Avid cyclists, commuters, cycling hobbyists, transportation planners, environmentalists and health advocates are getting ready to celebrate Bike Month in May, which features a variety of local organized events to promote two-wheeled pedal power.
Local events center around national Bike to Work Day and the Bay Area’s Bike to Wherever Days on May 20-22, but cycling proponents want everyone — including motorists and pedestrians — to know there might be a lot more cyclists on the roads throughout the month. Doug Hall, co-owner of Bike Therapy in Morgan Hill, said the growing regional efforts to promote cycling and walking in recent years — especially after interest boomed during the pandemic’s shelter-in-place era — are encouraging.
“There’s a lot more energy toward people using their bikes — not just for fun but also for transportation — so it’s good to see that extra attention to cycling,” Hall said.
Those efforts include “energizer stations” that will be set up by the Silicon Valley Bike Coalition on May 20, in conjunction with local cities and other agencies. One of these will be open in Morgan Hill from 11:30 am-4pm, at the bike sculpture located in front of the Community & Cultural Center, 17000 Monterey Road. The stations offer hydrating drinks, snacks and minor bike repairs.
On May 4, Morgan Hill Unified School District, in partnership with the city, is promoting Bike & Walk to School Day at Los Paseos School. “Students will be encouraged to ride their bikes and walk to school” from 7: 30-9: 30am, says the MHUSD website. Participating students will be entered in a raffle for prizes including bikes, scooters and FitBit devices.
Bike Month includes several other organized rides — for recreation, competition or fundraising — throughout the Central Coast. These include the May 1 Viva CalleSJ and the May 7 iCare Classic in Morgan Hill.
National Bike Month and Bike to Work Day originated in 1956, first promoted by the League of American Bicyclists. In the Bay Area, Bike to Work Day evolved into Bike to Wherever Day during the pandemic, when thousands of people were working from home and had no workplace to cycle to.
Also during the height of the pandemic, interest in cycling for fitness, fun, transportation and commuting grew — a trend that seems to be continuing.
“The return of Bike to Work Day is another indicator that life in the Bay Area is slowly, but surely, getting back to normal,” said Alfredo Pedroza, Metropolitan Transportation Commission Chairman and Napa County Supervisor. “What better way to celebrate than by getting outdoors and biking. The May events highlight all the many benefits of bicycling, and we want everyone to participate. ”
Jodi Hall, another co-owner of Bike Therapy, encouraged cyclists and their families to go out for a group ride or two during May. The downtown Morgan Hill shop (which is also promoting some sales events during Bike Month) organizes rides regularly, but anybody can put their own group together.
“(Try) out a group ride, experience the fun of a mountain bike ride, bike to downtown, teach your little one to ride a bike, learn how to change a flat tire. Plan out the route to work (or wherever!) And enjoy the thrill of beating the traffic, ”Hall said.
In South County, cycling for a long time has been an immensely popular hobby, sport, activity — even lifestyle.
Specialized Bicycle Components — one of the largest bicycle manufacturers in the world — is headquartered in Morgan Hill, where the company has hosted numerous cycling events over the years. South County is home to many popular hilly, back road cycling routes, and has been the site of high-profile events like the Amgen Tour of California and the iCare Classic fundraising ride. The latter of these is returning to South County on May 7 — with a starting point in Morgan Hill — after a two-year hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
And just this past Saturday, April 23, was the 43rd annual Tierra Bella Bicycle Tour, a volunteer-run fundraiser for the Almaden Cycle Touring Club. More than 1,000 cyclists participated in the April 23 tour, which featured six routes of varying length and difficulty on the scenic roads of Morgan Hill, San Martin and Gilroy.
As a diehard cyclist, industry insider and all-around bicycling advocate, Doug Hall has a keen interest in the long-term growth of the use of bikes for sport, hobby and transportation. In 2019, he founded the South County Composite Mountain Bike Team, which started at local high schools and has since expanded to include middle school athletes. As a team director, he has observed first-hand how interest in cycling has spread from teammates to their parents and siblings.
“That’s been awesome, because we’re seeing so many kids excited about riding bikes,” Hall said.
And as a member of the Leadership Morgan Hill Class of 2022, Hall is helping with a public service project that would place more signs along the city’s streets alerting motorists to the presence of cyclists and pedestrians.
Hall also volunteers on the city’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee. He noted the committee is currently in the midst of an effort to make sure all the city’s public bike paths and bike lanes are more connected so that users can travel along a continuously protected route wherever they go in Morgan Hill. A map of the city’s bike paths can be viewed here.