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Families, casual bikers and professional cyclists alike pedaled to the metal on Friday in honor of Bike to Wherever Day, previously known before the pandemic as Bike to Work Day.

The day draws in regional support from community services throughout the Bay Area, like the Bay Area Quality Management District and BART. The Metropolitan Transportation Commission has been the main sponsor for over 25 years.

“As the event has shifted gears to become Bike to Wherever Day, the Commission is enormously thankful for all the work done by our co-sponsors, partner agencies, bicycle coalitions and especially the many thousands of participants all around the Bay Area who continue to make it a fun, safe and truly regional celebration,” said John Goodwin, director of communications for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

Backed by bicycle coalitions from around the region, each county had its own spin on the celebration to encourage community members to join the fun. Raffles, bike bingo in Solano County, happy hour in Sonoma County and a ride with Oakland councilmembers were a few of Friday’s events.

“Today is a day for us to celebrate the freedom and joy biking has brought to us during the pandemic and reconnect with our community as the city begins to reopen.”

Nesrine Majzoub, San Francisco Bike Coalition

The San Francisco Bike Coalition, for example, set up 15 energizer stations throughout the city in designated slow streets for its 27th year of celebration. Nesrine Majzoub, marketing communications director for the coalition, said the organization hopes to encourage people to get outside and bike in whatever ways are special to them. Participants can also get a free tote bag at one of their stations as well.

“The last year has shown us how biking can be a resource in so many different ways: to get around for essential trips, for our mental and physical wellbeing, and to explore our streets from a new perspective,” Mazoub said. “Today is a day for us to celebrate the freedom and joy biking has brought to us during the pandemic and reconnect with our community as the city begins to reopen.”

The tote bags have become a tradition for new and old bicycle enthusiasts, according to Sophie Ranow of the Marin County Bicycle Coalition. In Marin County, for instance, bikers can pick up their swag bags filled with cycling goodies until May 31. Ranow hopes some new riders will begin their collection this year.

“The ‘bike boom’ is the real deal and we want to encourage and reward both new and old riders with this wonderful annual tradition of giving out bags,” Ranow said.

Shiloh Ballard of Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition said that some of the happiest people on Earth are the ones who live life by bike. Through this month’s festivities, which encourages people to change their mode of transportation surrounded by cheerful volunteers, friends and food, the organization hopes to spread some of that joy.

“We know when people try it, they fall in love and keep doing it, which is good for the planet, good for our health and good for building a better community,” Ballard said.