Thousands of cyclists in Seattle are doing something Sunday morning they normally don't get to do: ride on the Alaskan Way Viaduct!

Most people experience the Alaskan Way Viaduct with gorgeous views of the iconic Seattle waterfront by car. This Sunday's Emerald City Bike Ride marks a chance to experience the views via bike.

The viaduct will be demolished in early 2019 after the new Highway 99 tunnel opens. Before that happens, some 7,000 bicyclists are getting one last chance to ride it without any cars on the road.

A map of this year's 12-mile route along the Alaskan Way Viaduct, the Aroura Avenue bridge, and the I-5 express lanes. Photo courtesy of the Cascade Bicycle Club.
A map of this year's 12-mile route along the Alaskan Way Viaduct, the Aroura Avenue bridge, and the I-5 express lanes. Photo courtesy of the Cascade Bicycle Club. 
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“It feels almost beautifully apocalyptic being able to bike on these roads that are normally reserved for cars, to see the views and to be able to see the views and be able to stop and absorb the skylines on a bike it’s just a beautiful thing,” Cascade Bicycle Club’s Brent Tongco said

The third annual Emerald City Ride hosted by Cascade Bicycle Club runs a 12-mile loop through SR 99 on the Alaskan Way Viaduct, across the Aurora bridge, and on the I-5 express lanes.

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Last year’s ride did not include the Alaskan Way viaduct; this is the first time the group can ride SR 99. Cascade Bicycle Club reports they are expecting between 6,000 and 7,000 riders.

Don’t worry, the ride closes traffic on the viaduct and the express lanes for the ride. But drivers can expect to take alternate routes when the ride is underway.

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The ride begins and end on E. Frontage Road South just west of Pyramid Alehouse. Starting at 7 a.m., cyclists have access to the viaduct and at 7:15 a.m. they can enter the I-5 express lanes. Riders should be off the viaduct by 8:45 a.m. and off the express lanes by 9:30 a.m.

A local lobbying coalition, Recharge the Battery, urged the city to conserve the Battery Street Tunnel, the main route connecting the Alaskan Way Viaduct and Aurora Avenue. One suggestion was a bike lane among others. Despite these efforts, the Seattle City Council voted to have the tunnel filled.

The program to replace the viaduct includes the two-mile long tunnel beneath downtown Seattle soon to be completed. Plans also call for a new mile-long highway connecting the south entrance of the tunnel near the stadiums, a new overpass at the south end of downtown, and a new Alaskan Way street along the waterfront connecting SR 99 to downtown. The new plan will also change some bicycle routes.

Cyclists rode along I-5 during last year's Emerald City Ride. Photo courtesy of Cascade Bicycle Club.
Cyclists rode along I-5 during last year's Emerald City Ride. Photo courtesy of Cascade Bicycle Club. 
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For those considering registering, you can register online until 5 p.m. Friday. (click here to sign up). Cascade says it will also accept day-of registrations at the event.

Registration for the full 12-mile ride is $40 for non-members and $35 for Cascade Bicycle Club members. Alternatively, the 3-mile route is $25 for non-members and $20 for members. Youth ages 1-12 are $25 for the 12-mile ride and $10 for the 3-mile ride.

If you’re considering the ride and not sure what to expect, check out The Seattle Bike Blog’s story and photos from last year.

Cyclists rode along I-5 and the 520 bridge for last year's Emerald City Ride. Photo courtesy of Cascade Bicycle Club.
Cyclists rode along I-5 and the 520 bridge for last year's Emerald City Ride. Photo courtesy of Cascade Bicycle Club. 
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