Happy bicycle commuters make a pit stop at the Actual Cafe. Photographs by Laura McCamy.
May 13 dawned cool and overcast. But the sun shone from the smiles of the enthusiastic greeters at energizer stations set up for the Bay Area’s 16th annual Bike to Work Day. Cyclists received cheers, goodie bags and snacks to encourage them on their ride. Oakland rode: to school or to work, carrying children in child-seats or dogs in front baskets, bike bags loaded up for the day ahead. The streets were filled with the happy sounds of whirring chains and tinkling bells.
In Alameda and Contra Costa counties, volunteers at 63 energizer stations handed out around 6,500 bags stuffed with information, energy bars, coupons and other treats. Dave Campbell, Bike to Work Day East Bay Coordinator, reported a 10 percent increase in ridership from last year at stations that operated both years (and last year was a very big year). The energizer station at Frank Ogawa Plaza is the most elaborate, offering a pancake breakfast, booths and free valet bicycle parking. In past years, this has been the East Bay’s most popular Bike to Work Day stop.
Yesterday, though a whopping 663 cyclists converged on the downtown Oakland celebration, this was not the busiest spot. Sproul Plaza’s energizer station greeted 700 bicycle commuters; 25 percent of the traffic at Telegraph and Bancroft avenues was bicycles during the morning commute.
Energizer stations in Oakland were largely a reflection of Oakland’s neighborhood pride: Stations were sponsored and staffed by local groups and businesses like Walk Oakland Bike Oakland, Rock Paper Scissors Collective and this year’s Bicycle Friendly Business Award winner, the Actual Café. Richard and Charlotte Oelerich, owners of Tip Top Bike Shop, sponsored a morning event at MacArthur BART, and one of the few evening energizer stations in the East Bay, at their store on Telegraph Avenue in Temescal.
Once again, the Bike Away From Work Party was not to be missed. On a closed-down stretch of Telegraph, Loni Hancock spoke about taking the fight for bicycle access to the Bay Bridge to Sacramento. Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates handed out awards to the Alameda and Contra Costa county Bicycle commuters of the year and awards were presented to the East Bay’s most bicycle friendly businesses. The Big Tadoo Puppet Crew presented their immensely entertaining bicycle safety show. The Crew, which travels to schools and presents their safety message to kids, was enthusiastically received by a rapt audience of adult cyclists.
Cyclecide brought bicycle-powered carnival rides. Tongue in cheek signs warning of likely death didn’t deter happy pedallers from spinning on the homemade rides. Cyclecide also performed their rodeo act, with live music accompanying chaotic bicycle choreography for the delighted crowd.
The East Bay Bicycle Coalition (EBBC) turned out a crew of dedicated volunteers to staff energizer stations and make sure the Bike Away from Work Party ran smoothly. Staffers worked long hours with grace and good cheer. EBBC is instrumental in coordinating East Bay Bike to Work Day activities.
Bike to Work Month does not end on May 13. You can still get together a team for the Team Bike Challenge. Lots of fun bike events are coming up in May and beyond right here in Oaktown. Get more info here.