Local residents enjoy cycling for exercise, camaraderie and transport to town and school year around. Visitors rightly consider the islands a premier summer cycling destination. Inexpensive fares allow cyclists sans vehicles to travel easily between islands.
All of the main paved roads and interties connect a profusion of key scenic areas, parks, and overlooks taking in the 55 square miles of the island. Changing clouds and the play of light make for endless variety. Many miles offer good sight lines and plenty of room for vehicles and cyclists to safely share the road. However, the narrow rights-of-way following historic wagon trails and paths can present potential safety concerns for cyclists. Most of these road miles are relatively narrow and where curving through grade changes with soft shoulders and ditching near at hand require close attention and defensive cycling tactics. Turnouts are infrequent, but countless side roads and lanes offer a place to stop and allow vehicle traffic to pass by. Traveling on even the widest roads having adequate fog lines and paved shoulders in inclement weather or nearing darkness require cyclists to use extreme caution depending upon the terrain and sight lines. Ferry arrivals, especially in the summer months, can greatly increase the number of vehicles on the roads leaving town. Bright clothing, reflective surfaces and lights are a good idea even during the day in some conditions. For maps and more details about riding our island roads see Bicycle Routes.
The varied topography and mix of pastoral, forested and coastal landscapes make cycling San Juan roads a rejuvenating experience. Unfortunately, there are few properly designed and constructed multi-use or mountain biking trails outside of the well-maintained county roads. The newly created Bike Paths sub-committee is working to change this. The Trails Plan, approved in 2006, by the San Juan Island Trails Committee supports the San Juan County Non Motorized Plan which provides guidelines for safety improvements to roads and establishing multi-use trail surfaces. Our mission for cyclists is a combination of improved road shoulders and off road Trail Cycling facilities that provide recreational opportunities and create a safe and scenic transportation network. Our sub-committee currently serves as the only local voice for cycling and advocates for improved education, safety, and facilities for cyclists on San Juan Island.
For more specific road bicycling information on San Juan Island, please see Bicycle Routes. For information on existing or future trail riding facilities, see Trail Cycling.
The Bike Paths Sub-committee, created in October of 2008, was the result of a grass-roots effort to promote bicycle interests within the Trails Committee and increase safe cycling opportunities island-wide. Our goal is to provide an opportunity for people to network with other bicycle enthusiasts, share views and ideas leading to greater opportunities for safe cycling, and explore the potential for reducing local dependence on autos. Data from both past surveys as well as emerging from recent public meetings and surveys of local residents consistently indicates a very high need for improved cycling opportunities on San Juan Island.
Our projects fall into three main categories: multi-use trail development, town/county road safety improvements, and mountain bike trail opportunities. We advocate for town and county road safety improvements and are currently involved with the County Parks Recreation and Land Preservation Plan and the Scenic Byways Corridor Management Plan. We enjoy our scenic roadways and promote bicycle and pedestrian safety improvements that maintains the rural character and preserves the natural beauty of our surroundings. We continue to seek improvements to multi-use, inter-modal routes so that safe travel and recreation enhances the quality of life for islanders and visitors alike.
* Establishing a multi use trail across San Juan Valley connecting Town and Trout Lake Watershed.
* Expanding shoulders on designated roads and pending road projects .
* Creating a multi-use trail to Gravel Pit and Jackson’s Beach – thru recently annexed properties.
* Advocate for safety improvements on Bailer Hill, West side, West Valley, & Mitchell Bay Rd.
* Review Bicycle Signage island-wide: Promoting “Share the Road” message & education.
* Insuring continued future bicycle access to Mitchell Hill National Park Service land.
We are always seeking new members to join in this effort. Bicycle enthusiasts are encouraged to attend the regular monthly SJI Trails Committee meeting on the first Tuesday of the month from noon to 1:00 in the Heritage/Whidbey Island Bank meeting room, (on the corner of Mullis and Market Streets, next door to the Friday Harbor Marketplace grocery store). For the date of our next meeting please check the Calendar.