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Posted by on Aug 25, 2016 in Blog, Events, King County, Urban Rides | 0 comments

Take a Bike, or e-Bike, Tour of Seattle

If you’ve tried an electric bike, you know the feeling. It’s like putting the pedal to the metal in a fast car: you just go. Switching from my trusty touring bike to an e-bike for a guided bike tour of Seattle to research a Seattle Times feature article, I felt it right away. So did the other enthusiastic tourists. We whooped our way through downtown.

Seattle Center

Look ma, no feet! An e-bike makes it easy to move, even on the banked bowl of the giant fountain near the Space Needle.

On a more sedate, muscle-powered tour, I joined a family of guys from the East Coast, getting a chance to see our dynamic, challenging city from their eyes. As much fun as the e-bike was, I will probably always feel more at home (and ironically more powerful) biking entirely under my own power.

Hill Climb

Tourists on e-bikes easily climb the steep hill on Virginia Street between Pike Place and First Avenue.

Both these tours, from Seattle e-Bikes and Seattle Cycling Tours – as well as unique outings from a third company called Seattle Bicycle Tours – give locals and visitors the chance to see our area my favorite way: by bicycle.

My Seattle Times article details my experiences on the group tours, but I’d like to give you the perspective from that third company, run by Spokane native Jonathan Streeter, who runs tours both with traditional bikes and e-bikes from Pier 54 on Seattle’s waterfront. With Seattle Bicycle Tours, he gets to interact with both the people who like to bike and with those whose bike is probably cobwebbed to their garage wall.

“I love being a part of someone’s good time,” Streeter told me recently, “and being on two wheels in Seattle is the best way to see the city. It’s freedom. Riding bikes makes people feel good, and that’s what it’s all about.”

J Streeter

Jonathan Streeter gets bikes ready for tourists.

One member of a “fun and funny group of friends” from the Midwest who took one of his tours in August was a woman, Becca, who was very worried about the normal things: being left behind, looking stupid. Of course, Streeter didn’t allow either. He assured her there would be plenty of stops, and even gave her a refresher course on shifting.

“I was so worried I would not be able to keep up with the others,” she said in her Trip Advisor review. “I hadn’t biked in 15 years, and I love food (enough said). But this bike tour was the best. Not only did we have the most awesome tour guide ever, the 16 miles was incredibly manageable and way more flat than you would think a bike tour through Seattle would be. One of the best experiences I’ve had for a tour of any sort. Well worth it, and so fun!”

eBike controls

The controls of an e-bike show power and battery levels.

Streeter noted that “our tour made Becca love biking again – for me that is priceless. She probably will go home and pull her bicycle out and start riding again.”

It was a bike accident that actually got Streeter into the bike touring business. He “flew off an unmarked staircase in Post Alley” in September, 2014. You probably don’t want to read this: Broken neck, staples in his head, seven fractures in facial bones and a fractured wrist. “I was in bad shape for a bit but got lucky in the bad luck: no surgeries needed,” he recalled.

While recuperating, he “did a lot of thinking about life,” he said. “Through the healing process I came up with the idea of SBT.” Seattle Bicycle Tours took its first tours last summer, and expanded to e-bike tours this summer. His e-bike tour goes to Discovery Park and its lighthouse, with plenty of hills many cyclists wouldn’t have the internal batteries to tackle. On regular bikes, his Golden Tour hits seven neighborhoods in a wide-ranging overview of the central city.

Streeter joins a small band of committed tour guides who just enjoy showing people Seattle by two wheels. Whether it’s Streeter’s enthusiasm, the gregarious showmanship of Jeremy Cooper of Seattle e-Bikes, or the encyclopedic knowledge of hometown guy Craig Scheak of Seattle Cycling Tours, great folks are out showing tourists our town.

Craig Scheak

Craig Scheak of Seattle Cycling Tours points out an attraction in Seattle’s Chinatown International District.

If you see their tours, give them a wave and a smile. And if you have guests who might like to bike, powered or not, consider booking a tour and joining a group. You’ll see Seattle differently, and your guests will get a fun two-wheeled visit.

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