The case for bicycles during the 'Seattle Squeeze'


On Sunday, a group of about twenty cyclists rode from West Seattle into the heart of downtown.

The team ride was hosted by the Cascade Bicycle Club to help teach cyclists how to safely navigate into the city with the closure of the viaduct.

Monday marks the first weekday since the iconic freeway was shut down for good.

“I’m not looking forward to it, but definitely I think bike is going to be much easier,” said Gary Potter, who lives in West Seattle and often commutes to South Lake Union to pick his wife up from work.

According to the Washington State Department of Transportation, roughly 90 thousand cars accessed the viaduct daily.

Now commuters will have to find alternative ways into and out of the city after the viaduct closed for good Friday evening, and many people are turning to bicycles.

At Rad Power Bikes in Ballard, they’re seeing a surge in prospective riders.

"We're normally slow this time of year," said Traci Schlosser, a Rad manager. "We had almost 70 percent more test riders coming in and test riding our bikes."

Doug Ollerenshaw commutes into South Lake Union via bicycle.

“Whatever time it took us to get down their today, it’s going to be about the same on a weekday – it’ll just be busier around us I think,” said Ollerenshaw, who lives in West Seattle.

Ollerenshaw expects his daily commute to remain at about 35 minutes door-to-door even with added congestion due to the viaduct closure.

Heather Marx, SDOT Director of Downtown Mobility, said cycling is an optimal alternative to accessing Seattle.

“I think if people want to ride their bike, that is great. That is a great choice. Anything that gets you out of your single-occupancy vehicle coming downtown is a good choice,” said Marx in a press conference on Sunday.

Marx said downtown cycling routes at this point have not been altered due to the viaduct closure. She added that will change when demolition of the viaduct starts.

The demolition is expected in mid-February.

Ollerenshaw said cyclists will have to remain prudent while accessing the city during this transportation transition.

“With the viaduct coming down, the routes through the waterfront are going to be constantly changing, which will make it difficult. And there are few gaps in the bike network, which makes it a little difficult in places in well, but for the most part it’s pretty safe.

If you’d like to trek the bike route from West Seattle into downtown Seattle, you can access it here.

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