Buddy system

David Frankel

Photo by Ernesto Rivera

For many in Chico, weaving through town to get to work or school on a bicycle is effortless and a big part of their day-to-day routine. But for some, those new to biking, for example, commuting can be a scary prospect. That’s why the Butte Bicycle Coalition started the BikeBuddy program, which is co-organized with the Chico Velo Cycling Club. One of the program’s bike buddies is David Frankel, a member of the BBC’s board of directors. Frankel will personally work one-on-one with anyone looking to get out on the road to plan their routes, address safety concerns and more. To schedule a meeting with Frankel or another bike buddy, or for more information, email info@buttebicyclecoalition.org.

Can you describe the program?

The idea is to help someone who wants to start riding a bike on an everyday basis as part of their everyday transportation, which most often is going to work or school. There are a lot of people who are in a bit of a quandary; they’re not exactly sure how to get started. They know how to ride a bicycle, but they’re not exactly sure how they should equip themselves, what they need to think about or how to choose a route that is as safe as possible and efficient.

How does the BikeBuddy program break down those barriers?

If you want the assistance of a bike buddy, we’ll assign someone to come meet with you and go over these things with you. We’ll sit down and plan a route and help you figure out how to equip your bike, what you should carry with you every day and how to be safe.

How can bikers stay safe?

Headlights and taillights. I can’t stress that enough. Headlights are important for seeing and for being seen. The other thing is wearing bright colors. If you want to wear regular clothes and not wear everything yellow, you can just buy a thin yellow vest that has reflectors on it and throw it over your regular clothes. Seeing and being seen are very important to staying safe.

Why should people bike commute?

It’s good exercise. Some people call it the no-car diet. If you use a bike for most of your getting around, you’re getting good exercise and you don’t have to eat up a whole lot of time or membership fees with a gym. I have a car and I use it for certain things, but I don’t enjoy the act of driving around town. Riding a bike through town, you’re in touch with the elements more. You appreciate the flowers, the trees, the people going by and you just see things more directly. It’s more pleasant to ride a bike. There’s also the element of building a sustainable future for our civilization. I don’t think we’ll ever completely get rid of cars, but our civilization will be a lot more healthy if we’re using cars only for the things that are really necessary.