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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.

Housing for Working Poor, NYC, photo by Jacob Riis

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, disagreed 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."

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