Sharing the Love of Cycling

Maria Contreras Tebbutt (center) runs the Bike Garage in Woodland, California, inspiring people to ride bikes.

Maria Contreras Tebbutt (center) runs the Bike Garage in Woodland, California, inspiring people to ride bikes.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Maria Contreras Tebbutt was one of the first to order a Bike Friday Haul-a-Day, which she uses to promote cycling in her Hispanic Community in Woodland, California. To help celebrate Bike Month, Raz visited her shop on a Saturday morning.]

By Raz

The sunlight pokes through some scattered clouds on an early Saturday in Woodland, California.

It’s a perfect morning to climb on your bike and hit the inviting roads that spread into the beautiful countryside around the Sacramento Valley.

About 10 miles south, in the cycling haven of Davis, many cyclists are doing just that. You can see them on the backroads, clad in lycra and rolling in bright bunches.

Behind Douglass Middle School in Woodland, a small posse of volunteers arrives and soon used, refurbished bikes pour out of a small garage. A handful of volunteers work on bikes.

Maris Contreras Tebutt arrives with two bikes on the back of her car. She bounces out and invigorates everyone with her boundless energy.

Maria runs The Bike Campaign & Bike Garage, a program of the Center for Families. Her goal is simple: Get the folks of Woodland to embrace cycling.

“Davis has a strong cycling community, and Woodland is next door, just 10 miles away,” Maria said. “Yet we are worlds apart.

“The schools here are 75 percent free lunch. It’s about 50 percent Hispanic. I chose to make this my target audience. I target Hispanic women because I am one, and I speak Spanish.”

She targets them because she sees an opportunity to make a real difference.

“Introducing them to cycling I can have an impact,” Maria said. “I tell them you have to spend $10,000 for a car. Imagine what you could have with $10,000 for food. Bikes can make a big impact to a family’s finances.”

Once Maria heard about the Haul-a-Day she had to have one. It is a great example of what a bike can do for a family.

“Parents not knowing what their options are, or being able to pay for them, pose an obstacle to reducing car trips to schools,” Maria said, pointing out the conga line of cars at schools each day is something she is targeting.

“When bike-riding young parents start driving themselves around during pregnancy, this trend may continue until they drive their kids off to college, and give them a car, too.”

Maria points out that the exhaust output of one minute of car idling equals the output of three packs of cigarettes.

“If I did that in a classroom wouldn’t people be throttling me,” Maria said.

On this Saturday in April, Maria spends time teaching a young parent how to ride a bike. She does that a lot. She also encourages people to try to ride.

She spent 15 minutes talking about the benefits of bike riding to Andy, a parent who came to learn more about bike riding. A few days later, she heard back from him.

“I’m excited,” Andy said. “I’ve finally ridden my bike to work this morning, and politely — and proudly — declined a car ride from a co-worker for lunch to that new sandwich place downtown. I got there (on my bike) with no time wasted on looking for parking.”

Maria has two Haul-a-Days that will be the foundation of a Family Bike Lending Library she is working on to allow families to borrow bikes and learn how they can change their lives.

Andy will be one of the first to borrow the Haul-a-Day to pedal his 9-year-old daughter to school.

“People can change,” Maria said. “They just need to know what all their options are.”

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