Biking to work and to school has become a civic act in this era of climate change, and so it was that and the mayors of eight other East Bay cities bicycled to work Thursday morning for ""
Javandel actually bikes to his job in Berkeley everyday. But to honor "Bike to Work Day" as mayor, he led a posse of Albany city commissioners on an early morning tour of Albany bike trails.
“We had a good ride to the waterfront and back, checking on bike projects along the way—as well as on gaps in bike paths,” Javandel said as his group rolled up to the energizer station along the Ohlone Greenway at Solano Avenue hosted by the
About 445 cyclists rode through Albany on the 19th annual "Bike to Work Day," according to the Strollers & Rollers, based on a count they took at the energizer station. There, bikers were treated to strawberries, bananas and coffee, as well as bike tire patch kits, water bottles, shoulder bags and lots of biking literature.
Around the East Bay, at least 17,000 biked to work and school on Thursday, according to the East Bay Bicycle Coalition, which counted people who stopped at 108 energizer stations throughout Alameda and Contra Costa counties. Those bikers included the mayors of Oakland, Berkeley, Albany, Richmond, San Leandro, Alameda, Piedmont, Union City and Dublin.
The Coalition is a bicycling advocacy organization that lobbies local governments for bike access ways and promotes biking.
“We felt the buzz and knew Bike to Work Day was going to be big. But who could have predicted the inundation of riders seen this morning on the streets of the East Bay?” the Coalition said in a statement at the end of the day.
“In the past 5 years, bicycling has increased 285 percent in the East Bay,” the organization's statement continued, adding that the growth appeared to include 22 percent in the last year alone, based on the numbers of people they counted participating this year and last.
While some riders hopped on their bike only for this day, plenty of others commute by bike regularly. They are people like Kora Cypress of Richmond, who rides through Albany three days a week to her job in Berkeley and stopped to chat at a San Pablo Avenue light Thursday morning. “I feel so much better when I bike,” instead of drive a car, she said. Or they are like Albany residents David Arkin and Jonathan Walden who bike to their respective offices as well as to client sites, schools and most places they go.
But for retired school teacher Margo Wecksler, Thursday was the first day she rode a bike in a long time.
“This is my first Bike to Work day. I decided my job now is staying healthy and happy and biking seems like a way to do that,” Wecksler said.
The Coalition claims that "Bike to Work Day" has increased bike riding in Alameda and Contra Costa counties.
“People try biking on a nice spring day and before they know it they are riding regularly, and are a part of a movement based on the simple joy of riding your bike to work, school, errands and play,” it said in a statement.
But biking increasingly is an environmental and political act in addition to being a recreational and health pursuit, as people decide to avoid driving cars to reduce their foot print of green house gas emissions.
The day before 17,000 East Bay residents rode bikes to work, scientist James Hansen, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration employee credited with uttering the first warnings about climate change in a testimony to Congress in the 1980s, wrote in a New York Times op-ed piece that, “Global warming isn’t a prediction. It is happening.”
Writing to warn the U.S. and Canadian governments against extracting oil from the tar sands of Canada because, he said, doing so would greatly increase green house gas emissions from this continent, Hansen wrote, “We need to start reducing emissions significantly” rather than allowing any increase. And he suggested the time to start is now.
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