Environment

‘Biketober’ Returns for Another ‘Spokey’ Season

This month, the local environmental nonprofit is hosting many events—with a few changes

Participants gather for Bike Month in May of 2021. Photo: Mike Thomas

Roughly 1,120 people in Santa Cruz participated in Ecology Action’s Bike Month in May. Residents logged trips for prizes, attended virtual workshops and joined group rides. This month, the local environmental nonprofit is hosting similar festivities for Biketober, with a few changes.

The organization offered “Safe Route Group Rides” for the first time in May. The group rides, where Ecology Action staff guide participants across town, proved immensely popular.

“The biggest barrier for most people is feeling safe around traffic,” says Matt Miller, the program specialist leading the event. “A lot of people were like, ‘Oh, there are ways today—right now—to get around town that isn’t terrifying and doesn’t have cars going 40 miles an hour.’ I think it’s eye-opening for a lot of folks,” he says.

More than 100 people signed up for the group ride waiting lists in May, so Ecology Action made this month’s rides bigger. The organization also plans to make destinations more fun. After one ride, for example, the group will arrive to music, prizes and Verve drinks.

Back to School

With the return of school, the organization will also resume Bike and Walk to School Day on Oct. 21 after two years off. The team, partnered with school administrators, parents and student leaders, will offer breakfasts and prizes at schools across the county. 

“We’ve been doing that for 25 years, and it’s a big celebration in a lot of schools,” says Miller. “It’s been part of the cultural fabric of Santa Cruz County forever, and a lot of people are excited to bring that back as school goes back in the session.”

Ecology Action set out hoping to get 20 or 25 schools involved. “And I think as of last week, we’re up to 35 schools who have said they want to do bike and walk to school day,” says Miller.

Biketober also includes virtual workshops about safety and commuting. And the bi-annual Bike Challenge encourages participants to log rides online for the chance to win weekly prizes and $1,000. 

Miller sees the challenges as a way to help build the habit of riding. He encourages everyone to participate, “whether it’s one ride in October for 10 minutes or 30 rides and you’re covering hundreds of miles or anything in between.”

Learn more at https://ecoact.org/biketober/

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