Cascade Bicycle Club Makes Room for More Bikes

It's not every day that the Express lane of a major US interstate highway is closed to vehicles so that it can be open to bicycles; in fact, it's not most days. But on April 3, bikes were the primary mode of transportation on Seattle's I-5 express lane, as well as the SR 520 floating bridge. Talk about an urban assault!

The wildly popular Emerald City Bike Ride was the creation of the Cascade Bicycle Club, the United States' largest statewide bicycling organization. The club partnered with the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) to put on the inaugural event that allowed 7,000 cyclists to experience Seattle from the saddle. WSDOT's willingness to work with Cascade is a testament to the club's influence and its ability to get cycling in the driver's seat, so to speak.

Photo courtesy of Cascade Bicycle Club

Founded in 1970 as a volunteer-led organization, Cascade Bicycle Club chases its steadfast pursuit of improving lives through bicycling across the state of Washington with advocacy, events, and programs. Although many US cities are miles behind European cities when it comes to bike friendliness and infrastructure, Seattle’s Cascade Bicycle Club is doing everything they can to close the gap. The Emerald City Bike Ride is just one of its gems.

Photo courtesy of Cascade Bicycle Club

Advocacy ranks high on Cascade’s to-do list, and the club was instrumental in the passage of Seattle’s Proposition One: the Transportation Levy to Move Seattle. It was a victory for an innovative and far-reaching transportation vision, says Cascade’s Communications and Marketing Director Brent Tongco, and the resultant plan to create safer streets, more bike lanes, and faster transit showed that collaboration can create change.

More: 4 Incredible Ways that Cycling is Making Cities Better

“Cascade and our partners in active transportation and equity met to dream up an ideal transportation plan for Seattle,” said Tongco, “We met often - together and with staff from the mayor’s office and the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) - and mapped out a vision for the city that creates an equitable, inclusive transportation system.”

Photo courtesy of Cascade Bicycle Club

Under the Move Seattle Levy, SDOT will build 50 miles of Protected Bike Lanes and 60 miles of Greenways. These investments will keep Seattle’s ambitious Bicycle Master Plan 100 percent on track for completion in the 20-year horizon of the plan. The levy will also fund more than 1,500 bicycle parking spots across the city, as well as safe walking and biking routes to all Seattle’s Public Schools.

Bike-friendly infrastructure is integral to Cascade’s primary mission of helping people - many of them children - improve their lives through cycling. Their education programs reach 28,000 kids each year through summer camps, urban cycling clubs, and the Major Taylor Project, a year-round bicycling program that introduces youth from diverse communities to bicycling. The project currently serves 14 schools in four school districts with plans for statewide expansion.

More: 5 Surprisingly Simple Solutions to Encourage More People to Bike Commute

Photo courtesy of Cascade Bicycle Club

By improving and expanding cycling infrastructure, increasing access to bikes and programming, and encouraging involvement in events and advocacy, Cascade Bicycle Club has undoubtedly made Washington one of the bike-friendliest states in the United States. However, the accomplishment they’re most proud of? Changing lives, one pedal stroke at a time.