Bike Santa Cruz County: New Name, Same Goal

People Power gets a new name—and, its leaders hope, a new big-tent constituency for its continued mission of bike advocacy.

Story and photo by Hannah Moore

April 8, 2015—With bicycling as much a part of Santa Cruz life as redwoods and beaches, it’s only fitting that bike advocacy organizations share what they’re about as clearly as possible. That’s why longtime bicycling nonprofit People Power has changed its name to Bike Santa Cruz County (BSCC).

Santa Cruz city leaders, nonprofit members and other bike enthusiasts gathered Tuesday at the BSCC office on Pacific Avenue to celebrate the rechristening. Speakers included Santa Cruz Mayor Don Lane, former State Assemblymember Fred Keeley, BSCC director Amelia Conlen and Piet Canin of Ecology Action.

From city officials to devoted bicyclists, many marveled at the growth of biking and bike advocacy in Santa Cruz in recent decades, as evidenced by an increase in bike lanes and cyclist-supportive organizations.

Santa Cruz ranks second in California for individuals biking to work, ahead of San Francisco and Berkeley.

Many also noted the several motivations, whether related to health or the environment, for riding a bike.

“Biking has matured over the decades, and there are more people biking for a variety of reasons,” said Piet Canin in an interview.

Although the organization is an ideal fit for those who love to pedal, BSCC director Amelia Conlen said that she hopes that the new name “invites more people who are not necessarily bicyclists to be interested in our organization and [to] look at it as something they want to be a part of.”

Conlen also hopes it will unite all types of bicyclists, from daily bike commuters to bikers who only ride on weekends.

People Power has been the organization’s name since it began in 1991, and discussion of the name change began late last year. According to Conlen, the name "People Power" was “supposed to capture imagination and lead people to ask more what the organization is about” and was a good fit in the beginning.

Clarification is another factor that prompted the name change.

“If you go throughout the county, most communities have a bike coalition or a bike club—something that is the advocacy group for biking that has biking in its name,” said Canin, adding that the new name represents the organization’s bike advocacy mission better than the old name did.

“I think [public] perception [of the organization] will be more focused,” he added.