Commuters get energized on Bike to Work Day | May 11, 2012 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - May 11, 2012

Commuters get energized on Bike to Work Day

Numbers of cyclists up, according to count at California Avenue train station

by Jocelyn Dong

Some people bike to work in order to help preserve the environment. Others do it for exercise or to save money.

Palo Alto resident Kitty Lee has another reason.

"You feel guilty if you don't," she said, only half-joking. Lee works for Stanford University, which offers strong incentives to convince people not to drive themselves to the office.

On Thursday, May 10, Lee was one of hundreds of bicycling commuters who stopped by the Bike to Work "energizer station" on California Avenue in Palo Alto. The 18th annual Bike to Work event, sponsored by the Silicon Valley Bike Coalition, along with the City of Palo Alto, Stanford University and Hewlett-Packard Company, aims to encourage and celebrate two-wheeled transportation.

Volunteers hosted stations at strategic spots around town, replete with oranges, Hobee's coffeecake, bagels, coffee, free tote bags and plenty of literature on how to cycle safely in traffic.

"Thanks for biking to work!" a volunteer called out to cyclists exiting the California Avenue underpass, next to the Caltrain station.

The California Avenue area is like Grand Central for bicyclists. It's at the intersection of the underpass, the train station and Park Boulevard. This year, 682 people biked past between 6:30 and 9 a.m. — more than last year, according to volunteer David Coale, who was counting the cyclists.

He surmised that the good weather helped the turnout.

"We get a little bit of everyone," he said, gesturing to a woman in a chiffon skirt and heels, straddling her bike amid a sea of spandex-clad riders.

It was Coale's fifth year of volunteering.

"It's fun to give a little bit of something as a benefit," he said.

For Lee, the commute times by car and bike are about the same — 20 to 30 minutes. She could get to campus quicker by car, depending on traffic. But then she'd have to find parking and walk or catch the Marguerite shuttle to her building on the sprawling campus.

She's been commuting by bike for about a year. The key lesson she's learned is to map out a safe route, which provides a greater incentive to continue biking, she said.

Editor Jocelyn Dong can be emailed at


Posted by spare the air, a resident of Downtown North
on May 10, 2012 at 9:47 am

More people biking to work means cleaner air and lower gas prices for everyone. Thanks everyone for helping out.

Posted by spare the are year round!, a resident of College Terrace
on May 10, 2012 at 11:07 am

How about sparing the air year round? Where are all these people in winter when it's raining? ... oh wait riding their cars and just missing those cyclists who DO spare the air.

Posted by jm, a resident of Evergreen Park
on May 10, 2012 at 11:55 am

Too bad we have approximately 60,000 people commuting into Palo Alto every day to jobs. Mostly living where the luxury of biking to work on a nice spring morning isn't an option. And/or dropping off kids at school or day care, needing to run errands during the lunch hour, stopping at the grocery store on the way home.
Or needing their vehicle for work purposes.

Now if we could just stop increasing jobs in Palo Alto, think how much pollution could be avoided.

Posted by Raymond Lucas, a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 10, 2012 at 12:28 pm

I particpated today, but my route didn't take me past any rest stations.

Posted by David Coale, a resident of Barron Park
on May 10, 2012 at 2:04 pm

Nice to see so many cyclist out today including the mayor, city manager and city transportation coordinator.

Now if we could only get funding for the great bike plan that Palo Alto has come up with. Then we could get more folks out on their bikes.

Everyday should be Bike to Work Day!

Posted by YIMBY, a resident of University South
on May 10, 2012 at 2:04 pm

YIMBY is a registered user.

One HUGE thank you!! to all those who staffed the energizer stations - I 'hit' two of them - the one pictured at City Hall, and poor Steve, all alone at Univ. Caltrain Station.
I really loved the pix! Esp. the dog below the table - dogs always work!

Posted by YIMBY 2, a resident of Downtown North
on May 10, 2012 at 2:49 pm

Yes in my back yard, too. I would much rather have bicycles whizzing by my house than the SUVs that are there right now.

Posted by Gayle Riggs, a resident of College Terrace
on May 10, 2012 at 3:08 pm

I usually use a bike instead of a car so hadn't paid attention to today being a special bike day. All I knew was when I went to go to the underpass on California Avenue, I had to stop and ask people to move so that I could continue on my way. The energizer stations are a lovely touch but perhaps the one at the underpass could be moved further away from the entrance to it so that those who want to continue their ride can do so. I do thank the volunteers for their efforts in promoting cycling versus driving a car.

Posted by Biker Mom, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 10, 2012 at 3:16 pm

I volunteered for my first time at an energizer station today. It energized ME to meet and talk with the all of the bike commuters who came through our station. I was surprised by the distances many of them traveled.

Everyone was enjoying their rides. Volunteers got out there around 6:40am. I don't usually bike at that time. It was beautiful! The streets were peaceful with no cars. It was cool and the morning sun felt wonderful.

What a day. Biking is definitely better than driving for around-town trips!!!

By the way, I bike in the rain, too. I discovered long ago that I'm waterproof. :-)

Posted by Richard, a resident of Midtown
on May 10, 2012 at 5:15 pm

This article would lead you to believe that Bike to Work Day only happens in Palo Alto. It is actually a national event, and is very big all over the Bay Area. Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition coordinates with sponsors and organizations all over the county. I took my bike on the train to San Jose today and encountered energizer stations at both ends. The one at California Ave. is the busiest in the County, though.

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