OCEANSIDE — Cycling endurance athletes, event organizers and safety advocates met up at Bagby’s brewery on Wednesday to network, share their love of cycling and discuss ways they can work together.
Cycling is a popular activity and a growing business niche. The mild year round weather and mix of flat and hilly roadways makes Oceanside and surrounding North County ideal for cycling. The city annually hosts the start of the cross-country RAAM challenge, Ironman 70.3 event, and Bike The Coast – Taste The Coast fun ride.
One topic of shared interest at Wednesday’s meet up was the city’s redevelopment plans for Coast Highway 101.
Trent Sakamoto, member of the O’side Bicycle Club, said he hopes the four-lane highway will be narrowed to two lanes, and protected bike lanes will be added.
“It’s at a critical point, it could go one of two ways,” Sakamoto said.
Sakamoto said slowing down traffic will benefit businesses, and biking and walking allows people to connect with each other and the community.
“When you’re biking and walking you can’t help but be really engaged with the community,” Sakamoto said.
The O’side Bicycle Club was formed this summer and already has 200 Facebook followers. The club was organized by endurance athletes. Its focus is to encourage people of all athletic abilities to get on a bike, and experience the fun and benefits of cycling.
“We have a passion for cycling and Oceanside,” Sakamoto said. “We live and work here in the community, and want to see cycling grow.”
The club also looks for ways to give back to the community through beach clean ups and other events.
Oceanside Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee, also referred to as Bike Walk Oceanside, shares the goal to add bike lanes to Coast Highway 101.
Committee co-chair Howard LaGrange said bicycle safety is of top importance.
Bike Walk Oceanside formed in 2001, and was officially recognized by the city in 2007. It works to create a better environment for biking, and educate cyclists and motorists about bicycle safety.
The committee provides free cycling safety classes for adults, and bike rodeos for kids.
LaGrange said kids education programs target elementary schools, and are being expanded to include middle schools. Committee members plan to work with middle school students to create a series of bike safety videos.
The committee is also working with the Metropolitan Transit District to put educational wraps on buses. Messages are being developed to teach drivers about sharrow lanes, and educate cyclists about rules of the road when driving next to buses.
Deputy Mayor Chuck Lowery said Wednesday’s get together was a great outreach that brought together a diverse mix of cycling groups.
Sakamoto said he expects more community wide meet ups in the future.
O’side Bicycle Club, Oceanside Bike Walk, Bike The Coast – Taste The Coast, and the inaugural Valentine’s Bike Ride co-hosted the mixer.