May declared Bike Month in Tacoma, but is biking here safe?
On May 2, city council and community members met to discuss bike infrastructure and Bike Month in Tacoma.
Tacomans and cyclists gathered at the town hall May 2, as the city council declared the month of May would be bike month in Tacoma.
Community members, a part of Downtown on the Go, urged local cyclists to attend the meeting in person or via Zoom to discuss bike infrastructure here throughout Tacoma and ways to improve or expand.
After the city council decreed May to be Bike Month here in Tacoma, residents were welcomed to speak in a public comment. Many residents who spoke were a part of cyclist clubs or said that cycling was their primary form of transport throughout the city.
While certain areas in the city were praised for their bike friendly lanes, many expressed a desire for the city to expand protected bike lanes, curb stops and other cyclist friendly structures. Many of these individuals specifically stated that this infrastructure should be expanded upon along 6th Avenue here in Tacoma as it is a high destination spot for many and could increase foot traffic if the area became more bike-friendly.
Community member Troy Alexander mentioned in their public comment that a city with poor bike infrastructure forces individuals to rely strictly on motor transportation.
“For too long Tacoma has developed in a manner that forces car ownership on Tacoma families at huge financial burdens to them. This a terrible financial burden truly and growing our bike network will play a big role in breaking that cycle…” said Alexander.
Other individuals such as Sasha Funk, wore their bike safety gear which included a high visibility vest and bright orange helmet. With their partner, Funk noted how difficult it was to bike from their home with their children. In what should have been a 9-minute easy ride to city council, it was doubled in time to ensure their safety.
“We live just off 6th Ave, which should be a quick trip, but 6th is an extremely dangerous place to bike,” Funk said. In their statement, Funk also noted that some measures taken by the city to increase bike lanes do not ensure the safety of cyclists:
“We need protected separated bicycle lanes, sharrows, flexible bollards and painted bicycle gutters do nothing to protect our bodies from cars. Paint is not bicycle infrastructure.”
According to the CDC, “Nearly 1,000 bicyclists die and over 130,000 are injured in crashes that occur on roads in the United States every year.” The costs of these injuries and deaths “typically exceed $23 billion in the United States each year. These costs include spending on health care and lost work productivity, as well as estimated costs for lost quality of life and lives lost.”
Amber Weilert, the mother of Michael Weilert, a thirteen-year-old boy who was hit and died in a crosswalk July of 2022, called in and shared their thoughts on pedestrian and bike safety measures.
“I ask the city council to keep safety in mind, always when considering anything regarding transportation. Especially bike safety. My son lost his life in a crosswalk so for me crosswalk safety becomes one of my top priorities. I ask that we keep cyclists in mind when creating infrastructure, with things like red fog lights at road crossings in addition to protected bike lanes and speed slowing measures,” Weilert said.
Council members and Mayor Victoria Woodards seemed responsive to community members and thanked them for taking the time to speak at the council meeting.
If you would like to find more information on Bike Month here in Tacoma, you can visit https://www.cityoftacoma.org/government/city_departments/public_works/mobility_options/bike_month for events and information. If you would like to speak to your representative about bike safety and infrastructure, you can contact your representative at https://www.cityoftacoma.org/government/city_council
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