Edmonds Bicycle Group pedals for awareness

Goals are cycle-friendly roads, improved relations between bicyclists and pedestrians
By Jesse Blair | Sep 28, 2018
Courtesy of: Stephen Bret Harte Kent Smith rides over the Tawlks Foster suspension bridge outside Manaza during the Labor Day weekend.

Since its inception in 1994, the Edmonds Bicycle Advocacy Group has been worked with the city of Edmonds, Snohomish County, and other local transportation departments to raise awareness for both pedestrians and cyclists.

Chairman Kent Smith of Edmonds is leading the charge, raising the visibility of bicycling in Edmonds, assisting local officials to encourage bicycle-friendly roads and striving for a friendly community between bicyclists and pedestrians.

Smith grew up playing team sports and didn’t get his first “real” mountain and road bikes until after he graduated high school.

“It was a couple years before I went on my first long mountain bike ride with a group from Bicycle Centres of Everett,” Smith said. “The ride was the hardest thing I had ever done. But the camaraderie was what pulled me in. I got deeper into mountain biking and even began working at the shop.”

After that, he started racing both in the mountains and on the road. Some years later, his oldest daughter became interested in mountain biking, so he started a team and has been coaching ever since.

“Now it is mostly all about just getting out and having fun,” Smith said.

It’s obvious biking is his passion.

“The sense of community,” he said. “There is a shared experience of riding. We may go different speeds but we all have to pedal. There is that overall sense of accomplishment that you get when you finish a ride. On that ride you get micro-doses of awesomeness when you crest a hill, clear a technical section, or make that green light. I love that feeling, and want others to experience it.”

Smith thinks the number one reason people should get into biking is because of the physical health benefits. After people get established, they can find their voice and contribute to the cycling community.

“Those avenues can be for advocacy in the community or school programs, local bicycle club events and races, commuting programs, environmental programs, and/or youth programs,” he said.

Smith’s favorite things about biking in Edmonds are the views, the roads, and the bike paths available. The challenges are the hills and unearthing what he calls “the dormant bicycling community.”

He believes the cycling community can grow if people participated with the clubs and events that are offered.

Some of the future projects and goals of the advocacy group include safe walking and biking routes to all the schools in the Edmonds School District; expanding the participation of Cascade Bicycle Club’s “Let’s Go” in school bicycle program in the Edmonds School District elementary schools; encouraging parental awareness with their child’s biking activities; and coordinating with other clubs, businesses,and city and county governments in bicycling improvements.

Want to get involved?

You can check out the website at wp.edmondsbicyclegroup.org for general information and the calendar for local events and monthly meeting schedule. The best method of contact is by email at edmondsbag@gmail.com.

Smith also leads the Edmonds Composite Mountain Bike Teams. These teams grew from just one team of nine middle-schoolers four years ago to now having 43 riders split between a middle school and high school team.

“Besides having an amazing group of riders, this team is really driven by the most generous and supportive parents,” Smith said. “They push inclusivity, participation, and community.”

 

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