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  1. #1
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    Ballard to Bellevue/Redmond?

    Hi, longtime lurker here. For you Seattle folks, anyone commute from ballard to bellevue/redmond? i recently got a new job on 156th ave ne pretty close to the microsoft campus and i was looking into biking options. i'm leaning towards taking the BGT to montlake, catching a bus across the water, then hitting the 520 bike path to 148th to 24th. any thoughts or suggestions would be much appreciated.

    thanks

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    This is very doable, just be aware there are many cyclist doing the same thing. There are often queues at the Montlake stop as each bus only takes 2 (last I looked) bikes. Alternatives are to ride downtown and jump the queue or, if you would like to ride the whole way, cross over on I-90 and work your way up.

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    you could do BG to Sammamish River Trail to Redmond and then bike up the hill to 156th from wherever makes the most sense
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    My tank takes chocolate. FlowerBlossom's Avatar
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    Congrats on the new job! It's music to the ears in these times.

    Heed Velomatic's advice. I hesitate on on other routes for the same reason---competition in the queue for bike-rack spots. If you have the time before the new job starts, do a test-run during the hours you think you'll be biking/busing/riding. Time yourself, count the queue, etc. Make sure to do your test on a sunny day...........
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    Some of the busses now have racks that take three but that doesn't really help much of there are a lot of cyclists.

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    If you're going to continue with the dual-mode commute, you may consider a folding bike in the future to avoid the queues on the bus rack. Fold it up and bring it on board with you; no waiting.
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    Senior Member BengeBoy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Velomatic View Post
    This is very doable, just be aware there are many cyclist doing the same thing. There are often queues at the Montlake stop as each bus only takes 2 (last I looked) bikes. Alternatives are to ride downtown and jump the queue or, if you would like to ride the whole way, cross over on I-90 and work your way up.
    Just curious -- how long is this wait, usually (during rush hour)? Do you have to wait for several buses before you find room?

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    Quote Originally Posted by BengeBoy View Post
    Just curious -- how long is this wait, usually (during rush hour)? Do you have to wait for several buses before you find room?
    To be honest, I work on the RTC campus, so when I take the bike I ride all the way in (via the I-90 trail/W. Lk Sammamish). In other words, I don't really know. The Sound Transit 545 runs ~15 minutes and I see riders get on every time I bus it through there. I would give yourself enough time to miss 2 buses. I strongly second the suggestion of doing a dry run to get a better idea.

    One thing to keep in mind, there are other buses that go through there at other intervals. If you're willing to just use the bus to get across the bridge and ride the 520 trail the rest of the way in you may be able to hop a less popular route. Also, if you are a Microsoft employee (FTE or CSG) there is a bike shuttle that leaves from a nearby parking lot. It has room for 12 bikes, I believe. Of course, with luck we'll one day get a trail that crosses the bridge.

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    thanks for the responses guys. i actually started the job almost two months ago. i am aware of the possibility of having to wait a few buses at the montlake stop before there is room. i'm leaning towards just taking the first available bus and getting off at evergreen point and biking on to the office. i need to do something soon, as a typical afternoon involves me sitting on the parking lot known as 520 just looking over at the 520 trail, wishing i had ridden in...

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    Senior Member Seattle Forrest's Avatar
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    First, sitting on the 520 is terrible. Just awful. When I worked in Kirkland ( but lived in Seattle - no suburbs for me ) I'd watch people shoot up the HOV lane, always with just one driver, and then cut back into line half a mile in front of me. It would take an hour to cross a mile stretch of bridge. You can't turn the car off because you need to move constantly forward, at a glacier's pace. And all the pollution! So, yeah, you need to get on your bike.

    I'd echo the same thing about waiting in line for a bus with room on the bike rack. But at least there are shelters with benches that will keep you out of the rain. One option is to bring a good book with you, and wait for the first bus that can take you.

    I often bike up the Burke, all the way to Bothell, and then catch the Samammish River Trail. This brings you through Redmond, but it takes a while. Even if it's almost entirely flat ground, you're covering a lot of miles, and it will take its toll either in time or in energy. I'd definitely recommend against that, although I've known people who did it every day. And I'd also recommend against most surface street options on the east side, like taking the I-90 trail ( which is already pretty far to the south ) and then heading up. One wrong turn over there, and it's up hill for days. The streets are a labyrinth on the other side of the lake. Etc.

    I think the idea to bike downtown and take the first stop to almost guarantee a spot on the bike rack is a good one. But do your homework first - you can't load bikes on Metro buses in the ride free zone, so I'm not sure if the same restriction is in place for Sound Transit, or whatever you'd be riding?

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    Senior Member BengeBoy's Avatar
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    What about cycling from Ballard, to downtown Seattle, across I90 to either the South Bellevue Park and Ride (on Bellevue Way) or the Eastgate Park and Ride. Both seem to have good bus connection up to the Microsoft campus.

    That would be about 15 miles on the bike, and then 25 to 30 minutes on the bus, no transfers.

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    Senior Member lonesomesteve's Avatar
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    Thankfully I'm working downtown now, but a few years ago I was doing a similar commute. On the evening westbound commute, I pretty quickly learned to avoid that Evergreen Point bus stop on the way home because as others have said you could end up waiting quite a while before you get your turn on a bus with an open bike slot. So, I just started riding to the Kirkland Park and Ride at 108th Ave NE and NE 38th Pl. It's a couple stops before the bridge, so the busses weren't as full when they got there. I rarely had a problem getting on the first bus that came by. There may be another bus stop that's more convenient for you, but just find yourself a bus stop that is a few stops away from Evergreen Point.

    As for the morning eastbound commute, when I was doing it it wasn't too difficult to get on a bus at Montlake. Sometimes there would be a couple of bikes ahead of me, but generally it didn't take too long to get on a bus.

    I also used to ride around the north end of the lake once a week or so. It would make for a pretty long commute five days a week, but if you just do it once in a while it's not bad.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
    ...
    I think the idea to bike downtown and take the first stop to almost guarantee a spot on the bike rack is a good one. But do your homework first - you can't load bikes on Metro buses in the ride free zone, so I'm not sure if the same restriction is in place for Sound Transit, or whatever you'd be riding?
    I actually thought they changed this a year or so ago? If not, I think you are limited to the first and last stop in the ride free area.

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    thought i'd update for posterity sake. made the trip this morning. biked from ballard to montlake on the bgt, took an out of service bus to evergreen point, and then biked up to 148th and made my way up to the office on the corner of 156th and 24th on the sidewalks. the bus at montlake went unbelievable smoothly, as you can catch a free ride between montlake and evergreen point on a bus headed to the terminal. i certainly don't expect it to be that easy every time, but i was the only bike on there. it helps that today is calling for a 50% chance of rain so i'd expect there to be more traffic as the weather improves. all in all it's about 12-13 miles biking. the whole trip took around 1 hour 20 minutes, including bus time. i think i can shave a few minutes off as my legs get stronger.

  15. #15
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    Awesome! Glad that it's going well for you so far.
    I'm sure you will start shaving time off as you get used to the hills around here and your legs strengthen up. Took me about a month of riding downtown before I stopped caring about hills and just dealt with them.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Velomatic View Post
    I actually thought they changed this a year or so ago? If not, I think you are limited to the first and last stop in the ride free area.
    From http://metro.kingcounty.gov/tops/bike/bikeride.html:

    "Effective February 6, 2010 you can load or unload your bicycle to any in-service bus at any bus stop--including the Ride Free Area--during all hours of the day. The new policy is a one year demonstration project which will be evaluated on the basis of safety and operations.

    "You may also load or unload at any Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel station during all hours the tunnel is open."

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    Redmond puts out an excellent bicycle map that can help you plan and optimize that leg of your trip. It's more detailed than most bike maps.

    If you feel like riding the whole distance some fine day, you can just take the BGT to SRT, which connects to the 520 trail, and that goes just a few blocks from your workplace with minimal hills. Once the bridge at 36th St is complete, it will get you even closer (until then you'll have to exit at 40th St). Have fun commuting.

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