After my first week and a half as Cascade’s new Community Programs Assistant, it was about time for me to get out of the office and go assist a community program. And so off I went to the Starbucks Support Center, an impressive SODO office building that houses 3500 Starbucks “Partners” (employees). I was attending the corporation’s Fall Transportation Fair, an event designed to give partners an opportunity to voice any transportation concerns with representatives from the local transportation agencies, or to talk to us and others about making positive, environmental changes to their daily commute.
By the time I arrived and was escorted to the event space, Cascade’s trusty Bicycle Ambassadors had already arrived and set up our table with maps, reflective slap bracelets, stickers and brochures. We all grabbed some coffee and snacks (on the house, thanks SBUX!) and soon the Starbucks employees began to trickle in.
Some people just wanted stickers, others wanted maps, and still others wanted answers to their bicycle-oriented questions. We could easily answer most of the questions, but there were some where we were at a loss. Here, I’ll give you a sample of both and (with a computer at my disposal) I hope to provide more complete information.
What do I need to bike in the rain?
Fenders are a great place to start, along with good rain gear. I cannot stress enough how much better your commute will be with fenders. Fenders prevent rain and road grim from splattering up your back. Additionally, it keeps you drier and your bike cleaner.
We were also asked how important it is to have bicycle specific rain gear. Bicycle specific rain gear, though not necessary, tends to provide more coverage in the right places, and also tends to be more breathable, which will help you stay dry inside and out, even on more strenuous hill climbs. Biking in the rain can be just as fun – or more fun (depending on who you ask) – if you have the right gear!
Do you recommend going up on the sidewalk at red lights to push the “Walk” button?
We recommend staying in your lane on the road. Look out for large circles cut into the cement, small white “T”s, or a white image of a bicycle, all located just before the cross walk. These indicate traffic signal sensors beneath them. The sensors detect metal, not weight, so putting your bike over them should cause the light to change.
How hard is it to bring your bike on the bus? Does it cost extra?
Not hard, and there is no extra charge! It just takes a little getting used to. I recommend watching this video for a demonstration. If you’re interested in taking your bike with you on other modes of transit, here is a useful website with links to each different transportation agency and their bicycle policies.
There seems to be a lot of construction going on in this area. How do these projects affect bicycle commuting?
Large construction projects require traffic mitigation (planned detours, etc.) and all cities require that these mitigation efforts include routes for bicycles and pedestrians. Smaller projects are generally just annoying. Do your best to avoid construction areas, and if they are unavoidable, please use caution! Here is a map of current SODO projects.
How do I get from ___ to here?
Obviously, it depends on what you’re filling in that blank with. At the fair we were showing people routes on the Seattle Bike Maps put out by the Seattle Department of Transportation. But since you’re on a computer, I would also recommend Google Maps as a great resource. You can type in your address and the address of your destination and click on the bicycle to designate that you are traveling via bike. It usually provides a couple of alternative routes and fairly accurate time estimates.
If you have never biked to work before or are new to an area I recommend trying out the bike route on an off work time so you have time to figure it out without the stress of having to get to work on time.
All in all it was a great event that hopefully inspired a few bicycle commute converts. I’ll be attending one event per week and reporting highlights and answering unanswered questions on this blog. Hopefully I’ll see you out there!