2019 Winners of the Bike Commuter of the Year Award

Congratulations to the Alameda and Contra Costa counties Bike Commuters of the Year! Carol Lahti of Albany and John Cunningham of Lamorinda impressed us with their commitment to biking as a way to inspire others and bring awareness to infrastructure needs. Meet them below!

You’re a winner too: Join the fun by pledging to ride on Bike to Work Day, Thursday, May 9

Carol Lahti, Alameda County Bike Commuter of the Year

You’ll see her biking early in the morning and late at night coming home from the ferry. It’s a commute to and from work, but to Carol Lahti, your Alameda County Bicycle Commuter of the Year, it feels like vacation every day. 

Carol has been bike commuting in the Bay Area for 23 years—first in Hercules and now in Albany, but she’s been riding since childhood. She started bike commuting as a student at the University of Minnesota, traveling eight miles to campus and eight miles home. When she and her husband Dean (also an avid bike commuter) moved to Los Angeles, they doubled down on the habit—never once owning a car during their nine years there. Carol pulls out an old folding bicycle from the back of her garage, with a wide seat and tall handlebars. “This is the perfect pregnancy bike,” she says. “When we lived in Los Angeles and I was pregnant, Dean would meet me at the bus stop on the way home, and push me on the bike up the hill to get the rest of the way home” she recalls with a laugh.

These days, her commute is an early morning ride on a sleek road bike. She rides to the ferry which takes her to work at Genentech. Carol loves the feeling of being outside and getting somewhere on her own power. The time is practically the same as any other means of getting to work, she adds, noting: “I can’t help but feel just a little big smug when I ride over the bicycle-pedestrian bridge in Berkeley and see traffic backed up both ways” on I-80 below. 

Ana Castaneda, a longtime friend who nominated Carol, writes “rain or shine she is on her bike. I was a non-rider myself and now I look forward to getting on my bike. She showed me that is possible to ride to so many places. Her wise words are: if you can ride one mile, you can ride 5, and if you can ride 5, you can ride 10. She made it seem possible for me, and I now tell people the same. She is my hero.”

Looking to start your commute by bike or become a bike hero for someone else? Carol recommends asking around at your work. Friends who commute by bike might be closer than you think! 

John Cunningham, Contra Costa County Bike Commuter of the Year

By Kirsten Riker

Contra Costa County’s 2019 Bike Commuter of the Year is John Cunningham. A longtime cyclist, John is a Principal Planner for Contra Costa County’s Transportation Planning Division who quite literally walks the talk. Aware of the increasing need for infrastructure improvements, John works tirelessly to make commute routes throughout the county safe and expeditious for cyclists and pedestrians. John cycles daily from his home in Lamorinda to his workplace in Martinez. “In the dry months my commute gets me out in nature; my preferred route takes me through Briones Regional Park.” But he is far from just a fair weather rider; John cycles to work in the wind and rain, in the cold and dark days of winter, and even during the East Bay’s brutal summer heat. His coworkers find that pretty impressive. “He has increased our department’s awareness of the need for new infrastructure for cycling, as well as expressing a commitment to combating climate change and reducing air pollution. Why, just the pictures on his office wall of cycling efforts have increased interest for taking up the hobby,” explains his colleague Anna Battagello. 

“By riding my bike to work I save money, stay healthy, and reduce my stress levels at the same time.” –John Cunningham
Keep up the good work, John, and happy Bike to Work Day on May 9th!

Read about the winners from past years: