Ric Oberlink and his dog Sassy Girl rode a bike on Bike To Work Day. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel

Dozens of people joined Mayor Tom Bates and City Councilmembers Laurie Capitelli and Kriss Worthington on a leisurely ride through Berkeley Thursday morning as part of Bike To Work Day.

About 40 people gathered at the North Berkeley BART station around 8:00 am to link up and ride to the Downtown Berkeley Bike Station on Shattuck Avenue. Riders even got a chance to get a peek at the contested West Street Pathway.

“I’m really a walker,” said Bates after the ride, as he consumed a plate of pancakes covered with bananas. “I ride my bike occasionally but I walk to work everyday. But it was really a wonderful experience. It made me think I should ride more often.”

Mayor Tom Bates eating a plate of pancakes at the end of Bike To Work day. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel

The 2012 Bike To Work Day was the region’s most successful, according to the East Bay Bicycle Coalition. About 17,000 people biked in the region, a 22% increase over last year.

Ric Oberlink usually works from his West Berkeley home, but decided to ride downtown to show his support for biking. He may have been the only biker hauling a dog. Oberlink put Sassy Girl in a trailer he hitched to the back of his red bike. By early morning, she was wearing a “I biked to work” sticker on her head.

Berkeley is one of the most bike-friendly cities in the country. In 2011, the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Communities survey reported that Berkeley had the fourth highest bike-to-work ridership in the country. The city has a network of bike boulevards that make riding easy,

“Berkeley is doing an outstanding job,” said Dave Campbell, program director for the East Bay Bicycle Coalition. “They’re the real leaders in the East Bay and the area.”

City Councilmember Laurie Capitelli rode his bike to work on Thursday. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel

Berkeley has hit a road block, however, in completing the West Street Pathway, a route along the former Southern Pacific Railway right-of-way between Cedar-Rose Park and Strawberry Park. On Tuesday, the City Council voted to file a lawsuit against The Berkeley School, which agreed to give the city an easement for the path, but now wants to rescind it because of safety concerns. The contested strip runs between University and Addison Avenues.

Berkeley is also home to bike entrepreneurship. Architect and engineer Steven Grover designed the Berkeley Bike Bridge as well as the bike facility at El Cerrito BART. He noticed that there was no easy and secure way to lock or store bikes, so he invented BikeLink, an on-demand bike parking system. BART had always had lockers opened by keys, but BikeLink is electronic. It is now in place in 100 locations around the Bay Area, including the Downtown Berkeley Bike Station.

To celebrate the success of the day, the EBBC is holding a happy hour party at Ninth and Washington streets in Old Oakland. It starts at 5:00 pm.

Op/Ed: Safe cycling in wake of hit and run collision [04.30.12]
Video: Two cyclists struck by hit and run driver on Tunnel Road [04.27.12]
Podcast: What exactly are Berkeley’s rules of the road for cyclists? [11.29.11]

Berkeleyside publishes many articles every day. To see all our stories in chronological order, and read ones you may have missed, check out our All the News grid.

Frances Dinkelspiel, Berkeleyside and CItyside co-founder, is a journalist and author. Her first book, Towers of Gold: How One Jewish Immigrant Named Isaias Hellman...