Santa Cruz Good Times

Friday
Jan 30th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Riding Smart

news22222People Power teams up with UC Santa Cruz students for bike commuting workshop series

With severe drought conditions plaguing California, the recent patter of raindrops should have been a welcomed sound to the citizens of Santa Cruz County. But when one has recently committed to trek to work or school each day via bicycle, a morning downpour can be the cause of a rising dread and the subsequent decision to drive. That is, unless one has acquired the knowledge and gear necessary to transform a gloomy bike trip in the rain from a dismal chore to an energizing joyride.

“It can be really hard for folks to learn how to ride a bike for their daily commute,” says Amelia Conlen, director of local nonprofit People Power. “I got into biking through friends telling me what I should wear, what kind of bags to get, and what to do when it rains. If you don’t have a person like that, it can be daunting to do something entirely new without much support.”

With this in mind, Conlen teamed up with two student interns from UC Santa Cruz’s Impact Designs: Engineering and Sustainability through Student Service (IDEASS) program to launch a bicycle commuting workshop series throughout the county.

Conlen and her team hope to recruit 10 local businesses to host workshops during lunch hours from March to July, and will conduct community workshops at the People Power office once a month, with the first public workshop to be held on March 17 from 6-7 p.m.

The workshops are geared toward cyclists at all skill levels—from skittish beginners to confident vets—and will be tailored to the locations of the businesses that choose to participate.

“For example if we’re doing a business workshop in Watsonville, we will provide the safest routes and bike parking in that area,” says Melissa Ott, UCSC student and IDEASS intern with People Power. “We’re going to really work to make it unique for each business, and for each audience.”

The workshop series was realized after People Power received a grant from the UCSC Carbon Fund, which finances projects and research that seek to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Carbon Fund is made possible through a voluntary $3 student fee each quarter, which adds up to about $115,000 per year. A portion of these funds goes to support community projects in Santa Cruz County.

In November 2013, the Carbon Fund was bombarded with 40 grant proposals, but in the end, decided to make the commuter workshops a reality.

“Ultimately the committee believed it is important to support this bike education program because of the huge potential for widespread education, [which] leads to action, [which] leads to greenhouse gas reductions,” writes Elissa Martinez, student facilitator of the Carbon Fund, in an email to GT.

According to the Santa Cruz County May 2012 Bike and Pedestrian Count Report, bicycle ridership in Santa Cruz County has seen an overall rise since 2003, with an increase of 3 percent from 2010 to 2012. The report also states that of the commuters observed at various locations in the county during the survey, 2.7 percent were riding bikes, compared to 3.7 percent of pedestrians traveling on foot and 93.6 percent by motor vehicle.

The increase in bike ridership within the county comes in part from the efforts of local governmental organizations such as the Santa Cruz County Department of Public Works and Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission (SCCRTC). These two groups join together to author the Santa Cruz County Bicycle Plan, which outlines ways to improve the county’s infrastructure in order to make it safer and easier to traverse on two wheels.

One of the most anticipated projects outlined in the Santa Cruz County Bicycle Plan and developed by the SCCRTC is the Monterey Bay Sanctuary Scenic Trail Network (MBSST). Once completed, this bike and pedestrian path will hug the county’s coastline and span from Davenport to the Pajaro Valley.

Although the MBSST is still in the developing phases, the SCCRTC allocated $5.3 million in December 2013 to begin construction on portions of the pedestrian and bike trail—from Natural Bridges Drive to the Santa Cruz Wharf, in Watsonville connecting Lee Road to the slough trail system, and on East Cliff Drive from Fifth to Seventh avenues.

“It goes through the densest part of our county and alongside many schools and businesses, so it’s going to be huge in terms of bike commuting,” says Conlen. “It is going to make a huge difference in terms of who feels comfortable being on the road on their bikes.”

In addition to providing businesses and the public with vital information about bike commuting, whether it be safety tips, equipment advice, or simply how to carry all of one’s stuff, Conlen hopes to impart her passion for biking, which she sees as an elegant solution to an assortment of issues.

“We have big problems relating to traffic, air quality, and obesity,” says Conlen, “and biking—even if it’s just once a week to go to the store—is such a simple thing that we can do that collectively makes huge change. I think there are a lot of great reasons to get excited about it and I am hoping to share that.” 

For more information, visit peoplepowersc.org.

Comments (2)Add Comment
In response to Christie Maurer
written by Melissa E. Ott, June 09, 2014
Hi Christie, I am the young woman in the photograph. Thanks for your comment and your important reminder that bicycling isn't a feasible method of transportation for all people. Our intention with the workshops is to help those who are interested in bicycle commuting to gain access to the resources and tips for doing so. We recognize that a healthy and sustainable transportation system has various methods for community members to get place to place based on needs for people and the kinds of trips they are taking. Bicycling is one of those methods that many people who might be capable or interested in bicycling don't often consider as their first option, so we hope to raise awareness about the reasons people might choose to bike commute and then connect them with the ways to make that process most effective.

I also wanted to respond to your comment about the disable parking sign. I was parked on the sidewalk at a bike rack outside the Post Office downtown when this photo was taken, and the sign that's visible in the shot is referring to a car parking space outside the frame of the photo.
Bike Commuting is well and good, but...
written by Christie Maurer, March 14, 2014
I like the idea of bike commuting, but as a disabled person I've never been able to get onto, much less ride, a bike. I always wanted to, and believe me, I tried. I know the young woman in the photo means well, but her bike appears to be cluttering up a disabled parking spot, which someone like me might really need.

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Throwing It All Away

Everybody’s for recycling, right? So why are we all doing it wrong? Our reporter gets down and dirty to uncover 10 secrets that will finally make the recycling process make sense

 

Aquarius Calling, Humanity Rising

Aquarius (11th sign after Aries) is the sign of service—serving one another, building community. Aquarius is fixed air, stabilizing new ideas in the world. When new ideas reach the masses the ideas become ideals within the hearts and minds of humanity. Air signs (Gemini, Libra and Aquarius) are mental. They think, ponder, study, research, gather and distribute information. For air signs, education and learning, communicating, writing, being social, tending to money, participating in groups and creating sustainable communities are most important. One of the present messages Aquarius is putting forth to the New Group of World Servers is the creation of the New Education (thus thinking) for humanity—one based not on commodities (banking/corporate values) but on virtues. Humanity and Aquarius Aquarius is the sign of humanity itself. We are now at the beginnings of the Age of Aquarius, the Age of Humanity (rising). The “rising” is the Aquarian vision of equality, unity, the distribution and sharing of all resources and of individual (Leo) creative gifts for the purpose of humanity’s (Aquarius) uplifting. This is the message in the Solar Festival of Aquarius (at the full moon) on Tuesday, Feb. 3. We join in these visions by reciting the World Prayer of Direction, the Great Invocation.Tuesday’s solar festival follows Monday’s Groundhog Day, or Imbolc (ancient Celtic fire festival) the halfway mark between winter solstice and spring Equinox). The New Group of World Servers (NGWS) during these two days are preparing for the upcoming Three Spring Solar Festivals: 1. Aries Resurrection/Easter Festival (April); 2. Taurus Buddha/Wesak Festival (May); and 3. Gemini’s Festival of Humanity (June). Aquarius and the new and full moons together are the primary astrological influences behind all of humanity’s endeavors. The NGWS are to teach these things, calling and uplifting humanity. Join us everyone. (301)

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Job Insecurity

Woman fights for her job in thoughtful, life-sized ‘Two Days One Night’
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Jeffrey’s Restaurant

Why quick and friendly service matters at a local diner.

 

If you didn't live in Santa Cruz, where would you be living?

I would live in Kauai because the water is warmer, and I just love it there. Maureen Niehaus, Santa Cruz, Dental Assistant

 

Clos LaChance Wines

Pinot Noir 2012

 

Striking Gold

A taste of Soquel Vineyards’ five gold medal-winning Pinots