Downtown’s Wheelie Great Biking Community
By Jessica Nguyen
Before we start the article, here’s some bike wisdom for good measure:
A bicycle can’t stand on its own. It’s two-tired.
Downtown Stockton is home to many things: historic buildings, delicious eateries, aromatic coffee shops, exciting events, and a thriving bike community. From Downtown-based groups like the San Joaquin Bike Coalition, Roadfinch, and the HUB, to bicyclists who pass through Downtown Stockton, ride to work, or bike recreationally in the area, downtown is a bustling center of cycle-based activity.
Whether bikers choose to ride along the glittering waterfront, on breezy bike paths lined by popular Downtown hangouts, or anywhere in between, Downtown Stockton attracts bikers of all ages and skill levels. In fact, between the months of April and October, bike enthusiasts gather monthly downtown for casual evening rides. These rides, known as the Full Moon Riders, each follow a different downtown route and conclude at a participating downtown restaurant.
San Joaquin Bike Coalition
The San Joaquin Bike Coalition is one of the founding groups of the Full Moon Riders. Although unsure at how the evening bike rides would initially be received by the community, Kari McNickle, board president of the SJ Bike Coalition, reflects that the Full Moon Riders quickly became “successful, beyond what we ever could have imagined,” and that now, it’s “one of our [The SJ Bike Coalition’s] favorite events to lead and promote.”
The San Joaquin Bike Coalition, a nonprofit organization, advocates for bicycle safety and helps to promote bicycle-related events. Their events and group rides are not only lively, but are also completely free to the public. The Bike Coalition is based in Downtown Stockton’s Huddle, a coworking space located on N. San Joaquin Street. Huddle’s central location and inexpensive fees make it a perfect space for the nonprofit, McNickle explains. Bike Coalition members also hold meetings at popular downtown spots nearby and pop into places like Cast Iron, Trail, and Channel Brewing Co.
Kari McNickle proudly states that the SJ Bike Coalition has been around for nearly 10 years. What makes this board president so passionate about cycling in particular? She shares, “I love that it’s a way to get around that connects you with your neighborhood and community.” Bringing cyclists together for bike rides strengthens the sense of community and helps to promote local businesses in the area. She adds adamantly, “it’s really important we [local businesses and organizations] support each other.”
Another well-known and revered figure in the downtown biking community is Deacon Steve, operator of the HUB and Deacon at the Episcopal Church of St. John the Evangelist right next door. The HUB provides FREE assistance to those in need of bike repairs (or bikes) and on average, the HUB sees at least 100 visitors a week. Many of these visitors rely on derelict bicycles as their sole means of transportation and lack the funds to replace or repair them. Deacon Steve and the HUB’s 5 volunteers relentlessly work to help: just last year they assisted with 4,000 repairs, and within the past 3 years have given away over 300 bikes!
The HUB also partners with downtown’s seasonal Full Moon Riders events. Annually, Deacon Steve performs a Bike Blessing to “pray that they [the bicyclists] have a safe cycling year“ before leading the cyclists on their downtown journey. Deacon Steve loves the “freedom of movement” and how bicycles provide “access to your own personal freedom.”
It’s time to dust off your old bicycle, grab a helmet, and head Downtown to join this energetic, lively, and passionate bike community. Explore the downtown area with freedom and the feeling of wind through your hair (or on your face, if you have no hair- we don’t judge). You can join the San Joaquin Bike Coalition, participate in an upcoming Full Moon Riders event (June 17th, July 16th, August 15th, etc.), or grab some friends to bike with and as Deacon Steve nicely puts it, “find a route that works best for you.”
Written by Jessica Nguyen