The Significance of Bike to Work Day

So the latest Bike To Work Day numbers are in: last Thursday, over 10,000 people rode a bike to work in Alameda County.

While the methods used to arrive at these figures may be a tad dubious, BTWD makes one thing clear: hella people ride bikes in the Bay Area.  And I’m not talking about recreational riding.

Despite how the predominant “bike culture” portrays urban cycling every other day of the year – an exclusive activity persude largely by affluent, white hipsters or roadies – BTWD exposes bike life by the Bay for what it really is: ordinary folks choosing to use their bicycles for practical reasons every day.  In this case, coming to and from work….or school… or wherever!

For the second consecutive year, I helped man the Energizer Station at rideSFO in West Oakland.  Set up began ’round 6:30am – just in time for the early bird commuters.  In addition to the traditional BTWD tote bag filled with goodies, cyclists who stopped by our station helped themselves to delicious baked goods donated by Sweet Adeline, coffee donated by Kinetic Koffee, and…um… Muscle Milk.  No joke.  While I mingled with the volunteers and passers by, Phil was busy setting up the speakers and it wasn’t long before we had Jay-Z shaking the neighborhood.  My goodness, I had a great time.

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Bike To Work Day has an additional, personal significance for me.  It was on a BTWD six years ago in Santa Cruz that I discovered cycling as a method for promoting social, environmental and economic justice.  I was riding up to Oakes College, totally unaware that BTWD even existed, when I ran into an Energizer Station hosted by the local bicycle advocacy organization, People Power.  I stopped, grabbed a banana and began searching through my free bike bag.  I found a People Power pamphlet and began to read…

… A few months later I was an intern at People Power.  Then at the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.  Then the Bay Area Bicycle Coalition.  After graduation, I moved back to the Bay, settling in Oakland where I continued to be involved in the bicycle advocacy movement, serving on the Board of Directors of Walk Oakland Bike Oakland and helping to start the East Bay Bike Party.

Bike To Work Day literally changed my life.

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