New Kent bike route by Earthworks takes you on a tour of public art

Kent’s newest signed bike route is like no other. The Earthworks Bicycle Tour is part useful transportation tool and part tour of public art.

The route kicks off with a huge bike and art party in Kent June 2. The event features group rides for individuals, beginners and families, music, art, and the inauguration of the recently renovated Herbert Bayer Earthwork.

Festivities and rides get under way at 9 a.m.

More details from Earthworks (warning, epic press release ahead):

Bicyclists are encouraged to visit to register for the free Earthworks Tour Inaugural Ride on June 2, 2012. The half-day ride through the Green River Valley just south of Seattle starts at 9:00am at the Herbert Bayer Earthwork, located at Mill Creek Canyon Earthworks Park in Kent, 742 East Titus Street.

Everyone is welcome to join the celebration! In addition to hosting the Inaugural Ride for bicyclists, the Kent Arts Commission is excited to invite community members, arts enthusiasts and historic preservationists to the Start Line to celebrate the restoration of the Herbert Bayer Earthwork. Attend this quick ceremony at 9:00am and then stay to enjoy music and art activities. Or hop on your bicycle and discover art all along the way!

The Herbert Bayer Earthwork, the Robert Morris Earthwork, the Green River Natural Resources Area, and Lorna Jordan’s Waterworks Garden are the destinations you’ll visit on the Earthworks Tour. These four iconic landscapes in the Green River Valley are internationally recognized, but not widely known locally. To encourage more people to experience these extraordinary land art and reclamation projects in their own backyard, the Kent Arts Commission has developed what will be a permanent, signed bike route connecting the four earthworks, and has partnered with Cascade Bicycle Club to celebrate the opening of the new route with this free inaugural ride.

Getting to the Start Line
The start line is the Herbert Bayer Earthwork, located at 742 East Titus Street. It will be open from 9 to 10 a.m., with free parking available in the neighboring Senior Activity Center at  600 East Smith Street. Bicyclists can connect to the Earthworks Tour via the nearby Interurban Trail -or- connect via transit at nearby Kent Station.

Easy, Intermediate and Advanced Ride Options
The ride offers three routes for different riding abilities. The Easy Ride, recommended for families, is a 12-mile, flat ride to the Green River Natural Resources Area and back. The Intermediate Loop is a 20-mile ride that takes riders through the Green River Natural Resources Area and out to Lorna Jordan’s Waterworks Gardens. It is also mostly flat with a single, long incline approaching Waterworks Gardens. The Advanced Ride follows the 20-mile route but includes a steep hill climb up to the Robert Morris Earthwork that adds 3 miles. All of the roadways and trails along the tour are paved. Visitors can bike to each location but should plan to walk through the earthworks, so if you’re wearing bicycle shoes, you might want to toss a pair of sneakers in your bag.

Beginning riders interested in the 20 mile loop – and families with children planning to follow the 12 mile route – will have the opportunity to ride in a group with experienced ride leaders. These groups will convene at the start line at 9:00am. Departures will begin at 9:30, with the family group departing at 9:45.

Rest stops will be located at the Green River Natural Resources Area and Waterworks Gardens. Light snacks will be provided, but you might want to bring a picnic lunch. There are several restaurants located in downtown Kent and the Farmers Market is open from 9am-2pm. The course closes at 3pm.

Music, Theater and Artist-Made Vehicles
This family-friendly event will include theater, music and site specific installations along the route. In particular, this event features artist-made, low-impact vehicles.

At start/finish line, artist Johnnie Olivan of Rejuiced Bikes will be giving rides on the Family Bike Bus through the Herbert Bayer Earthworks. You can also test ride artist Peter Reiquam’s Walk and Roll.

The Pony Boy All-Star Trio will be playing as riders pick up their bibs and route map, and artist Julie Lindell’s design Anais Nin will grace the stage.

Clair Colquitt, a renowned designer of kinetic machines, will join the ride with two friends and three of his designs. Rejuiced Bike’s Mural Machine will be recording the sights and sounds along the tour. Richard Lovering will display his hand-built kayak/bike combo.

An interactive performance by Theater Simple will take place at the Green River Natural Resource Area. Climb the observation tower to look for costumed flora and fauna, while Matt Knox, staff biologist, answers your questions about this amazing wildlife refuge. Levitating Tents by artist Andrew Peterson will be floating at the adjacent Anderson Park, next to the KOA campground.

If you continue onto Waterworks Gardens for the Intermediate Ride – or detour up to the Robert Morris Earthwork for the Advanced Ride – you can enjoy artwork tours led by 4Culture staff. In addition to a couple happy surprises planned along the way, be sure to look for the Filaments installation by the Inkwell Collective. Over 65 bright orange poles will point you in the right direction. Several include QR codes, making short stories of the history and ecology of select locations available at the click of your camera phone.

As you complete the loop through historic downtown Kent, you’ll pass through the opening day of the Kent Farmers Market at Town Square Plaza, 2nd & Harrison. Be sure to hop off your bike to see artist Scott McGee’s Long Odds. If it’s a warm day, splash in the fountain.

At the finish line, you’ll be greeted by the exuberant Pony Boy All-Star Big Band. Unpack your brown bag lunch and explore the Herbert Bayer Earthwork. Take a test ride on a low-impact vehicle, and make a bike tube snap bracelet as a souvenir. The course will close at 3 p.m.

About the Dedication Ceremony
The restoration of the Herbert Bayer Earthwork will be dedicated with a quick ceremony at the start line at 9:00. Restoration has included renovation of the double-ring pond, drainage improvements in the surrounding bowl, and reshaping the cone a top the main berm. This restoration project received significant funding from Partners in Preservation, a partnership between American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Additional funding was provided by a 4Culture Historic Preservation Challenge Grant.

Herbert Bayer’s Mill Creek Canyon Earthworks is an internationally recognized public park that combines Bauhaus aesthetics with a functioning water detention dam. The dam’s sculptural elements prevent historic downtown Kent from flooding during major storm events. In 2008, the Herbert Bayer Earthwork was dedicated as a local landmark of exceptional significance  by the King County Landmarks Commission. Completed in 1982, it was one of Herbert Bayer’s final works. Bayer is credited with being the first artist to create a contemporary earthwork with his Grass Mound in Aspen in 1955.

In addition to celebrating the restoration work, the dedication ceremony will also include the unveiling of new interpretive signage that explains the functionality of the Herbert Bayer Earthwork water detention dam. This new signage was designed by The Inkwell Collective and funded as part of a National Endowment for the Arts Mayor’s Institute on City Design award.

As mentioned above, the Inkwell Collective has also designed the permanent environmental art installation Filaments that will be located all along the 23 mile Earthworks Tour route. Filaments is modernist in its simplicity, yet contemporary in its approach to communicating and gathering ideas via real and virtual means. During the Inaugural Ride, bicyclists will be guided by over 65 bright orange directional poles, pointing participants in the right direction and providing stories to enhance the experience. Filaments is also funded through a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

The Kent Arts Commission is excited to invite community members to the celebration who may not be available to participate in the bicycle ride. Everyone is encouraged to attend the short ceremony at the start line.

Self-Guided Bicycle Tours
Following the Inaugural Ride on June 2, the Earthworks Tour will be a permanent bicycle route and remain open to the public for self-guided tours. The Earthworks Tour will be expanded upon within the coming months and years as new routes become available to bicyclists. For instance, the Green River Trail is currently closed due to sandbags. Please visit periodically for trail updates. The City of Kent is committed to improving its bicycle and walking network.

About the Sponsors
The Earthworks Tour is sponsored by the Kent Arts Commission and supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Art’s Mayors Institute on City Design 25th Anniversary Initiative. Over 600 cities were eligible to apply for this grant program, with only 21 cities awarded funding. Nationally, the arts sector generates over $166 billion annually in economic activity. Art is a key element to making cities attractive to grow businesses, tourism, and jobs. The Kent Arts Commission thanks their local agency partners for making this program possible.

Cascade Bicycle Club, 4Culture and the City of Renton are helping to co-produce the Earthworks Tour. The Herbert Bayer Earthwork is part of the Kent Arts Commission Collection, and the Green River Natural Resources Area is managed by the City of Kent Public Works Department. The Robert Morris Earthwork (located in Sea-Tac) and Lorna Jordan’s Waterworks Gardens (located in Renton) are part of the King County Public Art Collection and managed by 4Culture. 4Culture Site Specific will support many of the temporary art projects during the Inaugural Ride. Recent restoration of the Herbert Bayer Earthwork was supported by 4Culture Historic Preservation, along with a generous grant from American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s “Partners in Preservation” program.

Schedule of events:

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6 Responses to New Kent bike route by Earthworks takes you on a tour of public art

  1. merlin says:

    Need map!! How to get there by bike from Seattle!?! Or transit/bike?

    • Thanks Seattle Bike Blog for posting info about the Earthworks Tour!

      Merlin, bicyclists can connect to the Earthworks Tour via the nearby Interurban Trail -or- connect via transit at nearby Kent Station. To look at routes, you could visit, keeping in mind that the 16th Ave S / South Park Bridge is closed; Spokane Street is 1 option for crossing the river.

      If others have ideas about the best way to bike from Seattle to Kent, please chime in.

      Hope to see you all June 2! If you have more questions, feel free to contact me at [email protected].


  2. merlin says:

    I think I need to go back to kindergarten to learn to read! Reading this post and also the notice in the Times this morning, I completely missed the fact that this starts JUNE 2! And the fact that wayfinding arrows are already stenciled onto the Interurban Trail added to my confusion. Well, on June 2 I do hope to connect with the tour! Thanks, Cheryl and Tom. Anybody else planning to ride down?

  3. Pingback: Touring Kent’s World-Renowned Earthworks by Bike | The SunBreak

  4. Pingback: Touring Kent’s World-Renowned Earthworks by Bike |

  5. Pauline says:

    How can I get a bike map for this route?

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