Alamos Bikes. At $3.50 per, a gallon of fuel is the most expensive on average it has ever been during February — bad news for drivers going into to the more-expensive summer season. Khal says he’s lucky to live in an area that provides some safe alternatives. “As I’ve said before, we don’t know what the future will bring in terms of energy costs. Let’s make sure folks have reasonable options that can share the spotlight with Old Belchfire.”

Meanwhile, gas prices are shaping up to be a big political issue in the upcoming presidential election, according to news sources. Republicans think Obama is weak on energy. John Boehner so much as spelled that out before Congress last week. So the president should expect to be blamed for higher transportation costs by opponents who torpedoed high-speed rail and are doing their best to cripple transit systems nationwide.

Norfolk’s New Light Rail System Exceeding Expectations: Virginia’s first light rail system has been off to a great start in the town of Norfolk. In its first six months, ridership has been almost double what was projected, reports Network blog Greater Greater Washington. More good news: The success of the 7.4 mile system between Norfolk State University and downtown Norfolk may be helping inspire Virginia Beach to follow suit. According to blogger Bradley Heard, in the past Virginia Beach voters overturned a plan to connect with Norfolk’s Tide rail. But there is some evidence that the community has since been warming to the idea. Virginia Beach has also established urban growth areas. And, Heard reports: “[I]n 2010, Virginia Beach contributed the $15 million in matching funds necessary to purchase the 10.6 mile stretch of Norfolk-Southern right-of-way which runs from the city’s Newtown Road border with Norfolk to Birdneck Road in Virginia Beach — approximately a mile from the oceanfront.” Sounds like Virginia is becoming a more urban place.