Meet Our New Executive Director

Attend a Meet and Greet This Week

We’re excited to introduce our new Executive Director, Mike Bennett who joined Bike SLO County in early January. Late last year our Board of Directors selected Mike to take over Executive Director responsibilities from Interim Executive Director and Board of Directors Treasurer Tyler Wertenbruch. 

Executive Director Mike BennettMike graduated from Cal Poly in 1989, having been an active member of the Cal Poly Wheelmen and Velo Club San Luis throughout the four years he spent in SLO. When not racing or studying, Mike worked at the now defunct Spirit Cycle Works. He recently returned to San Luis Obispo after spending 24 years serving as an Officer and Aviator in the Marine Corps and a couple of years wrenching in a bike shop.

“I am grateful that the Bike SLO County Board has given me the opportunity to lead the exceptional Bike SLO County team. Our staff, members, and volunteers have, for 15 years, been making significant contributions to the quality of life within San Luis Obispo County. I hope to help them continue to grow the organization and to make the local transportation environment safer and more enjoyable for cyclists and non-cyclists alike,” said Bennett.

There are a few upcoming opportunities to meet Mike in the Bike Kitchen. Mike will be in the Kitchen for a few hours this Thursday and Saturday wrenching on bikes. Stop in, say hi and get to know our new Executive Director. Save room for coffee, donuts and other refreshments. Bring your bike and Mike will clean your chain!

When:  Thursday January 26, Noon – 1:30 p.m.
What:   Executive Director Meet and Greet
Where: Bike Kitchen, 860 Pacific St, SLO, CA 93401 (map)

When:  Saturday January 28, Noon – 1:30 p.m.
What:   Executive Director Meet and Greet
Where: Bike Kitchen, 860 Pacific St, SLO, CA 93401 (map)

2016 Red Davis Award Winners

Last Friday we held the 6th Annual Red Davis Celebration, Bike SLO County’s yearly gala to honor meant to honor the example, the spirit, the dedication and the hard work of Red Davis and everyone else who strives to make SLO County an even better place for bikes.

Food and drinks were provided to the happy bike community crowd, and before the awards were presented Red Davis himself spoke about the history of the so many individuals who have helped make Bike SLO County over the years.

Every year it is difficult to choose the award winners – there are so many creative and energetic folks doing great work for bikes. Congratulations to all of our 2016 Red Davis Award Winners!

2016 Business of the Year:

SLO Sail and Canvas
slo-sail-red-davis-award-2016

2016 Board Member of the Year:

Chris McBride

2016 Red Davis Award

2016 Advocate of the Year:

Dave Abrecht

2016 Red Davis Award

2016 Public Professional of the Year:

Jeff Brubaker

jeff-red-davis-award-2016

 2016 Volunteer of the Year*:

Kylie Mendonca

kylie-red-davis-award-2016

2016 Volunteer of the Year*:

Audrey Surprenant

audrey-red-davis-award-2016

*This year we had not one but two Volunteers of the Year. Woo-hoo!

Bike Fest

Bike Fest! Bob Jones Trail Day! More!

Saturday April 30th: A big day for Bikes

San Luis Obispo County has a lot going on for bikes this Saturday. Bike Fest? Yup! Bob Jones Trail Clean Up Day? You bet! Bike Valet at Family Fitness Day? Yes indeed!

Bob Jones Trail Clean Up Day

JaimeHillThe Friends of the Bob Jones Trail, in conjunction with the city of San Luis Obispo, is holding a trail work day on Saturday, April 30, from 9 a.m. to noon. Ready to volunteer? Our focus is the city’s stretch of trail from Prado Road to Los Osos Valley Road, including an area that needs to be weeded and replanted near the new bridge close to Los Osos Valley Road. The city will provide tools, water and snacks. Pulling weeds is hard physical work, so pace yourselves.

To participate, confirm with Lea Brooks, at lea2skip@aol.com that you want to participate, and she’ll will send you more details about the cleanup and parking.

Bike Fest

Get ready for an awesome day of bicycles in the Village of Arroyo Grande – the 8th annual Bike Fest takes place on Saturday, April 30th from 12:20 – 4 PM and this year is going to be better than ever.

Bike Fest is a fun-filled celebration of Bikes and the people who love them!  The festivities kick off with a Bike Parade around the Village starting at the Rotary Bandstand on Nelson Street at 12:20 PM. The Bike Parade concludes at Branch Street Deli where the fun continues at 1 PM with great food, fantastic music, incredible prizes (you can win a bike!) and discounted beverages from New Belgium Brewery.

Bike Fest is sponsored by the Bike SLO County, Rideshare, Lezyne, Branch Street Deli, Ira’s Bike Shop and New Belgium Brewing Company.

All ages are welcome, so grab your bicycle, join the Parade then enjoy the festivities at Branch Street Deli (map) – It’s going to be a blast!

Family Fitness Day

The SLO Marathon + Half’s Family Fitness Day will have FREE activities for children of all ages and abilities, on Saturday, April 30 and our free Bike Valet will be there parking bicycles. The fun goes from 9:00am to 2:00pm at the iconic Madonna Inn property. Each family can participate in a variety of games and activities at no charge and will receive a Race SLO Champion sticker, play with all the local team mascots and get lessons in fun and sportsmanship from a variety of local sport teams and clubs. Food and vendors will be at the festival as well as all weekend long.

FREE activities for children and adults include:

    1. Soccer Ball Kick with Cal Poly and Musty Mustang
    2. Basketball Toss with Cal Poly
    3. Baseball Pitch with SLO Blues Baseball and Bluebelle the Bull
    4. Sack Race with Downtown Brown
    5. Cornhole, Ladder Golf, Croquet and Giant Connect Four with SLO Coast Shenanigans
    6. Golf Putt with Sunset Honda
    7. Rope-a-Steer with Cal Poly Rodeo

In addition, on Family Fitness Day, there are three running events:

    1. Kids One Mile (8:00am start)
    2. 5K Run / Walk / Strollers (8:15am start)
    3. Kids Quarter Mile Dash (9:30am start)

For more event information or to register for races before they sell out, go to: www.slomarathon.com/family-fitness-day

Plus, enjoy the food, beer and wine (adults 21 & older only!) garden all day!

Sunday too?

Our free Bike Valet will be back at Madonna Inn on Sunday, parking bicycles for the SLO Marathon + Half. We’ll be there from 7 AM – 2 PM: Bike down and watch the big finish!

 

Family Fitness Day

Ride your bike to Family Fitness Day!

Bike Valet at Family Fitness Day

Looking for some healthy family fun this weekend? Our Digital Media Sponsor Race SLO, the organizer of the San Luis Obispo Marathon + Half Marathon has announced that its Family Fitness Day on Saturday morning, April 30 will benefit Jack’s Helping Hand, a local non-profit providing assistance and programs to children with cancer and special needs. The 5th anniversary SLO Marathon + Half edition, an Endurance Town USA running tradition, will be held on April 30-May 1.

Family Fitness DayWant to ride your bike to Family Fitness Day? Our free Bike Valet will be there at the iconic Madonna Inn property to park and watch over your bicycle while you enjoy the day’s events. Bike Valet will be there Sunday as well, so ride on down to watch the Marathon finish and let us keep an eye on your bicycle.

“Our free Family Fitness Day event has something for everybody from fun games, activities for the children and their families to three short run or walk races,” said Samantha Pruitt, Race SLO Founder & CEO. “This community event benefits our local non-profit Jack’s Helping Hand and its Camp Reach for the Stars that allows children fighting cancer and their family to attend Summer camp at no charge.”

Family Fitness Day Summary

The SLO Marathon + Half’s Family Fitness Day will have FREE activities for children of all ages and abilities, and on Saturday, April 30 the fun goes from 9:00am to 2:00pm at the iconic Madonna Inn property. Each family can participate in a variety of games and activities at no charge and will receive a Race SLO Champion sticker, play with all the local team mascots and get lessons in fun and sportsmanship from a variety of local sport teams and clubs. Food and vendors will be at the festival as well as all weekend long.

FREE activities for children and adults include:

    1. Soccer Ball Kick with Cal Poly and Musty Mustang
    2. Basketball Toss with Cal Poly
    3. Baseball Pitch with SLO Blues Baseball and Bluebelle the Bull
    4. Sack Race with Downtown Brown
    5. Cornhole, Ladder Golf, Croquet and Giant Connect Four with SLO Coast Shenanigans
    6. Golf Putt with Sunset Honda
    7. Rope-a-Steer with Cal Poly Rodeo

In addition, on Family Fitness Day, there are three running events:

    1. Kids One Mile (8:00am start)
    2. 5K Run / Walk / Strollers (8:15am start)
    3. Kids Quarter Mile Dash (9:30am start)

For more event information or to register for races before they sell out, go to: www.slomarathon.com/family-fitness-day

Plus, enjoy the food, beer and wine (adults 21 & older only!) garden all day!

 

How to Design Cities for People: An Update

Meredith Glaser revisits questions from “How to Design Cities for People”  

A few weeks back we heard from SLO-raised but Amsterdam-based urban strategy and sustainable mobility consultant Meredith Glaser on How to Design Cities for People.

Meredith Glaser & Bike SLO County Executive Director Dan Rivoire at Bello Mundo Cafe

Meredith Glaser & Bike SLO County Executive Director Dan Rivoire at Bello Mundo Cafe

She works on a freelance basis with Dutch municipalities, on international projects with Copenhagenize Design Co, and as a guest researcher/lecturer at the University of Amsterdam. She curates and leads study tours for city leaders around the world. And with any spare time she blogs for Amsterdam Cycle Chic.

Her talk focused on three key ideas for more people-centered urban planning. First, we need to observe how people are currently using our streets and public spaces. Observing human behavior can provide valuable data for leveraging change. Second, providing choices for people makes them happy. Transportation and land use decisions that result in easily accessible services that are walkable and bikeable can change the way people move in and use their city. Finally, we need to hone and nourish our very human skill of imagining better streets that caterer more to people and places rather than cars and traffic.

Kinkerstraat Amsterdam

Kinkerstraat, Amsterdam. From top: 1981 via www.studiokoning.com; 2016 via @fietsprofessor; near future via City of Amsterdam

We had a packed house at Bella Mundo and after her talk many people asked some great (and tough) questions. Meredith took some time to write up more detailed responses to some of those tough questions.

What zoning changes would you prioritize if you were a SLO planner or policy maker?

I’m not a California zoning code expert, but in true cycling cities, like those in the Netherlands and Denmark, daily needs services are within close distances from where people live and work, and the zoning code is flexible enough to allow for uses to change and adapt with the changing needs of a neighborhood. Mixed use developments with grocery stores, pharmacies, child care and schools, doctors, and other specialty retail strategically placed on the ground level and concentrated on corner sites should be prioritized. Downtown SLO neighborhoods would greatly benefit from a full-service grocery store (or a couple) to support the daily needs of its immediately local residents. (The lot across from Bank of America would be an ideal location for a mixed use development with underground parking, ground floor services, and apartments above. Reminds me of several relatively new developments in Berkeley on University Avenue.) Downtown has ample space for infill and small scale, mixed use developments. Outside of downtown is a whole other issue. New housing developments (out off Broad for example) lack accessibility to services within walking or biking distance, which only perpetuates auto dominated lifestyles. New developments should be clustered near existing services; if they aren’t, then the developers need to provide logical and safe bicycle and walking connections to existing services, schools and other daily amenities. You can read a lot more about these kinds of examples in my new book The City at Eye Level, download it for free here.

Would you agree with the statement that we need to make driving more difficult? 

Right now our streets are set up in a way to benefit only one type of user – those driving cars.

Photo from Amsterdam Cycle Chic

photo from Amsterdam Cycle Chic

We’ve become very accustomed to the conveniences of an unbalanced transportation system that doesn’t reflect the actual costs on society – subsidized gasoline, wide streets, free or very cheap parking, and a ‘door-to-door’ righteous mentality. Modernizing our city streets means allocating some of that space to other users of the road. Best practice bicycle infrastructure that is safe and comfortable and gets people where they need to go has proved an effective way to calm traffic and ease congestion. (Imagine if those bicyclists were in cars!) Surveys from drivers in cities that have created more balanced streets showed that they appreciated the bicycle infrastructure: the infrastructure made the street easier to navigate because each user better understood their place, their role and how they should behave. So it’s not about making it more difficult to drive – it’s not a zero sum game – it’s about balancing out a very unbalanced system.

If we can’t have bike infrastructure, what’s the next best thing?

Amsterdam_Intersection

Photofrom Amsterdam Cycle Chic

Best practice bicycle infrastructure has been around for decades; it’s not new and we know how to do it. And compared to car infrastructure, it is low cost, low maintenance and benefits outweigh the risks. The next best thing to permanent bicycle infrastructure is temporary bicycle infrastructure – a trend that is already sweeping the nation. Pilot, pop-up, and demonstration projects are a great way to try out low-stress bicycle infrastructure. Plastic posts or planter boxes can create temporary protected bike lanes or sidewalk extensions. There no reason San Luis Obispo cannot try out some of the ideas that are already out there – no need to reinvent the wheel, especially with that budget surplus we heard about!

I’m not a planner or engineer; what’s my take away from this? What can I do?

Re-establishing the bicycle as a mainstream mode of transport means getting people just like you more involved. If you’re already using the bicycle as a daily transport mode, you are already doing a lot. Keep riding and keep smiling. Tell your friends to join you. Tell your colleagues to join. Have your company buy bikes to leave at the office so they bike to meetings instead of drive. You can advocate for better infrastructure and bicycle facilities by writing to the city council and showing up for city council meetings. Write letters to the Tribune. Join Bike SLO County.

How would you Copenhagenize our downtown streets?

Downtown streets were planned for cars and traffic; it’s time to give more space to people and places. There is ample space to play with and plenty of ideas already out there – just pick a couple and see what works. It’s not rocket science.

If you want more of an answer than that… The design of the streets downtown, for the most part, does not match the uses. Let’s take Higuera: three wide lanes of traffic plus parking on both sides.

Photo by Amsterdam Cycle Chic

Photo from Amsterdam Cycle Chic

This layout is not congruent with the ‘Main Street’ atmosphere, the high amount of pedestrians, and lends to a poor shopping experience. The sidewalks are so narrow people are forced to shuffle around each other. The trees provide a cozy ambiance but the parked cars benefit more from their shade than people. And the traffic is as noisy and distracting as those hideous blinking crosswalk signs. Plenty of bicyclists use the street but it’s unclear where they should ride or park their bicycles. This street (and many others) would majorly benefit from sidewalk widening on both sides, giving people more space to walk and linger – plus restaurants could place more seating outside where people can people watch and enjoy the full sun of that street. Parklets can provide a temporary solution for bike parking or restaurant tables or just more space for people to sit. Raised bike ways (or at least 6′ bike lanes with buffers for car doors) on both sides could allow for increased accessibility to shops as well as through movement while remaining low-stress, comfortable, and intuitive for all users. Again, there are great bones here and lots of space to play with!

How do you convince engineers? Or rather, why are engineers in the Netherlands already “doing it right”?

For 7,000 years streets were designed for people and by people. 100 years ago that all changed and our streets were engineered for the first time in human history. It appears as though engineers aren’t going away any time soon, so it might be time to inject some real life and real design into the engineering curriculum. In the Netherlands where cycling is an every day, mainstream form of transportation, engineers are also bicycling so they experience their work on a daily basis. That’s not the case in other cities and towns, especially in the U.S. It might be very difficult for an American engineer to imagine (and design, no less) bicycle infrastructure if he or she has never experienced best practice infrastructure first hand. I think that’s why study tours are so important. Feeling and experiencing comfortable, safe bicycle infrastructure that’s been around for a century – plus talking to the experts themselves – is better than any PowerPoint presentation.

If you’re interested in study tours check out the Copenhagenize Master Class or contact Meredith for a custom study tour in the Netherlands.

Do you think Cal Poly should play a role?

Absolutely. University decision makers need to make bicycles and mass transit clear priorities, but again linking these networks and nodes seamlessly with housing, daily needs and services, and connections to the downtown core. Bicycle parking should be ample, obvious, and intuitively placed. Policies also must limit students from bringing cars into SLO – but that has to be combined with land use decisions that provide for the daily needs of students.

Cal Poly is not the only stakeholder though. In addition to transitional city officials, key decision makers from local hospitals, SLO school district, developers, Old Mission Church and schools, major employers, and the Chamber of Commerce need to get on board. As I said last Wednesday, this isn’t about getting more bicycles on the streets of San Luis Obispo, it’s about giving people more choices for how they get around. It’s about balancing out our streets and giving more space to people. And it’s about building a better, happier, more livable town for the children growing up here.

Meredith Glaser is an urban strategy and mobility consultant. She is originally from San Luis Obispo, holds Masters degrees in urban planning and public health from UC Berkeley, and has been based in the Netherlands since 2010. Meredith holds a guest appointment at the University of Amsterdam, where she co-leads a summer program on urban cycling and conducts research on cross-national policy transfer and knowledge exchange related to mobility. She hosts other university-level student groups and international professional delegations for cycling and mobility study tours. Meredith also directs the Amsterdam office for Copenhagenize Design Co., which advises cities and towns around the world regarding bicycle urbanism, reestablishing the bicycle as transport in cities, policy, planning, communications and general urban design. In her spare time she blogs for Amsterdam Cycle Chic. She lives in Amsterdam with her husband, daughter, 4 bikes and no car.

#TwoWheeledWednesday Update

Show us your #TwoWheeledWednesday

At the beginning of 2016 we launched Two-Wheeled Wednesday, a weekly celebration of riding a bike simply for the sake of riding, and urged folks to take photos or video of their ride and share them with the #TwoWheeledWednesday hashtag on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

Why? Besides the joy of riding, the health benefits and the time spent outdoors with friends and loved ones, sharing your tagged photos can win you some awesome prizes in our monthly drawing. You can win Bike Lights, bike-related books and more. 

When is Two-Wheeled Wednesday? Every Wednesday is Two-Wheeled Wednesday!

When are the drawings? Once a month!

Our first drawing was at the end of January, and lucky rider Jana Schwartz won bragging rights and a sweet set of Bike SLO County bike lights. Our next winner will be announced on Friday, February 26th. Ride those bikes, tag those photos with #TwoWheeledWednesday and stay tuned!

Here comes Two-Wheeled Wednesday

Be Active, Be Social, Win!

This week we introduce Two-Wheeled Wednesday. Our goal? To get more folks riding bikes, at least one day a week. Already ride more than that? Awesome! Want to ride more but don’t think you have the time? Two-Wheeled Wednesday! Have friends who are interested in riding but haven’t made the leap? Two-Wheeled Wednesday! TwoWheeledWednesdayChimpWant an excuse to ride your bike even more? Two-Wheeled Wednesday!

Here’s how it works: On Two-Wheeled Wednesday,  ride your bicycle.  With friends. With colleagues. With strangers. Even alone, on Wednesdays we all ride together. Ride to coffee, to work, to school, to anywhere our bikes will take us. Ride with anyone and everyone who wants to ride. Ride a mile, or two, or around the block. But ride, and invite others. In Paso. In Pismo. In Cambria, Santa Margarita, SLO, Oceano, anywhere and everywhere in SLO County and beyond. The idea behind Two-Wheeled Wednesday is simply riding bikes and encouraging others to ride as well, no matter the distance.

Participate and Win

To encourage as many people as possible to ride on Two-Wheeled Wednesdays, we’ll have monthly giveaways. To be entered, take a photo or video of your ride and share it with us on our Facebook, InstagramTwitter or Tumblr pages using the hashtag #twowheeledwednesday. At the end of each month, we’ll do a drawing for Bike Lights, Bike Kitchen Passes and other great stuff. To clarify: Two-Wheeled Wednesday takes place every Wednesday, drawings take place at the end of each month in 2016.

Share your photo or video entries with us on:

Facebook: BikeSLOCounty  Instagram: bikeslocounty  Twitter: bikeslo Tumblr: bikeslocounty

Make sure to include the #twowheeledwednesday hastag! Invite your friends! Invite your neighbors! We can’t wait to see all the SLO County bike riders!