The riders came to the South Park off Plaza Circle on their own or in small packs from various starting points around town. The event was tied to National Bike to Work Week, May 13 to 17.
About 40 people showed up to the park, where they received a continental breakfast, free T-shirts and an assortment of water bottles and other trinkets handed out by the city and other local exhibitors.
“The city of Patterson is a perfect town for an event like this because of its (small) size,” said Yvette Davis, a regional planner with the San Joaquin Council of Governments who helped organize the event. “People can ride or walk to work relatively easy, and downtown is accessible, so it’s a great place to promote awareness about commuting in general.”
With a backdrop of rising prices at the gas pump, growing awareness about global warming, increased traffic congestion and mounting concern over health problems related to physical inactivity, Davis hopes the event will spark interest beyond last week’s efforts to get people to hop on their two-wheelers.
The riders included daily commuters and casual riders such as Patterson Mayor Luis Molina.
“It’s really important for Patterson to be involved in providing healthy options for our community members,” Molina said. “Biking to work, taking public transportation, doing some walking and taking advantage of our parks all promote active living. People need to see the benefits of these options.”
Charles Wright, 45, an experienced cyclist who joined the ride from Starbucks on Rogers Road, said his trip into town represented “one less car” on the road.
“The nice thing is, once people try it, especially on a day like today, they’ll realize: ‘Oh, that was really fun. I enjoyed my ride. I liked my commute,” Wright said. “And I always hear of at least a few people then who will do it regularly.”
By pledging to ride instead of drive one day a week, participants could register for raffle prizes, which include three bike commuter prize baskets worth $250 each, six $125 Visa Gift Cards and monthly gym memberships.
In addition, local companies competed for prizes by aiming for the highest percentage of employee participation.
Carpooling, riding the bus and commuting by bicycle all can help the environment, Davis said.
“I encourage everyone to try it,” she said. “It doesn’t work for everybody every day, but every little bit helps.”
Contact Marc Aceves at 892-6187, ext. 28, or firstname.lastname@example.org.