‘Everybody bikes differently.’ RIP SJ

SJ Brooks was the Founder of the Seattle chapter of Friends on Bikes, a group focused on creating space for women/trans/femme/non-binary people of color to enjoy biking together. Brooks was tragically killed over the weekend in an internationally publicized tragedy.

SJ’s death is a huge loss to our city. At 32 years old, they had so much more to do in this world. Our deepest condolences to their loved ones. And our best wishes go to Izzy, who is recovering. Izzy served a term on Seattle’s volunteer Bicycle Advisory Board a few years ago, helping to guide the city’s bicycle planning.

“Everybody bikes differently,” SJ told Seattle Bike Blog in an October interview about the launch of Friends on Bikes. Looking back through my notes from that interview, that quote really stands out to me as a perfect three-word summation of what bicycle culture should be all about. SJ worked in the bicycle industry on both coasts, from Montreal to Boston to Seattle, and that’s the insight they were hoping to bring to our city through Friends on Bikes.

SJ was scheduled to speak about Friends on Bikes at the WTF Bikexplorers summit in Montana later this summer. The Portland chapter of Friends on Bikes wrote the following about the late leader of their Seattle chapter:

Deeply heartbroken for the loss of SJ Brooks. No words can describe how much they will be missed in FOB, Seattle and the community at large. They were a positive light who worked tirelessly to create change. We’ve suffered a great loss. Please keep their family and loved ones in your thoughts. As well for Izzy who is still recovering. Keep your loved ones close, life is precious.

While media outlets are fascinated by the rare circumstances of Brooks’ tragic death, Seattle needs space to talk about SJ’s life. If you have any stories or remembrances you want to share, either leave them in the comments below or email them to me at tom@seattlebikeblog.com and I will add them to this post.

UPDATES: Continue reading

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Howell: Vaccinate your bike

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Brock Howell of Bicycle Security Advisors. The group is launching a campaign to fight bike theft by getting more people to register their bikes online with Bike Index.

Bike theft is a major problem in Seattle — and I didn’t have to write this sentence for you to know it.  That’s why there’s now a campaign to vaccinate bikes this month, and volunteers will be at fourteen Celebration Stations on Friday morning to register bikes.

Every year, more than a 1,000 bikes are reported as stolen to the Seattle Police Department.  Far worse, based on federal crime reports, the number of bikes actually stolen is likely five to six times what is reported to the police.  With seven percent of people never replacing their stolen bike again, this is a real issue for increasing the number of people who bike.

From May to October, Seattle experiences epidemic levels of bike theft.

Average Number of Bike Thefts by Month, 2008-2017

This isn’t too surprising.  These are the months that people are biking and so their bikes are more vulnerable to theft.

It’s a little like how people are more susceptible to the influenza virus in the winter because their immune systems are weakened by the weather.  Which brings us to how we can attack our seasonal bike theft epidemic. Continue reading

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Bike Everywhere Day is Friday + Where to join a morning ride to City Hall or visit a ‘Celebration Station’

Bike to Work Day 2011 at the Fremont Bridge

The happiest rush hour of the year is just two days away! Bike Everywhere Day 2018 (formerly known as “Bike to Work Day”) is Friday, and the city will be flush with snacks and swag and group rides and smiling faces.

There is usually an extra surge of people in the city’s bike routes, and there is no better day for someone to give biking to work (or school or the park or wherever) to give it a try. Biking gets safer and more comfortable as more people do it.

One great way to participate: Join a group ride to City Hall. Rides are starting all over the city. Details from the event listing:

  • Beacon Hill, Beacon Hill Light Rail Station, Beacon Ave S and Lander St (meets at 7:30 am; departs 7:45 am)
  • Columbia City, Bikeworks, 3709 S Ferdinand St (meets at 7:00 am, departs 7:15 am)
  • Fremont, Florentia & 4th Ave. N. (meets at 7:15 am, departs 7:30 am)
  • Ravenna, Third Place Books, 6504 20th Ave NE, (meets at 7:15 am; departs 7:30 am)
  • West Seattle, Beneath the West Seattle Bridge (meets at 7:15 am, departs 7:30 am)

Or you can make your own way to the 8 a.m. rally outside City Hall, which will include a “surprise action.” Continue reading

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Party for Bike Month Friday, bike for Mighty-O Donuts Saturday

Happy Bike Week!

As Seattle Neighborhood Greenways suggested in a post here Friday, this is a great opportunity to (politely and non-judgmentally) reach out to a friend and offer to help them get on a bike. Maybe that means helping them buy or borrow a bike. Maybe it means helping them get their old bike fixed up. Maybe it means offering to plan a safe bike route from their house to work or wherever they are trying to go. Maybe it means offering to meet them at their house and bike with them.

Or maybe your friend would be more motivated by bagels or donuts or a party. Well, your friend is in luck! All of those are happening this week. Continue reading

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Seattle Neighborhood Greenways: Save the Basic Bike Network

EDITOR’S NOTE: With Bike Everywhere Day a week away, Seattle Neighborhood Greenways has some ideas for how you can get engaged to help get the downtown Basic Bike Network back on track. If nothing else, scroll to the bottom to see their action items. This is a cross-post from their blog.

May is National Bike Month. A month when everyone is encouraged to dust off their bike, pump up their tires and try biking to get to work, school, local businesses, or just for fun. Everyone who wants to bike should be able to because biking can make us happier, keep us healthier, save us money, and reduce pollution.

But right now, too many people find biking to where they want to go scary or uncomfortable. In fact, a lack of safe streets is the number one reason people in Seattle don’t bike more.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

Way more people bike in cities that have safe, comfortable, and convenient bike networks. Around the world, cities like Vancouver, Calgary, New York and London have all implemented connected bike networks and seen ridership exploded. Even here in Seattle, when the 2nd Ave protected bike lanes were connected to Pike and Pine, ridership jumped 30% on 2nd Ave. But we still have a long way to go in Seattle.

That’s why we created a vision of a bike network that connects all neighborhoods, starting with our fastest growing “Urban Villages.” Continue reading

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Bike Happy: Flash Mob for Donuts today, & Bike Everywhere Day is next Friday

EDITOR’S NOTE: Thanks again to Brock Howell of Bike Happy for putting together this comprehensive weekly newsletter.


TOP THINGS TO KNOW & DO

  1. This afternoon at 4pm, SDOT is holding a bike+donut flash mob at 2nd Ave & Bell Street. First 200 people on bikes get mini-donuts.
  2. Bike Everywhere MonthWomxn’s Bike Month, and Bike to School Month all continue.  Next Friday is Bike Everywhere Day (formerly “Bike to Work Day”), and there are many celebration stations, rallies, and after parties planned across the city and region.
  3. Sooo much good bike stuff is happening on Saturday.  Two bike movie nights are planned for Tuesday.
  4. The fight over the Burke-Gilman Trail got physical.

Today (5/10), 4pm, 2nd Ave & Bell Street.
First 200 people on bikes get donuts.

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Shipyard manager admits he had men shove CM O’Brien over his support for the Missing Link

Councilmember Mike O’Brien, a longtime trail supporter, and Warren Aakervik, the owner of Ballard Oil and a former trail appellant, shook hands during a 2017 press conference announcing a compromise deal.

General Manager Doug Dixon of Pacific Fishermen Shipyard oversaw men who shoved Councilmember Mike O’Brien during an afterparty celebrating the opening of the Nordic Heritage Museum Friday evening.

Dixon admitted to overseeing the alleged assault on O’Brien, telling the Seattle Times that they shoved the District 6 Councilmember because he supports completing the Missing Link of the Burke-Gilman Trail:

“We have a conflict with Mike O’Brien because of his efforts to put a bicycle path here and do some other issues that hurt the maritime-industrial area,” he said.

“We told him if he didn’t leave he would be criminally trespassing and he didn’t leave, so we had to forcibly remove him,” Dixon added. “We told him finding his wife had nothing to do with him being there or not.”

O’Brien’s take is pretty much the same as Dixon’s. He told the Times he agreed to leave as soon as he found his wife, which is by no stretch of the imagination justifiable cause for violence. This is classic juvenile bully behavior. Except this isn’t middle school gym class, it’s our city leadership. From the Times: Continue reading

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Bike Happy: Bike Month has begun

EDITOR’S NOTE: Thanks again to Brock Howell of Bike Happy for putting together this comprehensive weekly newsletter.


TOP THINGS TO KNOW & DO

  1. Bike Month has begun. Have you taken the challenge?
  2. It’s also Womxn’s Bike Month.
  3. And Bike to School Month.
  4. The mayors of Everett & Mukilteo are challenging one another to see which of their communities bikes the most to parks, libraries, boats, and more during Bike Month.

Every year, a bike theft epidemic rages from May through October, claiming thousands of bicycles in Seattle.

If your bike is ever stolen, you will need a record of its serial number, a description, and photos — and a community of caring people looking out for your bike. That’s what Bike Index provides.  It’s independent, free, and easy.

More than 70% of returned stolen bikes in Seattle is thanks to Bike Index.  If enough bikes get registered, we can both recover more bikes and prevent the bike theft epidemic. List your bike on BikeIndex.org.

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Do you travel to or from the Eastside? You gotta give biking the 520 Bridge a try

Biking across the 520 Bridge during a sunny evening commute this week, I was floored by the sheer number of people biking across Lake Washington. I knew demand for a biking connection on this bridge was going to be big, but seeing it in action is still inspiring.

In fact, as more and more people discover the bike trip possibilities this new connection opens, it’s not so hard to imagine a commute-hour pattern with more people biking, walking and taking transit across 520 (especially if you include people on employee shuttles).

That’s where you come in, person who regularly travels across Lake Washington. The 520 Bridge just brought a lot of jobs and homes into bike range for the first time. That may include yours.

Biking from downtown Kirkland or Bellevue to the University of Washington is now a 7-mile bike ride, which takes about 40 minutes at a casual pace. Without traffic, that’s not much longer than taking the bus. During heavy traffic, it could be faster.

But more than that, it’s also a lot of fun. Instead of fuming in traffic, you could experience the freedom of being outside in the middle of Lake Washington. The bridge trail includes cut outs along the way where you can pull over, sit on a bench and take a few moments in awe at the beauty of the place we live.

It’s better for the environment, better on your budget, better for your health, and better for your soul.

Below are a few maps from WSDOT showing some bike connections to the trail. They’re not perfect, but it sure beats stop-and-go traffic. Continue reading

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Bike News Roundup: Why isn’t cycling normal in [insert city here]?

It’s time for the Bike News Roundup! Here’s a look at some stuff floating around the web in recent weeks (months?) that caught our eye. This is also an open thread, so feel free to discuss whatever bikey stuff is on your mind in the comments below.

First up, this very British comedian’s take on cycling in London sure sounds familiar.

Pacific Northwest News Continue reading

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Fiona is home + Donate to the March for Babies in her name

Fiona’s first walk!

Fiona came home a little more than a week ago after 85 days in the NICU.

She is doing great. She’s so brave and so strong. She’s already been through more intense medical care in her three months of life than I have in my 32 years. She’s powered us through all of it.

My family leave from this blog will continue for a bit longer. I’ll start adding more and more writing back into my day as I can. It’s amazing how time-consuming and exhausting it is to basically just stare at her all day. But I love it.

Huge thanks to everyone for all your support. We are so lucky to have solid health insurance and such a strong network of friends and family to get us through all this. The medical team at the UW Med Center NICU is unbelievable. We are so lucky we had access to that place and that we live within biking distance so we could spend every day there.

But not everyone is so fortunate. There were families in the NICU with us from Eastern Washington and even Alaska who were either forced to uproot their lives or spend time away from their babies so they could continue working. And not everyone has access to quality prenatal care, which is so essential to giving babies the best head start they can get. Like so many injustices in our racist society, Native American, Black, Asian/Pacific Islander and Hispanic babies in Washington State are significantly more likely to be born early than white babies. Racial prejudice begins in the womb.

Preterm birth rates by race in Washington State, via March of Dimes.

Continue reading

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Bike Happy: When bikes ruled Seattle

EDITOR’S NOTE: Thanks again to Brock Howell of Bike Happy for putting together this comprehensive weekly newsletter.


TOP THINGS TO KNOW & DO

  1. Watch excellent videos about bicycling history.
  2. Seattle Bike Blog called for Mayor Durkan to implement protected bike lanes on Rainier Avenue S and to reset the Move Seattle Levy/Plan with priority to walking and biking.
  3. JBLM has bikeshare.

There are three great videos for you to watch this week. First, Knute Berger provides a brief history of Seattle bicycling in the 1890s. Then Hennessy (yeah, that Hennessy) produced a series of short inspirational videos of Major Taylor, including one about the “Six Day Race” at Madison Square Garden.




Continue reading

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Mayor Durkan is right, we do need a ‘reset’ on Move Seattle

This Move Seattle map shows the clear focus on transit, biking, walking and maintenance that voters approved in 2015. Seattle’s leaders need to get back to this vision.

As regular readers of Seattle Bike Blog know, I have been on family leave since late January following the early birth of my daughter. So unlike the daily news regimen I have reported since 2010, I have not had the bandwidth to post about some major local transportation stories as they have happened. It’s been hard to follow the news and not be a part of it.

But maybe taking a step back and looking at the big picture around Seattle transportation would be helpful right now. Mayor Jenny Durkan and Interim SDOT Director Goran Sparrman are calling for a “reset” of Move Seattle to recognize the likelihood of less Federal funding than was assumed under the levy proposal.

I agree that we need a Move Seattle reset, though not in the form of big cuts targeting walking, biking, transit and safety projects as has been the pattern so far under Mayor Durkan. Since passage of the levy, our city’s transportation actions have drifted far off course from the transit, walking, biking, safety and maintenance mission voters approved in 2015. What we’re doing now is not working. Our city needs strong leaders with a creative vision to figure out how to get the job done even if the Feds don’t come through as originally hoped.

But a reset should not mean abandoning the extensive walking, biking and transit master plans that took years to develop, were approved by City Council, and were funded by the voters. Nor should it mean abandoning the city’s Vision Zero plan or the multi-agency One Center City plan for downtown. It may be true that the methods for accomplishing the goals in these plans needs to evolve — either due to funding or because there are better ideas — and that’s where the mayor can step in and be a strong leader.

The Move Seattle levy may be the most ambitious local transportation funding package voters have passed in any U.S. city. $930 million over nine years, and almost all the funding was earmarked for transit, walking, biking and maintenance of existing assets. To pass a levy of this scale with very little funding for new or expanded roads and highways marked a big shift in the city’s transportation vision. The voters were clear in November 2015 that they believe walking, biking and transit are the future in Seattle, and they are willing to pay hard-earned cash for it. City leaders must deliver what the people of Seattle are paying for. Continue reading

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Rainier RapidRide remake concepts fall short + Mayor Durkan should push SDOT for a more visionary plan

Rainier Ave is the only flat and direct street between Mount Baker and the International District/downtown. If southeast Seattle is ever going to have good bike access to the jobs and other major destinations downtown, Rainier Ave will need bike lanes. It is a diagonal street through the low point in a valley. There are no other options for a direct and flat bike route.

At the same time, Rainier is so wide and dangerous that it sees far more traffic collisions than north end streets with double its daily traffic volumes:

The street connects downtown to neighborhoods with low rates of car ownership that have been shamefully underserved ever since Seattle started building bike lanes:

While there are two high quality bike route options for people traveling the three miles from the Fremont Bridge to the downtown core, there are zero quality options for people biking the three miles from downtown to Franklin High School and Mount Baker Station. Continue reading

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Bike Happy: Don’t capsize the ferry system with stranded bikeshare bikes

EDITOR’S NOTE: Thanks again to Brock Howell of Bike Happy for putting together this comprehensive weekly newsletter.


TOP THINGS TO KNOW & DO

  1. Don’t leave your bikeshare bike on a ferry. The system shuts down.
  2. E-bikes will likely be allowed on most Seattle trails soon.
  3. Mayor Durkan is expected to “reboot” the planned projects in the Move Seattle Levy. Keep your eye on how this will impact planned bikeway investments.

Continue reading

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Bike Happy: The Future of Downtown Shifts

EDITOR’S NOTE: Thanks again to Brock Howell of Bike Happy for putting together this comprehensive weekly newsletter.


TOP THINGS TO KNOW & DO

  1. Seattle City Council adopted a bold new bike parking code.
  2. Mayor Durkan delayed the 4th Ave protected bikeway, halted the 1st Ave streetcar, and wants congestion fees for downtown.
  3. There are grand opening ceremonies for the Pioneer Square alleys tonight, the Arboretum Loop Trail on Saturday, and a crosswalk in Georgetown on Tuesday.
  4. Cascade’s Emerald City Ride is on Sunday, and it’s probably the first and last time you can ride across the Alaskan Way Viaduct.

Continue reading

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Aviva Stephens | Bikes are for boys: Cycling while woman

EDITOR’S NOTE: Aviva Stephens is a Seattle native and financial professional who discovered the benefits and joys of cycling on her challenging work commute between Ballard and the Eastside. She just launched a new blog called Biking In the Rain, which is also on Instagram at @bikingintherain. Find more of her writing on Medium and follow her on Instagram at @avivarachelle.

As a young girl I rode my bike everywhere around town, to the corner store for my daily candy stash, through the lovely wooded areas around Seattle, and the beaches along Lake Washington. But once I hit my tweens I became consumed with the tidiness of my apparel, containing my offensive odor, and maintaining a cool facade that included no outwardly appearance of effort or trying. While the boys remained boys, I was being groomed by society to be a young lady for the remainder of my school days and into my professional career as a tax accountant. As I proceeded to pursue my life ambitions the bike of my childhood gathered dust in the garage, and those moments of joy slowly faded from memory.

In finding my way to bike commuting, I was faced with the unexpected challenge of having to hunt down where I fit in the bike community as a woman. In every facet of my experience — from shopping for bikes to finding folks to ride with to procuring bike apparel — there are countless implications that bikes are for boys. The majority of bike shops are full of boy employees, group rides are led by the boys from the bike shop, and the readily available apparel seems to only fit athletic boy like bodies.

I use the word boy rather than man because there is a certain child playfulness with cycling so boy seems more fitting. While navigating my way to bike commuting is much more challenging than purchasing a car at my local dealership, the benefits are enormous, including health, sanity, and most importantly finding my childlike spirit at least once during my work day.

It’s the little things

As a marginalized minority, I’ve grown accustomed to confused glances and microaggressive questions when I repeatedly defy stereotypes in my day-to-day life, but I was shocked to find this same friction present on my journey to bike commuting. While there’s no sign over the bike shop that says “boys only,” it’s the little things that send the “boys only” message loud and clear.  Just the other day my coworker took a glance at my sick-ass All-City road bike and asked “is that is girls bike,” then shoots me a confused glance that implied “because bikes for boys.”

Everywhere along my journey there are these little “boys only” signs that create a boys’ club mentality in the bike community.  Here’s a few that I’ve observed: Continue reading

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Bike on I-5, the Aurora Bridge and the soon-to-be-closed waterfront Viaduct April 8

Cascade Bicycle Club’s Emerald City Ride 2018 won’t ever be repeated because part of the route will be on the slated-for-demolishion Alaskan Way Viaduct.

The third annual Emerald City Ride sticks with the theme: Bike on freeways typically off-limits to biking. And 2018 is shaping up to be one of the best routes yet. Rather than crossing the 520 Bridge as in the two previous years, the April 8 ride will start with a ride across the Alaskan Way Viaduct downtown, then continue on Aurora all the way to Fremont before taking city streets past Gas Works Park and onto the I-5 Express Lanes back to Sodo. The I-5 Express Lanes alone are reason enough to register.

Speaking of registration, the 12-mile full ride is $40 for adults with discounts for youth and Cascade members. You have until April 4 to register online. Day-of registration may be available for an extra $10, but only if they don’t sell out online. So since this is probably your last chance ever to bike on the Viaduct, I wouldn’t wait.

If you just want to bike on the Viaduct, you can register for a shorter 3-mile “Viaduct Experience” ride for $25 (again, discounts for youth and members).

Check out our post from last year’s ride for an idea of what you’re signing up for. It’s worth the cash.

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Anti-bike lane group tweets that single moms don’t bike. It backfires spectacularly

A twitter handle representing the “Save 35th Ave NE” group fighting against city plans for safer crosswalks and bike lanes posted a sexist tweet the other day saying that “single mothers don’t commute to work on bikes.” It backfired spectacularly when the many biking moms in Seattle pointed out that they do, in fact, exist. Many of them are 35th Ave NE neighbors.

The tweet goes on to bafflingly suggest that only “privileged ” bike, which is perhaps a wonderful insight into the minds of at least some of the people fighting these bike lanes. This poster has no idea who bikes, so they created some “other” group of people that they feel they don’t need to care about and bunched all people who bike together into that group. It’s just #techbros! Who cares if they die?

What’s depressing — beyond the blatant retrograde sexism, of course —is that this poster has lost sight of the fact that it’s their own neighbors who are trying to get around by bike. If your neighborhood organization relies on pretending that many of your neighbors don’t exist, then something has gone terribly wrong with your organization. The problem is right there in the name: “Save” 35th. Save it from what? Being a safe and comfortable place for people to bike? Just because you or your friends don’t bike doesn’t mean your neighbors who do bike are not worth caring about. That’s practically the definition of being selfish.

Bike lanes on 35th Ave NE would make make it safer and easier for more people of all ages, gender identities and income levels to get around without a car. More people biking is good for traffic, good for business, good for the environment and good for people’s health. In other words, it’s good for neighborhoods.

As of press time, that tweet has been up for 48 hours without any sort of clarification or retraction from the Save 35th group.

Below is just a taste of the responses people have posted so far. I hope that 35th Ave neighbors fighting the bike lanes take a step back and question some of their assumptions about who bikes and why these bike lanes might actually be good for their neighborhood. Read the tweet at the top of this post again and ask yourself whether that really represents the values you have for your neighborhood.

Continue reading

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Bike Happy: Get stoked + Eastside cuts bikeshare loose

EDITOR’S NOTE: Thanks again to Brock Howell of Bike Happy for putting together this comprehensive weekly newsletter.


TOP THINGS TO KNOW & DO

  1. Attend the third and final presentations of the Stoked Spoke Adventure Series this year on Wednesday, 6:30-9pm, at the Rhino Room. You’ll learn about amazing bikepacking and other bike adventures here in the Pacific Northwest. RSVP >
  2. Kathleen Emry, owner of Free Range Cycles, is retiring.
  3. Seattle City Council is set to move forward on major improvements to bike parking requirements for new buildings, although the update isn’t perfect.
  4. There’s sooo much bikeshare news this week, from vandals cutting brake wires to Eastside expansion.
  5. Cascade, SNG, and others are pushing SDOT to push forward on a planned two-way protected bike lane on 4th Avenue in Downtown. Take action >

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