We are thrilled to announce our 2017 Bike Commuter of the Year award winners!
Every year during Bike Month, Bike East Bay recognizes outstanding members of the East Bay bicycling community for their commitment to bicycling and for inspiring others to bike for regular transportation. This year’s winners are are Isabella Zizi of Richmond and Britt and Bryce Tanner of Albany.
Bike Party is what made Isabella Zizi start riding as an adult. That’s where, she says “I broke into my orange 70’s peugeot and introduced it to the fun.” Since then, she’s ridden a lot with Rich City Rides, on their Ride of Silence, their Winter Solstice Ride, and on Our Power rides. She’s also been commuting by bike to Albany, where she works at Gathering Tribes, a Native American arts, crafts & jewelry store. There’s a bike rack right outside put in by the Albany Strollers and Rollers.
The six mile ride takes her either on the Richmond and Ohlone Greenways or Carlson Boulevard. Right now, the tunnel between the two greenways is closed as the City of Richmond improves the connection between the two with a new paved path and a safer crosswalk for San Pablo Avenue. Soon enough, Carlson Boulevard too will get redesigned with buffered bike lanes along its entire length.
She used to live on the Richmond Greenway, before it was a greenway. “It was just dirt and rocks. It has been transformed, and I love the connections it provides. The edible garden, the murals, it is so cool to see everything come to life and be open to the whole community.” Riding around Richmond, she says, she gets to build better connections with her neighbors and strengthen friendships through bike rides.
Isabelle is very involved as an advocate, as an organizing member of Idle No More SF Bay, a founder of the Bay Area chapter of Earth Guardians, and an ally of SF Defund DAPL and Rising Tide. She’s leading Idle No More’s 2017 Refinery Healing walks, an event connecting communities impacted by fossil fuels and encouraging conversations around clean air, water, soil and a safe environment. The next one, on May 20, is from Martinez to Benicia along the Koch Carbon, Shell and Tesoro Refineries.
It’s Isabella’s down-to-earth and matter-of-fact approach to bicycling inspires those around her to ride. Although she always encourages her little sister to ride her bike, she says she doesn’t see herself as an intentional role model. “It’s more of a healthy lifestyle for myself and for the environment.” It’s her personal favorite way to get around, and she inspires others to ride - including her family. “Isabella has inspired me to ride my bike,” her mother Courtney says. “She inspired me to take part in helping organize a Bike to Work Day energizer station on a larger level for the community.” Stop by the Native American Health Center’s energizer station on May 11 to meet Isabella’s mother!
Britt and Bryce Tanner, along with their two kids Kai and Nilsa, are the first-ever bike commuting family of the year. Both engineers working in San Francisco, Britt and Bryce have their biking routine down to a science. “I was biking first,” explains Britt, “and I convinced him that it was a faster way to get everywhere, more efficient than walking. And when we had kids we just continued to do it and had to figure out ways that we could make our lives work well, still being able to bike everywhere.”
For Britt and Bryce, that has meant making major life decisions around the logistics of family biking. When they moved to Albany, they made sure to buy their house close to BART and just half a block from the Ohlone Greenway. “We’ve chosen our schools based on how bikeable they are,” added Britt.
“We got our orange cargo bike with electric assist so that we could bike our kids places once they got heavier,” said Britt. “It became such a pain to put the trailer on and off. I wanted to be able to get up and go just like you do with a car. I just wanted to throw the kids on the bike.”
When it is raining, Kai and Nilsa still hop on the bike, holding an umbrella on the back. “They’ve grown up doing it so they’re used to the expectation that they’re going to bike even if it’s raining,” says Britt.
Bryce and Britt have gotten involved sharing their love of bicycling with other families in Albany. As core members of Albany Strollers & Rollers, they work with other bike advocates to improve bicycling in Albany and organize community biking events. Britt has organized family biking training at Kai’s school with Bike East Bay, and their family has inspired several friends to start biking themselves.
The next generation of Tanner bike commuters is already pedaling. Kai and Nilsa both learned to ride pedal bikes before they were four, following right in their parents’ footsteps. Ride on, Tanner family!
Last but not least, the East Bay’s Cat Commuter of the Year
Kitteh, better known as Schmoo, is an Oakland resident and avid bicycle commuter. She regularly rides to Bike East Bay’s office in Jack London Square in a clip-on picnic basket with her human, Membership Manager Rachel Jacobson. In between napping next to keyboards and trying to eat her coworker’s lunch leftovers, Shmoo attends meetings and supervises the canine members of the team. She also regularly tests the structural integrity of piles of papers, and assesses the comfort of all surfaces in the office. Her fuzzy presence and occasional antics keep spirits light, and result in lots of cat pictures on Facebook.
Share cat bicycle memes and discuss your priorities for future feline campaigns at Schmoo@BikeEastBay.org.