The Online Voice of the Bicycle Alliance of Washington

Thursday, May 31, 2012

It's been a short, sweet ride

This is the last post from regular contributor Alexa Heidrich, who has returned to Portland.  We will miss her energy and enthusiasm.  Thanks, Alexa!

That's me in the red freezing on the Seattle Neighborhood Greenways ride with Elly Blue during Bike Expo.  Elly appears to be handling the wind better than me.

Well Bicycle Alliance blog readers, it’s been short but sweet.  My one year anniversary in Seattle was quickly approaching when I was offered an opportunity to relocate back to Portland.  I will miss Seattle, the people I’ve met and experiences I’ve had, especially with bike and pedestrian advocacy.  (In addition to Off the Rez, the roaming Native American food cart that everyone in Seattle should find.)  I am keeping the door open to return, and think there is such a great community spirit up here in the Puget Sound region. I cannot endorse more the unique grassroots Greenways movement which I feel lucky to have been a small part of, and which continues to gain traction with City Hall and the Department of Transportation.  I look forward to continuing my advocacy efforts in Portland, even though I suspect it will have a slightly different flavor.  Already on my ‘commute’ to work I’ve encountered 8am rush hour bike traffic on the Broadway Bridge! 

Happy pedaling, and I wish you all happy National Bike Month!

Here’s some fellow bikers on our way home. 

Photo credit: John Maus

Monday, May 28, 2012

Great June Bike Rides

Now that you’re in good riding shape from participating in your local Bike to Work events and the National Bike Challenge, it’s time to sign up for some June bike rides!  There are some wonderful June rides that support the Bicycle Alliance’s efforts to grow bicycling statewide.

You'll have an opportunity to ride with US National Team rider Logan Owen or Bremerton Mayor Patty Lent on Life Cyle - Bremerton ride on June 2.  The ride starts and finishes at Rotary Evergreen Park on the city's waterfront--easily accessed by the Seattle-Bremerton ferry.  The event includes a kid's bike rodeo and an after-ride meal.

Ann Weatherill Classic view. Photo by Wheatland Wheelers.
The Tacoma Wheelmen's Peninsula Metric Century on June 3 also showcases the beauty of the Kitsap Peninsula.  This challenging ride offers panoramic waterfront views, roads through the rural countryside, lots of rolling hills, and dessert at the finish line.

The Ann Weatherill Cycling Classic on June 16 is presented by the Wheatland Wheelers Cycling Club.  This eastern Washington ride highlights the beauty of the Walla Walla Valley, and treats riders to views of the Blue Mountains, wheat fields, and Walla Walla vineyards.  Entry includes a post-ride lunch.

Capital Bicycling Club's Two County Double Metric Century on June 24 takes riders on the less traveled roads of Lewis and Thurston Counties.  This ride offers five scenic routes ranging from 20 to 126 miles.

Over twenty event rides support growing bicycling statewide with a contribution to the Bicycle Alliance of Washington.  View our Ride Calendar for a complete listing.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Friday Fun: Maryhill Freeride

I was traveling through the Columbia Gorge recently and encountered this adrenaline event:  the Maryhill Freeride!  This two-day event near Goldendale offers downhill skaters, boarders and gravity bikers 2+ miles of winding, twisty pavement free of vehicles and all downhill.  Over 100 riders from across the US and Canada flocked to the spring freeride.  Now here's your chance to experience the Maryhill course from the perspective of a gravity bike.  Enjoy!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Volunteer Spotlight: Jim Hunt

Let me introduce you to Jim Hunt. He’s a Bicycle Alliance volunteer and stalwart biker—wait until you read about his graveyard commute! He also gives a technical set-up preference for getting around the Seattle topography, and tips for getting comfortable on a bike again!

Thanks for your time Jim, and happy trails out there!

What is your first memory of biking? 

As a child, bicycling through the woods and crossing a small creek.  I had to go through at just the right speed – too fast and you would not be able to handle traversing the creek bed and if too slow you would get stuck in the creek.
What roles have you filled as volunteer for the Bicycle Alliance over the years?  
A few monthly work parties, a few Fat Tire beer festival events, a couple of auctions, some office work, and assistance with the strategic planning summit.
When and how did you become involved with the Bicycle Alliance?
In 2004 after I was unemployed I was interested in meeting some new folks and helping out.  Bicycle advocacy for me has involved attending city transportation committee meetings, volunteering for bike/ped annual counts and stopping on my commute to move a fallen tree branch out of the bicycle path.  I try to say hello to folks on my morning commute and try to stay calm with motorist.
What is your favorite ride, in the Seattle region or elsewhere?
Fall City to North Bend area with a stop at George’s Bakery for lunch.
What are you riding these days?
To and from work – started a new job on the graveyard shift and have yet to find many folks interested in riding together after midnight.
What is your winter riding gear set-up?
Light & Motion Seca 800 front light, DiNotte 120r back lite, a safety vest from Western Safety Products and an old Burly rain cape and gators.  Fenders, rack and panniers to carry lunch and rain gear when not in use.

What is your strategy for tackling the topography of the region? 
A modified front triple crank with a 26t small chain ring and mountain rear cassette with a 32 tooth cog that allows me to spin up most hills.
How does biking improve your quality of life? 
I enjoy the exercise, seeing other folks out running, walking the dog or pushing baby strollers.  It is nice to see the seasons change and observe what trees and plants are blooming.  If I am lucky, I will see a bald eagle in the Juanita Marsh park area.
Lastly, any tips for people who may be tentative in dusting off that old bike in the garage? 
Load the bike up in the car (if necessary) and head down to the Burke Gilman or Sammamish River Trails after work on a nice spring or summer relaxing ride.  Turn around before you get tired.  When starting out try to pedal into the wind, if it is windy.  Don’t overdo it and practice shifting and braking. Before tackling the city streets read Bicycling Street Smarts at  Some air in the tires always helps.

I agree Jim! Thanks so much for your dedication to integrating biking into your everyday life. If you too are interested in volunteering with the Bicycle Alliance, visit our website to get involved! 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

USBRS: Inspired to Get Involved

Thanks to intern Scott Chilberg for preparing this post.

Portions of SR 20 may become part of the USBRS.
The reasons behind Bicycle Alliance of Washington's support of the US Bike Route System (USBRS) are obvious. USBRS’s astounding and seemingly idealistic mission, to create an interstate bike highway connecting urban centers with some of the country’s most idyllic natural environments, would be a dream come true for many of our state’s avid bicyclists. Even more impressive is the progress that’s been made toward achieving that dream; over 40 states are currently working on the project with several more in the works. 

So, with this clear alignment of interests, it was only natural that the Bicycle Alliance would agree to partner with Adventure Cycling Association to create US Bike Routes in Washington.  With the support of Washington State Department of Transportation, it was decided to tackle a cross-state northern route first.

Several of our individual members, however, have extended their involvement with USBRS beyond the professional realm, and their reasons for doing so are, as stated by Bicycle Alliance Executive Director and soon-to-be USBRS volunteer Barb Culp, “purely selfish.”

“Washington is a great place to bicycle, with diverse climates and breathtaking views,” said Barb. “My husband Andy and I want to both explore the state from the seat of our bikes, and then share  our experiences so that others will see the state in a new way.  The cool thing about the USBRS is that we’ll be able to keep right on riding into Idaho on the bike route system, or down the coast into Oregon.  Eventually we’ll be able to follow signed routes all over the country just like we did in Scotland.  We rode for days just following the signs.”

Barb celebrates the fact that the US Bike Route System will focus on a 50 mile swatch on either side of the road, “thereby giving the bicyclist a reason to explore off the beaten path and visit the sights and communities along the way.”

Bicycle Alliance Board Member John Pope, of Anacortes, has also committed his personal time to assist with the US Bike Route Project. John first came into contact with USBRS in the 1990s while doing bike map work with the Skagit Council of Governments’ non-motorized advisory committee, and was thrilled when the idea was rekindled and the Bicycle Alliance pledged their involvement in the past few years.

“I love the back-roads of Washington and the greater Northwest,” said John. “I grew up in eastern Washington, at a time when the North Cascades Cross-State Highway project captured our hearts and opened new avenues for adventure and scenic beauty.  My early bike touring across that new highway and into the BC border regions got me hooked.  The Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail and other interests over the years have convinced me that a small, dedicated band of volunteers can make an enduring difference.”

Both John and Barb hope that, by being part of that dedicated band of volunteers, they will be able to help the USBRS dream become a reality in the Pacific Northwest. 

Become a part of the USBRS movement! Click here to make a donation to our May fundraising effort for building the USBRS.  Twenty percent of funds raised by the Bicycle Alliance will be used for USBRS efforts in Washington.

We also need additional volunteers!  If you live in northern Washington and would like to help us develop this route, please contact Louise McGrody.  We need volunteers to assist with community outreach and researching routes.

Build it.  Bike it.  Be a part of it.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Washington retains top ranking as most Bicycle Friendly State

For the fifth year in a row, Washington leads the nation as the most Bicycle Friendly State.  The 2012 ranking of Bicycle Friendly States was announced by the League of American Bicyclists in honor of National Bike Month.

“We’re encouraged to see significant progress in top states like Washington, Minnesota, Colorado and Massachusetts,” said Andy Clarke, president of the League.  “But, as the scores clearly highlight, there’s much work to be done in critical areas like infrastructure and funding.  Overall, we see states—and especially state Departments of Transportation and state legislatures—lagging behind cities and the expectations of local cyclists, despite the many well-documented benefits of a more active lifestyle.”

The 2012 Bicycle Friendly States Ranking marks the launch of an updated and improved evaluation process.  Throughout 2011, the League held Bicycle Friendly America listening sessions across the country to understand the successes and shortcomings of the program.  Based on public input, the Bicycle Friendly State survey was revised to give a clearer picture of a state’s accomplishments and next steps towards becoming more bike-friendly.

Even with a revised survey, Washington once again set a high bar in 2012.  The state scored 4’s and 5’s (5 is the highest score) on the League’s report card, receiving top scores for Education and Encouragement, and Evaluation and Planning.  The report also makes recommendations for improvement.  One recommendation for Washington includes developing a comprehensive strategy for working with law enforcement on bicycling issues, including training for officers and targeted enforcement of bike safety laws.  Other recommendations are to continue to increase bicycle ridership and to fully fund and implement the state bicycle plan, which was adopted in 2006.

Strong and active bicycle advocacy at the state and local levels contribute to Washington’s top ranking.  An improved distracted driving law and a vulnerable user law were passed due largely to the efforts of Bicycle Alliance of Washington, Cascade Bicycle Club, and other bike groups. The Bicycle Alliance has also been instrumental in expanding bicycle skills training in schools around the state with its Safe Routes to School program. 

“Thanks to the League of American Bicyclists for this award. This honor comes with much responsibility for the state, bicycle advocates and others to continue to strive for complete streets ordinances in every community and Safe Routes to every school,” stated Barbara Culp, Executive Director for Bicycle Alliance of Washington.  “This is a call to anyone who rides a bike to hold your city, county and state officials accountable to an even more bike-friendly state.” 

The Bicycle Friendly State announcement was preceded last week by the League’s announcement of its latest Bicycle Friendly Community designations.  Tacoma and Snohomish are the newest Washington communities to receive this designation.  In all, ten Washington communities have earned a Bicycle Friendly Community designation.

Click here to see how Washington scored in the five evaluation categories.  Learn more about the League’s Bicycle Friendly State program at

Monday, May 21, 2012

Biking for Baseball

Meet Steve Lunn, Chase Higgins and Adam Kremers.  These three friends, along with pals Rex Roberts and Tim Sherman, are the Biking for Baseball team.

Biking for Baseball combines three interests that the five friends share—biking, baseball, and mentoring youth—into an ambitious goal.  The team plans to bike to every Major League ballpark for a home game while raising awareness and funds for local Big Brothers Big Sisters. 

They kicked off their tour at the Seattle Mariners’ season opener on April 13, which is when they dropped by the Bicycle Alliance office to say hello.  They have since pedaled down the West Coast and made their way across the Rockies to Denver.  The tour will wrap up on September 21 and 11,000 miles later in Boston. 

You can check out their route, follow their progress throughout the summer, and support their effort at

Friday, May 18, 2012

Friday Fun: Ride Your Bike!

This is a good message anytime, but it's especially appropriate today--Bike to Work Day.  With the many Bike to Work events happening around our state and the National Bike Challenge underway, we hope you're riding your bike!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Tips for Newbie Women Bike Commuters

This guest blog post was written by Wendy Wheeler of Seattle.  She is a new bike commuter and a captain of a Bike to Work team for federal agency employees.

As a new commuter-cyclist, I want to share some tips that can make your ride more enjoyable, and thus more likely.
Wendy Wheeler bikes with style.

If you’re like me, you have a list of “shoulds” as long as your arm. The trick for me was to take the idea of commuting by bike and make it as fun as possible. Now, it’s something that I really enjoy and I look forward to doing, rather than something that I’m trying to squeeze into my day.

Make it easier: Metro is your friend.

The bike racks on the Metro buses are really easy to use, once you’ve done it once. Try it first on a weekend for less pressure, just load it on at one stop and take it off a couple of stops later. With the bus, you have an infinite number of ways you can slice your commute. Any part that you don’t want to ride on a particular day, you don’t have to.

Keep it easier: Have a back-up plan for rain.

My back up plan is four-fold – I could leave my bike locked in my office’s parking garage, I could stop at any point and use Metro, my top layers are water-resistant, and almost all of my clothes are machine washable anyway. So I can choose how wet I’m willing to be. When I’m warm, it doesn’t bother me. Most days in Seattle this time of year, it’s not actually raining all day, just showers that may not coincide with the ride anyway.

Make it fun: Dress it up.

I am a big fan of visibility. I have a front light and a back light on the bike and smaller ones on helmet and my backpack. I also think having a bright-colored top layer is a good idea. But I don’t feel the need to look like I’m preparing to bike the tour de France. Spandex is not my friend these days. J So I turn the “what to wear” formula on its head and go for something nicer than my normal dark work pants.

If I’m striving to be visible, why not wear a bright top and cute skirt? Skirts are among the most comfortable riding wear there is – they move with you, they tend to be lightweight, they’re already up out of the chain area, and they don’t bunch and compress in the middle. You can get tons of inexpensive skirts to try for shape/size/flow at your neighborhood Goodwill or Value Village – get something with a pattern and then even if you get drizzled-on on the way to work it will still look great. The one in my photo was originally too long, so I chopped the ruffle and some length off the bottom, reattached it, and now it’s ready to go. For spring/fall, I wear the skirt with tights. When it’s warm (here’s hoping!), I’ll wear a pair of snug yoga shorts, or boy short style underpinnings underneath, and it’ll comfortable and modest enough for unexpected cross-winds.

Likewise, on shoes, try using that pair of work shoes that are good for walking. My faves are a pair of Naots – cork insoles, adjustable strap, low heel and a bow. They have enough support to be comfortable on the pedals, but are office perfect the minute I step off the bike.

Keep it fun, don’t worry much about your hair.

I have the gift of slightly curly hair. So my office mates know that it will never look tidy anyway. This gives me freedom with how it looks post- helmet. There are websites with tips on hair and cycling, check them out if you’re going for a specific look. My tip would be to try both the wet and dry options (as long as it’s not freezing out). You may find that starting with slightly damp hair actually gives you a more controlled look after your ride (less frizz/fuzz).

Above all, enjoy your ride.

I think you’ll find that you feel better after the fresh air and workout. Enjoy that you’ve made this time to treat yourself.

The Bicycle Alliance's Go By Bike brochure also offers some good tips for getting started with biking for errands and commuting.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Thank you to our Safety Education Trainers!

This blog post was submitted by our SRTS Training Coordinator Seth Schromen-Wawrin.

In mid April, our Safe Routes to School Bike and Pedestrian Safety Education Program finished the last training for our current grant. In the last 14 months, we conducted 25 trainings all over Washington State. This was possible due to the amazing talent and dedication of Eileen Hyatt and Katie Ferguson.

Eileen Hyatt
Eileen Hyatt has been a member of the Bike Alliance since the 1990s and is currently a board member. She lives in Spokane where she has pioneered teaching bicycle safety skills in schools in Washington State. Katie is a former Americorp intern for the Bike Alliance. She has an unfaltering enthusiasm for teaching bicycling skills. 

Together, this duo faired snowy mountain passes, long lonely drives to remote sections of the state, teaching outside in sleet and the blistering sun, and came back smiling. Teachers unanimously raved about their high quality teaching and knowledge. As one teacher said, “it is so great to have this training taught by someone experienced working with students.”

Katie Ferguson
The training is a two-day training on how to teach the Bike and Pedestrian Safety Education curriculum to middle school students. The training “opened up my eyes and will keep kids safe and having fun,” one participant commented.

Most of the participants in the trainings were physical education instructors, yet the proficiency with riding was very varied. Often participants would come back from a road ride stating that this was the first time they felt safe riding with traffic. Through the skill and dedication of Eileen and Katie, we are growing safe, confident, and comfortable bike riders all over the state.

They trained 141 physical education teachers at 27 districts in 18 counties. This first statewide class of Bike and Pedestrian Safety Education teachers will continue teaching the curriculum in the years to come. About 15,000 students will go through the curriculum every year. Fifteen thousand students from two trainers. That is an impact!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Tacoma, Snohomish join the ranks of Bicycle Friendly Communities

The League of American Bicyclists (LAB) announced its 2012 round of new and renewing Bicycle Friendly Communities and the Washington communities of Tacoma and Snohomish joined the ranks at the bronze level.  Port Townsend improved its ranking from bronze to silver and Vancouver retained its bronze status.

Washington is currently ranked as the most Bicycle Friendly State by LAB’s Bicycle Friendly America program.  Ten of our communities are now ranked as Bicycle Friendly Communities with Seattle holding the only gold award.  Seventeen state businesses have earned a Bicycle Friendly Business designation and the University of Washington holds a silver ranking as a Bicycle Friendly University.  

The Bicycle Friendly America program provides incentives, hands-on assistance, and award recognition for communities, universities and businesses that actively support bicycling, and ranks states annually based on their level of bike-friendliness. Learn more about it here.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Bike to Work Day: Drop by our Energizer Station in Pioneer Square!

Friday, May 18 is Bike to Work Day and the Bicycle Alliance of Washington is hosting an energizer station from 7 – 9 AM for bike commuters in our Pioneer Square neighborhood.
Drop by to get your copy of the hot-off-the-press 2012 Seattle Bike Map, coffee courtesy of Zeitgeist, and some sweet treats thanks to Sugar Bakery & Cafe.  The good folks from Back Alley Bike Repair will be on hand to do bike safety checks, and we are generously giving out high fives and other goodies.

Look for our energizer table in front of our office at 314 First Avenue South.

Try Bike-and-Bus for Bike to Work Week!

Have you shied away from biking to work because your commute seems too long or a little too hilly?  Consider a bike-and-bus trip!  You can bus to work and bike home, or you can bus through a difficult segment and bike the rest.  Our friends at King County Metro and Sound Transit are offering a great promotional deal (as in FREE) on bike-and-bus trips during the week of May 14-18 in King County.  Here's their announcement:
King County Metro and Sound Transit encourage people to try bike-and-bus trips during Bike Month. During the week of May 14-18, any cyclist loading a bike on a Metro bus or ST Express bus operated in King County will ride free. ST Express routes included are: 540, 542, 545, 550, 554, 555, 556 and 560.

Each bus has three spaces on its bike rack, which are available on a first come/first served basis. If the bus bike rack is full, cyclists should be prepared to wait for the next bus or consider leaving their bike parked in a bike rack at a transit facility. Bike lockers are also available at many Metro and Sound Transit facilities.

Metro has display bike racks available at five locations around the county for new cyclists who want to try loading their bike in a pressure-free environment. Practice racks are available at North Seattle Community College, the University of Washington, Bellevue College, Alki Bike and Board in West Seattle and at the offices of the Bicycle Alliance of Washington in Pioneer Square. Detailed information on hours and locations can be found at

Friday, May 11, 2012


Bicycle Alliance of Washington is delighted to announce our BigSUCCESS during the GiveBIG campaign. Our first year participating in the one day online philanthropic event we raised $6,720 from 63 donors, surpassing our goal of raising $4,000 from 40 donors! 

Our entire staff kept the momentum going as we updated our supporters on Facebook, Twitter, and e-mail. Thank you to our staff and Board members for their generous contributions, many of which came in as challenges to raise more money from multiple Bicycle Alliance donors. We are still awaiting news from The Seattle Foundation about how many dollars we received from the “stretch” pool and from employer matching funds. 

We thank Seattle Foundation and all the sponsors of GiveBIG for supporting such a well-received charitable event.  Overall giving more than doubled from 2011 with a total $7.43 million in contributions raised and more than 37,800 individual online gifts. 

GiveBIG attracted donations from all 50 states and 23 foreign countries.

Farewell to my job at the Bicycle Alliance, but not Goodbye

After three years as our Office Manager and Membership Coordinator, Donna Govro is moving on.  She looks back on her time with the Bicycle Alliance with some fond memories.

I have decided to leave my job at the Bicycle Alliance to pursue other interests of an entrepreneurial nature.  It’s with mixed feelings that I say goodbye, as the Bicycle Alliance has not only been an employer to me but an organization that supports my views on bicycling as a way to promote a healthy lifestyle. 

From the very beginning, I knew that the Bicycle Alliance was not going to be a typical, quiet office job.  After only a few weeks on the job, I volunteered to participate in the Gay Pride parade and found myself in the office practicing the hand signals to the tune of the pop song “YMCA” and then bicycling down 2nd Avenue next to my new boss on his folding bike dressed in a clown costume.  Then there was the Tour de Fat bicycle event where everyone donned zany costumes.   We had volunteers dressed as the “Lunch Ladies” serving beer and the President of the Bicycle Alliance wearing a beer tap vest and beer cap construction helmet as he carried the cash to the safe!  Or on a more serious time when everyone in the office pedaled to Golden Gardens park one brisk, sunny morning to plant a memorial Susie Tree.  There were many times that I traveled to various events during the work day or on weekends not by bus or car but by bicycle, giving me an even greater appreciation for our mission.

Looking back, I am sure that these are the things that I will miss the fun and quirky times.  I might even some day miss the administration and organization that it took to support them.   But most of all I think that I will miss my co-workers and the volunteers.  I also have to say thank you to everyone at the Bicycle Alliance, the staff, volunteers, members and the board.  Through my association with the Bicycle Alliance I have learned many things, but mostly that I can bicycle anywhere I please. 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

USBRS: Build it. Bike it. Be a Part of it.

Thanks to Scott Chilberg for assistance with this post.

Imagine an interstate highway system for bicycles…officially recognized and signed bike routes that crisscross our country, connecting urban centers, parks, landmarks and other popular destinations, and traveling through some of the most spectacular scenery this country has to offer.

This is no pipe dream, friends.  I’m talking about the US Bicycle Route System (USBRS), an ambitious project led by the Adventure Cycling Association.  Presently, more than 40 states are working on U.S. Bicycle Routes. Last year, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials approved six new U.S. Bicycle Routes : USBR 1 in Maine and New Hampshire, USBR 20 in Michigan, and USBR 8, 95, 97, and 87 in Alaska — the first official U.S. Bicycle Routes to be established since 1982. Several more approvals are expected in the upcoming month.

The Bicycle Alliance of Washington is partnering with Adventure Cycling to create the routes in our state that will be part of the USBRS.  Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) is working with us on this effort and we hope to have our first officially recognized US bike route--USBR 10 across the northern tier of the state--in a few years.

Adventure Cycling is doing a fundraising campaign for the USBRS during the month of May.  We are participating as Team Washington and we hope you will make a donation to our team.  Twenty percent of the money that we raise as Team Washington will come back to support the local effort.

Use this link to our fundraising page to make a contribution to the USBRS and Team Washington today.  Everyone who makes a donation to our team will be eligible for a drawing for some cool gifts, including a Share the Road jersey.

Build it. Bike it. Be a part of it.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Ale-Liance IPA: The Story Behind the Beer

May is the month that beer and bicycles share the stage.  It is National Bike Month, a time to celebrate all things bicycling – and we do it up in a big way in Washington.  May is also the month for Seattle Beer Week, a collection of events celebrating local beer culture.

Erinn and Barb sample some Ale-Liance IPA at Schooner Exact.
This year, the two cultures have come together in a unique and exciting way.  The Bicycle Alliance of Washington and Schooner Exact Brewing Company have partnered together to present Ale-Liance IPA.  This specially created beer celebrates bicycle advocacy in a popular Northwest way – the IPA.

The idea for such a beer was hatched one evening at a party hosted by Bicycle Alliance Executive Director Barbara Culp.  Some guests were discussing how there seemed to be a natural affinity between bikes and beer, and wouldn’t it be cool if a local brewery produced a special beer that promoted bicycle advocacy.

“I think I can make it happen!” exclaimed Erinn Hale and she promptly volunteered to take it on as a project.

Erinn was the perfect person for the assignment.  She combined her knowledge of the local beer culture with her creative marketing skills and interest in bicycling, and called upon the bike friendly folks at Schooner Exact.  Ale-Liance IPA was born!

Schooner Exact has produced 30 kegs of Ale-Liance IPA for Bike Month and launched the first keg at the Bicycle Alliance’s open house on May 3. Kegs of this limited edition beer will be available at select Puget Sound locations during the month of May, and a portion of every keg sold will benefit the Alliance’s work to grow bicycling statewide.  Serving locations will be posted on the Bicycle Alliance and Ale-Liance IPA Facebook pages.

Tour de Pints – a pub crawl on bikes – is also an opportunity to sample Ale-Liance IPA.  Three pubs on the route will feature the beer: Fiddler's Inn, Ravenna Alehouse, and Wurst Tavern. The Bicycle Alliance will be on hand at Pike Brewery - the start of the ride - with a $20 membership special that includes an Ale-Liance pint glass and beer!

Happy Bike Month and cheers!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

North Cascades Highway Ciclovia

Open streets, a.k.a. ciclovias, are events that temporarily close streets to vehicle traffic so people can use them for biking, walking, playing and socializing.  These events are gaining traction nationally and, in Washington, the cities of Seattle and Spokane organize open streets events in the summer.

Last Sunday, Steve and I participated in a ciclovia of sorts.  We biked the scenic North Cascades Highway, which is currently closed to vehicle traffic until WSDOT crews clear it of winter snow.  The highway is closed from milepost 134, east of Diablo Lake, to milepost milepost 171, 14 miles west of Mazama in the winter.
In the spring, bicyclists have a window of opportunity to ride portions—sometimes all—of the closed highway before the road is opened to vehicle traffic.  (And yes, it is legal to bike this highway during its closure.)  Sunny skies, combined with a WSDOT report indicating that they hoped to reopen the North Cascades Highway late this week, convinced us to bike it on Sunday.

We pulled into the Diablo Lake overlook in time to watch a group of bike riders depart for a ride up the road.  We leisurely pedaled the couple of miles to the gated closure at milepost 134.  There were more cyclists readying themselves for a ride, and a couple of pedestrians too.  In total, we encountered 25 cyclists and two pedestrians taking advantage of the car-free highway.

The ride was amazing!  Lacking a steady procession of cars and RVs, I could enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of the mountains.

We weren’t relegated to shoulder riding, but you should stay on your side of the road as you may encounter approaching cyclists, heavy equipment (except Friday-Sunday), or an occasional official vehicle.

We discovered that Bigfoot had been here!

We stopped at waterfalls along the way to quench our thirst.

We witnessed where avalanches had crossed the road.

We reached the end of our climb and the end of the snow plowing at Rainy Pass.

We hung out with other cyclists to take a break and check out the fancy snow removal equipment before facing the long descent back to the car.

There’s also an east side version of the North Cascades Highway ciclovia via Mazama, as posted on the Methow Valley Sport Trails Association’s Facebook page.

Before you head out, be sure to get the latest report from WSDOT and check the Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center for current conditions.  The highway passes through avalanche terrain.

Monday, May 7, 2012

National Bike Challenge Kicks Off!

This post was prepared by intern Scott Chilberg.

The 2012 Get Up and Ride National Bike Challenge kicked off on May 1 and 324 Washington bicyclists logged in nearly 4800 miles last week!  It’s not too late to sign up! You can set up an account at any point in the Challenge, so just because it’s already started doesn’t mean you’ve missed your chance to join in! See our previous posts here and here for a reminder of the rules and the procedure for setting up an account.

Many of you are already participating in local bike challenges in honor of May being National Bike Month, and there’s no reason why you can’t count those miles toward the National Bike Challenge as well. There are all kinds of ways to participate, whether you decide to bike every day as your primary means of transportation or  ride recreationally a few times a month. In fact, we’d love to hear your personal story! Send an email to Louise McGrody and describe your Bike Challenge experiences – how you’ve chosen to participate, what motivates you to bike, or even just a personal anecdote related to biking – and we might post your story on our blog.

So, if you haven’t already, register for the Bike Challenge, download the smartphone app, and start cycling!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

It's Official!

May is Bike Month in the State of Washington as proclaimed by Governor Gregoire. Check it out!

We’re busy with Bike Month!

May is National Bike Month and many Washington communities have Bike to Work and Bike to School events planned.  Check our website for a list of communities hosting Bike to Work activities.

The Bicycle Alliance is organizing and/or participating in a number of Bike Month activities:

We’re kicking off Bike Month with an Open House and Alley Party on May 3.  We’re featuring Tour de France photos by Mike Hone and serving Ale-Liance IPA, a limited edition beer crafted by Schooner Exact Brewery especially for us!

Look for us at Cascade Bicycle Club’s Bike to Work breakfast on May 4.

We’re handing out bagels and bike information with Commute Seattle for Bikes & Bagels on May 12
Drop by the Bicycle Alliance office on Bike to Work Day – May 18 from 7-9am – for treats, info and bike maps!  Our friends at Back Alley Bike Repair will be on hand to do bike safety checks.

We’re co-sponsoring the Interagency Bike Ride in Olympia – also on May 18.

The first National Bike Challenge launches May 1 and runs through August 31 and we’re bringing it to Washington.  The Challenge gives bicycle riders who don’t have a local Bike to Work event an opportunity to log their miles and compete for prizes.  For those in a Bike to Work event, the National Bike Challenge keeps the biking momentum going throughout the summer!  Read a previous blog post about the Challenge.

Now get out and ride!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Volunteer Spotlight: Ted Inkley

The Bicycle Alliance of Washington wouldn’t be what it is today without the blood, sweat and sweat (yes, bike advocacy involves a lot of sweat!) of its amazing volunteers. Today I’d like to present a brief interview with Ted Inkley, who is the current board president for the Bicycle Alliance, and a big advocate for everyday cycling.

What is your first memory of biking?

One early memory will be seared in my brain forever. It was summer. I had just gotten my first "big" bike without training wheels--a red one-speed J.C. Higgins from Sears, Roebuck. Unfortunately, I got the hang of riding it long before I got the hang of getting off. So I'd practice by riding around and around the block. When I wanted to get off I'd yell at my mother as I passed our house; she'd run out the front door and snatch me from the bike. But one day she got busy and didn't come out when I yelled. I rode around and around the block for what seemed like hours (but was probably no more than ten minutes), screaming every time I passed our house and getting more terrified with every circuit. Things ended well--she finally came out and grabbed me. I was scared, and highly indignant that she hadn't heard me earlier. But the incident didn't dim my enthusiasm for cycling. And I eventually learned to get off without falling over, although I have to admit that I still fall over occasionally.

When and how did you become involved with the Bicycle Alliance? And what does bicycle advocacy mean to you?

During the 90s I worked with a woman, Sara, who was both a bicycle commuter and a Bike Alliance volunteer. At the time, I rode the bus to and from work. Sara would pass me every night on her bike as I stood at the bus stop. As she went by she'd always yell, "Ride your bike!" So I eventually began bike commuting. The more I rode, the more I realized that cycling conditions were far from ideal, and the more interested in advocacy I became. Sara told me that I should get involved with the Bike Alliance, and suggested that I go to meetings. So I found myself at the Bike Alliance's old, funky headquarters in the storage area of an old apartment building in the shadow of the Convention Center parking garage. I found that I liked the people and the organization, and within months I was on the board.  

To me, bicycle advocacy means spreading the gospel of cycling beyond those who are already bicycle enthusiasts. It means working to convey both the joy and the practical advantages of cycling to people who haven't been on a bike since before they were teenagers. It means trying to demystify cycling, and showing people that you don't have to have a fancy machine, wear lycra, or be an athlete to enjoy your time on two wheels. It means showing people that the bike can be a tool as well as a toy, that it's a form of transportation worth investing in. And it means trying in a positive way to change the cultural norms about transportation in our country.

What roles have you filled as volunteer for the Bicycle Alliance over the years?

I've been on the Bike Alliance board since 1998, and have been board president twice. I've helped in a number of ways, from drafting and lobbying for legislation to writing blog posts to serving on committees to helping draft our bylaws. I'm currently on the legislative committee and on the executive director search committee. My passion is advocacy, but I try to help any way I can.

What is your favorite ride, in the Seattle region or elsewhere?

I have lots of favorites, both here and elsewhere. I live in North Seattle, and have worked out a meandering ride to Edmonds that involves lots of quiet roads, views of the Sound and Olympic Mountains, and coffee and pastries at the half-way point. I try to do that ride at least once a week when the weather cooperates. I'm also a big fan of bike trails, and especially love the unpaved Snoqualmie Valley trail east of Seattle. It lets you cycle through beautiful farmland and forests with great mountain views, and goes over several spectacular trestles. It also gives you a 60-mile round-trip ride with practically no traffic hassles. It's everything a day on the bike should be. Although I'm not a real mountain biker, I also occasionally like to explore logging roads on my old mountain bike. There's a trip to the top of a small mountain east of Seattle that I try to do every year. Lots of uphill, no people, and spectacular views of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness at the top. Finally, I have vivid memories of several days on the bike during a visit to Denmark a few years ago. I particularly remember one evening, riding through the streets of Copenhagen just as the street lights were coming on. I was surrounded by cyclists of all descriptions--everyone in Denmark rides a bike, mostly old-fashioned, upright three speeds. It was like a graceful peloton, but without the competition, everyone just gliding together down the street in the soft evening light. It was magic.

What are you riding these days?

I tend to keep bikes forever once I get them. I've collected five bikes over the past 20 years or so. I have an old, steel-framed Trek mountain bike; it was my original commuter but I use it now for dirt-road riding. My workhorse is a Trek 520 touring bike; I lost count of the distance I'd ridden it after about 60,000 miles. I also have a fire-engine red Bike Friday, great for traveling and running errands. My sweet ride is a Marinoni road bike. Finally, I have an old English-made Raleigh three-speed with a huge headlight and a big brass bell, good for stately cruises on the bike trail.

What is your winter riding gear set-up? (Ed.’s note—Surely this still works for the spring showers we won’t be able to avoid!)

I'm still searching for perfection in this regard. I believe that Gore-Tex is your friend, and have a Showers Pass jacket and Gore-Tex rain pants. I keep my feet dry-ish with nylon rain boots. I've given up on keeping my hands dry, but insist on keeping them warm. Neoprene kayaking gloves work well for this. I've also considered buying an old-fashioned English-style riding cape, although I haven't taken the plunge yet. And every bike that I own has fenders. They are worth their weight in gold in the coastal Northwest climate.

What is your strategy for tackling the topography of the region?

One of humankind's greatest achievements of the last hundred years is the triple chain ring. Gear down low enough and the hills get a lot easier. But since I got my vintage three-speed Raleigh I've discovered another way: when you can't avoid steep terrain, just get off and walk. I think that non-cyclists are sometimes intimidated when they see strong riders standing in the saddle, grinding their way up a steep grade. But you don't have to be an athlete to walk up a hill.

How does biking improve your quality of life?

It does wonders for my state of mind. After I ride I feel clear-headed, positive and ready to tackle anything. And while I'm no athlete, I'm in great physical shape for a person of my age. I beam every time the doctor checks my blood pressure and resting pulse. Everyday things, like going to the store or post office, become fun when I do them on the bike. And I can park for free just about everywhere, even in Seattle.

Lastly, any tips for people who may be tentative in dusting off that old bike in the garage?  

Riding a bike is easier than you think. You don't need a three-thousand dollar machine--any bike that's mechanically sound will do. You don't need to be a jock--there's no need to use the club riders whisking past you as role models. It's not dangerous--all you have to do is use common sense and give some thought to your routes. Although I'm an avid cyclist I'm also a chicken, and I've used a bike map to avoid busy, high-speed streets and chart comfortable, low-traffic routes all over Seattle. You don't need to take the plunge all at once. Just pump up the tires and ride around the block a few times. And cycling is fun. When you finally get on the bike you won't be able to resist smiling. I saw a sign recently that said: "You can't buy happiness, but you can buy a bike, and that's pretty close." Truer words were never spoken.

I agree Ted! Thanks so much for your dedication to integrating biking into your everyday life. I loved his story about not being able to dismount his bike, and think he provides a great inspiration to get involved. If you too are interested in volunteering with the Bicycle Alliance, visit our website to get involved!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

May First Thursday Open House and Alley Party

May is Bike Month and the Bicycle Alliance of Washington and our Nord Alley neighbors are kicking it off with an Open House and Alley Party on May 3 (First Thursday) from 5:30-7:30 pm. 
We’re highlighting the Tour de France photographic work of Mike Hone on our gallery walls.  Mike, an Experience Designer for Adobe, is also an amateur Cat 1 racer and the owner/manager of the Audi Cycling Team. Nord Alley will feature moss art palindromes and alley pallet vertical gardens.  Check here for more info on the Alley Party.

The good folks from Schooner Exact Brewing will be on hand to launch their limited edition Ale-Liance IPA.  This tasty beer was crafted especially for the Bicycle Alliance to celebrate Bike Month!

Thanks to our Nord Alley neighbors who are co-sponsoring this event:  ISI Seattle, Feet First and Back Alley Bike Repair.

May First Thursday Open House & Alley Party
May 3, 2012 – 5:30 to 7:30pm
Bicycle Alliance of Washington
314 First Ave S in Pioneer Square