There are many varieties of commute cyclists from fair weather riders to hard core bike activists. Some people have expensive gear and outfits and others prefer an old three-speed and casual everyday wear. You can choose your own cycling style, but whatever you chose, bicycling is an excellent choice for the environment, your health and your cash flow.
Tacoma Pierce County Health Department’s Walking Guide
With great maps, trail highlights and terrain and surface descriptions, the Tacoma Pierce County Health Department’s Walking Guide isn’t just for pedestrians. Check it out and learn about trails and parks you may not be familiar with. You may even be able to incorporate some of them into your normal commute route.
WA State Bike and Pedestrian Maps
The Washington Department of Transportation offers a comprehensive list of bicycle and pedestrian maps throughout the state.
Issues such as terrain, traffic and bike facilities all influence the best routes to ride and different types of cyclists require different routes. While no perfect A to B route planning tool exists for cyclists in Tacoma, there are a few options that can help you choose your route.
Bikely is a useful online database of user-submitted routes. You can search by location for commutes or recreational rides or by terrain and difficulty. Users can also post comments on particular parts of the route to highlight obstacles, points of interest or high traffic areas. Help other cyclists find their way by posting your own favorite routes.
Your best bet may be asking other cyclists for advice. Friends, neighbors and co-workers who bicycle often can provide tips that take into account the variety of factors that influence route choice. If your worksite has an Employee Transportation Coordinator, ask them for advice. He or she may know about bike routes near your worksite or be able to connect you to coworkers who also bicycle.
When parking your bicycle, be courteous. Use dedicated bicycle parking if available and be careful not to impede the mobility of other users.
Please refrain from locking your bike to a tree because bike locks and bikes can damage the bark and sensitive cambium layer (the living part of the tree just underneath the bark) of the tree. Please use bike racks and other street amenities designed for the safekeeping of your bike in-lieu of damaging a vital part of our living urban environment.
If you bike to a location that does not have appropriate bicycle parking, consider letting the business owner or agency know.
Locking your bike when you leave it unattended helps reduce the likelihood of theft.
Research different types of bike locks and choose a lock that will deter theft and cannot be easily cut.
Make sure you are using your lock correctly.
Many bicycles are stolen out of yards or off porches. Ensure that you store your bike securely even at home.
Bikes & Bus Stops: Please don’t lock your bike to a bus stop post. Bus operators use the posts to know where to stop. A locked bike can interfere with boarding and deboarding of passengers.
Bike Lockers: Bike lockers are a great way to keep your bike safe and secure if you decide to leave it behind when you catch the bus! For a $50 deposit and $10 per month rental fee, you can be sure your faithful friend will be there to greet you on your return, unaffected by rain, snow - or worse. Call 253.581.8000 for details.
Bike Cages in Downtown Tacoma: Secure, covered bike parking is now available at two downtown locations! Check out the new bike cage at Pacific Plaza Parking Garage, 1250 Pacific Ave., 2nd floor; enter on Commerce. You’ll find another bike cage at Park Plaza North Garage, 923 Commerce, 5th floor, near the sky bridge. Rental fee is $8 per quarter or $25 per year. Download the waiver from Downtown On The Go! to receive the security code.
Some employers offer showers or bike parking facilities for employees. If you have questions about bicycle amenities available at your place of work, contact your Employee Transportation Coordinator.
Washington State Department of Transportation’s Bicycle Laws webpage.
The Bicycle Alliance of Washington’s compendium of bicycle-related laws in the Revised Code of Washington State
Contact your local jurisdiction for information on local bicycle laws.
WSDOT's webpage lists jurisdictions which require helmets. The Cascade Bike Club offers information on how to ensure your helmet fits properly in their brochure “Your Bicycle Helmet: A Correct Fit.”
Safe Bicycling Practices:
Before you venture out, know safe bicycling practices. Check out the Washington State Department of Transportation’s Bicycling Safety Tips webpage for safe cycling tips and resources.
Whether new to cycling or a seasoned rider, consider taking a class to learn new skills. The Cascade Bicycle Club offers low-cost and free bicycling clinics and maintenance classes for recreational cyclists, event riders, commuters, novice cyclists, seniors, and youth. Visit their education page to sign up. You can also check with your favorite local bike shop to see if they offer riding or maintenance classes or attend a workshop during Bike Month in May.
All Pierce Transit and Sound Transit buses have racks that hold bikes. Use of them is at the risk of the cyclist. On Pierce Transit local service, when bike racks are full it is up to the driver whether a bike may be brought onboard. It depends on passenger loads and the effect on the safety of passengers. For details about bikes on Sound Transit buses or trains pick up a copy of ST’s Ride the Wave transit guide, or visit the bike section of Sound Transit’s website.
Cyclists are responsible for handling and assuring the security of their bikes, and must hold them throughout their trip. Your transit operator has the authority to ask you to take your bicycle off the bus should the bus become too crowded.
Riders worried about loading their bike on the rack, can practice at one of the many community events Pierce Transit attends with a bus.
If you inadvertently leave your bike on a Pierce Transit bus, you should call customer service at 253.581.8000.
If you do a lot of riding throughout the county, consider printing out this list and bringing it along when you ride so you can report issues in a timely matter. You can also program the numbers you will use most into your phone, so you have them when you need them. By reporting maintenance issues, you help make roads and trails safer for everyone. Thanks!
To report a lost or stolen bicycle in the City of Tacoma or Pierce County, you can call Police Department’s non-emergency line: (253) 798-4721. Provide the operator with as much information as possible, including the item's make, model, serial number or owner applied number. If you live outside the City of Tacoma, find out if you also need to file a report with your local police department.
Lost and stolen property recovered by the Tacoma Police Department and the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department is stored at the Pierce County Property Room. Their website has details on how to make an appointment, how long property is held, and what happens to property if the owner cannot be found.
You may also want to consider logging stolen bikes and parts online at Bikewise. While this is not a substitute for reporting thefts to the local authorities, it does warn other area cyclists and helps the local bike community see patterns and collect data.
Increase the Chances of Recovery, Before Your Bicycle is Stolen:
With a little planning, you can help increase the chances that you will be reunited with your bicycle in case it is stolen.
Write down your bicycle’s serial number. The University of Texas has tips on how to find your serial number. If your bike doesn’t have a serial number, consider engraving an identifying mark into the frame (your favorite animal, a set of numbers or letters, your name).
Write down a detailed description of your bicycle. Remember that lights and accessories can be removed, so also include descriptions of the frame.
Take a picture of you with your bicycle
When a beloved bike is stolen it can be devastating, so preventing such heartbreak should be a top priority. Buy a good lock and properly secure your bicycle when you leave it unattended. See the Bicycle Parking section for more information.
You can save some cash by riding your bike. Check out this calculator to see how much. Even better, if you log your trips in the Pierce Trips Calendar you can win great prizes. Check out the Campaigns page to see what you could win!
Commute Trip Reduction
If you work at an employer in Pierce County with 100 or more employees who work full-time and are scheduled to begin work between the hours of 6-9am, your worksite is affected by the Commute Trip Reduction Efficiency Act.
Most large worksites have an Employee Transportation Coordinator (ETC) who promotes transportation options. Your ETC can be an important resource for users of all commute options, including cycling. Not only will they have information on the various Pierce Trips campaigns and contests you are eligible for, but the ETC may also know information specific to your worksite including the location of bicycle facilities, nearby bike trails or routes and the contact information for other employees who regularly bicycle. If you are interested in encouraging your employer to provide bicycle amenities, want to know more about your employers CTR program or want to start a bike team for the annual Commuter Contest, your ETC may be able to help.
Employers who do have a tranportation program or ETC can elect to partner with Pierce Transit in order to better connect their employees to the wealth of resources offered by the Pierce Trips team and to be eligible for programs including Emergency Ride Home. Visit Pierce Trips’ Employer Services Page for more information.
Emergency Ride Home:
If your employer partners with Pierce Transit and you use a non-drive alone method to get to work, you may be eligible for a free taxi ride home in case of emergency. Visit Pierce Trips’ Emergency Ride Home page for more information or contact your employee transportation coordinator.
Pierce Trips Calendar:
When you bicycle to work or use another smart commute option, log your trips at the Pierce Trips Calendar to be eligible for great prizes.