For Los Osos woman, every month is Bike Month

Lisa Wallender gets ready to ride home to Los Osos from her job in San Luis Obispo.
Lisa Wallender gets ready to ride home to Los Osos from her job in San Luis Obispo. kleslie@thetribunenews.com

When her alarm clock buzzes at 4:30 a.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, Lisa Wallender gets up and prepares for her morning trip to her job in San Luis Obispo, like most any other commuter.

When she’s ready to leave the house, however, instead of reaching for the keys to her car, Wallender grabs her helmet.

Wallender, a water systems chemist with San Luis Obispo County Public Works, has commuted from her home in Los Osos via bicycle for more than 20 years, and at 54 years old, has no plans to stop anytime soon, she says.

“People are always impressed when they hear that I bike to work,” Wallender said. “It always takes me by surprise, because, to me, it’s just what I do. I bike.”

Wallender has always loved riding her bike, she said, but after college, she briefly fell out of the habit.

Then, one day in 1993, she and a group of friends were on a boat near the Channel Islands and the nearby oil rigs caught her eye.

“We were criticizing how ugly those rigs were, and how many of them there were, when I thought, ‘I don’t really have a right to criticize that if I’m not doing what I can to reduce my petroleum usage,’” she said.

Soon after that, with help from a company-provided bicycle, Wallender made a commitment to ride to work three days a week, something she encourages other people to try as well, no matter their physical fitness level.

“You don’t have to be really young or macho — I’m not,” she said. “If I can do it, you can.”

San Luis Obispo Regional Rideshare is hoping others will heed Wallender’s words and help to celebrate Bike Month, an event hosted each May — even if they may not be serious bike riders like Wallender.

“It doesn’t matter if you are riding 20 miles a day or just getting on your bike to go get milk from the store,” said Stephanie Hicks, Rideshare program manager. “Bike Month is really about encouraging people to just get on a bike.”

Bike Month features several volunteer-run events throughout the month, including fundraisers, “Bike Breakfasts” hosted by local companies and Bike to Work Day, in which locals are encouraged to leave their cars at home and ride bikes to work.

This year’s Bike to Work Day on Friday is sponsored by the county Air Pollution Control District, Hicks said.

Last year, around 5,000 people participated in Bike to Work Day in San Luis Obispo County, Hicks said — and more are expected this year.

“All of our attendance has been up this year,” Hicks said. “Our events are just growing by leaps and bounds. But it’s really been the volunteers and the community involvement that make (Bike Month) what it is.”

Bike to Work Day

Friday is Bike to Work Day, one of the many events scheduled during May to celebrate Bike Month.

Bike to Work Day features “energizer stations” throughout the county where bikers can stop to get a snack, a drink or pick up some cycling-related items. For a list of station locations, as well as a complete list of Bike Month events, visit www.rideshare.org/bikemonth2014.