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.