Sebastopolians left their car keys at home and hopped on their bikes to participate in the Bike to Wherever event put on by the Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition May 21.
Formerly the Bike to Work event, the Coalition rechristened the annual event last year when the coronavirus pandemic began so as to encourage cycling as a means of transportation even for those not working.
According to a press release from the Coalition, National Bike Month has taken place in May since the League of American Cyclists created it in 1956. The Coalition has been offering activities, classes and challenges to encourage people to take up cycling throughout the month.
“Cycling reduces carbon emissions and traffic congestion, improves physical and mental health, and saves money...plus, it’s fun!” the release states.
Challenges include pledging to bike to destinations within two miles throughout the month, although there are some more demanding challenges for more advanced cyclists. Those who complete biking challenges by biking a certain number of days or between 100 and 500 miles this month are eligible to draw from prizes.
In Sebastopol, about 40 cyclists stopped by the Community Market, which played host to Sebastopol’s only “energizer station.” Organizers, including Marketing Director Lisa Waltenspiel, handed out healthy snacks, coffee and swag bags provided by the market free of charge.
The Community Market in Sebastopol has been a member of the Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition since 2013.
“We’ve always collaborated with the bicycle community because we support alternative transportation. We want to support that movement in our community to get more cars off the road and improve safety and infrastructure for bike travel,” Waltenspiel said. “We were very pleased at the turn out this year.”
Of the participants who stopped by to load up on free protein bars and juice were kids from the Greenacre Homes and School, which offers residential treatment and education to children who have experienced trauma and hardship in their lives.
Waltenspiel said the 12 friendly teenaged cyclists happily showed up with their counselors to participate in the event and bike around town.
Participant and biking enthusiast Michael Helix said, “A community that rides together stays together.”
Helix organizes cycling events called Wheelix Rides on Wednesday at 5 p.m. Following a one-hour meet-and-greet that features tuning up bikes, participants go on a three hour bike ride together. More information can be found by following his Instagram @michealhelix.