By Bryan McKenzie
Published: January 10, 2009
They’re organized, militant and recruiting: Members of the Alliance for Community Choice in Transportation are tossing down a bicycler party Friday evening on the backside of the Market Street parking garage and they’re inviting everyone who pedals.
“It’s designed for regular commuters, those who came out to ride with us in neighborhood rides, weekend bikers and those who are bicycle-curious,” said Shelly Stern of ACCT. “There’ll be a lot of information, a bit of entertainment and fun.”
Like motorcycle riders, bicyclists have their own subculture. They dress oddly. They dodge cars. They like to toss parties and talk of two wheels. For instance, Friday’s Bike Extravaganza! includes an “interactive, multi-media celebration of biking,” smoothies made in a bicycle-powered blender, mechanic’s advice, customizing and decorating bikes, raffles, snacks and more.
Bike to the other side
The idea is to not focus on cyclists’ wants like trails and lanes, but to invite others into the lifestyle.
“It’s a culture. There are a lot of fun people who love their bicycles and they are fun to be around,” Ms. Stern said. “There are different aspects of bicycling, different subgroups and, with the extravaganza, we’re sending out a long arm to try and circle everyone into the fold.”
Ms. Stern knows the culture well. Last year she sold her 1987 Subaru wagon for a ticket to Belize (about $500). Now she pedals a tandem bike with her 8-year-old son to get to school and work and shop for groceries.
“There are times I miss the car, but it really hasn’t been that hard to go without it. Sometimes lousy weather is a deterrent to riding, but you get used to it,” Ms. Stern said. “It does take a lot of advance scheduling and sometimes I have no choice but to borrow a friend’s car or ask for a ride.”
Naturally, there are advantages. She gets plenty of exercise. Her family eats less because she can carry less on the bicycle. She and her son get plenty of one-to-one time to and from school. Maintenance costs are cheap and much of it she can do herself.
“I learned a lot of the maintenance from the bike docs when I volunteered with Community Bikes,” Ms. Stern said, referring to a local organization that helps area residents keep their wheels in good condition.
Friday’s extravaganza also is designed for those who rode with ACCT members last summer as part of the alliance’s Discover Transportation Freedom project. The grant-funded effort put cyclists into neighborhoods promoting bikes as a better way to get there, wherever there is.
More than 220 people joined ACCT volunteers on the neighborhood rides.
“We wanted to show people how easy it can be to commute by bicycle and safe ways to get to where they wanted to go,” Stern recalled. “A lot of people came out, got to know their neighborhood and neighbors a little better and had a lot of fun.”
Fun, she said, is exactly why Bike Extravaganza! is being thrown.
“It’s not just about information, although there’ll be plenty of that,” she said. “It’s about fun and people.”