Politicians, advocates and citizens packed the sold-out annual Bike to Work breakfast Friday morning in downtown Seattle, the largest crowd in the event’s history.
The annual fundraiser breakfast kicks off Cascade Bicycle Club’s Bike Month events. This year’s keynote speaker was Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer, who has been instrumental in legitimizing bicycles as a serious mode of transportation in the country.
“If we’re going to reach the potential of the most efficient form of transportation … we’re gonna have to be much more aggressive about bringing the message home,” Blumenauer told the crowd. A person in a bike lane means one less person clogging the roads, and removing one parking space to fit ten bike parking spots means nine extra people can access the business. So why is this bipartisan, business-friendly message not getting across more effectively?
He also pointed out the growing strength of bicycle advocacy both locally and nationally. This is the first year that over half of congress is a member of the bike caucus, and those members are from both political parties (Blumenauer dubs this “bike partisanship”).
Cascade’s Executive Director Chuck Ayers spoke of Seattle’s need to to better if we want to remain a top bicycling city.
“Seattle should not be behind DC, Chicago and New York,” he said. All those cities have invested in bike share and downtown cycle tracks. Seattle might hold the #2 spot on the bike commute mode share list, but other cities are doing things that could leave us in the dust if we don’t act and make bold investments.
Let’s face it, it’s getting embarrassing that there are no safe bicycle facilities downtown. If we want to see bike commute numbers skyrocket, we need to connect our region’s largest employment center with the rest of our bicycle network.
Ayers also introduced a new Cascade program called BizCycle, which will help employers better accommodate cycling. The program includes a “LEED-style” certification program that employers can earn as well as a guide to help businesses do better at encouraging their employees to bike. Studies consistently show that employees who bike to work take fewer sick days and are more alert and productive.
The breakfast also included a wonderful video featuring several local advocates for cycling, including Brooks Stanfield of Burien, Oliyad Beyene of Seatac and good Seattle Bike Blog friend Madi from Family Ride:
(P.S. Special thanks to Commute Seattle for offering me a last-minute spot at their table!)
“This is the first year that over half of congress is a member of the bike caucus, and those members are from both political parties (Blumenauer dubs this “bike partisanship”).”
This is fantastic. I had no clue.
Can someone explain to me the value of ‘bike to work advocacy’ to the thousands of Puget Sound workers who bus into Seattle from communities such as Edmond, Puyallup, Dupont, Tacoma…..etc….
Sure. Less cars on the road makes it an easier bus commute for you, too.
Alp, the keynote speaker Blumenauer emphasized that bike advocates need to be paying attention to questions like yours, and answering as Zen does. We want the roads to be available for those who can’t ride bikes, not clogged up with people in cars who would ride bikes if it were safe and convenient, like it is in many parts of the world. And by the way, thanks for taking the bus!
Remember too that not every job in Seattle is directly in downtown or in a place Sound Transit serves directly from those communities. You can live in Edmonds and commute to Lower Queen Anne or South Lake Union, taking a Sound Transit bus with your bike and then biking from where it lets you off to your job. Additionally, you might take your bike from your home to the suburban park and ride instead of driving, or even find that biking to a different stop and a different bus route was faster than what you’re currently doing. One thing I’ve learned from reading this blog and the Seattle Transit Blog is that there are ways to improve a commute even over a one-seat ride by a little creativity and adding a bike to one’s commuting repertoire can make that work in positive ways.
I think this was the best one I’ve attended so far. The speakers made no bones about what’s needed and even sounded a little pissed off. Good! Seattle’s infrastructure is not keeping up with demand and I want to hear from SDOT. Where are YOU SDOT, you are the ones who need to lead the city to better facilities for cyclists and pedestrians. You are the ones who need to incorporate the idea that facilities for cyclists and pedestrians shouldn’t be afterthoughts. I know SDOT looks to Portland for inspiration but looking and copying is not the same as actually DOING it. We have the want we are missing the will.
If you have to get on I-5 to get to your job, chances are slim that your commute can be replaced with a bike commute. Not convinced that more bike commuters cuts down on I-5 traffic, which is the route most long distance commuters contend with.
I-5 is used by folks who live close in as well as those long distance commuters. Besides once you get to the city, you still have to get off of I-5 and bus through town. Bicycles on the street downtown take up far less space than a car. And in fact by weaving around traffic making left or right turns, I can ride through downtown faster than most folks can drive it during rush hour.
Also if you look at the Cascade bike to Work log page, you’ll see there are a few riders coming from a long ways away.
There are several communities, for example the u-district, ravenna/greenlake and northgate where the fastest way to downtown by car is i-5. If I didn’t bike commute, I would drive on i-5.
We hope you will be happy to see the short-distance commuters getting OFF I5 and onto bikes.