The Online Voice of the Bicycle Alliance of Washington

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Ride for a purpose in September

Yes, the days are noticeably shorter.  And yes, kids are heading back to school.  But there’s still plenty of good bike riding in September, and the following rides support the advocacy and education efforts of the Bicycle Alliance.

Looking for a bike ride on Labor Day?  Ride PROS!

PROS, which stands for Perimeter Ride of Seattle, is an annual Labor Day ride organized by the Cyclists of Greater Seattle (COGS).  The 80-mile ride--which literally follows the perimeter of the city--features lofty hills with 4200 feet of elevation gain, water views and cityscapes.  There is also a 60-mile option with 2700 feet of gain.

Cycle the WAVE on September 18 is a women’s only non-competitive ride with options available for all levels.  You can choose from the 25-mile Girly Girl route to the 62-mile metric century with climbs.  This rides benefits domestic violence programs.

Spend a week (September 11-16) riding the scenic Oregon Coast with the People’s Coast Classic.  The ride features 50- to 70-mile days, with rest stops and activities along the way.  Dinner and camping is included.  Two and four day options are also available.  The ride is fundraiser for the Arthritis Foundation.

WaCanId is a another multi-day tour (September 20-24).  This scenic 5-day tour travels the acclaimed International Selkirk Loop through Washington, Idaho and British Columbia.  This fully supported ride benefits seven local rotary clubs.

Keep pedaling into fall and beyond!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Can a commuter morph into a roadie?

I ride my bike nearly everyday, although I don't log very many miles. I live about 2 miles from my work, so my daily mileage is around 7-10 miles, depending on how many errands I run, or if I decide to take the 'long way home'. Every once in a while I have to go to a meeting in a neighboring town, if that's the case I may ride up to 25 miles round trip. I do this on my commuter bike. I don't own a road bike, however, I may soon.

During the hubbub of the Tour de France and the STP my brother threw out an idea: "Why don't we try and do the STP next year or the year after". You see, he recently inherited our child bike seat and has been biking all over Renton with his almost two year old. He's been bitten by the bike bug and I couldn't be happier.

I thought about his challenge, the STP, huh? Well, the furthest I've ridden in one day is 30 miles, and that was to go to work meetings, so it was split up. Also, like I said above, I don't own a road bike. As much as the idea of doing a LONG ride (60+ miles) on Fred, my Big Dummy Complete intrigues me, I'm pretty sure my body would be happier with an actual road bike. Not to mention the skinny tires, it'd be so much easier, well as easy as 60+ miles can be.

So now I'm in the conundrum of buying another bike. But I'm a commuter, not a roadie. I don't know the first thing about road bikes. If you've read the book Bike Snob, you can laugh with me about the different types of bicyclists and how they may or may not get along. If you haven't read it, you should, it's hilarious!

A trip to my local bike shop was educational, I learned a lot about road bikes and the different components. I'm still not sold yet, I'll admit. While I can justify spending a lot of money on my commuter bike, we only own one car, I'm getting exercise, it's awesome, I use it every day, etc. It's harder for me to justify spending a lot on a road bike that I will ride a couple times a week. So to answer the question, can a commuter morph into a roadie? I honestly don't know. I like the idea of doing a century, I'm just not so sure about the the spandex and $800+ price tag of a new bike.

What do you think? Can you convince me to do it? Do you have a similar story to share? Do you have tips on buying a road bike?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Bike Cage Opens in Tacoma

Photo: Downtown on the Go
Bike commuting to downtown Tacoma just got a little easier with the opening of the Park Plaza North bike cage. You’ll find it on the fifth floor of the garage, directly across from the skybridge to Broadway.

The bike cage offers secure, 24/7 bike parking for folks who bike to work in downtown Tacoma. The cage, which comfortably accommodates a dozen bikes, is accessed with a security code. You provide your own bike lock. There’s a nominal fee to use the bike cage--$8 per quarter or $25 per year.

Ready to sign up? Just download the agreement from Downtown on the Go website, sign it, and return it with your payment. You’ll receive a personal security code to access the bike cage. Start parking!

There’s a grand opening ceremony for the Bike Cage this Wednesday, August 31 from 8-8:30am.  A second bike cage is in the works at Pacific Plaza.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Board Transitions

The Bicycle Alliance of Washington bid farewell to two valued board members this summer.

After seven years of service, Kristin Kinnamon of Marysville stepped down from the board.  Her tenure included stints as chair of the Legislative Committee, 2nd Vice President and President.  We will miss her leadership and energy.

Citing the pressures of a new job, John Whitlow of Bainbridge Island also resigned from the board.  He joined the Bicycle Alliance board in 2009.
Joe Platzner of Newcastle will fill the spot of 2nd Vice President, which became vacant with Kristin’s departure.  Brian Foley of Auburn rounds out the Executive Committee as Secretary.  This role opened when Eileen Hyatt, Spokane, moved off the committee.  She continues to serve as a board member.

Kirste Johnson
Kirste Johnson has been appointed to fill an unexpired board position.  A former bicycle and pedestrian planner for the Puget Sound Regional Council, she now works for Public Health-Seattle & King County’s Communities Putting Prevention to Work grant.

As a board member, Kirste is interested in advocating for the creation of communities where it is easier and safer for all kinds of people to bike. 

“I’d feel a sense of accomplishment if all members of the Washington legislature no longer refer to bicycling as ‘alternative’ transportation,” Kirste responded when asked what she’d like to accomplish as a board member.

Kirste lives in Seattle with her partner Chris, owner of Rosebud Bicycle Builds.  When she’s not biking, she enjoys cooking, books, movies, hiking, surfing and playing her accordion.

You can read about all the folks who serve on the Bicycle Alliance board and staff here.

Do you want to be a mover and shaker in making Washington the best state for bicycling?  Join the Bicycle Alliance's board of directors!  A passion for our work, the ability to lead with a team, and time to devote to board responsibilities are a must.  Please submit a letter of interest with credentials to by September 30.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Another One on Bicycle Parking

We've had lots of great blogs on bike parking, review them here.

I thought I'd bring the subject up again because something really exciting happened in Bellingham on July 27. We got our first bike corral. The City, thanks to Kim Brown, Transportation Options Coordinator Extraordinaire removed two on street parking lots and installed the corral on Bay Street in downtown Bellingham. You can fit 24 bikes into this space, it is even big enough for bikes with trailers to fit. I've walked past it a couple times since it went in and it has never been empty. In fact, during the Downtown Sounds concert Wednesday night, it was full, as was every tree and light post in the vicinity!

Does your town have a bike corral like this? Are there safe, convenient places to park your bike at your work, school or places you shop?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Connecting the Dots in Vancouver

Today's guest blog post was submitted by Eric Giacchino of Vancouver.  Eric is the President of the recently formed Clark County Cycling Coalition. 

Cyclists in southwest Washington have something to be excited about this year as the newly formed non-profit, Clark County Cycling Coalition or “C-4” has hit our local streets and bikeways!  Using the Clark County Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan (approved last November) as our guide, the list of advocacy and education work C-4 has accomplished continues to grow.  And backed by a growing group of incredible volunteers from the cycling community, we’re constantly evaluating our efforts and seeking ways to improve cycling in our area.

Photo by Eric Giacchino.
In June we wrapped up our two-week bicycle safety course at two Vancouver middle schools with over 350 sixth, seventh and eighth grade cyclists.  Each student received a properly fitted helmet thanks to a generous donation from the Vancouver Bicycle Club.  Although this program has existed for almost a decade thanks to active Bicycle Alliance member Joe Gruelich, he never had the resources to expand it.  As the program gains notoriety now, C-4 was regrettably forced to decline invitations from other interested schools that also want the program...Only temporarily.

It is our vision that with enough resources we can successfully add one school a year to the program.  It took some convincing, but I helped Vancouver School District officials apply for a State Safe Routes to School grant and developed a plan to deliver the program should the District win the grant.  We’re also looking into adding after school programs and summer camps based on the availability of volunteers and finances.  The Safe Routes Grant is a necessary step for the school programs.

Last week C-4 participated in the Washington State School for the Blind tandem ride and doubled the number of tandems that rode last year.  It was a fun event and a way to reach out to a group of kids that might not otherwise have the chance to ride a bike.

 Through the summer we continue bicycle outreach and education efforts by organizing several family oriented Pedalpalooza rides last month, and staffing a bike parking facility for big events like the Ft Vancouver Fourth of July Celebration and the popular Six to Sunset Concert Series.  This continues to be an effective way to connect with the bicycle community and let people know about local trails and safe bike routes as well as our organization and programs.  We’re grateful to Vancouver Senior Planner and Bicycle Alliance Board Member Jennifer Campos for the opportunity to use the City’s bike racks and spread the bicycle word during these events.

As we grow, (115 Facebook friends and over 600 viewers a day!) we continue to search for a space that will store our school bicycle fleet and become C-4’s home.  Several bike friendly real estate agents have joined the search and pointed us toward a few positive leads.  I hope we’ll have a space soon that will evolve into a small community shop and gathering place.  The website is under construction and will host our events calendar and the usual electronic info.

I’ve noticed a marked increase in both new and veteran cyclists around town this year and its awesome!  I don’t know if it’s the cost of fuel, the desire to stay fit or simply the enjoyment of riding, but the outpouring of support only proves the area has gone far too long without a central, uniting voice for bicycling issues.  C-4 will continue to gain momentum and connect the dots of the individual efforts to become the “hub” for bicyclists and cycling issues in this area.

Keep an eye out for an invitation to our “roll out” party this Fall! 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

What's a cyclist to do?

Help me out, fellow cyclist.  I'm feeling like an unloved step-child these days.  In a span of about ten days, an angry motorist hurled obscenities at me and told me to get off the street (a familiar but by no means an everyday occurrence), a motorcyclist reacted in similar fashion (a first) and a belligerent pedestrian demanded that I remove myself from a trail (another first).

I am not a rude, scofflaw bicyclist.  I stop at red lights and stop signs.  I do something many motorists fail to do--I signal my intention to turn and change lanes.  I take the lane when I need to and, when appropriate, I move to the right so as not to impede other traffic. 

In spite of my reasonable behavior, I occasionally get yelled at by a motorist.  So I wasn't  too phased last week when an oncoming motorist rolled down his window and yelled,  "F#$%!@ cyclist!  Get off the street!"  I gave him my usual response.  I smiled and waved.  

I repeated this reaction a few days later when a motorcyclist yelled at me as he buzzed by.  I have never had an encounter like this with a motorcyclist and was puzzled by his behavior.  In fact, I usually feel a kinship with motorcyclists on the road.  We can wave as we pass and converse at traffic lights.

I also consider myself to be a courteous trail user.  I don't buzz by other trail users at breakneck speed. I either ring my bell or call out to warn others of my approach.  And, if a trail is overcrowded with people on foot, I move to the road or dismount and join them as a pedestrian.

But I was totally taken aback a couple of evenings ago when an oncoming pedestrian deliberately stepped into my path and told me to get off the trail.  I stopped within inches of him, stared back in silence and didn't move.  "Bikes belong in the street," he growled at me before moving on.  Oh yeah, I thought to myself.  Tell that to an impatient motorist.

Am I paranoid or is there an increase in hostility toward bicyclists?  There's always going to be an angry motorist.  I'm more troubled by this recent show of anger from other road users.  Maybe the motorcyclist was having a bad hair day (do they get helmet hair too?).  Maybe the pedestrian had just experienced a close call with another cyclist.  Maybe the planets are out of alignment.

I'm not accustomed to getting berated for riding my bike by so many in a short period of time when I'm not doing anything wrong.  I don't like to respond to anger with more anger.

So what is a cyclist to do?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

More Volunteer Opportunities

We have two more volunteer opportunities that we're trying to fill:

Looking for BASIC bike repair assistance. Our community partner, the Community Schools Collaboration, is holding a back-to-school event for low-income students in Tukwila. The event will be on August 27th from 1-5pm. They are looking for a few helpers who can fix a flat, replace a brake pad, lube a chain, and/or replace a brake cable. If you are interested and available, please contact John with your contact info and level of mechanical expertise at 206-224-9252 x324. 

We're also looking for a friendly volunteer to staff an outreach table in Spokane at REI's SpokeEd Day event on September 10, from 12 noon - 4pm.  You can share your love of bicycling with others as you greet folks, talk to them about the Bicycle Alliance, and hand out useful information.  Contact Louise McGrody if you'd like to help out.

A recent posting of other volunteer needs can be found here.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Make Your Pedaling Worth More: Rides that support statewide bicycle advocacy and education

Photo by Carla Gramlich
It’s the middle of August, Labor Day is just around the corner, and there are still some great bike rides coming up!  If you want to get the biggest bang for your pedal power, sign up for one or more these rides.  They support the statewide advocacy and education work that the Bicycle Alliance does, so not only will you be getting a healthy workout but you’ll also support a safer and friendlier biking environment.

RAPSody – Ride Around Puget Soundon August 27-28.  With 170 miles of rolling hills, RAPSody is challenging fun.  Organized by BIKES of Snohomish County, Capital Bicycling Club, Cyclists of Greater Seattle, Tacoma Wheelmen Bicycle Club and West Sound Cycling Club, all proceeds from this ride benefit the Bicycle Alliance of Washington.  Registration closes this Friday, August 19.
PROS –Perimeter Ride of Seattle on September 5.  PROS offers a challenging and scenic course with lots of hills and views.  The full route is 80 miles with 4500’ of gain, and a shorter 56-mile option is available.  Organized by the Cyclists of Greater Seattle and all donations benefit the Bicycle Alliance..

People’s Coast Classic, September 11-16.  This 6-day event is a benefit for the Arthritis Foundation and travels along the scenic coast of Oregon.  This tour averages 50-70 miles each day, with rest stops and activities along the way.

Cycle the WAVE on September 18.  This event ride is  non-competitive and for women only.  All riding levels welcome, from the 25-mile Girly Girl to the 62-mile metric century with lots of climbs.  The ride starts and ends in Issaquah and benefits domestic violence programs.

WaCanId (International Selkirk Loop) Ride, September 20-24.  This scenic 5-day ride is fully supported and benefits 7 local rotary clubs.  The ride traverses around and through the acclaimed International Selkirk Loop route through Washington, Idaho and British Columbia.  Ride is limited to 150 riders starting in two locations (Sandpoint, ID or Nelson, BC).