Another ride has come and gone, and while the past few months have brought us nothing but great riding and a positive response from the community, July’s Deity Ride has solicited mixed feelings from both riders and non-riders alike. This post will highlight some of the amazing things from the ride while reflecting what immediate needs we must address if we are to carry out our mission of community building.
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Highlights from the ride:
- For starters, we had an awesome route, once again taking the ride where we’ve never been before. Saratoga was a blast, and for many riders, the best part was the long downhill stretch on Saratoga-Sunnyvale Road. Riding through the Rose Garden neighborhood was also a great way to explore a historic part of the San Jose, with the Egyptian Museum setting the tone for our Deity theme early in evening.
- Our growth continues, last night attracting well over 3,000 riders (counted along the Alameda), with the estimate sitting at 3,300. For those unfamiliar with Bike Party’s beginnings, the first ride was only 25 people and no one every thought it would explode in mass the way it has.
- We’re also still doing well with red lights. While there are specific incidents where people didn’t stop, these were few in number and usually involved riders entering the intersection just as the light turned red, not continuing through the cycle or purposely blocking traffic. Given the enormous size of the ride and the energy it carries with it, I am personally amazed at how well we’ve done with traffic lights over the past several months.
Areas for improvement:
- Bike Party has done really well at sharing the road with motorized traffic, until last night. Bike Party does not exist to take over the road. Bike Party exists to build community within our legal right to the roadway. When we don’t share the road we are sending a poor message to everyone – residents, police, politicians, even each other. The right lane is ours, and in that sense we are ‘reclaiming the streets,’ but our goal is to promote a bike friendly community and garner the respect we deserve while using the road – not just during Bike Party, but every other day of the month. Please share the roads encourage others to do the same.
- Respecting others’ rights on the road. This has much to do with sharing the road, but it extends further than that. Many drivers who cross paths with us or end up engulfed in our ride find ways to cope with it. Some engage in conversation with us, trying to figure out what we are, why we’re riding and so forth. Others join the festivities, cheering us on and shouting Bike Party. Others look baffled and try to find the quickest way out of our mass. In any case, it’s our duty to respect the rights of others and to remember that most people in cars have no idea what’s going on and might even feel a little intimidated. The best thing we can do is be friendly and courteous and stay on our side of the road, and help a ‘trapped car’ find their way out.
What we need YOU to do:
- If you’re reading this post, it’s likely that you’re familiar with How We Ride. We need your help along the route. We know you can do it. You’ve got the energy and lung capacity to yell Bike Party! every 30 seconds, so why not step it up and shout ‘move to your right’ when you know we’re blocking the road. It’s surprisingly effective, especially when it’s more than one person doing it. For several months now, this has happened along the ride, simple reminders to share the road and obey traffic rules. For whatever reason, this did not occur last night to the extent it normally does. Maybe there were a lot of new riders who were unfamiliar with How We Ride. It’s impossible to know for sure. We need you to step it up next month. This is your ride. OWN IT!
- Volunteer. There are so many ways to help out. The more volunteers, the better the ride. Anyone who rode on December’s scarf ride, last year’s anniversary ride, or the Stanford ride knows what I’m taking about. Please join us on a test ride or at our monthly volunteer meeting. How do you find out about these? Check the website often and become a fan of our Facebook page
- Spread the word. And make sure you tell people to read How We Ride and get lights while you’re at it!
There has been concern from the Bike Party and non-Bike Party community about the poor timing of our start location for this month. This is something that I feel obliged to address. The dedicated volunteers who help with route decisions make painful efforts to ensure our ride will flow as smoothly as possible and try to take every possible circumstance into account. But we’re not always perfect and unforeseen circumstances do exist, as unfortunate as that may be. For the record, the blaring horns coming from Benton Avenue belonged to a pair of semi trucks who stopped to cheer on the ride. Their intention was in the spirit of celebration, not to ruin anyone’s evening. That goes for us, too.
Action item: Many of you may not be aware that San Jose International Airport recently went through a massive renovation and that this includes signs banning bikes from the airport roads – public airport roads! While Bike Party exists as a fun event for people to socialize while riding bikes, it also exists to bring awareness to bicycle issues in the South Bay at large. We want to achieve a bike-friendly, sustainable community where bikes our respected as a legitimate mode of transportation, and public roads must respect our right to use them. Please sign Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition’s petition to have these signs removed. (click here for petition).
The coming months will bring even more riders and even better weather. As always, please share your thoughts and stories in the comments section and post your photos on our Flickr page.