2010 Bike Commuter of the Year Winners
These 2010 Bike Commuters of the Year have been recognized for their dedication to riding their bike for every day transportation. Their inspiring stories are testaments to the many benefits of bicycle commuting from improving their health to bringing families together. You too can reap the rewards of bicycling, even if you ride just a few times a week. Give it at try. You'll soon find yourself riding more and more.
About a year and a half ago, TD Fisher declared she couldn’t drive another day to her job as an orthotist for children with disabilities to work sites in Antioch, Oakley, Lafayette and Oakland. She knew she could find a better commute. So, she became a “bicycling orthotista.”
TD now carries her tools on a Specialized Rockhopper. “Bicycling is easy,” says TD. “You don’t need fancy clothes or equipment and anyone can do it.” And TD sure does it. She hauls electric grinders, heat guns, casts, braces, saws, scissors, and cutters, all on her bike. “I quickly figured out how to do that with metal racks that fold, bungees and front panniers.The kids who I work with love it when they see me show up on the bike,” TD explains.
For 10 years, she used her car for work and she thought she was going to go crazy driving so much. “I felt like I was limited in doing my job.” She used to put up to 1000 miles a month on her car. But then a friend gave her a kids bike trailer to use for carrying her tools with an old mountain bike of hers. After the bike broke, the Missing Link Bicycle Coop in Berkeley set her up with her Rockhopper and it “works great.” Last year, she only drove one time. People notice and stop her to talk about all the stuff she carries. She especially loves talk to people on BART. She uses BART when she needs to and often rides up to 13-15 miles one way, though she wishes BART allowed bikes on at all times. Her love of biking has led her to be a top fundraiser for Bay Area Outreach and Recreation Program (BORP) an organization that assists disabled folks to ride bikes and do other sports.
She also goes with friends on “bike toodles” around town guiding them around and showing them how easy it is to bicycle. “I have so many friends with bikes who are afraid to ride. They are able people who don’t have a relationship with their bikes. So I take them on guided “toodles” around town, to make bicycling seem less intimidating. There is no place in the East Bay that can’t be accessed with a flat route,” TD assures us.
Louis is a consummate bicyclist. He lives in San Pablo and commutes by bicycle to his part-time job as an adult education teacher for the West Contra Costa Unified School District. He commutes between two job locations in Richmond and San Pablo on his Bridgestone and has done so for more more than 5 years. “My Bridgestone is a real beater,” Louis says. “It’s a tank of a bike, but has a real rack and a pannier, and does the job of carrying my books, groceries, everything, rain or shine.”
His commutes also include jaunts into Hayward to visit his mother and to take classes at Cal State East Bay. Even at 11pm at night you can find him on the street making his way home from Hayward, via Oakland, Emeryville, Berkeley, Albany, El Cerrito and Richmond. When needed he utilizes BART to transport his trusty steed and himself around the Bay to appointments and classes. “It’s not the distance. It’s not the weather or the terrain. It’s the traffic that’s sometimes the toughest part,” Louis states about bicycling longer distances.
Louis has ridden bicycles since childhood. He participated in BMX races as a boy. He is absorbed by bicycling e.g. easily identifying bicycles and equipment at a glance, their engineering and history. He favors steel-frame bikes. And when he rides, Louis is a consummate rider. He rides rain or shine. As a kid, he had a girlfriend in Southern California and he rode his bicycle from San Pablo down the coast into the San Joaquin Valley via Kettleman City down country roads until he met up with his girlfriend in Southern California.
He teaches mathematics to adults pursuing a GED diploma and is going back to San Jose State University this Fall to get a degree in biomedical engineering. Louis dropped out of high school many years ago and realized in his twenties a need for education. He went back to school attending Contra Costa College and San Jose State University. He earned a degree in Engineering from San Jose State. During his studies at SJSU he participated in a short internship with bicycle legend “Phil Wood”. “I’m looking forward to riding to San Jose State along the Bay Trail past the Oakland Airport and across the new San Leandro Slough Bridge and down south along the Bay Trail,” Louis says. The new San Leandro Slough Bridge is scheduled to open on Bike to Work Day this year.
Expectant Father selected as 2010 Marin Bike Commuter of the Year
Bevan Jones loves to ride his bike.
Rain or shine, Bevan Jones is committed to riding his bike daily from Mill Valley to his job in San Francisco. On days that are really nice he will take the mountain bike and ride over the mountain instead of the road. Even more impressive, he’s ridden to every doctor’s appointment and birthing class – and back to work – in preparation for the birth of his first child in late June. This means he will ride to the city in the morning, back to Marin for the appointment, then back to the city until he is done with work, and finally back home to Marin in the evening.
Bevan simply is committed to riding and loves it. The thought of taking the car has never even crossed his mind. He is a great inspiration to all of his friends and family, as well as an amazing role model for young bike riders everywhere.
Bevan will be honored at the Bike to Work Day end-of-day party from 4-6 PM at Mike’s Bikes of Sausalito on May 13.
Greg Stueland, an avid cyclist and runner, rides to work every day from his home in Browns Valley to the Napa Running Company where he works. He also bikes to and from town, or anywhere else he goes. Since his arrival to the Napa Valley in 2002, Greg has been a staunch supporter of the cycling community. A past president of the Eagle Cycling Club, Greg has been the coordinator for the Tour of Napa Valley bicycle ride, a ride with 2000 participants, for the past two years. Greg definitely commutes and is also a great ambassador for bicycling.
John’s daily round trip commute from San Francisco’s Noe Valley to nVidia in Santa Clara combines a 20 mile bike ride and 70 miles of Caltrain’s on-board bicycle carriage 3 days every week. He rides the entire 45 mile distance to work with the San Francisco 2 Google group, sf2g.com, on the remaining 2 workdays. When recruitment work outside the office takes him to Berkeley he rides BART to downtown and valet parks at Bikestation. When he heads to Healdsburg on Friday nights he takes his bike on Golden Gate Transit. John’s commitment to bicycle advocacy is reflected on his widely read “Holier Than You Blog”, http://holierthanyou.blogspot.com/ . John is deserving of the Cyclist of the Year award because he embodies a lifestyle of “all things bicycle”.
John provides a shining example of sustainable, healthy, multimodal, can-do commuting in the Bay Area, with bicycles at the heart of his tripmaking. Not only does John commute from his home in SF’s Noe Valley to his office in Santa Clara by bike & train three days a week (taking advantage of Caltrain’s world-famous onboard bicycle bring-along service), he rides all the way to work with the SF2G group the other two days, and travels to Healdsburg via bicycle and Golden Gate Transit bus on the weekends. When business takes him to Berkeley he utilizes BART with his bike and parks his two-wheeler at the Berkeley Bikestation, convenient, healthy, and green. In so many ways John sets the standard for bike commuters across the region as he himself travels across the region, a true velocitizen.
Margaret Pye is a role model in bicycle commuting. She and her husband own a home in San Carlos, but not a car. She bikes everyday to work in Menlo Park, rain or shine. Margaret says, “Even when we owned a car, my husband used to walk to work about 4 miles each way, and I did a bike/Caltrain commute to my job in San Francisco. The car would just sit in the driveway unused for days and days.” Since acquiring her new bicycle and digital odometer in November of 2007, Margaret has traveled over 7,000 miles and lost 30 pounds. Margaret truly exemplifies what it means to be a bike commuter; she incorporates the bicycle in her life for transportation, health, and recreation demonstrating to her community the value of a bicycle for the everyday use.
Manfred (in middle) with his six children
Manfred Kopisch has been commuting by bicycle all his life. He started as a schoolboy in Germany. “In Germany, kids start out walking to school,” he says “everyone wants to advance to biking to school.” Even after graduating college and starting work, he has always looked for a home within biking distance to work. When he moved to Palo Alto in 1996 for his job at SAP, he found a home only 6 miles away. Manfred is now passing along his bicycle commuting passion to his six kids. The children, who range from 6 to 15 years of age, all ride their bikes to school. Every day, Manfred starts riding with the three younger kids 2.5 miles to school, and then rides 8 more miles to work. He states, “It gives them a sense of freedom. If they want to go to a friend’s house, they don’t have to wait for mom or dad to drive them there. They can ride their bikes.” On the weekends, his family will run errands by bike: going to the library, bookstore, market, etc. Anything closer than 5 miles typically is done on a bicycle – even in the rain.
Patrick Garner can be found on his bike almost every day, riding for pleasure or commuting to work. Patrick commutes from his home in Vacaville, riding approximately 15 miles each way to North Bay Medical Center (Fairfield), where he is an Administrative Coordinator and has been employed for more than 20 years. Patrick's enthusiasm for biking knows no bounds. He has been active in leading local bike outings for experienced enthusiasts and introducing first-time bikers to the joys of riding. Most recently, Patrick has organized and encouraged 46 NorthBay Healthcare employees to participate in the May 2nd Napa Valley Tour de Cure. The Tour de Cure is a nationwide cycling event to raise funds for the prevention and cure of Diabetes. Through his efforts, more than $5,800 has been raised to date. You can depend on Patrick to send words of encouragement and suggestions to other employees for a safe ride during the Tour de Cure. Patrick has been a consistent advocate who sets an example of bicycling as an active lifestyle which can improve health, green the environment, save money and promote community.
Solano County’s BCOY runner-up (Dan Bean) captured the essence of biking to work in a Haiku-like statement: “Ride to work every day, with uniform and steel toe boots.” Dan Bean
Sonoma County’s Bike Commuter of the Year 2010 is Geoffrey Skinner. He was nominated by his wife, Joan Schwan, who wrote:
“Geoffrey is a dedicated bike commuter. He bikes every day from Sebastopol to work at the library in Santa Rosa. He is always cheerful about it, and never daunted by cold, rain, darkness, or flat tires. He also bikes or walks our son to school every morning before he heads to work. He’s great at carrying large and unwieldy loads on his bike—he straps his French horn on his rack when he has orchestra practice after work at SRJC! He has also been very active locally to help make biking and walking safer and easier for all. He’s active on the Bike and Walk to School Task Force for our son’s school district in Sebastopol and on the Bike and Walk Sebastopol committe, is a representative to the county-wide Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, and leads walks for the iWalk Sonoma program. He really cares about making our area a better place to ride, walk, and live.”
"Geoffrey's 10 year-old son, Galen (also nominated for Bike Commuter of the Year), sets a great example for his dad. Galen has pledged to bike to school every day. He only missed 2 days last year -- one of which was due to having to make a trip to the emergency room. He's very committed."
Geoffrey in his own words:
What is your reaction to being named Sonoma County Bike Commuter of the Year 2010?
“I am very honored! I want to use the opportunity to spread the word to joys of biking. I also want to recognize everyone who is just as dedicated (or more so) but didn’t get nominated or selected; this includes my son, who has been even more dedicated than me traveling the mile each way to and from his elementary under his own power every day this entire school year. To all all of you—you are stars!”
What motivates you to commute by bike?
“The less time I spend in a car, the happier I am. No congestion, no fossil fuel used (except in producing/cooking the extra food for to fuel me!), and a chance to be outside. I feel very fortunate to have the perfect commute—trail nearly all the way from my home in Sebastopol to the library in downtown Santa Rosa—but I would ride even if I had to take more roads. As it is, I get to enjoy seeing egrets, herons, turkeys and more each day without worrying about cars and it takes just a little longer to ride. I love being able to get in my exercise during my commute, even if I have to compensate for the lack of hills. I love being out early in the morning or anytime because I always see something interesting or get to say hi to one of the regulars on the path. No matter what the weather is doing, I’m happy to be on the bike once I’ve hit the road (finding the right rain and cold weather gear helps). Finally, I like being able to set an example for others and talk up bike commuting whenever I have a chance.”
What do you tell people who want to start bike commuting?
• It’s easier than you think—the biggest hurdle is getting out the door
• Ask a bike commuter for advice—nearly every one will be more than happy to oblige
• Find someone to share the commute
• Figure out the safest route possible
• Unless you have long or hilly commute, you don’t need fancy clothes or a fancy bike; street clothes are often fine
• Always be safe—helmet, lights at night, follow the traffic rules, etc.
• Enjoy yourself!”