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Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition organizes fundraising ride

Published: Wednesday, January 2, 2013 at 10:30 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 2, 2013 at 9:39 a.m.

The Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition, the advocacy group for local cycling issues, this year will add a benefit bike ride to its efforts to raise money to meet its $500,000 budget.

“Doing a fundraiser bike ride makes a lot of sense, we do encourage people to ride bikes,” said Sandra Lupien, the bike coalition's outreach director. “It is a departure from our mission, but hopefully it will generate lots of publicity.”

The coalition ended the 2012 year with a $50,000 fundraising drive, but was only able to raise $25,000.

Lupien said that it may mean cutting back on the coalition's advocacy efforts and its educational program, which provides safety instruction to cyclists and is mandated by the courts for some juvenile offenders.

“We won't go out of business, however, we may have to scale back our advocacy effort,” Lupien said. “Our advocacy program, which is the core of our mission. is the most challenging thing to fund. Having a strong membership and a strong base of donors is important to our success.”

The coalition's major effort now is promoting the Vulnerable Users Ordinance, meant to add protections for cyclists, pedestrians and skateboard riders by giving them the ability to sue motorists and bicyclists for harassment.

The City of Sebastopol has adopted the ordinance, which is being considered by the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors and will be presented to the county's other cities.

The coalition has a $500,000 budget, which supports four full-time and three part-time employees.

Two-thirds of the budget is federal support of the coalition's Safe Routes to Schools program, while the remainder is sponsorships, dues and donations.

The coalition's largest events now are the Bike to Work Day and a bicycle exposition that is held in Santa Rosa.

The fundraiser bike ride, scheduled for June 22, was the idea of Whole Foods Markets, which has two stores in Santa Rosa and stores in Sebastopol and Sonoma, Lupien said.

Lupien said the ride will start and end at the Whole Foods store at Coddingtown in Santa Rosa. The goal is to draw 1,200 riders and raise $50,000.

It will include routes of approximately 18, 35, 65 and 100 miles.

The ride will be one of a dozen similar rides that include the Giro Bello, with about 600 riders, the long-established Wine County Century, 2,500 riders, and Levi Leipheimer's King Ridge GranFondo, 7,500 riders.

“There are so many bike rides in Sonoma County that we were worried, but there is no shortage of people wanting to ride in Sonoma County,” Lupien said. “Is there a point where there are too many rides? It doesn't seem to be the case.”

You can reach Staff Writer Bob Norberg at 521-5206 or bob.norberg@pressdemocrat.com.

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