No spandex, please. It’s not a race. In fact, you don’t even have to finish the route.
The Tour de E.F.D. — a tour by bicycle of the Everett Fire Department’s seven stations (plus one historic site) — is set for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. The 21-mile loop starts and ends at Fire Station 1.
The event is not sponsored by the Fire Department, city, nor any bicycle group — its origination was a bit circuitous as well.
Local bicycle enthusiast and family man Tyler Rourke had wanted to do something to encourage more people to get out on bicycles.
“I’ve been riding my bike to work now for about 10 years. I start to see more people riding around this time of year when the weather gets nice,” Rourke said. But there certainly could be more.
In talking to folks about what holds them back, he started to get the idea of organizing a laid-back ride aimed at encouraging the novice.
“And I was thinking of the fire department, for some odd reason,” he said, noting he admired the restored historic fire engines on display. “The more I thought about it, the fire departments are really well placed around the city. It would be a great way to see the city and do a perfect loop.”
So he started putting up flyers. The Live in Everett blog picked it up. And a Facebook event page now has more than 100 people signaling their interest or intentions to go.
There’s no formal sign-up sheet, though Rourke is working on a form for folks to sign indicating they understand they take their own risks.
“My original thought was it would be a small thing. There seems to be a lot of demand, because it just keeps growing,” he said.
Already, people who can’t make it this year are asking about next year (myself included).
“I get the feeling it’s going to be more than I thought,” Rourke said.
Maybe it could be the start of something even bigger. Could Everett be as bicycle-friendly as, say, Vancouver?
“I feel like (Everett) is sort of lacking in its bicycle infrastructure. One guy riding his bike is going to be an annoying little squeaky wheel. … But if there’s 50 more people saying, ‘Hey, we need an easier way to get to the grocery store, or park’ — there would be more voices. I’m hoping there will be more support.”
Still, Saturday is all about fun.
Rourke and his wife, Brittney, will be riding. Tyler will have their two sons, ages 2 and 4, in the box of his cargo bike. (You may recall reporter Andrea Brown’s “What’s Up With That?” story last summer about the Rourkes and that bike.)
The full route may pose a challenge for smaller children riding their own bikes, Rourke said.
Rourke did a trial run Sunday with the boys in the cargo bike. His friend came along, towing his 7-year-old on a Tag Along, a sort of half-bicycle that attaches to the back of an adult’s bike.
Dads and kids alike were pleased. “They’re used to riding and had a great time,” Rourke said.
Don’t be shy, he said.
“We’re going to go really slow. I want to make sure this bike ride is just for people, and the people are going to happen to be riding bikes. It’s not for cyclists. I feel the cyclists already have rides. … This is more a tour of the city, to have some fun and conversation,” he said.
Street Smarts is getting in the spring spirit and planning more bicycle-related posts. Have a cycling-related streets question? Email firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to include your name and hometown.
Tour de E.F.D.
What: A 21-mile tour of Everett fire stations
When: 10 a.m.-2 p.m. April 22
Where: Starts and ends at Fire Station 1, 3619 Rucker Ave.