Reflecting on the year past, we’ve much to celebrate and much work left to do growing bicycling in Washington State. Thanks to our members and supporters we’ve continued our 26-year success story passing bicycle safety legislation, growing the next generation of bike riders in our schools, and supporting local bicycle advocates and organizations in their bids to improve facilities and funding for community bicycle projects throughout our state.
This year we launched a new initiative: expand bike travel and tourism in every corner of Washington! It’s ambitious and lofty and in keeping with our vision to make sure everyone in our state bikes, and visitors far and wide know our hills and valleys, our city streets, our towns and rural outposts offer a variety of scenic pleasures for the experienced and novice rider alike. The #1 Bicycle-Friendly State in the Nation is an outstanding destination!
Thanks to your generous support in our Kickstarter campaign last summer, Cycling Sojourner Washington, a multi-day bicycle tour guidebook highlighting nine of the most gorgeous rides in Washington, will debut in April 2014.
More importantly our bike travel initiative will bring new life to bicycling in all corners of the state, generating better bike path and road links, community cohesion, and economic development. When our towns become more bike-friendly to draw visitors, they’re more bike-friendly for the people who live and ride there every day!
Nobody understands this better than volunteer and Washington Bikes board member John Pope. Two years ago John began volunteering to map USBR 10, the state’s first United States Bike Route starting in Skagit County, where he lives, and stretching across the state all the way to the Idaho border. Having travelled by bike all over the western United States and served on his area’s Regional Transportation Planning Organization, John was well-prepared for this opportunity.
“I love the idea of an interconnecting network of bike routes that crosses our country and informs people about where the best and safest routes are across the U.S. and especially in Washington,” says John.
“In the past I had worked with folks from Adventure Cycling Association on certain sections of our region’s Northern Tier route. When the national USBRS effort that stalled several years ago was rekindled, I knew I had to help.”
The route that John is mapping will stretch from Anacortes across the Cascades through 18 communities in Skagit, Okanogan, Ferry, Stevens, and Pend Oreille counties (with roughly 25,440 total elevation climbing and coasting). It’s 421 miles—or 579.2 if you count all the alternate routes, spurs, and bypasses John checked out to prepare the map. More routes will follow through the mid-section and southern portion of the state, going east to west, north to south.
“It’s my way of giving back,” he continues. “It’s my way of serving present and future bicycle riders and the entire community since the infrastructure for bikes will improve as we build this system. Bike travel tourism is also an engine for economic development since riders make multiple stops for carb loading, nutrition, and overnight stays.”
Here are the benefits that mapping the USBRS in Washington will bring to you, the community, and the entire state in the future:
- 3,600 miles of uninterrupted bicycle connections with direct links to restaurants, lodging, shopping, groceries, and local attractions.
- Improved bicycle facilities throughout the state as communities recognize the economic benefit of welcoming bike riders.
- Signage to make it easier to know where (and how far!) you’re going.
- Increased safety as driver awareness of bicycles on the road increases.
- Improved streets and roads.
- Legislative support for the economic activity we represent that translates into votes for our issues and priorities.
For John Pope, his investment of volunteer time and energy is a journey of the heart–a journey of believing the USBRS is the right thing to do and the time is now.
We have more to do when John’s volunteer work is done to prepare the route for approval by the Washington State Department of Transportation, submit it to the USDOT for official recognition, and begin our work for signage and all the rest. (And then we get ready to do it all over again for another route somewhere in the state.)
“Every city and county engineer, every bike club or bike enthusiast, every bike shop, and every Chamber of Commerce hears about the route and is encouraged,” John adds. “There are those in all walks of life who are helping to make the route better, safer, more hospitable, and clearly designated for the traveling bicycle rider.”
We hope you’ll make a tax-deductible year-end donation to support the time and effort required to map and highlight USBR 10 so volunteers like John Pope can receive the support they need to get the job done.* That way all of us will have the chance to ride safely across the mountains, through the deserts, and along the rivers and waterways of our beautiful state, completing our own journey of the heart.
* With a donation of $100 or more, you’ll receive a complimentary sketch of your favorite bike by artist and Washington Bikes supporter Andy Goulding. We’ll send Andy your bike photo, and he’ll sketch and scan it to a JPG and return to you, to use as you wish: for personal note cards, posters, framing, sharing on social media, as holiday gifts, however you choose. Andy captures the spirit of bikes as unique machines in line drawings.