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Families attend sunny Bicycle Sunday in droves + Let’s add more activites

The first Bicycle Sunday on Lake Washington Boulevard was packed with families enjoying the chance to bike together comfortably on the mostly car-free roadway. So many kids were learning to bike, it made me wonder how many people learned to bike during Bicycle Sunday since they started in 70s.

But perhaps even more telling of the event’s success is the look on the face of kids who already know how to bike. They get a look of determination and joy as they haul down the wide roadway, their parents desperately yelling at them to “Say right!” as they swerve all over the place. If everyone experienced that much fun on a bike, nobody would ever drive.

Biking Bis was also at Bicycle Sunday, and he has lots of great photos. He also noted several three-generation biking families. Awesome.

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In conversations on our previous post and Twitter, several people have suggested that there should be more activities along the Bicycle Sunday route. Some people suggested food trucks (there was a huge food truck rally in Fremont at the same time, so they may have been there instead) and maybe even some free exercise classes at beach spots along the way. In ciclovias around the world, people organize free group classes in yoga, dance, pilates and more all along the route. People can stop, join a class, then move along as they please.

There could also be music and parties of all kinds along the way, whatever people want to do. It could be a chance for neighborhood organizations to reach out to more people and connect to each other.

What would you like to see at Bicycle Sunday? How do you think it could happen within the event’s crunched budget?

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18 responses to “Families attend sunny Bicycle Sunday in droves + Let’s add more activites”

  1. I didn’t ride yesterday so maybe they added this, but one thing that’s missing is food. Vendors (like food carts) should be able to set up alongside the road (not blocking traffic) so people can stop and get a quick bite or ice cream cone. Maybe vendors can pay the city for the rights to park and vend, which would go back to the Bike Sunday program.

    1. fatguyonabike

      I agree with vendors!! Or maybe just something senseless and goofy like a giant slip and slide when it gets warmer. It doesn’t have to be an “officially sanctioned” thing….although this is Seattle, so someone might sue….

  2. Matthew

    How about an informal spot where you could get yourself photographed biking with your family? Most of the bike-related photos I have are either of the back of the person in front of me (like the photo above) or awkward over-the-shoulder shots that rarely work.

    There are a few ways this might work in practice. The crappy way, which is what would probably happen if this were an “official” kind of event, would be the way it’s done at, say, a baseball game, where a big photo company snaps you, hands you a printed code, and tries to sell you a digital copy of your photo later for some inflated price. But it could be better as a volunteer service: you just browse for your photo later using an approximate timestamp, download it, and pay what you will using an online tip jar.

    1. merlin

      Cool idea, Matthew!

  3. merlin

    There’s a lot of public park land along the route – nice grassy areas not in the roadway but accessible to it. And a couple parking lots that aren’t accessible to cars while the road is closed. Great places to set up all sorts of things! Why not? Parks Department is in charge of Bicycle Sunday – let’s see if I can figure out who to talk to about this!

    1. merlin

      Found the guy, he’s into this idea and will talk to his bosses; meanwhile I told him I’d let people on the Bike Blog know there’s room for some more activities at Bicycle Sunday and he’ll hear from us (whoever US turns out to be!).

      1. Tom Fucoloro

        Thanks for tracking that info down! There you have it, people, you have until the 13th (or the 20th if you need more time) to get your awesome idea to happen. Do it!

      2. Hey Merlin,

        Will you please help me get in touch with the person you found that’s in charge of Bike Sunday? My wife is interested in being one of the food vendors. You can click through to my blog to contact me or email me, tenaciousjoe @ google’s popular email service dot com


  4. Eli

    I have to admit: I really didn’t enjoy the event at all. Thankfully, I’ll get to go back to Portland’s (way more fun) Sunday Parkways this coming weekend.

    Compared to Portland’s Sunday Parkways, Seattle’s event was like an alternate universe where everyone rides boring bicycles, there’s no festivity, and almost nobody understands how to ride safely or courteously in groups — adults or children. I had thoughts of taking out a video camera and making a humor reel for Dutch kids (who I’ve shared many a-cycletrack with) to laugh at their American peers.

    I think we will know Seattle has succeeded in livable streets when future adult attendees of this event realize that you shouldn’t ride side-by-side with 5 feet space between your riding partner (forcing people to pass on your right or to swerve into oncoming traffic to pass you).

    And I never once saw a parent instruct a kid riding 8 mph to at least try to stay to the right. I’m surprised there weren’t any visible collisions or accidents.

    1. Devin

      Dude, the point of Sunday Streets, Summer Streets, Sunday Parkways etc is to get people out to have fun. It’s not a “look at me” event. That’s why people ride boring bicycles. Also, sorry to burst your bubble but what I experienced in the Netherlands is still leaps and bound above what PDX has. The Dutch probably have a good chuckle when they see people on double tall bike or other such things. Bikes are a tool in the Netherlands. They just happen to be a fun tool. People don’t ride for attention. They ride to get places. Also, from my experience in PDX vs. the Netherlands, people in PDX do not know how to ride in groups the way the Dutch do. Dutch people can pass you at a hair’s length. Not so much anywhere in the States.

      Lastly, because these events are open to the public, and not just bicycle clubs or generally skilled riders, you will find people who don’t understand how to ride around others. For some, this is an introduction to cycling, or for others it’s a way to have fun with their families. Have you ever been on the Burke Gilman? Case in point.

      These events are meant to be fun. Just go with it, and ditch the snobbery.

      1. Eli

        Feel free to have whatever intense emotional reaction you’d like, or label it however you’d like.

        Personally, I didn’t enjoy myself and I’ll just get my ciclovia fix once a month in PDX. Seattle’s event, for me, just wasn’t fun.

        Portland’s Sunday Parkways is a big, whimsical family party that happens to also introduce the latest redesigned community bike facilities to 20,000 people at a time. There’s community-driven entertainment everywhere, and lots of fun things to look at and enjoy. It serves one audience extremely well.

        Seattle’s event doesn’t seem to serve any audience particularly well. There’s no festivities for the families. There’s spandex-clad cyclists (who probably, in fairness, have nowhere else to ride) going 20 mph negotiating the 6 year olds who are wildly weaving on a narrow road.

        And there’s people like me just hoping to go out and enjoy some bicycling, but for whom it wasn’t much fun being in the middle of it.

        P.S. Je hoef niet Nederlandse fiets-cultuur te beschrijven. Mijn familie komt uit Nederland. ;-)

      2. Eli

        err, ‘hoeft niet’.

        Sadly, I haven’t spoken Dutch for real in years.

    2. Heh, you weren’t ride behind us – I seemed to telling my kid to get over to the right constantly. My request is for adults to be sure to let us know when they’re passing. Passing in stealth mode is never a good idea, but it’s especially a problem when there are so many kids around.

      For me the main appeal of Bicycle Sunday is that it IS a safe place for kids to learn to ride independently. I probably wouldn’t bother driving across town to tow my kid, when there are lots of places closer to home that we can go to by trailer-bike. However, there are precious few places in Seattle that are both safe enough for kids to learn AND interesting and large enough to be appealing. Even quiet residential streets are challenging to ride with a 6 year old, but the school playground doesn’t have much scope for adventure by now.

      That said, I fully agree with the call for more food and activities, which would give the entire event more of a festival atmosphere. No ice cream truck?

  5. Good idea on the food trucks and activities, Tom. On a hot summer Bicycle Sunday many years ago, I remember buying a couple of treats for my son from an ice cream truck down there.

  6. I happened upon this out riding by myself on Sunday. It looked like everyone was having a lot of fun. Its a given that there are a lot of novice riders out for such an event. What do you expect when a family is out riding with their 5 year old? Its great that the city does this so that people can get out and ride on a beautiful road without having to worry about cars. A beautiful May day to boot. I found it hard not to smile. Food vendors and a party atmosphere would be okay too but really I think its just about having a good time on your bike or your own two feet. Isn’t that good enough?

  7. Jack

    Food trucks are a brilliant idea!

    Food is one of the ways I bribe my kids to ride with me. I can always get them to ride out to Redhook with me because they like the Nachos.

    Whatever it takes!

    Great idea.

  8. another mother on a bike

    Personally, neither my family nor I are looking for “festivities” in Bike Sundays, and these so-called festivities are what downgraded Summer Streets in Seattle for us. They became just another street fair, not fun bike rides. We just want the space to ride a bike, on the streets without cars. An ice cream truck sounds cool, but we don’t need yet more vendors, gimics, foofah and ways to get kids to ask us to spend money on stuff we don’t need. Just give us a nice place to ride, and we will be there. Our bikes may be boring, and we may lack whimsy (and Dutchness, which is ok as we are American), but we will be happy.

  9. Scott Batson

    For a frame of reference:

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