1) The City of Sonoma has been a certified bronze-level Bicycle Friendly Community since 2009. This award is designated by the League of American Bicyclists and recognizes that Sonoma is committed to “providing safe accommodations for bicycling and encouraging and educating people to bike for transportation and recreation.” When a city works toward making bicycling safe and convenient then the quality of life is enhanced, public health and air quality improve, traffic congestion decreases and the overall safety of the community increases.
2) It’s the best way to get to know the community. When you are riding a bike, you get a much more intimate view of a place. You can smell the fresh baked goods from Basque Boulangerie, smile and wave at fellow cyclists and pedestrians and listen to the birds singing. Ride to the wondrous 8-acre Plaza at the heart of Sonoma and know that this Plaza preceded the arrival of the automobile.
3) Be a bicycling ambassador for our youth. There is a very vibrant bicycle education program in Sonoma in which youth and families are taught how to ride safely. The City sponsors a bicycle rodeo at Prestwood Elementary and a Family Bicycling Workshop that takes place at the Community Center. There is also a Smart Cycling seminar and on-bike session for teens and adults. All of these classes are free to the public. A gem in the City of Sonoma is Operation Bicycle, run by bicyclist enthusiast Adrian Palenchar. Operation Bicycle is going on five-year’s strong and is a program of Teen Services Sonoma; teens can earn a bike, learn how to do bike repairs, help with valet bicycle parking and go on fun rides.
4) The more people who ride bikes, the safer it is for bicyclists. In Sonoma, about 2.3 percent of the population commutes by bike, which is twice that of the county. As more people ride their bikes to get around, the more drivers get used to bicyclists on the roadway and they become better drivers around bicyclists. Then more people feel comfortable riding their bikes and the number of bicyclists increase. The term coined for this pattern is a “virtuous cycle.”
5) Reduce traffic congestion. Bicycling is one of the most convenient ways to get around. When you bike to get somewhere, there is one less car on the road, which means less traffic and less air pollution. Morning traffic can become pretty congested as kids are being driven to school and adults are getting to work. Consider biking to school or work one or two days a week. Many of the schools in Sonoma are located in places that are accessible by bike. Sassarini Elementary is on Fifth Street West, which has bike lanes. Both Sonoma Valley High School and Adele Harrison Middle School are right off of the Nathanson Creek Trail which is a multi-use path. Flowery and Sonoma Charter are near Sonoma Highway, which just received new pavement and bike lanes and other infrastructure improvements. According to a National Household Travel Survey, about 40 percent of all trips are under 2 miles, which is a distance that is easily biked in 10 to 20 minutes. If many of us committed to biking those shorter trips, there would be a lot less traffic on the road.
The City of Sonoma has a new bicycle page at sonomacity.org/bicycling/.