Thanks to everyone who nominated their favorite pedaler as a Bike Commuter of the Year! Please meet the 2017 winners!
Alameda County: Britt and Bryce Tanner
Britt and Bryce Tanner, along with their two kids Kai and Nilsa, are the first-ever Bike Commuting Family of the Year. Both engineers working in San Francisco, Britt and Bryce have their biking routine down to a science. “I was biking first,” explains Britt, “and I convinced him that it was a faster way to get everywhere, more efficient than walking. And when we had kids we just continued to do it and had to figure out ways that we could make our lives work well, still being able to bike everywhere.”
For Britt and Bryce, that has meant making major life decisions around the logistics of family biking. When they moved to Albany, they made sure to buy their house close to BART and just half a block from the Ohlone Greenway. “We’ve chosen our schools based on how bikeable they are,” added Britt.
“We got our orange cargo bike with electric assist so that we could bike our kids places once they got heavier,” said Britt. “It became such a pain to put the trailer on and off. I wanted to be able to get up and go just as you do with a car. I just wanted to throw the kids on the bike.”
When it’s raining, Kai and Nilsa still hop on the bike, holding an umbrella on the back. “They’ve grown up doing it so they’re used to the expectation that they’re going to bike even if it’s raining,” says Britt.
Bryce and Britt have shared their love of bicycling with other families in Albany. As core members of Albany Strollers & Rollers, they work with other bike advocates to improve bicycling and organize community biking events. Working with Bike East Bay, Britt has organized family biking training at Kai’s school and their family has inspired several friends to start biking themselves.
The next generation of Tanner bike commuters already is pedaling. Kai and Nilsa both learned to ride pedal bikes before they were four, following right in their parents’ footsteps. Ride on, Tanner family!
Contra Costa County: Isabella Zizi
Bike Party is what made Isabella Zizi start riding as an adult. That’s where “I broke in my orange ‘70s Peugeot and introduced it to the fun.” Since then, she’s ridden a lot with Rich City Rides on their Ride of Silence, Winter Solstice Ride and Our Power rides. Isabella has been bike commuting to Gathering Tribes in Albany, a Native American arts, crafts & jewelry store. Conveniently, she locks her bike to the rack right outside that was put in by the Albany Strollers and Rollers.
Isabella’s six-mile commute takes her either on the Richmond and Ohlone Greenways or Carlson Blvd. She has a historical perspective, since she used to live on the Richmond Greenway before it was a greenway. “It was just dirt and rocks, and now it has been transformed,” said Isabella. “I love the connections it provides. The edible garden, the murals, it is so cool to see everything come to life and be open to the whole community.” During her rides around Richmond, she builds better connections with her neighbors and strengthens friendships with other riders during joint bike rides.
In addition to her riding, Isabella is an advocate – an organizing member of Idle No More SF Bay, a founder of the Bay Area chapter of Earth Guardians and an ally of SF Defund DAPL and Rising Tide. She’s leading Idle No More’s 2017 Refinery Healing walks, an event that connects communities impacted by fossil fuels, as well as encouraging conversations around clean air, water, soil and a safe environment. The next walk is on May 20 and will go from Martinez to Benicia along the Koch Carbon, Shell and Tesoro Refineries.
Isabella’s down-to-earth and matter-of-fact approach to bicycling has inspired others to ride, including members of her family. Her mother says that “Isabella has inspired me to ride my bike, and keeps me updated on the BART protocol of which trains accept bikes and which do not, or which elevators are out of service.” Most of all, her mother continued, “She inspired me to take part in helping organize a Bike to Work Day energizer station on a larger level.” Stop by the Native American Health Center’s energizer station on May 11 to meet Isabella’s mother!
Marin County: Heidi Rosevear
By simply deciding to use her bike instead of a car to get to work each day, Heidi Rosevear stepped away from the crawling line of cars dropping off students at four schools in southern Marin. Her eight-mile, fairly flat, 40-minute route highlights how simple it is to use established pathways to arrive at work refreshed and ready – with the only energy used her own personal pedal power.
Her route is mostly bike path, but initially she was intimidated by the unpleasantness of getting across Highway 101 to the Tiburon side. Nevertheless, one day she just did it and found that it wasn’t as bad as she expected. She kept doing it, and soon it became a habit. After a few months, as an accidental bonus, she noticed that she as no longer wheezing her way up a flight of stairs or squeezing into her fat pants, and she hadn’t even tried!
Now, the highlight of her commute is the Mill Valley bike path, by the wetlands, especially on fall mornings when the birds are “doing their thing.” The benefits of bike commuting? “It keeps me out of the gym, out of traffic, and gets me to work at the same time as driving!”
Heidi’s commitment to bike commuting has been noticed. According to a friend who nominated her for BCOY 2017, “Heidi not only loves to ride her bike to work, she honestly wants to lessen the impact of cars on our community, the environment and lessen the dangers to school kids from automobile traffic at pedestrian crossings found in our community.”
For people who are thinking about getting started bike commuting, Heidi has some words of wisdom. “You can be just as effective at your job with helmet hair and slightly rumpled clothing as you can if you’ve traveled by car or bus!”
Napa County: Billy and Elio Eeo
Billy Eeo and his son Elio are the very definition of dedicated bicycle commuters. Each morning, they get on their bikes and ride seven miles from their home in Napa to the Stonebridge School on Los Carneros. Their passion for riding has extended to many of the families who attend Stonebridge, where Billy organized an annual bicycle caravan of parents and their children to the school on Bike to School Day.
“Elio and I are so honored by this award. I ride my bicycle for physical health, and to minimize the stress caused by driving a car and sitting in traffic. The environmental benefits of riding, including being more connected with nature, is a wonderful bonus.”
Napa County is proud to recognize Billy and Elio for their passion and dedication to commuting by bicycle, and wish them many more years of riding together.
San Francisco County: Maria Stokes
Maria Stokes has been bike commuting for 20 years and rides from her Richmond neighborhood to Dogpatch every day. She bikes for health, the environment, to beat traffic, to reduce stress and for fun! Maria says that biking is the perfect way to start her day and that not even coffee can compare. Her ride to work at the SF-Marin Food Bank gets her heart pumping and kick starts her creativity. And at the end of a hectic day, biking home helps her decompress, reflect and transition into family time. She picks up her two kids from school on her way home and they bike the last half mile together.
We asked Maria about her unique flower helmet. About 15 years ago, she added the flowers for fun, and now not a day goes by without someone shouting out to her as she passes by — from cars, on foot, on street corners, cyclists going by, and especially kids in strollers. She hears, “Hi, flower lady” or ‘Nice hat!” and loves that a simple helmet can inspire people to connect and say hello.
Maria’s has some simple advice for someone who is thinking about bike commuting. “Give it a go! Start on a beautiful spring day and give yourself plenty of time so you can enjoy the ride and take it all in,” she says. “After a couple of rides, you’ll be hooked. San Francisco is not as hilly as you think. Plus, the clever people who make bike maps and apps have figured out the flattest routes.”
San Mateo: Kate Gibson
Kate Gibson is a dedicated bike commuter, who travels by bike-Caltrain-bike to her office at Stanford University. On days when she wants an extra workout, or when the train is delayed, she skips Caltrain and bike commutes all the way home to Redwood City. And if that commitment isn’t enough, she’s an avid advocate of bike safety – never pedaling without a helmet, using a front light and rear reflector on her bike, and wearing reflective clothing and clip-on lights. And, as an all-around athlete, her commute does double duty in giving her extra fitness as she trains for 10K and half marathon road races.
Bike safety is especially important to Kate, because she had a close call, which included a fall from her bike. She had to overcome her hesitation to get back in the saddle – and she has, gaining confidence as she bike commutes every day.
Kate has shared her knowledge and experiences of pedaling to work with others, to help them consider or improve their bike commuting. She even made a video to help new commuters see what a bike + Caltrain commute can be like. Stanford liked the video so much, they put it on the Stanford Parking & Transportation Services website! In addition, Kate participates in the University’s new employee orientations, where she presents information on bike commuting options and answers commute and bike-related questions.
She brings a fun and positive enthusiasm to promoting cycling and other sustainable alternatives. A great example is the Halloween costume she wore one year, when she dressed up as Rosie the Riveter. It was the perfect match for her, because she consistently conveys the “”We can do it!”” attitude that she embodies in her own journey with bike commuting.
Santa Clara County: Stefan Rosner
Stefan grew up riding as a kid and continued through college – braving the harsh Chicago winters! As an adult, Stefan continues to ride his bike to work, errands, and even concerts. When his children were younger, he would take them to school on his front bike seat. Now that they are older, they commute by bike just like dad.
Getting around by bike means that he is at the right speed to engage more fully with the community. Instead of seeing pedestrians as a blur, like one might in a car, he gets to smile at them as he passes by. He also does some of his best, most creative problem solving on his bike commute.
He is an inspiration to the community by being active with the Safe Routes to School Program and organizing fun “Walk & Roll to School” commute mode shift encouragement events twice a year, in the fall and spring, for the better part of a decade. He encourages others to ride by offering to help tune up their bicycles for free.
How do we encourage more people to ride a bike? Stefan says, “We need to reduce and eliminate the barriers, real and perceived, that keep folks in their cars. We need to stop planning communities with the prime objective of moving automobiles through as quickly as possible, and continue to retrofit such communities with “complete streets” that are designed for all modes of transportation and transit. We need more workplace incentives for employees to leave their cars at home instead of occupying a parking spot all day. But mainly, leading by example is I think the best way to encourage folks to try biking, and discover for themselves how getting their kids to school, and getting themselves to work, can be one of the best and most productive parts of the day!”
Solano County: William Galusha
William Galusha participated in the annual Solano Commute Challenge and rode his bicycle to work more times than any
other commuter in the county. How did he set such a record? A production worker at Insulfoam in Dixon, William has commuted by bike nearly every workday for 18 years. Every once in a while – if it’s rainy, he’s getting over a cold or has to go somewhere directly after work that is a little bit further away – he’ll drive. But even with that, over the course of the year he’ll ride his bike about 80 percent of the time.
Since he lives in Dixon, William’s commute is just across town. Many times, he’s found that riding his bike is faster than driving. And as a bonus, his cycling frees up the family car so his wife can use it to commute to her own job. William says “Biking to work saves money and is most convenient.” He encourages others to “just do it” and make the move to biking to work.
Sonoma County: Shaun Ralston and Steve Bush
The votes are in for Sonoma County and it’s a tie for 2017!
Shaun, a regional manager at Sutter Health, is a dedicated bicycle commuter who logs nearly 3,000 miles per year. After a diabetic diagnosis 15 years ago, he ditched his car in favor of a healthier two-wheeled option and has been a 100 percent green commuter ever since. He cycles most days to his Santa Rosa hospital office, as well as navigates weekly public transit connections to his San Francisco corporate office. Shaun has developed a love for recreational cycling as well, riding and organizing some of Sonoma County’s favorite charity century rides. As a weathered bike commuter, he also learned about the need for cycling advocacy and currently serves as vice chair of the Santa Rosa City Council Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Board. Among his other duties at Sutter Health, Shaun operates the staff transit/green incentive program, which is designed to increase employees’ use of alternative modes of transportation, including bicycle commuting. Despite this busy schedule, Shaun absolutely cherishes his road time, claiming “Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of riding a bike.”
Steve and his wife live completely car-free and bike everywhere. Perhaps most importantly, he is an inspiration for kindergarteners at Sonoma Country Day School for his excellence in inspiring young minds first and foremost, but also for his commitment to the environment in so many ways. That all starts with his daily commute to school – rain or shine – on his trusty Bike Friday folding bike. In fact, Steve’s distinctive blue bike is parked outside his classroom every day, and has become an icon in the school’s landscape each day. Steve is truly an inspiration to students, faculty and others!