Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Bike Flânerie in Rainier Valley

I needed a bike ride to clear my head, and I needed to jump start a stalled research project. So I figured out, after months of wondering about it, how to ride from my neighborhood, Capitol Hill, to Rainier Beach. Here's the route I used, and some observations from along the way.

View Transport Biking in Rainier Valley in a larger map

1. The Chief Sealth Trail made me feel small and big at the same time. Small because I'm tiny next to enormous energy infrastructure. Big because I was soaring up and down hills pretty much by myself. A few friendly people were out walking and jogging.

2. The Whistle Stop Bike Co-op and Café next to the Othello light rail station is a good place to sit for people watching. And the cat-eyed barista made me quite a nice iced Americano.

3. There is an interesting little block of experimental traffic infrastructure at 45th and Cloverdale. Things would be so complicated if we had to share the road with houses and giants too, like this sign suggests.

4. The bike lane on Henderson ends just before the busy intersection at Rainier. That's always disappointing, when the bike infrastructure peters out right where it would be most helpful.

5. I didn't actually bike on Rainier, I was walking so I could absorb more details at a slower pace. It's funny, I thought that on a warm summer day I wouldn't feel bothered by passing the spot where I witnessed an attempted assault in February, but I did get some creeps.

6. No drivers cut dangerously close to me on Seward Park Avenue or on Lake Washington Boulevard, which were the longest stretches of unmarked shared road I used on this route. And by "unmarked shared road" I mean there weren't any sharrows or bike lanes.

Riding through Seattle neighborhoods has a quiet, whispering feeling. Maybe it's because the hills create corridors of wind.