By Devin Dunlevy
City News Reporter
Thousands got on two wheels instead of four last week to participate in the 10th annual Bike to Work/School Day last Thursday.
Community support for the growing tradition made it possible for all riders to receive a free breakfast for participating.
Breakfast sites were set up all over town, including at UC Santa Cruz and other schools. Cypress Health Institute provided free massages to bikers at most locations, and local bike shops provided free maintenance.
The festivities were part of Bike Week, a community tradition that offers incentives to encourage the sustainable form of transportation. According to Ecology Action’s Web site for the program, over 6,000 residents prevented 34,000 pounds of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere through the course of the week.
While participants enjoyed the freebies, some expressed the desire to see the biking infrastructure improved in the city and also stressed the need to stay safe.
“You don’t have to get hit very hard to go flying,” biking activist Sandy Rechenmacher said.
Danelle Pasquinucci, a local bike enthusiast, lauded the event as an excellent way to reinforce the idea that people can use alternative modes of transportation. She also suggested ways in which the community could make cycling safer.
“The biggest challenge is lack of awareness of visibility for cyclists and motorists,” Pasquinucci said. “We need a bike lane on Mission [Street] and more signs.”
Noah’s New York Bagels and Trader Joe’s sponsored the free breakfast at the intersection of Pacific Avenue and Water Street downtown. This location featured a large semitruck to raise awareness about visibility concerns.
Casey “Chainsaw” Devonshire of Spokesman Bicycles offered free bike service downtown for the event and encouraged bikers to license their bikes.
“Licensing bikes should be huge in this town,” Devonshire said. “Every student coming in should [do it].”
Licenses are distributed through the Santa Cruz Finance Department, and UCSC students can get a free license at the Recreation Office at the East Field House.
Alternatively, students can get a free license during drop-in bicycle maintenance, located by the outdoor basketball courts at the East Field House. According to the UCSC Web site, bike licenses are inputted into a statewide identification system, reducing the likelihood of bike theft.
The large convergence point downtown attracted political organizations. Mike Posner tabled for People Power, a group that advocates for human-powered forms of transportation in Santa Cruz County.
“We’re trying to change the streets,” Posner said. “Many times streets are designed by corporations for cars.”
The group distributed its publication, Santa Cruz Cycling News, and endorsed several candidates for the upcoming city election.
Although a huge focus of the event was safety, many people were quick to extol the beauty of biking.
“I’ve been a supporter of People Power forever,” participant CJ Freeborn said. “It’s a good cross-generational outreach.”
Devonshire also stressed the need for more bike lanes, but encouraged bikers to avoid Mission Street.
“Mission is impossible,” Devonshire said. “It’s a highway, and technically it’s legal to bike on Highway 17, but how often do you see a cyclist on 17?”