Myths About Bicycling


There’s a lot of people out there who want to bike around our streets.  There are also some people who are totally against bikes being able to ride on our streets.  What people say can be confusing, so we’ll try to point out some of the common myths and misconceptions about bicycling:

Myth:  People riding bikes are “cyclists”.

Lance Armstrong is a “cyclist”…he gets paid (or used to get paid) to ride bikes fast. People riding bikes around Seattle are just that…people. Most people on bikes are just trying to get somewhere by choosing to use a bicycle for transportation.  Just think of it this way…someone riding a bike is one less car on the road and one more seat on the bus that’s available to someone who needs to drive or use the bus.  And also remember that the person you see riding a bike is someone’s son, daughter, father, mother, etc…they might even be your neighbor!

Myth:  Gas taxes pay for our roads, and people riding bikes don’t pay their “fair share” to use the roads.

Gas taxes contribute very little to the overall transportation budget.  And most people who ride bikes have cars, so they pay for licensing and registration.  You can read SDOT reports for yourself if you want to verify how road infrastructure is paid for.

People who drive cars actually don’t pay their “fair share” for using the roads.  There’s plenty of data showing that people who get around by bike, bus, etc, subsidize the cost for people to drive a car.  Think about it for a minute:  Do bikes damage the roads?  Do bikes cause death and destruction?  Do bikes pollute?

Myth: Bikes should be registered and paid for like cars.

Why are cars registered anyway?  Because they kill people and are a huge liability.  Why were traffic lights invented?  Because people driving cars got into too many accidents (i.e. not everyone can operate a powerful 2+ ton machine).

Now imagine this…what if there were NO cars on the roads, but just bikes?  LOTS of traffic signals would not be needed, and vehicular fatalities would disappear.  Thousands of people lose their lives due to automobiles every day, but how many die from riding a bike?

We’d love to hear the reasons why a bike should be registered.

Myth: Biking is not safe.

You’re far more likely to get into a “collision” in a car than on a bike.  You can certainly slice the data in many ways, but if you ride a bike predictably and know the law then you will be safe on a bike.

Myth:  “Cyclists” are scofflaws (they don’t obey the law).

Of course there are people who don’t obey the law.  It happens with people driving cars, riding bikes, and walking.  You’re more likely to witness illegal maneuvers from car drivers than from someone riding a bike.  People riding bikes are much more observant of their surroundings because they aren’t distracted (like by a radio, cell phone, etc), plus someone riding a bike is far more likely to lookout for themselves on the roads because they don’t want to get hit by a car.

Myth:  Riding a bike takes longer than driving.

This depends.  There are plenty of examples where riding a bike is much faster than driving.  Some West Seattle Bike Connection members commute to work daily on their bikes in less time than it takes to drive, and some commutes are ~10 miles each way!

A lot of people in West Seattle complain about the traffic on the bridges.  The lower bridge is never backed up in the biking lane, no matter what time of day!

Myth:  West Seattle has too many hills that can’t be (easily) ridden by bike.

Yes, Seattle is “topographically challenged” when it comes to getting around.  It’s no easy task biking uphill.  Riding a bike can be physically challenging for a lot of people, but a lot of people who are now avid bike riders started somewhere.  Plenty of people walk their bikes up some hills, and it doesn’t take that much longer.  One way to strengthen yourself is to gradually increase the distance you try to ride up hills…no need to kill yourself, just ease into it and soon enough the hills will be easy!

Myth:  It rains too much to ride a bike.

Bill Bowerman (co-founder of Nike, Olympic track-and-field coach) once said…”There’s no such thing as bad weather, just soft people.”  Sure, Seattle has a lot of wet weather.  But you’ll stay dry and comfortable with appropriate clothing and gear.  There’s plenty of waterproof clothing available (jackets, pants, gloves, shoes, etc).  Fenders are good to have on a bike because it’ll prevent your tires from spraying you with grime from the wet streets.

There are a lot of myths about bicycling out there.  Here’s some more links to articles about the myths of riding a bike:

We hope this was helpful.  Please contact us if there is anything that should be updated on this page.