Tag Archives: biking

How Does Mercer Island Commute?

Just saw an excellent post in the Seattle Bike Blog on how Seattle commutes. Which got me wondering how Mercer Island commutes.

I went to the Census American communities Survey, just released for 2012, and looked at Mercer Island versus Seattle, Bellevue and all of King County:


In only a few minutes with the data a few things popped out:

1.Islanders drive more than the rest of King County.

2. Our mean commute is lower than Seattle, Bellevue or all of King County, probably because of how central the Island is.

3. Almost 10% of Islanders work from home, quite a bit higher than the rest of the county.

4. Islanders take public transportation at a much lower rate than the rest of the county. I think we’d take it more if we could get to the Park & Ride more easily or find parking there. These days, it’s parked up before 8 am, causing a stressful morning for anyone planning to get a spot.

My husband and I have tried many of these methods– driving alone, carpooling, the bus, and biking– at different times. Basically anything other than walking. One of the nice things about Mercer Island is you can get almost anywhere, fast.

I wonder how these numbers will change when the Express Lanes give way to Light Rail. One would expect a dramatic drop in driving alone and a rise in public transportation. We’ll see in about 10 years.

Pictures from Veloce Velo’s Grand Opening

It’s official: Mercer Island finally has a bike shop.

The Blockbuster store reimagined as a bike shop.

This weekend is their grand opening. They’ve got vendors in the parking lot, door prizes tomorrow, and a store ride that promises to be epic.

Shop ride starts at 8 am and there will be a fast group and a slow group.

Some of the Veloce Velo team and friends. Welcome bike geeks!

Bike Shop (Finally!) Comes to Mercer Island

As commenters Steve and Bill noted, Mercer Island is finally getting a bike shop: Veloce Velo, currently of Issaquah and soon to be of Issaquah and MI.

From this…

Here’s an interview with the owner, Graham:

Why Mercer Island? How’d you chose the location?
When I was looking for a location to open with three years ago, Mercer Island was actually top of my list. Back in 2007 there were practically no vacancies for retail space anywhere on the Eastside, so we opened in historic Downtown Issaquah. Earlier this year our landlord approached us about the old Hollywood Video building which they also managed – they thought it would be perfect for a bike shop and after seeing it we wholeheartedly agreed!

When are you opening?
We don’t have an exact date right now, but it will definitely be in the first half of August. We’re waiting for final approval from the city on the plumbing and lighting, but it should all come together quickly once we get that done. We have all the inventory and fixtures just waiting in Issaquah ready to come over!

Tell me about Veloce Velo. What kind of a bike store is it, who does it serve and will the MI location have the same focus as the Issaquah location?
We’re a bike shop focused on enthusiasts, and can help all sorts of people from those who are getting started in the sport all the way up to those looking for the ultimate high-end. Our staff are very experienced and knowledgeable and we also have a very friendly atmosphere – that combination is unlike a lot of other shops in the area. We’re going to focus on road and family bikes in Mercer Island, and mountain bikes in Issaquah.

Are you primarily targeting MI residents or the area, including folks who ride on the Island but don’t live here?
Many of our best customers live on Mercer Island and come to visit us regularly in Issaquah. Serving them better is definitely a primary goal of our expansion, but we’re also positive that Mercer Island’s central location will attract more customers from Seattle and the surrounding area.

Why, in your opinion, has no other bike store opened on MI despite how much cycling activity it has?
I can say that the low vacancy rate three years ago was what kept us from opening on Mercer Island initially, so perhaps the economic environment had something to do with the absence. There are also some very strong competitors in downtown Bellevue and Seattle, and without doing something different it would be easy to get lost in the shuffle.

Are you planning to lead any group rides out of your Mercer Island location?
We are going to do a shop ride every Saturday morning. There will be more details on our web site when we’re a little closer to opening.

To this.

Any fun events planned for the grand opening?
I’m firming up the details on the Grand Opening, but it is looking very interesting so far with a lot of industry people flying in from around the country for technical seminars and new product launches. We even have an ex-Pro rider who will be hammering on a group ride around the island, daring locals to keep up!

Tour de France photo credit: ndumas on Flickr.

Breaking Away from Cycling Ordinance

The Mercer Island City Council wisely broke away from an ordinance that would have required bikers in groups of 2 or more to pull over for cars. The MI Reporter is right on the wheel of the story, giving a stroke by stroke account of the meeting.

From the P-I Velocity blog.

Cyclists drafted a variety of protests at the meeting. Skinny people in spandex may not look too tough but they can get cranky (especially when they haven’t eaten an hour into a long ride). Mercer Island is one of the premier cycling destinations in the area for our winding, hilly and stoplight-free route from East Mercer to West Mercer to bike path. Team Luna rides it for training, commuters cross the Island to link the East Side and Seattle, and there’s even a Waffle Ride.

The cyclists attack:

  • criminale.com posted an account of the council meeting. He spoke of this highlight: “The MI police testified that they receive more complaints from cyclists about cars than they do from automobile drivers about cyclists.”
  • mattridsesfar sprinted to comment on Bike Snob NY, saying “The council is trying to pass an ordinance that will require cyclists to stop and pull over if (even a single) car is behind them. This is the same place where, 2 years ago, I was given a $248 ticket for “failing to stop” at 2 stop signs.”

These aren’t really attacks, but I’ve got a metaphor to maintain.

It’s great to keep East and West Mercer bike friendly. Many Islanders are cyclists or commuters, and I for one  don’t mind most of our  spandex-coated visitors (though as a former competitive cyclist myself, and a bike commuter, I’m the first one to say that some cyclists have an attitude that is totally unwarranted.)

And by the way, May is Bike to Work month. Here’s a photo from last year’s:

Thanks again to Joshua Putnam and his great bike photos on Flickr.

Bonus link.

What Does Mercer Island Look Like In The Snow?

The mail still came through the sleet and snow, and cheerfully–


even though none of the side streets were plowed today:


Folks were driving on Island Crest Way when I took a walk this afternoon. It had been plowed but covered again in snow:


The buses were out too, as were the police, and some Mercer Island plows.

Mercer Island snowplow

There were lots of people walking around Mercerdale enjoying the snow,

mercer Island walkers

at least one intrepid biker,


and a passel of people boarding, sledding and skiing at Homestead Park.


I wasn’t crazy enough to go into work today, as 520 was closed and there were accidents everywhere. Did you go, and if so how was it? Anyone do anything fun at home?

Oregon Likes Our Bridge

I was delighted to see this enthusiastic review of the I-90 bridge bike path, by the Oregonian. Excerpt:

“The crossing of Mercer Island is through a string of neighborhoods and pleasant parks, though the bike path is a bit confusing as it joins the sidewalk to pass in front of the island’s park and ride.

They’re right- it’s a nice bike lane. I couldn’t help but feel a little proud, even though I had nothing to do with the design or construction of the bridge. Even the Blue Angels love it:

A Blue Angel at Seafair this year, getting about as close to the bike lane as you can in a plane.

Bonus Link: Santa Fe Follows Mercer Island’s Lead

In more random news from places that are not Mercer Island, the Political Ticker reports that the New Mexico Sun News called the election for Obama. If you’ll remember, this blog did just that a few weeks ago, based on the number of political signs up for Obama. We restricted our headline to Mercer Island, but we were glad to get out in front of the number of news outlets and blogs that calling the election.

Helmet-Cam Video Part 2: I-90 Bridge

jputnam’s at it again, taking weirdly engaging helmet-cam videos of the bike paths around Mercer Island. Here he is riding over the I-90 bike bridge from Mercer Island.

The middle of this video is a little less interesting than jputnam’s last helmet-cam video, mostly because the path is straight and you don’t get the exciting feeling of being about to fall off your bike. But when it gets hard to commute in the winter, this is a good way to remind yourself how much fun it is.

Credit: jputnam on flickr.

Helmet-Cam Footage of Mercer Island Bike Path

Found this video from jputnam on Flickr of someone riding across the MI bike trail with a helmet cam on. It’s surprisingly exciting to watch– I found myself swaying from side to side trying to balance the bike that I was not actually on.  Watch it- contrary to what I’d expected, it’s gripping. Seriously.

For those of you who’ve read about bike commuting but have yet to try it, here’s a virtual taste.

I think the sound is the best part.

The Roanoke Inn: Your Favorite Local Bar

Maybe I’m being presumptuous, calling the Roanoke (The “Roey” to its friends or long-time Island residents) your favorite bar. But you’ve got to love it. Its best features include:

  • Just off the bike trail and I-90
  • A welcoming pub room and lawn seating
  • Good beer that distracts from the passable pub food
  • Formerly a brothel right off the ferry landing

I think I’m close to getting my Wed morning bike friends to stop there for a drink after our ride, and I don’t even know if it’s open that early.

Convince your East Side and Seattle friends to meet there, it’s more convenient for you. Or just turn up on a summer afternoon because that’s what summer afternoons are for.

I was at the Roanoke at happy hour a few weeks ago. While I’m here, I thought, let me satisfy my curiosity about what really goes on at the Roanoke. The plaque outside told me the place was built in 1914:

But I wanted to know more. I asked three of the staff about the place, all of whom referred me to Maggie. After a bit of loitering I was finally able to find Maggie herself.

  • Who comes here? I asked. “It’s a really local crowd. 70% are people we see 3, 4 times a week. Lots of bikers: both motorcycles and cyclists.”
  • I asked if there were any bar fights. She laughed and said no. I pushed a little, hoping for great story,  but she stuck to her answer- I guess Mercer Island isn’t a big bar fight town.
  • Thursdays and Fridays, from about happy hour through dinner, are the busiest times. It seemed so to me- happy hour was busier than I’d ever seen it in the evening or weekend.

That’s it- the back story of the Roanoke Inn, straight from Maggie, who’s worked there for seven years. If you have special memories of the place, feel free to contribute them. And now you know: If you want to make Mercer Island history, you can start a fight at the Roanoke. But I suggest you just have a beer.

Bike to Work from Mercer Island, Part 1: To Downtown

Friday was Bike to Work day. It’s Bike to Work month. We live on an island in the middle of Greater Seattle, so everywhere’s convenient. Except Lynnwood.

Here’s a photoessay of biking to downtown Seattle from Mercer Island from my ride on Friday. I was running a bit late for a too-early meeting and didn’t want to stop to take photos, so please forgive any shakiness.

Bike to Work from Mercer Island

Commuting from Mercer Island to Downtown

Step 1: Get to East Mercer or West Mercer Way. Island Crest is way too busy. The Island is quiet and pretty in the morning.


Step 2: Where the bike lane crosses the road, take a left. Keep going til you’re on I-90.

Step 3: Enjoy the ride over the I-90 bridge; consider that people living in Iowa don’t have bridges. Check whether Ranier is out. Notice that you ride away from the sun and get great light.

Step 4: Coming off I-90, stay left to go through the bike tunnel and over the I-90 lid. On bike to work day, there was a little rest station right off I-90.

Step 5: Stay on the bike path by the Colman Playground and the old Colman School. Even if you don’t commute, you should check out this great city ride sometime. Wave to the other bike commuters!

Other morning commuters

Step 5: After you pass the old school and cross 23rd St., you’ll head down a big hill. At the bottom you’ll be at Rainier Ave. You might get hit by a car if you bike on this road. Instead, stay right on the bike path, which will drop you at Hiawatha Place across from some new townhomes. Take a left, and go around two roundabouts until you get to Dearborn St.

Step 5: Take a left on Dearborn and cross Rainier. Lots of riders chose to turn right onto 5th Ave South and go through some of the quieter avenues to points further, rather than follow the busy traffic onto Airport Way and 4th Ave. South.

From Dearborn, you can get into the I-D, Pioneer Square, downtown or anywhere.

What about riding home, you ask? Well, instead of commuting back I decided to go out for happy hour. My husband met me out and I hitched a ride home with him. It was Friday, after all.

Biking Bis and the folks at Piknik also harnessed angular momentum to get to work Friday. And Kent’s Bike Blog put up some useful Seattle bike maps.

Commuting to the Eastside/ Redmond

Watch for Part 2, commuting to the Eastside. The route is complicated and dangerous, so this will be an exciting post. We might even do a round trip for this part.


Right, blog posts don’t usually have outtakes. Well, if you ride to work while taking photos, you’ll get outtakes.

Half commuters Shadow Bike from an unhealthy angle