In a whirlwind of a Thursday, I attended two different events in one day last week! Though both were quite distinct from one another, they each showcased some very important aspects of Cascade’s mission to create a better community through bicycling. At the first event, I learned first-hand about some of the challenges facing daily commuters at a local business, and at the second simply got to experience the joy of riding a bike as seen through the eyes of elementary school students!
My first stop was at the Metropolitan Market Health Fair, held at the grocery store’s headquarters in West Seattle (an area of Seattle I have yet to explore in my five months of living in the Emerald City). I met one of our Bicycle Ambassadors there and prepared to give out bike maps, helpful information, and friendly bicycling advice.
Although we talked to a number of avid cyclists, many employees felt like they couldn’t realistically ride to work for a variety of reasons. Some felt unsafe riding down large, busy streets, others had to travel to a number of markets throughout the city, so time was a constraint, and those who worked in the stores themselves didn’t have access to covered bike parking or showers. Some people were undeterred though, and developed creative solutions. One man told us that he rode very slowly to work to avoid getting sweaty and disheveled, but pedaled to his heart’s delight on the return journey! All of these obstacles are things that we are working to overcome by gathering input to improve the Bike Master Plan this coming spring and developing a bicycle-friendly certification for businesses. It was illuminating to hear so many stories in-person from those who wanted to use their bike for transportation, and incredibly motivating to realize that our work at Cascade will be directly helping people enjoy such a great mode of transportation.
After an afternoon of important conversations at the Metropolitan Market, I headed up the hill (and MAN that is a hill!) to Lafayette Elementary School. Here, Robin Randels and I were staffing the infamous bike blender, a colorful bike with a blender attached to the rack, with the energy generated from pedaling used to create delicious smoothies. As always, the blender was an absolute hit with the kids and there was a line to try it out for all two and a half hours we were there!
This experience represented both the joy and utility generated by riding, both of which were heightened by a delicious treat after a couple minutes of pedaling. After a long day of exploring new parts of Seattle, carrying materials in my panniers for many miles, and trying to keep everything running smoothly, seeing the delight in these children’s faces as they pedaled the bike and then enjoyed the fruit of their labors (quite literally) made all that work completely worth it! If this sounds like a great day to you, consider applying to be a Bicycle Ambassador. Applications are due Monday. You get to ride your bike all over town, talk to lots of interesting people about bikes, and might even get some free smoothie in the process.