Let’s work together to make our roads safer

Messrs. Gulliford and Wells’ aggressive, anti-bicycling letters fortunately do not represent the attitudes of most Mercer Island drivers. But as their letters, the school bus incident, and several recent, dangerous road rage incidents attest, bicycling on Mercer Island is far more dangerous than it needs to be. First let’s deal with the errors in their letters. Bicyclists are not “guests” on Washington roads. Mr. Wells’ view that one’s right to use the road is proportional to the size of one’s vehicle is a sad misconception. Drivers of cars, bicycles and 3/4 ton trucks all have the same rights and responsibilities.

Messrs. Gulliford and Wells’ aggressive, anti-bicycling letters fortunately do not represent the attitudes of most Mercer Island drivers. But as their letters, the school bus incident, and several recent, dangerous road rage incidents attest, bicycling on Mercer Island is far more dangerous than it needs to be. First let’s deal with the errors in their letters.

Bicyclists are not “guests” on Washington roads. Mr. Wells’ view that one’s right to use the road is proportional to the size of one’s vehicle is a sad misconception. Drivers of cars, bicycles and 3/4 ton trucks all have the same rights and responsibilities.

Second, bicyclists do pay taxes and fund our roads. Mercer Island roads are largely (73 percent) paid for from property taxes. We also own cars, pay gas taxes, and as Mercer Island residents pay plenty of property taxes — whether we are driving, riding or walking.

Instead of pointing fingers, we should work together to focus on the underlying problem: Mercer Island roads are not constructed to accommodate all their users. There are virtually no bike lanes, few paved shoulders, and very limited alternatives to our main roads. We need to provide the infrastructure to reduce dangerous conflicts by improving or adding shoulders on East and West Mercer, providing safe routes to schools for our children, and creating alternatives to riding and walking in the streets. Until we do so, conflicts will continue to occur.

Motorists and cyclists alike should inform the city and City Council that we need more bike lanes, paved shoulders and other accommodations to reduce conflicts on our roads. The City Council is slowly adding shoulders on one side of East Mercer Way, but more needs to be done, and done sooner.

We should be doing everything possible to encourage bicycling, walking and running for both transportation and exercise. Unfortunately, those activities, particularly on much of East and West Mercer Way, can be dangerous. We believe the great majority of Mercer Island residents — motorists, cyclists and pedestrians alike — support improvements to our roads and care for the safety and rights of others. We look forward to working constructively with the city, the City Council, motorists, pedestrians and cyclists to improve the safety of and respect for everyone who uses our roads.

Mark Clausen, Alan Fulp, Dave Eckert, Kirk Griffin, Walter Boos, Mel Coleman, David Marques, Fred Fox, David Schifrin, Matt Rudolf, Cliff Chirls, Jim Stanton, Bonnie Sanborn, Jolanne Stanton

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