Today is an historic day on Mercer Island, as the city officially inaugurates the world’s largest velodrome. The Mercer Island Velodrome*, an open-air track that measures slightly over thirteen miles in length, will be open to all cyclists on a 24-by-7 basis throughout the year.
Floyd Armstrong, spokesperson for the Cascade Bicycle Club, hailed the opening of the velodrome as a watershed event for Mercer Island and the Pacific Northwest bicycling community: “We’re so pleased that Mercer Island is stepping up to provide a world-class facility for historically underserved Seattle-area cyclists. We are proud to welcome all cyclists, regardless of skill level or size of group, to use this new velodrome. The more, the merrier.”
Mercer Island Mayor Bart Bastion said that the velodrome is the result of years of research and planning by the city council and city staff: “Islanders tell us repeatedly how much they value living in a community that has a smaller, more laid-back feeling than the surrounding cities of Seattle and Bellevue. And there’s nothing more soothing than looking through your window at a pack of cyclists riding four abreast at fifteen miles-per-hour.”
Not everyone on Mercer Island supports the new velodrome. Said one Island resident: “The noise pollution these cyclists generate creates an environmental hazard. Mostly due to their non-stop yapping about their power meters and Strava rankings.”
While the velodrome track is officially for bicycles only, area cyclists say that they will allow motor vehicles and pedestrians to use it on an informal basis when it does not interfere with cyclist use. Said CBC spokesperson Armstrong: “We will treat them with the same courtesy that we have received over the years.”
*Preliminary name. The Mercer Island City Council is still seeking a sponsor to purchase the naming rights.