“We want biking to be a mainstream, comfortable, and safe choice for people of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds,” says Eileen Rice, Communications Director for nonprofit Bike East Bay. “If people are curious, a great way to start is to take a free online class or join us on May twenty-first for Bike to Wherever Day.”
The upcoming Bike to Wherever Day, on May 21, is a perfect opportunity to bike instead of drive for Tri-Valley residents. Starting at 7 am, individuals throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, including the East Bay and Tri-Valley, are encouraged to get on a bicycle. Running errands, pedaling to school or work, riding to a library or park, or taking a spin around Hacienda to enjoy the spring weather are simple ways to mark the occasion.
Pre-pandemic, the Bay Area and much of the nation celebrated Bike to Work Day, which dates back to 1956. Historically, the Bay Area’s observance has been the biggest bicycle commute event in the United States, according to the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the transportation agency for the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area. In 2019, nearly 100,000 participated in the event, bolstered by hundreds of volunteers providing snacks, refreshments, and encouragement at “energizer” stations throughout the region that were made possible by a host of supporters and sponsors. Hacienda has long been a strong and active sponsor of the event and has been the principal supporter of the Bike to Work Day Energizer Station at the East Dublin/Pleasanton BART station in Hacienda.
In addition to supporting Bike to Wherever Day, Bike East Bay has expanded the acceptability and viability of biking in part by working closely with three local advocacy groups in the Tri-Valley: Bike Dublin, Bike Pleasanton, and Bike Livermore. The nonprofit has collaborated with Bike Pleasanton, for example, to advocate for safety improvements at the Iron Horse Trail crossing at the intersection of Stanley, Valley, and Bernal, which became the first protected intersection in the Tri-Valley. In addition to these city-specific projects, Bike East Bay is engaged on regional issues that affect the Tri-Valley, including advocacy for improvements to the Iron Horse Trail, funding for transit and bike infrastructure, and improved multi-modal transportation for commuters in the region.
The nonprofit also supports cyclists by helping people learn to ride. Bike East Bay lead instructor Dan Hernandez, who has been a cycling instructor since 2008, says he enjoys his job because it allows him to “encourage people to do more with their bike, something that saves them time, adds years to their life, makes them smile, keeps them healthy, betters their community, and gives them hope.”
Bike riding definitely betters the community. Swapping car use for active transportation, which is defined as cycling, e-biking, or walking, can help lower pollution significantly, according to a new study from researchers at the University of Oxford’s Transport Studies Unit. An analysis of the study by CleanTechnica reports that a person choosing to bike just one day per week can make a big difference in reducing greenhouse gases. Cycling also offers great mental and physical health benefits. One Danish study from 2018 suggests that riding one to 60 minutes per week could cut the risk of early death significantly, even for people who start riding later in life.
The City of Pleasanton supports cyclists in several ways. Every time the city upgrades the paving on a street, for example, it also paints a new bike lane. Pleasanton first approved a Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan in 2010, then updated it in 2017. The five goals for the updated citywide pedestrian and bicycle network are straight-forward: improve safety for pedestrians and bicyclists, beginning with safe routes to schools. Create a citywide network of trails, walkways, and bikeways that are safe and comfortable for people of all ages and abilities. Promote alternatives to driving by enhancing walking and bicycling connections to transit hubs, schools, and key destinations in Pleasanton. Utilize best practices and innovative but tested pedestrian and bicycle design guidelines. Encourage and educate residents about walking and bicycling opportunities in Pleasanton, and monitor the progress against clear goals.
The updated master plan also included a prioritized list of improvements that was created by developing a priority matrix and a ranking system for the corridors. As a result, the West Las Positas (WLP) corridor, of which the segment through Hacienda is a major section, became the top-ranked corridor for improvements. “The West Las Positas Corridor Plan will repurpose underutilized travel lanes to provide protected bike lanes along the entirety of the corridor,” says Tassano. The West Las Positas Bikeway draft report shows how, once improvements are completed, cyclists traveling on West Las Positas will ride on bike lanes physically separated from auto traffic.
“Our goal is to establish a bicycle network that leads you to and from the BART station,” notes Tassano, who points out that the city is working hard to develop a strong pedestrian and bike network throughout Pleasanton and Hacienda. The WLP project will result in protected bike lanes along the entirety of the corridor and protected intersections at some of the major intersections that feel less than comfortable for cyclists, he says.
The timeline for implementing planned improvements to West Las Positas has taken longer than expected, because the pandemic meant an end to City Council meetings for many months. “The good news is that we have a draft master plan for WLP that has been approved by our Pedestrian Bicycle Trails Committee and is waiting to go to the Council,” says Tassano. “And we have over a million dollars in funding ready to implement the pilot phase, if it is approved.”
While changes have been made to the original Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan, City of Pleasanton’s Vision Statement remains the same: “furthering progress as a place with many safe and pleasant pedestrian and bicycle facilities, and a city that encourages walking and bicycling as healthful and enjoyable activities.” That is a vision shared by Bike East Bay, Hacienda, and many others as well.
For more information about Bike to Wherever Day, please visit www.bikeeastbay.org/events/bike-wherever-day-2021.
For more information about Bike East Bay, please visit www.bikeeastbay.org.
For more information about the West Las Positas Bikeway Project, please visit www.wlpbike.com.
For more information about Hacienda’s commuting benefits, please visit www.hacienda.org/amenities/employees-residents/commute-solutions.