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The Emerald City Ride returns in May with a ride over the West Seattle Bridge

Route map and elevation chart for the Emerald City Ride 2024.
Route map and elevation chart from Cascade.

For the first time since 2019, Cascade Bicycle Club will host its wildly popular Emerald City Ride, a rare chance to ride on our area’s freeway infrastructure that is usually off limits to bicycling. The 2024 ride will take an all-new route across the West Seattle Bridge. The high one.

As Cascade Executive Director Lee Lambert put it, they are “putting the ‘everywhere’ in Bike Everywhere Month.” The ride scheduled for the morning of May 5, and registration opens March 12 (Tuesday).

The Emerald City Ride started in 2016 with a route across the not-yet-open 520 Bridge and the I-5 Express Lanes. The ride immediately became one of the club’s best-attended events of the year along with the annual Seattle to Portland Classic (“STP”). Over the following three years, the ride also toured the I-90 Bridge, the old Alaskan Way Viaduct before it was demolished and the new SR-99 tunnel. But then the 2020 ride was cancelled, and it hasn’t been able to get off the ground again since. Cascade was very close to making it happen in 2023, but the necessary permissions didn’t come through until it was too late to organize it properly. As Lambert put it at the time, they could have done it, but they would have needed to over-stress their already stretched staff. The Emerald City Ride is much more resource-intensive than other Cascade events and has higher fixed costs “by leaps and bounds” than even the two-day STP, according to Lambert.

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So after a five-year hiatus, the fifth-ever Emerald City Ride will start in Pioneer Square near the stadiums, then hop on the SR-99 viaduct freeway south to the West Seattle Bridge. There is a climb up to the highest point of the bridge, but riders will get a view there that is rarely possible outside of a traffic jam. The route continues on the freeway bridge to Harbor Ave SW near Westside Bicycle. From there, riders will have two choices. Those looking for a shorter route with minimal traffic can hop on the Alki Trail and head back to Pioneer Square via the low bridge and E Marginal Way bike lanes. But the main 20-mile route will stay near the waterline all the way around Alki to Fauntleroy before heading up the hill to South Delridge and then back to Pioneer Square via 16th Ave SW and the usual low bridge bike route. The ride is only 20 miles long, but that mile-long climb up from Fauntleroy is a doozy. There will be snack stations along the route as is usual for Cascade events. Also, only the freeway sections will be closed to usual traffic, so there will be mixed-traffic riding much of the way.

All riders must be clear of the West Seattle Bridge and SR-99 sections by 9 a.m., so the ride will start bright and early. The latest starters will be allowed to leave is 8 a.m. Pricing is on a donation-tiered scale starting at $55 ($22 for riders 18 and younger).

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4 responses to “The Emerald City Ride returns in May with a ride over the West Seattle Bridge”

  1. Chris

    Can we use e-bikes on the Emerald City Ride?

    1. Paul

      I say whatever gets you out and on a bike is what matters! E-bikes are permitted on the other Cascade rides, don’t see why they would not be permitted on this one as well. Note, I don’t work for Cascade, this is just my opinion.

    2. Duncan

      I have on previous Emerald City Rides.

  2. Mike Grouns

    Could I tow a chariot with one of my grandkids in it and what would the entry fee be for that? Is there a senior discount?

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