By Maria Contreras
During the five years that I worked as a classroom presenter in Yolo County, I noticed a long lines of cars in front of schools dropping off students in the morning and picking up students in the afternoon. The bike racks were almost empty.
The topic of suicide prevention is so important that the state of California made it a part of required curriculum for all seventh- and 10th-graders. I loved my job as a classroom presenter on this sensitive topic that many teachers shy away from.
When my job terminated, I was a little depressed. What do you do with yourself at the age of 55? I thought about all the wonderful people I had met, teachers and administrators who genuinely care and work hard for their students and parents. I thought about all the wonderful relationships that had been built in the classroom, with school counselors and nurses, and I thought, “What can I do to help?”
About eight months ago, an idea was hatched. It was small at first and just kept growing. The positive response from school principals, community leaders, service clubs and administrators has been astounding. At its heart is the desire to share the joy of cycling with all the wonderful people who I’ve met in Woodland.
Bike riding brings joy, freedom, independence and a sense of responsibility and pride, something you don’t get when someone else is driving you around. It occurred to me, after those years in the classroom of telling teens about the grim realities of life, that I could have a more positive impact by encouraging them to do something fun.
The Woodland Bike Campaign’s No. 1 objective is to get more people on bikes. Right now, fewer than 1 percent of teens ride their bikes to school. In fact, probably fewer than 1 percent of the population of Woodland rides bikes as a form of transportation.
It won’t take long for you to realize why your drive to anywhere in the morning or at 2 p.m. is so darn frustrating. Parents are shuttling their kids everywhere, to sports, to shop, to visit friends. How much time would you have if we were not taxiing our kids everywhere? How much money and CO2 would we save? What would you do with extra time and money you’d save?
I hope you’ll consider being a part of the solution, for far more reasons than can be counted in this column. People ride bikes because they care about the environment, to save money and because it’s healthy — lowering cholesterol, high blood pressure and stress.
You say your bike’s not working, or you don’t have a bike? The Woodland Bike Campaign is sponsoring its next free bike clinic in August at the County Fair Mall. Here, you will find helpful bike technicians who are willing and able to do an overall safety review of your bike, fix some flats, show you how to pump up your tires, grease your chain and check your brakes. Come and learn how to get a bike and helmet if you can’t afford one.
With this campaign, you have the opportunity to get out there and be the change you wish to see in Woodland. Since you’ll have a little more time and money left over from not driving, please stop by Common Grounds at 729 Main St. and buy a $2 raffle ticket for the deluxe Electra Sugar Skulls Cruiser. Proceeds from the raffle support the free bike clinic and campaign.
— For more information about the Woodland Bike Campaign and answers to your bike-related questions, email Maria Contreras at [email protected] Matt Biers-Ariel and Mont Hubbard are co-editors of the Davis Bicycles! column, published every other week in The Davis Enterprise. To offer a Davis Bicycles! column, write to them at [email protected] or log on to www.bikedavis.info to see instructions for authors.