Bike Buddy

Bike Buddies is a program that connects experienced bike commuters with new riders.

Ride with the pack

Bike Buddies are UW students, faculty, and staff who have bike commuting figured out and want to help others who live near them bike commute to campus. Often, figuring out a comfortable bike route from your neighborhood to the UW is the biggest barrier in bike commuting. Bike Buddies are your new friends who know the way.

For new riders who want to start bike commuting to their UW destination. We will match you with one or more Bike Buddies who live near you and have a compatible commuting schedule.

For experienced bike commuters! Let us know about yourself and we will add you to our internal Bike Buddy list. When someone who lives near you needs help finding their way to the UW on a bike, we will connect them with you.


FAQ for new riders requesting Bike Buddies

Do you have a Bike Buddy for my neighborhood?

Probably! The best way to find out is to fill out the Bike Buddy request form. We may even have several Bike Buddies in your neighborhood, in which case we’ll try to connect you with more than one to help make scheduling easier. You can click here to see a generalized map of the neighborhoods where we have Bike Buddies (locations are not exact). Even if you don’t see a Bike Buddy on the map, send the request anyway - some Bike Buddies are able to go out of their way to help, and it’s helpful to know what neighborhoods need some more Bike Buddy recruitment!

My bike isn’t quite working right. Can the Bike Buddy fix it?

Nope! A Bike Buddy is not your bike mechanic – your Buddy is your friend who lives near you and happens to also work at the UW, and who is eager to share their bike route with you. You can get your bike fixed at the UW’s own ASUW Bike Shop (you can put the bike on the bus and have it repaired on campus before you ever ride in), or your friendly neighborhood bike shop.

I don’t have a bike yet. Is there one I can borrow to see if I’m into this?

Bike rentals will soon be available through the UWild Adventures program. They may also be available through your neighborhood bike shop. For some neighborhoods, Pronto Cycle Share may be a commute option to campus.

What kind of route will my Bike Buddy take me on?

Every Bike Buddy’s route is a little different – it’s the route that works for them. Talk with your Bike Buddy before you ride together to learn about what the route is like. Most routes involve some mixture of neighborhood streets, bike lanes, and trails. Bike Buddies are encouraged to modify their route when they ride with new riders to choose comfort over speed when possible. Talk to your Bike Buddy about your comfort level with different kinds of situations.

What other gear do I need?

In addition to a bike, you should have the following items:

  • A bicycle helmet that fits your head.
  • A U-lock (and a plan about where you will park on campus).
  • Lights, if there’s any chance you could be riding in the dark.
  • A way to carry your stuff – backpacks are just fine if you aren’t ready to invest in a bicycle bag and rack.
  • Bright-colored clothing – in good weather, you don’t need “bike clothes,” but favor bright, visible colors, items you can move around in, and multiple layers so that you can add and subtract for comfort.
  • A backup transportation plan – your U-PASS or ORCA card, ride-share app, etc.

Don’t feel like you need a full bike commuting getup just to try this out. Use what you have. If there’s a chance of rain, fenders and a light waterproof jacket will vastly improve your comfort.

I want to learn more about how to ride on city streets. How can I do that?

Come to one of our bike classes. Free of charge, these classes are open to all UW affiliates and present information on the techniques, equipment, and etiquette that make riding a breeze. Going to one of these classes is not a prerequisite to requesting a Bike Buddy. Still, we’d love to meet you in a class!

Is the intention that I ride with my Bike Buddy every time I ride to campus?

Only if you and your Bike Buddy want to. The intention of the Bike Buddy program is to give you access to an experienced bike commuter to ride with once or a handful of times. However, if the “bike train” suits you, that’s great! Send us a picture at ucommute@uw.edu.

I have another question not covered here. Who can I send it to?

Awesome! Send it to ucommute@uw.edu. We look forward to connecting with you.


FAQ for Bike Buddies

How often will I be matched with new potential riders?

The frequency of matches depends a lot on your neighborhood and how often people who live there request bike commute help. Such requests also vary by time of year. We understand that Bike Buddies won’t be able to respond to every request – no worries. If you can’t help with a particular request, just reply and say so, and we’ll get that person matched with another nearby Bike Buddy.

My route is mostly safe but there is a complicated part. Will it work for a new rider?

It’s a good idea to talk through the route with your match before riding it with them. Tell them about the good parts, about the complicated parts, and about how you’ve figured out how to work with those sections in a way that makes you comfortable. Think about whether there are side streets or other ways of getting through particular intersections that might work better for your buddy’s experience level.

What if the person I’m matched with doesn’t have a working bike or doesn’t know how to ride?

In our communications with people requesting a Bike Buddy, we find out how much experience they have. For people who tell us they haven’t ridden a bike in years, we can direct them to other services offered by our community partners that are well-positioned to get them going. We also let people know that a working bike is part of the requirement for taking advantage of the Bike Buddy program.

I live in a far-out neighborhood and/or take transit + bike to get to campus. Can I be a Bike Buddy?

Absolutely Anybody who gets to UW using a bike can be a Bike Buddy. If your bike commute is working for you, it can work for someone who lives near you, and you are in a unique position to help them figure out it. This is particularly true with bike-plus-transit commutes, since the first time getting the bike on the rack can feel intimidating!

Is the intention that I ride with my Bike Buddy every time I ride to campus?

Only if you and your Bike Buddy want to. The intention of the Bike Buddy program is to give new, prospective riders access to an experienced bike commuter to ride with once or a handful of times. However, if the “bike train” suits you, that’s great! Send us a picture at ucommute@uw.edu.

I have another question not covered here. Who can I send it to?

Awesome! Send it to ucommute@uw.edu. We look forward to connecting with you.