Since 2010, East Bay Bike Party has been the go-to neighborhood party that rolls from block to block. Hundreds of cyclists come out for the event, many dressing in costume and decorating their bikes with banners, lights, and sound systems to create a celebration on two wheels.
To prepare for tomorrow's event, a group of volunteers met up at Oakland’s Mosswood Park for a test ride.
Before setting out to ride, longtime bike party volunteer organizer Curtis Buckley reviewed the bike party code, a set of rules that sums up the group's philosophy.
“Stop at lights. Stay to the right. Pack your trash. Don’t get smashed. Ride straight. Don’t hate,” he said. Bike party is meant to be an inclusive and family-friendly event, Buckley elaborated.
“Critical mass can be a little too aggressive,” he said, referencing the popular San Francisco event where cyclists often take over multiple lanes of roadway. “We don’t want to disrupt traffic. We want to be a part of it.”
The ride is modeled on the San Jose Bike Party. The startup location and route rotate, but East Bay Bike Party is always held on the second Friday of each month, rain or shine, and both begins and ends at a BART station or else a park nearby. Routes are posted a few days before on both Facebook and Instagram.
Roll out happens around 8pm when the ride leader, marked by a glowing green flag, pulls out in front to get the party going.
The leader directs the group, often numbering in the hundreds, along a 12–17-mile long route, breaking up the ride by stopping at different parks along the way so folks can take a break to dance, socialize, and enjoy a night out.
Tomorrow's ride starts at Mosswood Park, then heads along Telegraph Avenue towards UC Berkeley.
The group had been invited by the Republic of Telegraph, a community of merchants and residents, to make its first stop a neighborhood block party. After some time mingling in the streets, the party will saddle up and roll out.
“We should stop at Aquatic Park,” said someone, suggesting a second stop “then roll to Lake Merritt.”
Buckley agreed that it sounded like a good route, but after tonight he’d test ride it again himself to see. It takes some preparation to keep several hundred cyclists to one lane and compliant to all traffic laws.
“We do a lot of Berkeley and Oakland,” said Buckley, “because that’s where most of the bikes are.”
“It’s just easier,” said Charlotte Hryse, another volunteer organizer on the test ride. “People are more responsive, and the cops are less responsive. They know who we are.”
“But we’ve done Concord, Richmond, El Cerrito, Fremont,” said Buckley. “Wherever there’s a BART station, that’s where you can find us.”
The volunteers saddled up and rode out of Mosswood Park. Along Shafter Avenue, just after crossing 40th street, a man on his porch shouted, “Bike Party!” and waved.
“You’d never hear that at Critical Mass,” said a bike party organizer.