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UW gets a ‘silver’ rating for bike friendliness

From a UW study of bike parking usage

The League of American Bicyclists announced the recipients of the first-ever Bicycle Friendly University designations during the National Bike Summit this week in the other Washington. Only one school in Washington was among the first 20 schools awarded the designation: The University of Washington.

The UW got a “silver” rating, which is the third-best designation (behind gold and platinum). Only Stanford University got platinum, and only UC Davis and US Santa Barbara got gold.

The LAB also made 55 new additions to its list of bike-friendly businesses, including two from Seattle: Anderton Law Office (silver) and Compass Bicycles LTD (bronze). They join Seattle Children’s (gold) and Avtech (bronze) as the only Seattle businesses on the list. REI (listed as based in Redmond) got an honorable mention.

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Congratulations to all the new additions. As we reported in December, bike parking usage at UW is up 13 percent since last year. Of course, the campus is situated on one of the best urban bike trails in the country, and bike is absolutely the easiest way to get around campus. It is unfortunate that the campus has unfriendly streets like 15th Ave NE, Montlake Blvd. and NE 45th to keep the campus from being as bikeable and walkable as it could be.

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7 responses to “UW gets a ‘silver’ rating for bike friendliness”

  1. Natalia

    FYI REI is based in Kent not Redmond.

    1. Tom Fucoloro

      Yeah, they have it listed as Redmond. Perhaps they just mean the Redmond store and not the whole company? I’ll see if I can figure that out.

    2. Tom Fucoloro

      Yes, just noticed that there are other REI stores on the list, so the listing is just the Redmond store, not the whole company.

  2. Jeremy

    Moving about the UW campus can be awkward by bicycle; Red Square is stair-bordered at all points except one, and construction has blocked off a nearby path (Spokane lane), forcing one to carry the bicycle along stairs, or divert far East (out by the music building in the quad) or West (car infested 15th) to make certain North-South transits. The traffic circle north of Red Square is also problematic, as bicycle and pedestrian traffic coming from or to 42nd has to either travel across the pavement (which complicates vehicular traffic), or divert around the circle (which virtually nobody does).

  3. Eli

    I’m curious what supposedly makes UW so great for biking, other than having the good luck of being situated next to a major bike trail.

    I see lots of bike parking popping up, but there’s not a single noticeable affordance for cyclists I’ve seen in 5 years — as Jeremy notes, getting your bikes into and out of Red Square is an unnecessary pain in the butt (they could easily install wheel ramps like we have in Holland or Denmark).

    And none of the main roads on campus have cycle paths (nor are traffic calmed to the point where one can feel safe taking the lane).

    Really a shame — UW + the surrounding university district could be an amazing pedestrian center surrounded by bike boulevards cost-effectively supporting what is a mostly car-free student population that would benefit from additional transportation choices.

    Perhaps with this award it will provide the initiative to actually transform the campus.

    1. Eli and Jeremy,

      Thanks for your comments. I think you’ve unintentionally identified a great number of things that we at the UW do to make the campus a safe, comfortable, and convenient place to ride a bike.

      The “good luck” of being located next to the Burke Gilman Trail didn’t just happen; the BGT right-of-way used to be an active rail corridor, and the University was an active participant in and advocate for developing the Trail into the multi-use facility we’re fortunate to have today. To that end, the UW actually owns the section of the BGT that runs through campus (roughly Pasadena – 47th) and as such we perform regular and request-based Trail maintenance, landscaping (hedging, trimming, plantings, etc.), and snow removal. We also oversee planning and design efforts to accommodate future demand. Signage, lighting, striping…that’s all managed and paid for by the University.

      The University also provides the bicycle parking that you mention. We manage the largest bicycle locker inventory of any academic institution in the country, and are working to significantly expand the secure and covered bicycle parking options available to students, staff, faculty, and visitors. We strive to provide adequate bike parking at every campus building and attraction. Ironically, one outcome of the construction you’ve described at Spokane Ln will be a doubling of bicycle parking capacity at this location.

      We recognize that not everyone grew up riding a bike or is comfortable riding in an urban setting. Because of this, we partner with Cascade Bicycle Club to provide regular bicycle education and maintenance classes and on-the-bike labs free of charge to students, staff, and faculty. Last month’s maintenance class attracted over 50 attendees. Our signature bicycle events – the annual Ride in the Rain and Bike to Campus Month – successfully encourage thousands of students, staff, and faculty to take up biking each year.

      We also see the value in partnering with outside organizations and agencies to encourage bicycling at institutions of higher education. That’s why we assisted the League of American Bicyclists in developing the Bicycle Friendly University program by participating in their Campus Bike Programming Network. We’re also active stakeholders in the King County-led Bike Share Partnership effort to develop a regional bike sharing system.

      Certainly, there’s more that we can and should be doing. We’re working on many of the issues you’ve identified and look to resources like the new BFU program and members of the UW community to help us identify improvements we haven’t yet zeroed in on. We always welcome feedback from people who currently bike or are considering doing so in the future, and encourage you to contact us with your comments or suggestions for improvement.


      David Amiton
      Transportation Analyst
      UW Commuter Services
      [email protected]

  4. Thanks for noticing!

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