'Green teams' to host bicycle-education event Sunday
Bike Palo Alto! will highlight pedaling routes and safety
Instead of a car, Robyn Duby takes her bicycle, with a trailer attached, to the grocery store.
Duby, a member of the College Terrace Green Team, said she could not get away with just using her bicycle basket to carry groceries because her teenage son drinks so many gallons of milk.
"It took me six months to finally get the trailer and trailer hitch for my bike to go grocery shopping, and I'm highly motivated," she said.
A desire to inspire and support Palo Alto's occasional and potential cyclists fueled Duby's idea for "Bike Palo Alto!," a bike-education event that will be held by the College Terrace and Barron Park green teams Sunday (Oct. 10).
"I noticed that the bike lanes are underused and that a lot of people driving around in their cars look very stressed out," Duby said.
The event will begin at 1 p.m. at Escondido School, at Stanford Avenue and Escondido Road, with activities including safety tips, bicycle maintenance and displays of bike accessories.
Bike maps and self-guided route maps will also be provided along with information sheets detailing bicycle maps online, bicycle groups and shops.
"Our target audience is people who don't normally bike a lot," said Lisa Altieri, a member of the Barron Park Green Team and event co-organizer.
Altieri said one reason more people don't bicycle in Palo Alto is that they do not know the routes.
"People think they have to go on El Camino and battle with delivery trucks to bike across town," Duby said.
Altieri said she doesn't feel comfortable biking with cars. But fewer vehicles drive on Palo Alto's bike routes, said Altieri, who recently learned about the routes herself.
The basic grid of the city's bikeways system now totals more than 30 miles of bike lanes, 7.5 miles of off-road bike paths and 11 bicycle bridges, according to the city's website.
Palo Alto has a Bicycle Advisory Committee that makes recommendations for route maintenance and improvement of bicycle infrastructure.
Sunday's event will provide short, medium and long bicycle routes for people of all abilities and ages.
The routes will guide riders through many of the city's special bicycle facilities, including the Bryant Street Bicycle Boulevard and many little-known bicycle bridges and quiet streets, said Kathy Durham, who works for the city's Planning and Transportation Department. There will be stops along the routes at local vendors for free treats.
Last week the city met to reassess its Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan, which aims to get 10 percent of all people in Palo Alto traveling by bicycle. Currently, 6 percent of Palo alto travel is by bicycle, Durham said.
In May 2003, Palo Alto was designated a Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists. However, Palo Alto is no longer at the forefront of bicycle-friendly cities, bike infrastructure expert Ian Moore told the city last week.
Durham said while 60 percent of adults in Palo Alto have bicycles, most do not use them very often.
"There are a few cities — Copenhagen, Portland — where residents bike more than they drive. When you see it, it looks so easy. You think, 'Why aren't we doing that?'" Altieri said.
The neighborhood green teams are a part of the Community Environmental Action Partnership, aimed at creating awareness and support in the community for positive environmental action.
The green teams recently participated in a Low Carbon Diet class, in which members learned about ways to lower their carbon footprint. They found that transportation was a major contributor to CO2 emissions.
But reducing air pollution is only one benefit of biking.
Tom Kabat, a local biking enthusiast who builds his own unique bicycles out of driftwood, office chairs and lawnmowers, believes that bicycling can encourage personal growth.
"There have been stories locally about the stress and consequences faced by so many teenagers in our area, and I remember that difficult part of my life and the huge positive impact getting into bicycling had on me," Kabat said in an e-mail.
"We don't do it because we know we ought to; the motivation is fun. Fun is a great motivator; we want people to see that," Duby said.
More information is available at www.350.org/bike-palo-alto.
Editorial Intern Sally Schilling can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.