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Biking to the Sounders game has caught on

I took the photo above after failing to find a good place to lock my bike near the stadium Saturday for an afternoon Sounders FC match. That’s a lot of bikes. Every bit of the temporary “bike racks” was completely covered. It looks like biking to the stadium has caught on.

Large events highlight the absurdity of dependence on personal motor vehicle transportation perhaps more than anything else. For example, if every person who locked their bike to the rack drove a car instead, their parked cars would take up a huge amount of parking lot space in either the surface lots or garages at the stadium. And, as anyone who has driven to an event knows, they would have significantly increased the time it takes everyone to leave the stadium parking areas.

Biking is by far the best way to get to large events. To use Sounders games as an example, getting in and out of Pioneer Square on a game day is a massive headache in a car. But on bike, you just zip past lines of cars and lock up near the north entrance. Easy. Better yet, you get to experience and be part of the pre-game excitement with the hordes of people walking to the stadium.

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Given that an entire development could be stalled due to a a failure to come up with an agreement for a measly 491 parking stalls on the north end of Century Link Field, encouraging more people to bike makes a whole lot of sense. There are hundreds of bikes in the photo above. If the stadium can double that number, they won’t even need those parking spaces (assuming they even need them now).

It would not be hard for the Sounders to double the number of people who bike to their games. The Sounders’ marketing team has proven how successful they can be at getting people excited and active.

In Portland, the Bike to Blazers event encourages people to ride to the stadium by throwing an event and even organizing rides from neighborhoods to the Rose Garden. How cool would it be to have meeting points throughout the city for group rides to Sounders games (or Mariners or Seahawks)? It would not take that much effort to make it happen, and the stadium could easily cut down on its parking needs.

Most importantly, though, it would be a blast.

UPDATE: Reader Eric Soderlund sent us the following photo and note:

Biking to Sounders games rocks! Especially to a game like Saturday’s! And vuvuzelas make great bike horns (see photo).

We rode from Queen Anne/Fremont along the waterfront on the way there and through downtown and Dexter on the way home. The kid holder was inspired by my childhood Gilligan’s island fascination. It’s the S.S. Minnow (S.S. standing for Seattle Sounders, of course!) If I can find some helmets that look like coconut shells, it will be the icing on the cake!

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21 responses to “Biking to the Sounders game has caught on”

  1. Gabriel Grant

    I experienced the same thing. As far as problems go, it’s a pretty good one to have because it’s an indication that people are recognizing that it it simply faster and easier to bike to a game than to drive or even take public transportation. If you are so inclined, you can email [email protected] and let them know more bike parking at games would be appreciated.

  2. Gary

    Two things the Sounders could do, first hire a cop to patrol the racks to keep the bikes from being stolen by having someone cut the cables etc. Second by organizing meetup locations away from the stadium, and selling bike jerseys they could get riders to ride in large groups to the stadium. That would help promote riding and advertise the team etc. And advertise that these riders riding by all the cars in traffic have a better way to get to and from the games.

    Just like the crowd walking in, it would soon become a popular thing to do as the rider groups swell up. Timing is important if the meet ups were sort of contintious, ie, meet at Cap hill 0.40, Pike Place market 0.50 … etc.

    1. Gabriel Grant

      I love idea #2!

  3. Matt

    I drove (gasp! I suggested we ride, but the wife said no). My son and I noticed all the bikes, so maybe next time. And I think riding home to the Eastside would have been about the same, time wise, and a helluva lot more fun. I looked at transit, but we ended up paying the same amount for parking as it would have cost us to ride the bus.

    Gary is spot on: they need a security guard to monitor the bikes. Locks notwithstanding, the portable galvanized barriers shown in the pic could be cut thru in seconds with a battery powered sawzall (hope I’m not giving anyone ideas).

    And I would be the first in line to by a Sounders bike jersey!

    1. Matt

      *buy a jersey*

  4. Sean

    Great article Tom. My family too cycles to the sounders, and would really appreciate more permanent (dare I asked for covered?) bike parking for our two tandems. It probably goes without saying that the crowd barriers don’t work for tandem parking…. Although small scale, a few years ago I worked with CBC to press woodland park zoo for covered bike parking, and I’ve been really enjoying the new west entrance bicycle parking for recent zoo concerts. Amenities such as these have really encouraged some re-thinking of how people get themselves to the concert. (These like clockwork have their own post event traffic jam that you get to “sail by” on the way home.) S

  5. Charlie

    Would love to know if more people are biking to Mariners games than the last time I went to one (years ago) when all I saw was my bike and my friend’s bike locked to one of the sad lock-ups in a dark corner of the garage. Also, although it’s winter, what about Seahawks games?

    1. Tom Fucoloro

      I think all the teams can encourage bicycling to their games successfully. I picked the Sounders to highlight just because that’s the game I went to (and because their marketing team is really inventive and would likely be very successful as getting people to ride).

      Imagine if riding your bike to the game was a way of showing your team spirit? What if these group rides involved at least a couple people dressed up in team colors and cheering? I am not a sports nut at all and I would never go to a rally or other “team spirit” sort of event, but I’d go on that ride (and there are many others like me out there).

  6. Joseph Singer

    I bike to Seattle Opera as well as to the Paramount and the 5th Avenue. It’s not a big deal, though it would be nice if the Paramount and the 5th Avenue provided bike racks.

    1. Gary

      I’ve seen bicycles locked to the posts in the Hilton garage. It’s terrible for cars, but you could walk your bike past the backup easily.

  7. jay

    It’s too bad the 24/7 secure bike parking facility on 3rd and Jackson is going away at the end of December. Maybe the Sounders can set up a bike cage similar to what they just opened in Tacoma.

    1. Tom Fucoloro

      I don’t think I’ve heard about this. Do you have more info or a link with more? Are you talking about the BikePort at JRA? That would be terrible!

      1. jay

        I am talking about BikePort at JRA. An announcement was already sent out to the Bike Port customers and there should be something up on the Bicycle Alliance website soon. As far as the Bike Cage, it is the latest topic on the Bicycle Alliance blog.

  8. Brian

    The “bike racks” that are set up at Qwest for Sounders game *suck*. They are just not designed to accommodate city bikes with fenders, or any kind of utility bike at all, and they are more or less incompatible with my mini-U-lock. Sounders/Seahawks management: if you are reading, consider installing some good quality permanent racks for us bike-folk!

    1. Tom Fucoloro

      I agree. They are very annoying to use (I also have fenders and don’t want to crush them). I hope that heavy use of the temporary racks would signal to the facility’s management that permanent racks are in order. In fact, a well-designed permanent rack would fit more bikes into the same space than these racks (which should please any property manager hoping to maximize use of space).

  9. Doug Bostrom

    “I looked at transit, but we ended up paying the same amount for parking as it would have cost us to ride the bus. ”

    Talk about a metaphor for massive dysfunction, a broken system so large we can’t even see it. We swim in an ocean of unbalanced accounting equations. Not picking on Matt, just that he gave us a beautiful example of how myopic is our economic calculation, as a society in general.

    1. Poco Ritard

      +1 (seeing forest for trees)

  10. I love the “kid holder”!

  11. Southender

    “Given that an entire development could be stalled due to a a failure to come up with an agreement for a measly 491 parking stalls on the north end of Century Link Field, encouraging more people to bike makes a whole lot of sense.”

    It’s not the parking that Paul Allen and First and Goal need, it’s the $2m per year they generate off the lot. Ironic that the same folks lobbying for more walking and biking in South lake Union are the one’s who want Pioneer Square left with a useless slab of asphalt.

  12. oiseaux

    I’ve noticed this as well, but not so many bikes! This photo reminds me so much of Amsterdam. God, I love it.

  13. […] Bicycling to large sporting events has caught on in the Pacific Northwest of the United States, as exhibited by Sounders Football Club fans in Seattle, and the Bike to Blazers program in Portland, Ore. […]

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