Seattle “Bikelash” Largely Invented, Poll Finds

Like a lot of cities, Seattle has seen a much-hyped “bikelash” against efforts to make the city safer for cycling. But it turns out that this bikelash might be just that: hype.

A strong majority of Seattle voters support efforts to make the city safer for cyclists, according to a recent poll. Photo: ##http://www.thestranger.com/seattle/debunking-the-so-called-bike-backlash/Content?oid=15813162## The Stranger##

A recent telephone poll of 400 Seattle voters [PDF], conducted via landlines and cellphones, found strong support for cycling — despite what a local newspaper says.

The poll, conducted by local opinion survey group FM3 and commissioned by the Cascade Bicycle Club, found that 79 percent of voters have a favorable opinion of cyclists. Almost 60 percent of voters support devoting more road space to bike facilities. Another 78 percent said they ride a bike at least once a year. A slight majority, 51 percent, reported disagreeing with the notion that Seattle is waging a “war on cars.” Only 31 percent agreed.

Local alt weekly The Stranger said high-pitched, anti-bike rhetoric from the Seattle Times has been a factor in the upcoming mayoral race. Some critics have taken shots at Mayor Mike McGinn for his efforts to make cycling safer, and have taken to calling him Mayor McSchwinn.

But that might not be such a good strategy, The Stranger’s Dominic Holden writes. “The problem is that this is a losing wedge issue,” he said. “Anti-bicycle advocates speak for less than one-third of Seattle residents. These holdouts, the polling shows, are largely older, white, conservative men. Candidates who pander to those blocs with anti-bike talking points will be losing more votes than they’re gaining.”

  • Larry Littlefield

    “These holdouts, the polling shows, are largely older, white, conservative men.”

    Who still buy newspapers.  And new cars.

  • Daphna

    I hope politicians are reading Streetsblog and read the results of that poll.  As Angie writes, pandering to a small minority of anti-bike residents will loose them more votes than they will gain.
    Also, it continues to be frustrating that newspapers in NYC and elsewhere falsely report on bike lane opposition as if it is much bigger than it is.

  • Baby boomers have been  moving through the population over time like a deer through the digestive system of an anaconda.  We (at 51, I am a tail end boomer) have dominated the body politic for so many decades we take it for granted our voices come first. However, as soon as a few more boomers die off, things are going to start changing radically.  Already there are as many people in the US between the ages of 18 and 34 as over 55. The only reason the 55+ crowd has far more political clout is that this group votes at a much higher rate than the younger cohort and has more wealth to contribute to political campaigns.  Younger boomers (or anyone not expecting to die in the next five years) would do well not to antagonize the echo boomers too much.  After all, we’ve spent all their money and indebted them for at least the next few decades, squandered their resources with no thought to what future generations might need, and have perhaps permanently screwed up the environment in ways that will be devastating for them to live with. In fact, one could argue we’ve been the most irresponsible generation ever to grace the planet. Echo boomers have no reason beyond the bonds of affection not to put all boomers out on ice floes and be done with us.

    They say science advances one death at a time.  Politicians would be wise to realize a radical demographic tipping point is almost upon them.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Right, and not everyone in Generation you know what was greedy.  Put them together with those coming after and you’ve got a majority.  

    That’s why in the recent federal election, the promise of more benefits and less taxes for those 55 and over, with Medicare and Social Security taken away from those 54 and younger, was a loser.  It ticked off some of those 55 and over, and all of those 54 and younger.

  • Rsnd1958

    Having the Cascade Bicycle Club commission a poll is akin to Chevron commissioning a poll on oil drilling.  The results are skewed, unfair and discriminatory:  “Older, white conservative men”?? Perhaps a non-biased poll ought to be commissioned.  By ignoring  any ” bike-lash” is setting up a bigger problem for bicyclists’ safety and drivers as well. 

  • Maybe R will commission a non-biased survey and get back to us – tho, if demographic info is taboo it will be an anemic piece of research. In the mean time, it’s interesting to note that a local bicycle club considered it worthwhile to survey the public about street space allocation while their opponents (the AAA chapter?) have not.

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