Cascade calls Trump’s infrastructure plan a ‘bad deal for biking in Washington’

In an insult I doubt Donald Trump will take too hard, Cascade Bicycle Club said that his infrastructure plan is a “bad deal for biking in Washington.”

At a time when the region is investing so much local funding in its own streets and mass transit service, a plan that cuts Federal support for local initiatives is just nonsense. The Move Seattle levy and the Sound Transit 2 and 3 initiatives passed assuming some Federal support for major project elements. Because local, regional and federal partnerships have long been the way major infrastructure gets built in the U.S.

But the Trump program would cut some of these major programs, threatening delays or shortfalls for projects our growing region desperately needs.

Cascade has put together a handy online form so you can message your Senators and Representatives to urge them not to support the Trump infrastructure cuts. From Cascade:  Continue reading

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Bike Happy: Nation’s largest e-bikeshare system

EDITOR’S NOTE: Thanks again to Brock Howell of Bike Happy for putting together this comprehensive weekly newsletter.


TOP THINGS TO KNOW & DO

  1. Seattle is home to the nation’s largest e-bikeshare system.
  2. In the last 7 years, the percentage of commuters driving alone into downtown has dropped 10 points.
  3. On Wednesday, Feb. 21, speak up for better bike parking in new buildings at a public hearing on parking legislation.
  4. Attend “One Man, Two Wheels,” a play written and performed by Henry James Walker this weekend (Thursday–Saturday, 7:30pm), at the 18th & Union Arts Space.

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Aviva Stephens: Pedaling my way to the 520 Bridge

EDITOR’S NOTE: Aviva Stephens is a Seattle native and financial professional who discovered the benefits and joys of cycling on her challenging work commute between Ballard and the Eastside. Find more of her writing on Medium and follow her on Instagram at @avivarachelle.

Since bike commuting to and from the Eastside, I have been eagerly awaiting the opening of the new 520 Bridge trail. After years of sitting in traffic due to car accidents, unexpected congestion, and inclement weather, I could not wait to fly past the parking lot of cars on my bike with smile on my face.

The beginning

I took the afternoon off December 20 (opening day of the 520 Bridge trail) to enjoy every moment of my glorious ride during what little daylight there was. Fortunately, the 520 bike trail runs right past my office. Below is a pic of the trailhead, SR 520 is just beyond the trees. If you’ve never been on the trail, it mostly runs alongside SR 520. If not, you’ve likely noticed a few sparse bike riders to your right while driving eastbound on the highway.

Redwest Campus

While I’ve ridden parts of this trail around Redmond, I’ve never taken it all the way to the bridge. So this was an adventure for me. Like many folks who have been waiting for this day, I figured the trail would run along 520 all the way into Seattle. It is called the “520 Trail” after all, right? Not so much. The trail does follow the freeway for the most part, but there are some confusing breaks that can make this ride challenging. In this post I will share my experience with the breaks and offer tips if you look to make the same journey.

The circled section below is  where I will focus this post, as it is the most problematic. I tried pulling the directions from Google maps, but the result wasn’t quite right. For some reason Google takes you off the proper 520 Trail before it actually ends. I’ll go into detail about this later.

Google Maps: Redwest to Montlake bike directions

Ambiguous intersections

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The 2018 Bicycle Sundays schedule is out

Car-free Lake Washington Boulevard is just the best. So save these dates in your calendar!

From Seattle Parks:

On scheduled Sundays from May to September, a portion of Lake Washington Boulevard will be closed to motorized vehicles from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Seattle Parks and Recreation invites everyone in the community to bike, jog or stroll along the boulevard between the Seward Park entrance and Mount Baker Park’s beach during these times.

The 2018 event dates are:

  • May 20, 27
  • June 3, 17, 24
  • July 8, 15
  • August 19, 26
  • September 2, 9, 16

 

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Howell: Going Steady with Lime-E


After a month of anticipation, LimeBike released 300 e-bikes into its fleet of 4,000 bikeshare bike in Seattle this past weekend, with plans to release another 200 by this Wednesday.  Eventually, “Lime-Es” will comprise forty percent of LimeBike’s fleet.

Here’s the thing — I had never ridden an e-bike in my life. And while I believe e-bikes have transformative power to flatten Seattle’s hills and get more people to ride, unlike many e-bike evangelists, I believe e-bikes shouldn’t be allowed to have e-assist past 15 or 17 mph.

As I rode from my Tangletown home to downtown where LimeBike was providing the test rides to the media Sunday afternoon (Seattle Bike Blog Editor Tom Fucoloro sent me to attend on behalf of the blog), I first had to pump up my rear wheel to address its slow leak. As I pedaled, I noticed my bottom bracket creaked an unusual amount. These problems need to get addressed.

I smoothly went down Stone Way.  As I passed Fremont Brewing, I saw four “Lime-Es” along with the full citrus spectrum of ofo and Spin bikeshare bikes out front.  The 300 e-bikes were already in use, helping people imbibe outdoors on a beautiful afternoon.  As I rode along the Westlake Protected Bike Lane, Bell Street, and the 2nd Avenue Protected Bike Lane, I hit all the usual number of red lights.  But I made it to LimeBike’s meeting spot at a WeWork space on Spring Street between 1st and 2nd Avenues.

My initial impression: E-bikeshare is awesome.

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Bike Happy: Suburban bikeshare

EDITOR’S NOTE: Thanks again to Brock Howell of Bike Happy for putting together this comprehensive weekly newsletter.


TOP THINGS TO KNOW & DO

  1. Bikeshare is expanding to the suburbs.
  2. Seattle City Council is considering legislation to improve bicycle parking in new buildings.  You can show your support.
  3. The 2nd Ave Protected Bikeway is complete.

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The annual Seattle Bike Swap is Saturday at Magnusson Park

Photo from the 2017 Seattle Bike Swap.

The Seattle Bike Swap really does have something for everyone. It’s like a giant garage sale featuring booths focused on all different kinds of biking all together in an old hangar in Magnusson Park.

Rare bike geeks, racers and people just looking for an affordable ride can all find stuff at the Swap.

The 2018 Seattle Bike swap is 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday in Hangar 30. It’s $7 to get in ($5 for members). Kids under 15 are free.

More details from Cascade: Continue reading

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Cascade: Bellevue City Council set to decide on downtown bike lane pilot Monday + How you can help

The Bellevue City Council will decide Monday whether the city will move forward with a demonstration protected bike lane on 108th Ave NE downtown, a first for Seattle’s biggest Eastside neighbor.

The city’s Transportation Commission voted 5-2 last month in favor of the demonstration project, giving the bike lane a good head start going into Monday’s vote. If approved, the city is ready to move forward quickly with implementation as early as this spring.

Details on how you can help, from Cascade Bicycle Club:

How you can help:

  • Take a minute now to send a personal note to council in support of the demonstration bikeway and bikeshare. Be sure to personalize your message for most impact.
  • Attend the Feb. 5 Council meeting. Wear your Bellevue Bike Network t-shirt to send a visible sign to council that you support the proposal. Want a t-shirt? Email us: vickyc@cascade.org
  • Just ahead of the Council meeting, meet up with Cascade and fellow advocates (5:30 pm at the fireplace in City Hall) to learn more about the proposal, and other ways to help move it forward.
  • Share this information with friends and neighbors so that they also show up and show support.
  • Join the Bellevue Bike Network campaign, to make sure that whether you live, work or visit Bellevue, you get the latest on improvements in Bellevue biking and future ways to engage.

Please join us for this final push on Feb 5!

More background on the vote, from Cascade: Continue reading

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Bike Happy: Missing Link victory & a new Seattle-based folding bike company

EDITOR’S NOTE: Thanks again to Brock Howell of Bike Happy for putting together this comprehensive weekly newsletter.


TOP THINGS TO KNOW & DO

  1. Missing Link Victory! The Seattle Hearings Examiner decided the City of Seattle sufficiently studied the environmental impacts of completing the Burke-Gilman Trail through Ballard, and that construction on the Missing Link project can finally move forward. But expect the appellants to appeal to superior court.
  2. Cascade’s Seattle Bike Swap is on Saturday.
  3. A new Seattle-based company makes titanium folding bikes.
  4. West Seattle Cyclery went out of business this winter, the last day for Bike So Good in Georgetown is tomorrow, and Sprocketts Recycled Cycles in Interbay is struggling to pay the rent.  So, this is a good reminder to support your local bike shop by getting fenders installed for the rainy weather or getting a winter tune-up so you’re ready for riding later this spring.

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Big legal decision supports finishing the Burke-Gilman Missing Link

The conclusion from the Hearing Examiner’s decision (PDF)

The Ballard Missing Link of the Burke-Gilman Trail won a huge legal decision today, with the Seattle Hearing Examiner deciding that SDOT’s environmental study and findings was adequate.

After completion of an enormous environmental impact study for the short stretch of missing trail, the legal path for trail opponents was already tough. This decision affirms that trail opponents have all but exhausted their legal arguments after 20 years of planning, debate and court battles.

While I am still waiting for the first shovel to hit the ground before celebrating, today is a big day and the result of an enormous amount of work and advocacy by a lot of people. It’s also a big day for the hundreds of people who have crashed and been significantly injured while trying to navigate the missing section.

The city’s current trail design is the result of a compromise design process that included businesses concerned about the trail, an attempt to avoid further legal action and finally build this section. Even though some businesses sued to stop the trail anyway, the city continued with the compromise design process, anyway. The result of that process, which addresses many of the freight movement worries voiced by opponents, is still the city’s plan.

The day we can finally stop arguing about the Missing Link may have just gotten a lot closer.

Councilmember Mike O’Brien, Chair of the Transportation Committee and longtime supporter of the trail, praised the decision in a statement and said he hopes to see Mayor Jenny Durkan and SDOT take “quick action” to begin construction: Continue reading

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Fiona

Our daughter Fiona was born 11:15 p.m. January 24 weighing 2 pounds, 6 ounces.

She was crying with strong, healthy lungs immediately and has been feisty ever since. She is in the NICU, and she’ll be there for a long time. Kelli and I are expecting that we won’t be able to take her home until around her mid-April due date. She has a long, difficult road ahead of her, but she is in very good shape for being so premature. And she is in the care of some truly amazing people.

Kelli had a very rough night Wednesday. She was unbelievable, just as she has been since being admitted to the hospital Sunday evening. She went to hell and back this week. She is healing up quickly, and we are finally getting some time to breathe.

The two of us are living here at UW Medical Center while Kelli heals. And even after we can go home, we’ll spend much of our time in the NICU with our amazing new daughter. We are very lucky to be surrounded by so many loving people and to have access to such incredible health care.

Avid readers may have noticed the blog go silent this week. Things happened so quickly and unexpectedly, I didn’t have any plan in place to keep things going. I know it might seem silly to worry about a bike blog amid such huge family changes and challenges, but I take this work seriously and appreciate all of you who make it part of your day. I also appreciate all the site’s advertisers and all of you reader supporters who dedicate $5–$20 every month to keep this work going.

In the seven and a half years I’ve been writing Seattle Bike Blog, I’ve spoken with many parents who have lost children in traffic collisions. I always feel a deep gratitude that they are willing to share their most painful stories with me, and am amazed by their strength in the face of tragedy. They gave me strength this week as our family faced some traumatic scares. If they can persevere, we can, too.

I have also spoken to many survivors of terrible traffic trauma, and they taught me about how the physical injuries are only part of the challenge of coming back after such a major event. I am so grateful to them for sharing their stories with me, because I know my family will also need to be patient with each other and seek help if needed as we work through the emotional and mental trauma of this week.

Given how long Fiona will stay in the NICU and how unpredictable the next few months will be, I wanted you all to know why posting here will be sporadic. I am going to prioritize family over this blog.

But this blog is also fun for me to write. So while it is my work, it is also how I relax and process the world around me. It’s meditative for me, in a way, providing a rhythm for my days. So I will keep writing when it works into my days.

Perhaps the biggest change is that I will not be quick to post about breaking news. I will also be much slower to respond to reader emails and tweets, and I have closed comments on all posts older than 60 days.

But it’s not going on hiatus. I have some great guest reporting already lined up, and I may have plenty of time to sit in the NICU with my laptop, pondering the pure wonder of life and writing about bikes.

Thank you all for reading, and take care.

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A Roosevelt junior redesigned the streets around his high school, and his plan is better than SDOT’s

Concept image of a dramatically-improved crosswalk on NE 65th Street by Joe Mangan.

Just about every school day when Joe Mangan and his fellow Roosevelt High School students walk to area businesses during their lunch breaks, they have to squeeze together on sidewalks so skinny they can barely walk side-by-side and talk to each other. And when they get to major intersections, they have to squish together at corners far too small for the number of students walking to grab a bite. Meanwhile, traffic rushes by just off the curb on an unusually dangerous stretch of NE 65th Street.

But Mangan knows it doesn’t need to be this way.

“I was noticing that friends and other students trying to walk to lunch don’t have enough space to wait at corners,” Mangan said. “I decided I would take things into my own hands.”

So he took the initiative to put together his own proposal for what a truly safe and multimodal NE 65th Street could look like complete with concept 3D graphics he created using Sketchup. He sent his 12-page report (PDF) to SDOT, some neighborhood safe streets groups and Seattle Bike Blog.

His work blew me away. Continue reading

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Bike Happy: Profiles & Trails

EDITOR’S NOTE: Thanks again to Brock Howell of Bike Happy for putting together this comprehensive weekly newsletter.


TOP THINGS TO KNOW & DO

  1. This past week’s newspapers and blogs profiled Mike RadenbaughMike BoussomAndy HampstenSteve Gluckman, and Leah Tran. Plus, there’s a Legends of Cyclocross panel discussion tonight.
  2. There were two more profiles about people working with the Bellevue and Marysville police departments to send unreclaimed/abandoned bicycles to African communities.
  3. The southern 1.2-mile portion of the East Lake Sammamish Trail opened on Tuesday.  The middle 3.6 miles is stuck in a City of Sammamish v. King County standoff.
  4. The Seattle hearing examiner will soon rule on the EIS lawsuit brought by the opponents of the Burke-Gilman Trail Missing Link project. Pro-trail businesses and organizations held a happy hour & action party last night, hoping Mayor Jenny Durkan is ready to be the hero by being the mayor finally able to complete the project.
  5. The Stinky Spoke ride is on Saturday, benefiting Outdoors for All.

Seattle needs more fun on bikes! That’s why we’re organizing “Bike Happy Month” — a month of crowdsourced, DIY bike fun to close-out the 2018 summer in the vein of Portland’s Pedalpalooza — with a huge street party in Ballard to cap it off.

We need your financial and volunteer help to make it a reality, which is why we’re launching a crowdfunding campaign.  Help us reach our initial goal level of $2,500, which assures we can at least fund the bare bones of the events.

You will receive rewards at designated contribution levels. For $30, you’ll receive an event poster. At $50, you’ll also receive t-shirt. At $100, you’ll receive a beer glass.

     

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Penultimate section of the E Lake Sammamish Trail opens today

“South Sammamish A” opens today.

A hard-fought, 1.2-mile section of the E Lake Sammamish Trail finally opens today after more than a year of construction and many, many years of planning and advocacy.

King County Parks is hosting an opening celebration at 2 p.m. today (Wednesday), after which the trail will be only one segment away from linking Issaquah and Redmond.

The newest 1.2 miles (“South Sammamish A”) connects to the existing section into Issaquah. It doesn’t make many new major connections, but it’s one vital step closer to a completed trail.

The final and most hotly-contested section (“South Sammamish B”) is still making its way through legal challenges.

With the 520 Bridge Trail now open, the Eastside Trail under construction and the E Lake Sammamish Trail slowly rolling out, the region’s trail system is in the midst of a serious expansion phase. But this work isn’t happening by accident. Advocates, neighbors and public servants have been working on these projects for a very long time.

Details on the opening celebration, from King County (RSVP): Continue reading

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Supporters of a completed Missing Link will host happy hour Wednesday

Image from Cascade Bicycle Club.

After decades of public meetings and open houses and letter-writing campaigns, it’s perhaps a bit difficult to get motivated for yet another public event about the Ballard Missing Link of the Burke-Gilman Trail. But what if I told you there would be beer?

A slate of supporting organizations are holding a happy hour 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. tomorrow (Wednesday) at Peddler Brewing to show support for completing the trail and have some drinks together. Mike O’Brien, who is both the local District Councilmember and the Chair of the Transportation Committee, will also be there continuing his leadership working for a completed trail.

The compromise trail connection is supposed to break ground in “mid-2018,” according the latest update on the project webpage. But legal challenges are still ongoing and unresolved.

If you can’t make the happy hour (or want to go above and beyond), Cascade has also created this handy online form to send Mayor Jenny Durkan a letter supporting the trail. They are also looking for folks to show up and testify in favor of completing the trail during the Transportation Committee meeting 2 p.m. Friday at City Hall.

More details on the happy hour from Cascade: Continue reading

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E-assist bikes, trail connections and multimodal funding on WA Bikes 2018 state legislative agenda

Photo by WA Bikes featuring my amazing spouse Kelli, who works for the organization, and our new e-bike we plan to use to stay car-free once our child is born.

What exactly is an electric-assist bicycle? And where can you ride one?

Providing state-level clarity on these questions is one part of Washington Bikes’ 2018 state legislative agenda, along with efforts to protects multimodal transportation funding, protect and connect trails, and better measure the economic benefit and health cost savings from bicycling.

Sure, an e-assist bike has a motor, but it rides like a bicycle. Sometimes e-bikes are treated like any other bicycle, but sometimes laws treat them as motor vehicles. Confusingly, one set of regulations ties e-assist bicycles, mopeds, motorized foot scooters and motorized assistive mobility scooters together in some — but not all — cases. E-bikes are allowed in bike lanes, but not sidewalks. They are also allowed on trails, except where local jurisdictions say they are not allowed. And local jurisdictions rarely make their exceptions clear to users.

It’s all a bit confusing, which is a problem both for users and for a growing industry that holds big promise for increasing access to bicycling to more Washington residents of all ages and abilities. Studies have demonstrated that riding an e-assist bike still provides a significant amount of exercise, which so many residents of our state do not get. So state leaders should be looking for ways to encourage more e-assist biking.

For example, Seattle’s extraordinarily popular Westlake bikeway is a bike lane, but do the connections on either end of the bikeway count as trails or sidewalks? What about the biking and walking paths leading to and crossing the Fremont and Montlake Bridges? I honestly can’t tell you the answer off the top of my head, and I’m a journalist who has been covering bicycle transportation for seven years. The line between “trail” and “sidewalk” is often very blurry. If you’re riding a bicycle, the difference doesn’t matter because both are legal. But if you’re on an e-bike, it technically does matter.

In reality, people with e-bikes just ride them like they are on a regular bicycle, and I’ve never seen any empirical evidence that this is causing any problems. I also haven’t heard of many (any?) cases where someone was been ticketed for riding an e-assist bike on a sidewalk. So why not just simplify state law to reflect how things are already working? Continue reading

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Bike Happy: Bainbridge now supports bridge + Help launch Bike Happy Month

EDITOR’S NOTE: Thanks again to Brock Howell of Bike Happy for putting together this comprehensive weekly newsletter.


TOP THINGS TO KNOW & DO

  1. Help launch the 2018 Bike Happy Month and Pedaler’s Fair >
  2. Lime & Spin bikeshare systems will add e-bikes this winter/spring.
  3. After nixing a key bridge for the Sound-to-Olympics Trail last week, this week Bainbridge City Council reversed course.
  4. Metier is opening a new cycling destination in Woodinville: a brewery.

Help launch
Bike Happy Month + Pedaler’s Fair

August 24 — September 23

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Cascade: Support Bellevue’s downtown bike lane plans Thursday

As we reported previously, the City of Bellevue plans to build one or more demonstration bike lanes in its downtown core this spring as a pilot project to try out the design and give people a chance to see them in action.

Since announcing the concept, 108th Ave NE has emerged as the single best street for a bike lane pilot, Cascade Bicycle Club’s Vicky Clarke wrote in a recent blog post. The central north-south street “is a major north/south corridor through downtown that’s home to many large office towers, adjacent to the transit center and connected by bike existing facilities to the I-90 and SR-520 trails,” she wrote. Especially considering the potential for bike share expansion to Bellevue, a strong connection to the Bellevue transit center has huge potential for serving more people for more trips.

Imagine stepping off a bus in the heart of Bellevue and finding a $1 bike waiting for you next to a safe, comfortable bike lane that goes where you’re going.

Cascade has put out a call for people to show up to the Bellevue Transportation Commission meeting 6:30 p.m. tomorrow (Thursday) at Bellevue City Hall to voice support for the bike lane pilot.

More details from Cascade: Continue reading

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LimeBike and Spin announce e-assist bikes, an innovation that could change bike share all over again

Promo photos from Spin and LimeBike showing off their new e-assist bikes.

Yesterday, both Spin and LimeBike announced electric-assist bicycles, an innovation that — if successful — could change the bike share industry all over again.

LimeBike will likely be the first to launch e-bikes in Seattle, saying in a press release that the bikes will be available “starting in January 2018.” The company is currently planning 300-500 bikes for Seattle. Spin is launching their first e-bikes in smaller markets where they are exclusive operators.

Seattle has hills. That’s an unchanging fact. So the potential for a well-run, dependable and approachable e-assist bike share service is immense. It could make bike share more accessible to more people and make more kinds of trips possible for everyone. A trip from downtown directly to First Hill? It’s possible on a non-assisted bike, but it’s a tough grind that only a handful of people are going to choose to make. But with a little boost, it could put a huge number of homes and jobs within an easy bike ride of downtown transit service, for example.

Of course, how an e-assist bike share system without docks (and, therefore, regular charging stations) is mostly unexplored territory. Social Bicycles operates the Jump e-assist system in San Fransisco and Washington DC, and there are a couple e-assist bike share systems in a handful of cities around the world. But it is still a very new concept, and having bikes with higher capital and maintenance costs raises a lot of new challenges for the operators. Continue reading

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ofo kicks off 2018 with free rides, big plans and an allegation of poor working conditions

ofo annonced free rides in January.

2017 was a wild year of expansion and change for the global bike share industry, and 2018 is already shaping up to continue the trend of innovation and competition within the industry. And Seattle is positioned to remain at the forefront among U.S. cities as city staff work on a permanent permit and regulation scheme for the private bike share services.

ofo, the Beijing-based giant that reported more than $1.1 billion in investments in 2017 alone, has kicked off the year with a serious challenge to competitors Spin and LimeBike: Free rides for the entire month of January. LimeBike launched a “bonus bike” feature, where rides on certain bikes specially marked in this app are free indefinitely. The company also announced that all rides through January 14 are free. Spin, meanwhile, announced that it has an electric-assist bike it is preparing to launch in some markets (not Seattle yet).

It’s only week two of 2018.

“We have large plans ahead for Seattle,” said the new ofo US Head of Communications Taylor Bennett. Bennett previously worked for Uber and, most recently, Pandora. Seattle Bike Blog spoke with Bennett recently to get caught up on what’s happening at the company behind all those yellow bikes around town.

“We’ve seen a really strong reception for dockless bike share across the country, but especially in Seattle,” he said. The company is currently at its permit-restricted limit of 4,000 bikes. “We look forward to working with Council to expand that.” Continue reading

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