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Headed downtown during Xi Jinping’s stay? You better bike

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Biking is already the most reliable way to get around Seattle’s everyday traffic. But that will be especially true Tuesday through Thursday as Chinese President Xi Jinping stays at the Westin downtown.

Security measures will close a several-block radius around the hotel bounded by (but not including) Olive St., 7th Ave, Lenora St and 4th Ave to vehicles. However, those streets “will be significantly impacted by the security zone,” according to SDOT.

People can access the area on foot by passing through a security checkpoint. You can probably bring your bike through the checkpoint, but don’t expect to easily bike through.

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But as we know from experience, any extended closure in one location can pretty much snarl all traffic during busy hours in Seattle. Our city’s transportation system is “fragile,” as SDOT Director Scott Kubly has put it in the past. Add in major closures due to President Xi’s caravan, and things could be a real mess for people not walking or biking.

And worse a lot of major bus routes will need to be detoured, which could undermine transit’s ability to carry a lot of the overload.

But if you already bike, why am I telling you this? This is one big reason people choose to bike downtown even without quality bike lanes: You can get around even when car and bus traffic grinds to a halt.

If you have been flirting with the idea of biking your downtown-bound trips (work, Sounders, whatever!), maybe this week is the week you give it a try. Or maybe you’ve been wanting to try Pronto. Or maybe you know someone who is interested and can offer to bike with them to show them the ropes. This is a good excuse.

You’ll also be helping the cause. The city and media outlets have been making a lot of noise about President Xi’s visit, telling people not to drive. It will be interesting to see if that attention pays off, and trips downtown are low enough to avoid any major problems. This has happened with major planned highway closures in the past.

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8 responses to “Headed downtown during Xi Jinping’s stay? You better bike”

  1. […] does this mean for your commute?  The usual advice applies: telework if you are so privileged, walk or bike if at all able, take Sounder (especially to/from Snohomish County), take Link or a tunnel bus if possible, and/or […]

  2. (Another) Tom

    “Headed downtown during the Xi Jinping’s stay? You better bike”

    Headed downtown? You better bike


  3. bill

    Anyone else appreciate the irony of taking to bicycles when the President of Red China visits?

    “the Xi Jinping’s” ?

    1. Tom Fucoloro

      In the headline, no less!

      Gah. I was gonna say “the Chinese President” but it was too long… I swear I read it over and over and still missed it. Fixed now.

    2. Gary

      I know, as I rode through the ID today and noticed the crowd gathering with the official China flags I thought they should take those Pronto Bikes to the the street and it would look just like those old Mao photos of parades in Beijing.

  4. Curi

    And as it happens to be, getting through downtown by bike has been quite easy despite Jinping’s visit. I typically take Stewart to get down to 2nd Ave during my morning commute, but since Stewart is blocked off, I’ve been taking Pine instead and it has been smooth sailing. It almost seems as if car traffic is down, too, possibly because folks are avoiding the area during the visit. Or maybe I’m just imagining it…

  5. ronp

    I rode in from NE Seattle today and only noticed Third was a bit more congested than usual from Pine to Marion. So not too bad to bike downtown despite the visit.

  6. asdf2

    It’s not just downtown. This afternoon, your advice applied all the way in Redmond during Jinping’s visit to Microsoft. 520 was closed near Microsoft this afternoon, but the 520 trail was open, as was the Yarrow Point and Evergreen Point freeway stations. Using the bike/bus combo to get home today avoided a huge mess. And, as an added bonus, the 520 trail near Microsoft was absent the usual noise and fumes alongside it.

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