More than 20,000 Bike to Work. Now Let's Get Some Funding to Keep Them Rolling.

By Josh Cohen May 21, 2010

Today is Bike to Work Day. You probably noticed the sea of neon-yellow jackets and blinking red lights as you commuted to work  this morning. Hopefully, you were one of the 20,000 cyclists that the Cascade Bicycle Club predicts will ride to work in the Seattle area today. Mayor Mike McGinn was.

Commute Station in Fremont.

In addition to hosting 44 commute stations around the region (with free food and swag for bike commuters), Cascade organized a group ride with Mayor McGinn from Fremont to City Hall that ended with a rally and speeches. There were well over 100 bicyclists riding with the mayor (estimating crowd size is definitely not my forte).

Mayor Mike McGinn on his Trek. Yes, that's a real (not an electric) bike.

It was spectacular seeing a few hundred bicyclists riding together up and over Dexter. And it was fun (if a little sketchy at times) riding with so many commuters. Being the respectful, law-abiding cyclists that we all were, the group got splintered by the many red lights between Dexter and downtown. I jumped in with a group of 40 or 50 riders, but by the time I rolled up to City Hall our group was only four strong.

Cascade's John Mauro and David Hiller, City Council members Tom Rasmussen and Mike O'Brien, regional Environmental Protection Agency director Denis McLerran, and, of course, Mayor McGinn all gave "rah, rah, go bikes!" speeches at the City Hall rally.

Of course, Bike to Work Day will never encourage as many new cyclists as a well-connected, well-designed system of bike infrastructure would---and, as we've noted repeatedly, the city's Bike Master Plan remains woefully underfunded, to the tune of about 70 percent and growing.

McGinn did touch briefly on policy issues. As at the recent Walk Bike Ride press conference and the Cascade Bike to Work Breakfast last month, McGinn was in campaign mode, talking about the desperate budget situation, shifting priorities, and holding elected officials accountable. He also took a dig at the deep-bore tunnel (again) by pointing out that the $30 million that Streets For All Seattle wants is a pittance compared to the multi-billion-dollar tunnel plan.

The EPA's McLerran noted that "There's safety in numbers." More bicyclists on the road means better visibility means drivers are more aware and (and hopefully) more vigilant.

Tempting as it is as a rain-or-shine-commuter  to take a cynical approach to Bike to Work Day (as plenty of year-round riders definitely do), the event is valuable for that very reason: Even if only a small fraction of new bike commuters stick with commuting beyond Bike to Work Month, it's still a move in the right direction that will ultimately make riding in Seattle that much safer.

For Publicola's bike-minded readers, Cascade is capping off the day's festivities with a Bike to Work after party in downtown Ballard. See PubliCalendar for details.
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