A group of local cyclists joined several city, state and organizational officials gathered Saturday morning to ride bikes down the Interurban Trail from the Lynnwood Transit Center to the Mountlake Terrace Transit Center. The cyclists then returned to the Mountlake Terrace Senior Center to discuss cycling in southern Snohomish County communities.
About two dozen people total participated in the bike ride and town hall. U.S. 2nd District Congressman Rick Larsen initiated the ride and was joined by officials from the cities of Mountlake Terrace, Lynnwood and Edmonds, along with 21st District State Sen. Marko Liias, the Cascade Bike Club, the Verdant Health Commission and Community Transit.
“In the past, we have thought about this (cycling) as a recreational activity, but more and more we are thinking about it for commuting time,” Larsen said.
While just 1 percent of people rely on cycling for their commute to work, that number represents a 50 percent increase in commuting cyclists since 2005. Larsen said about $80 billion is spent nationwide annually on biking and 770,000 jobs are supported by cycling.
Cycling has been growing in popularity in Edmonds, Mountlake Terrace and Lynnwood, Larsen said, and those towns have the perfect set-up for commuters.
“Edmonds, Mountlake Terrace and Lynnwood are transforming into cities unto themselves,” Larsen said. “There are jobs there, and there are people who don’t want to travel too much. There are people who want to work and play where they live.”
Liias shared some ways the state has been funding cycling projects, such as the Complete Streets program, the FAST act and safe routes to school. Safe routes to school is especially important to him, he said.
“I grew up walking to school every day,” Liias said. “Now that I’m 35 years old, one of my favorite ways to get exercise is walking. I think kids who bike and walk regularly will continue to do so as adults.”
He was also emphasized the need for cycling and pedestrian safety.
“As we get federal transportation safety dollars, I want to see some of it go toward pedestrians and bicycle safety,” Liias said. “If we can ensure that biking and walking are safe for all of us, people will use those resources more and more in our community.”
–Story and photos by Natalie Covate