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Originally published Wednesday, August 7, 2013 at 4:25 PM

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Editorial: Seattle is playing catch-up on bike safety

Several recent collisions highlight the need for a better bike infrastructure throughout the city.

Seattle Times Editorial

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ANOTHER rash of bike-car collisions within the past month should underscore the need for more attention to city of Seattle efforts to make roads safer for everyone.

Three of those accidents occurred on Dexter Avenue, sending two cyclists to the hospital. Dexter is a designated, high-traffic bike route, but the collisions show that painted bike lanes are doing an inadequate job of separating drivers and cyclists.

In another high-profile incident, Seattle Councilmember Richard Conlin was pedaling to a picnic recently when he collided with a car at 34th Avenue near East Pine Street. Authorities cited the driver for making an illegal U-turn. Conlin broke his right shoulder.

We all need to pay more attention — drivers, cyclists and pedestrians. But Seattle also needs a smarter, more forward-looking approach to bike infrastructure.

The city of Seattle is redrawing its Bicycle Master Plan, first adopted in 2007, with a goal of reducing collisions by one-third and tripling bicycling by 2017.

The plan includes more “cycle tracks” — biking lanes separated from traffic by elevation or a barrier — and “greenways” in neighborhoods where traffic moves at low speeds and people on foot and bicycles have priority.

Portland and Vancouver, B.C., are models for how to build dozens of miles worth of protected greenways. New York and Chicago have shoehorned miles of dedicated, separated bike paths into dense urban corridors. Seattle has some catching up to do.

The Seattle City Council is planning public hearings on the plan in August and September to determine if the draft plan meets the goals. Seattle mayoral candidates support incorporating more bike lanes into the city’s comprehensive transportation plans.

Noted urban-cycling author John Pucher also recently called on private companies to show their commitment to sustainability and public health by sponsoring bike infrastructure.

A safe, comprehensive bike network is a necessary amenity for cities seeking to lure creative-class industries, including technology. Seattle should be in the vanguard.

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