When Our Work Succeeds, Washington Bikes. And That’s Our New Name!

From our earliest days as an advocacy organization focused on working all around the state we have focused on one mission: To grow bicycling. Along the way we’ve changed our location, we’ve changed our programs, and we’ve changed our name. In the early days we were the Northwest Bicycle Federation (NOW Bike); the Bicycle Federation of Washington joined their work to ours and we became the Bicycle Alliance of Washington.

No matter what changes, though, our work has always had one singular, inspiring vision: A future in which Washington Bikes.

The board has looked around the nation at advocacy organizations like ours and we see a growing trend: They are choosing new names that embody the goal of the organization—the very reason it exists. Groups that were initially called a coalition or a federation or an alliance have been choosing new names—strong, active statements that inspire you with the vision of what happens when our work succeeds.

As we announced at our 21st annual auction on Nov. 2, 2013, we believe a new name will both inspire people to get on board and contribute to our future growth and success. An action-oriented, goal-oriented name will invite in new partners, from individuals to businesses to entire communities, who appreciate the difference bicycling makes whether or not they ride themselves.

We’re going to make a strong statement of identity for the entire state of Washington as the culmination of all our work:

  • Because the Bicycle Alliance of Washington works to get kids rolling, Washington Bikes to school!
  • Because the Bicycle Alliance of Washington fights for better laws, Washington Bikes more safely!
  • Because the Bicycle Alliance of Washington works with local leaders, Washington Bikes everywhere in the state!
  • Because the Bicycle Alliance of Washington is making the maps and spreading the word, Washington Bikes for tourism and travel!
  • Because the Bicycle Alliance of Washington gets funding for bicycling connections, Washington Bikes for transportation!

Because the Bicycle Alliance has worked every day since its founding to grow bicycling statewide, Washington Bikes. That’s the name you’ll know us by going forward, and it’s the vision that inspires us.

Where You’ll Find Us Online

Watch for our URL to change soon after a bit of site redesign. We’ll redirect from bicyclealliance.org/testsite so you can find us at our new home on the Web.

Our New Logo

Washington Bikes--new logo for the former Bicycle Alliance of Washington

Washington Bikes--new logo for the former Bicycle Alliance of Washington

Posted in BAW News | Leave a comment

All Kinds of Riders for All Kinds of Reasons

From the beginning we have focused on one mission: To grow bicycling statewide. Our programs have changed over the years—our name has changed—but our work has always had one singular, inspiring vision: A future in which Washington bikes.

For all these years we have represented all kinds of riders for all kinds of reasons. You ride for competition or recreation, transportation or travel. You ride for lower blood pressure or cleaner air or to save money on gas or because it makes you feel like a kid.

We are the #1 Bicycle-Friendly State in the Nation for so many reasons and we want to celebrate that!

Volunteer and film director James Grindle of EyeConscious Films sat down with several of our members to hear them share their reasons for riding, some of the things they’ve done as advocates, and why they think it’s important to have an organization that works to make sure that all over the state, for all kinds of reasons, Washington bikes.

Many thanks to Adonia Lugo, Jeff and Jack Moran, Kristi Knodell and Kristin Kinnamon, and Rose Ann and Charles Finkel for sharing their love of bicycling. If you’d like to share your reasons for riding we’d love to talk with you for future films and posts!

Posted in Advocacy, Auction, BAW News, Commuting, Encouragement, Health, People, RAPSody, Safe Routes to School, Transportation, Volunteer | Leave a comment

Rails AND Trails Make for Great Riding, Train-Spotting

You’re probably fairly familiar with the term “rails to trails”–after all, there’s an entire organization, the Rails to Trails Conservancy, working to create a nationwide network of trails converted from former rail lines and connecting key corridors.

Perhaps less familiar is the labels “rails and trails”: Creation of a trail running alongside an active rail line, whether light rail or heavy rail. Yet these types of trails are safe, comfortable, and growing across the country.

Railyards on the Elliott Bay Trail. Photo courtesy of "Toolbear" on TrailLink.org.

Railyards on the Elliott Bay Trail. Photo courtesy of “Toolbear” on TrailLink.org.

RTC has released a report examining these trails and providing guidelines for successful trail design (download the free report on America’s Rails-with-Trails).

If you want to get out and ride a trail somewhere in Washington we have miles and miles of wonderful riding. If you’re also a train buff and want the chance to look at something with a few more wheels than the two on your bike, check out these rails-with-trails. The list is courtesy of TrailLink.org, created and maintained by RTC; each trail description includes mention of nearby trails and some connect to let you keep riding, minus the train companions.

If you have pictures or video of you and friends riding any of these, let us know and we’ll add them to our site so others can see what it’s like to bike these. We welcome guest bloggers who can share your stories about bicycling in Washington.

Southwest Washington

Thurston County, Chehalis Western Trail: 20.5 miles

Cowlitz County, Cowlitz River Trail, 2.5 miles

Central Puget Sound

King County, Burke-Gilman Trail: 17 miles

King County, Duwamish Bikeway: 2.95 miles

King County, Elliott Bay Trail: 3.35 miles

King County, Interurban Trail (South): 18 miles

Northwest Washington

Whatcom County, South Bay Trail: 4 miles

Central Washington

Yakima County, Lower Yakima Valley Pathway: 14 miles

Eastern Washington

Spokane County, Fish Lake Trail: 10 miles

Southeast Washington

Whitman County, Pullman Riverwalk: .42 miles

Whitman County, Grand Avenue Greenway: 1.7 miles

Grand Avenue Greenway, part of the Pullman Loop Trail. Photo courtesy of "Trailbear" on TrailLink.org.

Grand Avenue Greenway, part of the Pullman Loop Trail. Photo courtesy of “Trailbear” on TrailLink.org.

 

Posted in Adventure, BAW News, Cowlitz County, Infrastructure, King County, Olympia/Thurston County, Spokane/Spokane County, Trails, Trains, Travel, Whatcom County, Yakima County | Leave a comment

Anacortes Named Bicycle-Friendly Community

Guemes Channel Trail, Anacortes, WA. Picture by Anacortes Parks Foundation. Skagit County, WA.

The Guemes Channel Trail will provide an outstanding riding experience along the waterfront from downtown Anacortes to the ferry terminal–a bike travel experience you won’t want to miss, a connection for bike commuters, and an enhancement for adjacent property owners and developers who are investing in the trail.

Thanks to the work of local advocates Anacortes has become the latest community recognized by the League of American Bicyclists as a Bicycle-Friendly Community, joining 10 other cities in the #1 Bicycle-Friendly State in the US to receive the honor at some level.

The Go Skagit headline gives credit where it belongs: “Medal to the Pedalers.” The advocates who have worked for years, and who gained Honorable Mention status for Anacortes in a previous application round, used the standards of the League’s BFC program to work for improvements.

The League was impressed with many aspects of the City of Anacortes’ efforts to build a world-class bicycle-friendly community:

  • The great people pushing to make Anacortes a community that actively welcomes cycling of all kinds.
  • Local achievements including the Tommy Thompson trail, Guemes Trannel Channel, New Bicycle component to the Transportation Comprehensive Plan reviewed and approved by the city council, and the Local and Regional Bike Corridor Map for Anacortes and Fidalgo Island showing difficulty ratings, steepness, etc.
  • And of course, the great support from Anacortes Bike/Pedestrian Advisory Committee (AB/PAC), Skagit Active Community Task Force (ACT), and citizens.

Related Reading

Resources for bicycling in Anacortes and Skagit County

Does your community want to be recognized as bicycle-friendly?

Posted in Advocacy, BAW News, Skagit County, Trails, Transportation | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Message to Senate Transportation Committee: Safety First!

On Wednesday evening, October 2, I testified at a state Transportation Committee Hearing at Central Valley High School in Spokane Valley. Two minutes proved to be too short to say what I’d intended. I told an abbreviated version of this story without really getting to the point I meant it to convey.

The location of the hearing was particularly fitting—the nexus of my entry into bicycle advocacy.

All three of my children graduated from Central Valley High School. The street that runs in front of the school is Sullivan Road. Every Wednesday evening from March to November with rare exception, I ride on Sullivan Road past the school to my local bike shop, Wheel Sport East, where I meet a group of 20-50 other cyclists for a weekly group road ride—a ride I missed in order to testify.

truck-crash

The vehicle I collided with in front of Central Valley High School

On a September morning some years ago, while my oldest son was sitting down to his first class of the day, I was riding my bike past Central Valley High School on my way to work. A fellow student of his, a young man with a drivers license barely 2 weeks old, made an unexpected and illegal left turn in front of me. I made a bone crushing impact into the side of his vehicle and landed in a heap in the middle of Sullivan Road. With sirens in the distance growing closer, the young man stood briefly over me as a small crowd gathered and a kind stranger held my head and the one hand that still looked anatomically correct. Then he turned and left—off to class.

My wife had dropped my son off at school and noticed the traffic back-up, but hadn’t seen me laying in the road and my crumpled bike tossed aside. She got the call shortly after she returned home. My son met her in front of the high school and they gathered the rest of the family to meet me at the hospital.

Weeks later, still in a surgical cast, bones repaired with plates and screws, I sat in a traffic court witness box where the young man had contested his citation for failure to yield.

“I didn’t hit him. He hit me!” he argued, father at his side, coaching him.

“Why did you leave the scene and go to class?” the judge asked.

“He was on a bike. He wasn’t in a car. He shouldn’t have been there! It had nothing to do with me.”

I’ve endured shouts, had things thrown at me, been run off the road, spit on, even pepper-sprayed by a motorist at a stoplight irate that I was occupying a traffic lane—no matter that there were 2 lanes each way and we were the only two vehicles on the road at the time. To be severely injured, however, nearly killed by another human being who felt no remorse or responsibly because he assumed I just simply didn’t belong is his way was unbearable.

I began advocating for bicycling shortly afterwards—responding to anti-bike letters to the editor, commenting at city council meetings on issues of transportation safety, and eventually accepting a volunteer position on the board of directors at the Bicycle Alliance of Washington.

sullivan-rd-w-trail-a-bike

On the way to Spokefest with my 4-year-old granddaughter.

A lot has changed since that accident. Spokane Valley is a safer place to ride. We have bike lanes and designated bike routes that didn’t exist then. On a Sunday morning last month, had you been up early, you might have seen me riding past Central Valley High School with my four-year-old granddaughter on a Trail-a-Bike behind me. We rode a section of Sullivan road with a bike lane—new since the accident. We also road the same, narrower section without a bike lane directly in front of the school, past the very spot where I laid in the road while her father-to-be was arriving for classes.

I passed that spot, as I usually do, without even a thought to the past—happy at that moment to be sharing my love of cycling with my granddaughter. Happy to join some other cyclists at my local bike shop on Sullivan Road and ride with them downtown to Spokefest, an annual event, also new since that accident. We joined nearly two-thousand other cyclists—two thousand!—for a celebration of our favorite form of transportation—cycling!

Much has changed. Much has not. Although fewer, I still endure shouts from passing cars ordering me off the road. “Idiot! You’re not a car!” one young man shouted recently from a car on the other side of the road. I laughed out loud. Indeed. I’m not a car. I’m a human being, a fellow traveller on the road, a father, a grandfather, a husband—happy to be enjoying the ability to ride and the community I live in.

I was accompanied to the hearing by a good friend, his arm in a sling, fresh scars from surgery to repair a shattered collar bone. Three weeks prior, he and I were on a group ride together. Coming down a hill from a neighborhood at the south end of Sullivan Road he caught a wheel in a construction cut in the pavement in the low light of dusk. It grabbed the wheel and pitched him over the handlebars.

He wasn’t a car. If the hole in the road had been big enough to damage a car, there would have been barricades and flashing lights. But a bike? Why worry about at hole in the road that’s only a danger to bicyclists?

When revenue for transportation projects is tight and budgets constrained, bike and pedestrian projects are often the first to go. The most vulnerable road users—bicyclists and pedestrians—pay a disproportionate cost for those cuts. They pay with broken bones and lives. And unnecessarily.

Bicyclists and pedestrians help stretch our vital transportation funds. They relieve pressure on roads with limited capacity. Every bike on the road leaves more room for the remaining automobile traffic, and more parking space at their destinations. They cause less wear and tear. There are a long list of benefits to both the motorists and the individuals who choose to walk or bike.

When budgets are tight, our first concern should still be safety.

So, the hearing at Central Valley High School was very close to home, literally and metaphorically. I sat there wondering if my granddaughter would some day sit in the same theater as a student. And I wondered if she’d be able ride her bike to school safely past the spot where I laid in the road, broken. I hope so. I intend to do all I can to ensure it.

Posted in Advocacy, Attitudes, BAW News, Funding/Policy, Infrastructure, Politics, Safety, Spokane/Spokane County, Transportation | Leave a comment

The Otago Central Rail Trail: New Zealand’s “Great Ride”

A Trail of One’s Dreams! 1 Map-CentralOtagoRailTrail-

Imagine a dedicated bike trail where you can pedal comfortably for several days along the gentle grade of a converted rail-trail, going on for a full 150 kilometers (roughly 93 miles).  Now imagine riding this trail through magnificent big-sky hill country where it rarely rains, you see only a handful of people every two or three hours, and the trail encompasses a dazzling variety of topography, from wide open ranges with grazing herds of sheep, cattle and deer to scenic rocky gorges and unique little historic mining towns.

Blue sky country of Otago Rail Trail

Blue sky country of Otago Rail Trail

 

3 Four riders & mountains in dist

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who’s watching who?

 

Poolburn Gorge - trail at upper left

Poolburn Gorge – trail at upper left

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Further visualize pedaling along as your trail yields ever more expansive views while riding over 100+ year-old steel and stone bridges and viaducts and sometimes the trail takes you through impressively engineered mined-rock tunnels.  You marvel at the sights and sounds of nature while looking forward to periodic breaks to quench your thirst and enjoy tasty treats in any one of the 20 or so quaint little towns’ friendly cafes and pubs that offer great pastries, barista coffees, good hearty food and, as desired, great beer and wine.

Manuherikia River Bridge

Manuherikia River Bridge

Poolburn Gorge Viaduct

Poolburn Gorge Viaduct

 

 

 

 

 

 

Entrance to Poolburn Tunnel

Entrance to Poolburn Tunnel

Interior of stone tunnel

Interior of stone tunnel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cafe stop at town of Lauder

Cafe stop at town of Lauder

 

 

 

 

My wife Kathy and I had this truly memorable bike riding experience last April down in New Zealand’s South Island, a land of very diverse topography, perhaps better known in America as the setting for filming “The Hobbit” and “Lord of the Rings.”  In the lower central valley of the island, we took a 4-day bike trip on the Central Otago Rail Trail, a trail known as New Zealand’s “Great Ride.”  We can thank the origin of this trail to the pioneer builders who constructed the old Central Otago Railroad beginning in Middlemarch in 1891 and completing the rail line 16 years and almost a hundred miles later in Clyde.  The railroad supported many decades of mining and farming operations, moving livestock, gold, silver and other material from the mineral rich central Otago Valley to the SW port of Dunedin, New Zealand’s largest city in the early 1900s.  While the railroad also intermittently carried passengers it ceased operations in 1990 when it completed hauling materials for the Clyde Dam project that helps store and supply water for the Otago Valley.

With the cessation of rail operations, many little towns along the line started to decline and die until some far-sighted farming families got together with local business leaders and began pushing the idea that a bike trail might bring tourists and money back to their towns.  They lobbied the national government for assistance to get it built and the Department of Conservation officially opened the trail to the public in the year 2000 and dedicated it as a public preserve, with year-round access and no fees.  It was further improved over the years in terms of a consistent hard-pack gravel bed and excellent signage about history and points of interest for each section and station along the trail, and they’ve spruced up many nice shelters (old rail sheds) along the way, not to mention installing a few all important and well-maintained toilet amenities in a some of the longer stretches of the trail without a town.   The web link to learn much more detail about the Otago Central Rail Trail is: http://www.otagocentralrailtrail.co.nz/

 Our “Great Ride” Experience

Beginning at the eastern end of the trail in the Town of Clyde, we were met right off our bus from Queenstown at the trailhead by Steve Goodlass, a wonderfully helpful fellow we’d contacted by email last fall to arrange this bike trip.  Steve and his wife Carol Goodlass run a superbly efficient outfit based in the town of Omakau called “Shebikeshebikes.”  After welcoming us, he checked us out on their very nice Apollo tandem mountain bike we rented for the trip, a bike made all the more comfortable and stable with front suspension and, as they call them, “comfy seats” that lived up to their name.  We had fenders, panniers, a bell, lights (for tunnels) and a speedometer/computer.  Steve made adjustments for proper seat fitting, provided us with helmets and gave us some safety pointers – of special relevance, given the rail-trail is hard-pack gravel, was his advice to “ride in the ruts and stay to the left” (as one drives on left-side of roads in NZ).

Kathy and King at start of rail-trail in Town of Clyde

Kathy & King – start of rail-trail at Clyde

12 Kathy on trail w: tandem & open spaces

Kathy “toasting” our first day on the trail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Through prior email discussions with Shebikeshebikes, Steve and Carol were extraordinarily helpful in advising us on accommodations and places to eat in the little towns all along the trail.  They also made our lodging reservations for three evenings, which all included breakfasts.  To make our trip all the easier, Steve took our luggage in his van and assured us the bags would show up on the doorstep of each day’s lodging by 2:00 pm, and they did.  All we had to do was put our luggage back out on the doorstep by 9:00 am each morning and take off – the luggage was magically moved along to the next stop, enabling us to only think about carrying what we wanted to wear (layers worked best, as mornings could be in low 30s F and afternoons in the 60s) plus bringing along our camera and water bottles.  It all worked so seamlessly we can’t say enough about the good service from Shebikeshebikes, as well as consistently delightful friendliness and courtesy we found every day from folks all along the trail – cafe vendors, pub waiters, lodging hosts and our fellow bike riders, who were mostly Kiwis!

Art deco hotel in Ranfurly

Art deco hotel in Ranfurly

Rock & Pillar Station - break stop

Rock & Pillar Station – break stop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The rail trail makes a large arc through the Otago Central Valley along the foothills of the South Island’s east and west coastal mountain ranges, running slightly uphill for first half, generally NW from Clyde to its halfway high-point (618 meters/just over 2,000 ft elevation) near Wedderburn and then turns gently SW running slightly downhill to Middlemarch for the full 150 km.  Bear in mind, “uphill” and “downhill” on this gentle rail-grade are truly relative terms, as the grade was often imperceptible.  The total elevation gain along the full trail is a little under 1,500 feet.    Link to see map of trail and Otago Valley area: http://www.otagocentralrailtrail.co.nz/maps/rail-trail-map.html

16 Morning sun & another trail cattle crossing 17 Trail thru road overpass

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While the full rail trail can (and has been) ridden in one day by hearty athletic types, doing so at such a fast clip would sadly miss the beauty and serenity of nature and the charm of the historic little towns and wonderful people along the way.  We opted for a nice and leisurely 4-day ride.  This involved typically riding about 3-4 hours each day, and in spite of the gravel trail, our bike was so comfortable we were pleasantly surprised to never have tired legs or butts at the end of each day!

We loved getting up in the crisp morning air and, after the normal continental breakfast in our lodging, heading out on the trail to enjoy the sounds of nature in miles of solitude – a little breeze and occasionally some sheep braying mixed with the soft and steady sounds of our tires rolling over the gravel trail.  It was a treat to look forward to a mid-morning coffee/latte or chai stop in one of the charming towns along the way, always finding scrumptiously fresh baked pastries.  As noted earlier, the rail trail has excellent signage all along the route, with good information about history and character of specific structures (bridges/tunnels/viaducts) and helpful notes and maps showing points of interest in each area.

Old rail sheds serve as info kiosks

Old rail sheds serve as info kiosks

Our lodgings all along the way were consistently clean and comfortable with highly congenial and helpful hosts.  We did feel a twinge of sadness starting out on our last day after a latte and chai from the Hyde Cafe, realizing our enchanting and ever so enjoyable bike ride and adventure would soon come to an end down the trail in Middlemarch.  None-the-less, all went smoothly even at the end, for there at Cycle Surgey in Middlemarch, where we turned in our tandem, we found our luggage waiting for us.  These nice folks at Cycle Surgery even provided space in their store to change our clothes and suggested a nice lunch spot before our afternoon scenic trip on the Taieri Gorge Railway down to the coastal town of Dunedin.

19 K&K at Hyde Cafe

Lodging in Hyde at Old School House units

Lodging in Hyde at Old School House units

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We found that riding the Otago Central Rail Trail was both an incredible adventure and an enriching experience, a chance to have a great ride in a very friendly country of great geographic and cultural diversity with wonderfully friendly people… and the pleasure was well worth the trip to the land of the Kiwis.

King at trail end in Middlemarch

King with tandem at trail end in Middlemarch

Ready to board train to Dunedin

Ready to board train to Dunedin

 

 

 

Posted in Adventure, Rides, Tourism, Trails | 2 Comments

Northport Teachers Get Excited About Bike Education

This is a story of how the Bicycle Alliance of Washington’s bike education program  spreads a love of bikes throughout Washington.

This summer, I had the opportunity to visit the small town of Northport, Washington, up by the Canadian and Idaho boarders. This small town of under 300 residents is one of our newest members of the Bike and Pedestrian Safety Education Program.

Visiting and training a community is always a gift and pleasure. Over two days, we work with teachers and community members teaching first how to ride and walk safely, and then working through how to teach these skills to youth. During these days, we learn about the struggles and successes of the community, the local culture around biking and walking, and the amazing local businesses and tourism destinations.

Northport has a wealth of mountain bike opportunities and beautiful scenery. Yet few of the physical education teachers and community members in the training rode bikes to trails or for utility purposes. There was no cultural norm or common knowledge about how to ride safely with other vehicles.

During the first day of training, participants mentioned how excited they were to teach their youth how to be safe, yet they were skeptical if anyone would be able to use the skills in their community. I was a bit confused. From an outsider perspective, the cozy town appeared to have many good, quiet, routes  in town to access local destinations like the school, grocery store, parks, and community center. There was definitely one big barrier. SR-25 is the main road in and out of town, and is a freight route connecting to the Canadian border. To the north of town, it goes over a bridge without any bicycle or pedestrian accommodations. The small sidewalk it originally had was made unusable when the bridge was retrofitted with guard rails. While the rest of the road has decent shoulders, this bridge section was definitely not pleasant to ride on.


SR-25 Bridge

As the day progressed, we talked about common causes of crashes and collisions, ways to communicate with other vehicles when riding, and lane positioning. Participants grew to recognize how being visible and predictable improves your safety. They left that evening feeling empowered but still slightly skeptical if they would want to ride on the road.

The next day we met to practice what we discussed. First we worked through how to teach youth basic riding skills and how to non-verbally communicate on the road, and the participants grew more confident themselves. From there, we found a quiet intersection next to the school to practice lane positioning and turning without many other vehicles. Introducing the activity, I could read in a few faces “You actually expect us to ride in the road?!” This skepticism transformed into a glow of confidence after a few minutes of riding through an intersection with just bikes.

Northport Training Intersection Practice

From there we set out on a road ride that wound through town and even crossed the infamous SR-25 Bridge. While yesterday some participants would have laughed at me mentioning we would ride across the bridge, I was met only with reserved confidence or enthusiasm when I outlined the route. After coming back across, one participant told me that never in their life did they think they would ride a bike across the bridge. Now they knew it was not comfortable, but it was doable.

When we concluded the ride, all the skepticism of the ability to ride around Northport had been washed away. The participants were empowered that they could ride a bike around their community. Most roads in town could be comfortable for elementary and middle school youth as well. As I left, one participant shook my hand. “Thank you! This is going to be a paradigm shift for us!”

Following the training, two participants were so empowered in their ability to ride on roads that they wanted to begin a regular riding group for women in the area. Over the summer they went on several rides gaining confidence and experience.

The group rose to a new level when they road as the Northport Freewheelers in the community’s Labor Day Parade. Here they are with decorated bikes, having a ball as they clown down that threatening State Route 25.

Northport Freewheelers Labor Day 2013 - 2

The participants and other community members continue to develop new plans on how to support biking locally. The school plans to participate in the National Walk to School Day in October and Bike to School Day in May. Students will have the safety education program in the spring. High School students and community members assisted riders of the Blazing Saddles bike ride. The high school’s Jobs for Washington’s Graduates program is exploring ways to encourage biking by building a covered bike parking structure.

Northport Freewheelers Labor Day 2013 - 1

The act of connecting and training a handful of school teachers initiates a cascade of activities. The desire for a bicycle friendly community is all over Washington State. When the Bicycle Alliance goes to train teachers and community members, we fuel their desire and help give it direction. The teachers are role models for the community inside and outside of the classroom. They share the enthusiasm for what bikes can do for their community and provide learning opportunities for their community both inside and outside of the classroom. This energy will continue to improve the ability to bike in the area and inspire more residents to ride.  They even see developing pedestrian and bicycle facilities on the SR-25 Bridge in the future.

 

Posted in BAW News, Bike Culture, Education, Encouragement, Kids, Safe Routes to School, Safety | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Cooper Jones Act Laid Foundation for Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety

Washington is a leader in implementing Safe Routes to School programs in school districts, teaching new motorists how to drive safely around bicyclists and pedestrians in drivers’ education courses, and including questions about bicyclist and pedestrian interactions on the driver’s license test.  And it all started with the passage of the Cooper Jones Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Education Act fifteen years ago.

Cooper Jones

Cooper Jones

Sadly, it took the death of 13-year-old Cooper Jones of Spokane to set things in motion.

Cooper, a member of Baddlands Cycling Club, was participating in a club time trial in the summer of 1997 when he was tragically hit from behind by a careless motorist. His parents, David and Martha Jones, channeled their grief into action by partnering with Spokane bike advocates and the Bicycle Alliance of Washington to pass the Cooper Jones Act into law in 1998.

This new law required certain motorists involved in serious collisions to retake their driver’s license test. It also directed Washington Traffic Safety Commission to promote bicycle and pedestrian safety education by creating a stakeholders committee and an account to fund relevant projects. In recent years, Traffic Safety Commission has shifted its resources away from non-motorized safety issues. After a six-year hiatus, Bicycle Alliance worked with Commission member Jon Snyder to reconvene the Cooper Jones Committee this month.

Cooper’s untimely death in a time trial also galvanized the bike racing community. When WSDOT threatened to revoke all permits for competitive road cycling events around the state, the racing community worked with the Bicycle Alliance to bring WSDOT and other key agencies to the table to create the Washington State Bicycle Racing Guidelines. This document is used by race organizers and local jurisdictions as a guide to produce safe racing events.

The Cooper Jones Act of 1998 is the foundation for other bills, policies and programs to build upon bicycle and pedestrian safety and education in our state. Since the passage of this landmark legislation, the Bicycle Alliance and our allies have achieved much for bicyclists and pedestrians. Successes include creation of the Share the Road license plate, incorporating bicycle and pedestrian safety into drivers’ education curriculum, institutionalizing Safe Routes to School under WSDOT, elevating texting/handheld cell phone use while driving to a primary traffic offense, and passage of the Vulnerable User and Neighborhood Safe Streets bills. It is through these accomplishments that we honor Cooper and continue to grow his legacy.

Posted in Advocacy, BAW News, Education, Funding/Policy, People, Safe Routes to School, Safety, Share the Road, Spokane/Spokane County | Leave a comment

Creative, Unique, and Hard-to-come-by Items Generate Auction Buzz

auction banner

 

Gourmet dinner prepared from a Campervan.

Gourmet dinner prepared from a Campervan.

A custom weekend bicycle tour for six. A gourmet vegetarian dinner prepared at a unique location from a VW Campervan. A coveted RAMROD entry. A flat of organic raspberries picked and cleaned just for you. A private skate skiing lesson with equipment rental.

These are examples of auction items donated by supporters like you that create spirited bidding at our annual fundraising gala! Have you submitted a donation yet for our November 2 event? We all have talents, skills and interests that we can share with others—and help the Bicycle Alliance with its mission to get more people on bikes!

  • Are you a yoga, pilates or Tai Chi instructor? You could donate a private or small group session.
  • Share your love of home crafts like canning and jamming by offering a gift basket of your own goods or a lesson in your craft.
  • Maybe you’re a healing arts practitioner. Massages, acupuncture treatments, reflexology sessions, and other therapies are welcome.
  • Are you fluent in Spanish, Mandarin, French or other language? You could offer a couple of conversational sessions at a local coffee shop!
  • Are you an experienced snowshoer? Why not lead a guided snowshoe hike and treat your guests to some hot chocolate afterward?
  • Maybe you’d like to donate your time! You could offer a long weekend of house or pet sitting, a couple hours of yard and garden work, or some window washing.

We need donations as varied and interesting as people who ride bikes. Besides things that are creative and unique, we need tried and true donations as well. This includes themed gift baskets, tickets to sporting and cultural events, restaurant and retail gift cards. When in doubt, cash is always welcome!

Use our online form to submit your auction donation today. Or contact Louise McGrody if you have questions about a potential donation.

Check our auction page for more information about our November 2 gala, including purchasing tickets and volunteering.

Thanks for helping us grow bicycling by supporting the auction!

Posted in Auction, BAW News | Leave a comment

Downtown to Defiance: Tacoma Hosts Open Streets Event

Enjoy almost 7 miles of Tacoma waterfront carfree this Sunday!

downtowntodefiancelogocolor_mIt’s been a summer for open streets in Washington. The cities of Seattle, Spokane and Vancouver all hosted one or more of these engaging, street-transforming events this year. Now it’s Tacoma’s turn.

Downtown to Defiance: Sunday Parkways is a community open streets celebration slated for Sunday, September 22 from 8am to 12 noon. Nearly seven miles of the city’s waterfront will be temporarily closed to motorized vehicles so residents can take to the streets to walk, bike, skate, and run from the Tacoma Dome to Point Defiance Park.

Fun activity stations will be located in several parks along the route. Several organized bike rides are also planned in conjunction with this open streets event. Pre-register online for Downtown to Defiance and receive a commemorative cinch pack (limited to first 1500 participants).  More information, including a schedule of events, can be found at DowntowntoDefinace.com.

Posted in Bike Culture, Events, Health, Infrastructure, Sustainable Living, Tacoma/Pierce County | Leave a comment