Cascade Bicycle Club cancels nearly all major events for 2020, including STP

Photo looking over a large crowd of people on bikes in a parking lot.

STP 2014.

Cascade Bicycle Club has made the difficult but clearly correct decision to cancel its 2020 major events, including their iconic Seattle to Portland Classic. The decision sets up a massive test for the large bicycle events and advocacy organization, which funds most of its work through event sponsorships and registration fees.

Some events are still planned, though often in a different form than usual. Bike Everywhere Day, which was moved from May to June 19, is still on, though it will clearly look different than in years past when it had a focus on commuting to work. The Bike Everywhere Breakfast is also still on for June 3, though it is now online (so you have to cook your own breakfast). They are also still hoping to host the WA Bike, Walk, Roll  Summit September in Spokane, though details are very much subject to change.

As we reported a month ago, Cascade furloughed half its staff in anticipation of major cancellations. But they were still holding out hope that the situation would change by summer and they might be able to host at least some of their events. However, the interventions we would have needed for that to happen, like massive amounts of testing and contact tracing nationwide, have not come to fruition. As it comes time for signing contracts and placing deposits, tough decision time is here for nearly all our major summer events.

We reported last week that the Fremont Solstice Parade (and its iconic painted bike ride) have been cancelled. Expect the wave of summer event cancellation notices to keep coming.

People who have already registered for Cascade events must request a refund by May 15. After that, your registration will be considered a donation, according to Cascade’s refund FAQ. UPDATE: Cascade is not offering full refunds to all rides. STP, RSVP and Flying Wheels registrants can only get 50% back. The organization says people agreed to this arrangement:

“Every person paying for registration agreed to both the waiver seen here (read item 11-Force Majeure) and our refund policy here.  While we are not obligated to return any of the funds received, we have done the best we can to pay the expenses incurred up to this point and return everything else to you.”

Cascade is a large organization with a lot of staff, a large office and a big budget, especially compared to other bike advocacy organizations. It’s likely difficult for them to hibernate to get through this. Meanwhile, they are working on how to reshape their advocacy for these times.

So many other businesses and organizations are in a similar or worse situation. How our city, county, state and nation act (or fail to act) to support orgs like Cascade will determine so much about what our post-outbreak reality looks like. Are we really going to let our cultural institutions collapse?

More details from Cascade: Continue reading

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Cascade outlines its advocacy priorities during COVID-19

Like so many other organizations, Cascade Bicycle Club has had to scale back and dramatically redesign how it does work during this outbreak.

After furloughing half its staff and surveying people about how they can help during this time, the organization released a four-point platform for its advocacy efforts.

From Cascade:

In the last few weeks, hundreds of you have shared that you’re biking more during the pandemic – for exercise and essential errands, to care for family, and for mental health or fun. That’s why our work to make biking safer and more accessible continues.

At the same time, the COVID-19 crisis has uncovered new needs for how we use our public spaces, and how we get around. That’s why, along with our existing priorities, we’re launching an advocacy platform for the COVID-19 era and beyond.

  1. Open up temporary spaces for people biking and walking now, and as we edge out of lockdown so that we can all safely walk and bike with physical distance between ourselves.
  2. Complete bike networks faster, not slower, as we start to move around our communities again and need a multi-modal transportation system that keeps us safe.
  3. Open Streets programs for the recovery. Cities can help reboot our local business districts, and local economies by bringing community and commerce together in streets that are open to people, closed to cars.
  4. An economic recovery centering – not sidelining –  investments in biking, walking, multi-modal networks. Economic stimulus funding for transportation must include substantial dollars for projects that advance trails and on-street bike networks.

Read their post for more details about each point.

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Ask Seattle Bike Blog: We want your bike-related questions

Hey you! Yes, you in the mask. Do you have a question about biking?  It could be anything. Big, small, important, trivial, it doesn’t matter! Seattle Bike Blog wants to answer it in a fully-researched blog post and/or video.

My goal with Ask Seattle Bike Blog is to dive deep into your questions, providing far more information about them than you really wanted to know. What’s the point of [baffling thing]? How do I [do this bike thing]? How does [bike-related thing] work? Etc.

Questions can be about current events, history, infrastructure or anything that falls into the very broad category of bike culture. If in doubt, ask it anyway. You can even submit questions anonymously if for some reason you don’t want people to know you asked it. It’s like a sex ed question box…except for bikes. We look forward to reading and answering them.

This page will be linked in the navigation bar, so you can return here to submit questions any time.

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City announces new and expanded Stay Healthy Streets in the CD, Beacon Hill, Greenwood and Rainier Beach

A woman biking with a child on her bike. The street is wide open.

This was not technically a Stay Healthy Street. This stretch of Green Lake Way was closed to cars last weekend ahead of some construction work, and people found that it became a great place to walk and bike away from the busy Green Lake path.

Seattle has added six more miles of what the city is calling “Stay Healthy Streets,” car-light streets where through-traffic is banned and people are allowed to walk in the street 24/7. They are part of an effort to create more space so people can stay socially distant from others while still getting outside.

People are still allowed to drive to their homes. Deliveries and services are also allowed.

SDOT tested the concept in the Central District and High Point starting last weekend, and the CD route will be significantly expanded Friday. They are also adding Greenwood, Beacon Hill and Rainier Beach routes Friday, bringing the total number mileage to nine miles.

Notably, the city is making efforts to get around barriers like busy stretches by converting some on-street parking spaces to pathways so a few of the routes can be longer. For example, the block of 1st Ave NW next to Fred Meyer in Greenwood will have a pathway on the west side of the street. This is the only busy block, since people use it to access the giant parking lot, so extra protection is needed there to make the route work:

Map of the route in Greenwood Continue reading

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Some ways the city can help more people bike during the West Seattle High Bridge closure

Excerpt from the Bicycle Master Plan map showing projects in and near West Seattle.

From the Bicycle Master Plan. Dashed lines indicate needed improvements as of 2014. Full map (PDF).

Seattle needs to take bold, unprecedented action to help many more people get around by bike during the longterm West Seattle High Bridge closure. This isn’t just about improving cycling conditions, it’s one of the only ways the city can keep the whole transportation system moving.

Every idea needs to be on the table, including efforts we have never tried before. This is an unprecedented challenge in recent Seattle history.

The West Seattle High Bridge is closed until at least 2022, and it may not ever open again in its current form. At this point, very little about the bridge is certain other than that it’s going to be closed for a long time. The lower bridge is still open, including the biking and walking path. Personal motor vehicles are not allowed, reserving this connection for transit, freight and emergency vehicles.

Of course the closure is already causing huge transportation problems for the neighborhood as everyone driving a personal vehicle who would have taken the bridge needs to reroute all the way to the 1st Ave S or South Park Bridges. But the real headache will come when the economy reopens and the 100,000 vehicles per day that typically cross the bridge have to find another route. There simply is not that kind of car capacity without the bridge.

This means biking will likely the most reliable and often fastest way to get across the Duwamish River. But as we explored in depth with the help of Anthony Palmieri of the community group West Seattle Bike Connections, the primary bike routes through and to West Seattle are often missing pieces or have other complications that make them either confusing or uncomfortable, especially for new riders. WSBC does great work to help their neighbors find routes that will work for them to help them get riding. But there’s a lot the city can do to remove obstacles that no amount of advice can get around. And many or all these projects can be completed at low cost, especially compared to the scale of this problem.

The city should be taking major steps to fully connect and protect bike routes to and through West Seattle. Just looking at the unfinished connections in the Bicycle Master Plan is a great place to start generating project ideas. But I thought I would highlight a few in particular: Continue reading

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Fremont Solstice Parade (and painted bike ride) cancelled for 2020

It’s not a surprise, but the 2020 Fremont Solstice Parade has officially been cancelled. And that means the annual painted bike ride is also cancelled.

Of course the ride and parade shouldn’t happen amid the outbreak, but it’s still tough news. The Solstice Parade and the pre-parade painted bike ride are among the iconic events that make Seattle what it is. So I’m mourning the news.

The Fremont Arts Council, which puts on the parade, is exploring ideas for a virtual celebration. I’m guessing there won’t be a body paint biking element, though…

More details from the Fremont Arts Council:

After assessing the current and projected data related to COVID-19 and hearing from King County Public Health and the Seattle Office of Special Events, the Board of Directors felt the wisest and safest choice for the FAC and the community would be postponement to next year.

Looking ahead, the Fremont Arts Council will need your support throughout this year, more than it ever has before.

How You Can Help:

  1. The Green Hat in the Fremont Solstice Parade and the Beer Garden at the Fremont Solstice Celebration at Gas Works have been the FAC’s main source of funding for the year. Without it, our budget for 2020-2021 is very small. Please consider joining or renewing your membership OR making a donation
  2. We are brainstorming how to add new revenue streams for the FAC and we are writing grants to support the FAC and its events. If you have an interest in developing funding sources or grant writing, please help us by joining Dayna and the Development Team.
  3. We were chosen by the UW Human Centered Design and Engineering Department to help update our website! If you have web development skills and want to learn more about this project, email Lymarie at [email protected]org.
  4. Help us CELEBRATE!!

We’re creating a committee that can take the lead in the outreach and collective processto make a virtual Fremont Solstice Parade and Celebration happen on June 20th. We will be looking for artists, members, sponsors, and volunteers as well as media content and video editors. If you want to help organize, create and be a part of this, email Henry at [email protected]org

We don’t want June 20th to pass us by wishing for what we can’t have. We may not be able to gather en masse but we CAN still celebrate the Solstice. We want to safely share Fremont Solstice with our families, our friends, our community and the world. We want to see your celebrations, your joy, your rituals, your art! We want to hear your stories! We may not be able to fill the streets but we can still share with each other our celebration at the return of the Sun! 

Lastly, stay healthy and stay safe! We look forward to creating an online Fremont Solstice Parade and Celebration with you and we look forward to celebrating with everyone in person at Luminata on September 19th.

With Care and Hope,

The Fremont Arts Council Board of Directors

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Trail Alert 4/27-5/11: Significant delays on Sammamish River Trail for repair work in Bothell

Map of trail work zone.Work to fix some tree root bumps and repave a section of the Sammamish River Trail in Bothell kicks off April 27 and will last for two weeks.

During work hours, trail users will need to wait for up to 15 minutes before crews can let them through. There will not be a detour.

The trail is currently closed for recreation as part of King County Parks’ agency-wide closure that began in late March. People making essential trips or traveling to and from essential jobs are still allowed to use the trails for transportation.

More details from King County Parks spokesperson Doug Williams:

Starting next Monday, April 27, we’ll be removing root incursions and resurfacing a short stretch of the trail (less than 100 yards long) near the “Chicken Lot.” The stretch we’ll be working on is at Sammamish River Park adjacent to 102nd Avenue Northeast, and east to the bridge that crosses the river. (See the map below.)

Construction is going to take place Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., for two weeks – as long as the weather holds. If we get significant rainfall, the project would likely have to be extended to make up for lost work time.

A flagged trail detour isn’t possible at this location. Instead, we will have flaggers and intermittent closures to allow trail users through the construction zone in 15-minute increments.

The contractor will have temporary control signage (“construction ahead, expect delay,” “bicyclists dismount,” etc.), and flaggers will control trail user flow through the construction zone. Bicyclists will be asked to dismount and walk through the work site.

Even though the regional trail system remains closed to everything but essential trips (work, doctor’s appointments, etc.), we’re concerned that trail use will increase with the improving weather. This can create an issue at the construction site because all trail users will have to be stopped together for several minutes while work is being done before they can safely walk through the construction zone.

With that in mind, we’d appreciate your help in getting out the message about limiting non-essential trips along this portion of the Sammamish River Trail during the construction timeframe

I know it’s an inconvenience to have a stretch of trail closed like this for construction, but with reduced trail use as part of the Governor’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy guidance, we can get this important safety work done now, rather in the summertime when trail use is exponentially higher.

We’ve also lined up the timing of this project to coincide with a City of Bothell project to replace the pedestrian bridge in the Park at Bothell Landing.

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Watch: Talking open streets during COVID-19 with Gordon and Clara from SNG

Seattle Neighborhood Greenways has been working with local advocates to develop ideas for open streets as a way to relieve crowding on sidewalks, paths and major parks during the outbreak. We previously reported about some of their ideas, and the organization is still accepting open streets ideas via their online survey.

Since taping this interview with Gordon Padelford and Clara Cantor of Seattle Neighborhood Greenways, SDOT has announced their Stay Healthy Streets program to open a set of residential streets to walking and biking 24/7. Similar to Oakland’s Slow Streets program, Stay Healthy Streets will be closed to through-traffic but open to local access.

The city is starting with two streets in the Central District and West Seattle, but has plans to expand the program to include 15 miles “in the coming weeks.”

Maps of the first two Stay Healthy Streets.

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With the West Seattle High Bridge closed until at least 2022, talks begin about building a replacement

As we learn more about the unexpected and sudden closure of the West Seattle High Bridge at the end of March, it’s looking more and more like the decision to close the bridge prevented a horrific tragedy. Cracking on both sides of the support structure of the longest span was on a path to meet at the center. And if that happened, engineers said, the structure could have collapsed. That’s six lanes of traffic on the city’s busiest non-interstate bridge plummeting from a ridiculous height.

I’m sure there will a lot of investigation into how the bridge got to this point and whether the city could have prevented it. But first, we need to acknowledge that inspectors and the city’s transportation chain of command made a very good call by closing it when they did.

The cracking immediately slowed when traffic stopped, but it has continued. The bridge itself is so massive that it makes up a huge percentage of the total load on the structure, so removing traffic can only do so much. This is also why they are not going to be opening the bridge to walking and biking. You don’t want to be up there.

The high bridge will be closed at least through 2021, and this means biking will only become more important for West Seattle as the path over the low bridge remains one of the best ways to cross the Duwamish River. See our previous story and video, in which Anthony Palmieri of West Seattle Bike Connections walks through some popular bike routes in the neighborhood.

The city announced Wednesday that it will cost $33 million to maintain the lower swing bridge (which is prone to failures itself), change traffic controls, and to stabilize the bridge so it doesn’t fall down on its own and can handle the workers and equipment needed to make a bigger and more expensive fix.

City engineers are also not confident that they can repair the bridge at all, and they definitely cannot fix it well enough to make it operational for its full expected life span, which should have had it operational until the 2050s or 2060s. If they can repair it at all, the city doubts they could get more than 10 years out of it. So conversations are already starting about replacing the bridge entirely, an effort that will be measured in hundreds of millions of dollars. Which we don’t have. Continue reading

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Cascade survey: How have your walking and biking needs changed during the outbreak?

survey from Cascade Bicycle Club asks people how their relationship with walking and biking has changed since the outbreak began and seeks ideas for how Cascade can help during this time.

As we reported previously, Cascade furloughed half their staff out of worries that they may need to cancel many or all of their major events this summer. Executive Director Richard Smith said they typically need to make a decision about whether to hold or cancel an event one month before it happens, so stay tuned for updates.

May is typically Bike Month, which Cascade and its sister organization Washington Bikes pack with various events including Bike Everywhere Day. Cascade has pushed the entire month of events back into June, including Bike Everywhere Day on June 19. But again, all of this is contingent on social distancing guidance at that time, so stay tuned.

From the survey: Continue reading

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What kind of bike lanes should SDOT build on MLK between Rainier and Judkins Park (in 2023)?

Project map.I know it’s pretty hard to think about 2023 right now. Because a month lasts about a year right now, 2023 is more than 30 years away.

But SDOT is currently conducting a survey about the planned MLK Way S bike lane between Rainier Ave S and S Judkins St even though they don’t plan to build the project until 2023 ahead of the Judkins Park light rail station opening. But they are getting a head start on planning.

The survey is short and asks participants about the safety issues they face on the street, then offers a handful of options for how the planned bike lane could work.

One option has a two-way bike lane on the east side, another has a two-way bike lane on the west side and a third option has one-way bike lanes on each side of the street.

Diagrams comparing the options. Continue reading

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The Untokening outlines ‘mobility justice responses to COVID-19’

Screenshot of the Mobilty Justice Responses to COVID-19.

The more about the Mobility Justice Responses to COVID-19 from The Untokening (PDF).

The most marginalized people and communities in our society are especially stretched thin and put at increased risk during this outbreak. As unemployment soars, people without a safety net are in a very precarious position. And those with essential jobs who typically rely on transit face serious challenges and difficult choices just to get around.

So as all levels of government are making emergency changes to the transportation system, it is vital that decision makers, agency staff and community leaders keep marginalized communities and vulnerable people at the forefront of each change. And The Untokening has some ideas for how to do just that.

The Untokening is a “a multiracial collective that centers the lived experiences of marginalized communities to address mobility justice and equity.” Their “Mobility Justice Responses to COVID-19” were developed based on a broader and powerful set of mobility justice principles the collecting developed together over the course of years. So as changes and responses are developed, people at every stage should hold these principles in their minds.

From The Untokening: Continue reading

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Seattle Neighborhood Greenways outlines three-pronged approach to making streets work better for people during the outbreak

Since we last wrote about the potential for open streets to reduce crowding on Seattle sidewalks and paths, the city has opened a couple streets within parks to people walking and biking in Seward Park and Volunteer Park. And Settle Neighborhood Greenways has created a guide for the city that makes the case for opening more space for walking and biking and suggests some ideas for how Seattle can make streets work better for everyone during this difficult time. UPDATE: Major Seattle Parks will close entirely this weekend, the Seattle Times reports.

SNG is also collecting your ideas for open streets opportunities through an online form. So if there’s a street near you that you think would help you and your neighbors walk and bike safely if only it were car-free, let SNG know.

The in-park street closures like Volunteer and Seward Parks make a ton of sense and were easy to do. The parking lots and destinations in each park were already closed to limit crowding, so closing the roads to cars and opening them to people walking and biking just required putting up some barricades and signs. There are likely other streets through parks that could (and should) be closed to cars just as easily.

There may also be streets where it would be simple and cheap to cone off a general traffic lane to create more sidewalk or biking space. This would have the added benefit of reducing speeding, which has gone way up in many places as some people driving take advantage of wide open roads.

And being easy to implement is important, since it’s unlikely the city can or is willing to dedicate a lot of staff and resources to open streets events. So as great as a citywide network of major car-free streets would be, it makes more sense to look for opportunities that would not require any (or very little) active staff. And a spokesperson for Mayor Jenny Durkan said as much to Eli Sanders at the Stranger:

Kamaria Hightower, a spokesperson for Mayor Durkan, said that right now “the health and safety of the public and our workers are the top priority,” and that closing Seattle streets to create more space for outdoor recreation is under ongoing consideration.

But, Hightower added, “While we’ve seen some cities close streets in recent weeks, we know they have also witnessed some challenges due to crowds and staffing capacity constraints. That’s something she’s trying to balance before making any decisions.”

Continue reading

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You can now report bike share parking issues with the city’s Find It Fix It app

Photo of a row of Lime and JUMP on the sidewalk of 2nd Ave Ext just north of Jackson Street.

With Find It Fix It, people won’t need to find info for each company to report an issue.

Bike share parking complaints can now be routed through the city’s Find It Fix It app and website as well as by calling 684-ROAD, SDOT’s work order hotline. Basically, reporting a bike share parking issue now goes through the same system as reporting a pothole.

This isn’t a big deal right now in Seattle since we only have one company operating: Jump. But when/if more bike and scooter (and who knows what else) services start operating, it will be very handy to have a one-stop shop for reporting issues. People shouldn’t have to search the bikes and scooters for that company’s name, then scour their websites for contact info in order to report a problem that may never be logged in an official city record.

So while this change isn’t really a big deal right now (especially in the context of the outbreak and everything), it is a good improvement that will be necessary for any long-term free-floating micromobility services in the city.

More detail from SDOT:

Next time you see a bike blocking the way, report it on our Find it Fix it app.

Since Seattle first welcomed a dockless bike share program in 2017, we’ve made major changes to make sure bikes are parked where they should be.

  • We’ve worked with bike share companies to increase rider education on how bikes should be parked.
  • Last year alone we installed 1,515 new bike parking spots.
  • Starting this summer riders will need to take a photo of their properly parked bike after their ride.

We’ve seen a huge improvement in how people park their bikes, but there are still some bikes blocking sidewalks, curb ramps, and building entrances.

Bike share companies are responsible for moving their misparked bikes, but many times they don’t know that a bike has fallen down or is blocking a sidewalk.

Here’s where you come in – you can now report poorly parked bike share bikes on our Find it Fix it smart phone app, by calling 684-ROAD, or online.

Our Find it Fix it app and 684 – ROAD number are ways you can be the eyes and ears of our city and alert us when something needs to be fixed – be it a pot hole, damaged sign, fallen tree, or now a poorly parked bike share bike.

Here’s how it works:

  • Open the Find it Fix it app on your phone
  • Take a photo of the poorly parked bike
  • List the location
  • Indicate the bike share company name
  • Press submit

Or you can call 684 – ROAD (206-684-7623) and report the bike share company name and bike location or fill out the online form.

It’s that easy!

When we receive the report, it’ll be routed directly to the bike share company who will send someone out to investigate the issue. They will then close-out the report with how they resolved the issue – which can range from “bike moved to appropriate parking location” to “bike not able to be found”, depending on the circumstances.

Our ultimate goal is to not receive any reports of badly parked bikes – because we want them all to be parked properly

But in the meantime, we hope that this new reporting method will help give you the tools to report something you see.

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Improved I-90 Trail connection in Factoria still aiming for a late 2020 opening

Overhead concept image showing the new trail bridge over Factoria Blvd.Project area map.Work is still continuing on an improved I-90/Mountains to Sound Trail connection over Factoria Blvd SE in Bellevue.

The project broke ground in the fall and is still aiming for completion in late 2020, according to project manager Chris Masek.

Previously, the trail dumped users onto the sidewalk at the southwest corner of the intersection of Factoria Blvd SE and SE 36th St. Users then used the crosswalk to access a paint-only bike lane on 36th to continue on the major trail route.

The new connection will create an overpass allowing trail users to fly over the I-90 off-ramp and Factoria Blvd, ending up on a new trail running along the north side of 36th to 132nd Ave SE. Users headed east will have to cross the street there to access the existing bike lane, at least for now.

The project is part of a long-planned series of improvements to the so-called Bellevue Gap, the worst section of one of the region’s most important bike routes. Bellevue plans (PDF) to continue the new trail all the way to Lakemont Blvd SE, where it will meet up with SE Newport Way. This will save users from crossing I-90 twice and navigating unfriendly SW Eastgate Way. Continue reading

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Bike News Roundup: So, any big news happen lately? + Kelli joins the video

Transcript (auto-generated .txt)

It’s time for the Bike News Roundup. I started collecting the stories for this edition before the COVID-19 outbreak really took over the news and, you know, our whole lives. So there are glimpses of another time in here.

Also, be sure to check out the Bike News Roundup video with Kelli Refer. We talk through a few pieces from the list, plus she shows off the styling new reusable face masks she made using this design. And at the end, we play a few minutes of the indie video game Knights and Bikes. The Roundup video also works as something to listen to in the background.

First up, if you haven’t seen the News Tribune video of Matthew Fleming biking around Tacoma yelling people’s messages to each other, well, enjoy: Continue reading

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Want to learn how to be a bike advocate? Register for Cascade’s ‘virtual ALI’

A photo of a group of people standing with their bikes holding their arms in the air.

Screenshot from the Cascade/WA Bikes email.

Cascade Bicycle Club is transforming its excellent Advocacy Leadership Institute into an online training course. So if you want to learn more about how to be a bike advocate, organize a campaign or tell your personal story, this could be a great fit. I mean, you’re not going anywhere anyway, right?

It’s a six-week course that starts April 21, and because it is online it is open to anyone in Washington State. That’s one advantage of holding it online rather than in-person. The deadline to apply is April 10, just fill out this form. Oh, and it’s free.

More details from Cascade:

While our first responders, hospital workers, and others are on the front lines of COVID-19, many of us are rightfully obeying ‘stay home, stay healthy’ orders during these unprecedented times. That is why here at Cascade we are rethinking our community gatherings, trainings, and community building.

After eight years of sharing our Advocacy Leadership Institute (ALI) trainings in person, we’re excited to announce that we’re going virtual. The good news – that means ALI is now open to Cascade advocates across the state!

During our virtual six week ALI series, we’re sharing the same great content – including tools on how to develop your own unique story and plan an advocacy campaign. We’re also bringing together speakers to share their work and discuss how we continue working with others. You will hear from news reporters, other advocates, and elected officials on how to best make an impact – and help advance the issue that you care about most.

If you care about bicycling and want to be a more effective organizer in your community, or are interested in learning how to mobilize your neighbors to stand behind important bicycling projects that will make our streets great places to ride, please join us for the virtual Advocacy Leadership Institute program during April-June 2020.

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JUMP is offering free rides to essential workers + City is adding bike parking where needed to ease crunch

Photo of a red JUMP bike downtown.To help people get around during the COVID-19 outbreak, Seattle’s only bike share company JUMP is offering free 30-minute rides to essential workers during the stay-at-home order (“at least”). Workplaces just need to email [email protected] to get ride codes they can send out to employees.

Bike share is an interesting option during this outbreak because while it is a shared object in public, you really don’t come into contact with many parts of it while using it. JUMP says it is disinfecting the bikes every time they are serviced, including every time workers replace dead batteries with charged ones. But there is no way to guarantee that the bike has been disinfected between rides, so you have to assume it has not and take your own precautions.

If you are disinfecting the bike with Lysol-style wipes, be sure to wipe down all the parts you touch including the locking mechanism, the seat clamp, the back of the saddle and, of course, the handlebar grips and brake levers. It’s also a good idea to sanitize your hands once you are all adjusted and ready to start pedaling in case you end up touching your face during the ride. And, of course, you should sanitize or wash your hands when the ride is over.

The good news is that ultraviolet rays from the sun are a great disinfectant. The bad news is we live in Seattle, so that’s not very reliable.

The city also announced in a recent blog post that SDOT is working with JUMP to install extra bike parking in places where it is needed. With a lot of people turning to bikes as an affordable, reliable and socially-distant way of getting around, bike parking crunches are likely. And the last thing a healthcare or grocery worker needs right now is to waste time trying to find a place to lock up or spend their shift worrying about whether their bike is secure.

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Watch: With the West Seattle high bridge closed, here are some popular bike routes to get across the Duwamish River

Transcript (auto-generated .txt)

There is still no timeline for reopening the West Seattle high bridge, by far the most-traveled way to get across the Duwamish River and connect to the rest of the city. In the meantime, the lower Spokane Street swing bridge and its walking and biking trail is still open, making biking a vital way for people to get to and from the neighborhood.

The full impact of the closure has not yet been felt because so many residents are on lockdown in their homes due to the outbreak. But there are still many people with essential jobs or who need to make essential trips, and biking may be their best option. This will especially be the case if the bridge is still closed when workplaces reopen.

So I reached out to Anthony Palmieri, a member of the local bike advocacy group West Seattle Bike Connections, to ask him what advice he would give new riders. He also helped walk through some basic bike routes people can take from various parts of the peninsula, including the Alki/North Admiral, the Fauntleroy Ferry, the Junction, White Center/Delridge and South Park. I then put together a Google Earth tour to help you visualize the routes. The goal of the video was to demystify these bike routes a bit. They are mostly comfortable and easy once you know the way, and some parts are even kind of magical and wonderful.

Palmieri urged anyone who is interested in biking but needs some more specific advice or help to reach out to West Seattle Bike Connections. Their volunteers are happy to help. Join their Facebook Group or email them at [email protected].

WSBC played a vital community role during the winter 2019 Alaskan Way Viaduct closure, hosting how-to rides and sharing bike route knowledge. Bike counts across the low bridge registered August numbers in January that year, taking a lot of pressure off the transportation system.

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Bike Works reopens shop by appointment only, offers medical and grocery workers 50% off repairs

Photo of the front of the Bike Works shop. Text on the front reads "Essential."

Image from Bike Works.

Bike Works was among the first major bike organizations in Seattle to shut down operations amid the COVID-19 outbreak, doing so well before Governor Jay Inslee’s order requiring many businesses and education services to close.

Staff have been working for the past three weeks to reorganize Bike Works’ Columbia City community bike shop to create an online store and a socially-distant way of operating so they could reopen the shop safely and keep folks in the southend rolling. The biggest change is that they are asking people not to visit the shop without first making an appointment. You can do so my calling the shop (206.725.8867) or emailing Josh. You can also call if you have any questions.

In addition, they put together a new online store, so you can browse there instead of going into the shop. Then you can just make an appointment to swing by and pick up whatever you ordered. They will disinfect bikes before giving them to you. They can’t offer test rides, but are offering a 30-day return policy if it doesn’t work for you.

In declaring the state’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order — Washington’s version of a shelter-in-place order — Governor Inslee created an exception for bike repair shops, citing them as an essential service. With many people avoiding transit, where it can be difficult to maintain proper social distancing, biking has become an even more vital and affordable way to get around for essential workers or people making essential trips. Bike Works is among the relatively few southend bike shops, so it’s great that they are finding a way to responsibly reopen.

On that note, they are also offering medical and grocery workers a big 50% discount on repairs, including parts and labor. That’s an awesome service for community members who are doing so much for us right now.

Of course, Bike Works is much more than a shop. Its other work, such as its popular after-school programs, remain on hiatus. Continue reading

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