Thursday, September 10, 2009

Bicycle-Friendly Lopez Island

On Sunday of the long weekend, Maurie and I took a trip up to Lopez Island in the San Juans for the day. I'll admit, we took the car and drove around. Call it scouting for future visits (and there will be future visits). We did take our bikes, but with the wind and our wanting to see more of the island and hike around some, we ended up leaving them on the roof rack.

The roof rack brings me to an important piece of advice. If you're travelling by Washington State Ferry, bring your bikes inside your car, lay them down and lash them to the roof, or use a rear-mounted bike rack. The maximum height for vehicles without additional fee is 7 feet, 6 inches. If you go over that, you pay double. That's right, a $33 fare becomes $66. And yes, bikes will put most cars over that limit. Fortunately for us, the woman at the toll booth informed us and asked if we could get the bikes in the car or do something to lower the height to under the limit.

The ferry issue aside, Lopez was wonderful. The island is definitely a bike-friendly place. First, the roads are nice rolling roads with low speed limits. I think the maximum speed limit on the island is 35, but most drove 25-30. So much to see, and no need to rush around. Drivers all give cyclists room when they pass and there are bike racks everywhere! The racks are not all your run of the mill four or five bike rack, but some ar build to hold 30+ bicycles! Lopez Kayak and Bicycle (I think I got that correct) has build several wooden racks and placed them at parks and throughout the island at places one would be inclined to stop for a bit. We also discovered a map of the island put out by the Bicycle Alliance of Lopez. The front side is a map with some popular stops, the back has the parks and stops listed with a short write-up on them. It was very helpful to us in deciding where to visit.

We'll be back to Lopez sometime soon. There were lots of bays and coves in which to paddle our kayaks, and lovely terrain for cycling. Maybe come April, I'll ride the Tour de Lopez!

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