Napa Valley Marketplace Magazine “Eco-Touring” July 2009.
Take A Ride And Share The Road
Ramblin’ On, by the Napa Nomad – Eco-excursions in the Napa Valley
By Arvis Northrop
Summer’s here and I’ve dusted off my trusty “beach cruiser” bicycle. Not that we’re anywhere near the beach, but that’s the name of the style; meaning it’s a comfy ride without gears, meant to cruise along on mostly flat roads. Fortunately for me, most of the roads around the Napa Valley are flat, and it’s easy to take a ride off the more congested beaten paths. I’m gearing up “for real” this year. I now have a safe and snug bike helmet. Yes, I’ve been a slacker; thinking “Who me? Why worry?” Well, also, fortunately for me, I’ve been inspired by the people of the Napa County Bicycle Coalition.
The all volunteer Napa County Bicycle Coalition (NCBC) became a non-profit organization in 2006. Their mission is simple: to make bicycling in Napa County safe, convenient and pleasant. A simple mission, but with the understanding that it takes a lot of dedication and determination to fulfill it. In 2008, thanks to grants and fundraising, the NCBC hired Executive Director, Wendy Hilberman, who is committed to steer the course… the bicycle course, of course!
Now, because I ride a simple cruiser and take very low-key bike rides, I might think that I wouldn’t really count in terms of the efforts of the Napa County Bicycle Coalition. I might imagine that this work pertains to the avid bikers; those in the brightly colored jerseys with rocket-shaped helmets, legs pumping in unison as a row of them surge up the Silverado Trail. However, the NCBC embraces everyone in the county, to raise awareness of all types of alternative transportation. Those who can use a bike are encouraged to give some thought to biking before jumping into a car to run a short errand. From my neighborhood, with a basket on the front of my bike, I could easily get to Napa’s Farmer’s Market over at the Wine Train Station. I could meet up with friends for coffee or lunch any place from the Hatt Building to all over downtown or, over to the Oxbow Market. I’m looking forward to using my bike more often and for more reasons. Might I get the extra benefit of losing some pounds and getting in shape? Could it get any easier than that? I’m ready to make the shift and build this new, healthy habit!
The difference the NCBC makes is countywide, offering support for recreation and transportation to all citizens. The broad vision of this organization includes: enhancing recreation and safety for children and families, support for our law enforcement, encouraging health and fitness and promoting the conservation of our environment.
One of the most ingenious services of the NCBC is “valet bike parking”. Bikes are parked and watched over by the volunteers who have sectioned off an area with dozens of bike racks for people to keep their bikes safe and close by. This is a great service for sporting events, festivals, group rides and races. Here’s where we shift our thinking: a great event to attend, but darn, the parking is going to be a hassle. Got a bike? Now you don’t have to pass on the fun! Takes the stress off of event planners too, knowing they can accommodate more people in safe and secure ways. More information about this service is available at the NCBC website: http://www.NapaBike.org
The Napa County Bicycle Coalition is proud of the latest results of this year’s Bike To Work Day (May 14th). Thanks to the efforts of the NCBC the turnout was up by 38%. Executive Director, Wendy Hilberman and her team worked on wider publicity, making consistent proclamations at each of the county’s city council meetings. “Energizer Stations” were available to all participants providing healthy smoothies that were churned by bike energy! This year, fourteen schools participated and Justin Medaris, a teacher at Stonebridge School in Napa, was honored with the award for Bike Commuter of the Year. It’s all about thinking outside the box and our cars; sharing our passions for recreation, fitness, biking and taking care of the environment.
The Napa County Bicycle Coalition is membership based. The benefits extend to everyone interested in safe recreation and alternative transportation. Members receive up to date information on cycling in our county through email updates and alerts. The coalition tracks and monitors our county’s policy-making so that members are kept informed of important issues. A membership in the NCBC is a great opportunity for local cyclers to participate with the community. It’s easy to join online, at http://www.NapaBike.org, with membership levels starting at $35.00 for the year. Check out the Napa County Bicycle Coalition’s website for great photos and interesting ways to contribute and participate. Get your helmet and get on the bike!