Step By Step

Seattle Biking 101

Let's start at the very beginning: Here's how to find a bike, find a trail, and not break the law.

By Allison Williams April 1, 2014 Published in the April 2014 issue of Seattle Met

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Hey, do you know how to put this thing on?

Image: Kyle Johnson

Know how to ride a bike? (...without training wheels?) Great! Now all you need is a bike, cycling partners, or a hand with the city's bike laws. Have no fear—we're here with Seattle Biking 101.

Rent a Bike
Commitment is hard; renting is easy. Pick up temporary wheels downtown at the Bicycle Repair Shop on Alaskan Way or Seattle Bicycle Rentals next to the Seattle Aquarium, or farther afield (and cheaper) at Montlake Bike Shop. Here's a tip: Don't skip the a bike lock, because bike theft in Seattle is no joke.

Buy a Bike
What the heck, go ahead and purchase a cycle—it's not like Seattle's bike culture is going away. Ballard's Dutch Bike Company has a selection of bikes and a cafe that serves homemade biscuits and gravy. Cheaper rides, consignment sales, and vintage parts are the calling card at Recycled Cycles in the University District.

If you don't actually know what you need, check out our How to Buy a Bike primer and BikeNerd advice for newbies before wearing out your credit card. And as soon as you do make a purchase, follow Seattle Police Department's advice on photographing your bike and logging the serial number.

Share a Bike
Why don't we have a bike-sharing system in the Emerald City yet? We think it would work. Well, it's coming this year in the form of Puget Sound Bike Share...probably. Until then, here's a downtown store that's doing its part by loaning out free wheels.

This is what a bike looks like! Everyone caught up?

Know the Laws
Helmets aren't a suggestion in King County, they're a requirement. In fact, it's one big reason bike sharing isn't a reality yet. Other laws you need to know: Bikers can go on sidewalks if they give the right-of-way to pededstrians and give a verbal warning when they pass. Lights are required at night. And no bike rider can attach himself to a motor vehicle, because that's freaking dangerous and stupid.

Find a Trail
We picked the best bike trails in the city, so start there. But any good wayfinder wants to understand the full network of bike trails, bike lanes, shared roadways, and soft-surface paths. Two must-visit resources:
Seattle Interactive Bike Map
King County Bike Map

Find Some Friends
You have wheels, a helmet, some sick gear, and a destination. All you need is a biking buddy, best found in a Seattle biking club. Turns out we're home to the country's biggest cycle crew, so you'll never bike alone.

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