The Online Voice of the Bicycle Alliance of Washington

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Legislative Update: We Need Your Voice Now

It’s day 52 in Olympia and, thanks to all of your good work, the push for safer neighborhood streets legislation continues. / Dan Burden
Just last week the Neighborhood Safe Speeds Bill (SHB 1217) was voted out of the Senate Transportation Committee and forwarded onto the Senate Rules Committee. Due to the letters, emails, and calls from supporters across the state, Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown pulled the bill in yesterday’s Senate Rules Committee!

Excellent news for sure, but we now have less than three days to get the Senate to vote for SHB1217. If we miss Friday’s 5 p.m. Senate cutoff, the bill dies.

We need you to lend your voice of support to the state senate.

To make this vote happen, your senator again needs to hear from you about how this bill removes red tape and unnecessary hurdles for cities and towns to create safer streets in our neighborhoods.

Already sent in a note? Thank you and please send another!

Here’s how:

#1 - Follow the accompanying link to contact your State Senator (no need to contact your representatives) by entering your mailing address here:

#2 - Email your senator a note expressing your support of this important public safety legislation. Below we've included some model text for you to use: 

Dear Senator. _________,

SHB 1217 - the Neighborhood Safe Speeds Bill – just passed out of the Rules Committee and is poised for a vote on the Senate floor. I urge you to support this important legislation. 

The Neighborhood Safe Speeds bill provides more local control, offers an additional safety tool for local governments, removes additional study costs and red tape currently required by the state, and it encourages active living by offering cities and towns the chance to create safer streets.. Most importantly, when used in conjunction with engineering and enforcement, lower speeds on non-arterial streets can save lives.

Additionally, it is bipartisan legislation with co-sponsors from both parties. It passed out of the House 96-0

Please support the Neighborhood Safe Speeds Bill (SHB 1217). 

Thank you for your service, 

[Your Name here]

Thanks for your good work to make safer streets in Washington!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Open House this Thursday!

Be sure to drop by the Bicycle Alliance’s open house this Thursday and check out our new Pioneer Square office space.  Meet the staff and members of our board, admire Bob Freeman’s display of vintage bikes, view the outdoor lighting constellation in Nord Alley, and enter a raffle!

If you’re not a Bicycle Alliance member, you’ll have an opportunity to join Thursday night and receive a Bicycle Alliance pint glass.  You can fill it with some tasty Pike IPA at the open house.

This event is part of the First Thursday artwalk and is co-hosted by our Nord Alley neighbors Feet First, International Sustainability Institute and Back Alley Bike Repair Shop.

Open House Celebration
Thursday, March 1, 5:30-7:30pm
Bicycle Alliance of Washington

Thursday, February 23, 2012

State Legislative Update: Two Weeks to Go!!!

With barely over two weeks remaining in the legislative session, the Bicycle Alliance of Washington continues to collaborate with our partners, legislators, and a diverse array of organizations and cities from around the state to promote legislation that encourages complete and healthy streets, and grows bicycling statewide.

Happily we are still engaged on each of our legislative priorities that include (1) safer neighborhood streets; (2) Better design standards & Complete Streets; and (3) investments in transportation funding, including Complete Streets. / Dan Burden
Safer Neighborhood Streets: We’ve had an especially busy week supporting our priority legislation, SHB 1217 – the NeighborhoodSafe Streets bill. Last Thursday, we held a fantastic public hearing in the Senate Transportation Committee that featured council members Jon Snyder (Spokane), Sally Clark (Seattle), Bicycle Alliance Executive Director Barbara Culp and former WSDOT Secretary Douglas MacDonald. Video of the testimony can be seen on TVW. 

Just yesterday, the Senate Transportation Committee passed SHB 1217 out in executive session without opposition! We are excited to now move forward in the Senate and to work with our over 35 partner organizations and cities on next steps to ensure the bill’s passage.

Better Design Standards & Complete Streets. SHB 1700 was also heard in the Senate Transportation Committee last week and passed out of the Committee on Monday. This bill promotes safe and flexible design standards by providing cities and counties the flexibility to use updated guidelines for designing bicycle and pedestrian projects, increasing safety and reducing project costs.

Healthy Communities. HB 2370, a bill led by Representative Andy Billig of Spokane adds health as a transportation system policy goal. After a fantastic public hearing in the House Transportation Committee, which included our own Barbara Culp noting the transportation changes occurring since she grew up in the Methow Valley, the bill passed out of the House two weeks ago. It is now slated to be heard Monday, February 27 in the Senate Transportation Committee. /  Mike Cynecki
Funding. Transportation funding is still very fluid as supplemental budgets in both the House and Senate have been introduced. The initial Senate proposal includes a smaller proportion allocated for Safe Routes to Schools funding (3% versus 4%, which amounts to approximately a $1 million difference). We are also monitoring the situation for funding the Complete Streets Grant Program, which originated out of the passage of last year’s HB 1071.

Your involvement. The Bicycle Alliance of Washington has succeeded over the past 25 years with a focus on collaborating and working with members, clubs, and individuals across the state to lend experience, expertise, and support. Legislators need to hear your voice and we can’t thank you enough for lending it over the course of the session. If you want to get involved, please contact me, join our e-activist list, and – most importantly – become a member of the BicycleAlliance!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Bicycle Poster Contest Deadline is March 1

Winning poster from 2011.
Our days are growing longer and the telltale signs of spring are visible.  It’s the perfect time to encourage kids to bike to school, neighborhood parks, libraries and many other places.

The 2012 Fifth Grade National Poster Contest is designed to get kids thinking about where they can travel by bicycle with its them, Bicycling Takes Me Places.  The contest is sponsored by Saris Cycling Group, Schwinn, Planet Bike and Lazer.  Entries are due March 1.

Contest rules and information can be found here.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Federal Transportation Update: Votes delayed, action still needed

Two weeks ago, the Bicycle Alliance and other biking and walking organizations asked our members to contact their Congressional representatives in an effort to save biking and walking programs in the federal transportation bills. Specifically, we asked you to tell your House members to kill HR-7 (the House version) and ask your Senator to support the Cardin-Cochran Amendment to the Senate bill. Read the alert.

You responded! According to the League of American Bicyclists, members of Congress received 50,000 messages asking them to support biking and walking programs in the transportation bill. You made it clear that many Americans care about safe streets, Safe Routes to School, transit and trails.

Speaker of the House John Boehner, who is no friend to folks who bike, walk or use public transit, reacted to the outcry by delaying the vote on HR-7 until the week of February 27. The Senate will likely vote on the Cardin-Cochran amendment that same week.

If you were one of the thousands who responded to the call for action already, thank you! If you have not, there is still time to weigh in. Use this link to the LAB’s Action Center to weigh in.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Love Your Ride: A Celebration of Winter Bicycling

Whatcom Smart Trips and everybodyBIKE hosted a winter bicycling thank -you party on February 12, 2012. It was a way to say thank you to those cyclists who brave the elements and continue to cycle throughout the winter months.

There was a rain gear fashion show, a tricycle photo booth, plenty of snacks and some pretty amazing prizes donated by local businesses.

The event started and ended with a bicycle ride, approximately 100 people came, and it did of course, rain.

Two City Council Members came to say thanks to the all the bicycle commuters on behalf of the Mayor.

Models showed off their rain and cold weather survival tips and techniques, showing us that it is possible to look fashionable and bicycle to your destination.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Action Alert: Contact your state senator to make safer streets!

Just two weeks ago the Washington House of Representatives unanimously voted 96-0 in favor of the Neighborhood Safe Speeds Bill (SHB 1217). Your emails and calls were critical in making this vote such a bipartisan success!

This bill, drafted by the Bicycle Alliance of Washington and championed by Representative Cindy Ryu (D-Shoreline), gives cities and towns the ability to create safer neighborhood streets by lowering speed limits on non-arterial streets to 20 miles per hour, while at the same time reducing government red tape and cutting study costs currently required by the state.


We just found out that this Thursday the Senate Transportation Committee has scheduled a public hearing for the bill.

Now we need your help again to let your senators know that you want to remove red tape, cut costs for cities and towns, and give cities a new safety tool to make it safer to travel along neighborhood streets.

Your email to your state senator is a crucial component in the bill’s success. And it only requires two simple steps:

#1 - Follow the accompanying link to contact your State Senator (no need to contact your representatives) by entering your mailing address here:

#2 - Email your senator a note expressing your support of this important public safety legislation. Below we've included some model text for you to use:

Dear Senator. _________,

SHB 1217 - the Neighborhood Safe Speeds Bill - is about to be heard in the Senate Transportation Committee and I urge you to support this important legislation.

The Neighborhood Safe Speeds bill provides more local control, offers an additional safety tool for local governments, removes additional study costs and red tape currently required by the state, and it encourages active living by offering cities and towns the chance to create safer streets. Most importantly, when used in conjunction with engineering and enforcement, lower speeds on non-arterial streets can save lives.

Please support the Neighborhood Safe Speeds Bill (SHB 1217).

Thank you for your service,

[Your Name here]

The City of Bellingham is one of a growing list of communities and organizations supporting the Neighborhood Safe Speeds Bill.  The Bellingham Herald published a commentary written by City Councilmember Michael Lilliquist in favor of the bill.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Go By Bike Program Gets Geared Up for 2012

The Go By Bike program is picking up speed and gathering momentum in 2012. We have acquired bicycles, helmets and tools for the program and are gearing up to teach bicycle safety and encourage bicycling. With grant support from WSDOT, the Bicycle Alliance is able to supply loaner bikes to participants in the Go By Bike program. The bikes are 2012 KHS Urban Xcape in both diamond and step through frame configurations. While we expect some students to have their own bikes, we did not want prospective students to be turned away for lack of a bike.

The program also supplies helmets and tools. As I wrote in an earlier post, the tools for the program were donated by Quality Bicycle Products. 

We are working with two elementary schools and four colleges to conduct safe bicycling courses in the spring, summer and fall of 2012 and spring of 2013. The elementary program engages parents of elementary students and the college program works with health and PE programs to offer a one-credit course to college students and community members.

As the Go By Bike Program Manager, I am excited and eager to get the program up to full speed. I have been working with college instructors and administrators to get the program institutionalized and to train the instructors. Participating colleges include Pierce, Olympic and Bellevue. The program for parents of elementary students is offered at Pioneer Elementary in Auburn and Suquamish Elementary in North Kitsap.

Please direct any inquiries regarding Go By Bike to

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Act Now on Key Senate and House Transportation Votes!

Support Cardin-Cochran Senate Amendment, Oppose the House Transportation Bill

It’s time to ask our Senators and Representatives in Congress to save our streets for everyone who walks and bikes.

The current Senate transportation bill removes dedicated funding for biking and walking programs and Safe Routes to School.  It gives state DOTs the authority to decide if any funding should be spent on these programs.  Local governments will not have a voice.

To improve the bill, please ask Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell to vote for the Cardin-Cochran amendment on the floor to guarantee local governments a voice in transportation decisions, allowing them to build sidewalks, crosswalks, and bikeways to keep Washingtonians safe. 

Please take actionNOW—this vote will occur next week!

On the other side of Congress, the House has a transportation bill that reverses 20 years of progress in making streets safer for people.  It’s time to defeat this bill.  Please ask your Representative to oppose the House transportation bill.  Despite the fact that walking and bicycling infrastructure is a low-cost investment that creates more jobs per dollar than any other kind of highway spending, the House bill eliminates dedicated funding for walking and bicycling and repeals the Safe Routes to School program.

Votes will occur next week—please contact your Representative and Senators today and ask them to save our streets.  Use this link from the League of American Bicyclists’ Action Center to send a message now.

Thanks for taking action!

Biking and walking are part of the transportation mix in rural America

I’ve lived the majority of my life in an urban environment—but not all of it.  For about ten years, I lived in Athens, Ohio—a college town with roughly 22,000 residents in the rural southeast corner of the state.

As a college student, I lived on or close to campus and walked or biked to classes.  The university campus is located adjacent to the uptown business district so I also walked or biked to my part-time job, shops and entertainment. 

After graduation, I moved to a north end residential neighborhood and went to work for a local non-profit agency.  My job required traveling a three-county region so I seldom biked to work, but I frequently saw my neighbors walking and biking to their jobs at the university or uptown.

Athens residents bike and walk to work in large numbers.  The city’s 2010 non-motorized transportation plan revealed that nearly 3% biked to work and 42% walked.  That’s astounding!

But guess what?  Walking and biking is not unusual in small town America.  While few communities—large or small—have a non-motorized mode split like Athens, a new report reveals that biking and walking count as a significant means of transportation in rural areas.

ActiveTransportation Beyond Urban Centers: Walking and Bicycling in Small Towns and Rural America, produced by Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, dispels the commonly held belief that only city folk bike and walk.  From the report:

Due in large measure to lack of heavy traffic, smaller towns offer viable choices for people of all ages to travel without climbing into a car.  Parents are more likely to let younger kids bike to school or baseball practice, while seniors feel more comfortable strolling to the library or local cafĂ©.  Many small towns and cities developed prior to World War II were originally designed with pedestrians in mind, so taking a walk downtown or riding a bike for exercise feels safe.

Modest investments to improve biking and walking safety, such as building a sidewalk or sidepath, can be beyond the budget for small towns with declining populations and limited economic opportunities.  The very programs under attack by Congress right now, Transportation Enhancements and Safe Routes to School, can be critical funding resources for rural communities.  Download the report to learn more about biking and walking in rural America.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Transporation Advocacy Day

 Legislative District 37 outside Senator Kline's office

More than a few years have passed since I finished my bachelor’s degree in Political Science and it has been at least that long since I volunteered myself to sit in any congressional hearings. Transportation Advocacy Day in Olympia on January 31st was successful in transcending all doubts I had harbored about advocacy and citizen-based lobbying. Almost two hundred people showed up to learn about and advocate for bills before the House and Senate, which included SHB 1217 - Neighborhood Safe Speeds for Cities and Towns, HB 1700 - Safe and Flexible Design Guidelines, and HB 2370 to include establishing a “health goal” within statewide transportation policy goals.
As a novice transportation advocate, I felt fortunate the sponsors of Transportation Advocacy Day provided substantive information packets which included individual cheat sheets for the bills and a glossy informational piece to hand to legislators or legislative aides. The morning started out with an introduction by Representative Joe Fitzgibbon (D-34) and was followed by additional information from Carrie Dolwick with Transportation Choices Coalition about our day’s legislative priorities. Next we chose from a variety of breakout discussions to attend that focused on topics like simple fixes for safer streets, incorporating health into transportation and practicing for meetings with our legislators.
Being a talker, I met a fair number of people attending Transportation Advocacy Day for different reasons. I met a mother who had lost her son when he was hit from behind while biking in a bike lane. The collision catapulted him over 100ft onto the road shoulder ahead. She wanted to know what State government was doing to increase safety for bicyclists. I also met the regional general manager from Zipcar (a sponsor of Transportation Advocacy Day), who was attending because Zipcar is committed to advocating for an integrated alternative transportation system that allows people to move about easily without owning a car. I also learned that Zipcars come with bike racks! I even met many of my actual neighbors in Seattle's Central District, one of whom I had rideshared with down to Olympia.

By lunchtime I had found “my” group, legislative district 37, for meeting Senator Adam Kline, Representative Eric Pettigrew, and Representative Sharon Tomiko Santos. We met and formed a game plan. We wanted to share a few personal stories and goals with each legislator, and be able to advocate for the bills (some of which had already passed-for which we would express our thanks). I felt confident talking about helping organize the Central Seattle Neighborhood Greenways group, and when the time came I even invited Representative Pettigrew to the meeting, to which he said, “maybe!” 

Overall I feel good about the opportunity to meet with elected officials, or their legislative aide (in the instance of Senator Kline and Representative Tomiko Santos) and putting faces to the names of their constituents. If presented with the opportunity again I would have more diligently prepared a sentence or two about the positive impact I would experience if the bills were passed and funded, but otherwise I felt Transportation Advocacy Day a success. I met some great people and feel like I exercised my right to meet with legislators I’ve elected (well, indirectly, since I am a recent transplant to Seattle after all).

Monday, February 6, 2012

Federal Update: House Transportation Committee narrowly defeats effort to restore dedicated funding for biking and walking programs

Last Thursday, the House Transportation Committee narrowly defeated an attempt to restore dedicated federal funding for biking and walking programs. Washington’s two Congressional members who sit on this committee split their votes with Rick Larsen (WA-02) voting in favor of restoring the funds and Jaimie Herrera Beutler (WA-03) voting against it. A huge thank you and a tip of the helmet to the many who contacted them.

Although the vote was a disappointment, the fight for an equitable transportation bill is far from over. Jeff Miller of the Alliance for Biking and Walking wrote in a blog post 
Elimination of funds for biking and walking isn’t the only reason the House bill is terrible policy. The House bill puts public transit in jeopardy by diverting transit funds, an issue that has raised the alarm at Transportation for America and the American Public Transportation Association. A coalition of environmental organizations strongly objects to the bill’s environmentally backwards provisions, as well.
The House Transportation bill will soon move from committee to the House floor for a full vote. The Senate is working on its own version of a Transportation bill and, while it is friendlier to biking and walking, it has its own shortcomings. The House and Senate will eventually need to come together to reconcile differences in their bills.
Next month, Bicycle Alliance staff members Blake Trask and Josh Miller will make the journey to Washington, DC for the National Bike Summit. They will meet with members our state’s Congressional delegation to ask them to support a transportation bill that preserves dedicated funding for biking and walking programs, including Safe Routes to School.

Please check back for updates. You can also subscribe to our email list for action alerts and e-newsletter for timely information as well.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

New bike shop will help transform Pioneer Square alley into active space

This guest blog post was submitted by Ben Rainbow of Seattle.  Ben is the major domo of the soon-to-open Back Alley Bike Repair Shop.

Photo by Ben Rainbow.
When the decision was made to close Bike Port at the end of 2011, discussion ensued about the future of JRA Bike Shop’s Pioneer Square location.  Todd Vogel, local sustainable business visionary and Pioneer Square mover and shaker, was interested in having the bike shop relocate to the alley area of his historic Nord Building.  The space had been used as a non-profit conference area as well as a staging area for First Thursday Art Walk parties and receptions, and Nord Alley has hosted World Cup viewing parties, as well as a rotating array of art installations.

Hmm, let’s see… funky cool space in the heart of Pioneer Square, alley access, socially progressive landlord? Sounds pretty good. Then I come to find out that the remaining entirety of the ground floor of the Nord Building will be the new headquarters of the Bicycle Alliance of Washington and current tenants in the modern downstairs office space include Feet First, OneEnergy Renewables, and the International Sustainability Institute.

As the manager of JRA’s Pioneer Square shop, I saw this as a perfect opportunity to re-invest in Pioneer Square and have an urban commuter repair cycling emporium right off Occidental Park and the corner of First and Main. But for JRA owner Eric Berg, the massive amount of energy to move two bike shops in the same year (he had already relocated his Greenwood shop) meant change was in the air. It was with Eric’s sincerest blessings that I would buy out an inventory of tools and shop fixtures and re-open in the new alley location as Back Alley Bike Repair. Like all worthy business ventures, we sealed the deal over some delicious local pints.

I accept that creating an appealing alley destination for women (and men) is but an initial challenge that I will use to measure our success. It also might seem unlikely that people would even think to go into an alley at all. With the nature of JRA’s customers being car-free cycling commuters and the unique vision of Todd Vogel’s International Sustainability Institute to ‘activate’ the alley, I will bring my 15+ years working with bikes, urban planners, non-profits, and artists to establish what I hope will be a true gem in the Pioneer Square neighborhood.

There is a dedicated group of high-energy people called The Hub Seattle, which is developing an innovative community workspace in the former Elliot Bay Bookstore. As the vision of many passionate and invested people plays itself out, Back Alley Bike Repair will be but the first of several small businesses to transform the Nord Alley. (I laugh to myself thinking that I’ll offer the City of Seattle its first taxable transaction in Nord Alley’s history.)  This video illustrates the vision of turning the alley into active space.

To me, it’s a perfect blend of jazz, funk, and punk and a longtime dream of mine to transform the urban cycling experience. I’ve had nothing short of a blast working with Eric and his JRA Bike Shop over the past year and a half. I think it’s safe to say our customers have had some fun too. That’s not likely to change at Back Alley Bike Repair. The support I’ve received from other local businesses has been amazing. After some shop build out and dialing in the space, I hope to have things in place by Valentine’s Day. Catch the latest updates on our Facebook page.  Thanks for supporting your local bike shop and see you soon!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Bicycle and Pedestrian Programs Are Under Attack! Don’t let Congress turn the clock back on biking and walking

Tomorrow, Thursday February 2, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will vote on the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act, a bill that eliminates crucial funding for biking and walking programs and guts two decades of progress. US Representatives Rick Larsen (WA-02) and Jaime Herrera Beutler (WA-03) are members of this committee and they are in a key position to save dedicated funding for biking and walking.

The American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act turns the clock back on two decades of biking and walking progress.
  The bill

  • Destroys Transportation Enhancements by making the program optional 
  • Repeals the Safe Routes to School program, reversing years of progress in creating safe ways for kids to walk and ride bicycles to school 
  • Removes requirements for states to build bridges with safe access for pedestrians and bicycles 
  • Eliminates bicycle and pedestrian coordinators in state DOTs

If you live in Representative Larsen’s or Representative Beutler Herrera’s district, please contact them today!

Use this link to the League of American Bicyclists' Action Center to ask them to support the Petri-Johnson amendment to restore dedicated funding for biking and walking programs.

Thanks for taking action!