Bay Area Bike to Wherever Days (BTWD) organizers have named the winners of the 2021 Bike Champion of the Year awards. Given to individuals for inspiring bicycling in their Bay Area communities, this award recognizes an individual (or in one case, a whole family) from each of the nine San Francisco Bay Area counties for their commitment to bicycling as the primary mode of transport.
The 2021 winners include Smitty Ardrey, from Contra Costa County, who can be found every Thursday in the summer fixing bikes at Bike Concord’s Bike Tent at the Concord Farmers Market in Todo Santos Plaza. Nominator Claire Linder says: “He has organized bike rodeos, pop-up bike repair clinics, and since 2019, a bike education class at Olympic High School in Concord. His drive, foresight and commitment have made biking more accessible in central Contra Costa County, bringing to life [Bike Concord’s] mission of MBOB (More Butts on Bikes)!”
Daniel Wood and his triplets – Hazel, Alden, and Malia – from Santa Clara County, who can be seen riding their bikes to and from school each day. According to nominator Sharlene Gee, “I am so proud of them for using their own power to get to school on time, in good moods and ready to learn. I’ve seen their road skills and awareness rapidly and organically grow. They set a powerful example for everyone at the school.”
Here is the complete list of 2021 Bike Champion of the Year award winners:
- Contra Costa County: Smitty Ardrey helped organize advocates passionate about cycling in Concord into Bike Concord, which is now an integral part of the bicycle movement in the city and surrounding areas.
- Alameda County: Lionel McNeely first taught himself how to ride when he was 7, and his work with bikes hasn’t stopped since. He laughs, “I took my first bike apart when I was 10 years old and got it back together when I was 12.” An 11-year volunteer with youth empowerment program Trips for Kids in Marin, he leads monthly art rides with Oakland collective Rock Paper Scissors and has ridden and fundraised with AIDS/LifeCycle three times, among other achievements.
- Marin County: Hilary Noll has a vision of bicycling in the future: “People from ages 8 to 80 feeling comfortable biking for everyday needs. More women riding, especially as commuters. More women- and minority-owned bike shops. A cycling culture in which everyone – from elite riders to everyday folks getting started – are welcomed and empowered.”
- Napa County: Kate Miller started bike commuting in the mid-1980s when she lived in Seattle and never stopped. She recalls being mistaken for a bike messenger, because in major cities like Seattle, those were the only people found riding around the city.
- San Francisco County: Lydia Francis moved to the city in 2018 and took up cycling at the start of the pandemic. Getting a bike transformed her perspective of San Francisco, encouraging her to explore new neighborhoods and master the geography of the city. “Overall, biking has given me a deeper sense of belonging here in San Francisco,” said Lydia, “both to the literal geography of this place and the people I meet while exploring on two wheels.”
- San Mateo County: Sonia Elkes, avid bicyclist and founder of the advocacy group San Carlos Bikes, is referred to as “the voice for bicyclists in San Carlos.” She is constantly working to improve the state of biking in San Carlos and increasing the number of people who bicycle for their health and the environment.
- Santa Clara County: Daniel Wood and family (see above) encourages other parents to get their kids out on bikes and set an example, while making sure everyone knows and follows the rules of the road. “I think with everything it just starts with changing one mind and then that person hopefully changes one other,” says Daniel.
- Solano County: Cande Medrano, now 71, rides everywhere: from dental appointments to grocery stores, even all the way to Berkeley for doctor appointments. In 2020, Cande logged more than 14,000 miles.
- Sonoma County: Sherry Adams is not just a passionate cyclist, but a champion of social justice. She volunteered at local nonprofit Community Bikes – a reuse and repair training program and worked as a bike mechanic at the ReCyclery Bike Thrift Shop operated by Trips for Kids. Her biggest and most recent achievement has been the creation of Changing Gears, an educational program for inmates at the Sonoma County jail.
Each winner will receive a Tailgator Brake Light and water bottle from Mike’s Bikes, a bicycle-only membership for 24/7 roadside assistance from Better World Club, a laminated, boxed set of San Francisco Bay Trail map cards from the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG), and a cycling jersey from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD). Read all about the winners here.
Details about Bike to Wherever Days can be found online at Bayareabiketowork.com. Follow us on Facebook at @biketoworkday, Twitter @BikeToWorkSFBay, and Instagram @biketoworkday_bayarea.
Bay Area Bike to Wherever Days is presented by MTC (the transportation planning, financing and coordinating agency for the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area), and 511 (the region’s traveler information system). BTWD 2021 also receives regional support from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD), and Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), as well as from many sponsors at the local level. Prizes for the Bike Champion of the Year winners were donated by the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG), Better World Club and Mike’s Bikes.