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Bike to Work Day brings out 2-wheel commuters

Bike advocates on Thursday tried to convince people to break the car commuting cycle and replace it with the cycle commute.

They peddled pedaling on the Bay Area’s 22nd annual Bike to Work Day. Ana Gomez and Charlie Wheat of Bicycle Works ran an “energizer station” at the busy intersection of Redwood Road and Solano Avenue.

Even a little exercise yields many benefits, Gomez said as she sat behind a card table covered with chewy granola bars, bananas and other snacks for cyclists.

“You have to make time,” she said. “If you have time to be on social media, you have time to wake up a little earlier.”

Wheat regularly turns a mile-long commute home from Bicycle Works into an eight-mile commute. A detour through suburban Browns Valley and rural Congress Valley adds to the mileage.

Certainly, Gomez and Wheat and the volunteers running 10 other energizer stations around Napa County had plenty of potential converts. The 2010 U.S. Census found that less than 1 percent of county residents 16 years and older bike to work.

Redwood Middle School teacher Kathy Newman is convinced that biking is a good thing. She stopped by the energizer station on her red bike.

“I never take a car if I can help it,” Newman said.

She lives only a mile from her work. But she usually commutes as a pedestrian instead of a pedaler, saving her bike rides for recreational trips to such places as Mount Veeder.

Newman noted that a new section of the Napa Valley Vine Trail is being built a short distance from the Redwood Road and Solano Avenue intersection. This trail will link Napa and Yountville.

“The bike trail is amazing,” she said. “We’re so lucky to live in this community.”

Katrina Gregory stopped by the station on her four-mile ride to her job with the city Parks and Recreation Services Deparment. She planned to take the bike path that cuts through town along the Napa Valley Wine Train tracks to her Soscol Avenue destination.

“I avoid the busy roads like Trancas and Redwood,” she said.

She likes biking, but can’t bike to work on a regular basis. She takes her twin 3-year-old girls to child care.

“It makes it a lot more challenging,” Gregory said.

Maurice Dixon takes the bus from Napa to Calistoga. The biking enthusiast rode several miles from his house to the bus stop, stopping at the energizer station along the way.

“I’d rather bike than take my car,” Dixon said.

Bike To Work Day is about persuading non-bikers to give biking a try. But many of the bikers who stopped by the Redwood Road energizer station between 7 and 8 a.m. were already among the converted.

A long line of cars back up along Redwood Road from the traffic signals at Solano Avenue and, just beyond that, Highway 29. Among the drivers looking at the energizer station signs were no doubt some potential cycling converts.

“That’s who needs to bike to work more often,” Wheat said.

The Napa County Bicycle Coalition said that Napa energizer stations reported 25 percent to 30 percent increases in bikers, compared to last year’s Bike to Work Day. The station at Soscol Avenue and McKinstry Street reported seeing 74 riders between 7 and 9 a.m.

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Napa County Reporter

Barry Eberling covers Napa County government, transportation, the environment and general assignments. He has worked for the Napa Valley Register since fall 2014 and previously worked 27 years for the Daily Republic of Fairfield.

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