The Online Voice of the Bicycle Alliance of Washington

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Beware of Couple Selling Brooks Saddles

Our friends at JRA Bike Shop asked us to share this information with Seattle area bicyclists.

A man and a woman, working together, have been approaching local bike shops and trying to sell Brooks saddles at a steep discount.  Shop owners believe these are stolen saddles and have turned them away.

According to JRA's Pioneer Square shop manager Ben Rainbow, the couple has approached Elliott Bay and Bicycle Pull-Apart shops as well as JRA.  They have also been seen trying to hawk the saddles outside to customers coming and going from the shops.  If you spot this couple or are approached by them near a bike shop, Ben suggests that you report them to the bike shop.

Insurance for the Car-less

Today's guest blog post was submitted by Mimy Bailey, a bicycle attorney practicing in Seattle.  She handles cases involving collisions and roadway defects.  She is a member of the Bicycle Alliance of Washington.

After my last post on insurance (Time for an Insurance Check-Up) I received requests for more information relevant to those who gave up their cars.   I spent some time calling insurance companies about any available replacement for car insurance and came up empty handed.  This post will address some special considerations for those who are car-less.

Before we dive in, I’ll give you the bottom line:  There is no car insurance equivalent for the car-less.  You want to make sure you have health insurance in case you are hurt and homeowner/renter coverage in case you cause a collision or have a property damage claim.

Car insurance provides three important areas of coverage that comes into play in a bike v. car collision:
  •  Personal Injury Protection (PIP)pays for medical and other expenses, such as wage loss and household services.  PIP is no-fault coverage, so it does not matter who caused the collision, your bills will be paid.  The bills are paid as they are incurred (similar to health insurance). 
    • Car-Less Scenario:  You will only have access to PIP coverage if the driver has it on his/her policy.
  •  Under/Uninsured Motorist Coverage (UM/UIM)will provide insurance if you are hit by someone who is uninsured or whose coverage is inadequate to cover your damages. 
    • Car-Less Scenario:  Not available.
  •  Liability coverage is mandatory at a minimum of $25k.  This is the coverage that you will make the final claim against on the driver’s policy.  You must have an auto policy to have this coverage. 
    • Car-Less Scenario:  You don’t have this coverage to take care of the other person in case the collision is your fault (homeowner/renter insurance is the replacement).  If it’s the driver’s fault, this is the coverage you will make your claim against.
 Is there bicycle insurance?

I know of one company that sells bicycle insurance, but it is not equivalent to car insurance.  After reviewing the coverage, it’s not coverage I would recommend.

Can I buy car insurance without a car?

There is no replacement for the type of coverage available to you if you own a car.  No car insurance will provide Personal Injury Protection (PIP) or UIM coverage if you are hit on your bicycle, unless your car insurance is tied to your vehicle.

This means that health insurance and homeowner/renter insurance is all the more important.  Health insurance to cover your medical bills and homeowner/renter insurance to provide liability protection in case the collision is your fault.

Who will pay my medical bills if I am hit by a car?

IF the driver has PIP coverage on his/her policy, then it will pay medical bills up to the limits of the coverage (usually $10k, $25k, or $35k).

If the driver has no PIP coverage, or you max out the coverage, you need to have medical insurance to cover your bills.

Am I limited by the driver’s insurance coverage? Can I go after him/her personally?

It is possible to go after the driver’s personal assets, but this is considered a last resort to be exercised in rare circumstances.

What coverage do I have when driving a Zipcar?

Zipcar provides liability and PIP coverage for members when driving one of their cars.  Learn more here.

Am I covered when I borrow a friend’s car?

So long as you have your friend’s permission to use the car, you will be covered on your friend’s policy.  That said, it’s always a good idea to call the insurer to make sure.

What if I cause injury to someone else while riding?

In this scenario, you will be concerned about liability coverage to take care of the harm you caused to another person.  Homeowner/renter coverage may provide general liability coverage in this scenario.

What if I am involved in a bike v. bike or bike v. pedestrian crash – what insurance coverage applies?

Most likely, the only available coverage will be homeowner/renter if carried by the at-fault person.

What if my bike is stolen?

Again, you will make the claim on your homeowner/renter policy.  It will be helpful if you have pictures of the bike and a receipt for the original purchase.

If you have other questions about insurance or some of the information provided is unclear, send me an email and I'll be happy to clarify

Mimy's website is at and her Twitter handle is SeattleBikes. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Celebrating Everyday Bicycling

Bike to Work Month is great! Bike to Work Day is great! These encouragement events increase bicycle ridership and illustrate the potential for every month to be bike to work month and every day to be bike to work day. Sandt
Bike to work month ended May 31st and here in Seattle summer is upon us. The seasonal uptick in bicycle ridership in Seattle is in full swing. While more bicycle riders on the road make the roads safer for bicycle riders, more bicycle riders sharing the same marginalized urban spaces require an extra measure of care and cooperation by and on behalf of bicycle riders.

Commuting by bicycle is a highly utilitarian form of bicycling, an everyday expression of mobility, autonomy, play and perhaps most importantly, inter-dependence. In the realm of utility cycling safety always trumps marginal improvements in speed—prudence beats haste every time when it comes to everyday bicycling. Hasty passing and maneuvering in the context of a busy bike lane or roadway is risky and reckless behavior. Anyone who rides a bicycle on the road knows that there is a special type of vulnerability that bicycle riders experience in traffic which points to the importance of minimizing risk for oneself and other bicycle riders. Bicycle commuting should be playful and cooperative, not competitive. A cooperative attitude encourages the safety of all road users. Shaving a few micro-seconds off of your commute does not rationalize or justify endangering or disrespecting other bicycle riders.

Hazards of urban bicycling that are created by bicycle riders include tailgating, dangerous passing and other commute-racer behaviors—DON’T be one of the hazards to other bicycle riders. To see the hazards generated by bicycle riders from a diversity of perspectives, I polled my co-workers about their least favorite bad behaviors by cyclists and I have listed them below. This is a partial list, including some of the worst offenses, but it is certainly not exhaustive:
  • running red lights
  • splitting lanes
  • splitting two cyclists
  • jockeying up to the front at a red light (passing those who are already queued up)
  • riding the wrong way (against traffic)
  • tailgating cars or other bikes
  • sneaking through 4-way stops out of sequence
  • passing pedestrians and other bicycles without warning (neither bell nor voice)
  • ringing the bell excessively or aggressively at pedestrians and other bicycle riders
  • riding with headphones or earbuds
  • squirelly and unpredictable riding
  • silent drafting (and slingshot passing)
  • passing on the right (especially without warning)
  • wearing too much lycra, especially racing uniforms (nurtures an exclusive rather than inclusive environment)
  • switching from “vehicular mode” to “pedestrian mode” at will
Being considerate to fellow road users is not only good for others around you, whether they be travelling by bicycle, car or bus, but it is also good for you. The commute is not a race and fully embodying that reality will reduce your stress levels and improve your commute.

Everyday year-round bicycle commuting is not practical or feasible for everyone. Being hard-to-the-core as a bike commuter is commendable and if you are hardcore about your bike commuting, great, but don’t beat up on the fair weather riders too much. In regards to the benefits of bicycling for the greater good, it is most productive to take the seasonal gains in bicycle ridership from fair weather riders in stride and continue to encourage bicycle commuting and utility riding.

It is high time we forget the embittered attitude of the dreary and wet winter commute and celebrate the dry weather and corresponding increase in bicycle traffic; it is time to leave behind the exclusive and competitive attitude and embrace an inclusive and tolerant attitude towards your fellow bicycle commuters. Riding on the streets involves sharing space with other vehicles, both motorized and human powered. In the good humor and good spirit of springtime cheer, let us be patient with our fellow road-users and remember that Bike to Work Month is really just the opening of the floodgates for bicycle commuters in Seattle. So play nice, won’t you?

Monday, June 27, 2011

What I learned from a road trip

Photo by Ben Brown.
I did a Bicycle Alliance road trip last week. Accompanied by Executive Director Barbara Culp, her husband Andy, and former BAW staffer Kent Peterson, we traveled across the North Cascades Highway to the Methow Valley community of Twisp. We were joined by Ian Macek, WSDOT’s Bicycle Pedestrian Coordinator, as we gathered at the Methow Valley Inn to meet with over a dozen individuals to discuss creating Washington’s first US Bike Route—Route 10—across the northern tier of the state.

Folks in the Methow Valley understand the economic benefit of USBR 10. The region is already a destination for recreation, touring and mountain biking. So it was no surprise that Winthrop Mayor Dave Acheson, Twisp Councilmember Traci Day, and local business owners were among the attendees.

After the meeting, Kent unpacked his folding bike and bid us farewell. He pedaled back through the Methow Valley and across the mountains to home, checking out the future Route 10 on a more personal level. You can read his blog post about the ride home here.

It was on to Spokane for the rest of us. Thursday evening we gathered at the Steam Plant Grill with a wonderful group of local cyclists for Hub & Spoke. Spokane has a vibrant and energetic bike culture and it was inspiring to hear about their successes, new ventures and vision for their community. Representative Andy Billig and Spokane City Councilmember Richard Rush also joined us and shared some insights with the group. Both men cycle for transportation and advocate for policies and programs that benefit bicycling.
Councilman Richard Rush  addressed challenges facing Spokane.

We rounded out the trip with a couple of Friday meetings. We sat down with Representative Andy Billig over a cup of coffee at Rocket Bakery to discuss the 20 mile per hour bill, funding for Complete Streets, and more. 

Then we dashed off to the WSDOT regional office to meet with Mike Bjordahl, the East region bike pedestrian coordinator. We reviewed the progress of the Children of the Sun Trail, which is part of the North Spokane Corridor project, and discussed the need to get cyclists’ input early in projects—including rumble strips and chipsealing.

As we headed back to Seattle, I sifted through what I learned on the road trip. First and foremost: we have bright, thoughtful and passionate bike advocates in all corners of our state who are capable of transforming their communities.

Second take away: perseverance and creativity pay off. The dollars don’t always flow as generously in communities east of the Cascades, yet bike advocates are finding ways to build trails, start a Safe Routes to School program in an elementary school, encourage people to bike to work, and make their communities more bicycle friendly. 

Coffee meeting with Rep. Andy Billig.
Third lesson:  meeting with elected officials on their home turf is valuable.  Our meeting with Representative Billig was pleasant and unrushed--vastly different than meeting with him in Olympia during a legislative session.  State and local officials are proud of their communities and are pleased when we venture out of Seattle to visit their part of the state.  It also gives us a chance to see firsthand the on-the-ground successes and challenges in their towns.

Thanks, bike advocates! I return to the office inspired by your work and seeing light at the end of the tunnel.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

US Bike Route 10: The Work Begins

In May, the Bicycle Alliance participated in a month-long fundraising campaign organized by Adventure Cycling Association for the US Bicycle Route System (see this post).  The campaign raised over $31,000 nationally and we raised close to $1000 of that.  Thanks again to all of you who made a contribution!

For those not familiar with the USBRS, picture an interstate travel system designed with bikes in mind.  These routes will be officially recognized, mapped and signed.  Using the road less traveled, it will connect communities, parks, landmarks and other popular destinations while traveling through some of the best scenery America has to offer.  Adventure Cycling is leading this ambitious effort nationally and the Bicycle Alliance has stepped up to lead the effort in our state.

Now we're rolling up our sleeves and getting down to business.  As the lead partner in the USBRS effort in Washington State, we're hitting the road to meet with elected officials, transportation staff, and community advocates along the northern tier corridor that will someday become US Bicycle Route 10.

Ian Macek, WSDOT's Bicycle Pedestrian Coordinator, will join us as we hold outreach meetings along the corridor to begin the planning and implementation of USBR 10.  We're holding our first meeting this week in Twisp.  The Methow Valley offers some great biking and folks over there know the economic benefit of bicycle tourism.

If you live along the USBR 10 corridor and would like to help champion the project in your community, please email me at  We'd especially like to hear from if you live in the eastern half of the state.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Hood Canal Bridge to Get Safer Bike Lanes…But Not for Awhile

This post was written by our guest blogger Doug Cantwell of Seattle. 
Bad News: The Hood Canal Bridge bike lane presents a hazard to cyclists.

Good News: WSDOT has announced plans to refit the grated section of the bridge with a wider, safer bicycling surface.
The Catch: It won’t happen overnight.

Photo:  Dana Berg/Squeaky Wheels
When the new, improved Hood Canal Bridge reopened in June 2009, bicyclists were disappointed—some say appalled—to find the same narrow steel plating laid across the grated section for their use that they’d come to fear and loathe on the old dilapidated bridge. 

The majority of the floating structure offers a generous 8-foot-wide lane, but on the grated section, cyclists must negotiate a 3-foot-wide steel plate that is further reduced in effective width by fasteners to about 18”.

“It’s pretty scary,” said Barbara Culp, executive director of the Bicycle Alliance. “If you’re carrying panniers, it would be easy to bump them on the railing, careen off onto the bare grating and go down hard.”

Barb reported that the narrow plate has caused a half-dozen spills—none of them serious—in the two years since the reopening, but she considers it “a major accident waiting to happen.”
Under pressure from the Bicycle Alliance, Port TownsendBicycle Association, West Sound Cycling Club and Squeaky Wheels (a Bainbridge Island cycling advocacy group), WSDOT recently announced plans to refit the narrow plating with a 5-foot-wide usable surface. Federal and state funds totaling $1.3 million have been allocated for the project.

However, the state won’t be accepting bids for the work until 2012. So until the contractor gets hired and the new plate is installed, let the bicyclist beware…!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Ten lessons for a vibrant city

Even though I've been back in Seattle for a week, my head and heart are still in Copenhagen, Denmark where I attended a study tour underwritten by the Scan/Design Foundation, and lead by i-Sustain . The weeklong tour was a guided whirlwind of the best bicycling practices in a city known for its world-class bicycle facilities and biking culture.

10 Lessons learned from the seat of my 3-speed red rental bike:

1) Think out of the car and beyond the oil barrel to energy independence. Denmark began planning for bikes, buses, trains, and subways during the oil crisis in the mid 1970s.

2) Really, truly you can share the road, and do so safely. It's about planning for "soft traffic" which means giving bike riders and pedestrians separate facilities--sidewalks and cycle tracks that get a "green" traffic signal before motorists.

3) Think beyond money. Envision a vibrant, vital city which embraces biking as an inexpensive transportation option.

4) Arrive by bike, bus or train. When I asked a city employee how he got to the meeting, he replied, "by bus, we're not allowed to drive to meetings."

 5) Separated facilities have fostered a 37% bicycling rate. Cycle tracks are a separate facility running on all major roads in Copenhagen. They parallel sidewalks, and traffic lanes. They have fostered a main street atmosphere with reduced noise levels.

6) Blue lanes through intersections coupled with a green light ahead of motorists has reduced traffic conflicts and collisions. The lanes clearly show the bicyclist where to ride, and gives motorists a visual cue to watch for both people on bikes and on foot.

7) Biking skills are taught to every school child. Red Cross and other non-profits teach bicycle skills to immigrants. Copenhagen is planning for a 50% bike ridership by 2015.

8) No lycra--just people riding in jeans, skirts, shorts, suits, dresses.
9) Offer options: not everyone wants to ride on the cycle tracks. Denmark doesn't have steep hills but they do have open minds about providing options over and around obstacles.

10) Cycling should be as easy as walking. I'm still processing what I learned; the study tour was an eye-opening experience. I've changed my thinking and I'm committed to working with my study-tour colleagues to bring some of these best practices to Seattle and other Washington cities.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

First Thursday ArtWalk at the Bicycle Alliance

This post was submitted by JoAnn Yoshimoto, our Development Director.

Scores of bicycle enthusiasts gathered on June 2 for the First Thursday ArtWalk at the Bicycle Alliance office in Pioneer Square.  On display were the creative works of members Lisa Reynolds (encaustic and mixed media), Marie Zahradnik (pencil and watercolor), Andy Goulding (pen and ink), and Michael Stearns/Erica Hanson (waxed canvas). To the delight of guests, Marie Zahradnik drew “blind contour portraits” – created with the artist looking at the subject but not the paper. She also hung the new unofficial emblem “In Bikes We Trust.”

Join us on Thursday, July 7 for the next ArtWalk at the Bicycle Alliance. Several new artists/members will be featured. As a bonus, Marie and Andy plan to return in July and sketch portraits for guests who are interested in being immortalized in an original work of art!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Bringing Bicycle Safety Education to Washington Schools

It’s been a busy spring for our Safe Routes to School staff.  Trainers from the Bicycle Alliance and Feet First trained 40 educators from eight school districts how to teach safe biking and walking skills to their students.  This curriculum will be taught in grades 5-8 physical education classes.
School districts that received training this spring include Sedro Wooley, Lynden, Eatonville, Zillah, Wahluke, Waitsburg, Pomeroy and Reardan-Edwall.  Additional trainings are scheduled later this year, and up to 29 school districts can be trained in total.  This map shows the school districts that have been awarded training so far.

This training project is funded by a two-year grant from the Washington State Department of Transportation, and managed by the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.  If your school district is interested in applying for a training grant, please visit OSPI>Safe Routes to School Program.  Applications are accepted on a rolling basis throughout 2011.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Bike Alliance Statewide Legislative Committee Set to Meet June 25 at REI Headquarters in Kent to Discuss 2012 Legislative Priorities

Please RSVP If You’d Like to Attend and Share Ideas

Question: What do cycling advocates do right after the state legislature’s annual session comes to a close?  Answer: Start planning for next year’s session.

The job of setting policy priorities, crafting legislation and building support for its passage starts months before the legislature’s opening gavel in January.  

The Bike Alliance will begin that process for next year’s session on Saturday, June 25,  from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., when its Legislative and Statewide Issues Committee meets at REI Headquarters, 6750 South 228th Street in Kent. Anyone who is interested in bicycle advocacy is welcome to attend the meeting and share ideas. However, because the meeting will be held at REI’s offices during non-business hours, those who wish to attend should RSVP in advance by contacting Bike Alliance Executive Director Barbara Culp at

The Committee, which acts in an advisory capacity to the Bike Alliance’s board, is made up bike-club representatives and other appointed individuals from around the state.  The Committee’s current membership includes cyclists representing clubs from Spokane to Vancouver, from Bremerton to Walla Walla and Wenatchee, and from Yakima to Snohomish and Skagit County.  The Committee’s charter calls for two formal meetings a year; committee members also hold periodic telephone conferences during the legislative session.

Under the charter, the purpose of the June meeting is to “develop a list of legislative and advocacy matters of statewide significance to be pursued in the subsequent year as a recommendation to the Bicycle Alliance Board.”  Among other things, this year’s meeting is likely to include discussion about whether to pursue three bills backed by the Bike Alliance that failed to make it through the 2010 session. They are:

·      HB 1217, which would have given cities broader authority to set 20-mph speed limits on non-arterial streets.

·      HB 1700, which would have allowed greater design flexibility to encourage construction of higher-quality cycling and pedestrian infrastructure.

·      HB 2053, which would have increased some Department of Licensing (DOL) fees, with a part of the new money to be earmarked for the “Safe Routes to School” program.

HB 1018, the Mutual Responsibility bill, was tabled at the Bike Alliance’s request and will not be re-introduced. Shortcomings in the bill were identified during this year’s legislative session despite previous widespread outreach and input on the measure, which three years earlier had started as the “3-foot passing” bill.  Components of the bill that have value and those that are of concern will be discussed at the June 25 committee meeting.   Some elements of the bill may be included in a future legislative proposal; however, the Bike Alliance does not intend to reintroduce any such bill during the 2012 legislative session.

Committee members and other participants may also bring new proposals for discussion by the group.

If you’d like more information about the Committee and its work, you can visit the Legislative Issues page on the Bike Alliance’s website, at  That page includes a link to some of the Committee’s past accomplishments.