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dangerous to ride within city limits of Seattle?

Discussion in 'Westside' started by sboman, Aug 3, 2012.

  1. I'm preparing to relocate to Seattle from Houston, TX within the next month, and I'm wondering, just how dangerous is it to commute on a motorcycle?

    I've lived in NW Houston all my life, I've neither owned nor desired to own a motorcycle, as you've got to have a death wish to ride around here. The number of drunk drivers is absolutely stupefying. In the last month alone I've had to take extreme evasive action twice (swerving to the point of fish tailing back and forth, slamming brakes to the floor) because of drunks, and I drive around in a BRIGHT ORANGE car. We've already had three head on wrong-way collisions on I-45 this summer. Drivers are extremely aggressive, inattentive, and congestion is starting to become a serious problem (even though we're the urban sprawl capitol of the world.. ) Most of our interstates coming into the city don't have any shoulder at all, and most of the roads in the inner wards are in complete disrepair (you'd get speed wobbles going any faster than 55).

    Anyways, you get the point, it fucking sucks here. It's a shame too, our riding season is year round (except for August when it's actually dangerous to wear leather, for fear of overheating).

    tl;dr just how risky is it to ride around Seattle? Obviously traffic awareness and being a able to spot a dumb fuck from a mile away are the most important skills to have, and I am very competent in that regard (Houston has taught me well). Nonetheless will I be at considerable risk, regardless of any skill I may possess, every time I get on the bike? Are drivers generally aware of motorcycles and cyclists? Do any of you fear for your lives daily, for example?

    I'm a full time student so the savings will make a big difference. I'd also be purchasing a fixed gear bicycle to get to school, so the motorcycle would only be used if i needed to be outside of the Belltown-Downtown-Capitol Hill area, and occasionally for recreation on back roads outside of the city. I am 18, but not an idiot; I have no desire to scream down highways or do wheelies, and wouldn't be riding anything bigger than a 250cc (MPG is important). I really just hate having a car/car insurance and would like to avoid that at all costs. I absolutely would be taking the MSF course, and have seen enough horrifying crashes in my short life to know just how dangerous the roads are, even in a cage.

    I'll have access to a car if I really need it, so I won't be buying one regardless if I choose to take up riding. I guess that was some pretty important information I left out there, sorry.
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2012
  2. I commute year-round here. Having never commuted anywhere else, I can't say how this area compares to others. I can say that I don't fear for my safety from other drivers while riding all that often. Obviously we have agressive, inattentive, and impared drivers here like everywhere else, but I find thier numbers manageable.

    If you intend to ride a motorcycle here, or anywhere, you have to accept the risk inherent in the activity...if you crash, or are involved in an accident, you will likely be injured much more severely on a bike than had you been in a car. If you are unwilling to accept that risk, then motorcycling is probably not for you. Obviously, you can mitigate the risks associated with riding by taking skills classes, wearing the proper gear, and riding responsibly.

    If you intend to ride up here, you need to be prepared to deal with rainy and cold conditions ALOT! Rain with temps in the upper 30's to low 40's are pretty common for 4 months or more per year. Again, proper gear will help here...but be takes a commited person to ride year-round here. Also, we do get snow for short spurts, so if your bike is your only means of motorized transportation, then there will be small windows from late November to late March where it would be prudent to not ride for a day or two until the roads are clear of snow/slush.

    Personally, if you are only going to have one vehicle up here, then I would suggest a car would be much more convienent...but that is just my opinion.

  3. Ever take a look at the rainy days in Seattle? One hand on the bike, and one hand on the umbrella. Not to mention that this fact also makes traction for
    you and the other drivers bad and the visibility downgraded. What part of this actually missed your thought process when deciding that a motorcycle is your best means of transportation. Next at 18 and even thinking that you'll take a safety course that will makes things all good. My advice a geo metro, or just the metro period. I have a lot of experience, and really wouldn't be excited with the prospect of riding a bike of either kind in those conditions. Experience is your friend and will help save your life in a bad situation. A road safety course will allow you to identify the bad situation right before it runs over you.
  4. I'll have access to a car if I really need it, so I won't be buying one regardless if I choose to take up riding. I guess that was some pretty important information I left out there, sorry. Also I'm a big fan of public transportation (lol), just because we have none here, so it really is a great convenience. I'm certainly not implying I'm "experienced" on a motorcycle, I've never ridden one. I've just grown up with very, very stupid, and often drunk, drivers, and part of that is being able to identify a bad situation long before it happens. Driving around Houston late at night, I've had a few near-misses, but they've only been such because I identified a potential situation before it arrived, and was ready for it. Last time it happened I was staring at the perpetrator, expecting him to do something stupid.. and he did, he pulled out across 3 lanes of traffic intending to go the opposite way. I think you get the wrong idea, I only include this information to make my point, not that my "traffic analysis" skills are superior, but that if your drivers are even marginally better than ours, I should be "ready" (as much as I can be). For example, I lived in Lexington, KY for a year and the other drivers were so docile driving was a breeze, I didn't have to worry every time I went out. You are right, youth undoubtedly brings inexperience, no matter the person. If riding is risky enough that my youth comes into play, I will definitely take that into consideration. Riding skills are a whole nother issue. I'm not particularly worried about rain, as I can't foresee being forced to ride in it, though it is definitely a necessary skill.

    tl;dr again: i'm worried about the degree of unavoidable stupidity of other drivers.
    if it's anything like Houston I doubt I'd be willing to risk it
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2012
  5. R-Steve-R

    R-Steve-R suzukigixxer

    i lived in Huston no harder here than there jest wetter
  6. +1

    As a year round motorcycle commuter, I can't agree more. If you can only have one mode of transportation, a car is the better route.
  7. Texasl

    Texasl Totally Charming Retired Moderator Staff Member

    If you are going to attend that little trade school on Montlake (uw) and live in the general area of the campus, just get the single speed bicycle and come on up. Metro is pretty good for access in that part of the city.

    After you have commuted by bicycle for a while and had a chance to see the vehicular mayhem Seattle calls traffic you can make a more informed choice. Trending towards motorcycle? Take the introductory motorcycle training class to get a feel for if you even want to pursue the avocation.
  8. I've lived in Seattle and now in Austin, with occasional trips to Houston.

    Seattle drivers are much less aggressive, sometimes to the point where you think the gov't might be dropping something into the water, it's totally normal to see someone doing 55 in a 65, oblivious to the line of traffic behind them.

    But, invest in some rain gear (it rains 300 days a year, on avg), and focus on your breathing techniques so you don't road rage to much.
  9. Agree with Dulljack. I moved to Seattle from Houston a year ago. Seattle does not have the heavy downpour like Houston. You do have to watch out for hills. Hills back in Houston were mainly freeway overpasses. Here, the hills can be steep and in wet weather, dangerous.
  10. As another year round commuter I'd say it can be done here. I will also say it can be pretty awesome for parking around seattle when you're out as it's a lot easier to find a place to put the bike than it is a car. With this said I drive my Jeep about once a month right now and its generally just to home depot and back to get something big for the house.

    Gear is definitely important if you ride year round however I will also say that the bike can play a big part too. My previous cruiser sucked in the rain but on my bike now I hardly get water on me as long as im moving. So the more fairing/windshield the better off you are in that regard IMO
  11. Thanks guys for all the input. I was really excited to move up here really for three big reasons; great weather, medical marijuana, and a place I can actually own a motorcycle. Realistically though, just as Texasl said, I'm just gonna have to wait and see for myself, get used to the city at the least. Motorcycles will definitely be in my future, I just hope it's soon.
  12. I commuted in the Phoenix, Arizona area and now I commute 60 miles up to Seatac and back.

    In Arizona, I rode off and on for about 5 months. It was very hot, but the traffic wasn't too bad.

    In Washington, I got a ticket within my first 4 weeks of commuting.

    This is what you should worry about:

    - Cops

    - Rain

    - Wet/slippery roads

    - Hills (downtown Seattle)

    Oh, and there is also a ton of construction going on downtown.
  13. Great weather? crackup:crackup:crackup:

    Medical marijuana? crackup:crackup:crackup:

    You think this would be a good place to own a MC? crackup:crackup:crackup:

    Dude ... Rain ... Stupid Drivers ... and weed don't make for ideal riding.

  14. The fixed gear bike sounds more dangerous and less practical than the motorcycle. Did I hear great weather thrown in there somewhere!? LOL
  15. RedKat600

    RedKat600 Vintage Screwball Staff Member

    Riding without insurance is one of the stupidest things you can do. I sincerely hope if you get a moped or motorcycle you get insurance.

    FYI, having a car/car insurance is cheaper than having a motorcycle.
  16. Riding here is just fine. Like some of the ^ hooligans I ride year round all over the Sound area. You will need to learn SA very quickly if you don't already practice it.

    There is lots of good gear available locally. Buy it. Hi viz and white work wonders given that it is often cloudy here. In the winter, ice often likes to form due to the humidity, so you gotta have a good feel of ambient road temperature.

    You will like riding here. Just make sure that EVERY piece of your gear is water resistant (nothing is totally waterproof lol).
  17. Its herb or tires... seriously. You can't likely afford both up here, especially if you like good tires AND good weed.

    Btw, I ride all year until ice comes out to play. I'm more comfortable carving through traffic on my bike than I am just puttering with my foot off the gas in my van. I have places to go and driving large, heavy vehicles makes me skittish.
  18. Seriously, why do hipsters love those things so much? Dude, Seattle is one big fucking hill with a shit ton of obstacles thrown in there. Fuck riding a fixed gear there.

    I'd say it depends on what you're commuting to. Work, no problem on a motorcycle. I did it for four years. Changing when I got to work wasn't an issue. School though, is a problem. I don't have anywhere to store my gear while I'm in class and you're insane if you think I'm going to sit in class wearing it, or haul around all of my riding gear. You're also insane if you think you can commute on a motorcycle in Seattle without full rain gear.
  19. One thing I can about riding in Seattle is never ride on the far right side of the road. City workers here are quite lazy and leave their crap on the road. Their Crap will kill your tires.

    I'm an Electrician at the aircraft company here and I'm always telling the labors to pick up after themselves.
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