This week we spotlight SVBC supporter Zachary Hilton. Read on to hear his story of how he got involved in the bicycling community.
- Please write us a short bio introducing yourself to readers and tell us how you got introduced to/involved with Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition?
My name is Zachary Hilton and I’ve been riding a bike since I was 4 years old. I remember vividly the day I finally learned how to ride without training wheels. It’s stuck in my mind just like the day you finally learned how to use the swings on your own. I was born in Piedmont, CA and moved at a young age to Berkeley, CA. I began following my passion as a Firefighter/Paramedic for the City of Oakland Fire Department in 2000 where I currently work. My wife, daughter, and I moved to Gilroy 5 years ago. I am a Sponsored Athlete for Hammer Nutrition and I race road bikes for SJBC Race Team out of San Jose, CA. I am the current Chair of the City of Gilroy Bicycle Pedestrian Commission (#GilroyBPAC). This Commission position is appointed by the City Council and is for a 4-year term. I first met the awesome staff of SVBC during El Roble Elementary’s Bike Festival. Where the kids got to make some smoothies via biking! I always knew about the Energizer Stations that SVBC hosts, and I got to experience some planning for our station in Gilroy at the Caltrain Station. I now interact monthly with SVBC Staff at El Roble’s Bike Trains for Walk & Roll Wednesday’s and at planning meetings for Safe Routes to School in Gilroy.
- If you could spend an afternoon bike ride with anyone dead or alive – who would it be and why?
I’d like to spend the afternoon riding with retired Trek Racing Pro Jens Voigt. He wore the yellow jersey twice at the Tour de France and is such a bold racer. He always took advantage of attacking at the right time and staying clear of the peloton for miles to the finish. He is also a really funny guy and I think he’d have lots of great stories to tell about family and racing.
- Among your friends and people you know who don’t ride a bike, what do you think would help encourage them to get out there?
I think that some feel owning and riding a bike has to be expensive and a task. Many don’t realize the freedom that comes with a bike. Especially riding by yourself. It’s a mental break for the grind of work, and at the same time releases powerful mood-enhancing endorphins. It’s hard to convince someone that this is possible, especially if they never rode a bike as a kid. I think that being able to ride a bike needs to be easily accessible to anyone at anytime. That’s where a good bike share program comes into play.
- What do you think needs to be done to achieve 10% of trips taken by bike by 2025 in Silicon Valley?
We are getting ready to launch LimeBike Dockless Bike Share in Gilroy at the end of February. This will allow our Community to complete the first and last mile of their public transportation needs. You also have to make it accessible to everyone across the Community. A dockless bike share creates that equity for all. If you create a system that rewards a bike rider you will increase the likelihood of them traveling by bike to the grocery store, coffee shop, public transit, school, parks, and work. For example, if you provide front row free bicycle parking to a busy hub like a Downtown where City’s charge for parking, you in return reward the effort of a bike rider by providing free, low cost, front row parking! It’s much cheaper for a City to provide bike parking than vehicle parking. Bicycle Pedestrian Commissions need to work together regionally and be advocates for their County’s and City’s. Don’t wait for projects and ideas to fall into your lap. Be proactive, develop projects and ideas from the Community you serve and align those with your governing bodies goals. Learn how to effectively implement these ideas with Staff and make use of your time in your position to achieve the goal of 10% of trips taken by bike by 2025 in Silicon Valley.
- What kind of activities and trips do you use your bicycle for?
Racing bikes is a passion for me, and that’s what I do most on my bike. There’s a certain freedom attached to bike riding that I come into connection with each time I click into my pedals. I can get dressed and leave my garage without ever using a vehicle. My family uses bikes to grocery shop, dentist visits, bike trains to school, restaurants, and much more! When I retire I want to experience bike training camps in the mountains of France that follow along the routes of the Tour de France. I’ve also recently learned about the miles of bike trails in Germany that connect towns.
- What would you say to someone considering becoming a member of SVBC? And why do you support SVBC?
Becoming a member of the SVBC will connect you with fellow advocates for change. That’s a powerful voice when we are united. Being a member supports local schools where SVBC plays a part in getting kids to fall in love with bike riding and safety. SVBC is a stakeholder in most planning opportunities for Safe Routes to School as well. I support SVBC because of the work they do with Safe Routes to School and the Energizer Stations for Bike to Work Day.