Seattle Bike Swap: Big Crowds and Lame Bike Parking

Impromptu bike parking at the Seattle Bike SwapI rode down to the Seattle Bike Swap on Saturday morning. It’s not like I need anything but I can’t resist the thought of a deal. Other than a nice Wald basket ($7) and a couple of cowbells, (3 for $5) I otherwise kept ahold of my cash and didn’t add to the garage gear piles.

The big news was the massive crowd and resulting bike rack shortage. I’ve attended the last few years, and though the event is popular, I can usually stroll in a few minutes after 9. This year, however I rolled up to a line snaking around the hanger. The bike scene is alive and well in Seattle. Though far too many attendees chose to drive this year, a sizable number of riders quickly overwhelmed the existing racks.

One problem with holding a bike swap at a 1930s Navy base is that there’s very little in the way of impromptu secure locking points, such as parking meters, steel posts and street signs. Once the five or so official rack spots were filled, the rest of us were on our own. Most people locked to trees and shrubs, which bloomed into full-fledged bike piles as other linked in. I used a gas meter, probably breaking more than a few fire codes, but confident no one was going to cut the pipe where I wrapped my lock.

Considering the Bike Swap is a Cascade Bicycle Club event, the lack-o-rack situation was pathetic. Come on Cascade, you are supposedly all about Bike Advocacy. I’d expect to see you embracing and even lobbying for laws like the one in San Francisco that requires bike parking at large events. Instead you shirk a chance to show local leadership on the issue.

I’m thinking you should try a little harder next year. How about a free, monitored bike corral and buck off admission for riding-attendees? That seems more than fair for a bike event sponsored by a bike club—I don’t recall seeing any cars piled on top of each other in the bushes. And if you are worried about revenue loss, relax. I checked with my car-driving bike buddies: they’re more than happy to kick in an extra dollar or two to fund bike commuter incentives.

OK, so I made that last part up. But seriously, who among the cycling community gives a rip if drivers have to pay a little for their convenience? This is a cycling event and Cascade, “the largest recreational cycling club in the nation,” should make it a priority to promote easy cycling. It’s one thing for, say, Safeway, to neglect cyclists. I fully expect to roll up to Safeway and find an insecure, poorly placed bike rack. I make do. But when I’m treated like a second class citizen by my own people?

Shame on you Cascade.

Panorama at the Seattle Bike Swap

– Tim

2 responses to “Seattle Bike Swap: Big Crowds and Lame Bike Parking

  1. Maybe, like here, cyclist numbers are growing. It might be a good time to organize some kind of survey on bicycle sales to see if numbers are increasing. If so this is a perfect opportunity to identify the growing need for infrastructure.
    Lack of secure bicycle parking must be a major hindrance to people wanting to ride to the shops or work or bicycle swap meets…

  2. Tim, how does the valet parking work in San Francisco. Are the valets paid or volunteers?
    If they are paid are they City employees?

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