By Sarah Schrock

“This is my favorite event of the whole year.” “This is the best Arts Fest, yet!” “This event keeps getting better and better.” “The booths were so creative, much better than previous years.” These are some of the accolades shared with me in small talk at this year’s bicycle-themed festival. I concur.

The art of crowd management for food and tickets seems to have gotten much smoother and besides searching for lost kids the whole time, there didn’t seem to be any hiccups. The only long line to be had was at the face-painting booth. Darla Hussey’s exquisite facial artistry has certainly raised the bar in the valley for face painting and created a bit of a cult following. Dare I say that the face painting booth has usurped the former all-time favorite wooden boats booth as the most popular event in the 8-and-under range? Some of the arts activities were so popular, the crafting materials ran out a little early, but that’s just testimony to success.

The bicycle-themed event had one drawback — very few of the spectators actually arrived on bicycle. I am not sure cycling to the event was the point, but it struck me after fact when hundreds of parked vehicles lined the neighboring streets that more people should have cycled to the event. Kudos to those who did cycle, but I don’t blame you if you didn’t.

In a somber conversation with a local bicycle-enthusiast friend recently, he lamented that he’s become cynical about cycling our roads here in the valley. He has lost too many friends to vehicle collisions over the years (not necessarily here) and just doesn’t want to ride the highways or country roads much anymore as the number and breadth of larger vehicles keeps growing. As the roadways have become more congested in recent years and summer road trippers and cyclists hit the highways, the risk increases.

Washington state ranks among the top places for bike friendliness and was voted the No. 1 bicycle-friendly state by the League of American Bicyclists. Despite the friendliness ranking, our state falls in the middle for bicycle fatalities (14 in the study year) based on 2015 statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA). Peak season is upon us and bicycle touring is in full swing on our scenic Highway 20. Let’s remember to share the road.

Here’s a reminder for cyclists and drivers alike: Cyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as vehicles. That means no drinking and riding. In our state, cyclists are allowed to ride two abreast, but no more. Cyclists are allowed to ride in the lane of traffic or on the shoulder. A 3-foot minimum distance between the motor vehicle and bicycle rider is recommended by NHSTA — however, cyclists prefer 1½ times the bicycle rider’s height. This space helps bicyclists avoid falling into the lane of motor vehicle travel. Cyclists should play it safe and wear a helmet, even though the law doesn’t require it.

In general, our local drivers are very courteous in my opinion. But with summer travelers sharing our roads, we need to be more vigilant when we are on our bikes — there might be drivers from less-friendly places like Florida and California, where bike riders fare much worse.


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