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This week we spotlight SVBC member Monica Nañez! Read on to hear her story of how she got involved in the bicycling community.

1. How did you get introduced to/involved with Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition?

Riding a bike brings back the feeling of being a kid. I love it. I’ve always liked the idea of bike riding, but for most of my life, there have been small roadblocks that kept my old bike in the garage: flat tires, not knowing how to fix a flat tire, unfriendly roads, not finding anyone to ride with, or living too far from work. Over the past few years, however, I’ve been around many people in the biking community and I’ve worked with many great groups that are successfully promoting biking. A friend of mine, Carlos Velazquez, a San Jose native was moving back home from Chicago. He was starting a job at SVBC and would help promote San Jose’s first Viva CalleSJ, an open streets event that closes miles of city streets for the community to bike, walk, skate, and play. While telling me all about Viva CalleSJ, Carlos quickly recruited me to join SVBC as a member.

This motivated me to take my old bike out of my garage, replace my tires and I rode the streets of Viva Calle with my friends and avid cyclists,  Jennifer and David Saxton. It was an awesome ride, but my bike seat was extremely uncomfortable. Later that year, I joined the Committee for Green Foothills on their beautiful Coyote Valley bike ride, but my seat was still incredibly uncomfortable. Around that time, my coworkers, Hilary Noll and Michael Santero, at First Community Housing began working to promote cycling at various FCH properties by installing bike cages, fix-it stations, and working in partnership with Good Karma and SVBC to help residents with any and all biking needs. These bike programs were eventually transferred to me. And really, I was left with no choice but to become a huge fan of everything bike.

2. What kind of activities and trips do you use your bicycle for?

Over the last year, I’ve been riding my bike a couple of times a week: around Downtown with my coworker, Bianey Martinez to run errands or lunch on Ford GoBike, occasionally commuting to work, and on the weekends riding trails like Coyote Creek. I’ve learned what a huge difference having the right bike and the right bike seat makes! I’ve also learned how to fix a flat tire at Good Karma, the different types of bikes, how to be a more confident rider, and I plan to keep on learning!

3. 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’ve recently started riding with one of my nieces and two of my sisters. None of them have ridden their bikes in years. What motivated all of us ‘non-bikers’ was easy access to a trail, access to functional bikes, and someone to ride with. It’s that simple, people just need a little help to overcome these small barriers.

4. What do you think needs to be done to achieve 10% of trips taken by bike by 2025 in Silicon Valley?

To achieve 10% of trips taken by bike by 2025, we need safe paths to ride –that is the most significant obstacle. There are excellent organizations and bike shops that help folks get their bikes in good working condition and teach bike safety (Good Karma, Community Cycles, SJ Bike Clinic, SVBC, and many great bike shops too). The more access and awareness that people have to these types of organizations – the better.

5. Share with us what a dream day on your bike looks like.

Currently, I am preparing for my longest bike ride, yet. On April 28, 2018, I will be participating in RIDE 4 A REASON, riding 45 miles from Vacaville to Sacramento:

The first Ride for a Reason happened in 2008: four cyclists with children in public schools, frustrated by the severe state budget cuts to education, rode from Oakland to Sacramento to dramatize their determination to do better for California’s students. Last year, 250 students, teachers, parents and community members pedaled from Oakland to the steps of the State Capitol to advocate for greater funding for education and reform in the way that California funds its public schools. Many schools in California depend on community fundraising to provide elective classes and enrichment programs — things that used to be thought of as necessary like libraries, art and music, science equipment, sports programs, and low-cost after-school activities. But community fundraising alone can’t do the really thorough work needed to fully staff and support all schools, especially in big, urban districts. California teacher salaries remain uncompetitive, and our state’s spending per pupil remains well below the national average. We can’t car-wash and bake-sale our way out of big, structural problems like that.That’s why we ride to Sacramento — to bring attention to the ongoing problem of underfunded public schools.

This will be my longest ride and a ride for a cause that I deeply care about. I am looking forward to this awesome ride.

6. What would you say to someone considering becoming a member of SVBC? And why do you support SVBC?

I can’t emphasize enough what an impact organizations like SVBC make. Bicycling includes many things: transportation, exercise, recreation, health, and joy. Walkable and bikeable cities are truly healthy and thriving cities. I support SVBC because they are helping to make our city a more sustainable and thriving one—the city of the future that we need.