#GivePedsTheGreen petitions SDOT to program traffic lights so they stop skipping walk signals

Image by Troy Heerwagen

Image by Troy Heerwagen

A new petition under the hashtag #GivePedsTheGreen is calling on SDOT to make an essentially invisible and low-budget change to traffic signals that could have a big impact on walkability, safety and accessibility in all corners of Seattle. It wouldn’t require any new infrastructure at all, and people driving would likely not even notice the change.

The idea is to program traffic signals in urban villages, the urban center and other areas with many people on foot so the walk signal is never skipped. Instead, just make the program behave as though someone pushed the button every cycle. It’s a pretty simple idea that could pack a big safety benefit.

The campaign was started by Troy Heerwagen, who has written for years at his blog Walking in Seattle. He wrote a post for the Urbanist Thursday explaining the idea and urging people to support the petition. He also says to always push the button when walking so SDOT has proper counts of how many people are trying to cross the street and can adjust signals accordingly.

I can’t possibly support this idea enough. So many safe streets projects require tough trade-offs or big capital budgets, but this one doesn’t. It’s a simple tweak, but it would improve comfort, efficiency, safety and accessibility for people walking around town.

Case study: 18th and Union

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People get organized to restore bike lanes cut from Madison BRT project

This slide is from a Madison BRT project team presentation to the Seattle Bicycle Advisory Board in June 2015 (PDF).

This slide is from a Madison BRT project team presentation to the Seattle Bicycle Advisory Board in June 2015 (PDF). Nearly all these bike connections have since been deleted from the plan.

The latest plans out of the Madison BRT project (RapidRide G) cut nearly all of the planned bike improvements that were originally planned nearby as part of the high-budget so-called “multimodal corridor” project.

We reported in depth about the cuts last week, and safe streets groups and upset residents are pushing back. There are several ways you can get involved right now to make sure the project team, city leaders and the Move Seattle Levy Oversight Committee know you want the deleted bike lanes and neighborhood greenways back in the project as was presented during public outreach that began more than two years ago.

First, today (Wednesday) is the final day to comment on the project’s online open house. It takes quite a few clicks to get to the comment area, but stick with it.

Second, Seattle Neighborhood Greenway put out an action alert today urging people to email the project team and SDOT leaders urging them to keep the promises made early in the outreach period and during the Move Seattle levy campaign. They even have a handy online form you can use to send your message. UPDATE: Cascade Bicycle Club also has an action alert.

Third, reader Zach Lubarsky is urging people to provide public comment at the start of Thursday‘s Move Seattle Oversight Committee meeting. Show up at Seattle City Hall Room L280 before 5:30 p.m. to provide a short comment asking the committee to hold SDOT accountable for promises made leading up to the levy vote. Continue reading

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Dispatches from the WA Bike Summit: Transpo Secretary Roger Millar: ‘We’re not just about moving cars and drivers, we’re about moving people’

WA Transportation Secretary Roger Millar

WA Transportation Secretary Roger Millar

Be sure to check out our other notes from the 2017 WA Bike Summit.

State Transportation Secretary Roger Millar kicked off the Monday keynote with some solid jokes about job security, a reference to the sudden, politically-motivated firing his predecessor Lynn Peterson one year ago.

Millar, who walks to work every day, talked about the state’s responsibility to see beyond just personal cars.

“We’re not just about moving cars and drivers, we’re about moving people,” he said.

And he emphasized that “active transportation isn’t just for urban centers.” People in communities of all sizes across the state are either choosing to biking and walk or can’t afford another option. Continue reading

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Dispatches from the WA Bike Summit: Dr. Adonia Lugo on ‘fighting for the better world we know when we’re out on a ride’

Dr Adonia Lugo

Dr Adonia Lugo was the Monday lunchtime keynote speaker

I’m at Cascade Bicycle Club’s Washington Bike Summit, a two-day conference that coincides today with Active Transportation Lobby Day.

As I write this, people from all over the state are volunteering their time to meet with their state Representatives and Senators and urge them to support biking, walking and transit during the legislative session. That’s pretty cool.

Below is the first of several notes from the summit. I’ll keep posting as I get them written, so be sure to check back.

Dr. Adonia Lugo:

Just a couple days after Donald Trump was elected President, Dr. Adonia Lugo flew from L.A. to Atlanta to attend The Untokening, a conference she helped organize that was designed to be a majority-people-of-color event for people working “for just and accessible streets and communities.”

But the election took the wind out of her sails as the headed to the conference, Lugo said during her keynote speech Monday. The work seemed so small in comparison to the threat Trump posed to so many communities in the nation.

Yet bicycling can be a part of the movement for a different vision of the world than the one Trump campaigned for. Continue reading

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Bike News Roundup: A 1996 PBS doc on the auto industry’s demolition of public transit

It’s time for the Bike News Roundup! Here’s a look at some stuff floating around the web lately. This is an open thread.

First up, a PBS documentary (fresh out of 1996) on the auto industry’s conspiracy to destroy public transit and create the urban traffic headaches we have today and continue to make worse through further highway spending. Interesting that Trump’s proposed budget would not only cut public transit funding, but also PBS…

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Banel: How neighbors in 1970s took action and created the Burke-Gilman Trail

Photo from MOHAI: Rally Against the Burke Gilman Trail, Seattle, 1971 Signs in image: Do the Hungry and Needy Really Want [...] Million Trail. [...] Woods [...] in My Yard. Not More Taxes. Who's Paying for This $10 Million Dream? We Don't Want It. Burke Gilman Trail. Enjoy But Who Pays? Who Pays for Upkeep. Photographer: Tom Barlet Image Date: 1971 Image Number:1986.5.55062.1 - See more at: http://www.mohai.org/explore/blog/item/2067-rally-against-the-burke-gilman-trail-seattle-1971#sthash.3mRtlXsn.dpuf

Photo from MOHAI: Rally Against the Burke Gilman Trail, Seattle, 1971. Photographer: Tom Barlet

As you pedal or stroll along the Burke-Gilman Trail today, it feels like such an integral part of the city that it is hard to imagine the north end without it (unless you’re in Ballard, of course).

But that trail isn’t there by accident, and it isn’t there because of smart City of Seattle transportation policy. It’s there because neighbors — with the help of a supportive mayor — took action and made it happen, culminating in a 2,000-person “hike-in” along the railroad line calling for the city to preserve the decommissioned line as a public biking and walking path rather than splitting it up into many privately-owned parcels.

Half a century later, the Burke-Gilman has inspired rail-trail across the nation and remains a jewel of the city. During peak commute hours, the trail can move as many people as a lane of a major freeway, but it also serves as a unique way for people to quickly feel very far away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

KIRO Radio’s Feliks Banel caught up with trail activist Merrill Hille and former Mayor Wes Uhlman recently to talk about the effort to create the trail (it also includes a fantastic first-person account of train worker Jack Christensen traveling the route shortly before it was decommissioned). It might be hard to imagine today, but the plans were very controversial back then. But Uhlman and other leaders saw the vision and potential the trail held for the city and spent a lot of political capital making it a reality.

But none of that could have happened without neighbors organizing and pushing hard to make sure the positive vision outweighed the pushback.

The story is familiar, yet also feels fantastical. How could people have ever been against the Burke-Gilman Trail? Perhaps in a half century, people will be asking the same question about the downtown bike network and the protected bike lanes down Rainier Ave…

From MyNorthwest: Continue reading

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Neighbors submit 900 ideas for park and street improvements, but city can only fund a small percentage

Seattle is trying a whole new method for gathering community ideas for small park and street improvements, and the people have responded. Loudly.

Neighbors from all over Seattle submitted nearly 900 ideas for street and park improvements (up to $90,000 in cost), which is a huge success for the new community outreach process. And a look at the interactive map of submitted ideas shows that ideas are distributed well across the city, which is a strong marker of success for a brand new citywide outreach effort.

But it’s also maybe a bit of a problem since the city only budgeted $2 million to go around.

I know $2 million sounds like a lot of money, but it is only enough to fund 23 projects if each project uses the maximum budget allowed (of course, not all will do so). That’s only enough for a small percentage of ideas to become reality.

A lot of the ideas are about making streets safer and more friendly for people walking, biking or just trying to spend time hanging out and enjoying their neighborhood. Not all the 900 ideas submitted are feasible, but they are a place to start.

The “Your Voice. Your Choice; Parks & Streets” process has replaced the old Neighborhood Park and Street Fund, which went through the city’s various District Councils. The hope is that the new process will be more inviting to more people with city staff reaching out to many different groups directly. A growing and changing city needs a versatile outreach process that can find people where they are rather than requiring people to go through their District Councils. Continue reading

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Madison BRT project cuts nearly all of its bike route plans

The bike route plans have been almost entirely deleted from the Madison BRT plans.

The bike route plans have gone missing.

The Madison BRT project has dropped its goal of designing a so-called “parallel” bike route to accompany its $120 million plans for a faster and more reliable bus line from the waterfront to MLK Way.

But just as concerning, the few short, disconnected sections of bike facilities that are planned mostly fail to meet standards that would make them inviting for people of all ages and abilities to use.

You can learn more about the plans and provide feedback at a Wednesday open house or through an online open house. From the project info page:

Wednesday, March 15
5:30 – 7:30 PM
First African Methodist Episcopal Church
1522 14th Ave

ONLINE
MARCH 8-22
Give feedback online!
MadisonStreetBRT.participate.online

Spring Street door zone bike lane, missing westbound lane

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Shoreline announces bold idea for a new trail next to light rail

Trail_Along_The_Rail_Bike_ copyThe City of Shoreline has a great idea for taking advantage of Sound Transit construction to also revolutionize bike access in their city: A “Trail Along the Rail.”

Much like the Interurban Trail is a premiere asset for the city’s SR 99 corridor — providing vital access to businesses, homes, parks and schools — the new Link-adjacent trail could do the same for the city’s I-5 corridor.

And by coordinating construction of the trail with light rail construction, there will never be an easier opportunity to make this connection.

The early concept shows the trail connecting from the border with Seattle at Jackson Park all the way to N 195th Street, which has an I-5 crossing. The trail would provide access to planned stations at N 145th and N 185th Street Stations.

I-5 will remain a major impediment to east-west travel, but the city also has plans for improving access to the relatively few existing crossings.

The project is still only an idea, so it’s going to take a big push from neighbors to make this a priority. Since light rail construction is set to begin in 2018, this trail idea needs to get moving if it is going to be ready to break ground with the rail line.

If you want to learn more or provide feedback, Shoreline is hosting a public meeting 6–8 p.m. March 15 at Shoreline City Hall. More details: Continue reading

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The 2017 Emerald Bike Ride will make a big freeway loop on 520, I-90 and I-5

The 2017 route, from Cascade.

The 2017 route, from Cascade.

For the second annual Emerald Bike Ride, Cascade Bicycle Club is scaling up big time. The full route is longer, the start location is bigger and the rider limit has been set at a stunning 10,000 people. That’s 3,000 more people than the sold-out 2016 ride. If the 2017 event also sells out it would reach the same size as the club’s signature Seattle-to-Portland ride.

The May 28 route, announced this week, remains focused on providing bike access to freeways where biking is banned. The ride includes the I-5 Express Lanes and the 520 Bridge as it did last year. So if you regret missing a rare chance to bike on car-free freeways last year, you will have another chance.

But instead of going out and back on 520, the route will travel through Medina and Bellevue to connect to the I-90 Express Lanes leading back to the new start line on Occidental next to CenturyLink Field (why they dropped “City” from the former “Emerald City Bike Ride” name). This is almost certainly your only chance to bike on the I-90 Express Lanes, since East Link light rail construction is already underway and will soon occupy that space.

The full 24.4-mile route only includes 1,237 feet of climbing, a nearly impossible feat in this hilly region outside of the freeway system. There is also a cheaper, flatter and shorter 10-mile route option up and down I-5 for people who can’t or don’t want to bike 24 miles.

The biggest catch is that unlike many other open streets events in Seattle and across the world, this ride costs money. That’s not exactly Cascade’s fault, of course. It costs a lot of money to plan and host such a gigantic event. And the ride is a fundraiser for Cascade’s education programming.

The full route is $40 for non-members if you register online (there are discounts for members and youth as well as scholarships). Online registration is set to close May 24, or earlier if it sells out.

The experience is worth the cash.

Emerald City Bike Ride 2016 on the I-5 Express Lanes.

Emerald City Bike Ride 2016 on the I-5 Express Lanes.

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Pronto will refund remainder of outstanding memberships after March 31 shutdown

Screen Shot 2017-03-07 at 9.31.51 AM

The member email from Pronto.

Many people bought annual memberships for Pronto Cycle Share before the city announced the decision to shut it down March 31. So what happens to those memberships?

Originally, the city had planned a new bike share system using e-assist bikes, and Pronto members would have been offered the choice of a pro-rated refund or credit in the new system. But Mayor Ed Murray scrapped plans for the new system before details were even shared with the City Council.

So now there’s only one option left: All members will have remaining balances credited to their cards on file automatically once the system shuts down (so make sure your card info is up-to-date). And that’s it. No more Pronto.

Here’s the text of the member email: Continue reading

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After a butane truck crash on I-5 snarls traffic, the Times Ed Board blames … bike lanes?

Screenshot from the Seattle Times (click to read)

Screenshot from the Seattle Times (click to read)

It seemed every couple minutes, someone at KUOW radio would break into the news broadcast to let people know of another major traffic problem in the Seattle area. It was February 27, and a truck carrying butane had crashed on southbound I-5 downtown.

The very hazardous payload forced brave emergency crews to close both directions of the major freeway at the interchange with I-90. During all this, snow and hail was coming down in various amounts in different parts of the region, further complicating people’s routes.

Traffic got so bad, a heroic taco truck called Tacos El Tajin that was stuck on I-5 simply opened its window and started serving other stranded travelers.

As traffic backed up, people trying to drive downtown blocked intersections and bus routes. People often use the term “gridlock” hyperbolically to describe bad traffic, but this was legitimately gridlock. Buses got more and more delayed by car traffic, reducing the effectiveness of the city’s most vital congestion relief valve. Link light rail saved the day for many people as one of the only services running reliably. Those who braved rare snowy streets to bike to work that day also found ways to get out of the city relatively easily by working through the snarled traffic. Most everyone else had a long journey home.

Listening to the traffic news get worse, I joked that I wondered how long it would take before someone blamed the horrendous traffic on bike lanes. One week later, the Seattle Times Editorial Board* delivered:

Major incidents will keep happening, and their effects are worsened because Seattle eliminated numerous arterial lanes in recent years. This reduced capacity hurt on Monday.

Lanes were replaced with bicycle paths. The problem isn’t adding bike paths, it’s that the city did so by reducing general traffic capacity. This makes the street network less resilient and capable of handling surges — and more dependent on I-5.

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One year after the Greenwood explosion, G&O Family Cyclery opens its new home

IMG_6794It’s been a very long and hard year for many Greenwood businesses damaged or destroyed by the March 9, 2016, natural gas explosion.

Many are still struggling to hang on while insurance companies and Puget Sound Energy delay and haggle over who needs to pay out for the immense damage that has so far mostly fallen on the businesses themselves. Neptune Coffee may reportedly throw in the towel.

That’s why it was such a wonderful experience to visit the new location for G&O Family Cyclery, which opened for business Wednesday nearly one year after the explosion destroyed their original home just a block and a half south of their new shop. Owners Davey Oil and Tyler Gillies were clearly glowing, finally able to get back to doing what they love: Getting people on bikes built to handle whatever family life throws at them.

G&O will host a grand reopening party at the new shop (8558 Greenwood Ave N) 7–10 p.m. March 9, the one-year anniversary of the explosion (details below). Continue reading

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Walk through the Battery Street Tunnel Sunday + What will be its legacy in our city?

Promo image from the event listing.

Promo image from the event listing.

The Battery Street Tunnel has been part of Seattle for 65 years, but very few people have ever had the opportunity to walk through it. Well, Sunday morning is your chance.

Walk the Battery is a free public event, part of an ongoing art initiative “b’End Tunnel” by Aaron Asis and Project Belltown that will “celebrate the Battery Street Tunnel in its final years of service,” according to the event listing. You can register online for free to receive more info about the start.

Though participants are encouraged to bike to the start, no bikes will be allowed in the tunnel itself (you’ll have to lock up nearby).

The Battery Street Tunnel is set to be decommissioned when/if the new and much deeper SR 99 highway tunnel replaces the Alaskan Way Viaduct that feeds the Battery Tunnel today. Major work will reconnect much of the street grid between Belltown and the waterfront as well as in South Lake Union.  Continue reading

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Trail supporters, opponents and city leaders strike a deal to complete the Ballard Missing Link

Councilmember Mike O'Brien, a longtime trail supporter, and Warren Aakervik, the owner of Ballard Oil and a trail appellant, shook hands during the press conference.

Councilmember Mike O’Brien, a longtime trail supporter, and Warren Aakervik, the owner of Ballard Oil and a trail appellant, shook hands during the press conference.

UPDATE: Construction on the Ballard Missing Link of the Burke-Gilman Trail will break ground by winter 2018, Mayor Ed Murray announced Tuesday during a press conference flanked by both longtime trail supporters and business owners who have fought the trail for decades.

“I’m kinda all smiles,” said Councilmember Mike O’Brien, who in addition to representing Ballard’s district on the Council has been a longtime supporter of completing the trail. “I gotta check myself a little bit, because it’s not done yet,” O’Brien continued. “I know there are advocates who will say, ‘We’ve been here before.'”

But at the press conference, anyway, Cascade Bicycle Club and other longtime trail advocates were smiling, too. After decades of delays, lawsuits, big public meetings and a horrible number of broken bones, the path to building the trail finally seems free of major opposition.

“When designed properly, [the city] will create a safe facility next to a major truck street,” said Warren Aakervik, the owner of Ballard Oil and one of the longtime trail opponents who sued to delay the project to this point. “Hopefully we can move forward and make something safe.”

“I too have been working in this project for a decade, so it’s nice to see that soon I’ll be able move onto something else,” said Eugene Wasserman, President of the North Seattle Industrial Association, another party to the lawsuits.

Mayor Murray hailed the agreement as an end to the project’s endless limbo. Continue reading

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Bellevue officially approves funding to start ‘rapid implementation’ bike plan

The two-year project map Bellevue's City Council just funded. See map below to see proposed facility types.

The two-year project map Bellevue’s City Council just funded. See map below to see proposed facility types.

Amid all the other giant issues on the November ballot, it may have been easy to miss the news that the people of Bellevue approved a transportation measure that includes funding to kickstart a renewed effort to get their bike network plans back on track.

The city’s “Bicycle Rapid Implementation Plan” is based on Bellevue’s existing Bicycle Master Plan, which has never been significantly funded. But the political leadership on bicycle transportation has shifted in recent years. In December 2015, the Bellevue City Council unanimously endorsed Vision Zero. They also tasked their transportation staff with improving the city’s horribly-fractured bicycle network, which often requires people to bike mixed with fast-moving traffic.

Rather than create a whole new master plan, city leaders decided to create a near-term action plan that could be largely funded as part of a 2016 transportation vote. That decision has worked out well so far. A year and a half after they started planning work, the city has a five-year plan to create a mostly-connected network of bike routes, many of which will be protected bike lanes or trails. And thanks to voters, they also have the funding to make it happen.

Cascade Bicycle Club’s East King County Policy Manager Vicky Clarke has put together a handy online tool you can use to send Bellevue’s City Council a thank you note. Continue reading

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Public Bikes will close Pine St shop

Photo from April 2015, just before the shop opened.

Photo from April 2015, just before the shop opened.

When Public Bikes opened at Summit and Pine in April 2015, we noted that the shop was “well-positioned to take advantage of Capitol Hill’s bike shop desert.” Velo Bike Shop had recently moved to the Denny Triangle area after decades on the Hill, and one of the city’s densest and bikiest neighborhoods was left without a bike shop in any of its main business districts.

But Public was a little different from a bike shop like Velo. For one, it only sold its own brand of bike (though it had a wide variety of stylish accessories). And it’s maintenance shop was largely focused on servicing Public brand bikes, though they did limited service on other brands of bikes.

Public bikes are largely sold directly to customers online, and the Seattle shop was among the company’s first attempts to open brick-and-mortar shops outside their Bay Area home.

Since Public opened, a new model of bike shop has broken out on Capitol Hill: The bike shop cafe. And that concept only shows signs of expanding. Continue reading

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Rainier Ave safety project worked even better than planned, city will extend it south

RainierAveS_BeforeAfter-beforeafter

Images from SDOT’s before and after report.

A 2015 safe streets redesign on Rainier Ave is working even better than expected by nearly every measure.

Just by repainting the lines on the major street, the city’s Vision Zero team was able to dramatically reduce the number of dangerous collisions, nearly eliminate high-end speeding, speed up transit, and fully eliminate serious injuries and deaths. Meanwhile, delays for people driving were minimal, clocking in well below pre-construction estimates, according to a new report (PDF).

In other words, Rainier Ave now works better for everyone.

The new report comes out as SDOT starts public outreach for an extension of the safety project from the current project boundary south of Hillman City all the way to Rainier Beach, where safety improvements were completed in recent years. When the new project is complete, Rainier Ave will be significantly calmed from Columbia City to the southend city limits.

Details on an upcoming meeting and a project online survey from SDOT:

We want to hear about your experiences traveling on Rainier Ave S. This will help inform Phase 2 of the project and let us know how Phase 1 is working.

Click here to take our survey.

Or come talk to us in person at this upcoming event! We’ll share Phase 1 results and talk about extending changes from S Kenny St to S Henderson St.

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NE 65th Street will get autumn quick fixes, bigger remake in 2018-19

Andres Solomon, now a candidate for mayor, organizes neighbors to protest traffic dangers on NE 65th. The crane in the background marks the site of Roosevelt Station.

Andres Salomon, now a candidate for mayor, organizes neighbors to protest traffic dangers on NE 65th. The crane in the background marks the site of Roosevelt Station.

After years of community urging and protest, Seattle is about to kick off a road safety project on NE 65th Street to address the street’s serious ongoing safety problems.

People walking, biking and inside cars all continue to get seriously injured and killed on the street, which forms a barrier that splits the neighborhood in two.

Councilmember Rob Johnson joined a June 2016 neighborhood march and protest calling for a safe streets overhaul of the street. He was then able to add the project to the 2017 budget.

After more horrible collisions along the street that left people seriously injured, Johnson and community members behind the #Fix65th effort convinced Mayor Ed Murray to make the project a priority. Though SDOT fell short of Johnson’s call for a design plan to be in place by February 14, the department did have a public meeting and design schedule complete by that date.

The first big meeting about the project will be 6 p.m. February 28 at Roosevelt High School.

The department hopes to have some early safety fixes ready to be installed by Fall 2017, followed by a final design of the street and a more significant changes in 2018-19.

Inga Manskopf, a community member active in the #Fix65th effort, recently wrote a post for the Ravenna-Bryant Community Association blog outlining some cheap and quick fixes the city could make in the near-term. Continue reading

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The 45th Chilly Hilly is Sunday on Bainbridge

The 2011 Chilly Hilly. Photo from Cascade Bicycle Club

The 2011 Chilly Hilly. Photo from Cascade Bicycle Club

Cascade Bicycle Club’s major event season kicks off Sunday with the 45th annual Chilly Hilly.

Thousands of people will meet up at Colman Dock to catch the ferry to Bainbridge. Numbers swell when weather is sunny and warm, but that’s not the point of this ride. It’s still fun to bike when it’s rainy and cold. And the colder it is, the better a bowl of chili tastes at the end.

Or so I’m told.

Online registration ends Wednesday ($35), but Chilly Hilly is one of the few major Cascade rides that allow people to register at the start ($45).

Folks on the Bainbridge side of the bay can skip the ferry ride and save some cash. Swing by the B.I. Cycle Shop or Classic Cycle during normal business hours Wednesday through Saturday to register.

And, as has been tradition alongside Chilly Hilly itself, there will be several adjacent events. You can expect the 12th annual Fucking Hills Race to happen on Bainbridge, as usual. There’s also the “Willy Nilly” ride on Vashon, as posted to our events calendar.

More details on the Chilly Hilly from Cascade Bicycle Club: Continue reading

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