2021 Year in Review: Bikes Brought Us Together
  • This year saw the return of Let’s Go bike education lessons, the expansion of group rides and events, progress on local and statewide trails, the perseverance of MTP, the resilience and popularity of Learn to Ride, and the continued expansion of the Bike Boom.

During a year of hardship and hope, bikes brought us together. 

Gratitude is always essential; never more than now. As we look back on 2021, Cascade Bicycle Club is grateful for the friendship, camaraderie, health, wellness, and happiness that bicycles enabled.   

Events and Rides Resume

The arrival of vaccines and the easing of COVID-19 restrictions allowed Cascade to do what it is most known for through its 51-year history: unite people to ride in events both big and small. 

With safety foremost in mind, we began the year by expanding the size of our Free Group Rides such as the “Pie Ride.” COVID protocols firmly in place, and masked up at starts, stops and finishes, we kicked off our events season with the spring Lake Chelan and Gig Harbor tour lites.  

Cascade Board President Tamara Schmautz, right, gathered with staff, volunteers, and friends for a pre-ride of the first summertime Chilly Hilly. 

June brought a milestone achievement: “the biggest in-person cycling event” in Washington since prior to the pandemic. More than 800 riders joined us on the Flying Wheels Summer Century

Creativity was crucial. The Events team worked hard to create two DIY Bike & Brews rides and an in-person Woodinville Wine Ride. We shifted dates and changed routes to hold our first summertime Chilly Hilly (substituting for the usual February date), and our first R2B2, riding to Bellingham and back instead of Vancouver, B.C. due to the closed Canadian border. 

Autumn brought us to the Kitsap Peninsula for our Kitsap Color Classic, known as one of the nation’s most beautiful fall rides, and back to eastern Washington for our Fall Lake Chelan Tour Lite. We cherish the support of everyone who came together to ride with us in 2021, and we eagerly anticipate the return of a full events calendar in 2022.

The Lake Chelan Tour Lite offered the opportunity to reflect on the beauty of our state and its abundant scenic rides.
Pedaling Relief Project

Created in the early days of the pandemic to help overburdened food banks, Cascade’s Pedaling Relief Project showed the power of bicycles–and the cycling community–to fight food insecurity and help our neighbors in need. At last count, our volunteer riders had delivered more than 420,000 pounds of food, school supplies, and other essential goods such as water during the heatwave, all by bike. It’s an astounding figure with real-world impact, and many volunteer opportunities remain through this winter. 

The Pedaling Relief Project brought us together to ride in support of our neighbors in need.

Executive Director Lee Lambert said it best: “The Pedaling Relief Project exemplifies how Cascade Bicycle Club is using bicycles to solve community challenges and have a greater positive impact.” Learn more, and join the ride

Bike Education Classes

Helping people learn to ride safely, skillfully, and confidently is one of our proudest achievements. Teaching allows us to spread the joy of bicycling–and to make new friends. The pandemic reduced the number of classes we could provide in 2021, but our Education team responded creatively. We focused on expanding our popular Learn To Ride lessons, which take place outdoors with 1:1 instruction. For our bike maintenance lessons, we put instructional videos online and hosted virtual learning and a few safely distanced in-person group sessions– including classes specifically tailored to women and non-binary bicyclists.

Learn to Ride brought us together to pass on the joy of cycling to a record number of participants.

I was able to learn in less than one hour,” exclaimed one participant in our Learn to Ride classes. Testimonials like that warm our hearts. We also launched Learn to Ride Further classes to help adults with rusty bike riding skills expand their horizons. Despite restrictions and challenges, Cascade provided 246 lessons through November–with women comprising about 65 percent of our students. 

Statewide Trail Progress

The 288-mile Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail is a state and national treasure that both Cascade and our sister organization, Washington Bikes, have worked hard to make a reality. Just this month, we learned some fantastic news: construction on the Beverly Bridge will be completed in early 2022. 

Come ride the Beverly  Bridge with us in 2022! Photo: Marilyn Hedges, Palouse to Cascades Trail Coalition.

We are grateful for the hard work of the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission to convert this historic railroad bridge over the Columbia River into a biking and walking bridge that advances the dream of an off-road bike route from the Idaho border to the Pacific Ocean.

Local Trails, Bike Lanes, and Infrastructure 

Bike trails and bike lanes are the threads that knit together our neighborhoods, cities, and regions, enabling people to safely travel to schools, stores, jobs, and to see friends. While much work remains, 2021 brought great progress toward our goal of a Washington state where everyone can safely travel where they need to go by bike. 

In November, Seattle announced a new strategy to complete the “Missing Link” in the Burke-Gilman Trail. Cascade has worked with our lawyers, the city, businesses, and Ballard residents for 20 years to fill this gap in Seattle’s most popular trail–a trail opposed by deep-pocketed special interests–and we are hopeful that this smart solution will finally enable the city to complete this vital link in the 44-mile Locks to Lakes Corridor.

Alongside bikes, mass transit is crucial to reducing automobile trips and creating more equitable and sustainable communities. That’s why we are excited about the opening of three new light rail stations in Seattle that allow people to travel further by mixing bike and train travel. One of these new stations is in Seattle’s Northgate neighborhood, where the opening of the $56 million John Lewis Memorial bike and pedestrian bridge shows that bike advocacy works.  

Better bike infrastructure including the Northgate bike and pedestrian bridge brought us together.

In Tacoma, the Pipeline Trail now provides people bicycling, walking, and rolling with a safe route to access schools, parks, and transit. On the East Side of Lake Washington, progress continued on the 42-mile Eastrail that Cascade was instrumental in envisioning. Read our story on the most recent opening of 2.5 miles on the south side of Eastrail, and other ongoing work to complete the trail corridor.  

Let’s Go Returns to Schools

Is there anything more joyous than seeing a child learn to ride a bike?

Photo courtesy Seattle Public Schools.

The resumption of our Let’s Go curriculum in November following a 19-month hiatus answered this question and provided “a huge morale boost” to students, parents, and educators. A partnership between Cascade, Seattle Public Schools, and the Seattle Department of Transportation, Let’s Go is the largest public school bicycling curriculum in the country. 

The program will teach bicycling and walking safety skills to about 10,000 elementary and middle school students during this academic year--and expand each year to reach up to 25,000 students in the 2024-25 academic year. Cascade is proud to help kids begin what we hope is a lifelong love of bicycling. 

MTP Perseveres

It was a year of perseverance and resilience for the Major Taylor Project. MTP clubs resumed in March with the goal of providing “relief to families and youth who have suffered from isolation and inactivity.” 

Due to restrictions on class sizes, MTP staff got creative by bringing youth to a Tacoma pump track, taking students on an epic ride through the Snoqualmie Tunnel and down the Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail, and teaching them about community service by restocking food pantries in West Seattle.

The Snoqualmie Tunnel ride and food bank deliveries brought MTP back together for fun, and community service.
Cascade Rebuilds

It was a challenging year, but challenges provide the opportunity for change and growth. This summer, Cascade welcomed Lee Lambert as its new executive director. Lambert has worked hand-in-hand with staff and board members to create a plan to help Cascade emerge from the pandemic stronger than ever, and brings with him a unique mix of experience participating in Cascade’s rides, a background in advocacy and education leadership, and lived experience as a Black man who bikes in Washington state.

As 2021 comes to an end, we are most grateful to you–our members, supporters, volunteers, partners, and fellow riders. You are the drivetrain that powered us forward. Bikes brought us together, but it’s riders who propel us and compel us to continue our mission. Join us in 2022 as we resume our education, advocacy, and rides programming, including STP and a full calendar of events and rides that enable Cascade to pedal onward toward a goal of inclusive bicycling for everyone, everywhere across Washington state.

 

Paul Tolmé's picture
Paul Tolmé