Amid the plethora of activities on the 350 day of action on Sunday, a new initiative was launched with the aim of getting 1,000 people in the East Bay to use their bike for everyday transport.
“The idea is the East Bay is a fantastic place to ride for everyday transportation,” explained Stacy Jackson, campaign leader of 1,000 New Cyclists and a doctoral student in the university’s Energy and Resources Group. Jackson said that despite the good conditions in Berkeley and the rest of the East Bay, cycling rates are comparatively low.
“We have an amazing climate compared to places like Portland or even Copenhagen or Amsterdam,” she said. Jackson also cited Berkeley’s casual culture and the fact that the majority of the city is fairly flat. While the UC Berkeley campus has cycling rates around 10% of total trips, the East Bay as a whole is around 5%. Copenhagen has rates of around 40%, according to Jackson.
The 1,000 cyclists campaign is focused on what Jackson calls the “social support” side of cycling, where many cycling campaigns concentrate on building a better infrastructure. Jackson said there is a long list of infrastructure improvements that would help cycling in the East Bay, but the conditions are pretty good. “We’re working on getting people to ride in the infrastructure we have,” she said.
The campaign is, for example, organizing a network of “bike buddies” who would be riding companions for people new to everyday cycling. It is also establishing a group of mentors who can answer questions, ranging from what kind of lock to use, to what are the best bike lights, to finding Bicycle Boulevards in Berkeley. The campaign will hold a mentor and bike buddy workshop on October 26.
Jackson said the campaign has given itself a year to attract the 1,000 new cyclists, but it has no idea whether the goal is ambitious or modest. “We haven’t found anyone else who’s tried to do something like this,” she said.