Cascadia Bike Program is up on two wheels, rolling along

Cascadia Community College student Megan Clark shows off one of the bikes students can check out.  - Andy Nystrom/Reporter
Cascadia Community College student Megan Clark shows off one of the bikes students can check out.
— image credit: Andy Nystrom/Reporter

One less car is good for everybody, says Leigh Henderson.

More bikes are even better, according to Megan Clark.

Henderson, owner of Alexa’s Cafe in downtown Bothell, and Clark, a Cascadia Community College student, have teamed up to put the Cascadia Bike Program on the map, the road, the trail — wherever students want to travel.

They’re not only set on protecting the environment by having people bike instead of driving cars, but the duo wants to get students off campus in between or after classes and exploring attractions like downtown Bothell’s businesses and the Burke-Gilman Trail.

“We want to increase communication between downtown Bothell and the college campus. We want it to be like our college town; this is our place to come. Come meet and improve business and kind of take ownership of downtown Bothell as Cascadia/UW-Bothell,” said Clark, who spearheaded the effort on campus last year as a member of the student government board. She’s not in that role this year, but she’s still involved in keeping the club rolling and hopes UW-Bothell will jump on board.

“We’re bringing in the hometown deal because they (Cascadia/UW-Bothell) are growing and growing. Every time I see a new enrollment (figure), it’s exceeded expectations, so there’s just more people with more needs,” Henderson said.

So far, three bikes are available to students for free; all students have to do is peruse the safety guidelines (including wearing helmets), sign a waiver, give their student-identification number — and they’re off and riding for the whole day if they wish.

Clark said they bought the three-speed bikes wholesale from Bothell Ski and Bike with student-government money; and the Cascade Bike Club donated 15 helmets. The Bothell Police Department recently donated three more bikes to Henderson to pass on to the club.

Modeled after the downtown Portland Yellow Bike Program, Cascadia launched its program halfway through last summer and it began building steam this school year, according to Clark.

Henderson met Clark at Quality Care Physical Therapy one day while they were there for appointments, told her about the Yellow program and how they could apply it to Cascadia and downtown Bothell.

“And she said, ‘That sounds great,’ and from then on, the wildfire happened,” Henderson said.

While getting out on two wheels with the wind in your hair is great, Clark said students who drive to school can also save some cash by participating in the club.

It costs $5 a day to park at Cascadia, and if students want to drive off campus during a break, they have to pay again to re-enter if they don’t have a parking pass.

“So it can rack up pretty quickly, so people don’t want to leave or lose their prime parking spot, or if you take the bus, they can’t come down to downtown Bothell,” she said, noting that she’s working with businesses to give discounts to students who bike downtown in exchange for marketing on campus.

For example, the Alexa’s Cafe logo is currently displayed on campus computers as screen savers.

Getting exercise is also a crucial part of the bike plan.

John Monahan of Quality Care Physical Therapy, who has known Henderson for a while and met Clark in his office, likes what he sees with the student program.

“They’re sitting all day in classes, so they can get out and exercise, get their heart rate up and get their blood moving, which is going to help prevent back pain and neck pain,” he said.

Added Clark: “We have the trail over at Burke Gilman right behind us, what a great way to get out, grab a bike and take some friends.”

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