Bike Bakersfield promotes the benefits of cycling
Bike Bakersfield’s mission is to promote bicycling as a safe, fun and environmentally friendly means of everyday transportation. They also advocate for bicyclist and pedestrian rights at the local, state and national level.
Since 2006, they have been raising the awareness of bicycling as a transportation choice to Kern County.
With the new school year in process, advocates are actively at work educating Bakersfield elementary and junior high schools about bicycle and pedestrian safety. In addition, they started bike clubs at Bakersfield and Independence high schools.
“Our mission is try and get that particular age group of students to form bike clubs in the high schools, so that they can start looking at transportation differently,” said Tina Chapa, executive director of Bike Bakersfield. “It’s a choice that you make; instead of being in a car, you get on a bike. Of course the younger that you can teach that, and you can get those younger kids to start practicing that, the more likely they’re going to keep that.”
Their regular membership is $25. A $10 membership was started this year to introduce the community to who Bike Bakersfield is.
“It says ‘I ride a bike. I want to be a part of someone who’s making a difference in the community,’” she said. “People always say, ‘What do you get for that?’ You get representation. You get the representation of Bike Bakersfield’s staff going to the city council meetings, and the supervisor meetings, and advocating for the fact that, here in the city of Bakersfield, we need more bike lanes, more bike paths, safer streets for people who walk, like sidewalks and street lights.You know, in any community, the power is in the number of people who are working toward a particular goal.
“And the more members that we have is just more power as an organization to go to the city council meetings and say ‘You know I have 500 constituents who are saying to us, we need this or this.’ That’s what the membership brings you. Representation.”
“It’s always in our future to get more involved with the people in our government who make decisions, who make the policy changes happen,” she said. “We work very diligently with them, to kind of point out areas that we’d like to see more bike lanes and more bicycle infrastructure.
“The belief is, the more infrastructure you have, if you have places for people to park and lock their bike, if you have places for them to store, if you have the right bike lanes, if you have all of that in place, the more people will ride their bike.”
“When Bike Bakersfield opened, I was downtown, on my bike,” said Bakersfield native Aaron Eaton. I passed by there, and I turned around and went back in.” Although it took Eaton a while to become really involved, he’s been involved with the group for some time now, and on countless occasions he has brought in one or more of his over 20 custom Schwinn bikes to custom build or “flavor up.” Other times, he’ll just volunteer and help out wherever he’s needed.
A bike mechanic himself, he enjoys the atmosphere and advocacy that Bike Bakersfield is.
“I could work on my bikes at home, but I like going down there, because there’s more people there to communicate with that have bikes also,” he said.
Olivia Snider is majoring in business administration and economics at Bakersfield College and is a dedicated cyclist, sometimes riding a hundred miles in a week. She is also the great granddaughter of George Snider, who founded Snider’s Cyclery in 1904.
“I love riding,” said Snider. “I work around bicycles all the time.”
She first heard of Bike Bakersfield while in high school, and on numerous occasions has been a part of the full moon rides, and other events.
“It’s cool,” she said. “It’s getting everyone involved. It’s a real easy ride. Anyone can come, and you don’t have to be a serious rider.”
She said Snider’s has, through the years, ordered parts and referred numerous clients to BB.
Diane Ellison had known about the BB Full Moon rides for some time, but being apprehensive about keeping up, she was hesitant to go.
On Aug. 1 she finally attended the ride where she met Century Mile Cyclist, Thomas Lemay.
“It was my first time, and I loved it, and I kept up,” said Ellison.
“It was so wonderful, and I met Thomas, and I’ve been biking everyday ever since.”
Former BC history professor Rich Partain and his wife Mimi were first-time full moon riders. They only recently joined the club, though they’ve been hearing about them for some time and wanted to do something to get involved.
“The way they presented it, just about anybody who has any interest in it [bicycling], can do it,” Partan said.
One of the best ways to find out what Bike Bakersfield is about is to visit their website at bikebakersfield.org.