The Online Voice of the Bicycle Alliance of Washington

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Auction: Food, Fun and Fundraising

Join us for our 18th Annual Auction on October 23!

We hope you're planning to join us at our 18th Annual Auction at Seattle Center Fisher Pavilion--and don't forget that our early bird discount on tickets ends this Thursday, September 30! Ticket info and online form can be found at Your ticket price includes a family-style dinner and complimentary Northwest wines and beer.

This year's auction is shaping up to be another memborable event! Eric Mamroth and Dave Ross are returning as our auctioneer and emcee respectively. The Dessert Dash will be bigger and better than ever. The Wine Grab is back by popular demand and we're adding a Beer Grab as well.

We've got some great auction items for your bidding pleasure, including an exclusive 5-day use of 51' sailing yacht for up to 11 persons, a day of sport climbing with Doug Walker, a Mount Tahoma ski hut adventure, Cascade Bicycle Club 2011 passport, 4 tickets to Disneyland, a 5-day safari for 2 at Ezulwini Game Lodge in South Africa, cross-country ski gear, an REI camping package, an Inland Northwest railcycling adventure, a gourmet sushi dinner for 6, Sounder tickets, symphony tickets, massages and more!

We're still accepting donations! Use our online donation form at or contact Louise McGrody at 206.224.9252 x303 to discuss.

Volunteers are a key ingredient to the success of the auction! We need assistance with event set up and clean up, as well as help with a variety of tasks during the event. Contact Ron Lindsay, our auction volunteer coordinator, if you'd like to help out.

A big shout out to our event sponsors:

Third Place Books - Vulcan - Boeing - John Duggan, Cycling Attorney - SVR Design

Monday, September 27, 2010

I Bike: Izabelle Anderson

Izabelle proudly poses with her bike.
Although Izabelle Anderson of Bellingham is only 8 years old,  she has been riding her bike for "a hundred years."  She proudly bikes to school on her pink bicycle decorated with flowers and equipped with a basket.

Biking is Izabelle's favorite way to get to school.  She likes to bike because she gets exercise, has a lot of fun, and she likes to play on her bike.  Sometimes she even rides in the rain.

When asked what her first memories of biking are, Izabelle responded, "I remember that I got to look around when I was on the back of my Mom's bike. I also remember crashing my bike when I had training wheels and I went too fast down a hill."  The coolest thing she has seen from a bike seat is a raccoon.

Does she have any advice for folks thinking about taking up biking?  You bet.

"Always wear your helmet and be safe all the time. Wear hand gloves. Ride in a straight line, don't go back and forth, back and forth because you might crash," stated Izabelle.  " I love to bike!" she adds.

Tell us your story!  I Bike is a project of the Bicycle Alliance of Washington to put a personal face on bicycling when we talk to elected officials and the public.  Contact Louise McGrody if you'd like to share your I Bike story with us.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Want more people to bike? Feminize cycling!

I'm a woman and I make all sorts of trips by bike, including my work commute, but I'm in the minority in this country.  An October 2009 article by Linda Baker in Scientific American Magazine states that if you want to increase the level of bicycle transportation trips in the US then we need to get more women on bikes.

In the US, men's cycling trips surpass women's by at least 2:1.  This ratio stands in marked contrast to cycling in European countries, where urban biking is a way of life and draws about as many women as men--sometimes more.  In the Netherlands, where 27 percent of all trips are made by bike, 55 percent of all riders are women.  In Germany 12 percent percent of all trips are on bikes, 49 percent of which are made by women.

So why don't American women bike more often?  Are we worried about the dreaded helmet hair?  Not really.  Are we trying to avoid sweating?  Nah.  Are we concerned about safety? BINGO. Blue
Earlier this year, the Association of Pedestrian & Bicycle Professionals (APBP) conducted an online survey about women and their attitudes and concerns about biking. Over 13,000 women responded to the survey, and the preliminary data confirms that women are concerned about their safety while biking on our city streets.  Respondents expressed concern about distracted driving (78%), speeding vehicles (69%), and vehicles turning right in front of them (61%).  Participants also wanted more bike lanes (69%) and more off road pathways (52%).

If we truly want to increase the number of Americans who bicycle, then it's time to get women on bikes..  We need to listen to what women say keeps them from biking and address those issues.

New York City has made a significant investment in bike infrastructure, installing 200 miles of bike lanes over the past three years.  Now they are working to increase the number of women who bike for transportation.  The Streetfilms video Women in Motion: New Lady Riders Reflect on NYC Cycling interviews women new to cycling and explores what motivated them to try bicycling.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Pro Walk/ Pro Bike in TN!


I had an amazing opportunity to attend Pro Walk/Pro Bike in Chattanooga, Tennessee last week (Sept 13-17). My work sent me and I spent the week trying to soak up as much new and exciting bike ped info I could. I can't wait to get back into the office and put some of my new ideas to work!

I can't tell you how exciting it was to be amongst hundreds of other bike nerds. We talked about bike education, encouraging women to ride, lessons learned and every time I told someone I worked for the local MPO they knew what I meant (that NEVER happens)! Metropolitan Planning Organization for those of you who aren't in the transportation field.

From what I saw, Chattanooga is a cute town, they have a free electric shuttle bus that runs in the downtown core. I am pictured above on the pedestrian bridge that overlooks a beautiful park and the river. The aquarium was amazing! And don't get me started on the food, oh my. We ate at Sticky Fingers twice, it's a local bbq joint. Mellow Mushroom, a pizzeria, where I enjoyed a Fat Tire and a Shrimp and Sausage pizza. Aretha Frankenstein's for breakfast, The Ice Cream Show....wait this is a bike blog, not a food blog? Sorry, I'll get back on subject.

The week started off with the annual National Safe Routes to School Partnerships meeting. We went over their draft strategic plan and then broke into groups to discuss various topics. I went to the group that talked about institutionalizing bike education curriculum and found out what's happening around the nation in the bike ed world.

I attended more sessions than I can remember right now, I have pages of notes and stacks of business cards. Whatcom Smart Trips had a poster at the event and I was lucky enough to be able to help 'present' at the poster session. This means that I stood by the poster and talked to people about our program and our successes.

Another highlight was meeting the Metal Cowboy, Joe Kurmaskie, I bought his new book, Mud, Sweat and Gears, and look forward to reading it. It tells the tale of a bike trip he took with his wife and kids.

One of the opening speakers, Gil Penalosa told us that the week was about 'recharging our batteries' and that it did! I may be a little jet lagged, but I'm still energized and excited!!

I could go on an on about the conference, but will stop. Just know that it was great and well worth the time and money. It is every two years, if you are in the transportation field weather paid or a volunteer I'd recommend attending.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Green Bikes Invade West Seattle

If you take a stroll through the business districts in West Seattle these days, you're likely to spot one or more bright green bikes propped against a bike rack.  These bikes are unlocked and beckon you to take them for a ride.  Really.

Free to borrow.
Please return.
No gas!
Ride at your own risk.

These green bikes are a one-man public service by Guy Olson and he patterned it after the 1994 Yellow Bike Project in Portland.  Olson paints the donated bikes then puts them out in the neighborhood.  He also fixes them if someone reports that they are in need of repair.  More info can be found on the Seattle Green Bikes Facebook page.

Friday, September 17, 2010

I Bike: Suzanne Skinner

Suzanne astride "the Precious" with thanks to Bill Davidson.
Suzanne Skinner of Mercer Island began biking to work several years ago when her then employer, the City of Seattle, provided showers and a locker room that made transitioning from bike garb to professional wear a breeze.

She loved her bike commute because it felt long enough to be a work out and provided her with the training she needed to enjoy longer weekend recreational rides.  Her 50 minute commute helped Suzanne focus on the coming day in the morning and de-stress and regroup for whatever the family had in store for her in the evening.  What Suzanne didn't expect was all the great people she met enroute.  Biking opened her eyes to the delightful neighbors she had overlooked when she drove or bussed to work.

"One morning I met an armed camp of elderly and incredibly fit Cantonese wielding drawn sabres while practicing tai chi along the bike path on the Mercer Island lid," she recalled.  After responding with a startled "jo san" (good morning) to them, the group proudly demonstrated some of their best maneuvers for her.

On another early morning bike commute, Suzanne encountered "two lovely women madly hula hooping along the side of West Mercer Way."  She stopped and received an impromptu hula hooping lesson that morning.

"One never gets to hula hoop on the way to work when one relies on a motor vehicle," said Suzanne.  "Biking opens up new worlds and makes you laugh a bit more!"

Tell us your story!  I Bike is a project of the Bicycle Alliance of Washington to put a personal face on bicycling when we talk to elected officials and the public.  Contact Louise McGrody if you'd like to share your I Bike story with us.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A Shameless Pitch for Auction Donations

Fall is here.  Our days are shorter, there's a chill in the air in the evening, and it's time for the Bicycle Alliance of Washington's Annual Auction.  This year's event is slated for October 23.

Whether you ride with your kids to the park, pedal to work or school, or joy ride on your favorite trails--all bicycling is local and all routes need advocates.  It takes money to organize--and our annual auction helps fund that effort, increases awareness, and helps us cultivate the seeds of bicycle advocacy statewide.

Help us grow--donate today!

Necklace by Katie Yankula
We need donations big and small to generate spirited bidding and appeal to the whole wide world of bicycle supporters.  We would welcome gift cards to restaurants, coffee shops, and your favorite retail outlets.  Are you crafty?  Handcrafted items like knitted socks and scarves, quilts, pottery, jewelry, and woodwork gifts are popular.  Themed gift baskets are also great auction donations.  Are you a season ticket holder? Tickets to the theatre, opera, symphony, professional sporting events, and amusements are needed.

Are you (or someone you know) a nail artist, hair stylist, massage therapist, physical therapist, yoga instructor, dance instructor, personal trainer, dog walker, house/pet sitter, landscaper, or ......?  These kinds of services sell at the auction.

Cyclists are active folks.  Lift tickets to your local ski hill, a round of golf at your local golf course, a guided birdwatching hike, and catered bike rides make good auction donations.  Did I say bike rides?  Entries to event rides, bike tours and triathlons are a must.  New and gently used outdoor gear can also be in demand.

Do you (or someone you know) have vacation property or a second home?  Getaways--posh to rustic--to the mountains, the ocean, lakeside or desert are in demand.  Urban destinations can also be popular.  Auction attendees wave their bid cards for unique experiences:  lunch with a celebrity, private tours, catered activities, gourmet meals, and exclusive adventures.

We've made it easy for you to submit a donation with an online auction donation form.  Please contact me, Louise McGrody, if you have any questions.  You can also call me at 206.224.9252 x303.  To ensure that your donation makes the catalogue, please submit your donation info by September 30, 2010.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Streets for all? It's up to you.

The Seattle City Council is considering its 2011 budget priorities; make sure they know that you want them to fund complete streets

Avid readers of the blog—and we know that your numbers are legion—may recall an earlier post about Seattle’s woefully-underfunded bicycle and pedestrian master plans, and the citizen-initiated movement to make them those plans a reality and fund transit service in the City. Called “Streets for All," that movement has been endorsed by the Bicycle Alliance and numerous other organizations.

Now’s the time for Seattle cyclists, and anyone who cares about walking and transit in the City, to join the Streets for All effort and let your voices be heard at City Hall.

The City’s annual budget process is grinding slowly but inexorably forward. The city council is in the midst of considering next year’s spending proposals and priorities, and budget hearings are set for the evenings of Sept. 29, Oct. 13 and Oct. 29.  The lobbying from various interest groups has already begun, and the council needs to hear from you.

There are two ways that you can help:
  • Send an email
Send an email to council members telling them that you support the goals of the Streets for All effort, and want to see adequate funding for the Bicycle Master Plan, the Pedestrian Master Plan, and public transit operations.  You can do so by going to the Streets for All home page and clicking on “Tell city council your stories.”
  • Attend a public hearing
Show your support by going to one of the three public hearings and speaking. Remember, attending an important public hearing is like going to the dentist: it’s not how you’d rather be spending your time, but it’s well worth the effort in the long run.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

China's Epic Traffic Jam: Welcome to the First World!

Did you hear the news about the epic traffic jam on China's Beijing-Tibet Expressway? It was 60 miles long and lasted for 11 days in August.  According to a Wall Street Journal report:
Though triggered by construction, the root cause for the congestion is chronic overcrowding on key national arteries. Automobile sales in China whizzed past the U.S. for the first time last year, as Chinese bought 13.6 million vehicles, compared with 9.4 million vehicles in 2008. China is racing to build new roads to ease the congestion, but that very construction is making traffic problems worse—at least temporarily.
Welcome to the First World, China!  You've abdicated your title as the "bicycle kingdom" in favor of car culture. Now you're faced with First World transportation woes and its related problems.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Pedal with Politicians: Show your elected officials their city from a bike seat

Spokane Valley Pedal with Politicians.
The Bicycle Alliance of Washington teamed up with Spokane Valley cyclist-turned-advocate Mark Mims to host a Pedal with Politicians on August 18.  This followed on the heels of a recent victory to save the Broadway Avenue Safety Project.  Fifty riders (cyclists and politicians) turned out for this event and, by all accounts, it was a success.

Why you ask? In light of the recent victory not to suspend the Broadway Safety Project, local advocates wanted to let elected officials and agency staff know the benefits, challenges, and joys of bicycling. There is no better way than to take them on a bike ride! Marc will post more about their successful ride.

But for now, let's talk about why Pedaling with Politicians is a great event and how the Bicycle Alliance can help make that happen. We have worked on such events in Seattle, Spokane, Bellingham, SE Washington, and Walla Walla. People are always trying to connect with politicians at town hall meetings, coffees, and in their offices. But going on a bike ride and getting them out of their usual environment in a fun setting is hard to beat. They get to experience the issues first hand and understand the benefits and challenges of bicycling from the "drivers seat." It is clearly a win-win. The politicians get to hear the big picture from Bicycle Alliance staff, but also their constituents can brief them on the local issues. When you are advocating with these politicians for more bicycle friendly legislation, it feels great to say, "Hey, remember what we showed you and discussed on that bike ride you enjoyed so much?"

And remember, take pictures of them with bikes and smiling advocates. And send them along with a thank you note.

If you are interested in organizing such a ride, contact our ED Barbara Culp at 206.224.9252 Ext. 325, or

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Urban mobility is not a zero-sum game.  When you design streets for bicycles and pedestrians, everybody wins.

When it comes to designing American streets, it’s usually all about the car.   

Look at almost any street in our country. The priorities appear to be, in this order: (1) maximizing the rapid flow of motor vehicles; (2) providing as much curbside parking as possible without interfering with Priority (1); and (3) everything else.

Many American critics of so-called “alternative” transportation seem to believe that it has to be this way. They apparently see urban planning as a black-and-white, zero-sum game in which there’s only one legitimate winner. If bicycles and pedestrians “win,” they believe, then cars “lose.” And if cars lose, then industry, business, mobility and “real people” lose as well.

Look at the debate over Seattle’s very modest efforts to provide more space on its streets for bicycles. The City is slowly placing some of its arterials on a “road diet” and adding bike lanes. But the negative reaction has been fierce, with opponents claiming that this “war on cars” will clog the streets and drive the City’s industrial base elsewhere. 

And in questioning whether the City should make spending for bike and pedestrian facilities a priority, a Seattle Times columnist recently posed the issue as a stark, either/or proposition, saying: “ Seattle voters have to decide what kind of city they want: one with affordable taxes and reasonable accommodation for business and jobs, or a bike and pedestrian haven backed by plenty of public spending.”

I have no doubt that much of this expressed angst arises from genuine concern—genuine, but misplaced and ultimately harmful. 

Consider: (1) Seattle is already among the nation’s most congested metropolitan areas. We’ve ranked as high as Number 2 during the past ten years.  The average Seattle-area driver spends about 45 hours a year stuck in traffic.  (2) Seattle, like other Washington cities, has committed itself to greater density.  That means more people in the same space—and unless there is another way to get around, more cars. (3) No large City has ever eliminated congestion by road-building alone.  The Los Angeles metropolitan area, which probably has the world’s most extensive freeway system, routinely ranks as America’s most congested.  (4) Cities that turn themselves entirely over to the car are among the most polluted and least livable. Think L.A. and Houston; would you move to either of those places for quality of life alone?

Perhaps more importantly, consider the experience of cities that have taken a different path.  Their experience shows that everyone’s mobility is increased when commuters are given a variety of options. Their experience also shows that giving street space to bicycles and pedestrians helps create a far more pleasant and humane urban environment.  In other words, everybody wins.

Exhibit A is Copenhagen, Denmark.

Visitors can be forgiven for thinking that Copenhagen has always been bicycle and pedestrian nirvana; that the bicycle tracks, pedestrian streets and sidewalk cafes that one sees today are a natural outgrowth of Danish culture. Not so. They are the result of conscious policy choices that have taken almost 50 years to implement.

Two videos illustrate Copenhagen’s transformation and the results; both are well worth watching. One is a clip from the film “Contested Streets.”  The other is a short video from Street Films called "Copenhagen's Car-Free Streets and Slow-Speed Zones."  In them, Danish architect and urban planner Jan Gehl and others recount how cars began proliferating in the city during the 1950s.  Cyclists were pushed aside, and Copenhagen’s lovely squares were turned into parking lots.

The transformation to a different model began in the early 1960s, when one kilometer of the City’s main shopping street was turned into a pedestrian mall.  And in the 1980s, the City began to build an extensive system of separated “cycle tracks” on major arterials, often taking general-purpose car lanes to do so. As here, business owners often howled.  Danes aren’t Italians, they said—they don’t just walk around for the hell of it. The weather’s too bad—no one will frequent the pedestrian zones. Business will be ruined.

But the City went ahead, and proved the critics wrong.

In the process, they created an urban setting that is commonly held up as a world-class model of livability and sustainability. And “real people,” the kind that critics of Seattle’s modest steps claim will be driven away, got back on their bikes. Today, more than a third of the commuters in Copenhagen get to work or school on their bicycles.  So it turned out that the cycle tracks weren’t just for a few selfish Lycra-clad eco-lunatics. They were for everybody.

And no, they didn’t outlaw the car. The Copenhagen area has a surprisingly-extensive freeway system.  And Copenhagen’s streets are less congested than Seattle’s. In fact, according to Gehl, Copenhagen is the least-congested City of its size in the Western world.

And that’s no zero-sum game.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Eat Your Handlebars!

Eat your Handlebars!
Many Bicycle Alliance members are acquainted with Andy Goulding, husband to our Executive Director Barb Culp.  Andy is a man of many talents and, several years ago he focused his creative energies on creating an energy bar for hungry cyclists--Handlebars!  He has graciously agreed to share his Handlebar recipe with us.  Thank you, Andy!

Handlebar Recipe
(It's not cooked!)

1 very huge spoonful of organic peanutbutter
1 very huge spoonful of organic honey
1 very huge spoonful of organic flax meal
1 cup of organic raisins
1 cup of organic granola

Smash in non-stick organic pan.
Refrigerate,then eat your Handlebars!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

PROS to Benefit the Bicycle Alliance

Sketch by Andy Goulding.
If you're hanging out around Seattle this holiday weekend and you're looking for a bike ride on Labor Day, consider PROS.

PROS: Perimeter Ride of Seattle was founded by Gary Strauss and Dan Wakefield of Cyclists of Greater Seattle (COGS) in 2005 and is modeled on other perimeter rides, like El Tour de Tuscon.  You will see the City of Seattle from all sides on this 80-mile ride and get incredible views of Puget Sound, Lake Washington, the mountains and cityscapes.  A PROS Lite (56 miles) is also offered.  The ride is organized by COGS and this year, they will collect donations for the Bicycle Alliance of Washington to support our advocacy and education efforts.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Bicyclists Appreciate the ADA - Thanks to the Bushes!

Navigating a curb midblock in Pioneer Square.
I'm a bike advocate, temporarily disabled. I usually find myself talking to elected officials or policy makers about complete streets where everyone has access to our roads and sidewalks. But in a moment of weird coincidence, on the twentieth anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), I fell off my bike and fractured my pelvis. (See previous blog post for that story.)

My life was changed in a matter of seconds. I went from biking everywhere to using a walker and now crutches. The bus stop closest to my house remains out of reach, up two steep blocks. I went from car-free to being driven to work.

Now thanks to George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush (I never thought I'd thank them for anything), the ADA defines a physical impairment as something that limits a major life activity -- walking for instance.

While the ADA has significantly improved walking downtown and on neighborhood streets, a missing curb cut can literally stop a physically or visually impaired person as effectively as a wall. And while my physical impairment is relatively short term, Seattle's streets remain a maze of streets without curb cuts and crosswalks with fast turning traffic.

My work neighborhood in Pioneer Square (see photo) demonstrates how critically important the ADA is to the livability of our cities and how much work remains to be done to provide universal access for all users of the transportation system, including sidewalks and intersections.

As we cyclists advocate for sharing the roads, with full access, we can learn from the disabled advocates who wrote the ADA legislation 20 years ago.