EBBC 40th Year Highlight: the First Issue of rideOn

Less than four months after 16 hard-core bicyclists met at Westlake Junior High School in Oakland on March 20, 1972 to form the East Bay Bicycle Coalition, the first issue of Ride On, EBBC’s newsletter, hit the streets.

Free to members and 15 cents for nonmembers, the July/August 1972, 18-page newsletter began with a victory announcement (Oakland City Council approved the Lake Merritt Bikepath, which allowed bicyclists to ride on the sidewalk along Lakeshore avenue between 7:00am and 11:00am on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays – but not on roadways!) and ended with a membership application form (Under 18 for $1; General for $2; and Sustaining for $5).

In between were a message from EBBC chair Ralph C. Heins, a call for volunteer newsletter writers, a welcome message and roster of new members, committee and legislative progress reports, advertisements from bike shops like The Missing Link, Silver Shield Bike Shop (featuring Nishiki, American Eagle and Italian and Austrian Bikes), and Hank + Frank Bicycles and Lucas Book Company on Bancroft Way (featuring bicycling books and USG maps), and a brief memoir from Don Brown about his AWOL escapade by bicycle in Germany in 1957.

The newsletter also enumerated EBBC’s goals and purposes (#1 To promote bicycling as a nonpolluting means of transportation for work, shopping, and other daily errands; #7 To explore ways to accommodate bicycles on all bay bridges and ferries, all public transportation, and on selected highways; #13 To influence governmental bodies when and if needed to achieve these goals). And it promoted the first edition of EBBC’s bike route maps (free to members, but requesting an 8 cent stamp to cover postage along with the caveat that this was a study map so it should in no way be understood to be an endorsement of safe bicycling routes).

All this activity in three-plus months? Current EBBC board secretary Tom Willging credits Alex Zuckerman as the driving force behind EBBC’s swift ascent to activism.

“Alex often took a position firmly behind the throne,” Tom writes in the early draft of the EBBC history he is compiling for this year’s 40th anniversary Biketopia celebration. “A city planner by day, a chamber musician by evening, and a cycling advocate at all times, he combined the skills of a hard-nosed objective planner with the sensate technique of a master pianist.”

Would you like to add to our understanding of EBBC’s history? Tom is especially interested in hearing from members in the early years about “your stories, memories, maps, EBBC products, newsletters, and pictures from those good old days.” You can email Tom Willging.