The Online Voice of the Bicycle Alliance of Washington

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Alert: Funding Needed for Hood Canal Bridge

Calling on all recreational riders, cycling tourists, randonneuers, trail advocates and anyone who bikes on the Kitsap or Olympic Peninsulas!

Please send a letter to Secretary of Transportation Paula Hammond to request additional funding for the Hood Canal Bridge to make it SAFE for all users including bicyclists!

When the Hood Canal Bridge reopened in the summer of 2009, bicyclists from Squeaky Wheels, West Sound Cycling Club, and the Port Townsend Bicycle Association immediately identified serious safety issues with the bridge: the width and surface treatment of the plates placed over the metal grating, and gaps, joints and height variations betweeen the bridge sections.  Those same cyclists notified and met with WSDOT representatives. In the first few months that the bridge was opened, several cyclists were seriously injuried.

As executive director of the Bicycle Alliance, I started working in early 2010 with those same bicycle advocates and we successfully allied with WSDOT to acquire $1.3 million to address the safety concerns identified. WSDOT then met with those organizations to discuss design proposals and material selection with the stated goal to retrofit the bridge during the 2012 construction season.

Unfortunately, according the WSDOT project engineer, the various options under consideration will likely exceed the $1.3 million allocated for this project. Instead the cost appears more likely in the $1.8 million range. WSDOT continues to “evaluate the options with WSDOT bridge designers and the evaluation has not changed” meaning this project needs more money to create a safe riding surface for bicyclists.

Because of WSDOT’s concern over the increased cost of the project and the uncertainty over the additional funding needed, design work on the project has stopped and will not resume until such time the project engineer is advised that more funding is available to complete this project.

As process requires, a project summary was submitted to the WSDOT Program Management group that oversees funding issues, and “requested guidance on the funding piece.” ASK Secretary Hammond to please make a determination that additional funding is warranted to fix the safety issues that were identified back in the summer of 2009. 

Now is the time for WSDOT to fund the Hood Canal Bridge’s safety issues for bicycles before more cyclists are injured. Ask Secretary Hammond to:

  • Please allocate the remaining $500,000 to make the Hood Canal Bridge safe for bicycles.
  • The Hood Canal Bridge is the only connection between the Kitsap Peninsula and Olympic Peninsula and is a critical link for all types of riders.
  • The Hood Canal route attracts bicycle club riders, recreational riders, and cycling tourists from around the world. It is critical for bicycle tourism.
  • A fix will save the state money. Ongoing safety concerns about the route make the state liable for future accidents along this improperly designed bicycle connection.
  • Safety fixes now will save millions of dollars in potential liability settlements.
Send your emails to Secretary Hammond before March 30th.

Paula Hammond, Secretary of Transportation:
Jerry Lenzi, Chief Engineer,
David Dye, Chief Operations Officer,
Kevin Dayton – Olympic Regional Administrator,
cc Jeff Cook, Olympia Region, Bridge Project Engineer,
Please also send your emails to elected officials in the 23rd and 24th Legislative Districts:

Thank you again for your support and good work to make the Bridge safe for all of us.


John Vander Sluis Moves On

John displays his CDC award.
This month, our highly successful Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW) Safe Routes to School project wraps up.  Over 1500 low-income elementary school students received bicycle and pedestrian safety skills training at 17 schools in south King County as a result of this program.  Sadly for us, this also means that project manager John Vander Sluis is moving on.

"John worked tirelessly for eighteen months with school district personnel, teachers, city planners, parents, volunteers and staff. His expertise, his willingness to tackle every detail and to do it with good cheer will be missed by everyone," declared Bicycle Alliance ED Barbara Culp.  "My only regret is lack of funding to keep this stellar project manager."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently recognized John’s outstanding efforts by naming him a Safe Routes to School champion.  The commendation praised his strategic thinking and efforts to advance SRTS policies and programming.

“I’m most pleased with the ability of the project to bring people together,” John reflected.  “We used the opportunity to facilitate conversations between parents, school districts, and city agencies that I think will lead to long term benefits for children.”

John had many memorable moments from his tenure with the Bicycle Alliance.  He recalled how the teachers in the first train-the-trainer session learned their parking lot drills in the pouring rain.  That’s dedication!  A Tukwila school displayed their SRTS fleet of bikes at an evening event and kids were dragging their parents over to view the bikes.  Children were proudly telling their parents which bike they rode in class.

“I’ve appreciated the spirit and energy people bring to the Bicycle Alliance, and how much they are willing to do to make it safer for kids to walk and bike,” John added.

What’s next for John now that the project has wrapped up?

“I get to spend time with my wife,” he said.  “She works nights and weekends so this will be the first time in a long time that we get to spend some real time together.”

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Ultimate Cycling Food

Today’s guest blog post was submitted by former Bicycle Alliance staffer Mark Canizaro, who lives carfree in Seattle.  This post was originally published in 2009 on Mark’s personal blog.

I was riding with a great bunch of tree-huggers on Boxing Day.

Mark with the famous Vashon Island bike tree.
Most of the time I'm middle of the pack, but this bunch was fast, I was the second slowest; and midway through our 64 hilly miles the slowest guy got dropped. It was fast, but it was fun. Right after we dropped the guy from Kansas (Vashon Island is not flat!), we came to the highway and turned left. Jon, who had never been on Vashon before asked which way the food was. He sighed when Kent said that it was the other way. I needed food too, but I didn't say anything. I usually eat almonds or granola bars on the bike, unfortunately today my pockets were empty.

It took a little extra effort, but I stayed with the group on the loop south and back around north on the beautiful rural West Side Highway. When we turned back north, Brad turned off to catch the ferry from the south point of the island. I was having a really great time but eventually it happened: I bonked. And it was a serious dropping-off-the-cliff bonk; one minute I was powering up the hill with these randonneurs and 4 minutes later I could barely the turn the cranks a flat half mile to the highway.

They waited for me. On the last hill up into town Mark rode up next to me, put his hand on the small of my back and just pushed me up the hill. I really don't know how I would've made it otherwise. I was extremely thankful, but I could only grunt one word: "Milkshake".

At the top of the hill Jon and Kent were standing there pointing to a sign on a quaint little local burger bar. The sign said: "Come in and eat or we'll both starve!" Even forgetting the economy for a moment I found that to be very deep. It was advice that none of us could resist.

In addition to a garden burger and fries, I got my milkshake. It made me happy, but more importantly, it brought me back.

Once we were at the table stuffing our faces I explained why I believe milkshakes are the ultimate cycling food.

First of all it's got fat. Fat is the oak log of energy. It burns slow and it burns long. This might not be so great if you're sitting at a desk, in a car or on the couch, but it's exactly what you want on the bike. It stays with you. For most people a milkshake will continue to fuel you for about 35 miles. For me it's about 20, but I'm weird.

Second, it's got sugar. Simple sucrose. This is the kindling, the fast burning twigs and paper of energy. It burns very quickly; you feel it almost instantly. (It goes away very fast too!) So if you're starting to drag, it gives you power to sprint down the road, if you're bonking, like I was, it restores you.

Third it's got lactose which is a complex sugar, about half the way to a carbohydrate. It's a medium burner, the dry pine log of energy, and will last longer than the sucrose.

And as the American Dairy council never misses a chance of telling us, milk has protein. Not only does that help restore overused muscles, but it helps to create the enzymes that regulate how quickly the energy, the glucose, is fed in to your bloodstream over time. It regulates your fuel flow.

Of course a milkshake also has fluids which you always need on the bike, no one ever drinks enough. And it's easy and quick to consume, I've even carried them in my bottle cage!  All of that is really important, but there are two other very important reasons why milkshakes are the ultimate bicycling food.

One, they taste good. This sounds basic, but it's actually really key. I don't know how many times I've seen folks, even some who were in the middle of a major bonk, holding on to a Power Bar, a gel, or some other gross non-food. But they weren't eating it, they were staring at it, and that doesn't fuel your body. So tasting good is great because you eat it: you actually consume it, probably quickly; and you finish it.

And lastly, you can find a milkshake almost anywhere. In the United States at least, every town, no matter how small, is going to have a restaurant, burger bar or establishment of some sort where you can get a milkshake, often a good one. Even between towns on the lonely roads there is often a possibility. This might be the most important feature. Showing up is 80%. If it's not there, it can't fuel you.

Milkshakes are great fuel, they are yummy and they show up.

The rest of the day I rode hard. I had half the milkshake at the burger bar and the other half went in my bottle cage for me to enjoy on the ferry. We rode until the shadows were long. It was a good day.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Bike Summit in the Other Washington!

This week hundreds of advocates, interested citizens, business representatives, and local and state government staff from across the country will arrive in Washington DC for the League of American Bicyclists’ National Bike Summit. The Bicycle Alliance of Washington’s Blake Trask and Josh Miller will be joining the Washington state delegation that includes our friends from REI, Raleigh, the University of Washington, Cascade Bicycle Club, as well as representatives from the Bicycle Alliance’s Legislative and Statewide Issues Committee. 
This year’s theme is simple: Save Cycling.

That’s a little dramatic, isn’t it?

Unfortunately, no. Over the past few months investments in biking and walking have been in the crosshairs of many representatives and senators. For some in the U.S. House of Representatives, biking and walking is the new “Bridge to nowhere” and the Speaker of the House has referred to bicycle trails as non-economic waste.

If you’ve received our action alerts (if not, sign up here!), or have been checking our blog over the past year, you have seen the numerous calls to let your federal elected officials know how important bicycling is for job creation, getting around your neighborhood, connecting safe routes to school, creating complete streets, recreation, and for tourism statewide.

What’s at stake is the end of over two decades of growing investments in walkable and bikeable communities throughout the U.S.

As we and our advocacy and business friends meet with members and staff from the Washington state's congressional delegation, we look forward to the opportunity to speak to the policymakers about a forward-thinking transportation bill that affirms the importance of bicycle investments for Washington state.

The Summit is a chance for the Bicycle Alliance of Washington to convey our positive statewide vision to grow bicycling. This vision includes the over 30,000 school-age children who receive our Safe Routes to School trainings, the safety improvements that federal monies provide through federal TransportationEnhancements (TE) and Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) programs, and the bicycle and pedestrian awareness education that motor vehicle drivers now receive in traffic safety schools statewide. It’s also a chance to talk about growing bicycling and enhancing partnerships across the state with health and safety organizations, PTAs, advocates for the elderly, and representatives from automobile organizations.

The Summit is a great opportunity for everyone to participate. Next year, consider attending to represent Washington state. Now more than ever we need your voice in the other Washington!

Interested in following the action at this week’s Summit? Be sure to monitor our Twitter feed at @BikeWA and check-in with the always-excellent D.C Streetsblog for news and insights as the Summit proceeds.

Alley Adventure

I’m an alley cat. I enjoy exploring alleys on foot and by bike—especially the ones in my neighborhood. They have their own unique character and roaming through alleys can give you a different perspective of your neighborhood. You can discover who among your neighbors likes to garden, barbecue, raise chickens, work on cars, and more—all by wandering through alleys.

I think of an alley as the route less traveled through my neighborhood.  They often extend for many blocks. Alleys are great for foot and slow bike explorations because people seldom drive in them except to park their cars.

Some alleys are paved, some are not.
Alleys are a great place to store garbage cans, recycling bins and yard waste containers,
old cars and boats.
You might even find a Honey Bucket in an alley!
The alley side of a home is popular with gardeners.  It's possible to spot greenhouses, vegetable patches, raised herb beds, and flower gardens on an alley exploration.  You might get lucky and spot the gardener in action as well.
Alleys function as active living spaces, especially for children, because vehicular traffic is at a minimum and travel at slow speeds.  Children learn to ride their bikes and skateboards in alleys.  It's a place to practice your free throws, hula hoop, and have water gun battles.
When you need a break from it all, the alley might just be the perfect hangout.
The next time you head out for a neighborhood walk or bike ride, be sure to include an alley route or two.  You're sure to learn something new about your neighborhood.  Maybe you'll become an alley cat like me!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Seattle Neighborhood Greenways Ride and Upcoming talk with the Seattle Deparment of Transportation

In capitalizing on all the bike related events about town last weekend, and to celebrate the one-year anniversary of Seattle Councilmember Sally Bagshaw’s first experience riding on greenways in Portland, Seattle Neighborhood Greenways organizers (of which I am one) organized a ride with Sally, Elly Blue, Seattle Department of Transportation employees and Steve Durant of Alta Planning and Design around the proposed Ballard Greenway routes.  Councilman Tom Rasmussen joined for the recap at Grumpy D’s, and a much needed respite from the wind and cold.

Here we are stenciling at 8:30 on Sunday morning.  We were really excited for Elly to ride with us! Who is Elly Blue, you ask?  She writes about bicycle transportation here, and her work has appeared in Grist, Bitch, BikePortland and elsewhere.  In addition she addresses issues of gender and sexuality in biking.  She spoke at Cascade Bicycle Club’s Bike Expo, but was gracious in sharing her last afternoon in Seattle with us.

Our recap looks serious, but I think we were just thawing out still!

Also, mark your calendars for March 22nd!  Seattle Greenways has organized a talk with Seattle Department of Transportation Director Peter Hahn, and newcomer Chief Traffic Engineer Dongho Chang.  Join us for this opportunity to meet and personally thank Peter for creating a legacy of safer and more livable streets for our City — and to start a conversation with Peter and Dongho about how we can best leverage our community expertise and grassroots energy (which now spans hundreds of volunteers working across 13 neighborhoods!).  Potluck is at 6:30 at Phinney Neighborhood Center.  More information is on the Seattle Neighborhood Greenways Facebook page

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Meet Jack Hilovsky

Please join us in welcoming Jack Hilovsky. He has joined the Bicycle Alliance of Washington staff as the new Development Manager.

A native of Cleveland, Jack migrated to Seattle in 1986 and has called Washington his home ever since. He graduated from the University of Washington’s Evans School of Public Affairs and managed public health programs for the National Institutes of Health and the UW before turning his attention to community-based groups.

Jack brings a natural talent for building relationships and partnerships, communicating vision and values, and organizing special events. As the Executive Director for the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce for three years, he built the organization’s membership from 18 to 200 paid members, finalized and executed the neighborhood’s mitigation plan with Sound Transit, and orchestrated eight working committees focused on topics ranging from marketing and events to retail development.

“I’m delighted to land at the Bicycle Alliance and look forward to meeting members and supporters of this visionary organization,” said Jack. “I look forward to applying my community building skills to inspire greater support and funding for the Alliance.”

Jack arrives to a full plate at the Bicycle Alliance. His assignments include developing a fundraising program, working with the staff and board to grow the membership base, and marketing the Share the Road license plates. He will also play a key role in the organization’s marketing efforts.

Working for the Bicycle Alliance allows Jack to apply his work skills to advance one of his personal passions—bicycling. He loves seeing the world from the seat of a bicycle and the connection biking gives him to his surroundings. Jack celebrated his thirtieth birthday cycling around Ireland, he has bicycled the Pacific Coast, and he is a fair weather bike commuter. Off the bike, Jack also enjoys swimming, running, yoga, memoir writing, and he’s a film and theatre buff.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Ride for Yourself, Ride for all of Us

No doubt about it—bike riding season is upon us. Maybe you attended Bike Expo last weekend or perhaps you’re planning to check out the upcoming Spokane Bike Swap. It’s time to plan which rides to do this year, so be sure to consult our special Ride Calendar.

Why is our Ride Calendar unique? It lists rides that support the Bicycle Alliance’s advocacy and education efforts with a financial contribution. When you sign up for the bike rides listed in our calendar, you ride for all of us who bike!

Consider the McClinchy Mile, which is coming up on March 17. The ride organizer, BIKES Club of Snohomish County, donates $1 per rider to the Bicycle Alliance. These funds support our efforts to make streets safer for bicyclists, bring Safe Routes School to all school districts, and make bicycling accessible to everyone.

The McClinchy Mile is a great early season ride that explores the peaceful valleys and rolling hills of scenic Snohomish County. There are several route options to choose from, including an 8-mile family ride on the Centennial Trail.

When you ride the McClinchy Mile or any other ride listed on our Ride Calendar, you are pedaling for all of us who ride a bike in Washington. So why not sign up for one of these generous bike rides this summer. You’ll benefit all year long from it.

See you on the roads and trails!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Wenatchee Workshop in March: Growing Biking & Walking in Your Community
Imagine a place where kids can safely walk and bike to school, where children play kickball in their neighborhood street, where families can bicycle to the library or neighborhood park.  Imagine a community where drivers don’t speed down a residential street and intersections are designed so your elderly neighbor can safely cross the street.

Growing Biking & Walking in Your Community is a half-day workshop being presented on March 22 at the North Central Regional Library in Wenatchee by the Bicycle Alliance of Washington.  The workshop is offered through our Hub & Spoke outreach program. 

The workshop aims to arm citizens with the tools and resources needed to reclaim neighborhoods for biking and walking.  Highlights include an overview on why biking and walking are essential ingredients for a healthy community, examples of challenges and possible solutions, tools and resources available, and a walking tour to assess community possibilities.  Ian Macek, WSDOT Bicycle Pedestrian Coordinator, and Patrick Walker, Transportation Planner for the Wenatchee Valley Transportation Council, will be on hand to lend their insights and knowledge.

"It's an exciting time to bring this workshop to the Wenatchee Valley," said Bicycle Alliance Executive Director Barbara Culp.  "Citizens are currently engaged in shaping a regional bike master plan and this is an opportunity to build on that momentum."

This is the first year that the Bicycle Alliance has incorporated a workshop in its Hub & Spoke schedule.  

"Attendees at past events expressed interest in community workshops and we are responding to that request," explained Culp.  "We are still keeping the social networking element in our Hub & Spoke program," she added.

There is no charge for the workshop but space is limited.  Use this link to register for the workshop.  There will be a social meetup at the Saddle Rock Pub & Brewery following the workshop from 5-7pm.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Open House Photo Album

The Bicycle Alliance held its first open house of the season and it was a celebration of our new office space.  And what a celebration it was!  Hundreds of friends and well-wishers dropped by to say hello and check out our new digs.

They came to admire Bob Freeman’s display of vintage bikes.

Some folks joined as members and received this great looking pint glass as a gift!

We celebrated John Vander Sluis’ national recognition as a CPPW Champion for his fabulous work on Safe Routes to School in South King County.

Many dropped in to welcome Back Alley Bike Repair Shop to the neighborhood.  They are our neighbor in the Nord Building.

Others ventured out into Nord Alley to view the constellation lighting.

Thanks to all who dropped by!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Time Runs Out for Neighborhood Safe Speeds Bill in Washington State Senate

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                           

Bill would have paved path for safer neighborhood streets by removing red tape and hurdles to reducing speeds on non-arterial streets.

Olympia, WA – March 2, 2012 – Today, the Washington State Senate did not vote on the Neighborhood Safe Speeds Bill (SHB1217) prior to the 5 p.m. cutoff for considering bills from the opposite chamber. After being listed on the Order of Consideration on Wednesday, it was held and passed over. The Senate’s failure to take action on it today means it is no longer under consideration for the 2011-2012 biennium.

SHB 1217 would have made safer streets and neighborhoods by allowing cities and towns the authority to set speed limits to 20 miles per hour on non-arterial streets. It did not mandate any change, it simply would have provided cities and towns the authority to do so.

The Neighborhood Safe Speeds Bill garnered support from over 35 statewide organizations, boards, cities, and towns.  In its January 30, 2012 vote, it received unanimous support from the State House of Representatives; and during its 2012 Senate Transportation Committee hearing, which featured Seattle City Council President Sally Clark, Spokane Councilmember Jon Snyder, and former WSDOT Secretary Doug MacDonald, it received no opposition by organizations in testimony or otherwise.

“Based on the strong bipartisan and statewide support we’ve seen, it's puzzling why the Senate didn't take action on this bill," says Bicycle Alliance of Washington statewide policy director Blake Trask.

The statewide support for this bill included the Washington State PTA, AARP-Washington, AAA-Washington, Washington Fire Chiefs, the cities of Spokane, Bellingham, Seattle and, Kirkland, as well as the Town of Winthrop.

“Communities are asking lawmakers to give them more cost-saving tools and local options instead of mandates,” says, prime sponsor, Representative Cindy Ryu (D-32). “Given the tight budget times we face, this bill would have helped local governments across the state. It aimed to remove an expensive state mandate that deters communities from lowering speed limits on non-arterial roads even when they recognize that lower speeds would make people safer or promote local businesses and jobs. I look forward to working on promoting these issues in the future.”

The Bicycle Alliance of Washington worked closely with the Representative to develop and support the bill.

“We are disappointed by the outcome, which will retain the state’s unnecessary hurdles for cities and towns to create safer non-arterial streets. But given the large coalition built to support this legislation, we are optimistic that Washingtonians will continue to demand safer streets,” says Bicycle Alliance of Washington Executive Director Barbara Culp.

This legislation is especially germane to more vulnerable populations, including children. As Washington State PTA wrote in its letter of support, “we believe that SHB 1217 will give local communities a way to make neighborhoods safer places for children to bike, walk and play. “ Similarly, AARP-Washington wrote, “Older pedestrians because of their increased fragility particularly benefit from low-speed environments.”

 Contact: Blake Trask
Statewide Policy Director
Bicycle Alliance of Washington

Thursday, March 1, 2012

John Vander Sluis Recognized as a Safe Routes to School Champion

John preps folks for a walking audit at Cedarhurst Elementary.

John Vander Sluis of the Bicycle Alliance of Washington received national recognition from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) for his strategic thinking and efforts to advance Safe Routes to School policies and programming in South King County. 

John is the manager of the Bicycle Alliance’s Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW) Safe Routes to School project, which is funded by a grant from Public Health of Seattle and King County.  This project established Safe Routes to School programs at 17 schools in 6 school districts and provided safe biking and walking training to 1500 low-income kids in South King County.  The participating school districts were Auburn, Kent, Renton, Highline, Tukwila and Seattle.

As the project draws to a close, John has focused recent efforts on helping schools make sustainable, long-term plans for their programs and organizing a Safe Routes to School policy workshop for school officials, transportation planners, and community partners.

“It’s a nice acknowledgment of the work that the Bicycle Alliance and our partners have accomplished over a very short period of time,” commented John on the CDC recognition.  “I’ve been really impressed with the commitment of the school and city staff, not to mention of the parents and families, to creating healthier communities for their students.  I think there’s some good momentum for continuing to improve the opportunities for safe biking and walking in these neighborhoods.”

CPPW is a national initiative to prevent chronic disease and promote health through policy, systems and environment changes.  King County was one of 55 sites around the US awarded grant funding through the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.  Eighteen local individuals and organizations were recognized for their work to address health inequities and improve community health.

Thanks to Feet First for the photo.