Hallie Baron —
OAKLAND, Calif., … The forecast of rain could not keep tens of thousands of bike commuters across the Bay Area from participating in Bike to Work Day’s 21st anniversary celebration. Warmed by the excitement of their commutes — many for the first time — and cheered on by thousands of volunteers at over 400 Energizer Stations throughout the region, participants turned a normal Thursday commute into an occasion to be remembered.
Downtown Oakland, photo courtesy of Noah Berger
“The Bay Area is a national leader in ‘green’ commuting,” said Dave Cortese, chair of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) and president of the Santa Clara Board of Supervisors. “In the past several years, MTC has elevated bicycling and other ‘green’ commute options to the top of our agenda. The Commission’s most recently adopted regional transportation plan, called Plan Bay Area, will invest billions of dollars to increase the safety and ease of walking and bicycling for Bay Area residents.” MTC has funded the regional Bike to Work Day event since 1994.
Energizer Stations located near bike lanes, trails, transit stations and employment centers were crowded with bike commuters sipping coffee, fueling up on Clif bars and other goodies, and collecting their reusable, commemorative 2015 Bike to Work Day bags.
Morning counts tallied from all nine Bay Area counties (Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano and Sonoma) showed a slight decrease in the number of riders who stopped at an Energizer Station for goodies and encouragement compared to the 2014 Bike to Work Day numbers. And while the threat of rain kept some riders away, adding in those commuters who did not stop at an Energizer Station totals out the 2015 rider count to well over 100,000 participants.
Not to be outdone by the commuters themselves, local politicians also came out on two wheels or helpedat various Energizer Stations. Community members and elected officials, Benecia Mayor /STA Board Chair Elizabeth Patterson; Fairfield Mayor Harry Price; Suisin City Mayor Pete Sanchez; Vacaville Mayor Len Augustine; Dixon Mayor Jack Batchelor; Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates; Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley; Oakland Commissioners Dan Kalb, Abel Guillen, Lynette McElhaney, Noel Gallo, Annie Washington and Rebecca Kaplan; Marin County Supervisor Kate Sears; San Francisco Supervisors Eric Mar, Mark Farrell, Julie Christensen, Katy Tang, Jane Kim, and Malia Cohen; San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee; Redwood City Mayor Jeff Gee; Pacifica Councilmember Sue Digre; and many others. And a challenge between first-term Mayors Libby Schaaf (Oakland) and Sam Liccardo (San Jose) to see who could get more riders out brought out city workers and residents alike. Both are MTC commissioners. There was even a special guest – Mayor Morten Kabell of Copenhagen, Denmark!
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, photo courtesy of Kingmond Young
Several other MTC commissioners also participated in Bike to Work Day. Greeting commuters at Energizer Stations or pedaling as part of rider convoys, the commissioners showed their commitment to making bike commuting a priority across the Bay Area. In addition to Mayors Schaaf and Liccardo, participating MTC commissioners included Campbell Vice Mayor Jason Baker, Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates – who brought a special guest, Mayor Morten Kabell of Copenhagen, Denmark, Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty, Caltrans District 4 Director Bijan Sartipi, Solano County Supervisor Jim Spering and Napa County Supervisor Mark Luce.
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, photo courtesy of Noah Berger
“Incorporating exercise into our daily routine is so important for our health and well-being,” said Dr. Eshwar Kapur, Sports Medicine Specialist at Kaiser Permanente, South San Francisco. “It’s a key tool in stress reduction and sleep maintenance, and exercise can prevent many chronic illnesses. Cycling, as thousands of people throughout the Bay Area did today on Bike to Work Day, is a great way to incorporate low-impact, heart-healthy exercise into our busy daily schedules.”
While the Bay Area’s celebration of Bike to Work will mostly be over as this week ends, Team Bike Challenge— a friendly competition that encourages participants to increase their personal bicycling mileage — continues throughout May. The possibility of winning prizes and much-coveted bragging rights keep participants pedaling. To date, over 12,000 individuals and more than 500 companies have registered to ride on 1,640 teams. Together, they’ve logged almost 191,600 miles, saved over 191,000 pounds of CO2 and burned more than 8.2 million calories!
Another important Bike Month program, celebrated throughout the Bay Area, is the Bike Commuter of the Year (BCOY)awards. Each of the region’s nine counties nominates bike commuters who consistently ride their bike for transportation and inspire others to do the same. The winners are selected by the county’s Bike to Work Day representative. The 2015 Bike Commuters of the Year are:
• Alameda County — Gail Lillian
• Contra Costa County — Eric Odell
• Marin County — Juliette Busiek
• Napa County — Jim Christman
• San Francisco City & County — Rheema Colloway
• San Mateo County — Nathan Losch
• Santa Clara County — Katie Heaney
• Solano County — Mac Halsted
• Sonoma County — Eric Eisenhart
Congratulations to these amazing, dedicated bicycle commuters. Read their stories at http://www.youcanbikethere.com/2015-bike-commuter-year-winners.
Golden Gate Energizer Station Downtown Berkeley, photo courtesy of Rebecca Long
In addition to MTC (the transportation planning, financing and coordinating agency for the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area), 511 (the region’s traveler information system) and Kaiser Permanente, Bike to Work Day 2015 receives regional support from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD), the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) district, KPIX5, Clear Channel Outdoor, Canary Foundation Challenge, Bay Area Bike Share, REI and Clif Bar, as well as from many sponsors at the local level. Prizes for Bike Commuter of the Year and Bike to Work Day are donated by Chipotle, Mike’s Bikes, PUBLIC Bikes and Monkeylectric. The event is made possible through the cooperation of thousands of volunteers, MTC, county congestion management agencies, local jurisdictions, local bicycling coalitions and the Bay Area Bicycle Coalition.
Interviews, photos and video available.