May 192013
Bike to Work Week 2013: Quite a Change
Washington State Dept. of Transportation Secretary–and bike rider–Lynn Peterson sports the “I Bike WA!” T-shirt I presented to her from the Bicycle Alliance of Washington at the Interagency Bike to Work Picnic in Olympia May 17, 2013.

For the past 5 years of my life (and more, actually–starting with our first Spokane organizing meetings in Nov. 2007), Bike to Work Week has been a major highlight (and workload) of my volunteer life as a bike advocate. So now that I’m working full-time in bike advocacy what did I do the first two days of Bike to Work Week, in my first time through BTW Week living in Seattle?

I sat in a conference room full of bike leaders from around the country in a retreat of the Alliance for Biking and Walking at Active Transportation Alliance in Chicago and didn’t ride so much as a yard.

OK, so that’s whining. It was a great two days full of inspiration and action, for one thing. I sat next to a room packed full of bikes and I know I could have borrowed one to go wheel around a bit in the windy sunshine, or the sunshiney wind, or however it is Chicagoans would describe weather that jumped 15 degrees per day to reach new highs while still giving me a total Marilyn Monroe moment with my skirt on Tuesday.

I flew home late Tuesday and rode to work Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night to the Transportation Choices Coalition Hall of Fame event.* Not much mileage since I live so super-close to work but that’s about to change–we’re moving to north Seattle and my trip to work will be more like 10 miles one way, compared to the half-mile I’ve had. That will teach me to say I live “too close” to work!

Friday I got a special treat; I drove to Olympia with my bike to join the interagency bike to work picnic for state employees and presented an “I Bike WA!” T-shirt to new Washington State Dept. of Transportation Secretary Lynn Peterson, who rides a bicycle regularly and believes in a fully multimodal transportation system. Around 70 or so healthy state employees gathered in a parking lot to bike about 3 miles to Tukwila Historic Park, riding around Capitol Lake on nice paved trails through lush greenery. The Bicycle Alliance hosted the bagels, fruit, juice, and other treats; the weather held so we rode under a few clouds but no rain; and it was great fun.

Saturday morning I looked at 100+ pictures posted on the Facebook page for Spokane Bikes (Bike to Work Spokane). Many of the faces are familiar but it’s very strange to see a photo that’s clearly the organizing committee and not know every last person in the photo after so many years of meetings, planning, budget spreadsheets, review of graphic design, and everything else. I had to register in a different system and I keep forgetting to log my miles. (I’ll do better for the National Bike Challenge that runs through September–honest I will!) And I’m not obsessing over how many people signed up, either.

The work on the start-up of Bike to Work Spokane, sparked by a visit from Bicycle Alliance of Washington staff to Spokane in fall 2007 to ask how they could help local advocates make biking more visible, genuinely started me on the path that led to me becoming the executive director at the Bicycle Alliance.

I now spend my time thinking about events across the state and where my travel schedule will take me next, hoping that we strike sparks everywhere from Wenatchee to Grand Coulee to Colville to Vancouver, grow our membership, get more people to put a Share the Road license plate on their cars to be a mini-moving billboard for courteous behavior on our streets, and do everything we can to make sure Washington bikes more and more. I love my work–it’s truly a dream job.

But I miss my committee friends and the work we did together to get to the Kickoff Breakfast with its annual tradition of pancakes eaten in the rain in Riverfront Park by Spokane City Hall, the Energizer Stations around town Wednesday morning, the banners on downtown streets, the wrap-up party Friday night, and so many, many people who did the work that went into making a good local event. It was a great ride.


*I don’t see why we persist in defining Bike to Work Week as five days so I count Saturday’s ride as part of Bike to Work Week. The 5-day definition ignores people who work various shifts or have to work weekends. Our event in Spokane always ran Sunday through Saturday to account for everyone’s work schedules.

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Your Turn

  • Do you register and ride for Bike to Work Week in your community?
  • What’s your favorite thing about participating? (If you’re on Facebook, head over to the Bicycle Alliance of Washington page and take our poll on what you like about it.)


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Reader Comments

  1. I didn’t always “register” to track my mileage/to participate in Bike to Work Week/Day. I just simply participated in bike to work day/week breakfasts or dropped by at energy pit stops for the cities where I’ve lived and cycled: Toronto, Vancouver BC and Calgary. I have also volunteered for the event several times in Vancouver BC over the years.

    Best likes: just seeing other cyclists bike to get around locally in the morning. Share coffee, comments and an energy bar/pancake with others.

    The feeling that one is making a good choice of bike commuting and it is affirmed by this event. There is the loneliness of the daily bike commuter especially during crappy weather. An event helps remind us there are others there on those types of rides.

    Also learning from others who aren’t simply competitive cyclists.

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