N-S Rainier Valley Greenway/Ride to Hell TWICE

I don't have a lot of time for anything. I have no idea why I am sitting here writing this. I should be doing something but my toddler is content playing with his toys.
Look at my kid in his plastic bubble (2nd Ride:More Wet)
As you know, I am not kidding when I want a protected bike lane on Rainier Ave. I'M NOT KIDDING!!


In order to prove a point I decided to convince someone from SDOT to take a joy ride with my bike gang here in south Seattle.  We are a hard core group of people with loud mouths and not afraid to say what's on our mind. We area also not scared by hills, wildlife (broken car parts) or getting shot in the butt. Yes, that happens.

How did I manage that? I go to meetings, specifically the ones about road changes. If you don't go to them you are not allowed to complain on Facebook pages with things like, "I didn't know?", "Why was the community not involved?". This is a common strategy in between the rants about how someone put their coat at a table at PCC to reserve a table and it INFURIATED YOU! Again, how did I convince anyone to bike with me? I blame another SDOT person, who shall remain anonymous. He basically said, "Hey, here's Shirley" and then ran for his life. Hahaha, it was so funny.

Our brave group started at the Rainier Beach Safeway. You know, what. If you have not shopped there because you believe the scary stereotypes then you are missing something. That store is super nice and clean. Can you say that about the other two Safeway stores in our corridor? NO! They have a manageable bike rack that is in front of the store, not hidden and I appreciate it!

This is not the whole group but there we are in all our glory. It's odd how most of us were on e-bikes. One of us was on a Counterpoint bike with his daughter in the front. I love the family dynamic on that kind of bike. I want Mr. Peyos to get one and bike around with the older kid.

Curious about the route? Here is the LINK to the complete route. I have cut it up just for you but we did the whole route. A group had audited parts of the route but they didn't ride it the whole way. For many of us who bike down here, this route stinks! SDOT throws us a bone with "infrastructure" and we are suppose to bow to the supreme beings there and say, OH THANK YOU!

Let's see how it works before we judge.

The route is pretty smooth and flat at the starting point (Rainier Beach Library). Before we started Dick Burkhart brought along the Seattle bike map from 1997. I was so afriad to touch it because I am sure I had toddler slobber on some part of my body.

1997 Seattle Bike Map
It was in mint condition and it also had an interesting route, oh wait, what they called the zig zag route is a better version of the current proposed Greenway route. Why are we reinventing the wheel? WHY? I am so glad to get to talk to him because 35 years of biking in the Rainier Valley is really interesting. I had a hard time not picking his brain. This was not a social ride but a ride to give SDOT feedback.

The route is flat from the library to Othello Park. This was enjoyable. Lookie, we go past the completed East-West Rainier Valley Greenway. Remember, I biked it with 2 kids so you don't have to. We did stop in the segment where we cut to Othello Park. It's a little island where people have decided to use it as car heaven. All that illegal parking is going be put out of commission. Move your car!
Free parking just for you

It's pretty boring and flat until we get to Aki Kurose where hell begins. Why do I have be so darn dramatic? For the first ride we went the old and not improved way across Orcas at 42nd Ave. Lucky us it has a flashing beacon. Not to fast, this beacon only flashed so that drivers going east can see it. It doesn't make much sense to put a beacon if drivers from both directions can see it. Does it work? NO!

Everyone in the group worked as a test dummy. If we got hit by a car then we had an SDOT employee to witness our demise, how wonderful. Several of us though, f--this, I'm going across anyway. I got across and served as the flashing beacon pressing button person. It's an offical title I granted myself, "Queen of the flashing beacons". Nobody cares. You could be wearing bright florescent paint on your naked body and nobody is going to stop for you.
Morgan of FamilyBike attempted to cross the street waving her hands frantically but nada. In fact, when she was asserting herself in the crosswalk the women coming at her in their car waved back. What is wrong with people? Stop your car at the flashing beacons. 

In any case, this was not even the worst part. On a related note the route got changed but it's not great either. It was a substitution for avoiding the next part of this route, a hill that is not funny.
The orginal route has us turn west on S. Findley. While it might be fine for people traveling north when you decided to bike south you have to pay the price with an 8% grade street with no sidewalk to walk on. The change reroutes north bound people to Renton Ave. S directly from S. Orcas but the sight line is pretty bad but many of us do this intersection VERY VERY carefully. I do not recommend you let your kids do this route on their own. Also, if you are new to biking and you plan to use it, don't do it. Maps don't give you the whole story.

The next segment we stopped I call "Five ways to die". I know, so morbid but this intersection has 5 points where drivers can mow you over. At night it is really really dark here.

Who knew death could look pretty

Here is the air view of the section. What does it look like on the ground?

That little piece of grass obstructs anything. Oh yeah, makes it super exciting when a driver comes rushing at you, woosh. Everyone was just making circles because we can. I know, exciting.

Then a change in the original map we turn on S. Ferdinand to get across Rainier Ave. This is okay because we go past BikeWorks. Hi everyone!
Stop complaining Shirley! On our second ride we suffered through very cold rain and sad wet children. I know, we did this twice. My goal is to torture as many people on this ride until we can just get a protected bike lane. It would be must more efficient and faster if we didn't have to ride this loopy loop route. 
I know, It's so confusing. Look at use making loops in the hard rain. This was real rain but where are the tortured children? They are right behind me. Aw, they got covered up by Mom. Hi Steve. Gordon is pretending that it's not raining which is adorable. The second time around we tortured 19 people. I lost track because people joined the ride and then disappeared. 4 kids got so soaked. It was sad, so so sad.

This is part of the group waiting for the light to change at S. Ferdinand and Rainier Ave. None of us had the magic ability to trigger the light so someone biked over to the push button and begged it with a finger, not the middle one. 

Another wacko hill. It doesn't look bad but we know better than you 7% grade. All ages road means all ages, not just 20 year olds who are not carrying wiggly screaming toddlers or wiggly screaming tweens who will REFUSE this street. 

Then the icing on the cake 13% grade road! This is what death looks like from the top.
Yes folks, that's the top of a tree. Look at all the parking everywhere. Looks safe to me. 13% GRADE ROAD!!!

The rest of the ride was not as dramatic but this section illustrates our inability to escape the Rainier Valley. Hillman City to Columbia City is a big barrier for people who just want to get out. It only makes sense to put a protected bike lane on Rainier Ave. 

How many SDOT people do I have to take on this segment so you get my point? This is a brutal route. I hate when people say how they bike down here occasionally. They don't even know the half of it. Seriously, come out and join me on another ride and I won't slow down for you. We aren't going to go on Lake Washington. I will take you Rainier Ave. For the second ride that is what we did riding south. I was not joking around. 

I am so tired of the south end completely neglected. I only stay with Seattle Greenways because they take me seriously. Telling people how difficult it is for families to access the rest of the city just produces blank stares. Riding with some seasoned south enders has shown me that we are not alone in our routes and desire to have safe connections. 

We want to access the city completly, stop keeping us trapped. In the meantime I will take my kids on these rides regardless of the weather. See, REGARDLESS!!

Pretty soon he is going to need a real place to practice his circus biking. COME ON!!



  1. Yes, please! A protected bike lane on Rainier is really the only thing that makes sense!

  2. Fantástico! Grandes logros por tu esfuerzo y la cooperación de algunos.
    Mami y Papi


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