Anne-Marije Rook
Around 900 riders stopped by the Ballard commuting station. One of the 40 stations around Seattle.

SLIDESHOW: Bike to Work Day more popular than last year

900 bikers passed by the Ballard commute station

Around 900 cyclists stopped by the Ballard Bike to Work Day commuting station between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. this sunny morning on what appears to be the most popular Bike to Work Day yet.

With around 40 stations across the city, a Mayor's ride, and various incentives to ride to work today, thousands of people left their car at home and enjoyed the sunny weather while commuting to work.

BikeSport and Friends of the Burke Gilman Trail hosted the Ballard station beside Fred Meyer, handing out water bottles, Clif bars, patch kits, and home-made cookies.

"I love this event," said commuter Lisa Quinn. "It continues to get the momentum around biking and alternative transportation going."

Quinn, the Executive Director of Feet First, an organization that promotes walkable communities, said she lives a car-free life and gets around by bike, foot, transit and zip-cars if the destination cannot be reached by transit.

"It's very doable in Seattle," she said.

Crown Hill resident, Mary Jeffers-Schroeder echoed Quinn's sentiments. She worked downtown for years and one day decided to give up her parking space and start bicycle-commuting.

"I just wanted to take a car off the road and I liked the exercise," she said.

She commuted from Crown Hill to Ballard for 15 years. She's now working from home but still rides everyday, she said.

Redmond resident Morgan Laswell, 39, may be among those commuters with the longest bike commute. Coming in to Ballard from Redmond, he said his commute is 1.5 hours by bike.

"I've been doing it everyday for the last two months," he said. "The trail makes it so it is a lot less stressful."

Rayburn Lewis, Executive Director and Medical Director of Swedish/Ballard stopped by sporting his Swedish Medical Center kit.

Lewis is an avid bicycle commuter. He said he frequently takes the Burke-Gilman trail to get to the Swedish Medical Center in Ballard.

But not all visitors of the commuting station were experienced commuters.

Andy Wolverton started commuting two weeks ago at the start of the Group Health Commuting Challenge. Team captain of the Green Canopy Homes commute team, he and a colleague stopped by the Ballard station on their way to work.

"We're doing quite well," Wolverton said. "The bike is great. It's a great way to get a little workout."

He said his commute is only four miles round trip but up until this commuting challenge, he made the trip by car or moped scooter.

Statistics from the U.S. Department of Transportation show that 40 percent of urban trips in the U.S. are less than two miles yet 90 percent of that travel is done by car.

One of the goals of Bike to Work Day is to introduce biking as a convenient alternative to commuting by car.

Aaron Prestegard from QA Engineers was also new to bicycle commuting.

"It's tiring," Prestegard said. "But it's good."

Prestegard said he think he may have been converted and will continue commuting by bike when the challenge is over.

BikeSport, a Ballard bike shop located on 24th Avenue NW, offered free bike service. Additionally, they gave out 100 water bottles, nearly a hundred patch kits, and 10 litres of coffee.

Mechanic Peter Barrett said he was surprised to see very few people with mechanical problem and no flat tires this morning.
Barrett said the most common problem their customers encounter is shifting issues related to cable tension. Barrett said in Seattle weather cables easily get corroded and rusty, which affect braking and shifting.

He advised bikers to keep up on their bicycle maintenance and encouraged people to use chain lube as an easy way to keep the bike running smooth and quiet.

"You want to liberally lube the chain, let it sit for 20 minutes and then wipe it with a clean rag," he advised. "Lube is good as it also cleans the chain."

Bike to Work Day festivities will continue this afternoon with a block party at Ballard's Bergen Place starting at 4 p.m.

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