Wednesday, February 13, 2008

20 Wonderful Miles

Liza, Spring 07

I don't know how long it's been since I got to ride 20 miles with no snow or ice. Actually, I don't even know how long it's been since I rode 20 miles... I'd say 2 months.

I rode about 20 miles tonight: from Redmond to Woodinville and back on the Sammamish River Trail. It ruled.

On the way out I saw two Rivendell Rambouillets, a blue one and an orange one. On the way back, at about 7 pm, a total of 12 commuters were heading north; all of them had fancy and super bright lights. The trail has been freshly paved in a few sections and some new trees planted in the Redmond part of the trail. There's also work going on to add a section of trail on the west side of the river. It's a nice commuter route, especially for novice riders.

All this stuff reminds me how much more money is in this area than in Spokane. I'd like to think that anyone anywhere can find a bike and just ride it to work and become a commuter. But really: having a paved commuter-friendly multi-use trail connecting useful areas really does make bike commuting so much easier, especially for the novices. Having the money to buy a proper bike with proper lighting makes a huge difference too, though compared to cars, even the fanciest bike is a bargain, they're just not as easy to finance at 0%.

I became a bike commuter on the Sammamish River Trail. Without the trail, I wonder if I ever would have tried commuting from Duvall to Redmond. I doubt it.

Spokane is generally much easier to get around on bike than Seattle, but having the bike infrastructure pieces: racks, trails, striped roads, signs, etc really does make for a more inviting bike-riding community. And inviting does matter; I think it makes cyclist a more normal thing for drivers and pedestrians, which in turn likely makes things safer.


Anonymous said...

I don't think anyone would argue that we need lots of news infrastructure in Spokane, but lately I've been wondering, "What if we get lots of cool new trails but don't have enough riders to fill them?"

I'm hoping this year's Bike to Work Week will get some more people to try riding. I would love nothing more than to see more folks out on the road with me as we work towards more bike ammenities and policy.

Viva la Bike Center.

Ken Paulman said...

I had done some research on commuting patterns in Eugene when I was in grad school, and found that the neighborhoods connect by trails did indeed have higher percentages of bike commuters than other areas. I don't recall the exact differences, but do remember that there were some areas at the ends of trails that were maybe 3-4 miles out from downtown had more bike commuters than some areas that were closer in but not well served by the trails.