The Online Voice of the Bicycle Alliance of Washington

Thursday, April 28, 2011

If At First You Don't Succeed: Vulnerable User Bill Passes Legislature

Persistence pays off.

On April 18, after a multi-year effort by the Cascade Bicycle Club and other cycling advocates, Washington lawmakers finally passed legislation designed to protect vulnerable road users. The law, Substitute Senate Bill  (SSB) 5326, has been sent to the governor for her signature.

If signed by the governor (and there's no indication at this point that she won't), the law will strengthen penalties under the state’s negligent driving statute for motorists who kill or severely injure bicyclists, pedestrians, and other vulnerable road users such as motorcyclists and equestrians.

Under current law, the penalty for second-degree negligent driving, a non-criminal traffic infraction, is a flat $250 fine regardless of the harm caused to others.  Under SSB 5326 the offense would remain an infraction; however, motorists who drove negligently and caused the death or serious injury of a vulnerable user would be subject to a maximum $5,000 fine and would lose their drivers’ license for 90 days.

In lieu of that penalty, a driver could ask for a court hearing; in that case he or she would be required to pay a $250 fine, attend traffic school, and perform community service that included activities related to driver improvement and traffic-safety education. Motorists who chose to go to court but failed to follow though with their obligations would be subject to the $5,000 fine and 90-day license suspension.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Community Bike Shops

What do you do with the bike that your 10-year-old has outgrown?  Or perhaps you've just upgraded to a fancier road bike and you'd like to find a good home for your trusty old steed.

Maybe you're a student on a tight budget and you'd like to do some simple repairs on your bike, but you live in a dorm and don't have the right tools.  Maybe you live in your own home and regularly host out-of-town guests and it might be nice to have an inexpensive bike in the garage to lend to them.

It's time to check out a community bike shop.

Community bike shops are nonprofit groups, often run by volunteers, that refurbish and recycle bikes at low-cost or free to the community.  They're appearing all across Washington State and there may be one or more in your town.

Bike Works, in Seattle, operates a full service bike shop.  They sell refurbished bikes, offer maintenance and repair services, and sell accessories and parts.  They also offer an earn-a-bike program for kids.

Live in Everett?  Check out Sharing Wheels. Besides refurbishing and reselling bikes at low-cost, Sharing Wheels has earn-a-bike opportunities for troubled teens and low-income adults.  They also have a co-op program where members have access to shop space and tools for do-it-yourself bike repair.

Pedals2People is a do-it-yourself community bike shop in Spokane. They provide low-cost access to shop space and tools and they offer a variety of bike repair and maintenance classes, including a Ladies Mechanics Class. Like the other community bike shops, P2P also sells used bikes.

These three programs are a sampling of community bike organizations in our state.  The Bike Collective Network has a listing of community bike shops in Washington State.  Do you know of a community bike shop that's not on the list?  Tell us about it.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

May is Bike Month

One of these days the rain will stop, the sun will come out and it will be May. And there will be a bunch of events going on around Washington State to celebrate the bicycle and the bicycle commuter. This post will highlight Bike Month events, stay tuned for a Bike to Work Day (and week) posts as well.

Bicycle Commuters in Whatcom County can form a team of 4-6 people and participate in the Team-Up for everybodyBIKE month long challenge. Team captains that register by April 29th
will get a free limited edition "I Bike B'Ham" t-shirt. Check out their website to register.

Cyclists in Seattle-King County can participate in the Group Health Commute Challenge. Form a team of 4-10 riders and bike at least 5 days in May. Register your team (or go solo) on their website.

Tacoma-Peirce County is also hosting a commuter challenge sponsored by REI. Form a team, bike at least five days and you're entered into their prize drawing! Register Here. Thurston County has held a Bicycle Commuter Contest since 1988! Way to go!
Intercity Transit’s Bicycle Commuter Contest (BCC) rewards participants with prizes, valuable coupons, and recognition for their accomplishments. Register here.

That's all the Bike Month Challenges I know about. Does your community have something going on? If so, let us know so we can post it on the Bicycle Alliance website. Like I said above, stay tuned for more posts on Bike Week and Bike to Work Day.

Until then, ride safe and let's hope for some sun!

Check the current listing we have for Bike to Work activities.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Meet Josh Miller

Say hello to Josh Miller.  A Seattle resident since 1999, Josh joined the Bicycle Alliance staff this month to lead our Go By Bike program.

Josh has a passion for bicycling and sustainable transportation.  He had an earlier career in the bicycle industry and later studied the connections between biking, the built environment and urban planning in his graduate work. He has worked on various urban and regional planning projects in the Northwest and beyond.  Besides utilitarian riding, Josh likes mountain biking, BMX riding and recreational road rides.

As the Go By Bike program manager, Josh will be working with four colleges in the Puget Sound region to develop and implement bicycle skills curricula.  He will also work with parents from two elementaries with Safe Routes to School programs to encourage them to bike with their kids.

Josh is pleased to be part of the Bicycle Alliance team.  "I'm really enthusiastic about doing bicycle education, advocacy and community outreach work," he stated.  "I am glad to be part of an organization with a mission that I support."

When he’s not fulfilling his love of bicycling Josh can be found hiking, skiing, climbing, photographing or working on various carpentry and woodworking projects.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

What's in a Name?

Do you name your bicycles? I have many friends who do.  The name usually has a fun story behind it, like my friend's touring bike, named Trigger after Roy Rogers famous horse. Or Big Red, an aptly named fully stocked red commuter bike. I tried for years to come up with a good name for my orange Trek, however, no matter how hard I tried, nothing seemed to fit. Over the years, some bikes have come and gone, like the 1984 black Schwinn, that I named Big Brother. And then there's my new bike, named Fred, after my Dad's middle name, Fredrick. Still to no avail I can't come up with a good name for the Trek. The poor, abandoned and neglected Trek.

Any suggestions?

If you name your bikes, how do you decide what to call them?

What are your bikes' names?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

May flowers, May bike rides

May is National Bike Month, spring flowers are in abundance, and there is no shortage of organized bike rides available to you, the cyclist.  The following rides support the Bicycle Alliance's statewide education and advocacy efforts:

May1    May Day Metric (Federal Way) offers 3 challenging routes on the back roads of south Puget Sound.

May 1   Rhody Bike Tour (Port Townsend) offers 4 routes up to 62 miles using rural roads in Jefferson County, and a 12-mile family trail ride.

May 7   Ride Around Clark County (Vancouver) has 4 beautiful and challenging route options through scenic Clark County.

May 7   Skagit Spring Classic (Burlington) offers 4 routes through scenic northern Skagit and southern Whatcom Counties.

May 15  Lilac Century & Family Ride (Spokane) has routes from 15 to 100 miles long using the roads less traveled in Spokane County.

May 21 Group Health Inland Empire Century (Richland) offers 4 scenic routes through wine country.

May 28 Eastern Washington Senior Games (Walla Walla) has bike racing events for 50+ men and women.  No racing experience necessary.

Check our Ride Calendar for a complete listing of bike rides that support our statewide and advocacy efforts.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Winning Campaigns Training: Sign up for Bike Advocacy Boot Camp!

Is there a regional trail that needs to be pulled off the drawing board and put on the ground? Maybe your elected officials are buckling at adding bike lanes on streets that have been identified for these facilities in your local bike plan. Do you want to start a Safe Routes to School program offered at your child’s school? Then it’s time to register for Winning Campaigns Training!

Winning Campaigns Training is a 3-day boot camp for bicycle and pedestrian advocates. This action-packed workshop gives novice and veteran advocates the tools to create and manage powerful campaigns to increase biking and walking in their communities.

Organized by the Alliance for Biking and Walking, six Winning Campaign Trainings are scheduled for 2011. The Bicycle Alliance of Washington is hosting the Seattle workshop June 3-5. Enroll soon—early registration discount ends May 6.

Monday, April 18, 2011

It's been a Long time and a Long Bike

I haven't written a blog post in quite a few months, some of you may have noticed, many probably didn't. My Dad was diagnosed with brain cancer in July 2009, in July 2010 my parents moved to Bellingham. Last winter his health started to decline, thus I was spending a lot more time at their house. With working full time, and having my own family to take care of as well, I made the decision to take a break from some of my volunteer activities until things settled down. I wish I could say this story had a happy ending, however, there is no cure for brain cancer, so after living a full and wonderful life my Dad passed away on February 11, 2011. I am fortunate to have had him as a Dad, and fortunate to have shared a love of bicycling with him.

That being said, let's talk about bikes now. I decided last January that I really needed a new bike. The bike I had was a Trek 4300, a bright orange mountain bike that I tried really hard for nine years to turn into a commuter bike. I added a rack and fenders, neither of which really fit, thus, the fenders were constantly rubbing on the tires and driving me crazy. Also, I knew the time was coming that I'd need to replace the drive train. The chain would make the dreaded 'ker-clunk' sound when I shifted, sometimes it would shift right away, other times it would wait awhile and shift when it felt necessary. With as much biking as I do, and since we choose to own one car, my husband and I decided a new bike was a good idea.

After giving it much thought, I finally decided I wanted a long bike. For one, my daughter could sit on the back and I could drop her off at school, or pick her up, and she wouldn't need her bike. This was helpful because there are some days when I drop her off, but don't pick her up, or vice verse. The second reason is they are simply amazing and awesome, I use my bike a lot for work, having to haul supplies to schools for bike education presentations, and the long bike can carry SO MUCH cargo!

Once I decided on the long bike I had to decide which one to get. It cam down to three choices:

The Trek Transport, a new bike on the market. It is very sleek looking, and
has a front rack as well as the extended rear rack, however, the major downfall of this bike is that the carrying capacity of the rear rack is only 100 lbs. After talking with my local bike shop employee, he said he wouldn't recommend the Transport if one of my main uses of the bike was to haul my daughter. He did, however, recommend the same bike he owned.

The Surley Big Dummy Complete. This was a few steps (and hundreds of dollars) above the Trek. It has disc breaks both front and rear, a steel frame and a carrying capacity of 400 lbs (including driver). The Xtracycle is built right into the frame. It's a beast built for hauling some serious cargo!

The third bike I was considering was the Kona Ute. Priced lowest of these three bikes, the Ute is also very sleek looking (check out those panniers!), and has a carrying capacity of 300+ lbs. Sadly it only comes in 18" and 20" frame sizes. Not very helpful for a 5'2" rider.

When it came time for me to make a decision I opted to go with the Big Dummy. It was in my mind, the best of the three, a very high quality bike, built to do just what I needed, haul heavy cargo. Also, it came personally recommended by someone I trusted. This is huge when shelling out over $1,000 for a bike. But really, what sealed the deal, is that my Mom offered to contribute $1,000 towards the bike (from my Dad's life insurance). So, while it saddens me to no end that the main reason I have my Big Dummy is because my Dad passed away, I can be happy knowing that he would have loved the bike and would be happy knowing that he was able to help me get it.
Stay tuned for blog posts on carrying ridiculous amounts of cargo. And a sometimes ridiculous 8 year old.

Do YOU have a long bike? Which one? What is the heaviest/biggest/most amazing thing you've hauled on your bike (long bike or not)?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Legislative Update: Traffic School Bill Signed into Law

It’s official—Traffic Schools will soon be teaching drivers how to safely interact with bicyclists and pedestrians.  Governor Chris Gregoire signed HB1129 into law on Monday and it takes effect 90 days after close of the legislative session. 

The Bicycle Alliance will be contacting all traffic schools and providing them with the approved curriculum.  We will also do follow up to ensure that traffic schools are using it. Thanks to everyone who supported this bill with emails, letters, phone calls and testimony.

Here’s a quick rundown on other bills that we have worked on:

Complete Streets, HB1071, passed house concurrence by a 53-43 vote.  It now goes to the governor for signature.

HB 1700, which addresses transportation project design in a way that could greatly benefit bicycle and pedestrian facilities, died on the Senate floor.

Vulnerable Users, SB 5326, is waiting for Senate concurrence.

And a new development…HB2053 is a transportation fee bill that would raise $162 million in additional fees from licenses and other sources.  This bill currently allocates $5 million for Safe Routes to School programs.  The Bicycle Alliance recently testified in favor of this bill.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Dave Janis says Farewell to the Bicycle Alliance

After nine years of service with the Bicycle Alliance of Washington, Policy Director Dave Janis has decided to move on.  He bids farewell at the end of this month when the legislative session draws to a close.

Dave first joined the Bicycle Alliance as a contractor in 2002, creating a couple of small neighborhood walking and biking maps for the City of Seattle.  He was eventually hired to manage the organization’s Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program.

“Traveling around the state to conduct Safe Routes to School trainings and building community partnerships has been very motivating and inspiring to me,” reflected Dave.

Dave is very proud of his involvement in making the Bicycle Alliance a statewide leader in SRTS, and in garnering national recognition for some of the innovative approaches to program implementation.  He sat on the Safe Routes to School National Partnership steering committee and made many conference and workshop presentations.

In his role as Policy Director, Dave was especially pleased with the passage of the distracted driving bill, which elevated texting and using a handheld cell phone to a primary offense.  Working with a diverse group of partners to pass the bill was challenging and exciting.

One of Dave’s most memorable highlights while working with the Bicycle Alliance was meeting musician David Byrne. An avid urban cyclist, Byrne did a multi-city tour to promote his book Bicycle Diaries and Seattle was one his stops.  Dave was one of several local bike advocates invited to join the musician on stage for a discussion about urban cycling.

“We’re going to miss Dave,” acknowledged Executive Director Barb Culp. “We’ll miss his dedication, his wonderful laugh, his delight in the many things that tickled his funny bone, and his love of talking to people.”

Over his years with the Bicycle Alliance, Dave filled many roles with thoughtfulness and steadfast professionalism, she added.  He consistently represented the organization at Pro Walk Pro Bike and other prominent events.

Dave’s immediate plans include a visit to the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument in Oregon, a trip to Ohio to celebrate his father’s 101st birthday, then preparing for the arrival of his first grandchild.  He’s looking forward to riding his bike more and intends to stay involved with the Bicycle Alliance and bike advocacy.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Bringing Safe Routes to School to South King County Metka
When I was a kid, I walked to school. In fact, most of my classmates either walked or biked to school and it was probably the same for you. Biking and walking to school, my neighborhood library, the corner market, and my friends’ homes was routine for me.

Just a generation ago, almost half of all kids in the US biked or walked to school. Today, less than 15% of kids arrive at school under their own power. Conversely, childhood obesity rates have more than tripled in the past 30 years.

The Bicycle Alliance of Washington is leading a project in south King County designed to reverse this trend. Funded by King County Public Health, we are working with Feet First, school districts, community groups, and fantastic volunteers to bring Safe Routes to School to underserved communities in this region.

School and community members are invited to participate in walking and biking audits around schools to become familiar with traffic flow, hazards and barriers to biking and walking.  We also train teachers how to instruct students on bicycle and pedestrian safety using a proven curriculum and we provide a fleet of kids bikes for use by the schools.  Teachers have been trained in Kent, Renton, Seatac, and Auburn elementary schools.

“It’s exciting to have an opportunity to improve the social equity of communities,” commented project manager John Vander Sluis.  “People living in low-income neighborhoods have real challenges to accessing regular exercise and nutritious food.  The Bicycle Alliance has a chance to make a serious impact with this project.”

Volunteers are needed.

The Bicycle Alliance is looking for volunteers to assist teachers with bike safety skills training in the participating schools.  No experience is required – just follow the teacher’s instructions.  Time commitment is flexible and times vary.

We’re also looking for a pickup truck and driver with some flexibility this spring to move bikes and trailers between schools in south King County.  The truck must be rated to pull around 2000 pounds, and a receiver hitch or 2 5/16” ball mount is preferred.

Contact John Vander Sluis at or 206.224.9252 x324 if you can help us out.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Hey, mom… No training wheels!

Many of you involved with the Bicycle Alliance of Washington know Andy Goulding. Andy is an ardent supporter of and a tireless volunteer for this organization. He's also the husband of our Executive Director Barbara Culp.

While helping us out at a kids event last year, Andy became inspired to help parents teach their children to ride a bike quickly.  It doesn't rely on training wheels and it doesn't require an adult to run alongside helping the child to balance on the bicycle.  That inspiration has resulted in a Learn to Bike Without Training Wheels educational flyer.  A printable pdf version of it is available on our website. 

Andy's grandson, Marcel, learned to ride his bike at the age of 3 using this technique.  It's a huge improvement over the way Andy taught his son how to ride a bike 30 years ago.

Here's a You Tube video of young Mary learning to ride her bike.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Legislative Update: Time runs out on 20 mph bill

It's the end of the road for HB 1217 20 mile-per-hour bill this session. The bill had to be voted out of the Senate Transportation Committee last week and it did not make it. Many thanks to all of you who supported this legislation and contacted legislators. The Bicycle Alliance’s Legislative Committee will review progress made on this bill at their June meeting and decide whether or not to attempt moving this bill in next year's session.

We have better news on others bills that we have been working on:
  • Traffic School Safety Education bill, HB 1129 awaits the Governor's signature. 
  • The Complete Streets bill SHB 1071 was passed in the Senate, but amended.  It now just needs House concurrence then goes to the Governor for her signature.   
  • HB 1700, which addresses transportation project design in a way that could greatly benefit bicycle and pedestrian facilities, is currently in Senate Rules.  Once pulled from Rules, it goes for a Senate floor vote. It has already passed in the House. 
  •  Vulnerable Users, SB 5326 has passed the House which amended the bill.  Next up is Senate concurrence, and if that occurs, then it is off to the Governor. 

The current proposed budget still includes the combined $11 million for the Safe Routes to School and Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety programs. We will continue to track these programs in the budget. 

As always, check our Legislative Page for more details about these bills and the work of our Legislative Committee.