Brodie Hamilton says he’s retired.
Yeah, right …
Hamilton spent the past three decades puzzling out how students and faculty — at first at UC Davis, then at Stanford — could get from home, to class and back home again using mass transit, bicycles or other alternatives to the automobile.
One Bay Area publication called the longtime Davis resident “Transportation Czar.”
This retirement thing? Humbug.
He still consults with whomever craves his expertise.
He loves being involved from time to time with his daughter Katie’s Feast It Forward wine/culinary charity.
He dotes on his three grandchildren.
And despite recently serving out his term on its board of directors, Hamilton’s love for the downtown U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame continues to know no bounds.
“I see it as just this incredible, sleeping resource with incredible potential,” Hamilton, 64, says of the shrine that relocated from New Jersey four years ago. “My big attachment to it is it’s a way to give back to the community. It’s a local and regional resource.”
Hamilton and USBHOF President Anthony Costello have worked to augment the “fame” aspect of the facility with exhibits of historical significance, accessibility to area schools, bicycle safety lessons, seminars, “fun cycling-related events” and making meeting space available.
Hamilton helped create the facility’s No. 1 fundraiser — Bike-n-Brewfest — which was not only a huge community success last August, but also it brought in much-needed funding to keep the USBHOF doors open.
This year’s festival will take place in Central Park on Aug. 16. Then there’s the induction ceremony in the fall. The Class of 2014 will be announced soon.
“Very proud of the Bike-n-Brewfest,” Hamilton told The Enterprise. “People had a good time and it allowed us to continue to move forward with the education elements of the Hall — and to explore some new avenues.”
One such element will provide bicycles for area kids who otherwise would be without bikes.
“We’re working with Davis Bicycles!, TAPS, the Bike Barn and local merchants to either donate bikes, or take bikes that are in pretty good shape and refurbish them and pass them on to the kids,” Hamilton explains.
It is Hamilton’s hope the 2014-15 school year will see more and more classrooms use the USBHOF as field-trip destinations: “Our outreach will be much improved.”
Hall doors are open during Davis Farmers Market hours Wednesdays and Saturdays and occasionally for special events or public-enters-free promotion days.
The reason for limited hours, according to Costello, has been the slim number of volunteers (docents, if you will) and lack of funding for full-time staff.
Hamilton says the revelation of wide-spread drug use among professional racers during the Lance Armstrong Era slammed the door on promising financial support for the sport — and, in turn, the Hall of Fame.
“We’ve essentially lost a generation of inductees,” Hamilton believes. “All these people that were, for so many in their eyes heroes, have either been determined to have used PEDs or admitted to their use.”
That tarnish is being buffed out as the Hall’s trustees this spring announced a lifetime ban on those riders. The founding fathers now fall back on the recreational and historical avenues that the bicycle in America provides.
“There’s still a storied past for biking,” Hamilton explains.
The bicycle expanded how far city dwellers could commute to work (walking distance became riding distance in turn-of-the-century metropolitan areas). Women entered the workplace, thanks to becoming mobile in the 1890s.
At one point in the U.S., cycling was the nation’s top spectator sport.
“It’s a rich past from which (the Hall of Fame) can glean and educate. It’s fascinating, the history,” Hamilton says.
That education aspect shouldn’t be limited to the past, Hamilton continues: “There are so many opportunities still to get people out of their cars and onto bikes … especially in areas that are congested.”
He used the Silicon Valley and the folks at Google as examples of what can be done to unclog urban areas and reduce those carbon footprints.
“With some infrastructure changes, bike commuting could be a thing of the future in places like the Bay Area,” he says. “I think the electric bike will be big.”
At Stanford, endowments and connections were aplenty as Hamilton and his colleagues built a commuter system than saw solo-driver commutes fall by 47 percent from 2002 to today, according to the Silicon Valley Business Journal.
In Davis, its reputation as a bicycle Mecca speaks for itself.
Hamilton admits infrastructure is expensive and hilly terrain like San Francisco’s could be a barrier, but: “There’s a lot of development in (Silicon Valley), and a lot of money there. Google has the vision … as part of its expansion, it can make it a transportation showcase.”
It’s not surprising that when regions do begin to do something about traffic flow — and increasing cycling’s role — Hamilton often is one of the first people who get a call.
Notes: Hamilton and his life’s partner Sharon Schauer have been together 16 years. Schauer is the chief administrative officer at the UC Davis Health System department of otolaryngology. … Hamilton’s daughter is the proud mom of 8-month-old Quinn and son Tom’s family includes Jack, 5, and Emma, 6. … Hamilton says city of Davis Public Relations Manager Bob Bowen, Dan Kehew of the old California Bicycle Museum (absorbed by the USBHOF), former UCD Vice Chancellor John Meyer and TAPS Bicycle Program Coordinator David Takemoto-Weerts deserve a lion’s share of the credit for not only bringing the USBFOF to Davis, but for its diverse vision. … Hamilton also pointed to docents Takemoto-Weerts, Fred Costello and John Hess as consistent contributors through staffing and sweat equity. … As proof of Hamilton’s love of history, he occasionally drives his 1929 Ford around town and country. Not a bike, but certainly alternative transportation. Hamilton has owned the antique since 1966.