Bike Expo recap: 9300 strong!

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Despite a lagging economy and softness in the bike biz, Seattle Bike Expo 2010 drew its biggest crowds since the mid-2000s over the past weekend.

Around 9,300 attendees, including vendors and staff, crowded into the Expo’s new venue at Smith Cove — a boost of 21 percent over the past two years.

The number is well short of the record of 12,871, set in 1995 when the show was at Seattle Center’s Exhibition Hall and Mercer Forum Room. But given its recent downturn from the 10,000 level earlier in the decade, this year’s show is a solid indication that Expo is back on the rebound.

“We got positive feedback from all quarters,” said Peter Verbrugge, events promoter for the sponsoring Seattle-based Cascade Bicycle Club. Exhibitors “really liked” the new hall with its spectacular views of Puget Sound. ATMs ran out of money “twice, so you have to assume people were buying stuff,” he added.

The show accommodated more than 3,000 cars on Saturday and more than 1,000 bikes in bike parking. Verbrugge said route signage to the new location will be improved next year as well as some tweaks on-site for exhibitors. (With more than 300 booths available, the number of exhibitors this year did break the show’s all-time record of 144 in 2005.)

After years of moving around Seattle in search of a permanent home, Smith Cove appears to be a keeper for Expo. Verbrugge is already stoked over next year’s prospects: “We’ll be aiming for record attendance in 2011!” he said.

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