Be one of the last people to use the viaduct, and one of the first to travel the new tunnel

If you're a cyclist, join me as we try the new tunnel under Downtown Seattle before it's open to cars

January 8, 2019
John and his bike

John Fisher

I guess I have a love/hate relationship with the Alaskan Way Viaduct. Ever since I moved to Seattle 25-plus years ago, I wondered why anyone would've built such a sad, ugly, gray monstrosity that pretty much separates the city's waterfront from the actual city. Sure, I'd always take visitors for a cruise up the northbound lanes of the Viaduct for that picture-perfect postcard view of the skyline, the Sound, the ferries, and the snow-capped Olympics in the distance. It's an iconic Seattle sight. But the view from the Viaduct is a lot prettier than any view of the Viaduct.

Then I moved to West Seattle and everything changed. It was so easy to get home without the hassle of traffic on I-5 -- just jump on the southbound viaduct at Columbia Street and heading to West Seattle was a breeze. If I was heading to Fremont or Ballard or Magnolia, it was so much easier to stay west, skip the freeway, and enjoy that knockout view.

Well, that's all ending on February 11 (as I'm sure you've heard by now!) On Friday the Viaduct closes for good, and about three weeks later, the SR 99 tunnel opens to zip us under and past downtown Seattle and demolition of the Viaduct will begin. . But wait -- you have one more chance to get the full Viaduct experience . . . on your bike.

The Cascade Bicycle Club is organizing the Tunnel Ride on the morning of Sunday, February 3. You'll be able to take one last ride on the Viaduct, up and back, and then you'll ride up and back through the new tunnel before it's open to cars. When I heard about this, I knew I had to do it. I'm a little bit of a fair-weather rider, so I'm hoping we won't be experiencing Winter Stormageddon on that Sunday morning. It's a 12.5-mile ride if you do both loops, with a bit of a slope at each end, so you do need to have at least a bit of pedal power to climb those 4-6% grades. Trust me, I'm way out of practice and I'm sure I can do it, so you probably can too. Just dress warmly and you'll be fine.

Here are the details and a link to registration -- they're setting a limit of 10,000 riders and the deadline for registering online is Tuesday, January 29. (But if you miss that you can still register in person before ride day. The details are all here.)

This is going to be fun, and I'm stoked to be part of Seattle history on February 3. Join me! And for a positive spin on Seattle's upcoming Viadoom traffic nightmare, check out Jeanne Ashley's blog.

John on a bike
John Fisher