Bike to Work Day was an opportunity for Guy Porter to jump back into cycling.
For decades he logged thousands of miles in his two-wheeled commute from Santa Rosa to Petaluma. On weekends he’d bike along Coleman Valley Road to Bodega Bay and eat lunch on the coast.
But recovery from a surgery forced Porter off his bike “for quite a while,” he said. So when Sonoma County began celebrating Bike to Work Month, he had an excuse to get back in the saddle and see if he could still manage a lengthy distance. The destination was Nortek’s Core Brands office on South McDowell Boulevard.
“I want to get back into cycling,” Porter said. “I used to have a spreadsheet, and I’d cycle between six and 8,000 miles a year. I had a 34-mile round trip commute from Santa Rosa to the south end of Petaluma.”
On May 10, Petaluma celebrated the 24th annual Bike to Work Day, part of a regional initiative encouraging residents to embrace multi-modal transportation as a means to improve health, help the environment, and create a stronger bond with the world outside. Nearly 100,000 riders took part across the nine Bay Area counties, including Rohnert Park Mayor Jake Mackenzie.
“Get out of the single occupancy vehicles that cause a lot of congestion on our roads,” he said in a press release. “Give it a shot.”
Petaluma placed six energizer stations around the city for bicyclists to stop by, grab a snack, get some swag and connect with other riders from 6 to 9 a.m. Petaluma transportation manager Jared Hall was at the North McDowell Boulevard station in Lucchesi Park, filling tote bags for each visitor.
“It really creates more community cohesion,” Hall said. “It’s a lot different experience when you’re walking or biking to work. You see so much more. You’re more connected to people, so it helps create stronger community.”
Porter was one of the riders Hall was able to welcome at Lucchesi Park. He was greeted with cheers and applause, which the volunteers did for every rider.
They rolled up to five tables lined with granola bars, fruit, Amy’s Kitchen burritos, water bottles and different bike accessories. The local sponsors included Petaluma Transit, the Petaluma Police Department, SMART, environmental services, and the public works and utilities department.
“We just want to show appreciation for people that do cycle throughout the year and help build our rider base to get people who don’t usually cycle to try, see if they like it, and hopefully do it more throughout the course of the year,” Hall said.
In the buildup to the county-wide event, a free clinic was held on April 28 to provide safety checks and teach bicyclists how to navigate traffic safely.
There were 20 total stations throughout the county, and even an after work party at Tread Brewing in Santa Rosa to gather everyone involved for some celebratory libations.
“We’re hoping to do it more in subsequent years and really grow it each year,” Hall said. “It’s the kind of thing you have to do for years, a decade-plus, and keep growing it every year.”
(Contact News Editor Yousef Baig at email@example.com or 776-8461, and on Twitter @YousefBaig.)