Cupcakes, a band and a newly christened bike corridor prompted about 60 people to mount their bicycles Saturday morning and ride from Lyons Park to downtown Olympia.
“I was needing a little motivation to get on my bike today,” Maureen Callaghan of Olympia said. “I looked at the dark sky, and I was a little worried.”
But the rain held off, and Callaghan said she was happy she decided to test out the bike corridor, which connects Olympia’s Eastside neighborhood to downtown. Callaghan said she was surprised how quick the ride was, and said she plans to use the corridor.
Julie Bennett, a drummer with the Artesian Rumble Arkestra, said that she planned to ride downtown with her instrument in a bike trailer. However, a bicycle malfunction prevented her from doing so.
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“I had a mechanical failure, so I had to drive,” Bennett said. “But I made it, and we were able to play.”
The route featured at Saturday’s event is the city’s pilot bike corridor — likely the first of many, said Michelle Swanson, senior program specialist for the city. Setting up the corridor involved placing signs along the route, retrofitting existing roads and improving crosswalks. So far, feedback has been good.
“We’ve had an overwhelmingly positive response from both pedestrians and bicyclists,” Swanson said.
Downtown, bicyclists were able to give feedback about their experience and examine maps of possible corridors — including routes in west, northeast and south Olympia, and in the South Capitol neighborhood. Swanson said corridors work best in areas where traffic already moves slowly, where there are multiple routes for motorized vehicles.
“This type of infrastructure only works in parts of the city where there is a gridded network, where there is some redundancy,” Swanson said.
The goal is to reach people who are “interested but concerned” about bicycling — people who would like to ride their bikes more, but are nervous about riding in traffic. These people, Swanson said, may begin using the corridors, but it may take protected bike lanes to make everyone feel comfortable.
Callaghan said she is happy her city is making so much effort to make the streets more bike-friendly.
“It’s really nice to see,” Callaghan said. “It makes me proud of our community.”