[EDITOR’S NOTEThe following is a Letter to the Editor, written and submitted by a verified resident. It does not necessarily reflect the opinions of South King Media, nor its staff.]

Dear Editor,

More than 40,000 Americans die due to traffic violence each year. 

Just now, after my morning coffee, I was on my bike headed south from Downtown Burien on 4th Ave. At the 4th/153rd intersection, a car pulled up behind me. I was on the very far right of the lane, as I always am, especially because just half a block ahead a (comically short) bike lane begins.

As soon as the light turns green, the car, full of teenagers, revs its engine and rides me, honking their horn. I tried hard to get to the bike lane and out of their way, but wound up crashing my bike (which is now in need of repairs). I was unharmed, this time.

If you were one of those kids, know that I got your license plate and reported you. That’s called attempted assault. I hope your actions have consequences now, before you get someone killed later. 

For the rest of you: What is with the animosity toward cyclists in Burien?! I’ve never seen anything like it! I’ve only been here about a year, but it’s hands-down the most bike-hating place I’ve ever lived. We have mostly slow, residential streets, with very little pedestrian and cycling infrastructure. Cyclists aren’t purposely trying to annoy you or be in your way. We just want to get to our destination safely. 

Last week, a guy in a convertible revved past to get ahead of me at a stop light. I said, “That was unnecessary.” He replied, “So is riding a bike.” I made a fart noise as I rolled past him and made my right turn, to show how absolutely harmless I am, and that neither of us wound up slowing the other person down. The bullying, aggressive need to “get ahead of the cyslist” is nothing but machismo; you aren’t winning. Nobody is competing with you.

A couple of weeks ago, I signaled that I intended to turn left at the next intersection, again on a 2-lane 30MPH residential road, near a school. Rather than wait for the cyclist to turn left, which would have cost perhaps 7 seconds, a car passed me on the left, in the oncoming lane, as I was turning. 

A couple of months ago, I was heading to my morning coffee, down 152nd, and a car sped past me just as I was signaling to turn right; the car also turned right, and parked. The driver got out of their car and said, “I guess we’re both racing to get to the same place, huh?!” I replied, “I wasn’t racing you. I don’t know why it was necessary to pass me going so fast, either, since you only went another ten feet.” (To this driver’s credit, they responded positively and apologized and we had a nice conversation. I hope you’re reading this and I want you know that you’re a bright spot.)

I’m not sure what causes so much bullying against cyclists, especially in a city as small and sleepy as Burien (that’s a compliment by the way); we really mean no harm. We’re not judging you for driving, we’re not trying to make your day worse or make you late for anything. 

Some traffic facts for you: 

  • Cyclists are allowed to take up an entire lane; most try not to; we know we’re slower and we know you’re bigger. We’re not racing you. 
  • Cyclists are allowed to run red lights (at their own risk); many lights won’t turn for bikes, and it’s the only way to progress on our route. 
  • Cyclists aren’t actually slowing you down that much. Other cars, traffic lights, accidents, etc. are going to pad your commute way more than having to wait 15 seconds for a cyclist to turn safely, you gain almost nothing by speeding past them.
  • If you are turning left at an intersection, and someone is going straight across the intersection, the person going straight has the right of way. Even if they are a cyclist.

To reiterate: Over 40,000 American lives are ended due to traffic violence every year. This number goes up every year. Vehicles are getting bigger and heavier (and quieter), yet drivers are paying less attention than ever. I don’t accept your fake “sorry” wave; change your behavior. Pay more attention. SLOW. DOWN.

When you drive aggressively, you are being a bully. Ask yourself why. Ask yourself if you’d like it if one of your kids were being bullied by someone 100 times heavier and made of metal. If you don’t have kids, think of someone else you love: Would you want them to get bullied and possibly killed by a car, just because they chose to go out without a car that day?

Thank you,
Tom T.

EDITOR’S NOTEDo you have an opinion you’d like to share with our highly engaged local Readers? If so, please email your Letter to the Editor to scott@southkingmedia.com and, pending review and verification that you’re a real human being, we may publish it. Letter writers must provide an address and phone number (NOT for publication but for verification purposes). Read our full Letter to the Editor policy here.

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