Lodi resident John Nunes regularly rides his black Nirve bike — with an orange horn that has the cartoon character Goofy on it — to do errands around town.
“When the basket is full, it’s time to go home,” he said.
He attended Lodi’s first event celebrating Bike to Work Week on Monday. The nationwide week promotes bicycling to reduce pollution.
The event at Lodi’s Post Office Plaza included a free maintenance clinic from REI, a refuel station, a safety discussion by Lodi police and free T-shirts and promotional items for bicyclists and anyone else who stopped at the booths.
Commute Connection, a regional rideshare program, sponsored the event.
The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District discussed how bike riding helps the environment. About 80 percent of air pollution in the Central Valley is from vehicle emissions, said Anthony Presto, a outreach and communications representative.
Every time gas goes up, people start grabbing their bikes, so Presto said the goal is to get them to make a permanent lifestyle change.
“With the price of gas, it’s a great incentive. You get exercise, enjoy the scenery and, depending on the distance, it can be very practical,” Presto said.
People can learn more about ways to reduce air emissions and sign a Healthy Air Living Personal Pledge.
The Lodi Police Department was also at the event promoting the use of helmets and bike safety.
Officer Chris Kaufman said Lodi ranked third out of 104 California cities with populations between 50,000 and 100,000 in 2009 for the highest rate of bicycle versus vehicle injury accidents.
During one day at Millswood Middle School, Kaufman wrote 14 tickets to kids who did not have helmets when riding their bikes.
He said adults in the community need to set the example by wearing helmets every time they ride, and always ride the same direction as traffic.
REI also offered a safety inspection of bicycles and promoted their free bicycle maintenance courses. While 2-year-old Jack Haynes reached for the pedal, Cassidy Thomas tested the handlebars to make sure they could handle a crash. He also recommended people prop up their bike and push the pedal to make sure it is hitting all the correct gears.
He said people should also regularly test their brakes and tire inflation.
Nunes said it is ridiculous to get in a car, when bike riders can get from one side of town to another in 15 minutes.
“It’s cost efficient and healthy. You see a lot more on a bicycle than a car and everyone wants to talk to you,” Nunes said.