A couple weeks ago, I mused in this space about my sense of a growing love-hate relationship between Seattle citizens in general and the bicyclists among them. Although I am New To Seattle, I perceived a bicycle backlash. The fault line, I thought, ran through a ballot proposal that would boost yearly car license fees by $60 with a portion dedicated exclusively for bike trails. Bicyclists without cars would pay nothing. The noisy, well-organized bicycle lobby here put on a big push for passage. But my gut instinct–gleaned solely from talking with average folks–was that the measure would go down.
Well, yesterday, the voters spoke (actually, they’re still speaking, since all voting is by mail and ballots postmarked yesterday are counted as they arrive at county offices). Loudly. They defeated the license boost by a whopping 60-40 margin. By anyone’s reckoning, that’s a landslide.
Does this mean that Seattle’s vaunted love affair with things green is starting to fade? Probably not. At the same time local voters opted in strong numbers against a statewide proposition that would have had the effect of banning expansion of light rail from Seattle across Lake Washington to the eastern suburbs. (Despite support for the prohibition in sparsely populated portions of the state, the measure seems to be going down narrowly.)
And in what I’m sure for some was the most important vote by far in this off-year election, voters by a decisive 3-to-2 margin said they wanted to get likkered up a different way. Starting in June, they will be able to buy their hard hooch at places like Costco and Safeway instead of state-run liquor stores that are sewed up by chosen out-of-state distributors.
I wrote about this proposition, too, but mainly about the wildly deceptive advertising by both sides, which trotted out their own sets of horrified law-enforcement types. Each said a victory by the other would unleash a torrent of drunken drivers on Washington state roads, as if that wasn’t the case now.
Aside from the $21 million that Costco spent on advertising–apparently a record sum for a ballot measure in my new state–my theory is that the “reform” passed so handily mainly because voters think they will be able to buy booze more cheaply. And why not? Costco, which is headquartered in the Seattle area, brags on its corporate website that its mission is to “offer quality brand name merchandise at substantially lower prices” than elsewhere. (Because it didn’t have to, Costco wisely chose not to emphasize the cost issue in its pitch to voters.)
So, can a rise in drunken bicyclists be far behind in Seattle?
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