Spokane Valley Cycle Celebration’s organizers thought last week they’d scored a victory, when the health district finally gave them the green light to go ahead with their annual bike ride. But those hopes were dashed as Spokane County’s prospects of moving beyond Phase 2 become more distant.
The bike ride through scenic routes near Spokane Valley, planned for July 26, has now been canceled.
The yearly event is presented by ValleyFest, Spokane Valley’s annual community festival. Riders have the option of taking a 10-, 20- or 50-mile bike ride beginning and ending at Mirabeau Point Park.
Though the ride typically draws over 300 people, ValleyFest director Peggy Doering said organizers remained optimistic the event could be held in compliance with Phase 2 social distancing guidelines. The ride’s website listed precautions to be taken, including mask-wearing at the beginning of the race when riders would be clustered together, and staggered start times to keep large groups from forming.
Doering said planners had been in touch with the health district to get guidance on how the event could go forward, and felt everyone was on the same page. Organizers were still moving at a steady clip to finish the permitting process, but not everything was quite set in stone yet, Doering said.
On Saturday, the event’s Facebook page announced they’d been approved by Dr. Bob Lutz, Spokane Regional Health District’s health officer.
“Dr. Lutz and everyone had been helpful in figuring out what we should do, and we liked the plan, things felt good,” Doering said. “We were very optimistic. That optimism is now punctured.”
The city of Spokane Valley emailed Doering Friday, saying due to Phase 2’s restrictions on gatherings, Cycle Celebration was not likely to get the permits it needed. Then, on Monday, Lutz told Doering more of the same.
At a press conference Monday, Lutz said he had initial conversations with promoters, but said there was a misunderstanding on his part about how permits are granted for events. Spokane County is in Phase 2 of the governor’s Safe Start plan, meaning that gatherings of more than five people are not permitted, he said.
Doering chalked it up to a miscommunication, saying that maybe the health district had assumed the event was being planned in the hopes of being in Phase 3 by that time.
“I think it was miscommunication combined with sheer optimism and hope,” Doering said.
Lutz did not immediately respond to a request for further comment Tuesday afternoon.
While the bike ride won’t be rescheduled for any time this year, Doering said organizers are already shifting their focus to next year’s event, planned for July 25.
Riders who already registered for the event will be refunded, but Doering encouraged those disappointed by the cancellation to plan a cycle celebration of their own instead. The event’s varying routes are available on their website.
“The whole purpose of the ride is to celebrate Spokane Valley’s incorporation and to get people out seeing the beauty of our city on their bikes,” Doering said. “And we’re seeing a lot more people riding bikes around town during the pandemic anyways, so we’re hopeful that carries on regardless.”
Spokesman-Review reporter Arielle Dreher contributed to this report.
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