Bike-Safe Bay: Marin County Bike Coalition

The Bay Area is renowned for its many attributes, from arts culture to history to restaurants, and for the technology hub it has become.

But, for locals, one of the most important and often underestimated aspects of life in The Bay is the surrounding nature and the community that resides there. The Marin County Bicycle Coalition (MCBC) is working toward a future that includes a comprehensive network of safe, convenient, and connected places to ride bicycles, both on-road and off-road, with the goal of preserving and witnessing in safety of the natural landscapes of Marin County. and respectfully. Their efforts provide resources to local residents who provide accessible cycling programs for adults and children in the community.

“The beauty of living here in Marin is there’s so much access right at your doorstep,” said Matt Farber, outreach coordinator for MCBC and lead instructor for Marin Safe Routes to School. “You can go to Mt. Tam, the watershed district, you can go to Novato and Marin Headlands. It’s pretty endless where you can go biking here. There are so many great places, but what we really want to encourage is that these areas are accessible to everyone, be it pedestrians, horse riders or cyclists, we want everyone to be able to share these spaces with respect and equity.

Cycling is not only a fantastic way to stay active and exercise, it also offers the opportunity to soak up the beauty of the natural landscape and reduce traffic and carbon emissions from overuse. of the car. MCBC’s official goal is to make Marin County a place where everyone rides everywhere, every day. This means that cycling is a normal part of life and the first choice for transportation, and that the strengths and benefits of the cycling movement are understood and embraced by all.

“In Marin County, the environment is a priority for many residents, and we believe bicycling is an extremely important form of transportation,” Farber explained. “We have great places to cycle, places we can improve for cycling, and we really want to make it as accessible and safe for everyone who lives here. It’s no secret that global warming is happening and our roads are getting busier every day. At MCBC, we want the environment to be at the forefront of people’s concerns. Parts of our county are threatened by rising sea levels and wildfires, all fueled, in part, by global warming. We want to get more people to cycle for transportation and improve health for recreation. Marin is such a beautiful place to live and we want to do our best to make it that way.

A special program run by MCBC is Cory’s Ride. It was founded in 2020 in partnership with Tim and Suzanne Leonoudakis to honor the memory of their late son’s vision to make cycling possible for those who could not otherwise afford the chance.

“Cory’s Ride started when a family here in Marin, the Leonoudakis family, long-time supporters of MCBC, sadly lost their son, Cory,” Farber said. “He was an avid cyclist before he died. To honor his memory and his love of cycling, they came to MCBC and said they wanted to start Cory’s Ride. They are wonderful, wonderful people.”

Cory’s Ride is a program that brings the benefits of cycling to as many Marin students as possible, especially those who could not otherwise afford the chance, by providing bikes and road safety training. In its first year, MCBC was able to provide 20 high school students with bikes and gear of their own, training in bike safety and street skills, and training in maintenance and maintenance. bicycle repair. Through the program, students also learned civic engagement and leadership skills so they can contribute to their communities and support emissions reductions. Cory’s Ride’s goal is to make the health and mobility benefits of cycling a basic right, not just a privilege, for county children.

“Cory’s Ride is a program that’s really about providing the opportunity to ride a bike for as many kids as possible in Marin, especially kids who might not otherwise have the opportunity,” Farber explained. “When it all started, we bought loaner bikes and went to every school in Marin County. We organize bike rodeos and other safety events. The first part of Cory’s Ride was getting the bikes to take to school. Then, in 2021, we started working with high school students in San Rafael and created a six-class program. If students stayed with the program for a year and attended classes, they had to keep the bikes and any other equipment entrusted to them. We meet them for group walks, bring them food and do fun activities together.

The Outride Fund is providing an opportunity for Cory’s Ride where they will match donations up to $12,500 through the end of the month on May 31. MCBC relies on the community for contributions to get bikes into the hands of vulnerable and priority populations in Marin. In addition to Outride’s match, the organization still needs another $40,000 to make Cory’s vision a reality.

“Kids love the workouts they do with MCBC, especially the bike rodeos, where we come to schools during PE class,” Farber said. “We lay out fake streets and obstacle courses, and the kids practice with the bike education we teach in the classroom curriculum. From an early age, we teach children to be alert and respectful, to stop, watch and listen when crossing the street and to obey the rules of the road.

Those who wish to help MCBC pursue their goal of accessible bicycling can do so through volunteerism and tax donations. MCBC is also calling on community members to get involved in their local Cycling and Pedestrian Advisory Councils and City Councils.

“We truly couldn’t accomplish much of the important work we do without our community, our members and our donors – Marin County is a special place, and it takes all of us to make it that way,” said concluded Farber.

This year, MCBC plans to expand its vision by increasing the size of the program, employing paid student interns and a full-time director, and developing a leadership retreat.

For more information, visit the MCBC website, www.marinbike.orgcall (415) 456-3469 or email [email protected]

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