A Conversational History of Bike Concord

Although still very young, Bike Concord has grown tremendously fast. Before we forget any of the great work that’s been done to launch this community driven group, here’s a conversational history of Bike Concord.

It all begins with one person… Smitty Ardrey.

Part 1: Smitty’s struggle to find Bike Advocates in Concord

Smitty: I moved to Concord from Oakland/San Francisco at the turn of the century, the year 2000. In 2001 I said man, Concord is not very Bicycle friendly. So I went to a East Bay Bicycle Coalition (now Bike East Bay) meeting with the idea that I would volunteer to help the Concord representative. Turned-out there wasn’t a Concord representative.

So I was on my own, I started going to some city council meetings…. Advocating for Bicycles in Concord was very lonely back then. 

Over a beer I was asked to serve on the EBBC board of Directors. I served on the EBBC Board of Directors for 3 years. After much frustration I came to the conclusion that a Bicycle Friendly Concord was not to be. I went into deep depression and started drinking heavily (note from the editor: we believe this is mainly satire, although there would be reasons to be depressed)

Part 2: Enter New Players

Then one happy day, Smitty met Adam Foster and Cynthia Armour. 

On October 5th, 2013, Bike East Bay (formerly the East Bay Bicycle Coalition) organized an advocacy ride to take a look at some of the streets being discussed as part of the Downtown Specific Plan. Adam Foster was a member of the Downtown Specific Plan Steering Committee, and one of the most vocal supporters of complete streets and better bikeways on the committee.

Smitty: I consider this ride to be the beginning of Bike Concord.  After going on this ride that was organized by Cynthia,  I realized there were other people in Concord that were interested in working to make Concord a better place for Bicycles.

Cynthia: That was one of my first times riding around Concord! My advocacy work with Bike East Bay had just begun, and we really wanted to expand our role outside of Alameda County, hence my presence in Concord. Here’s the picture I took on that day:

October 2013 bike ride

Adam Foster: I want to add in that some cool dude (that’s Smitty, of course!) was giving away Bike Concord buttons at our first ride. That inspired me.

Smitty: I came home excited,  I said to myself, Self, and myself said Right back……We need to find a way to bring everyone together. 

Fall 2013, another important thing happened. The City of Concord was awarded two Safe Routes to Transit grants (including the funding for Detroit Avenue) which are just now (in 2015) getting designed and built, giving us the opportunity to work closely with the city on some important projects. It’s a slow process! Thank you to the City of Concord staff – Joan Ryan and Carol Johnson – for securing these funds.

Part 3: Bike Concord is Officially Born (on Facebook and at Todos Santos)

Sometime early 2014, Cynthia, Adam (also accompanied by fantastic folks from the Greenbelt Alliance – Joel – and TransForm – Clarissa – who were also working on the Downtown Specific Plan to give them their due) met up for beers in Walnut Creek after a meeting and set up a Facebook page: facebook.com/groups/bikeconcord

Adam quickly followed up the creation of a group on the internet with a very tangible effort: hosting free, community-focused bike repair at the Thursday farmers market in Todos Santos Plaza.

Smitty: Adam had the vision and backed it up with funding for the Bike Tent at the farmers market. Adam sweet talked his wife into letting us store the repair stands and equipment in their garage just blocks away from TSP. He bought a cargo bike to haul all of the equipment in. This started the tradition transporting the Bike Tent equipment by bike.

Cynthia: The Bike Tent quickly became a staple of our work in Concord, gathering bike-friendly community members to tune-up their bikes, talk advocacy, and plan rides. It’s through the bike tent that we met and continue to meet most of the people that make Bike Concord, well, Bike Concord.

Part 4: Bike Concord Becomes a Movement

Cynthia: 2015 is the year Bike Concord really started growing and engaging more community members. We hosted our first (and soon, our second!) general meeting. We signed an MOU with Bike East Bay to establish fiscal sponsorship. John Muir Health stepped up to sponsor our Bike Tent, we found the fantastic Bronwen Mauch to staff it, we worked with Monument Impact to secure better bike lanes on Detroit Avenue, set up a partnership with REI, organized many great bike rides including the great 4th of July ride, and we’re not done yet! Bike Concord logo - Full wheel green for 1-inch button

Special thanks to Jamie Fend for creating our awesome Bike Concord logo:

As of August 2015, we have over 200 people on our mailing list, and 385 people on our Facebook group. We’ve worked with the city to advocate for better bike lanes on dozens of streets. We’re continuously planning more rides and events and ways to make Concord a better place for bicyclists – and we need your help to continue!

Join us this Sunday at our 2nd General Meeting, or come meet us on Thursday at our Todos Santos Plaza Bike Tent.

Want to add to this conversational history? Please do in the comments section below or send cynthia@bikeeastbay.org an email.

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