Although many Bay Area commuters pedal their way to the office daily, Thursday is the official day to promote biking to work.
The 18th Annual Bike to Work Day is expected to draw hundreds of thousands of participants throughout the Bay Area who can stop at energizer stations along major commuting routes to pick up freebies and bicycle resources.
The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition has organized various events in an effort to support bicycling to work, which has seen a growing following.
According to San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Director Ed Reiskin there has been a 71 percent increase in the number of bike trips in the past five years.
SF Bicycle Coalition spokeswoman Kristin Smith said SFMTA does a manual count at Market Street and Van Ness Avenue on Bike to Work day and last year’s numbers showed 75 percent of the morning commute was on a bike.
“There’s been a huge boom in ridership in the past few years,” Smith said.
According to the SFMTA there are about 75,000 daily bicycle riders in the city.
After Bike to Work Day there is usually an increase in bicycling commuters, however sustained ridership is on the rise, Smith said.
The bicycle group touted the city’s 23 miles of new bike lanes added in the past two years and increased bicycle parking spaces.
City officials including Mayor Ed Lee and most of the board of supervisors will bike their way to City Hall around 8 a.m. Thursday morning. As part of the “VIP Bicycle Ride” awards will be given to some of the city’s most bicycle-friendly businesses.
Twenty-seven energizer stations will be in place throughout the city for the morning and evening commute. At the stations riders will be cheered on by volunteers who will pass out free snacks, drinks and reusable bicycle tote bags.
“Bicycle doctors” will be on hand to help with basic bicycle maintenance and to keep bikers safe many free bike bells and lights will be handed out.
Two energizer stations in Redwood City, including one at the Caltrain station, promise refreshing drinks, giveaways and bicycle information along with support from volunteers manning the stations.
San Carlos city officials have notified residents to stop by the San Carlos Train Depot Thursday morning to receive their bicycle goodies and some coffee and breakfast treats before heading to work.
In Redwood City, the Peninsula Congestion Relief Alliance is holding a raffle for those who pledge to bike to work an average of eight times before June 1.
PCRA works to put more commuters on public transit or bicycles to keep cars off the road, especially with millions of Bay Area residents working within 5 miles of their workplace, according to the commuter group.
In Oakland and other East Bay cities the East Bay Bicycle Coalition has put together a day of high-powered politicians pushing the pedals to arrive at work.
Fremont Mayor Gus Morrison, Emeryville Mayor Jennifer West and Oakland Mayor Jean Quan will be biking into their respective offices, along with mayors of Albany, Berkeley, Hayward, Dublin, Piedmont, Union City and Richmond, according to the East Bay Bicycle Coalition.
To cover the vast East Bay region 143 energizer stations have been organized, many centered at BART stations including MacArthur station in Oakland and the Dublin/Pleasanton station.
More than 4,000 Oakland residents are expected to participate in the annual bike day. According to the East Bay Bicycle Coalition, the city has installed more than 18 miles of new bicycle infrastructure since the start of 2011.
Peninsula and South Bay transit systems Caltrain and Santa Clara Valley Transit Authority are also involved in the mass bicycle commute.
Caltrain vehicles have bike cars, which allow bicyclists to incorporate public transit into their commute. Caltrain officials noted a 16 percent increase of bicycle ridership on an average weekday over the past year with 4,243 riders up from 3,664 in 2011.
VTA will have an energizer station at the Great Mall in Milpitas adding to the 75 stations throughout Santa Clara County.
The North Bay is also contributing to the bicycling day with Oxbow Public Market in Napa setting up an energizer station along the east side of the Main Market Hall at 610 First St.
The station will provide water, fruit, juice and reusable canvas bags for the first 100 riders.
At the end of a car-free, human-powered day of commuting the SF Bicycle Coalition has organized a party at the Mission District’s Public Works at 161 Erie St. starting at 6 p.m.
In the South Bay, Silicon Valley bicyclists can celebrate their hard-earned miles at the Art Ark Gallery at 1035 S. Sixth St. in San Jose, organized by the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition.
Those who bike from work to the celebration will receive a 2012 “Bike to Work Day” T-shirt, the coalition said.
Sasha Lekach, Bay City News