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Cascade’s sold out Emerald City Ride takes to the freeways Sunday + Route Map

Emerald City Bike Ride_2016EventArt_RGB_Soldout_-08Cascade Bicycle Club’s first ever Emerald City Bike Ride takes to area freeways Sunday.

The ride sold out all 7,000 spots, and I’m not surprised. People have wanted to bike across the 520 Bridge since it opened half a century ago.

And while Bicycle Sunday was held on the I-5 Express Lanes decades ago, biking on them (legally) is a rare opportunity. Hey, maybe once people get a taste they’ll want to support my I-5 Express Trail idea. A blogger can dream…

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Unfortunately, there will be no registrations at the start. Only the 7,000 people registered can go. But anyone can attend a free public party on the 520 Bridge 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday if you want a taste. Apparently they built a new bridge or something? All I know is that the 520 Trial won’t connect to Seattle until 2017, so I’m not celebrating until then.

If you did register for Emerald City Ride, congratulations! Note that there has been a route change from the map you got in the mail. Here’s the new map (PDF):

EmeraldCity_layout_R2Some people are upset that the ride charged $30 for entry and limited registrations. Some members of the Tacoma Wheelmen’s Bicycle Club have even told the Herald they will ride without paying out of protest. The Club’s Darrell Eslinger even went a step further, puffing out his chest and saying, “Will we be arrested for going across? I wonder who’s going to stop us?”

Chill out, wheelman.

While I totally agree that a free and public version would be amazing, if Cascade didn’t take on the extensive (and expensive) organizing, planning and support work to make the ride happen, it wouldn’t have happened at all. Cascade’s longtime funding model is to put on bike events that fund their programming.

“Your registration fee helps Cascade provide bicycle education programs for children, families, school groups and everyone else who wants to ride a bike,” the event webpage says. “It also helps us advocate for safer, more connected bicycle infrastructure throughout the state and region.”

And all their rides take place on public roads. You can even ride along with the Seattle To Portland if you want. They can’t really stop you, but it’s kind of a dick move.

It’s as though the Tacoma Wheelmen have never heard of charging entry for a bike event before. Are they going to crash the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon next?

That said, there’s clearly strong public demand for a free and open public event like this in the future. Maybe WSDOT can put some funding into it next time to cover Cascade’s costs and open it to the public. But as it is, I’m excited that Cascade took this initiative and took a chance on a new event that will open up a bike route Seattle has never experienced before. Definitely worth $50.

Here’s the schedule for the day:

  • 6 to 1 p.m. UW Start Line/Finish Line with info booth, exhibitors and t-shirt giveaways open (please note there will be no day of event registration)
  • 7 to 8 a.m. Course open for full 21-mile loop riders
  • 7:45 to 8:10 a.m. Course open for 8-mile 520 Experience riders
  • 8:15 a.m. Access to SR 520 closed to riders
  • 9:30 a.m. All riders must be off SR 520 bridge
  • 9:45 a.m. Access to I-5 Express Lanes closed to riders
  • 10:15 a.m. All riders must be off the I-5 Express Lanes
  • 12:30 p.m. End of ride and all route support ends
  • 1 p.m. Finish Line closes

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23 responses to “Cascade’s sold out Emerald City Ride takes to the freeways Sunday + Route Map”

  1. William C.

    Are we allowed to take our bikes on the bridge during the opening celebrations later in the day? I know there’ll be a crowd, but are we at least allowed to walk bikes across?

    1. sb

      Later in the day on Saturday or on Sunday?

      On Saturday after the run people be using shuttles to access the bridge activities. Bikes aren’t allowed on the bridge.

      On Sunday are there activities after the bike ride?

    2. AW

      This link (http://www.520golong.com/faq.html) states bikes aren’t allowed on the bridge. It does mention that there will bike corrals but this is the only place that has any information about bike parking. I’m worried that it won’t be sufficient or secure. Anyone know more about what will be available ?

      From the site:
      Can I bring my bike, skateboard, roller skates, or hover board?

      We encourage you to ride to the event and park your non-motorized vehicle at the bike corrals, but there will not be wheeled access on the bridge during the April 2 activities. Bikes, skateboards, roller skates/blades, hover boards, or other wheeled devices are not permitted. Exceptions will be made for those that require ADA assistive devices or strollers.

    3. Steve Campbell

      Biking Bis has a post up that says you can ride onto the bike/pedestrian path from the east side on Saturday.

      1. sb

        You can ride up to the entrance of the bridge festivity area from the east side path, but you can’t ride across the bridge.

  2. Bryan Paetsch

    Riding without paying out of protest is a bit ridiculous.

    This ride did not sell out immediately like RSVP has in the past, so if you didn’t register before it was sold out that is your own fault.

    If you don’t like the fee, organize your own ride for 7,000 people and don’t charge them anything.

    1. meanie

      Groups do it all the time, look at the Chilly Hilly. The explanation I have gotten is that cascade is “the man” and they shouldn’t have to pay to ride on the street, on the same day on the same route.

      Technically correct is the best kind of correct.

    2. asdf2

      It’s not just the money. Why does the ride have to have a hard limit to the number of participants at all? I can only hope there’s not an implicit assumption that everybody is going to be driving to the start line, thereby requiring the registrations to be capped at the number of parking spaces. If parking is really the limiting factor, just offer a parking permit as an “add-on” with the registration, for an additional cost, and cap the number of parking permits. But there’s no reason why the ride itself can’t just be open.

      1. Andrew

        Maybe logistics. 7,000 people is a lot of people, and it requires a lot of planning to make all this work.

        If you left it open until the last minute (and to be clear, there were tickets/passes available until really late) then you have a much larger logistical issue. permits, insurance, organizing with the rest of the festival, contacting local authorities, planning around highway/road closures, printing and sending the passes.

        Most of these could be overcome, but each one would probably add a big additional headache to an already complex process.

      2. Law Abider

        @asdf2 That’s exactly what I was thinking. I unfortunately have something that morning, so was never able to commit, but had I been able to get out of the conflict, my aim was to just do the ride and donate the fee afterwards.

        I figured with 7,000 people, I should have been able to slip in undetected.

  3. Jim

    Refresh my memory, when will the 520 bike path open? I seem to remember that was part of the bridge design.

    1. AW

      From the 520 bridge website:

      When does the new bridge open to bicyclists and pedestrians?

      In April, the floating bridge’s 14-foot-wide pedestrian and bike path will connect to SR 520’s completed Eastside path and open as an “out and back” route from the Evergreen Point Road lid. When the west approach bridge opens to traffic in summer 2017, the floating bridge path will continue into Seattle and connect to local bike and pedestrian routes.

  4. Kimberly Kinchen

    Tom, my issue with the registration fee is that for many people, it’s not affordable. One of the events that relaunched my fervor for bicycling was Bike New York’s Five Boro ride, which like the Emerald City ride takes place city roads and highways closed to car traffic. It allowed me to imagine what bicycling *could* be (including getting stuck in a massive bike traffic jam on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway for two hours due to a construction bottleneck the organizers did not anticipate)…and was an experience that spurred my advocacy. I wish Cascade could see the value in lowering the barrier for low income people. Ditto for parents who want to bring more than one kid on what is going to be a fantastic ride.

    Requiring volunteer hours isn’t a good option, either, because then you’re basically imposing a time penalty on lower income people. Yes, it takes a lot of money to run this kind of ride, but if Cascade wants to be inclusive, it needs to find creative options for making this kind of ride more accessible. It would go a long way toward turning on a broader group of people onto advocacy, and diversify Cascade’s supporter base (and I don’t just mean financial support). Their programs are great, but I think somewhat limiting if many of the people the programs reach out to don’t themselves have access to Cascade’s main riding events.

    No, the Wheelmen shouldn’t crash the ride for free, but yes, Cascade needs to address the fact that a lot of its featured rides are out of reach for many people. I’ve spoken with several other Cascade members who feel similarly (and who, like me, have written to Cascade about it).

  5. Kimberly Kinchen

    Ugh, I wasn’t clear: I meant to write that requiring volunteer hours *in exchange for a free ride or reduced fee* isn’t a good option, etc…..this was one option that I believe Cascade proposed when someone brought up the cost burden.

  6. Elizabeth_k

    Two replies: 1. The rider cap is because, with the montlake connection not complete, all bike riders have to ride out and back on one side of the bridge, with a tight u turn, and we’re only allowed on the bridge for a limited time. 7,000 is pushing it … We wish it could be more!!

    2. Because of a great Facebook conversation with Seattle family bikers, we actually offered scholarships (our first event ones ever, we hope the first of many) for the emerald city ride. We weren’t sure what the demand would be but ended up able to offer them to everyone that applied through our online form on our registration page.

    We hope this is the first of many of these events, and look forward to seeing many more (can we beat the 35,000 that sell out NYC’s Five Boro Bike Tour?!?) if we can make this happen again next year (with the hoped for use of both sides of the bridge).

    1. Kimberly Kinchen

      Liz, thanks for writing here. I’m glad to hear scholarships got worked out! It would be great to highlight that more prominently — while I’m sure I don’t read everything Cascade sends out, I do follow fairly consistently and I missed this news (and I’m not a family biker or a Facebook user). I would like to be able to let potential supporters know that you’re working on this and show them examples.

      Thanks again. I appreciate that you engage directly with Tom and readers here on the site.

    2. sb

      I wish the scholarships had been available when registration opened. An example of why registering early isn’t always the best move.

  7. Chill Out

    Please. Calling people out and using terms relating to male reproductive anatomy as an insult is pretty low for someone who is attempting to be a relevant part of local media. It’s not as though they only sold half of their tickets and people want to ride for free. They get their money either way, and between the rude, unprofessional attempt at journalism the author of this website proves why he’ll remain small potatoes. Keep griping about pronto too, people love that.

  8. Yeah, Chill Out

    Tom, I think you do a great job, and this is a great blog.

  9. asdf2

    The ride this morning reminded of the classic picture of a congested roadway where every car is replaced with a person on a bike to illustrate all that empty space. This morning, the 520 bridge carried more bikes per hour on the bridge than it does cars per hour in the height of rush hour. Even the I-5 express lane section, which was much more spread out, the density of bikes was roughly equal to the density of cars during morning rush hour. To go from seeing the picture to actually seeing what was being pictured, in real life, was amazing.

    Interestingly enough, the ride across the bridge was also a lot quicker than I was expecting. As someone who travels across this bridge on a bus every day for work, it took essentially the same amount of time to bike across this morning as it does to bus across in afternoon rush hour traffic. The new 14-foot wide bike path is going to be awesome when it finally opens – suddenly, trips like Kirkland->U-district will become doable as a daily bike commute – along off-street trail virtually the entire way.

    1. Breadbaker

      Yeah, I had two thoughts. One was, gosh, this whole thing took slow rider me only twenty minutes, a large part of which was the congestion at Montlake and on the ramp, so the time on the actual bridge was maybe twelve minutes (I have video; I cn figure it out if I want to spend time on the math).

      The other was, this was the last time any vehicles would be on the bridge not complaining about the traffic and not complaining about the tolls. It was an awesome experience.

      I should add that I had never really contemplated how steep the ramp up to the express lanes from the U District is, since of course I’d never had to bike it.

      1. RTK

        I was out walking the bridge with my kids on Saturday, agreed that the 14 foot wide path looks much better that the existing path on I-90. It is nice they have a couple pop-outs along the way with benches, so people pausing to take a break can do so without restricting the flow on the path.

  10. Marley Blonsky

    Huge thanks to Cascade, WSDOT, Seattle PD, and all the volunteers who made this bike ride possible. Even with the congestion at the beginning getting on/off 520, it was a really fantastic ride. Such a fabulous way to experience the new bridge, the Express Lanes, the International District, and a big chunk of the city!

    I would love to know who at WSDOT was responsible for this to send them a big thank you, as this would be an incredible annual event (similar to the 5 Boroughs Ride in NYC.)

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