On the second Friday of every month East Bay bike crews and individual riders take over the streets in a 12+ mile bike party, complete with dancing, music, and hundreds of riders. The crowd is the definition of diverse. Punk cyclists from Oakland with tricked-out fixies ride alongside North Berkeley families clad in matching shirts to avoid losing each other in the throng. The monthly Bike Party embodies the East Bay’s bike culture, and Oakland riders dominate the event: this is a city steeped in the love of cycling. Whether it’s commuting to work, training for a marathon, or purely an obsession, bikes and their riders play a major role in Oakland’s culture. As far as Northern California goes, it seems safe to say that Oakland is the nexus for bike culture. But how can you get involved?
First off, you’re gonna need a bike, and Oakland has you covered. A quick internet search for Oakland bike shops yields literally hundreds of options in locating the perfect set of wheels for you. A daunting number surely, but we’ve narrowed down a list of some of the best—including their neighborhood—just for you:
Lakeview Bicycle – Grand Lake.
Archer Bicycle – Downtown Oakland/Chinatown.
Tip Top Bike Shop – Temescal/North Oakland.
The Spoke Cyclery – Rockridge.
The Bikery – East Oakland/Fruitvale.
Alameda Bicycle – Alameda.
PUBLIC Bikes + Gear – Jack London Square.
Pioneer Bike Shop – Piedmont.
So now that you’ve got your bike, your helmet, your U-lock, it seems like it’s time to get involved in Oakland’s diverse and eclectic bike community. Again, have no fear; we’ve got your back.
How and where you meet local riders or find your way into the scene really depends on what it is about biking that you enjoy. Whether it’s for fun, fitness, or transportation, Oakland offers myriad options for becoming part of the bike culture.
Here’s where the real-deal, nitty-gritty, greasy-handed bike work and talk is happening. If you want to trick-out or repair your bike with the help of knowledgeable locals, these are the places you need to go:
– Located in West Oakland, this non-profit and community-oriented bike and repair shop offers a free bike kitchen space to get the work done yourself, with both employees and customers nearby to answer questions and show you the ropes.
– This North Oakland shop is perhaps the most well-known and respected in the Oakland area. While they offer daily shopping and repairs, those who really want to get into the city’s bike culture need to put aside an upcoming Sunday morning for Manifesto’s "Bike Church," a massive meeting of riders and enthusiasts that gather each week to worship everything bike. If you want to meet those in-the-know, there’s no better place than Manifesto’s Sunday Bike Church.
– A non-profit DIY bicycle education resource, Spokeland runs entirely on volunteer work, making it truly for and of the bike community. Check out their website for upcoming classes, events, and ideal times to bring in your bike and make those repairs you need.
Being part of any city’s bike scene takes more than just riding a bike in that city, it takes participation. Luckily, Oakland has enough bike clubs/crews and weekly/monthly bike events to satisfy even the most hardcore riders:
– As mentioned before, the East Bay Bike Party is the monthly big deal in Oakland’s bike scene. Covering 12-16 miles each ride and replete with music and dancing, this event is the mobile place-to-be. Happening the second Friday of every month, if you want to immerse yourself in Oakland’s bike scene, you simply can’t miss the party.
– This bike club, priding itself on community and diversity, has been in operation since 1986, and offers a variety of riding events every month. Check out their website for the ride calendar.
– A competitive cycling organization in operation since 2003, Team Oakland offers group rides every Saturday and participates regularly in competitive races.
– Created to encourage creativity and expression for youths in dangerous neighborhoods, the Original Scraper Bike Team was founded in Oakland in 2007, and is the first of its kind in the nation. But not just anyone can be a Scraper, check out their website for more info.
With the aforementioned shops, clubs, and events you should have no problem finding a spot in Oakland’s diverse, inclusive, and thriving bike scene. So get to it and be safe. Below you can find additional resources for bike etiquette, local cycling culture, and helpful information for preventing and reporting bike theft. Safe travels!
Bike Station – These close-to-BART bike stations, operated by Bike Hub, are great places to meet local riders, pick up supplies, and keep your bike safe during BART commuting. Some stations even include valet parking! Visit the website to find information on each individual station.
Bike East Bay – A community organization established to promote healthy and sustainable cycling in the East Bay area. Their website is a great resource for those interested in bike advocacy and education.
Walk Oakland Bike Oakland – WOBO actively participates in city planning and campaigns to keep Oakland pedestrian and rider-friendly. These are the people making sure us riders get what we need from the city to bike safely and conveniently, and they deserve our admiration and support.
The “I [Bike] Oakland” 2015 Bikeways Map – An annually released map for the best bikeways in the city, and an indispensable resource for cyclists of all kinds.