City Scales Back Popular Bicycle Sundays Program

By Erica C. Barnett April 25, 2011

The city's Parks and Recreation department has dramatically scaled back its popular Bicycle Sundays program this year,  reducing the number of days Lake Washington Boulevard is closed to auto traffic from 18 to 12---two each in May, June, and August and three in July and September. The program, which started up 46 years ago, is aimed at giving cyclists, including kids, a car-free space to ride during the summer.

Before 2009, when then-parks department director Tim Gallagher decided to ramp up the program, Lake Washington Blvd. was closed one Saturday and one Sunday every month between May and September, for a total of 10 days. In 2009, the city started closing the street every Sunday but five, when big events like Seafair and the Danskin Triathalon took over the street; the city also moved the street closure back to make it easier for cars to access Seward Park. Some cyclists and pedestrians, however, complained that the new route was unsafe, because it dumped cyclists, including inexperienced riders and kids, into a busy intersection.

So, starting this year, parks spokeswoman Joelle Hammerstad says, the department will extend the route south a few blocks. Simultaneously, they'll reduce the number of days the street is closed to accommodate five more charity walks and runs, including the Run for Grace (cancer), the Walk for Water (clean water for women in Africa) and the Seattle Walk with Pride (the Seattle Lesbian and Gay Film Festival). The "net outcome," Hammerstad says, is that "we'll still have two more Bicycle Sundays now than in 2008, but fewer than in 2009 and 2010."

This year's Bicycle Sundays will be on May 8 and 15; June 5 and 26; July 3, 10, and 17; August 21 and 28; and September 4, 11, and 18.
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