City Hall

Survey: People Support Bike Lanes, But Only if They Don't Take Out Lanes for Cars

By Erica C. Barnett July 22, 2010

As the P-I reported yesterday, Mayor Mike McGinn's approval rating, according to a KING-5/SurveyUSA poll, has gone up seven points since the last SurveyUSA poll three months ago: 45 percent of respondents said they approve of the job McGinn is doing, up from 38 percent in April. Thirty-eight percent disapprove of McGinn's performance, and 17 percent aren't sure. The poll had a 4.5 percent margin of error.

That's a significant jump, but what I really found interesting about the poll was the questions it asked about biking in Seattle. You can get the full crosstabs here, but here are some highlights:

Only 36 percent of respondents said they biked regularly or occasionally—40 percent of men and just 32 percent of women. (This question was a little odd, though, in that the least-frequent biking one could report is "almost never," not "never."

Fewer than half—46 percent—said the city needs more bike lanes. Forty-three percent said the city has enough lanes, and 11 percent weren't sure. Interestingly, more women (49 percent) than men (41 percent) thought the city should add lanes for bikes—an indication, perhaps, of the phenomenon Josh Cohen mentioned here: Women are less likely to ride because they don't feel as safe as men do on the road.

Once the questions start getting in to the issue of bikes vs. cars, people—predictably—were less bike-friendly. In general, a fair number of people support more bike lanes, but when you ask them whether they'd support the kind of changes that would make more bike lanes possible, they're less generous. Just 28 percent said they'd support replacing car lanes with bike lanes, with 63 percent opposed; and just 38 percent said they'd support replacing parking lanes with bike lanes, with 54 percent opposed.

Finally, an oddly worded question asks how often respondents see bicyclists obeying traffic laws—regularly, occasionally, or almost never. A plurality, 42 percent, said "occasionally," with 33 percent saying "regularly" and 26 percent responding "almost never." My guess is that those answers correlate pretty closely to the stats on bike ridership.
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