The Wee-Man and I took a nice little bike tour of the University of Washington campus last weekend, an outing that I highly recommend. Since we come from Des Moines in the south end, we biked up to the Seatac Airport Sound Transit light rail station (app. 4 miles) and rode it to the end of the line to arrive at the campus.
I must say that the city of Des Moines has done a reasonable job of building in bike lanes on most every street. Pacific Highway/Intl. Blvd. leaves a lot to be desired, however. There is plenty of real estate available to at least paint in a lane, and with 45+ mph driving, it’s quite nerve-racking staying on the road, particularly with a kid. However, once the new Angle Lake light rail station is completed (end of this summer?), there will be a much better route to do this. Unless they build in a trail, we’ll still have to jog up Pac. Hwy. from 208th to about a block before 200th where a road is being built that leads right to the south platform, but this is better than navigating all of Pac. Hwy to the airport station. I imagine the new road will be for transit to enter, so we’ll see what it’s like when it’s actually opened.
We got on at Seatac and rode to the end of the line and had a chance to admire the new UW light rail station. It is particularly bike friendly with a plethora of bike parking and a nice ramp to the foot/bike bridge that crosses Montlake Blvd. and links right into the Burke Gilman Trail.
Riding around UW campus and on the Burke Gilman Trail is a lot of fun, particularly on a weekend when there is not a lot of foot or automobile traffic. It is a great way to tour the campus if you don’t frequent it very often. There are fewer places more cycling friendly than here, and there is even a bike parking station that features a built in pump and a variety of tools! It is just on the NW side of Kane Hall. I have never seen a station like this before, but hopefully other campuses and cities will follow this example.
Once we saw all of the campus, we rode up University Way to find a place to eat dinner, of which there are many options. Riding the Ave was refreshingly straight forward for a relatively busy street. There are bike traffic markings and speeds are relatively slow with the many intersections. Several bike parking stations are available along the way. 45th is a completely different story, and not a route I necessarily recommend, particularly with the availability of the trail just blocks to the south.
For dinner, we settled on Cedars Restaurant, and the staff was very accommodating and welcomed us to park our bikes on the covered patio at the entrance.
The ride back down University was nice and we linked up again with the Burke Gilman Trail. Having a protected bike lane in an urban setting at your disposal is truly a breath of fresh air compared to most of the terrain I ride. I look forward to as many more of these that are put in, as it takes a lot of the stress out of riding along with car traffic. We took the trail back across campus to the light rail station for the ride home.
Getting bikes on board the light rail is a breeze, however my one minor complaint is that the bike hanging areas only have a hook for one bike, whereas the pocket can easily fit two. This means that if two people are riding together, you have to hang your bikes in separate areas, which requires a little more coordination when getting off the train. Since we went to the end of the line both ways, it wasn’t a big deal for us, however, for in-between stops, plan your exit strategy in advance so that you’re not scrambling at the last minute.
We made it back to Seatac just as the sun was going down, so we raced home before it got too dark. The ride back from Seatac is more of a cruise since it is mostly down hill, and a great way to end the ride.
I highly recommend the UW bicycle tour if you don’t already spend a lot of time there, and there are many ways to access it whether it be by biking directly there or hitching a train ride. We’ll plan future rides to the Capitol Hill area and other destinations that we can access via light rail, which I will report on in the near future.
Please comment, and I look forward to hearing your experiences riding around UW as well as if you are combining the use of light rail with any bicycle outings!