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Kent PetersonBlogger and bike buddy Kent Peterson.
By Erik Neumann
Photography: Katrina Herzog
For the past six years, Kent Peterson has been helping people become cyclists, first at Sammamish Valley Cycles, then at the Bicycle Alliance of Washington, and now at the non-profit community shop, Bike Works.
Peterson hasn’t owned a car in 24 years. He and his wife Christine were a dual-income couple with two kids, running a used book store. Then, in the mid 1980s, they realized that the costs associated with owning two automobiles wasn’t worth the time spent away from their kids, so they got rid of one car and Christine became a stay-at-home mom. A few years later, after careful consideration about where they lived and their financial savings, they got rid of their second car and began raising their two kids “car-free.”
“The whole thing with being car-free is it’s hard to do the switch initially, because you’ll have a life set up around a car,” Peterson said. “But once you make that decision – once you factor in some moves and some job things, it becomes more practical.”
At Bike Works, Peterson can be found in the most grassroots advocacy role: wrenching on bikes and helping people get back on the road. While working with the Bike Alliance, he gave safety talks and worked as a “Bike Buddy,” showing new commuters safe routes between work and home and demonstrating safe city riding skills.
But Peterson is most well-known for his blog, simply titled Kent’s Bike Blog. A few times a week, he writes about all manner of bicycle miscellanea, from rides around Puget Sound, to chip seal pothole filler, to making fenders out of the plastic political signs that dot people’s lawns each November. “It’s solely stuff that happens to interest me,” he said.
While his daily 18.5-mile commute from Issaquah to Seattle is no little undertaking, Peterson emphasized that getting to where he is today has been a gradual process of development.
“I think what we’re working towards, in various ways, is getting a greater recognition that you don’t have to have an automobile to live your life,” he explained. “I personally, through various choices I’ve made in my life, wind up being one of those guys that people point to and go “that guy, he’s just extreme, he’s nuts.” I don’t feel nuts, I just live my life and I write about things that I find interesting and how I’ve personally solved these problems, and that, I guess, winds up making me an advocate.”