To wheel or not to wheel

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Bringing a community together on two wheels
Text: Laura Nguyen / Image: Basil Sar

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Biking around San Jose may be for more than just environmentally friendliness. Bicycling is a transportation mode that has become increasingly popular for the sake of meeting new people and furthering a grassroots movement, also known as San Jose’s Bike Party.

“Bike Party is the ultimate way to build community — people explore new neighborhoods, ride side-by-side with new people, and collaborate as a group,” stated Bike Party co-founder Amber Lamason in an email.

Since its first debut in October 2007, Bike Party is held the third Friday of every month at 8 p.m. The meeting location is released 24 hours before the ride.

The rising popularity of the bike party has given San Jose something to do, rather than go to the club or bar, said Justin Triano, the owner of Ghisallo, a bike shop named after the saint for cycling and patron of local travelers.

“People planned routes and themes,” Triano said. “We’re not about running red lights — we’re about stopping red lights and building communities.”

In an effort to assure a safe ride, Lamason created a volunteer leadership system, known as BIRD, or Bicycle Information Resource Director. When more than 1,000 people began attending rides, Lamason knew the organization “had to make a lot of changes to make sure that the ride was safe and left no trace.”

This month’s bike party is held on Oct. 18 at 8 p.m. The theme is to dress up in a costume, although it isn’t required, said Carlos Babcock of Bike Party.

“San Jose has for a long time been searching for an identity and it has a really great chance to use this as a foundation to become a great bicycling city,” Triano said.

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