Melissa Avery is a master at bringing together the human and physical infrastructure of bicycling in Fremont. Knowing the importance of personal connection, she leads rides for women at the local bike shop, commutes with her kids to school, and rides trails with the local scout troop on weekends. To work for permanent, improved bicycle infrastructure, she is a member of the Fremont Bicycle and Pedestrian Technical Advisory Committee (BPTAC).
For Melissa, building social infrastructure within the bike community is all about mentorship. “A lot of people just don’t know where to ride,” she says. Melissa encourages families to get riding, and shares biking routes like what her son calls the “secret path,” a wider, less crowded trail near Lake Elizabeth.
A focus on family, women, and people of color is too often hard to find in the bike advocacy world. As the women’s club leader at Centripedal Bikes, Melissa takes pride in encouraging new riders and women of color to get rolling.”The women in my group are all people of color…to see someone in the cycling world that looks like you is really awesome.”
One relationship at a time, Melissa is changing the social landscape. “My
friend started biking…she would come to my rides and that was the only time she would ride,” Melissa explains.”She started slowly going on her [own] rides and it’s been great. For someone who is new to biking, for an immigrant, that’s something I celebrate.”
The City of Fremont is working to expand its bikeway network, and Melissa believes encouragement through one-on-one relationships will bring more riders to the new infrastructure. Noticing problems with Fremont streets motivated her to join the BPTAC, and she wants to keep forging connections between the growing community of riders and the city officials building protected bike lanes. She especially looks forward to joining the next LCI training with Bike East Bay, so she can continue to spread knowledge and build community in Fremont.
Melissa’s advice for people who want to help improve biking in their communities? Bring someone along for the ride. “Bring someone new into the community so that it gets bigger, in all aspects. In racing, bike commuting, fun riding: just bring someone in.”
Want to meet other bike champions near you? Volunteer with Bike East Bay: BikeEastBay.org/Volunteer
This article is part of the 2019 Summer issue of RideOn, Bike East Bay’s member newsletter.