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San Francisco County

Bay Area’s Team Bike Challenge Shatters Records

Olympic Club cyclists
Mai Le —

OAKLAND, CA, June 4, 2014 – In a competition to bike the most miles possible in order to rack up points for the team, 2014’s Team Bike Challenge shattered records as more than 9,630 San Francisco Bay Area bike commuters pedaled over half a million miles in May. Team Bike Challenge is part of the annual Bike to Work Day Program that happens during National Bike Month in May.

An astounding 1,370 teams took part in this year’s Team and Company Bike Challenges, nearly 350 more teams compared to 2013. Additionally, there was a nearly 280 percent increase in individual participation compared to only 3,454 individuals registered in 2013. For the Company Bike Challenge, 443 companies registered to compete, a 25 percent increase from 2013. In the end, a total of 572,871 miles were biked — enough to circle the Earth 23 times over — while saving 286 tons of CO2 and burning over 35 million calories. Winners represent the wide range of bicycling enthusiasts in the Bay Area.

As in years past, a Santa Clara County team was number one in both the regional and county contests. This time it was United Velo, which beat out other contenders by cycling over 9,200 miles. Second place in the regional competition went to San Francisco’s Partycar.com, with an awe-inspiring 7,490 miles. Santa Clara County’s Sun Blinding–Head Winders took third place by pedaling over 3,600 miles. All three teams garnered 465 points.

In the Company Bike Challenge, Apple, Inc. in Santa Clara County continued their domination by continuing their first-place winning streak — unbroken since 2010 — in the Large Company category. With 660 employees participating, Apple amassed over 51,000 miles and racked up 6,264 points. Sun Light & Power of Alameda County won first place in the Medium Company category, cycling 6,908 miles and earning 1,039 points. In a tight race for the Small Company category win, kW Engineering once again emerged victorious with 3,142 miles, 548 points and an impressive 1,110 total trips.

There has been an increase in interest and participation from both individuals and companies in Team Bike Challenge as the San Francisco Bay Area becomes more and more committed to active transportation and residents become aware of the health benefits of bicycling.

Team Bike Challenge is presented by Typekit and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District with support from Canary Challenge. The San Francisco Bay Area's 2014 Team Bike Challenge is part of the annual Bike to Work Day Program made possible through the generous support of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, 511.org and Kaiser Permanente in partnership with the Bay Area Bicycle Coalition. Additional support is provided by the Bay Area Rapid Transit District, Clear Channel, Clif Bar, Beyond Pix, Adobe, Revolights, REI, the San Francisco Bay Trail Project and Public Bikes.

Bike to Work Day Volunteer

Jean Kao, by Bonnie Walton

Jean Kao is a longtime San Francisco Bicycle Coalition member and volunteer. She volunteers at many of the SF Bike Coalition’s fundraising events, but there's one event in particular she is excited to be a part of year after year. Bike to Work Day is one of Jean's favorite events, where she has volunteered for the past six years.

Jean started volunteering because she had such a positive experience bike commuting, seven years ago on Bike to Work Day. “My first Bike to Work Day in 2007 was so much fun - bagels and coffee and happy volunteers - that next year I decided I wanted to return the favor and help cheer on those cyclists myself.”

Wanting to share cheer and encouragement with cyclists is what has kept Jean motivated to volunteer and she celebrates this year, her sixth, volunteering at an evening Energizer Station on May 8th.

Beyond the positive experience she has had as a bike commuter, the camaraderie and joy she feels and spreads while manning an Energizer Station during Bike to Work Day keeps Jean coming back. “Everyone is excited to talk to passing cyclists. It's also a lot of fun to step aside and watch the commute from the sidelines. As someone who's usually in the scrum, you don't really get to see the big picture. It's really amazing to see how many cyclists are commuting to work now, and the variety of bikes and styles is incredible. Also, the cyclists themselves are so happy to get snacks and goodies. It's nice to bring a smile to someone's face.”

When Jean isn’t donating volunteer hours to the SF Bicycle Coalition, she is organizing bike tours and camping trips as one of the principal organizers of the NorCal Bicycle Touring and Camping Meetup. “We’re just a group of people who love touring by bike and organize trips to explore the local area - or even further.”

If you’re thinking of possibly volunteering on Bike to Work Day, Jean would like to share this advice: “It's fun! It's easy! Think of it more like a social where you can hang out with other cyclists with a tiny bit of "work." One piece of real advice is dress in layers. I usually work the evening shift and it gets cold as the sun goes down.”

Ridden on Bike to Work Day before? Felt the love from the Energizer Stations? Want to help spread that love? Consider volunteering on May 8th! It takes hundreds of volunteers to make Bike to Work Day a success.

Sign up to volunteer for Bike to Work Day with your local bicycle advocacy organization:

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The Changing Face of Biking in SF

Lorraine Goodwin, by Mai Le

When Lorraine Goodwin moved to San Francisco in 2004, she made a conscious decision to ride her refurbished 1980s-era Piaggio to BART and bike to her job (at the time in Oakland). Keeping up this habit has been easy and this year she will celebrate a decade of participating in Bike to Work Day.

Moving to San Francisco from her Long Island hometown, meant that Lorraine never got in the habit of driving a car, though she has her driver’s license. Living in the Mission District means that most of her cycling, especially for errands, are on flat terrain. She finds that, more often than not, her ride home through the streets of SF is often downhill.

Now, Lorraine works at the Asian Art Museum, where her commute is a quick 1.7 miles down Valencia Street, onto Market Street and into the Civic Center. It helps that the Asian Art Museum supports bicycling as a commute option by providing secure bike parking in the basement of the building, as well as commuter checks with a bike commuter benefit.

Lorraine bikes everyday, no matter the weather and will often bike 10-15 miles a day, depending on what social and recreational activities she may have planned. Living an active lifestyle in San Francisco has made it a convenient necessity to make use of pedal power. Muni and BART just doesn’t cover the City enough to reach every dive bar, art gallery, or pop-up restaurant that she’s interested in trying.

Often her planned itinerary for the evening means she is hitting up several galleries in different neighborhoods, situated miles from each other. Biking is always the most time and economically efficient option. Biking lets Lorraine see more of her City in a deep and comprehensive way. “Biking is the most efficient way to get around SF. No waiting for Muni/BART, no need to find a parking spot…plus, it's a great way to enjoy the city, it's good exercise, and it's fun!”

Riding the streets of SF for a decade has allowed Lorraine to see the progress in SF bike infrastructure firsthand. She rode on Valencia Street before bike lanes and the green wave were implemented, she embraced the Wiggle and the bike path through the Panhandle, she donated to the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition when bike corrals proliferated all over town, she applauded the greening and protected lane of Oak Street, rejoiced in the victory of lifting the time restriction on bikes on BART and looks forward to the day that bicycling down Polk Street will feel more secure.

Though the City’s bike infrastructure has changed for the better in the last decade, one thing that hasn’t changed is the San Francisco bicycling community. The people have always inspired Lorraine to keep on with her pedal power. When she first moved to the City, she was friends with bike messengers “…who spurred me on.”

She continues that tradition by inspiring and encouraging others to do the same by her own year-round biking lifestyle. You can often see Lorraine biking with her husband and close friends to events throughout San Francisco. And in case you’re curious about biking, she’d like you to consider this: “There’s a lot of camaraderie along the bike routes -- bikers look out for one another.”

If you’re thinking of participating in Bike to Work Day for the first time this year, she has this advice for you: “Start with finding the best bike route/lanes to your work place using the bike maps put out by SFBC. You'll see that it's easier and more fun than you could have imagined. Give it a go!"

New Bike Commuter Shares Her Story

Emily Brotman by Natalie Orenstein

When after school instructor Emily Brotman rolls into the schoolyard on her bike each afternoon, her curious fourth grade students swarm around her, asking questions and admiring her bike.

Serving as a roll (er, role) model to her impressionable students is just one of the many benefits Emily has reaped from biking to work. The recent college graduate only began riding from her apartment in the Castro to Francis Scott Key Elementary School in the Sunset about a month ago, when Daylight Savings Time made the evening commute much more pleasant.

Before she started biking, Emily would endure two 50-minute muni rides per day. Cycling has cut her commute in more than half. Now she takes a pleasant four-mile ride on the Wiggle (the city’s popular mile-long bike path) and through Golden Gate Park.

“It’s beautiful,” she says. “It’s fun to see the plants changing. One week suddenly all these cherry blossoms had bloomed, and another week they were totally gone and had been replaced by thick green leaves.”
Seasonal change is something Emily missed out on growing in Singapore. The Bay Area native learned to ride a bike in Palo Alto, but spent most of her formative years in Asia. She returned to California to go to Pomona
College near Los Angeles, in another relatively consistent climate zone.

Because the driving age is 18 in Singapore, Emily never got a driver’s license. Traversing San Francisco by foot was fun, but her ability to truly explore her new hometown was significantly hindered. When she bought her current bike – from a man who fixes dead bikes and sells them for nominal amounts – San Francisco opened up to her.

“Suddenly the city is much more within my reach,” Emily says. Biking has given her “a really different sense of the size and accessibility of San Francisco.”

Take her favorite destination, Scrap, a warehouse in Bayview that sells recycled art materials.

“I always had this idea that it was out in the middle of nowhere, because it’s in this industrial area,” she says. “When I’d go there by bus I’d have to budget 40 minutes or more because you don’t know how long you have to wait for a bus. I biked there the other day and I went through a pretty part of the Mission I’d never seen before. It was so easy and I couldn’t believe how close it was.”

Despite how recently Emily began biking regularly, her new routine has already had tangible effects.
“I feel like I’m actually developing muscle for the first time in my life,” she says. “I notice myself getting stronger and being able to go faster without taking breaks.” She surprised herself by soaring over a particularly challenging hill by her apartment in one go the other day.

Like many cyclists, Emily has figured out the value of a bike buddy. Her coworker bikes behind her during their commute, challenging her to keep pace and push herself.

Emily insists that it’s easy to become a bike commuter, regardless of one’s experience (or lack thereof) on a bike. Just take a moment to familiarize yourself with the established bike paths and map out the safest, flattest routes, she says.

“You get the sense of accomplishment of having powered yourself from Point A to Point B,” she says.
Will she eventually trade her two wheels in for four? Unlikely.

“I don’t see myself getting a license,“ she says. “No matter where I am, if I’m in a city that’s relatively bikeable, I’m going to try to make it work.”

Bike to Work Day and SF2G Commuter

Brett Lider, by Mai Le

"It's the closest thing to flying that I can experience on a daily basis. It's fast, efficient, and empowering. It keeps me healthy."

With such enthusiasm for biking, it isn't surprising that for the past 14 years, Brett Lider has celebrated Bike to Work Day.

Brett works in UX at Google, so it’s an impressive one-way trip of 40 miles from his home in San Francisco's Mission District to the office in Mountain View. (To be effective at work, he takes the Google shuttle home.) And he’s not a solo cycler: as a co-founder of the SF2G cycling club, he’s encouraged coworkers to bike commute by leading the monthly ride down the peninsula for the past nine years.

Brett started biking to work in 2005. It took some planning, but at least once a month, he and some colleagues would meet at a local coffee shop and bike together, trying out different routes, along the Bayway. Soon, a website was set up and SF2G was born.

Workers at other companies on the peninsula started inquiring about the Googlers’ routes asking if they could ride along. What began with seven bike commuters on their first Bike to Work Day in 2005 ballooned to 500 by 2013. The media has noticed and in 2012, news helicopters followed the cohort on their Bike to Work Day commute as they cycled from SF down the peninsula. SF2G has flourished, in part, because companies in Silicon Valley, such as Google, offer shuttles with bike racks, a flexible work day, access to showers and space for bike storage. This infrastructure supports active transportation, as long as employees are willing to do the hard work of pedaling.

Brett's love of cycling started at an early age with his parents encouraging his need for constant motion.

"From as long as I can remember, I was hungry for the speed that wheels gave me,” Brett says. “I had pushcarts as a toddler, a big wheel, and as soon as possible, a bicycle. So I guess I can thank my parents for overcoming their protective urges and providing me with the technology to move at speeds no child was engineered to reach."

Brett never grew out of his need for speed.

"I was a huge fan of riding my BMX bike on dirt and dirt trails. That got me into mountain biking as a teenager and despite the allure of cars, I mountain biked all through high school and got into road cycling in college. So I guess you could say that I never stopped being into bikes," he says.

If Brett isn't on a bike you can see him urban hiking the hills of SF or on a traditional hike in the Bay Area.

"I like to go on long hikes in the Bay Area, such as a McKnee Ranch to San Francisco coastal hike we did a year or so ago," he says.

Brett's founding of SF2G and his lifetime of cycling has made him a cheerleader of both transportation policy (he's gone to public meetings in support of completing the SF Bay Trail) and of those interested in bike commuting. To hold true to SF2G's policy of "no rider left behind," members of SF2G place (water soluble) arrows along the "best" route from SF to the Google campus in the days leading up to Bike to Work Day. The arrows are invaluable in keeping novice bike commuters on the easiest route down the peninsula and in ensuring that pedal power is the only concern of the day.

Brett promises that bike commuting is not an exclusive endeavor.

"Despite the fact that I'm obviously a bit of dedicated cyclist, SF2G and Bike to Work Day is not for people like me, it's for everyone!" he says.