Congratulations to the 2018 Bike Commuters of the Year!
Alameda County: Jeffrey Buell
Have you ever spotted a guy biking around Berkeley with two adorable on a dark green triple tandem bike? That would be Jeffrey Buell. Most days, he drops his kids off at school and then pedals on to work as a mental health clinical supervisor with the City of Berkeley.
Jeff’s father introduced him to during middle school. He started bike commuting in 1989 and has relied almost exclusively on it as his mode of transportation for the past 13 years. Jeff says that ever since his family chose the biking lifestyle, they have fully embraced a more sustainable way of living and become much healthier in the process. He believes it is important to teach his kids about playing an important role in saving the environment.
While safety became a bigger issue when cycling with his children, Jeff didn’t let that stop them from cycling together. He discovered the Bike Friday triple tandem bicycle as the perfect family-friendly bike. Every year, they all participate in Bike to Work Day and in the Alameda County Wheels for Meals fundraising ride.
For beginner cyclists, Jeff suggests starting slow, maybe taking transit or driving part of the way until you get comfortable. For instance, when Jeff worked in San Francisco, he took BART into the city and then cycled from the station to his workplace.
“Once you find the right distance and amount of cycling, you’ll get the hang of it,” he says. And if you’re like Jeff, you’ll make riding a bike an important part of your life.
Contra Costa County: Laura Davis
Laura Davis is a nurse practitioner in Walnut Creek who rides 10 miles round-trip to and from work at an orthopedic clinic. She takes advantage of biking trails, including the Contra Costa, Iron Horse, and Canal trails, to ride comfortably across town. But during a summer back home near Mount Diablo, she began cycling as cross training for swimming. Laura found that she could combine her passions for health, exercise, and the environment all within her mode of getting around town – and fell in love bicycling as a result.
Laura’s dedication to maintaining a healthy lifestyle continues at work. A strong advocate for preventing injuries before they occur, Laura’s passion for being healthy and active inspires her patients and others around her. Between administering ultrasound-guided injections and assisting in surgery, Laura educates her patients about how to exercise and maintain a healthy lifestyle. She has even been known to jump into the onsite gym with patients to motivate and exercise alongside them.
Laura’s advice for people interested in biking to work? “Just do it! Exercise always makes you feel better. You’ll never regret it and you’re not polluting the environment we all live in.”
Marin County: Matt Young
Matt Young started racing bikes at the advanced age of 8. . . . and he has never looked back. Thirty-two years later, he bike commutes daily from Mill Valley to San Francisco to his job at First Republic Bank.
The best part of his ride to work? “The daily camaraderie with my commute friends and everyone I meet along the way” says Matt. “The peaceful time on a bike and challenging myself mentally and physically are an added bonus.”
Matt is a huge fan of riding in Marin, citing the county’s beauty, the way it makes it easy to get away from the hustle and bustle of life, and the gorgeous views of the Bay and the ocean from the top of Mt. Tam.
When Matt looks to the future of bicycling, he sees kids. His father was a cycling coach at Penn State and handed down the love of bicycles to his son. “Kids are our future. I grew up racing in junior development programs and see the power of the high school MTB league. Not only is this fantastic for kids, but parents are able to remain involved.”
Matt’s message for others who ride? “Riding a bike gives a person a unique perspective to see and interact with the surroundings that cannot be matched in a motorized vehicle or on foot. I love riding my bike for the adventure of finding out what is around the next bend.”
Napa County: Zac Soper
Zac Soper’s first memory of riding a bike was riding his Little Tikes bike up and down the hills around his childhood
neighborhood. He thinks that may have been the beginning of his love of riding bikes – experiencing the freedom and excitement of being out in the world. Fast forward to today, and on any given weekday, you’re likely to see Zac riding his Bianchi along the Vine Trail up to his job at a winery in Oakville.
Zac’s transition to bike commuting was a bit more dramatic than most, In 2009, while driving on Highway 29, he experienced an epileptic seizure, causing him to crash. When he recovered, he used the insurance money to buy his first road bike, and hasn’t looked back since (except when changing lanes!). Embracing his bicycle as his primary mode of transportation, Zac often logs more than 100 miles a week riding to work, doing errands, visiting friends and more.
San Francisco County: Maggie Chestney
Maggie Chestney has dealt with nine different knee operations over the course of 17 years. When the eighth knee surgery failed, she could no longer walk or do basic chores without excruciating pain. Maggie and her husband uprooted their lives and moved cross-country so that she could see a world-renowned specialist. Thankfully, the ninth knee operation was a success, and by August, just one year after the surgery, she’s hoping to be able to bike commute five days a week.
Today, Maggie works for the same surgeon who helped her get back on her feet….and on her bike. “To me, biking is my own form of freedom and it’s a gift that has revived my entire being.” After years of suffering, she says that she feels alive every time she pedals through the streets of San Francisco. One of her favorite places to bike is up (yes, up!) the Fort Mason hill to see the gorgeous view of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Bay.
Although Maggie is a new SF Bicycle Coalition member, she jumped right in and is a regular volunteer with the Community Bike Builds program, repairing bicycles to be distributed to those who would otherwise not be able to afford a bike.
For anyone who is considering bike-commuting, Maggie would say that biking in the city is an experience worth trying. “Biking throughout San Francisco gives you the chance to explore it’s many historic neighborhoods and vibrant cultures through a unique lens – one that allows you to be more present in your surroundings.”
San Mateo County: Morgan Cole
Up to four times a week, Morgan Cole rides 17 miles round trip from his home in Portola Valley to his job at the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. Not only does he live his commitment to bike commuting, but he also does many things to promote cycling as a fun and safe mode of transportation.
Morgan got started bike commuting in college – 15 miles each way – and the most economical transportation there was. Today, biking is his lifestyle. In his spare time, Morgan competes in bike races, and has been instrumental in resurrecting and rejuvenating Bike to Work Day at the Foundation. In fact, he formed a committee, secured funding and spearheading an entire month of activities to promote and encourage bike commuting. He holds weekly maintenance clinics, where he both repairs staff his bicycles and teaches his coworkers to do it themselves. He is planning a commute workshop through the Silicon Valley Bike Coalition and is promoting volunteer opportunities to encourage involvement, especially for those who cannot ride.
And if that isn’t enough, Morgan is acquiring rented bicycles for employees to use at lunch to help them get more comfortable and confident riding, and has designed several events to foster biking fun such as a “Spaghetti Feed” lunch before Bike to Work Day and friendly competition among staff called Bike to Work Day Bingo. Morgan’s positive attitude, infectious enthusiasm and distinct brand of humor have greatly benefited his colleagues, workplace and community.
Santa Clara County: Molly Clancy
Molly Clancy started biking when she was very young. In fact, a home video of her second birthday party shows her endlessly riding around on her tricycle. Molly’s love of the outdoors and hatred of cars has kept her riding ever since.
Now 28 years old, Molly started bike commuting in college, using a blue Schwinn she bought on Craigslist for $20. “When I got my first internship during college, it was only nine miles away, so I adopted a “no excuses” attitude and biked there,” she said. “When I moved to the Bay Area four years ago, I continued riding my trusty blue bike. I’ve even competed in a few triathlons on it!”
Working as an analytic manager at Google, Molly also encourages her colleagues to give bike commuting a try. She swears after just one week, anyone will be hooked!
Molly has plenty of good reasons to stay in the saddle. “I live in California so that I can spend time outside, not inside (including inside cars),” she said. “I love the freedom a bicycle gives me. I can go wherever I want whenever I want, and I can be outside while doing it.” It’s also better for the environment, I save time and money, and it feels pretty awesome being self-powered.”
Solano County: Kenneth Stats
Kenneth Stats began biking when he was eight years old. He has always loved being able to move along the roads with speed and ease. Today, he doesn’t need motivation to continue biking. “Bikes are fun. Riding a bike reminds me of being a kid,” he says.
A Suisun City resident, Kenneth applies the fun of biking to his daily commute, pedaling to work at the Clorox plant in Fairfield. Riding to work almost every day for the past 10 years, the only time you won’t find him on his bike is in really inclement weather. And clearly bike commuting is not enough time in the saddle for Kenneth. You can also find him mountain biking at least twice a week, using an older mountain bike equipped with slick tires, fenders and lights. Adding up all the on- and off-road miles he pedals, Kenneth rides an average of 100 miles a week!
Kenneth shares his love of bicycling with his own children. And many afternoons, he can be found helping neighborhood kids fix their bikes so that they too can know the fun of riding.
Sonoma County: Tracey Jones
Tracey Jones, M.D. is so dedicated to bicycle commuting that when she moved to Santa Rosa for her job at Kaiser Permanente, she chose a home within cycling distance of the hospital. “Five miles is the sweet spot,” she says. “I can ride in my work clothes without working up too much of a sweat.” She even bike commuted during her internship in Michigan, although “winter was a more challenging time to bike, but I didn’t own a car at that point.”
With a specialty in physical medicine and rehabilitation, Tracey is a role model to her patients and coworkers, demonstrating the benefits of physical activity. She also practices and teaches the Brazilian martial art of capoeira, and recently bought a Burley bike trailer so that she can haul her musical instruments and materials to class. Her coworker Todd Weitzenberg, M.D., has witnessed her daily cycling commute since they were in residency together. “Rain or shine, day or night, hot or cold, Tracey rides her bike to and from work. I am an avid competitive cyclist and find bike commuting difficult and hazardous, but I am inspired and amazed by her commitment to the health, fitness and safety aspects of cycling and is a role model for bike commuting.”
Tracey’s commitment doesn’t stop with her daily commute. She has given back to the cycling community by serving on the Santa Rosa Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Board and is a member of Kaiser’s ‘Green Team,” working to make their operations more sustainable.
Her advice to someone just starting out? Start small – just ride once a month or once a week at first. “You don’t have to go from driving everywhere to biking everywhere to make a difference. If we can just get people to stop and ask the question of whether they could bike to their destination rather than drive before just jumping into the car – THAT alone would be revolutionary.”
For a list of previous winners, check out https://youcanbikethere.com/category/bike-commuters-of-the-year/