By Erik Neuman
The other day, while riding from my Central District house downtown through Pioneer Square, I did something entirely normal for myself and other cyclists: I dropped off a sidewalk, crossing four busy lanes of 4th Avenue South, carried my bike down a flight of stairs and shot diagonally across the Seahawks stadium parking lot. By normal, I do not mean my route, but the method: portaging stairs, switching between pedestrian and car traffic, probably breaking some traffic laws; in short, interacting with the urban environment differently than walkers or drivers do. As such, I was reminded of one of my favorite things about bike transportation: the unique way it allows me to explore my environment and discover new parts of the city, all at a clip that's perfect for stopping for coffee, bumping into friends and watching a good sunset.
In some of the interviews I've conducted as Momentum's Seattle Editor, nearly everyone mentions their customized bike routes to get around the city (which, translated, means getting around Seattle's hills). If you have a chosen route that diverges from painted bike lanes and way-finding signs, chances are you found it while exploring. Bikes are great for breathing new life into city spaces and passing through spots we wouldn't usually walk by or stop at when driving.
A quick poll of local Momentum readers yielded the following responses about how people discover the city, and shared the favorite destinations that just wouldn't be the same if they used other – more or less mechanized – modes of transportation to get there:
"On Harbor Island there is a beach! Right in the middle of the industrial/port area, a sandy beach! We found it at the edge of an abandoned container yard." – Aaron Goss, Aaron's Bicycle Repair
"I've enjoyed nighttime encounters with the rumbling locomotives and cars at the train yard along the [Myrtle Edwards] trail – most of all the Boeing airplane bodies going to or coming from Everett, missing wings, nose and tail, and looking very out-of-place on the tracks." – Matt Cooley
"I work sometimes in lower Queen Anne and during lunch, I ride around on my bike through the alleys, exploring. One day, I stumbled upon a fading alley mural of The Dark Crystal, partially obstructed by parked cars, mop heads and milk crates. It's a beautiful piece of public art." – Ilvs Strauss
"There is a weird abandoned overpass in someone's back yard on the Leschi side of what used to be Yesler. I think it's at the end of Euclid Street. I was super lost one day and discovered it. It was weird." – Jake Beattie, Bike Works
"The Ballard Locks will take you across to Magnolia Bluff, which has the best, by far, views of Puget Sound." – Jim Eanes, Seattle Bicycle Club
My own personal favorites include: The top of the downtown viaduct during a particularly unruly Critical Mass (can't beat the view!) and the fish ladder at the Ballard Locks.
On another note, this will be the last printed issue of Momentum Magazine featuring a Seattle regional section. Financial belt-tightening of print advertisers in a touch-and-go economy, coupled with the challenge of publishing a free magazine, necessitated that we make the switchover to an online Seattle Community section and run the 'Best of Seattle' in the North America-wide edition. Many thanks to all of you who submitted articles, photographs, story ideas and encouragement. Seattle regional news and events will continue through an improved momentum website and broader "Community" section in print.