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First-timers join old-timers during Bike To Work Day

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There were more bicycles on the road Thursday morning than usual as it was the 20th annual Bike To Work Day in the San Francisco Bay Area. People who regularly commute by bike were joined by those who wanted to try using a bike to get to work.

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Take a commuter with a bike and multiply them by thousands, add some refreshment stations with coffee, juice, goodies plus encouragement by volunteers and you get Bike To Work Day. The stations called Energizer stations were set up at various locations in all of the bay area counties. Bicycle coalitions, stores, other companies and organizations volunteered to sponsor stations and hand out snacks. In Marin County there were 19 Energizer stations to welcome new and regular bicycle commuters.

The City of San Rafael volunteered at the downtown Energizer station. A regular bicycle commuter who stopped by on his was to work was San Rafael Fire Chief Chris Gray. He thought it was a perfect day for it. “I love riding my bike and it's a great excuse and today's my birthday,” he said.

Joining volunteers at the downtown location was a man in a gorilla suit greeting cyclists. The snack being handed out was bananas. Bicycle commuters were bemused seeing the gorilla who took time out to take a phone call on a banana telephone.

Peggy Clark of the Marin County Bicycle Coalition is the spokeswoman for Bike To Work Day in the county. She said that Marin added two more Energizer stations for 2014 bringing total to 19. In an interview on Wednesday, Clark expected they would have an increase in riders on the over 110 miles of bike baths and lanes in Marin. “We know on Bike To Work Day there are more cyclists making local trips throughout the day.”

At the Energizer station in the Marin County town of Greenbrae volunteers were seeing more riders as it was on the path leading to the Larkspur ferry which goes to San Francisco. At 8 a.m. the volunteers had already counted 108 bicyclists in the 90 minutes they had been set up. This was the second year in a row that Anthony Zahn had volunteered there.

“Everybody is riding by and smiling, it looks like they are having a great time. It looks like they are all regular riders too, not just out for bike to work day. It's nice when people come out for an occasion but it's even better when they're out everyday,” Zahn said.

Clark pointed out that some bike commuters become regulars after making their first trip during the annual bicycling event. “Bike To Work Day is one of the many days in the year that cyclists and non-cyclists are reminded how wonderful it is to ride your bike in Marin. We have heard and met countless numbers of people that tell us they started to ride regularly because of Bike To Work Day. I always look forward to it because so many people are out on their bikes smiling or sharing a nod. When people see others out on their bikes they are reminded how much they enjoyed cycling as a child! It is a great day to support the cyclists in our families and community!”

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