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Happy Bike to Work Day!

Councilmember Mike O'Brien was among the many people biking on Dexter
Councilmember Mike O’Brien was among the many people biking on Dexter
O'Brien addresses the crowd at KEXP.
O’Brien addresses the crowd at KEXP, flanked by Cascade’s Brock Howell (left) and Rasmussen (right in blue)

You gotta love Bike to Work Day. It’s like a look into the near future when the everyday bike commute rate grows a bit higher. Plus there are people all over the region waiting at tables to wave at you and give you coffee, cookies and swag just because you’re on a bike. How cool is that?

Seattle City Councilmembers Tom Rasmussen and Mike O’Brien were among the throngs of people biking on Dexter to the KEXP commute station for a short rally. Once at the KEXP studio, they told the people gathered that “it’s on us” to fund the bike plan and make the city’s streets safer and more comfortable for biking.

“Keep whispering $20 million to us,” said O’Brien, echoing a number Rasmussen said the city would need to spend annually, on average, to complete the bike plan within 20 years. That’s the magic number to hit (or exceed) in the city’s budget, and would represent an 80 – 100 percent increase in current levels.

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If Bike to Work Day 2011 was about “peace on wheels,” as Sally Bagshaw put it, and 2012 was the year that Seattle Public Schools jumped with both feet into the Bike to School movement, the biggest message from 2014 is that the bike plan gives us the blueprint to make both busy and residential streets safer and more comfortable.

We have had the debate about “bikes vs cars” and determined that it is nonsense. We are all just people trying to get where we’re going, and we should be able to do so safely and comfortably. We have done the hard work of figuring out where and how to make improvements.

Now, we just need to fund it and make it happen.

How was your Bike to Work Day? Let us know in the comments!

Dexter shows what a truly complete street can look like.
Dexter shows what a truly complete street can look like.

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33 responses to “Happy Bike to Work Day!”

  1. Southeasterner

    The paths were definitely crowded this morning. Now I know how those poor drivers feel stuck on congested streets on their way to/from work. :-)

    Except unlike driving with hundreds of other people, biking with hundreds of other people is actually fun and social.

  2. Jayne

    Bike to work day is to regular riders what New years eve is to regular drinkers: Amateur hour. The only difference between today and every other day I ride (which is every day) is the influx of people on bikes who clearly have no idea what they’re doing mixing it up with drivers who clearly have no idea what they’re doing, highlighting this city’s desperate need for increased bike infrastructure and better training for motor vehicle operators.

    1. Britt

      We NEED those self-same “amateurs” more than ever now; as we were all one once and joined the community we swelled our ranks to the point we are being taken seriously enough for non-“Cyclists” to feel comfortable enough to join us. I’m happy to help with hand signals and reading the road, just roll up and ask.

    2. Doge

      many elitism
      such helpful to movement

      1. kommish

        this comment
        so wow
        such laughing at my desk
        so much perfect response to BTW day crabbiness

      2. kpt

        +1. I LOL’d.

    3. Matthew

      Minor problems with so many riders, but if it were like this every day, it would settle down pretty quickly. More cars means more frustration; more bikes means more fun.

    4. RTK

      I have helped many people get started bike commuting throughout the years. Some have stuck it out, others decided it didn’t work for them. I am personally glad to see so many people giving it a try. I just hope people that give it a try today are not put off by this type of reaction. Not enough to have a small faction of vehicle drivers wanting cyclist off the road. Now it is the cyclists wanting those “amateurs” not deemed worthy off the roads?

      People are not going to fund and build infrastructure if no obvious need exists. As more people ride the need for infrastructure changes will become more obvious.

    5. Ted

      Give me amateur cyclists and spare me the drivers, amateur or not.

    6. Josh

      Experience is the best teacher. We were all novices once.

      1. Kimberly Kinchen

        This. And amateurs don’t stay that way long.

  3. Kirk

    I love bike to work day! I stopped at seven commute stations, all on my regular route. Lots of coffee, pastries, bananas, waters, granola, Power Bars, swag… Stopped at the new Chrome bike bag and clothing shop downtown, super cool!
    So many bikes out this morning, including a lot of people riding to work for the first time ever. And that’s really what it is all about today. Sure, there were a lot of clueless newbies, but with practice they will get better. We were all there once.

  4. Ints

    A wonderful day for a ride. With all of the additional people who are extra motivated to ride today, I noticed a fair amount of folks riding in regular clothes, that made my day!

  5. Fnarf

    I just wish Bike To Work Day wasn’t also Salmon Down The Bike Lane Day and Weave In And Out Of Pedestrians On The Sidewalk While Drinking Coffee Day. But these annoyances are minor compared to the awesomeness of bikes everywhere.

  6. Anthony

    I have to agree with Jayne somewhat on this one. I strongly encourage people to get oin their bikes and ride, but they have to do it safely as well. Every time I would hit BTW day in Ballard it would make me cringe since there were so many “swervin and curvin” their way, and to borrow the name from said event in Eastern Washington.

  7. Brian

    Sadly, I was not able to participate this year. :-( I had a massive allergy attack that makes riding next to impossible.

    Plus, I work in Redmond and that would mean taking the B-G trail to the Sammamish River Trail. It’s about 28 miles and 2.5 hours. I’d be completely exhausted by the time I entered the office.

    I can take the bus part of the way, but those bike racks always strike me as being a bit flimsy. I don’t think my mountain bike would fit on them.

    1. Gary

      28 miles… did you plot this route via google maps? Are you in North Seattle? Some folks take the 520 buses over the bridge to cut out the detour to I-90.

      1. Brian

        I did plot the route on Google Maps. I’m in the Magnolia area and I could have biked the Burke Gilman to the U District and transfered to the 542 at 15th Ave NE and NE Campus Pkway I’ve observed that the bike rack is full when the bus arrives, which means waiting for the next one that has an open slot on the bike rack.

    2. Hi Brian. Sorry to hear about your allergies keeping you away from today’s bike fun! For your long commute, it sounds like you might be open to using a bike-bus combination if you were confident the racks could handle your mountain bike safely. Please be assured that both King County Metro and Sound Transit buses have quite sturdy and well-tested bike racks. Lots of cyclists use them every day for many types of standard bikes. Wheel sizes can be 16-29 inches in diameter up to a 46-inch wheelbase, and tire widths up to 3 inches. We hope that will cover your bike and that you’ll try it. For tips on loading and a demo video, check out http://www.kingcounty.gov/metro/bike. –Jeff Switzer, Metro Transit

      1. Mike Lindblom

        A beach bike with 2.75 inch tires will easily fit on the bus rack, so a mountain bike should too. But usually, once folks are underway they wouldn’t feel like slapping the bike onto a bus, unless it’s to cross Highway 520. Or, if your tire stem broke off and you’re catching hypothermia in a 40 degree downpour.

      2. Brian

        Thanks, Jeff!

        I wasn’t sure if my bike would fit on the racks, but it appears that it will after taking some measurements. :)

    3. Eli

      FWIW, that is the commute that I do once or twice a week to MS when my schedule permits. I just take the bike up the hill (behind the Redmond library) on the 545, saving the last 3 miles of hill.

      It was crazy the first time I tried it. But after a few weeks, it meant I came completely pumped and excited at work. Really recommended.

      1. Brian

        I should definitely try that, once I get into the proper physical shape. Right now, I don’t think I can make such a long trip so it’s time to invest in a trainer. :)

  8. Kirk

    There was some running type event going on downtown this morning too. I came across several groups in light green logo t-shirts, but couldn’t make out the logo. They definitely complicated the mix! Does anyone know what that event was? I wonder if they knew they planned it on Bike To Work day.

  9. kommish

    I had a great commute this morning – it was fun to see so many happy bikers on the road! And since I ride nearly every day, I feel pretty confident making some space on the road for our less experienced brethren and sistren, even while hauling my kiddo on his trailabike. He commented this morning that it was so fun to have so many people to talk to since “it’s lonelier when it’s raining.”

    1. Lynn

      kommish, that is so cool. I saw many folks this morning with their kids in tow. Serious props.

      1. kommish

        Thanks! There’s a whole facebook group (Seattle Family Biking) with 550 members. It’s a fantastic community and resource. There’s a lot of us out there!

  10. Gary

    I love Bike or Snack to work day! I always stop and chat and eat up and meet some of my friends who also ride daily. I hit 3 of the stops coming in from the Eastside and if I hadn’t caught up to a friend of mine going North into Seattle, would have hit two more. We did stop and talk the Capital Hill Greenway folks though.

    So all in in, I left early and got to work late. An excellent commute!

    And yes I wonder why more folks don’t ride after seeing how easy it on bike to work day. My current working theory is that all these folks are the “fill ins” the one’s who don’t ride regularly but make up the group that rides once a week. Then when they all choose to ride on the same day we see this surge of riders when in fact they are “regular commuters” just not daily commuters.

    1. RTK

      Good point, some of the increase is probably due to some regular bike / vehicle commuters all riding on the same day.

  11. JAT

    Wicked headwind crossing the floating bridge eastbound this morning – paired perfectly with the looks on the faces of the west-bounders (“I can’t believe how strong and fast I feel this morning!”)

    With my luck the wind has probably shifted over the course of the workday.

  12. Took forever to get to work this morning because I kept stopping to refill my coffee and stuff my face and talk with nice people. It was awesome to see so many others out riding.
    I like what you said: its not about cars vs bikes but just that riding a bike should be a more viable option, especially if you are new to it. We’re getting there- the streets are a lot better for bikes than 10 years ago. Its evident that the investment pays off when you see as many bicycles on the road as you did today. Thanks to all the people at the stations!

  13. Teri

    Because there are so many fun stations to visit, I gave myself extra time to ride around to visit multiple stations. I ended up taking a route I have never commuted before. Perhaps that’s also a reason for seeing new faces and new bikes on your commute. I met a couple guys who took the day off work so they could visit lots of stations. I guess it’s not really bike to work day for them!

    I was able to visit the stations on Eastlake- South of University Bridge, and on Eastlake in front of Grand Central Bakery (baguette!), and at South Lake Union. I had the most wonderful time taking in different sights and chatting with so many enthusiastic bike riders.

    Of course a sudden increase in bikers on the roads will cause some frustrations or backups. Let’s take the encounters with new bikers as a chance to slow down, relax, and enjoy the company of other bike-friends! To a new biker or to an everyday biker, a smiling face is always an encouraging sight.

  14. Double D

    One thing I’d like to see more of is educational resources for riders – veterans and those just starting included. I have been a team captain for the Cascade Commute Challenge the past few years and I have yet to see something like simple pointers on their website when team members log their miles. I think it’s great that Cascade is encouraging more people to ride, but with that comes the responsibility to inform people with a few simple rules of the road – i.e., not blowing through lights and stop signs, not passing others on the right, hand signals, etc. I worked a bike station in Green Lake last Friday and saw numerous cyclists blow right through the stop signs; one person was almost hit by an auto right in front of our station.

    It’s great that more people are riding, but if we’re going to ease tension between motorists and cyclists, it needs to start with educating all road users.

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