Letter to the Governor

  • Posted on
  • By Brian Nordwall
  • Posted in Covid-19

Dear Sir/Madame

First, I apologize for contacting several of you on the same matter.  I wished to avoid phone calls to determine the best  recipient, as they are even more intrusive during what must be your busiest time in State service.  If you are not an appropriate addressee, I would be grateful if you would forward it to the best  person.
I am assuming that Governor Inslee  is considering, on a continuous basis, whether to order the type of lockdown that Illinois, New York, California, Philadelphia, Louisiana, and a number of other states and municipalities have issued in one form or another. The "stay at home." Order.  I understand and appreciate the measured approach he is taking, especially when there must be enormous pressure on him to select the most draconian of options.  
I am writing to suggest that in the event the Governor decides to pull that trigger, he should include bicycle repair shops on the list of essential businesses, as have San Francisco, then the entire State of California, then the City of Philadelphia, and last Friday, New York City and New York State.  I expect other jurisdictions that are  in lockdown will follow.  Seattle  has, per capita, the largest pedal fleet of any jurisdiction in the Country with the exception of Portland. Far more than any of the "stay in place" cities.   We need to keep this  fleet running at this critical time. 
Shown second below is a link to a blog on our website, www.electricbikeseattle.com, explaining how bikes and E-Bikes provide  the perfect way to encourage social distancing. We published it three days ago, on March 12.   Bike riding inherently keeps people more than ten feet apart, and outdoors, which is critical under current conditions.  It is also a means of recreation that fights the cabin fever we are all feeling, mitigating the burden of social distancing and if needed,  "stay in place" more palatable.  The less burdensome isolation is, the more citizens will do their part.   As opposed to a non assisted bike,  an E-Bike  extends the rider's range, speed and payload, so they can transport themselves, and their necessities  easily to and from  the drugstore or supermarket, or to their job at an essential service.   I am 68 and am self isolating, so I understand the toll it takes.  
 Because range, speed, and hill climbing are all enhanced, it is an excellent substitute for mass transit for people going to other essential businesses.  For many mass transit commuters, electric assist will be essential to handling Seattle's hills, since they are not necessarily conditioned for our steep grades.    Obviously, anything starting with the word "mass" is not the best current solution. Foregoing mass transit is essential under present conditions.  
 Seattle E-Bike actually repairs more non assisted bikes than it does E-Bikes, all at our  two floor location at 220 South Jackson Street  in Seattle's Pioneer Square Historic District.  We are the only shop in King County that has consistently serviced and repaired both types of bikes and have done so since I founded it in 2011. We are continuing to do so during this crisis. Even though sales of non service items have dropped 95 percent, we are open on a safe, limited basis. 
We have developed procedures to ensure employee and customer safety through this perilous time.  We first published these in the blog entitled "You can shop and get service at Seattle E-Bike", the first attachment below, which was published on March 13, 10 days ago
Since that announcement,  we have tightened up procedures even more.  Every bike, and every surface in our store has been disinfected.  Each bike is disinfected again before a customer takes it on a test ride.  All service bikes are transferred from the customer to us out doors, to a mechanic or manager who is wearing gloves.  The bike is immediately disinfected.  Then gloves are changed.  Before delivery back to the service customer the bike is disinfected again.  Transfer takes place again outside. The customer comes in only to insert the credit card into the reader, which is located 4 feet from our front doors, which remain open  delivering  fresh air during  the transaction.  The same essential procedure is followed with test rides:  the customer fills out the test ride application outside, clips their driver's license and credit card to the clipboard, and hands it (outside) to a gloved employee. The bike is  then brought outside for the customer to test it.   In addition, our sales floor is Three thousand square feet, with at most two people present on the floor at any time, so maintaining ample social distance is easy.   As I suggested earlier, sales and test rides have become extremely rare during this crisis, while service continues apace.  
I admire the Governor's deliberate approach on the "stay in place" issue.  Our state is "sui generis."   Washington had Case Number One, and was the first epicenter, apparently eclipsed by New York City in the last 36 hours.  Due in part to the actions of Amazon, Microsoft and others, and Governor Inslee's leadership,  the citizens of this State began a serious social distancing and self isolation practice sooner than any other.  I have read intimations in the past 36 hours that Washington has begun to flatten the curve.  It would make sense that we would be first.  However, as more test kits are available every day, the number of reported cases will continue to rapidly rise, even if the number of people with the virus has leveled off.  Hopefully there are computer models and algorithms to adjust for the difficulty presented by the evolution of the incoming data.  
I have great sympathy for Governor Inslee.  He has a very difficult decision to make.  A great weight rests on his shoulders.  I won't quote Shakespeare, but the most famous quote from "Henry IV" is applicable.  
I am respectfully suggesting it would be in the best interests of the Citizens of this State, that in the event the Governor orders "stay in place" that his order includes  bicycle repair facilities in the "essential service" designation, as has been done in  the orders issued for  Philadelphia, New York City, San Francisco, California and New York State.  
Respectfully submitted,