“I have to take exception to Mr.. Gardners' "Road Signs" ramble in the Aug issue of QT. He doesn't like riding in the rain?...simple, move away from Seattle. I just returned from a ride to the DFW area & I'm gonna tell ya, riding in 110* heat is not enjoyable either. I am, however, going to make a mental note not to ride to Texas in August. I hope I don't misplace that mental note. Mr. Gardner seems to be bragging about how many motel towels he has destroyed in his efforts to keep his motorcycle clean while on a trip. Yes, destroyed. Doesn't the "Bald One" realize that the road grime that he has deposited in & on those towels will not wash out? Not only is he destroying hotel property,this sort of stuff raises room rates...high enough already, thank you...& places motorcyclists in an unfavorable light. A far better solution is to go to the front desk & ask the clerk if they have any rags suitable for cleaning motorcycles. They will be more than happy to give/loan them to you because thanks to the dimwitted actions of Mr. Gardner & others, they have an ample supply. In Montana, the Blue & White in Kalispell, the Thunderbird in Missoula & Best Western/Kelly Inn in Billings are motels that not only furnish towels but also have a dedicated motorcycle washing area. Mr. Gardner, in addition to cleaning your motorcycle you should clean up your act. Dave B. Bozeman MT “
"The Bald One?!?!" As my editor says: Be careful asking for comments. Apparently they have gotten more letters on this column than others, "all bitching about you destroying hotel towels. Child molesters get less heat than you do! I mean it’s almost comical, Rome is burning and these bozos are bitching about the fact they have no marshmallows to cook over the fire. Now you know why Fox news gets away with all their shit, we have the market cornered on dumb people.”
Well at least they are reading it right? Who cares if they miss the damn point! Well this next month’s column is about as subtle as a sledge hammer, and it will be interesting to see if it inspires anything. I do know however that it will raise the ire of my liberal lefty friends in Seattle, and the picture I took to illustrate this month is spot on perfect if I do say so myself.
I’ve lived in Seattle since 1989. I honestly love this city. I grew up in Utah, went to school and lived for a while in Phoenix, and after taking a job in Seattle and coming up to a city I’d never been in, fell in love with the place and have stayed. I think it’s the combination of the laid back casual attitude, coupled with the “feel” of a big city and all that it has to offer. Added to that are the absolutely stunning outdoor vistas – rain or shine – that one finds living along Puget Sound and the West slope of the Cascades. Yeah the weather isn’t always the greatest, but you get used to it and it’s the price one pays for living in this place. What I’ve never really been able to get used to is the insanity that is City of Seattle politics. It’s truly embarrassing at times.
I’ve often joked with legislator friends of mine saying that I want to run a bill that moves the Seattle City line two blocks North so that my home is NOT in the city limits – either that or extend Kitsap County out into the sound and up Fauntleroy Creek, around my house and back down again so that I can live in Kitsap County rather than King County. I’m not joking, I actually drafted a bill that does just that for an exercise in venting frustration.
And it just keeps getting worse – only now rather than be embarrassed I’m down right pissed off. The latest example? This absolutely insane idea being approved by the City Council and Mayor to add an additional $60 a year onto every vehicle license fee to be applied to “transportation” that will be on the fall ballot. This is on top of the $20 a year vehicle license fee the King County Council just tacked on (without voter approval I might add) to owners in the county to help pay for Metro bus service, and an already existing $20 license surcharge added to Seattle registrations starting this last May. That’s an addition $100 per vehicle per all the other fees paid to renew a vehicle license.
That’s $100 bucks more a year per vehicle folks. An even “C” note. And for me, with three bikes and a truck, that’s an additional $400. Oh hell no! NO NO NO! I’m so angry my little black pencil is liable to color all the way through the NO oval and onto my dining room table when I fill out my ballot. I wish there was more than a “no” option, I want a HELL NO, or even a “F-NO!”
And even if all that money went to fixing the third-world like streets that we have in Seattle, I’d still have a difficult time supporting it. That’s what the gas tax is for. As we pay one of the highest gas taxes in the nation, we should have some pretty darn nice roads to ride on. Roads that are paid for and used by the vehicles paying gas tax. Pavement. Use the gas tax for pavement! Not “art” by the freeway, not “bike only” lanes, not “road diets” or pedestrian overpasses. PAVEMENT. Roads for vehicles who buy gas that pay gas tax and drive on those roads. THAT is what we pay gas tax for.
Only a small fraction of the new Seattle proposal goes towards fixing potholes and paving. The rest of it? The lions share, 50%, goes towards “transit” – but not even for expanded regular bus service. More money than is allocated for fixing and paving existing roads goes towards, and I quote: “partnering with social services for people who cant take transit and improving transit linkages by developing underused urban spaces and educations programs.” Out of the $20 million expected to be raised under this fee, just $4 million goes to street paving and pothole repair, while more than double that -- $10 million goes to “transit”.
And most appalling of all? $8.5 million of the total funding goes towards, and again I quote: “bicycle lanes, rideable streets, neighborhood sidewalks, greenery and traffic calming.” We vehicle owners are paying for our own execution as the city promotes an evolution to a non-car city.
All of this comes on top of King County’s $20 per car fee that is solely dedicated for transit. So, for my extra $100 per vehicle I may end up paying, a whopping $10.00 of that will go to making the roads better for me to drive on. And that extra $20 that Seattle started tacking on this past May? Less than half goes to road repair. Less than half! This is getting way out of hand.
Now I understand we are in a recession, and that gas tax revenue is down because gas is so expensive and people are driving less in more fuel efficient cars. I also know that the portion of the sales tax that goes to fund King County bus service is down because folks are not spending money. We do need transit – I use it from time to time myself and everyone else that does takes a car off the road and gives us riders more room to ride. But when times are tough, we do without and we trim things and become more efficient right? We prioritize what we spend our money on right? Apparently not so in this case.
We have a bus system that is well used and well thought out – but runs humungous big empty 60 foot articulated buses that on many routes with 3 people on board. We have a transit agency employee base that is the second highest paid in the country behind New York City transit workers, and with lower fares than NYC. And we have a Mayor who is spending more money on putting roads on “diets” so he can paint unused bike lanes, silly “sharrows” and “green bike boxes” with signs urging us to “get behind the box” on city streets that are crumbling underneath the cars that drive on them and pay for them.
Of course we all know that cars are evil in Seattle, and that bikes and buses are sent from God. And if we even think about asking bike riders to pay a license fee to at least contribute to the hundreds of miles of bike lanes they are getting, we are branded as heretics. They argue that “they aren’t harming the environment” or that they “already pay road taxes on their cars” if they own them. By that argument I should only pay for one vehicle too, since I only drive one at a time, and my three motorcycles shouldn’t pay at all!
And yes we are in a recession. Can the average Joe and Jane just getting by living in the city afford an extra $100? I hardly think so. For a city that allegedly cares as much as it does about lower income folks, saddling them with an additional $100 seems rather callous.
I do love Seattle. But its time for some tough love. If the County and City Councils put this on the ballot, it’s getting a big fat NO colored in by me. Hopefully those of you who live in Seattle and King County will feel the same way. How we convince them to fix the roads and stop trying to kill off the auto and motorcycle I don’t know yet. We vote them out and another numbskull gets elected to take their place. I guess its time to dust off that bill redrawing the city limits that I wrote too -- any neighbors wanna join me?
Gary can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and you can read his blog at http://grgardner.livejournal.com