The heat was on last weekend, just in time to kick off the outdoor festival season. But instead of riding over to the A la Carte and Art festival in downtown Mountain View, Dick and I rode across town to REI to represent the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition (SVBC) at REI CycleFest. In addition to working with government and businesses for improved bike facilities, SVBC also provides education and encouragement for riders through programs like Safe Routes to School and Bike to Work Day, which is coming up this Thursday.
Bike to Work Day is the kickoff of the biking season for casual riders, who will dust off their bikes, pump up the tires and dig out a messenger bag for a bike commute to work. For people who ride every day, Bike to Work Day can lack excitement. It’s just another work commute, albeit with a few more riders out on the road and a chance to get a free muffin or banana along the way at an Energizer Station.
For Dick and me, REI Cyclefest was a perfect way to help people jumpstart their riding. The other booths had gear covered, so we spent most of our time pointing at the bike map talking about where to ride: efficient, low-traffic routes to work or stores and scenic, quiet routes for fun. About half the attendees were neighborhood and bike path only riders, while the rest were comfortable with on-street routes. All were looking for new options.
First it was a couple from East Palo Alto that was curious about riding across the bay on the Dumbarton Bridge. Then it was a double century rider looking for a cross-valley route to Mt Hamilton east of San Jose. Then a woman in her 70s who sees the Guadalupe River Trail from the freeway but can’t find a trail entrance. Then a teenage boy from Palo Alto who loves roam the gravel levees in the Baylands–how far they could take him?
For all the rhetoric about why people don’t ride, I think what limits cycling is how many nearby places there are where people feel comfortable riding. People love bikes, but if they don’t have a good route to work or school, or they have to load bikes on a car for every social ride, they won’t ride as much. It all starts with the route.
Do you find yourself doing same old rides? How do you find new routes or ideas for places to ride?