Many years ago I lived in Davis, California, which is known as the biking capital of the U.S. (Their city logo is even a bike!). In Davis, biking is just the easiest way to get around, not only because it is a dense city and flat as a pancake, but because there is an amazing bicycle infrastructure to keep biking safe for everyone. As a result, 17 percent of the population commutes by bike (compared with the less than 3 percent in Seattle). I bring up Davis because what is interesting to see is that when that many people are biking, they stop identifying as cyclists—they are just people who happen to get around town in the easiest manner available, by bike. So that is our goal at Beacon BIKES!, to make biking so safe and easy that even your grandma will want to hop on a bike to head to MacPherson’s for her afternoon errands.
We are not a bunch of spandex-clad aggro bike advocates, but rather neighbors who want to see you on the streets walking or biking to your local destinations. If we get out of our cars (and yes, we all have cars too) more often, our options for what are viable trips change and we become more neighborhood-oriented. We go to Red Apple instead of Safeway, The Station instead of Starbucks, and we see our neighbors along the way!
Part of what we will be doing on the 20th is providing maps for safe routes to schools (and other destinations) for you and your children on Beacon Hill. We will have a bunch of blank maps; you show us where you live, and we draw you a safe route to your destination of choice. In the spirit of this, I have begun to compile a series of virtual tours of routes that I use to safely get around and off of Beacon Hill, both by myself and with my family. All the routes I map either start or end at the library or light rail station.
I use the program Everytrail to map all the routes. Here are my preferred routes to MacPherson’s (family-friendly) and Lowe’s (mostly safe, but involves biking on South College Street for a couple blocks). Clicking on these links will take you to the Everytrail website (click on the “View Full Screen” button on the bottom right of the map to get the best view of the route). For all the routes I use the following criteria:
- Whenever it makes sense, use non-arterial streets or multi-use trails
- Whenever it makes sense, take the least steep street possible
- Try to make all arterial crossings at signalized intersections
I also frequently take advantage of the light rail to get back up the hill after biking off the hill. I have more routes already mapped and more planned for future posts. In the meantime, let me know the destinations you would like mapped in the comments section. Happy Biking! See you on Saturday!