Bike Month in the East Bay: Where Bike to Work Day Began?
It’s generally acknowledged that Bike to Work Day was started by the League of American Bicyclists—then called the League of American Wheelmen—in 1956. Rumor has it (can anyone confirm this?) that in California the first Bike to Work Day event took place in San Diego circa 1993.
What’s indisputable is that Bike East Bay, then known as the East Bay Bicycle Coalition, kicked off its first Bike to Work Day in 1994 and, in the 22 years since then, the event has grown ever more popular amid a rapid increase in bike commuting. In Oakland alone, bike commuting has tripled in the last twelve years, according to the U.S. Census.
National Bike to Work Day is officially May 20, but the Bay Area celebrates it on May 12. San Francisco, Silicon Valley, and Marin each celebrate their own versions of Bike to Work Day (more on that later). But the East Bay celebration covers the most territory, from Richmond and Concord in the north to Fremont and Hayward in the south, and reaching east to Dublin and Pleasanton. The map above shows just a portion of the 130 “energizer stations” in the East Bay where volunteers are ready to cheer on bike commuters. Bike East Bay partners with a wide range of other organizations, among them 511.org, Walk Oakland Bike Oakland, and local cities, to put together goodie bags to hand out to riders, feed them coffee and pastries, and offer bike safety checks along popular commute routes.
A pancake breakfast in downtown Oakland and no fewer than eight after-work parties (details below) make the East Bay’s Bike to Work Day one of the biggest such events in the state.
On top of all that, this year East Bay cities will celebrate four ribbon cuttings at brand-new bike facilities during the second week of May. This must be a record, and if the Fulton Street lanes really are finished on time, they probably will have a record for fastest completion of new bike lanes. The ribbon cuttings will happen on:
- Telegraph Avenue, Oakland: May 10, 9 a.m., at the corner of 20th and Telegraph. The City of Oakland will hold a ceremony to officially open the new parking-protected bike lanes that run between 20th and 29th streets.
- Grand Avenue, Oakland: May 12, 7 a.m., 1221 Grand Street. The new Grand Avenue configuration includes a long-overdue road diet, buffered bike lanes, and back-in angled parking. Paint is being applied now, and the lanes should be completed before Bike to Work Day. After this early ceremony, ride your bike with Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf to the pancake breakfast at Frank Ogawa Plaza.
- Fulton Street, Berkeley: May 12, 8 a.m., Corner of Bancroft and Fulton. In response to a bad bike crash three months ago, Bike East Bay and other advocates stepped up the pressure to fix this two-block-long section of “disappearing bike lane” and got a commitment from the city to remove some parking and put in protected bike lanes. Final designs will be submitted to the City Council at its meeting on Tuesday, May 10. If they are approved—and most observers expect them to be—the lanes will be painted the following day, and officially opened on Bike to Work Day. Afterwards, bike riders can join a ride to City Hall to continue the Bike to Work Day celebration there.
- Christie Avenue, Emeryville: May 12, 9:30 a.m., Corner of Shellmound and Christie. This short two-way cycletrack completes a much-needed connection between the Bay Trail and the bike path on the Bay Bridge. It’s now possible to ride a bike all the way from Richmond to the Bay Bridge path with minimal interactions with car traffic, or do a “two-bridge loop” that takes in the bike and pedestrian bridge near University Avenue in Berkeley. It’s been open for a few months, but officials saved its official ribbon cutting for Bike to Work Day.
After-work parties in the East Bay on May 12 include:
- Sports Basement, 2727 Milvia St., Berkeley, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., with Bike East Bay and Rock the Bike.
- Todos Santos Plaza, Concord, 5 to 8 p.m., with Bike Concord.
- MLK Cafe, 3860 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Oakland, 5 to 9 p.m., with Walk Oakland Bike Oakland at the new parklet in front of MLK Cafe.
- 19th St. Bike Station, 1775 Broadway, Oakland, 5 to 8 p.m. This free bike parking facility is, unsurprisingly, very popular and often full. Celebrate Bike to Work Day with the bike station staff.
- Speisekammer Restaurant, 2424 Lincoln Ave., Alameda, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., with Bike Walk Alameda.
- Rich City Rides, 1500 MacDonald Ave., Richmond, 5 to 9 p.m. Join the Rich City Rides Bike Skate Collective Shop for a party and outdoor bike-in movie.
- Endless Cycles, 20825 Nunes Ave, Castro Valley, 4 to 8 p.m. Endless Cycles, The Cherry City Cyclists, Bike Walk San Leandro, and Bike Walk CV celebrate their first Bike to Work Day after party.
- New Leaf Community Markets, 3550 Bernal Ave, Pleasanton, 4 to 7 p.m. This is Pleasanton’s first Bike to Work Day Happy Hour.
Also, no need to feel left out if you happen to be taking the Amtrak Capitol Corridor home. The Sacramento-bound train # 542 and San Jose-bound train # 543 will celebrate an onboard, “in transit” Bike Happy Hour.
But wait, there’s more! In the East Bay, Bike to School Day is combined with Bike to Work Day, and it also includes school-specific energizer stations and prizes to encourage families to ride their bikes together to school. A list of participating schools is here.
May 18 is the National Ride of Silence day, and Rich City Rides in Richmond will host its fifth annual ride to commemorate those who have been killed in traffic. As organizer Najari Smith writes on the event’s Facebook page, “This event is part of the national annual Ride of Silence that brings attention to cyclists maimed or killed while riding on urban streets, but Rich City RIDES is remixing it to address the needs of our community. In the Rich, my sisters and brothers are far too busy dodging beef and bullets to worry about car traffic, and so for this, the 5th Annual Richmond Ride of Silence, we’re bringing the attention where it needs to be.”
The Oakland Library is also getting into Bike to Work Day, with various branches offering tool lending, bike repair workshops, scraper bike decorating, a Bike Career Day, and more. See details here.
Classes, community bike rides, and “bike to market” events are scheduled throughout the month in the East Bay. See Bike East Bay’s listings here. For details on events in the Pleasanton/Dublin area, look here.