Bike a Boulevard on a Lazy Sunday Afternoon
There’s Ravenna Boulevard from Green Lake to the University District, Cheasty and Mount Baker boulevards that link Beacon Hill to Lake Washington, Magnolia Boulevard atop that hill, Interlaken Boulevard along north Capitol Hill and, of course, the granddaddy: Lake Washington Boulevard.
Those are five of my favorite Seattle boulevards that make for a great leisurely bike ride. See my article on “bike-able” boulevards in today’s Seattle Times.
A boulevard is defined as a broad, often landscaped thoroughfare. City planners have always envisioned grand statements along such gussied-up streets: they should contain walking paths and an overhanging tree canopy. Views should be preserved, as should a leisurely, luxurious feel. They should connect our parks. Generally, the workaday traffic for cross-town transportation or neighborhood commerce is shunted to another street, so as not to overwhelm the boulevard experience.
At 10 miles per hour with the wind on your face, the cyclist can take in all the amenities, and has time to contemplate the glory of such human-centered design.
Pack a picnic and try two or three, but don’t plan for them all in one day; that would be contrary to the boulevard-rider’s credo of relaxing and enjoying the charms of a wide, cycling-friendly street.
Olmsted history tour
If you’re a history buff, there’s a lot of online history to tell you about the legacy of the Olmsted landscape design firm. The famous designers of New York City’s Central Park were hired by Seattle city planners in 1903 to add parks and amenities to the young metropolis.
You also could pedal my “Historic Seattle Tour.” I’ve told the stories of the first bike route in Seattle (before there were cars), and given turn-by-turn directions for the tour, on this site. The tour is also in the 2nd edition of Biking Puget Sound.
In addition, here are some good links (with fun old pictures) to Seattle’s parks and cycling history:
- Historylink: Olmsted Park Plan Cybertour http://www.historylink.org/index.cfm?DisplayPage=output.cfm&file_id=7054
- “The Olmsteds in the Pacific Northwest: The Art of Landscape Design” http://www.halcyon.com/tmend/Olmsted.htm
- Seattle Now and Then: “Biker’s Choice” (including a detailed description of the Good Road Lunch Room and the 1897 bicycle trails) http://pauldorpat.com/2011/06/25/seattle-now-then-bikers-choice/
- The “Good Road Lunch Room,” the former cafe in the wooded Interlaken ravine that was a haven for early cyclists making the trek to Lake Washington.
Lake Washington Boulevard south of Mount Baker Park to Seward Park will be closed to motorized traffic from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on these Bicycle Sundays in 2015:
- May 3, 17, 31
- June 21, 28
- July 5, 12
- August 9, 16, 30
- September 13, 20