Bay Area Set for Its Biggest Bike to Work Day Yet

Bike commuters in Berkeley on Bike to Work Day last year. Flickr photo: ##http://www.flickr.com/photos/ebbc/4625093485/in/set-72157623979589221/##EBBC##

Bicycle coalitions around the Bay Area will be rolling out the red carpet for bike commuters for the 17th annual Bike to Work Day (BTWD) this Thursday with energizer stations, commuter convoys, after parties, and other fun events. As cycling continues to grow throughout the Bay Area, bicycle advocates and city officials are expecting it to be the biggest Bike to Work Day yet.

Here’s a round-up of what’s going on around the Bay on Bike to Work Day this Thursday, May 12:

Market Street at Octavia Boulevard. Photo: Aaron Bialick

San Francisco

San Franciscans are already enjoying the slew of new green paint that’s been laid down along Market Street from Octavia Boulevard to 8th Street over the past few weeks, as well as improvements to the Upper Market bike lanes.

“Along with all the new improvements on Market Street and neighborhoods throughout the city, we are seeing more people bicycling than ever before,” said San Francisco Bicycle Coalition (SFBC) Executive Director Leah Shahum in a statement. “This Bike to Work Day is a welcome opportunity for even more people living and working in San Francisco to test-ride the joys of bicycling in our beautiful city.”

The SFBC will have 25 energizer stations ready to meet riders along the city’s major routes. Market Street, the Panhandle, Valencia, Polk, and Third Streets will all have stops for free coffee, snacks, and “bike doctors” at the ready to keep cycling travelers fresh.

Commuter convoys meeting at points throughout the city will also escort riders, including nearly every member of the Board of Supervisors who will be riding from their respective districts. Supervisors Ross Mirkarimi and Sean Elsbernd are the only two members who won’t be pedaling to City Hall on Thursday.

The SFBC’s Dress-Up Challenge will showcase how fashionable riding a bike in the city can be. The organization is accepting photo submissions of riders’ snazziest work outfits to enter into a raffle at the Bike From Work Party and Fashion Show to take place in the evening.

East Bay

Cyclecide Rodeo at last year's EBBC Bike Away From Work Party. Flickr photo: ##http://www.flickr.com/photos/ebbc/4625022183/sizes/m/in/set-72157623979329811/##EBBC##

Oakland held the Bay Area’s first Bike to Work Day in 1994, said East Bay Bicycle Coalition (EBBC) Executive Director Renee Rivera. Oakland City Council members will continue the tradition by pedaling to a pancake breakfast event at Oakland City Hall. The EBBC will provide all-day valet bike parking, bike safety checks, free goodies, and a raffle. Members of the San Leandro City Council will also take part in a ride.

110 energizer stations will be in place at popular bike junctions throughout Alameda and Contra Costa Counties. One of the busiest hubs will be Ashby BART, the station with the second highest number of bike commuters in the BART system, said Rivera. A new bike parking station is helping to accommodate the 12 percent of users who bike.

The EBBC will also be counting riders at other popular stationed routes such as MacArthur and City Center BART and Lake Merritt in Oakland as well as Sproul Plaza on the UC Berkeley Campus, said Rivera.

The EBBC’s Bike Away From Work Party at 9th and Washington Streets in Old Oakland is expected to be the biggest in the Bay Area, said Rivera. It’ll be jumping with live music, the Cyclecide bicycle rodeo, and an award show for the Bike Commuter of the Year and Bike-Friendly Business Awards for Alameda and Contra Costa Counties.

South Bay and the Peninsula

San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed will be biking with the thousands of others expected in Santa Clara in San Mateo Counties on Thursday, said Colin Heyne, communications and development manager for the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition.

Bike parking at San Jose's Bike From Work Bash last year. Flickr photo: ##http://www.flickr.com/photos/bike/3532258551/sizes/m/in/photostream/##richardmasoner##

With 70 energizer Stations in Santa Clara and 23 in San Mateo County, commuter convoys, and two Bike Away From Work Bashes set in San Jose and Palo Alto, the Peninsula and South Bay are set to see huge numbers this Bike to Work Day.

On May 3rd, bicycles beat both cars and light rail in the two-mile Clean Commute Challenge with San Jose Councilmember Sam Liccardo, Silicon Valley Leadership Group CEO Carl Guardino, and others. Yesterday, San Jose city officials, including Vice Mayor Madison Nguyen, took to the streets by two wheels for a City Hall press event.

North Bay

The Marin and Sonoma County Bicycle Coalitions will be ready with 17 energizer stations in Marin and at least two dozen more in Sonoma. Marin’s BTWD After Party and Bike Expo will include Bike Commuter of the Year and Cal Park Tunnel awards, while Bike Home Celebrations can be found in several Sonoma County cities.

Over the past few years, not only are bicycle counts showing that more and more commuters are taking up cycling on Bike to Work Day, but newcomers can be seen making it a habit throughout the rest of the year in the Bay Area. East Bay cycling on Bike to Work Day has increased 250 percent over the last three years, said Rivera, and counts on San Francisco’s Market Street showed 32 percent increase last year.

“San Franciscans are biking in record numbers,” said Shahum. “This Bike to Work Day is a welcome opportunity for even more people living and working in San Francisco to test-ride the joys of bicycling in our beautiful city. It gives the entire community a chance to show our appreciation for people who bike.”

  • Anonymous

    Thanks to all the bicycle coalition volunteers for organizing this. Hopefully, many of the first time bicycle commuters will start doing it more often than once a year.

  • Anonymous

    While the numbers are impressive, I don’t think that biking to work will ever take off beyond a core, committed group of bicyclists. It’s just not fun to arrive at one’s workplace drenched in sweat. Weather is another factor. While we don’t have excessive heat or snow, we did have over 20 inches of rain; I can’t see myself riding to work in that. Add to that the steep vertical elevation changes in many parts of the City. So I’ll take a pass.

  • mikesonn

    You should give it a try. I bet you’ll find you don’t arrive to work sweaty (getting your bag off your back and onto a rack will help with this). Most offices downtown have showers (I know, not ideal, but an option). You can walk the bike up the hill, most hills in SF aren’t more then a couple blocks. Many people in the city don’t have to deal with a hill.

    Give it a try on Thursday, I bet you will be pleasantly surprised. And, once you try it, it’s not like you have to do it every day. But think of not having to go to the gym as much or as often because you are that much more active throughout the day.

    Edit: The rain isn’t that bad. Fenders go a long way. This was just a wet winter, so maybe you don’t ride on the rainy days. Again, you’d be surprised how often it doesn’t rain. You can always put your bike on the bus if you bike to work and it rains in the evening.

    But you can’t look at it as a complete lifestyle shift. Start small, just go on bike to work day, then maybe once a week/month and go from there.

  • Sandrew Bandit

    I’m not what you’d call a committed bicyclist, but I’m a commited anti-Muni-ist after some disastrous trips to work on Muni (where a 30 minute ride turned into a 90 – 120 minute ride as I was stuck in the tunnel with no chance of escape, I can walk to work in about an hour)

    Riding my bike to work takes less time than Muni, and I don’t arrive covered in sweat, though I do wear a t-shirt on the bike and change shirts at work (but I bike in my work pants). Takes me around 30 minutes for my 4.5 mile commute.
    I could do it faster, but like a relaxed pace.

    Even rain isn’t as bad as I thought it would be – I did buy a biking rain jacket (with pit-zips and a back vent), I wear my uninsulated nylon ski pants and a hat under my helmet. I arrive at work drier than if I had taken the bus (20 – 30 minutes of waiting for a connection is not a good way to stay dry)

    My commute starts with a steep climb for 3 blocks, but low mountain bike gearing helps with that.

    Try it on bike-to-work day, it might not be as bad as you imagine.

  • Anonymous

    Bike commuting definitely isn’t for everyone, and I certainly never imagined sticking to it when I started 4 years ago. The turning point was when I found I was really enjoying the journey, it was faster, and I wasn’t arriving the mess I thought I’d be. As a rule, I don’t ride at the start of the rainy season until the year’s oil slick drains into the Bay, but I’ve found the right gear has made even rain riding fun. I think you should give it a try, and stick with what you find fun.

  • jd

    I would echo the comments by ZA_SF and mikesonn: you don’t have to do it every day, just start easy (say once a week and not in the winter) and then build up. You’ll find that the rain really isn’t that big of a deal if you have the right gear. In fact, I find it quite enjoyable with the right gear, since the sound of the rain on my (waterproof) jacket is kinda of like laying in a tent when camping in a rain storm — very soothing. As for hills, as anybody who bikes regularly around the city can tell you (but people who don’t bike don’t know), unless you live and/or work on top of one, you can almost always avoid them (e.g., Google “wiggle san francisco”).

    And one of the things that bugs me about bicycling in this country (as compared to Europe or Asia) is that everybody who doesn’t regularly cycle thinks it has to be this hardcore recreational thing where you get sweaty (and where spandex and have these ridiculously expensive bikes). That is nonsense. Riding like you’re in a race is completely unnecessary and an idea we need to vanquish. Do you run down the street or do you walk when on your way to work or errands? You walk. And when you ride to work or errands on your bicycle, you do the equivalent of walking: you take it easy. It’s not a friggin race (unless you want it to be) and it drives me nuts that everyone thinks it has to be. Americans need to learn that you can get exercise without being so damn intense about it. Why does it always have to be all or nothing? Jeez …. Besides, given the obesity epidemic, clearly are ideas of exercise being this all-or-nothing thing aren’t working. Time to change that. Don’t exercise for the sake of exercise in these short intense bursts (though you can do that in *addition* if you want), but integrate exercise into your day-to-day routine by using it to get you somewhere. You’ll find you’ll do much more of it, and even though it’s less intense, you still end up way ahead than if you think of exercise as something you have to go to the gym for.

  • I ride my bike to work in a suit-jacket nearly every day. Guys in multicolored Spandex whizz past me, sweating and intense, while I tool along at a lovely pace, sweat free and smiling, waving to people I do and don’t know who smile at me and my bright orange Public D3.

    If it rains, I switch to my old Bianchi Milano and waterproof gear, with lots of blinking lights.

    It’s really a brilliant way to get around.

  • Windspike

    I ride my bike to work every day, wearing a tie. I don’t arrive to work “drenched in sweat.” There’s a reason why bikes have gears, and because you are on a bike doesn’t mean you have to join up the tempo line speeding in whatever direction. I find, actually, that a nice leisurely pace ensures two things – 1) a great ride to work, and 2) a much safer approach to getting to work with no mishaps.

  • duckgoose

    can anyone please ID the hottie in the first pic??? thnx

  • TranMan

    DuckGoose, they all look like guys to me.

    Still, whatever floats your boat.

  • Two major things that save me from sweating:

    – A basket. It holds my backpack, and if I overdress for the weather, I can easily throw my sweater in it at a stop light. 😀

    – An internal hub. The extremely flexible gear shifting removes most of the need for strain and is such an easier way of riding. These are the norm in Denmark and the Netherlands (though they’re cheaper there for reasons I don’t know). It’s a bit more expensive, and they only seem to be available on a handful of bikes in the U.S., but I say it’s totally worth the investment.

    Here’s my bike as an example, though that specific model is discontinued.